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One More Year

Hey everyone! My roommate said I needed to update my blog, so here I am, updating it!

These last two weeks of my spring break was spent visiting friends and family in America! I got to see most of my family and tons of friends (A lot of whom are getting married, jeez!) Though, because I saw so many people and spent time with them, my “break” wasn’t really a break. Tiring, but well worth it.

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Got my hair CUT cut! First time since…well, ever.

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Me, Faith, and Julia!

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I was able to see a lot of my friends before I came back to Japan. 🙂

I had a lot of fun getting to visit everyone in the states but I’m also glad to be back in Japan. Oddly enough, I’m okay both places…it’s hard to explain haha.

Anyways, this is the start of my new year here in Japan! Lots of things new– new me (lost weight, whoo!), new hair cut, new school year, new experiences (I’ll get to that later)…. Let’s start off by talking about the new school year!

Here in Japan, the school year ends in March and the new school year starts in April. So, basically as soon as I got back from the US, it was back into the swing of things. This year my class is a little bigger than last year and has a lot of high-spirited boys in it. Definitely going to be an exciting year, haha! For those wondering (because I never really thought of it this way until now) the school system here in Japan is basically a year-round school system. Start in April, one week off in May, the month of August off for summer break, a couple three-day weekend holidays here and there, two weeks for winter break, then, at the end of the year, two weeks off until it starts all over again. Thus far, I have 12 kids in my class but by June or July there will have 15. This new school year is definitely coming with its challenges, but I have to keep reminding myself that God is in control even when I’m surround by twelve screaming two-year-olds.

Now let’s talk about my trip back to the US and coming back to Japan a bit. To be honest, after this next year in Japan, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to be doing. People have asked me,

“Oh, you’re going to come home after this next year, right?”

“Uh…maybe?”

“Oh. Well, does that mean you’re going to be staying in Japan even longer?”

“Uh…maybe?”

“Which is it?”

“…Yes.”

That’s pretty much how some of my conversations have gone recently. I was hoping and praying that God would enlighten me in my trip back to the US and make it obvious whether I would be in Japan longer or go back to the US for sure.

If anything, the trip back just muddled everything together and now I’m just rolling on the floor going, “God, this isn’t the kind of answer I wanted. I’m bad at waitinggggggg.” Which may be one of the reasons he has decided to let me stew a bit. All-in-all, going back to the US has helped me think of some other possibilities and has broadened my scope about things that I might need to make happen.

I feel like I haven’t exactly conveyed what I wanted to about my uncertain future, but it’s a confusing mess of what I want, what would be nice, what I think others would want me to do, and my brain not working at full capacity at the given moment, this will have to do. Though, please pray that whatever I do, it’s God’s will, not mine and that I’ll be able to glorify him no matter the circumstances.

Next topic! My (fun) new experience! Ha! Not actually so fun, but it’s an experience. Norman Smith, my roommate, Keiko, and I were involved in a little bit of a car accident this last Sunday. First, let me say that all of us are fine and it was 100% not our fault. Pretty hard to be our fault when we were at a complete stop in traffic and someone’s front bumper decides to say hello to our rear window.

We were in a little car in Japan called a kei car. Now these cars are designed to be lightweight and super economical. Basically good for getting you from point A to point B in town, but not highway driving (I’ve been told that these cars aren’t street legal in the US, because of their small engine size, but I’m actually unsure if this is true or not). Anyways, we were in this tiny car, and the car that hit us was a jacked up Toyota Land Cruiser, which the owner had personally modified and made better to squish little cars like us. Needless to say, the car was pretty beat up, but the people inside (us) were okay. Keiko has been having shoulder pains as she was in the back seat and got the brunt of the force, and I have a nice case of whiplash and some dizzy spells.

We did go to the doctor after the accident, and we go back tomorrow to double check everything is fine. The Lord provided little blessings in it, like the day it happened was the one day out of over a week that it wasn’t raining, and we were right outside a convenience store so we wouldn’t go hungry. Plus we got a call from the other person’s insurance saying that they were going to cover everything, including missed work days because of dizziness, medical bills, and a new car for Norman and Susan. Yay!

