Monday, July 27, 2015

Go and Come Back Party - Friends

Here are some photos of friends from the "farewell party" 
at church on Sunday. 
If you missed previous posts check

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Go and Come Back Party - Food

Potlucks at church are always delicious celebrations! 

Below is a special dessert made by some elementary age friends of mine.
Azuki (red) beans, White Mochi, and mandrin oranges in juice.

Here is a panoramic photo of the church after the potluck.
 After eating about 5 people shared about their memories of me at the church. I gave a short Japanese speach of my memories, update on my plans for next 6 months 
and said thank you for their always giving me a church home in Japan.
 We sang some songs and Eri played the flute while we sang choruses. 

After the church service the chairs are moved and
 tables set up in a square formation for the meal.
Jun-kun (in yellow on left - a bit blurry ) and Megu-chan (in Orange on Right) 
are the talented chefs who made the above dessert. 

Here is a audio/video of the song God Bless You in Japanese/English. 
This is a common song sung at farewells.
(Disclaimer -I don't know the singer but found the video on YouTube. 
It focuses on the guitar chords so you may simply want to listen to it if you don't play guitar)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Keihanna Christ Church

July 26 was my last Sunday at Keihanna Church for a while. 
I've attended this church for 6 years. Meeting in a house specially designed as a church, with about 15 to 25 people in attendance each week its easy to have an "at home" feel. 

Ito-san is leading the music in this photo.  She lives in England with her husband who works there and was back to Japan for about 2 weeks. This day I also had the privilege of leading 2 bilingual worship songs.  The service follows a traditional format with hymns and choruses accompanied by piano and sometimes organ. 

After the service the church had a potluck party for me.  I'm planning to return to Japan in 6 months, but since transitioning away from teaching ministry the details of my ministry location have not been finalized. I may or may not be back to this area of Japan working with this church or neighboring churches.  The uncertainty made for some fun conversations at the farewell party.  "We're praying you will come work with our church so you pray the same thing too, ok!" 

In fact some members didn't call it a "Sayonara party" (Good-bye Party) or 
Soubetsukai (Farewell Party)
Instead they called it an: 
Itterashai kai (Literally Go and Come back Party) 

Packing is a Team Event

After spending weeks of sorting and preparing to pack up the mission home by myself. I realized with just a few days of having friends help that packing is a team event - not an individual one. More fun, more laughter, more decisions more quickly,  more motivation and encouragement!

Lisa flew from Okinawa to Osaka to help me in the last week before I move.
In the above photo you can see the long bridge over Osaka Bay
 to Kansai International Airport through the window.
As we're in the process of closing/packing my kitchen, 
we enjoyed some Hawaiian Avocado Hamburgers for dinner. 

The next day we were ready to clean the shed and yard.

Here Emily is helping me decide to throw away, give away, or recycle parts of my library.
What can I say I have a weakness for books! 

Recycling paper products happens once a month,
 so its important to get it done in time for the pick up day. 
 Here is the stack of recycling I put on the curb this month:
 59 books,
 5 bags of newspaper/magazines, 
5 bundles of cardboard.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fun in the Sun and Shadows

When at the beach, with camera in hand, waiting for the beach baptism celebration to begin, some of my students and friends and I decided to get creative with the cameras and do some shadow photography.




And then we had fun with jump shots! 
(Emily and I enjoying summer!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pampered Pooches

Do you dress your dogs? 
My family had a pet poodle when I was growing up. We named her Muffin. 
(Not sure why we picked that name  - she had black fur, so perhaps burnt muffin?)
Muffin, wasn't the most friendly of dogs and sometimes allowed people she liked to pet her but she would never have tolerated being dressed in "doggie clothes." 

My friend, Ikumi, has one teenage son (see beach baptism),  and 4 dogs, Milky, Chowder, Taffy and Latte. They are tiny dogs. Able to be carried in a purse individually or all together in a doggy buggy.

