Archive for the ‘Lessons Learned’ Category

Emma and Taisei got married!

November 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Tribute to my (former T_T) roommate Emma & her new husband Taisei!

When Emma & Taisei first started “officially” seeing each other, there was still quite a bit of fear and uncertainty on Emma’s part.  Actually, that’s putting it pretty mildly. To be frank, Emma was totally freaking out.

2015-01-16 13.01.46

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Worship time!

July 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Have I mentioned I’ve started leading worship at the bilingual church?  Yep, me.  That’s right.  And when’s the last time I led worship in ANY shape/form/group?  Uhhhh, NEVER.

So yeah, this is NOT because I’m particularly talented in music or gifted in leading worship or have a decent singing voice (and btw, I have none of these things), oh no, but I’m leading more or less because there is LITERALLY NO ONE ELSE who can do it.

Honestly, leading worship at church is probably at the bottom of the list of ministries I expected to be involved in, beaten only by things like performing miracles and becoming a pastor.  Though, looking back, I probably should have realized this was going to happen when my completely out-of-the-blue and urgent desire to really start learning to play the guitar was immediately (like literally an hour later) followed by my teammates the Murrays gifting me with a FREE guitar that some short-termer had RANDOMLY left years ago and it JUST HAPPENED to still be sitting in their house with NO ONE else to use it so Jess, if you’re planning on getting a guitar anyway you should just use this one…

God totally gave me this guitar as a heads up, but I was way too slow to pick up on it.

God totally gave me this guitar as a heads up, but I was way too slow to pick up on it.

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Visitors + an epic battle with banana pudding

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

*Please note that posting order likely has little (if anything) to do with the chronological order in which the posted events happen.

*I discovered this post buried in my Drafts box, wilting away and totally unpublished.  Oops!  Better 6 months later than never…??  🙂

Last week (*edit – actually last summer but whatever) I had an awesome visit from two friends from the US, Samantha & Sharon.  Fantastic.  Blessing.  Fun.  Awesomeawesomeawesome.  I love visitors.  Lots of good food.  And the best was the popcorn praying we did at night before falling asleep.  But first, my battle with banana pudding!


Samantha, Me, Sharon at Koyo Chapel

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Learning about true peace…

August 7, 2012 2 comments

Yesterday (August 6) was the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima.  Looking at the city now, you would never know it once lay in total ruins – buildings gone, the land covered in ashes, and the rivers clogged with bodies…

But I’ve learned in my year here that the city still remembers.  People still remember.  The desire for peace becomes almost tangible during this time of year, for there are still those who can recall the horror.  After visiting the Peace Park Museum (about the bombing) last week and going to the ceremony Monday evening, it’s hard to imagine there was any light that day.

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But today, I had the most amazing conversation with an incredible little old lady who did find light.

Meiko Kurihara is a member of Kabe Chapel and a 3rd genereation Christian, which is extremely rare in Japan.  She is also a survivor of the atomic bombing.  At about 4km outside of the blast radius Meiko-san escaped any immediate serious injuries, but otherwise essentially experienced everything first hand.

Meiko-san described to me how she went into the city to search for her father and was completely overwhelmed by the destruction around her, totally lost and alone.  It was then she prayed to God for help.  She told me how God miraculously gave her the strength and courage to walk through a city filled with dead and dying and even led her to a friend, shelter, and food.

I think anyone who went through an experience like that would find reason to feel anger and betrayal towards God, hatred and resentment to America.  But Meiko-san had none of that.  She told me, “God loves peace.  And He hates war.  It wasn’t God who bombed Hiroshima.  God saved me and then he helped me.  I’m so thankful to Him for that.”

I video recorded my time with Meiko-san and am gonna work on translating and subtitling it.  Hopefully it’ll be ready for me to show during my time in the States, so I’ll keep y’all posted.

My hobbies are…

April 6, 2012 1 comment

Apparently this is one of the first conversation points Japanese English students learn.  They’re always asking for and describing their hobbies with “My hobbies are etc etc etc”.  But you know, it took a while to figure out why this sounded so funny to me.  And then it hit me.  We never say “My hobbies are…” in the US, do we?  We always say “I like to…”  Even if asked, “What are your hobbies?” (which I can’t remember the last time I started a conversation with such) we still don’t answer with “They are…”  It would sound totally unnatural, no?