I was thinking of putting a picture up of the car, but I was told that’s kind of rude and an invasion of privacy of those involved or something here in Japan soooo I guess I won’t, but I really want to!

That’s all I can think of for this blog. My brain is still a little whacked-out from just coming back from the US and the car accident, so I know I wanted to say more, but I’ve forgotten.

Anyways, that’s all for now!

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Bonus cherry blossoms


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Valentine’s Update

Update time! *cue balloons and sparklers*

So I’ve been told that several people have told my family and so on that I really should update my blog more often. I guess I struggle with that, because I feel like I can’t update it unless I have either a plethora of things to post on it or big things that happened that I can talk about. I know that that’s not the case, and I should update more than just that, but I didn’t think  people would be interested in the little things.

Now, without further ado, let’s get on with the update!

First, here’s a small, little badly made video kind of explaining the basics of me being here in Japan and such. Sorry about the bad lighting and background noise. It was night and it’s cold so I had the heater running in the background. 😛 Watch here! Sorry, you’ll have to watch it on youtube, but eh.

January and February thus far have been crazy busy and zooming past. It’s getting close to the end of the school year here (ends in March) and we’ve been preparing like crazy for something we call the “Big Show” or 発表会(はっぴょうかい [happyoukai]). All four classes at the school are practicing a short play (with my class, emphasis on short), a song, and a dance. We have less than two weeks left, but kids are doing great and seem to be remembering it pretty well.

My kids have been making leaps and bounds in their English learning! I’m always excited to see them remember the vocabulary we learned in class and they use it just while playing or talking to another student. My favorite word that I’ve heard so far (which I didn’t teach, but somehow they learned it) was “grody”. I was mentioning something was gross so “don’t touch it,” and one of the little boys looked down at the spot on the table and whispered very seriously, “grody…” It was a good day.

Currently I’m in the process of renewing my visa since I’m staying a second year and attempting to get my Japanese driver’s license. The visa has been fairly painless and we are submitting the paperwork on Friday. The driver’s license though has been…well…let’s just live it at not fun. I need specific paperwork from America that is kind of hard to find and it’s rather annoying. I was worried more about taking the driving test, but the paper process I think will be the worst part overall. Though I still might cry during the driver’s test. I’ve been told to assume failure, and that I shall.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it in the last post, but I’ll be visiting home from March 20-April 4th so that’s exciting!

This is my attempt at making a brief blog post. If you have any questions or anything, feel free to comment and ask!

Also, I realize that this is a post on valentine’s day that has absolutely nothing to do with valentines. Do I care? Nope. 😀

Here’s some random pictures to finish off the post because YAY.

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NABE IS DELICIOUS. SO. GOOD.

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It snowed! It actually has quite a few times, but only a dusting and it’s gone by noon.

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Must wear protective masks when half your kids are gone with the flu and the other half are sneezing everywhere.

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Enjoyed a warmer day in the winter and explored the back mountain with Melodie.

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Also explored the riverbed with Melodie! It was a beautiful day.

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I’m great at making kids mimic my faces. Some would call it a curse, I call it entertainment.

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Okay, this one’s nice.

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TURTLE MELON PAN! (pan is Japanese for bread, taken from Portuguese)

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What is this you might ask? Why, it’s HORSE MEAT! and it was DELICIOUS.

 

Yup, that’s pretty much it. Ending with a picture of horse meat. Awesome.


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A New Year Post

Even though I’m a little late, happy new year everyone! あけましておめでとうございます!

So, I checked when the last time I wrote a blog was aaaand…it was a little bit ago, wasn’t it? Haha, whoops again.

November and December were both rather crazy and busy months. With our church here in Japan, we had a Thanksgiving dinner which we invited as many people as we could to, and two Christmas events in December. The Thanksgiving dinner had a huge turnout, close to 30 people! I was only able to go to one of the Christmas events, but that one didn’t have such a bad turnout either and I rocked charades! (I was told halfway through that I wasn’t allowed to answer anymore because no one else was getting a chance too, heehee.) I was informed that the second event the Smiths held at our local coffee shop went well too and there were also many people and friends who attended that! Praise God. It was a kind of sing-a-long carol thing so I’m sure that was entertaining to do and watch.

