Monday, August 30, 2004

Little taste of home

Today was adventuresome, but then again I think everyday will be some kind of adventure for a while. I woke up at a normal time this morning-- thankfully!-- and piddled around my apartment because I didn't know what to do or where to go. That stressed me out, because I thought I was supposed to go down to my office today to meet people but I had no idea where it was. I knew I could ask Jared, but I hated bothering him. Finally about 10:30 I went down and asked Jared, and he was nice enough to spend the morning walking me around Hitachi and showing me where everything is. Hitachi is a really neat city. Just walking around and getting accustomed to where things are made me feel a thousand times better. I started to realize that I could do this and this will be my home for the next two years. We even went to McDonalds for lunch. Once we got there, Jared told me that he was going to make me order by myself. My eyes got wide and I was like, "I don't know what to say!" He explained that I just need to point and nod and pay. Thankfully McDonalds has a picture menu right next to all the cashiers. And guess what-- I was able to order all by myself! :) Jared is a good sensei because he knows when to push me and when to go easy on me. Good old McDonalds. Pretty much the same everywhere, except here they have fish McNuggets instead of chicken McNuggets. After McDonalds we went to Baskin Robbins and got ice cream. I tell you what, I am really stepping out of my comfort zone here. :) No no, I promise it really wasn't my idea to go to either one of those places. But they were nice!
Then we went to the office of the board of education. We saw Mr. Suzuki again and I met many of the other officers there. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon getting my paperwork taken care of at the city hall. I am once again under health insurance-- yay! :) Tomorrow I'm going back to set up my bank account. I'm going to try to find my office again all by myself. That'll be interesting, I'm sure.
I came home and tried to memorize some hiragana (I'm getting better!), but zonked out at some point. I woke up to a knock at the door and it was Alina, seeing if I wanted to get some dinner with her. We went down to the 7-11, because they have such good food there! Really! I got some spaghetti with meat sauce, and it was great. I'm sure there are many more trips to 7-11 in my future. Now I'm going to study hiragana a little more then get some sleep.