Anyway, all that as long-winded introduction to the realization I’ve lost all my hobbies.

I like to go on walks to the park, throw the football around, cook random foods, explore cafes, watch the Phillies, play Settlers/Monopoly Deal/whatever ridiculous game has most recently caught our fancy…  But not only do I not do any of these things anymore, they’re mostly not even possible.

No one knows how to throw a football, the Phillies (well, they’re not quite in season yet) are 14 hours behind me, I don’t live in an area with lots of parks or cafes, and the games?  Well, I’m still trying to figure out if that wasn’t something specific to Philly post-RCFers…

But cooking!  That I can do.  Granted, it takes a great deal more leg work to find the ingredients I need and at a price within my budget.  And sometimes, stuff just isn’t in my budget.  Like brown rice for $12/lb at my usual grocery store. Other times, the ingredients I need don’t seem to even exist.

But in a perverse sort of way, the extra barriers make it all the more satisfying when I manage to put together something that’s not Japanese or Japanese American and didn’t cost me $50 in groceries and gas.  So yeah, expect a few stories about my re-discovered hobby.  No, this is not going to turn into a food blog.  I’m way too lazy to accurately record all the massive adaptations I have to make in order to cook American recipes in Japan.  Plus, food blogs always seem to have beautiful pictures of really drool-inducing food, and being (at best) an indifferent photographer, I won’t even bother embarrassing myself.

I admit, a part of me feels guilty that I would endeavor in what may seem a total waste of time and money.  I mean, it’s not like I don’t like the regular food I eat – I’m totally not hating on Japanese food (which I love) or the Japanese versions of American food (some of which I like better than the original).

But I’ve determined it’ll be healthy (physically, mentally) to keep at least one hobby going.   Something that gets me thinking about something other than Kanji (Japanese Chinese characters) or cultural assimilation or what I’m going to teach at our next young adult English class.


October 3, 2011 1 comment

Sorry this post is long over-due.  It’s been difficult lately without internet at my apartment.  But those are complaints for another post.  😛

We worked with a Christian relief organization called CRASH.  Their base was in Ichinoseki, and we worked in neighboring Kesenuma, one of the hardest hit cities in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.  10% of those reported dead or missing are from this area.  A lot of these you may have already seen on Facebook, but for those of you who are not Facebook stalkers…  😀

(Thanks to various people, mostly Brian Tom and Peter Oh, for their pictures)

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Categories: Lessons Learned, Pictures

Relying on others

August 16, 2011 4 comments

Praise the Lord!  I found an apartment!!  And it’s pretty perfect in terms of location, price, parking, size, etc etc etc.  I’m so thankful for God’s provision and so excited to move in!  Unfortunately, stuff like a washer, oven, AC, fridge, I have to buy all myself.  Apartments here come with practically nothing.  I even have to buy the lights – and I’m not talking light bulbs, I’m talking the actual fixture in the ceiling to which I would attach light bulbs.  And these aren’t cheap…  -__-

But the expense isn’t even the hardest part.  The hardest part is how much I have to rely on others to help me with, well, EVERYTHING.  Rental agreement stuff was all done by Pastor Haitaka and Ogawa-san.  Another lady from church, Ai-sensei, and her father Akashi-san spent ALL DAY Monday with me buying major appliance stuff like a fridge and washer and we spent over an hour trying to figure out my internet (I’m not even going to get into that right now…suffice it to say the whole business was COMPLICATED and is yet to be settled).  Yuuka-san came with me (again) to the Ward Office so I could change my living address with the government.  And the Murray’s friend Mac Okano-san is helping me find a car. I can’t even do searches on the internet because I can’t READ.

See?  Nothing on my own.  Groceries are about all I can manage and even then I sometimes still have trouble (a what?  a “poeento cawdo”?  OH, a “Point Card”.  No I don’t have one.  And no thanks, I won’t be getting one because that would undoubtedly be way more than I can handle.)

It’s really quite humbling to have to rely on others so much when I’m used to doing most everything on my own.  It’s even a little humiliating because I feel so useless, and I’m constantly fighting the fear that I won’t be worth all this trouble people are going through for me.  But I’m also so thankful God has provided such wonderful people to help me through.  I try to focus on that gratitude and pray I can be a blessing to others as they have been to me.  But it’s kinda hard when you’re making dumb mistakes like saying “bug” instead of “if”.