Sunday, July 27, 2008

Birthday Package from Friends!!

I got a package for my birthday from my amazing friends, Evonne and Jennifer! I was super excited and it was such a thoughtful gift. With each little thing they put a fun little rhyme on it. How great are they!?

Divin in! Loved the package stuffing!

Reading the card. Amazing and encouraging words...yes, there were tears. i am sooo blessed to have friends like them! They are two amazing women in my life who always speak truth to me and listen to me! Thank you dear friends for your consistency while I have been here....and the fun skype calls!!! Love you!

The First gift...Lotion! can't find any here!! and when Jen and Eves came to Japan they brought me some! Because of them my skin will stay hydrated! Thanks, ladies!

Jason also liked this gift....well, mostly the rhyme.

Second gift....Stickers...the rhyme...
Get Excited!
Hike up your knickers, cause here's some STICKERS!

Third gift...a BIKE BELL!!! our bikes our are main mode of transportation, second...our feet, third, the trains. the bell has flashy lights too when you ring it! i have the coolest bike bell in all of Japan!
How about a BIKE BELL to keep you humming....
on your new bike so they'll know you're coming!

Fourth gift....FIBER ONE bars. I love these things! And when Jen came to Japan this was another one of my requests....thanks, JEN!

Fifth gift....School of Rock! Oh yeah! I love Jack Blacke.
Be the coolest teacher on your block....
Start your own Japanese School of Rock!!!

sixth gift....COOKIES! Oh how I miss cookies. They were white chocolate macadamia nut! Whenever I would go to Subway with Eves....I would always be tempted by these things and many times...I caved. Thanks, Eves!!

Here are some COOKIES to make your tummy mooshy
So you can tak a break from all the Sushi!

Seventh gift....Mini Mario Game! This thing is fun on the long train rides and the short ones! :)

To play on the trains some Super Mario Brothers
Don't go to sleep like all the others!

Also, thanks to my husband the photographer! P.S. My husband is AMAZING!

Rumblings beneath the Surface

It's 1:30a.m. and I am still wide awake. Not really sure why....I think it might have something to do with the restlessness of my heart that is making my mind and body that way. Not really sure what it is all about exactly. I just know what it is doing to me. It is making me discontent, insecure, frustrated, angry, annoyed....

I want to slap it around and tell it how I feel so that it will leave me alone. I want to not care. I want it to not matter. I want it to stop making these rumblings beneath the surface. When did I give it permission to keep me up at night? Maybe when it found a friend or two to help it slap me laugh at my face, to make fun of me, to say things behind my back but really I heard it all. And then it turns around, as if i didn't see anything, and wants to be my friend and parade around as if it cares....but really it will move on to another heart and just leave me trying to figure out what happened.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where we work

So, I realized that I have never posted pics or talked about where we work here in Japan. My apologies. The tree in the pictures is the Japanese cherry blossom. I can't wait until next April when they pop out again.
Tamagawa Seigakuin - Main BuildingTamagawa Seigakuin- Annex building

There are about 1080 students that go to this school. I see new faces everyday and love getting to smile and wave at each one of them. Sometimes they just stare at me...probably because they aren't too sure what to say or they are just insecure about their English speaking abilities. We teach everyday. Some days the teaching load is lighter than others. Jason teaches J3 and S2 (the equivalent of Freshman and Juniors in High School) and I teach J1 and J2 (the equivalent of 7th and 8th graders). I never thought I would want to teach jr. high students but the Japanese students are really well behaved....for the most part. Some of course like to challenge and push a bit but it is nothing too bad like what I have experienced from some students in the States.

The Summer is beginning now and I am glad to have the time off. However, it doesn't seem that the students get too much time off. I just sat down at my desk and discovered a paper that lays out the student's homework for the summer!! It seems that the Japanese never take a break. So one term down and five more to go! We are enjoying it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


So, the law is changing now for smokers in Japan. Now, all smokers have to register for a certain kind of identity card specifically for the purchase of tobacco. Starting on the 1st of July no one in Japan can purchase cigarettes without this card but even further action has been taken to prevent underage smoking. I received this email from the Japanese newsletter I subscribe to and I found today's article interesting and wanted to share.

from Namiko Abe
I read an article about a tobacco vending machine that can detect if the purchaser is a minor. In some countries, the purchase of tobacco can be very strict. In Japan, it can be easily purchased from vending machines, which are located everywhere. This newly developed machine has a built-in camera that measures facial wrinkles, pupil size and other features. The population of smokers is quite high in Japan. It is 29.2 % (as of 2007) and the fifth highest in the world following Greece, Turkey, Netherlands and Hungary. I think people are concerned about health nowadays, but when I was little, the men of my dad's age were almost all smokers. I wonder how effective this new machine will be in preventing youth from smoking?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where is the Relief to the Pressure?

It all started when one of my friends (who is fluent in Japanese) was talking to another teacher in the break room. He said one sentence in Japanese that confused me because of all that was eliminated from it. He said, "eki kara demo" which means "station from also" however we would reorder that to say....But, what about from the station? But, you see, this is the thing about the Japanese language...much is omitted from the sentences. Many times it is the subject. Can you imagine speaking English and almost always leaving out the subject in your sentences? I know I can't. As Americans, words are very important to us. We need them to understand. Well chosen words create good writers, good speakers, good teachers, etc. This has been one of the difficult things for me in comprehending the Japanese language. Much is omitted from sentences. So, then, how do you know what someone is talking about? The answer: you pay VERY close attention and you try to guess. Yes, guess. Foriegners have to do more quessing, I think, because the culture isn't our own. But, if you are Japanese, you should know what the other person is thinking, feeling, wanting. You should assume. It is expected that you should get it right. Talk about pressure!

The Japanese, being raised in this expectation have an uncanny ability to figure this out. However, if they are wrong, they immediately feel shamed and embarassed. There is no room for failure in this culture. Many students don't speak up in class for fear they will be wrong. When my students finish the simpilest of exercises and I try to check it, they quickly cover it and say, "not yet". Then proceed to check and recheck and this worksheet isn't even for a grade. Put this mentatlity into a work environment. If your boss requests something of you, you don't ask too many questions. You figure out what he wants and you check and recheck to make sure it's right. The result....long working hours and a lot of stress. Because the expectation is that you should know.

I learned this while my friend explained it to me after I asked questions about his sentence. The language reflects the culture or rather the culture reflects the language. Which one, I am not sure, maybe it is both. Not linear but ciclical. As I pondered all this new information and tried to wrap my American/Western mind around it I wondered about all of this in realtionship to knowing Jesus Christ. So, I asked. How can the Japanese understand grace when it doesn't exist in their own culture? How do they see this picture of Jesus? How do they even explain it? I got an answer from one of the Bible Teachers at this school who happened to be standing at the sink. Her answer was something like this: Some Japanese come to see this grace because it has been shown to them through other believers from other countries (i.e. America, Canada, Australia, England, on and on). The Japanese see grace in other people and then can therefore come to understand for themselves in relationship with a loving God who doesn't "shame" you if you fail.

I began thinking about Matthew 9: 36-38. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Please pray with me that the Lord would send His workers. That out of Japan, out of other countries, He would bring His laborers to love on these people. These people who know pressure but not a burden that is light. They know shame but not grace to redeem. My heart breaks for this culture. They need Jesus. He has so much love to give them, pray their hearts would be open to receive it.