Sunday, August 29, 2004


As day 2 in Japan comes to a close, I am feeling overwhelmed. First and foremost, I am overwhelmed by the amount of kindness and support I am receiving here. I was met at the airport by three of my future co-workers, including my boss, and they were so ready and willing to help me in any way possible. Jared, my fellow ALT from Alabama, had decided to take my acclimation to Japan up as his pet project. He's the one that came to the airport to meet me, along with Mr. Sazuki and another teacher at the school. All along the drive back (about 2.5 hours) Jared tried to fill me in on all the basics that I'd need to know. It was a little bit of information overload, but I tried to be sponge like and soak it all up. I got so excited when we drove through Mito, where several of my friends live, and Tokai, where my ex-roommate lives. I had heard about these places for so long, and now I was finally here!
After arriving in Hitachi, I got my first look at my new apartment. I had no idea what to expect, so I tried to prepare myself for the worst. But it turned out really great! I have a little kitchen, then a sitting room, a bedroom, and a little utility room. It's so much bigger than my OC apartment, and it's all mine! :) I have to give props to Denver for doing a good job cleaning and a big thanks for leaving me all of his stuff. It would be very ungood to come to an empty apartment! While I was unloading, Alina, another ALT and my neighbor, came by to say hi. She's really nice and helpful, too. Jared and Alina gave me a while to settle in and relax, then we went out to dinner together. I ate sushi! My very first time. :) Jared was trying to ease me into the process, so I started with scrambled egg sushi, then I moved up to a vegetarian sushi with cucumber, then I ate tuna. It really wasn't bad; it's totally a mindgame. It is out of my paradigm to know that I am eating uncooked meat :) I fought my gag-reflex, survived, and had to admit it wasn't bad. The sushi chef was adorable. He was a little old Japanese man who knew a little English, and he was so tickled that he got to be the first one to serve me sushi.
After that we went to a little restaurant where a lot of the gaijin (foreigners) in the city hang out. I got to meet a lot of people from all over the world who just happened to have ended up in Hitachi. Everyone there is such a character, in a good way. There could seriously be a sitcom written based on the people and conversations at Bardega. All Saturday afternoon I was thinking to myself, "how on earth am I going to get to a church-- any church-- tomorrow?" Thankfully a girl named Roxanna, who used to be an ALT in Hitachi, showed up on Saturday night and told me she was going to Mito the next day for church and would I like to go. I said, "Of course!" and was thrilled that I'd get to see everybody there. By about midnight I was exhausted and went home and fell asleep.
Sunday morning I woke up at about 5:00am, thank you jet lag. I made myself go back to sleep and then woke up again at 6:30 with little hope of going back to sleep. I took my first Japanese shower and got ready for church, then continued unpacking and waited for Roxanna to come get me. She did and the drive to Mito went quickly and soon I was in some kind of altered reality where it was like OC in Japan! It was so wonderful to see old friends, and especially to see Peter and Denver, who arrived at the beginning of August and can empathize with how overwhelmed I was feeling. Peter and I got some good time to chat and catch up and exchange our, "Can you believe we're in Japan?!" feelings. Also, seeing how well Peter already had hiragana down also inspired me to get off my tail and start learning it.
I can't believe I got to see everyone... I just can't tell you how reassuring and comforting it was. I also got to see my Japanese girls who I was so close to my junior year of college. So many good feelings. I went to lunch with friends then hung out with the Mito ALTs and church members for the rest of the day. I got to see the English Bible Classes that take place at the Mito church. It's so cool that there are so many people studying there. After class they have a bilingual worship service. It was very lively, and it was good to see so many people who are so different worshipping God. Everyone-- both Japanese and gaijin-- made me feel so welcome and expressed that they were there for me if I ever needed anything. I got a big list of phone numbers of people to call if I ever need help.
I got a ride back to Hitachi with a Japanese woman who does EBC at the Hitachi-Taga church and another English teacher who lives in Taga named Judith. Judith showed me around the Taga church building and told me about the different things going on there, then she took me back to her place so I could check my email and call my parents (which I am eternally grateful for!). Calling home was hard. The weight of the stress of the previous days was weighing down on me, and even though I am having a good time that doesn't mean that the stress doesn't take it's toll. But it was sooooo good to talk to my parents and have that connection. Judith even fed me-- she's so sweet! It was funny when she brought me home, because I thought she knew where my apartment was, because I sure don't. Turns out she didn't, either! All I could tell her was that I lived near a 7-11 (they're everywhere here!) and Route 6 (one of the main roads), and I lived right behind a haircut place. At first I just told her about the 7-11 and Route 6 landmarks, and we just couldn't find it. I knew the general area it was in, but I could have sworn that my building just picked up and moved. Finally I remembered the haircut place and we found it easily after that. It's a pretty pathetic feeling when you don't even know where you live. I'm still trying to remember my phone number!
I think the jet lag/stress is really taking a serious toll on my body. My allergies and sinuses are acting up, I'm sleeping okay but not great, I'm pretty much not hungry in general, and my muscles are so sore. Other people have expressed that the same thing happened when they first arrived, and this too shall pass. Tonight Judith gave me great advice. She was asking what my schedule is going to be like this week and I started to panic as I realized 1) how much I have to do and 2) how little I know about what I have to do. For example, I think tomorrow I'm supposed to meet with my boss but I have no idea where he is or how I should get there or when I should go. Judith told me to just remember to take one day at a time. Just focus on getting through one day. That is wonderful idea, and I shall impliment it now. This day is over for me, although it just beginning back where I came from. I'm exhausted. Time for bed.

Ann in Japan!

I'm here! God has blessed me thus far with wonderful flights, little jet lag, and an amazing amount of people who are ready and willing to help me. I will write more later, but I just want to give thanks for all God has provided.

I'm here!!!!!!!!!