Ikumi, (as well as many other Japanese people) love to dress up their dogs. Many of the outfits are handmade by Ikumi and fit the specific event or holiday that they are participating in.  For Umi no Hi - or Sea Day and our trip to the beach, the dogs had their bathing suit outfits on. The girls (Milky & Taffy) had pink bikinis and the boy (Chowder) had swim trunks and a shirt that made him look like he had six pack abs.

Milky in pink

Chowder wondering where they put his Surfboard.

Taffy pretending to be "Super dog"

The pattern of pampering pooches is not something that I grew up with and I think it would be very easy to tease people who spend so much time, energy, and money on their pets as Japan does. 
But we may not see the whole story.  

Ikumi's dogs are also trained as therapy dogs and visit nursing homes to give elderly people the joy of interacting with a pet.  Ikumi has also done pet foster care. Right after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake many pets were separated from their owners. Some were never able to be reunited and some pets were staying in areas where humans were not allowed to enter - due to radiation damage.  At such a time Ikumi cared for a small dog - Momo (Peach) until she could go to a more permanent placement.   

BBC even did a story on Japanese dogs!

Here is a video from BBC news that talks about the declining birthrate in Japan and the increase of pets. Stating statistics like there are more pets than children under 15 in Japan.  I have a friend who had a formal funeral for her dog and then taxidermy to keep the 'idea' of the pet around a bit longer. (a bit of a shock when you see it in the entryway for the first time!) I've even had a parent/teacher conference with a teacup poodle in the mother's purse for the conference! (another source of shock if an unexpected head pops out of a bag.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beach Baptism

On July 20, we celebrated with New Hope Church the baptism of 4 sisters and brothers in Christ.

Pastor James - (Left) was once a co-worker of mine at KCS where he taught High school Math and Science.  It was wonderful to see him in this role of church planter. He and the lady next to him were leading the group in worship songs (in English and Japanese).  
(Love the Hello Kitty shirt!) 

We had a time of scripture reading on the beach and some sharing of testimonies.

Here are the 4 young adults in white that were testifying to their faith.

Komei, graduated from KCS class of 2015. He attended KCS from 1st grade.
I got to know him 6 years ago when we worked on the worship team together. 
He became our powerpoint expert. What a blessing to have seen his faith grow and have conversations over the years about next steps of faith
 and then to actually be present to see his baptism! 
What Joy!

After the baptism

Yu and his mother Ikumi. 
Ikumi is a 3rd and 4th grade teacher at KCS and great friend.
Yu is now a senior in high school. He has an amazing grasp of both English and Japanese and often can be found translating at New Hope church on Sundays. He is an talented writer and has an extensive knowledge and collection of bugs! 

Representing KCS - Komei, Emily, Yu, Lori 

Again with Ikumi - but with a new pose so that we could be almost the same height! =0)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Umi No Hi - Sea Day

 On July 20, we celebrated the Japanese holiday, 海の日 (Umi No Hi)
or Sea Day, by going to the beach. We went to Suma Beach which is in Hyogo Prefecture near Kobe. I traveled with some friends from Kansai Christian School from Nara through Osaka to Kobe and then Suma Beach. For those of you who want to see a map of where it was here's a google map link.

The view from the train on the way to Kobe. You can see the skyscrapers of Osaka and the mountains of Hyogo Prefecture in the distance. (Osaka's population is about 2.7 million, Kobe about 1.5 million)  The train ride took about 1 hour 30 minutes and cost 1080 yen ($8.75). Some of my friends came by car and reported that it took about 3 hours due to holiday traffic on the toll roads.

This is the view from Suma Station (power lines and all!). I've been to this station multiple times but have never come out this exit. The exit that goes up the hill and away from the beach leads to Marist Brothers International School, where I've traveled for basketball and futsal games. 

The beach was crowded but we did see some open areas - and even a few palm trees.

Awaji Island on the left, Kobe on the right (Hyogo Prefecture).
 Akashi-Kaikyu Bridge - This bridge is the world's longest suspension bridge. 
( Thank you to Japan Studies for the Trivia fact!
See all the fun facts teachers learn when you attempt to lead a class about the local area! )

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Words that Speak to Me

Discovering home decor with English on it is not difficult in Japan. 
Finding English phrases that are appropriate, make sense and are actually uplifting is rare. 