This was my first time being away from home during the holidays, but God has provided me with amazing families and friends here in Japan who are willing to take me in and feed me and share their holidays with me. 🙂 God’s grace has been very evident to me through the holiday time.

I’ve continued to work on learning Japanese. Can I speak it yet? HA! No,  but I’m slowly learning. Or trying to learn. We’ll see how it continues to go. 🙂

In other news, I wasn’t even in Japan on Christmas day! If you haven’t heard, I took a quick trip over to Malaysia with a friend of mine and visited another friend as well as go to a wedding reception. Malaysia was phenomenal! Of course, it helped that the people I hung out with there are amazing and wonderful as well. All in all, the trip was way too short and I would love to go back and visit Malaysia again when I have time to stay longer. Maybe in the future, who knows!

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Shu En! 😀

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Restaurant had cool decorations.

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THE FOOD WAS SO YUMMY.

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YUUUMMMYY

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We had little fishies eat our feet.

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HUGE malls

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Shaved ice? Kind of?

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I was told to pose.

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The Malaysia group! (Me, Itaru, and Shu En)

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Daaw.

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Faith and Gordon’s wedding reception we went to.

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Everything is so green in December!

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Saw these buildings. Pretty cool.

New years in Japan was a completely new experience for me. Imagine thanksgiving in America or Christmas…That’s new year’s in Japan. It’s a huge family holiday where everyone gets together, counts down until midnight, enjoys spending time with each other, and eats tons of food. My boss and his family invited me over to their house to spend a more traditional Japanese new year with them and I had a great time. We ate toshikoshi soba (年越しそば), watched the count down, ate osechiryouri (おせち料理), a traditional boxed meal (kind of like a box of hors d’oeuvres) usually eaten around new years, as well as a bunch of other delicious food!

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Sushi on new year’s eve! (sorry it’s blurry :P)

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The wonderful cook, Chika.

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toshikoshi soba (年越しそば)!

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osechiryouri (おせち料理) yes, that’s crab you see

I was also taken to do mochitsuki (餅つき), which is basically where you pound rice into a soft and squishy…uh..rice cake? It was fun, but I was afraid I was going to hit someone with the giant wooden mallets. Anyways, this is another end of the year tradition to do here in Japan. I’m so thankful for Marty and Chika and their family for taking me in and feeding me and wanting me to have a real “Japanese” experience. I thank God for you guys so much! Thank you! 😀

 

In light of the new year, Norman challenged all of us to reflect back on the past year–what has God done for you? What have you learned about God and yourself?

So much has happened this last year I don’t even know where to begin! Well, maybe I do, let’s start with the most obvious one, I moved to Japan! God had been working in my life for I don’t know how long to get me here in Japan now. He provided me the money to come, the friends willing to take me in, and a job while I’m here too. Thinking about this thing God has done in my life is simply amazing and I can’t grasp his limitless grace he has given me.

I’m also thankful that God wanted me outside of my little midwest Iowa comfort zone. Being away from home for the first time and in a new environment outside of my comfort zone has really had a way of pointing out my bad habits and things in my life and personality I need to fix. It’s definitely given me some good one-on-one time with God, mulling over the attributes of God and how exactly I need to change my life to better reflect his. I’ve  gotten to examine my motivations for many goals in my life (jobs, dating, marriage, future in general) and realized that I had already tried to outline my future with things I want and I’m hoping to do. I put a thin film of “yah, of course I’ll glorify God while I accomplish these plans I made” over it and called it good. God doesn’t want me to work him into my plans, I need to be working toward God’s plan for my life, even if it means that a year from now I have no idea what I’ll be doing or even where I’ll be. Pretty exciting, eh?

The next big thing I can think of is that I’m so glad for God’s protection during the earthquakes we had in April here in Kumamoto. Those (literally) rocked my world and threw me into a whole new situation that I honestly never thought I would be in. Safety and God giving everyone the ability to be flexible was an amazing gift in that time.

Some of you know that my dad has been in and out of the hospital five times in the last six months and let me say, I am soooooooo thankful to friends and family who are back home and helping my family while I’m away. It kind of sucks that everything happened while I was here in Japan, but for the most part I felt rather calm about it since I knew being here is where God wants me right now. So, for everyone who’s reading this and has helped my family out, thank you so much!!

