Monday, August 31, 2015

Mind the gap

Thank you for your patience while I was offline for the last 2 weeks. I'm now in Minnesota, USA. I'm in the process of readjusting to life on this side of the ocean. Remembering to drive on the other side of the road and not to stop at empty railroad crossings. My sleep schedule is getting set to this time zone, and my stomach is adjusting to new foods. I've been focused on reconnecting with family and had some time away on a mini-retreat. I'm now moved into my new place, with my new roommate and thoughts are starting to focus on plans to reconnect with ministry partners and friends who I haven't seen since my last home assignment. 

In the gap of time with no blog posts a few drafts have been in the works.  Still trying to add photos to some. So the next few posts may not appear in chronological order according to the events as they happened but I'll try to include the dates with each post.  In the meantime - thank you for sticking around to hear/read more of the story.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New missionaries join the team

Japan Converge Worldwide celebrated lots of exciting events this week.
Tom & Mary Lou (far right in photo) celebrated 30 years as Career missionaries in Japan.
Ian (far left of photo) celebrated the 1 year anniversary as a career missionary in Japan.
And on August 11, 2015, we all celebrated the arrival of new missionaries to the field.
The photos below are of the party we had at the airport - greeting the Wrights.

Celebrating that all 10 pieces of luggage arrived with them - and then sending the suitcases to their new home via "Kuro Neko" or the black cat delivery service.

 We celebrated the Wright's arrival by eating dinner together at the airport with a Tonkatsu - or pork cutlet dinner.

The Missionary Kids on the field - 2 of the Ellison girls and 3 of the Wright girls. 

And here is a photo of the missionaries currently on the field.
(Left to right: Ian, Lori, Tom, Joanna, Lydia, Rebecca, Jane, Christine, Rob, and Mary Lou)
Photo by: Ellen & Grace. Not pictured as they are in USA:  John & Elaine, Jeff & Barb. 

Thank you for praying for the new team He's building 
and the many transitions going on at this time.
Some coming back from home assignment, 
some going to home assignment, 
some retiring, 
some adapting to a new location, 
some in language school, 
some preparing to move. 
All trying to seek God's will 
in each step of the way 
and love the people around us 
in his strength.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Packing Packing Packing

Since the 1st of August I've been living in Chiba, Japan (Northeast of Tokyo) with the Ellison family. Tom and Mary Lou are preparing to move out of their home, and retire in USA. I've been helping them in the business of cleaning and packing.   They've had a great crew of friends from the community and church helping, as well as 3 of their adult children. Its exhausting work in the heat but with such a great crew and so much laughter its a joy to see the progress being made. 

 (Back: Lori, Ellen, Luke, Lisa, 
Middle: Grace, 
Front: Tom and Mary Lou)

While Tom and Mary Lou repeatedly made the tough decisions of what to ship, give away, or throw out. The rest of us helped with whatever task came up next. We also had some specialized jobs: for example Luke helped with some construction of crates and heavy lifting. Ellen was in charge of the packing playlist - of upbeat music to keep us moving along.  Grace was in charge of all things written - to do lists, inventory forms, and labeling boxes.  Lisa helped pack breakables, cut art projects and supply card games for all to play in the evenings. I helped with things in the kitchen and laundry. Keeping meals appearing on the table as we ate through the pantry and deep freeze was sometimes like a cooking show challenge with random ingredients.  Ellen would probably add that I was in charge of entertainment after 9pm - where silliness and fits of giggles reigned. 

Now that is some serious bubble wrap.
Or "Air packing" as its called in Japan.

On August 12, the shippers came to take 109 boxes to the cargo unit. 

It was a very hot and humid August day to do packing but all was done within about 4 hours.
On this day Ellen and I just tried to stay out of the way.

Here's a photo of the inside of the truck. 
The hope is that after 1 month it will all reappear in Minnesota.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

3-5-7 tradition with no smiles

Rina, my host sister's smiley daughter, from the Family reunion post was very excited to wear the kimono that her sister, and cousins had worn for their 3rd year festival photos.
(If you want more information about the the festival look here.) 
The festival is in November but since Tomo's family was only in Japan for the summer we did things a bit early.