So when I found these two items at a local store called "Leaf" I had a hard time resisting.

HELLO. You lovely people.

Is a sign I placed in my genkan - or entry way - that greets me and others when they enter. The picture in the frame changes periodically and currently it holds a greeting card that I received that says, "God is Great".  

The floor mat that is at my front door has a lot of English that makes me smile each time I come and go through the door. It is basically a collection of a mottos of how I want to live my life and the atmosphere of my home. Wiping my muddy shoes over the rug after being in the yard has caused the white letters to fade a bit, but includes the following phrases:

Always make time to spend with each other
Say please and thank you
Try everything once
Treat others the way you want to be treated
LEARN - to say your sorry
LEARN - to forgive and forget
LEARN to never stay angry

What words are speaking to you these days?
How do you remind yourself of mottos to live by? 

Saturday, July 18, 2015


March 2009 moving into the Saidaiji House

As I'm packing up the "stuff" that has accumulated in my home for the last 6 years 
My heart is thankful for the friends and family who have lived life with me in this house in Japan. 
My head is trying to grasp hold of the notion that this house is going to be sold 
and I won't be returning to this place at the end of my Stateside assignment. 

My packing is prompting me to recall video clips of memories
 attached to rooms and objects.

My pace is slowed by my reluctance to uproot.

My protest to leaving is part of the paradox in 
in choosing a new path. 

My perspective of the promise of replanting somewhere new
 is overshadowed by the chaos of transition.

My pain in letting go is a reminder of the presence of blessings.

My prayer is for home to be with Him, not defined by geography.

Psalm 139: 9-10
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

Photo and quote from 'A Life Overseas'

Friday, July 17, 2015


As a TCK teacher, one role I had was equipping students with an understanding of transition.
Understanding it doesn't make the leaving easier but when expectations are closer to reality there is less of that "TWANG" of unmet expectations.  With the end of a school year, we saw students graduating, teachers transferring, missionaries moving, and some in the category of uncertain whether the future will bring them back to this location.  We have learned not to take year-end events lightly, saying healthy good-byes is important.

One of my favorite ways to teach about transition was through plants.
(I mentioned this a few years back with this post: click here)

Now that it's me in the "uprooted" stage (again)
 I'm reminded all over again the need to build my own R.A.F.T. as mentioned in the above post.

Replanting looks different for different people. 

Some are replanting for a short-term assignment, 
some for retirement, 
some for medical care, 
some for family, 
some for retooling in ministry, 
some for refreshment,
some for adventure,
some for a career change,
some for unknown time frames. 

A vital part in this re-entry or re-planting process are the family and friends that welcome us back "home". The website "Rocky Re-entry" has a lot to say about the re-entry process. Below is a link to a post that gives advice to friends and family members who will be walking through the re-entry process with those of us in transition. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Consider the Sunflower

Consider the Sunflower ひまわり(Himawari)

Luke 12:27-28"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

Continuing with the flower theme this week -
As I stated in the last 2 posts
I've started the tradition of having cut flowers in the house.
Sometimes from my garden - but often from the local farmer's market. 
It probably started out by having a mother and grandmother who would point out flowers as they went through life and tell me the name of that particular flower.
But it has grown from there, I enjoy the variety of plants, 
the unique way each flower is beautiful,
 the colors,
 the designs,
 the delicate and fragile way each flower tells its own story. 
If you're friends with me on Facebook you'd see
 I have more than one photo album dedicated to flowers  
and many profile pictures are of plants. 

If you are around when I have a camera in my hand
 I will most likely snap a few photos and 
cause a delay for the journey.

 The beauty of still life -or -flower photography 
-  is that it's, well,  still - 
and (unlike people) 
allows for many photos without moving or complaining.

I also like to focus on flowers because 
as I purchase them at the farmer's market from week to week  
I can focus in on the beauty that God created in each flower.  
Its a reminder that there is no need to worry. 
 Will God not take care of his children just as 
(and even more than)
 he cared for the flowers, which are temporary?