Now, I have many, many, many more things I’m thankful for, but I think that most of them will reveal themselves in time in my blog posts or on facebook. So, onto a new topic!

Goals for this coming year and things to work on.

Something I really feel God has been working on in my life right now is being patient. But…IT’S SO HARD. Haha! I really want to see ten steps ahead of me in my life, but God is only letting me see one or two steps ahead and says, “trust me, I know where I’m going”. Well, okay God, you are God and all-powerful and all-knowing and created everything so I suppose I can follow you. Ha! So that’s something I have been trying to work on, not only patience, but trusting in God’s plan for me.

This year I want to work on praying more too. I’ve been challenged recently with a verse I read in Isaiah, “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction for you have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17). That was the prayer of Hezekiah after he found out that God had listened to his prayer when he was sick and extended his life by 15 years.  Previously, he was told by God through Isaiah that he was going to die of his sickness, but we wept bitterly, prayed and God heard him. The reason this verse stuck out to me was that Hezekiah talks about how he prayed to God for a, shall I say, “selfish” reason? He didn’t think about glorifying God, he just wanted to live. And God in his grace and mercy, heard his prayer and let him live longer.

How many times have I prayed something just because I want a certain outcome? In fact, how often do I pray for people other than myself? Do I pray that whatever happens, it will be for the glory of God and his will or do I just want my own plans to work out?

I mean, even Jesus prayed for something he would like done, but the main difference between the way I have been praying and his is that he asked that whatever happened, he wanted God’s will to be done. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  (Luke 22:42 Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives)

In other words, I need to work on my prayer life. I need to shift the focus of my prayer from myself to God and pray more consistently and pray for others more often.

Woo! That was a fun ride! Sorry, I wrote quite a bit (well, it seems like a lot to me…). Anyways, this is pretty much the end of my post! I’m really really going to try hard and update it more often (I mean, new year and all, right?)

ONE LAST THING! I will be coming back to the US to visit from March 20th-April 3rd! I’ll put it on facebook soon too, but just a heads up for friends and family. 😀

See ya!

 


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Busy, busy, busy…

Now, even though the title says that I’m busy…. I suppose that’s not really an excuse for me not to update my blog very often, now is it?

Bad, Manda, bad!

Anways, my schedule has really started to fill up! I’m teaching Monday-Friday from 9-2:30 except for Thursdays where I stay late until 6 or 6:30. Besides that, Norman has started “Kumamoto Bible School” which is a cheap, amazing way to teach seminary like courses to people here in Japan that want it. Currently, I’m taking three classes; Marriage and family, Old Testament Survey I, and Doctrine. These three classes fill up quiet a bit of my time, but I’m really enjoying taking them and it’s waaaay cheaper than going to seminary in the US, but I get about the same amount of information (ish?) In November, I start one more class (making my grand total 4 classes for a bit), Personal Evangelism. Now, the thing about me taking these classes in Japan is that if the teachers are able to do things bilingually and translate them into English for me, that’s great! But, there will be some classes I can’t take because they’ll only be offered in Japanese. Eh, I’m okay with that.

On that note, Japanese! My learning is going….okay! I’m better than when I first arrived in Japan, but I’m still not on the basic of basic conversation levels yet. Hopefully soon,  because it really is driving me crazy that I can’t talk with people I just randomly meet. I WANNA TALK WITH THEM. I’ll just have to study harder, haha.

Since it’s been a while since I posted, I suppose I’ll talk about some of the events that’s happened around here. Keiko and I took a trip to Kyoto in August and met with my friend, Itaru, while we were there. It was sooooo much fun and I probably could have spent another five days there, but we really only had one. But, I got to ride the shinkansen (bullet train)! That was also super fun!…but also slightly anticlimactic because it was mostly tunnels and walls, so you really couldn’t see much.

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You could see the shinkansen from our hotel room!