Hello all! This is Ann in Japan! :) I can't write much, but my flights went well and jet lag isn't too bad. I've met tons of friendly people, especially my co-workers and the church members here, who are more than willing and ready to help me with anything I need. What a blessing! Keep me in your prayers as I continue to adjust to real life in Japan, and I will write more later. Since I don't have access to internet from my apartment yet, I am writting bogs that I will post later about my experiences. For example, I wrote one on the plane yesterday and I will pre-date it and put it on my blog when I can. I am sure I will have many fun stories to tell very soon.
Love you all!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Flying over Japan

Well here I am, flying somewhere above Japan. It's 8:37pm in Texas but 10:37am in Japan, so I don't know what time it is. I think my plan for avoiding jet lag is working, because I don't feel too far off schedule, just mostly confused. My flight from Texarkana to DFW was filled with thoughts of "Am I crazy for doing this? What was I thinking? I can't teach anyone English...why am I moving to Japan? What kind of crazy person does this?" However, thankfully, I went to sleep before I could drive myself too thoroughly crazy.
Once at DFW my thoughts turned to, "I really really really really wish I had someone to fly with." Some of you know that if I had left a month ago like I was supposed to, I would have flown with two of my friends from school. Oh well, twasn't meant to be, I guess. But everything's fine. I'm on one of the two seater aisles, all to myself, and so I got to strech out a little and sleep. I went straight to sleep. I did wake up for lunch, which had a sushi appetizer that I wasn't going to try. How fresh can airplane sushi really be? But there was excellent chocolate cake. Yum.
I've slept the vast majority of my time onboard so far, which is very good. I am getting sick, though, which worries me. I think my sister gave me her sinus infection right before I left. There are three crying babies on my plane, but they're not bothering me too much. I easily slept through them.
My flight is mostly Japanese people. I'd say it's about 75-25 Japanese to Westerner. I should probably wrap this up, since I really don't have too much to say. In conclusion, if you are flying to Japan, I suggest you fly American Airlines because they have seriously much more room than any other airline I've flown to Brazil. I wonder if they'll give me some advantage miles for that plug. :)

Friday, August 27, 2004

Sayonnara for Now!

Virture for the day: bravery

Scripture for the day: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
-- Lamentations 3:22-26

Well folks, here we are at the turning of a page in my little life. At 6:50am I will fly from T-town to Dallas, then from Dallas to Tokyo, so at this time tomorrow (CST) I will be in Japan! Crazy, huh? But I'm ready. I told a friend today that since I bought my ticket I've felt like I have just been flung from a slingshot... there's no slowing down or turning back... which is good. I need that kind of propulsion. I don't know when I'll be able to blog again, but just keep checking and I'll be sure to post a "yes I'm here and alive" message as soon as I can. I have a feeling this blog might get more exciting after a few foreigner moments in Japan. :)
Thank you to my family for raising me to be strong willed, independent, and having purpose and direction. This is not an unnecessary chance, and I am soon to be an asset. :) Thank you to my friends for loving me and supporting me through this roller coaster. I wouldn't be who I am without you. Thank you for reading this for whatever reason and being interested in me and my thoughts. I love you all.

Scissors a la Dameon

Tonight I did one of the most bizarrely stupid things I've ever done. I had picked up a pair of scissors at the store because I don't have any, and I figure I might need scissors in Japan (rational line of thought, right?). They were really cheap, so I wasn't expecting them to be of very high quality. Imagine my surprise when I took them out of the package and cut at the air with them and found that they were very nice scissors. I cut at the air and said, "Hey! These are sharp!" At approximately that moment I felt a sting and realized that I had cut my thumb! I chopped off the very tip of my thumb!!!!!! Thankfully it was mostly nail and only the top couple of layers of skin. No permanent damage! :) What kind of person cuts their own thumb with scissors?! I don't know, but my sister, who was sitting in the room with me, was freaking out because she saw it happen but didn't see how much damage I had done, and I was holding my thumb and screaming over and over because I was afraid I'd taken off like, half an inch. Good times in the White house. :)
Then not five minutes later I was actually cutting something with the aforementioned scissors, and the handles pinched my finger on the other hand and gave me a blood blister. At that point I put the scissors away. They are not going to Japan with me.
If any of my Bible major friends would like to exorcise this demon, please contact my family.