Traditionally the girls will dress up in the kimono and have photos done professionally at a photo studio. (You can even rent children's kimonos at the studio!) But Tomo was doubtful that Rina would tolerate that as she can be quite camera shy sometimes. So the photos were taken at the Kimura home. Rina was dressed by Grandma and mom and was very patient during the 20 or so minutes it took to put on the layers of dress, do her hair and put on the shoes. 

But then she saw herself in the mirror.

and off came the kimono. 

It was fun while it lasted. 

Family Reunion Time

August is a time when Japanese families get together. Some traditionally visit the graves of ancestors to celebrate O-bon.  Others gather at a destination or travel together to a special place- often out of the heat and humidity of the city.

I've recently had the chance to visit my Japanese host family just outside of Tokyo, in Kanagawa prefecture for a weekend.  I lived with the Kimura family summers of '95, '96 and during language study for about 5 months in 2007-2008.   All 3 of my host family's adult children were also visiting. All 3 are married with kids now and so we had an adorable, lively gathering in a small apartment. 7 grandkids ranging from 13 to 2 years old. My host family's cousin and his family also visited so we had a total of 19 people at dinner.  

My host Mom and Dad  enjoying time with two of the most cuddly granddaughters.
(The mid afternoon snack on the plate is 'Shu cream' - in English known as a cream puff)

Having a coloring contest - Ta-chan insisted on using only pencil on paper, 
while Chiri was using lots of colors (including pink) to create a rainbow.
(Tatsuya (known as Ta-chan) is the only boy of all the grandkids)

My host brother, Kazuya's wife and their youngest daughter having some upside down fun.

My host brother, Toshiya, his wife, and their daughter - about to be tickled.

The kids table, eating my host mom's chirashizushi (or Sushi Rice) with a little help from the adults.

This adorable munchkin is almost 4 years old and already knows how to use a cell phone.
She picked up my phone and took over twenty selfies =0). 
But how can you get mad at such an adorable smile.
Her nickname is "Little Rascal" according to her mom (my host sister, Tomo). 

Here's a view of our steep walk uphill to church on Sunday morning.
Tomo, Chiri, and Rina, live in New York City and 
were visiting Japan for the summer. 
I last saw Tomo about 5 years ago when Chiri-chan was about 1 year old. 
I'm the American daughter who lives in Japan, and she's their Japanese daughter who lives in America.  So blessed to reconnect with her and get to know her adorable daughters!
I hope to visit them in Soho sometime soon!

After church, while some of the adults were packing suitcases for their trip to their mountain home,
I hung out with Chiri and Rina "entertaining" them by playing some kids' music so they could dance some wiggles out while jumping on the bed before a 3 hour car ride. 
We enjoyed an abundant amount of smiles, giggles, and cuddles this weekend. 
Such fun!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Packing Angels

As I've been moving out of the house and focused on packing I haven't been able to update the blog.
I'm now in Chiba, Japan helping fellow missionaries pack their house.
Blog updates will be made when time allows for the next 2 weeks. 

Packing Angels - those people who are willing to give up their time and serve 
by putting other peoples stuff into boxes, cleaning the house and moving furniture. 

HUGE encouragement to me! THANK YOU!

Above Lisa is sorting through my library and putting my books, many of which are from my classroom,  into boxes.

Colleen and Emily sorting through the remaining kitchen items.

Ikumi and Sachiko are helping me by "grocery shopping" through my kitchen.
The spices, jars, sauces that were (mostly) not outdated that they could use. 
In true mission style, the remaining products were "re-gifted" to the missionaries coming back to Japan off of home assignment. 

In the background of the above photo you can see Yo on the phone trying to negotiate phone land line cancellation with the phone company.

Moving furniture from the 2nd floor to the first.  - Sachiko, Yo, and Lisa moving a dresser.

Sachiko and Lisa taking down the curtains.

Yo, the muscle of our group,
 among the furniture resting in direct flow of the air conditioning. 

Ikumi helped clean out the pantry and sort through paperwork.

Not pictured here are the neighbors who have been such angels to take care of watching the house while I'm gone and take out the last loads of trash that we created in the packing.  

Everything was packed and we closed up the house by noon on the 31st of July. 
I'll be moving to an apartment when I return so all of my things will be put in storage for 6 months while I'm gone.