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I was having fun at the Inari shrine…

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kinkakujin (the golden pavilion)

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I’m sweaty and gross because it was super hot in August (more like all the time), but there’s a cool pavilion in the background. 😀

Not a whole lot happened in September besides work and whatnot. Though, I have recently been able to start meeting with a Japanese lady who helps me with Japanese and I help her with English while also reading the bible. It’s like a language-bible study hybrid. Anyways, today was the first day that we met at her house, and she had an entire meal planned for me! It was the first time I had steak since being in Japan. 🙂 I’m excited to go back next week, but I hope I don’t get lost driving, because her home really is out there where the small, skinny roads are.

More recently, last weekend, my school had our annual undoukai or “sports festival”. Since the kids are between the ages of two and six, it was pretty minimal, but still fun. I enjoyed it immensely, and I know my kids had fun. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any pictures to show for it yet, but hopefully they’ll be coming soon!

Since I’m staying in Japan another year, I get the amazing joy of taking the driver’s test to get my Japanese driver’s license! Yay!… Ha. I’ve been told to just assume that I will fail the first attempt, because they usually fail foreigners the first time anyways. Yay me. Pretty nervous for that, but I just have to take it before March so there’s still time. 🙂 Plus, I’ve been driving the past eight and a half months here in Japan.

Now I’m just trying to type random things that have happened since I feel guilty for not updating in a while; I’m learning guitar from Chloe! It’s hard….like…my mind is having a hard time wrapping around the whole, “you sing one line of melody, but strum something different on your guitar.” It makes my brain hurt and me frustrated, but I think I’m stubborn enough to keep trying. Probably.

Okay, I’m running out of things to say now… Yes. So I suppose for now, I’ll bid every sayonara! 🙂


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Hisashiburi (long time, no see)

Remember when I said I’m going to try and update my blog every week? Yah…I remember that too. Good times…

The last month and a half I feel like I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things. Life went back to normalcy (mostly) after the earthquake and my job at Hilltop International School is going strong. I will only be able to post a select few of the pictures I’ve taken at school with me and my kids, because of the kids’ privacy and the parents’.

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This is one I can add because it’s on facebook already. He’s trying to copy me. 😀

During the summer, it’s way too hot and humid to go play at the nearby park, so the kids get to play in the pool instead! And me…I like pools and splashing people. This will go on until September, when it will finally begin cooling down.

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Look at the camera!

 

It’s amazing how teaching two and three year olds can change your thinking. I honestly thought that I would hate teaching little kids and I was soooooooooooo nervous, but God blessed me with a great class and great people to support me while I’m here. It goes to show that God can work in your life, even if you really don’t want to do something at first. God changes hearts. 🙂

At school, we also do things with the kids that coincide with some Japanese celebrations, for example in the picture below is Tanabata, the Star Festival. Basically, the story is Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) fell in love, got married, but the families weren’t too happy about it. So they separated them and they were only allowed to see each other once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. The catch is that they only can meet if it’s not cloudy and you can see the stars (cuz…they’re stars…). Anyway, it’s a day where everyone writes wishes down on pieces of paper and places them on bamboo branches. Some of them were ornately done!

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Me under the tanabata tree XD

Related to school, every Thursday night I stay over at my boss’ house, with him and his wife, Chika and their two year old son Chase (he’s so adorable. He’s in the pool picture with me). They just became christians not long ago (Chika in January!) and I have loved getting to know them better. Marty (my boss) and Chika both have a strong desire to learn more about the bible and God. Norman and Susan have both been having bible studies with them.

I’ve been able to adventure out a little bit and go to what I would describe as a Japanese farmer’s market. Marty sells these delicious pork sandwiches (American style, yum) which he was selling there, so I went and visited with Keiko and Chloe. It was fun to go out and see what it was like, plus I GOT TO EAT AUTHENTIC DANGO. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW EXCITED I WAS ABOUT THAT. For the others that don’t know, dango is kind of like stall food that’s made out of sticky rice powder (mochi) and covered in deliciousness (you can get different toppings and such). So I got to eat dango and watch a Japanese luau (it was pretty interesting.)

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Japanese farmer’s market

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HAPPINESS

Norman and Susan have been working really hard the last 6 to 7 weeks because of an interning family staying with us. So now it’s not just me and Keiko, but also a family of four with a three year old an a one year old. Lots of noise everyday. 😉 It’s been great getting to know them and they are loving it here and have said they’ve learned a lot from Norman and Susan about discipleship and pursuing God.

As for me and my time here, I had struggled for a while because I was feeling rather useless. I was living with Norman and Susan, but because of my work schedule and the time they were with the intern family, I hadn’t gotten to see them much at all. I didn’t know if I was fulfilling their expectations or if I was being lazy (which honestly, might have been part of it) or what.Thankfully, I got to talk to Susan about what I was thinking and she reminded me of a couple things. One, I can’t speak Japanese, so that limits my  could-be helpfulness a lot, and two, I have been doing one of the things that they really wanted me to do; meeting with some of the christian women here, fellowshipping with them and encouraging them where I can.

While I’ve been doing that, through my devotions (especially reading Job and Philippians)  God kept on bringing up the matter of humility. I thought, “Hey now, I’m not a prideful person…Maybe I’ll have a problem with it every once in a while, but not really.” But God kept bringing it up again and again and again. I started really trying to look at my life and then I realized that pride has gotten little footholds in different parts of my life. Not in the obvious way where I snub my nose in the air and say, “Hmph, you’re not as good as me,” but in the little ways I react to things. Using biting or sarcastic retorts when someone criticizes me because I thought was I did was half decent, only half listening to someone when I think I’ve experienced it already, not giving people the opportunity to talk because I have important information that is pertinent to the conversation (which is true, but when you dominate the conversation with it…. eh…). I’m praying about it and still trying to work on it, but I’m so thankful that God showed me where to focus my efforts more.

In other news, I had a friend come visit me this last weekend, Julia!! I’m so happy someone from Ames came to see me. 😀 She was only here for less than two days, but we had a blast. We went shopping, went to a live house, tried to see lightning bugs in the rain (didn’t work, but we saw lots of frogs), explored the river near the house, and went to an onsen. Loved having her here. 🙂

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I am seriously going to try and update my blog more. I’m going to try reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaallly hard!


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I’m bad at titles

I’m sure many of you are wondering how my job and ministry is doing here, so I thought I should probably update.

My job at Hilltop International School is going pretty well, I think. I’m gradually getting used to teaching two year olds, but I’m by no means good at it yet. My boss, Marty, has helped me out a lot by showing me the ropes and how to keep the kids’ amazingly short attention span on me. The key is lots of songs, movement and action, and not being afraid to be weird, which I know I’m pretty good at the latter. 😀 My kids have also seemed to get into the swing of regular life again as have their families. The one thing I’m still unsure about in teaching is, well, I guess I’ll call it discipline? When the kids do something that they aren’t supposed to do, I can only tell them, basically, “wrong” or “stop” and I can’t explain why because my Japanese is on par with an 8 month old baby. I think this is the one thing I’m struggling with the most is that I can’t tell the kids why they can’t do something. I suppose it’s spurring on my drive to study Japanese, but it still bothers me. Thankfully, I have amazing helpers in my classroom that speak Japanese. 🙂

The temperature here is slowly rising, currently staying around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or so everyday. The rainy season is coming soon, most likely in the next couple weeks, and then after that will be the scorching hot and humid summer. The temperature doesn’t move from 95 degrees (F) and it’s unbelievably humid out from July until mid September. Also, the place I’m staying doesn’t have air conditioning.

I’m going to die.

But, on the plus side, I will be so hot that I won’t want to eat and maybe I’ll lose even more weight. 😀 (jk, jk, I won’t be that dumb)

I’ve been enjoying going to Minami Aso about every other weekend to visit some friends who can’t make it to bible study as easily because of the damaged roads from the earthquakes. Keiko and I are going again this coming Saturday to have lunch with them and just talk. The wife loves to have company and was very excited when we asked if it was alright if we came over. Last Saturday, when we went, everyone was put to work, because they had just happened to get a shipment of sod in and it needed put down. So we thought, why not? Now their yard looks very pretty.

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The pretty yard in question.

When most people live abroad, you worry about culture shock from being in the country. I honestly haven’t experience much of that yet (it helps that I work at an all English school, and that I live with an American family…), but I have slightly experienced the culture shock of living with a different family. I’m so thankful that God made everyone different and with different personalities, but sometimes it’s hard to navigate relationships with people if they’re a different personality than you. I love living with the Smith’s and God has definitely helped me grow and realize that there’s more personalities in the world than just my friends and family back home. Everyone is different and I should be aware of the differences and take that into account when talking with whoever it is.

As I’m posting this I’ve been really blessed yesterday and today. Today’s my birthday and everyone is just amazing here. Keiko gave me a make-shift cake that she put together after bible study, which was delicious, and the group sang happy birthday to me. Today, the Smith kids each gave me something; Cameron drew me a picture with a “cake machine” that made cakes (think AT-AT that pops out cakes), Chloe braided me a bracelet out of my favorite colors–orange and green–, and Melodie gave me an adorable key chain she was pretty sure she  made and a homemade pencil holder that has Tigger on it! I love it all!

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Notice Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Also Mickey Mouse is on the other side. I might have laughed hysterically when I saw it…

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I’m still not exactly sure what God’s plan is for me in the future, but I pray that I will be a blessing to the people here in Japan, because they have definitely been a blessing to me. 🙂


1 Comment

Moving Forward

Sorry I haven’t updated in a bit. Trying to get things back to normal–whatever that is–can be quite the chore.

Right after the earthquake there wasn’t much chance to try and fall back into a daily rhythm because, just four days after we started school again, golden week in Japan started. Basically, golden week is a seven day period where four holidays happen to fall, so most companies give workers the week off, thus it’s called golden week.

Today was the first day back to school after golden week and I had a whopping three out of nine students there. There was a fourth student, but his mom told us she would be picking him up early at 11, apparently he was having troubles because of the earthquakes. I didn’t think much of it, but throughout the day if a classroom helper wasn’t near him, he would start to get nervous and cry. Once, when there wasn’t a helper close to him for a minute or two he started to cry and said, 「地震怖い」or basically in English, “Earthquakes are scary!”

It just completely broke my heart. 😦

As you can tell from his comment and any news articles that you can find online that normality and cleaning up from the earthquake is going to take quite a while. The damage to Kumamoto Castle has been estimated to take around 20 years to fix alone. Keiko, my friend I mentioned in a previous post, is not able to live in her apartment anymore because of the damage, so she’s officially my new roommate. 🙂 Pray for her because she’s at a major crossroads in her life and she’s trying to decide what to do.

Last Saturday, the Smith’s, Keiko, my boss’s family, and I went to go see some friends who live in the Minami Aso area. It’s a big deal because the usual short and easy route is caved in and landslided, so we drove up through the mountains and back down to where they live. That area is beautiful and has a nice added touch of there being a volcano in the scenery. BUT, on the way there, we drove through Nishihara on the way which was heavily damaged by the quakes. I only got a couple of pictures of the damage, and not even the really bad damage. The houses on the other side of the road were next to a cliff, so they were literally sliding down the cliff and at a 45 degree angle or so

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The Aso are is absolutely stunning. I’m definitely going to try going back there.

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Token picture of me with volcano and rocks in the background.2016-04-30 13.26.20

The whole area where the city lays is actually an old, giant volcanic crater. There’s more crater on the other side of the mountain too.2016-04-30 15.21.28

Second token picture of me. I like this one better, but I thought my mom would like the first one of me. 🙂2016-04-30 16.51.20

Yes…That’s a boulder in the sidewalk…that had to roll through the road to get there…2016-04-30 16.51.32

Sidewalk just trying to run away or something.2016-04-30 12.53.20

A house that is no longer livable in from the earthquake.2016-04-30 12.53.12

A completely collapsed building. Keiko told me it was at least over 100 years old.

Anyways, once again, sorry for the slow update. Everything after the earthquakes just seemed to jump by. I swear the earthquakes were only just last week, but it’s been three weeks now.

We’re still getting aftershocks. I was hopeful when we had a couple day stretch where I couldn’t really feel any aftershocks until the last couple of days where we have felt many larger aftershocks. So, who knows when those will stop, but we’ll see.

The fear is really strong here. Two families from the school got up and moved from the Kumamoto area because of the earthquakes…You can’t run from earthquakes in Japan. A lot of people panic at even the slightest aftershock too. It’s actually really sad to see. I’m praying that I can be a light to those who are scared and have lost hope.

Keep praying for me and Kumamoto!