ps- I had to ask my mom how to spell "scissors." English is so messed up. :)

A re-enactment. Do not try this at home. :)
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Uprooting and the Amazing Race

Today as we were driving to visit my grandparents, I started thinking about the fact that they have pretty much lived in the same place their entire lives. They know who lives in every house, the three people who lived there before them, what job their dad did and why the black sheep of the family was outcast. This fascinates me, mainly because I don't know if I'll ever be anywhere long enough to sink my roots in that far. It's so tempting... to stay with everything familiar and live life where you can speak the language and understand how everything works. I think that is a great plan and probably what God intends for the majority of people, but I'm really feeling called elsewhere. Who knows, now that I say all of this that soccer mom comment I made in my last post will probably come true. :) Yeah well, we'll see...
Since you'd probably like to hear about other things rather than just "how Ann feels about moving to Japan", I will offer you this. I formally renounce my support of Collin and Christie on the Amazing Race. After Collin's repeated displays of rage and psychoticism. I think I'm going to have to go with Chip and Kim for the long haul. I'm just not feeling the Bowling Moms, the "Christian models" and twins are really irritating. I can't wait to see who has to shave their hair off. I hope the models. :) I'm going to get my mom to tape the remaining shows for me and send them to me. I love this show. I would LOVE to compete on it one day. I may not do very well, but boy I'd have fun doing it. Just think-- even if you get eliminated in the first round you still get to go somewhere really cool. I hope they come to Japan while I'm there. I'd totally help them out so I could get on TV. And I'd try to meet the host, Phil! He seems super-nice.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Fast Forward

The past two months have felt like suspended animation-- I have been in limbo while I waited for paperwork. That's not a great feeling. Now suddenly everything is going like it should have two months ago, except it feels 10 times faster, so I've gone from living life on pause to living in fast forward. I kind of like it, though. For a while I've been feeling apprehensive about this whole Japan thing, but when I saw the FedEx on the porch the first emotion that ran through me was excitement, not apprehension. That makes me think that my primary emotion towards this whole thing is positive rather than negative, which is a relief.
Now I'm trying to think about logistical issues: organizing stuff for my mom to ship to me (books and cold weather clothes), finishing up writing those thank you notes for various things, cleaning my room, making final selections for what goes into the suitcase and what stays here, figuring out when I need to sleep on the plane if I want to avoid jet lag, misc misc.
But I'm excited. I can't wait to have all of these adventures. One day I am going to be the cool soccer mom who speaks several languages and has all kinds of exotic trinkets in her house. :)

On my way...

My visa arrived. My plane ticket's bought. Friday I am going to Japan.

Monday, August 23, 2004

10 Things About Brazil

In the spirit of the Olympics and globalization and all things cultural, your favorite sensei is once again here to broaden your mind and education with what I will call:

10 Things You Should Know About Brazil
  1. Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish.
  2. Brazilians are possibly the warmest and most hospitable people in the world.
  3. Brazil is huge! It is over half of South America.
  4. Brazil is the only country to win the World Cup championship 5 times. Penta!
  5. There is more to Brazilian culture than Carnival-- they have distinctive martial arts (capoeira), festivals (Festa Juninha), dancing (samba), music (bossa nova) and food.
  6. Brazil is actually home to the true father of flight.
  7. Brazil is home to the largest population of Japanese living outside of Japan.
  8. Brazil is not one big rain forest with natives running around in loin cloths throwing spears. Most of its population is very urban and advanced.
  9. Brazilians do not call their country "Brasilia." Brasilia is actually the name of the capitol city. They reference their country as "Brasil."
  10. There are amazing things to see in Brazil, from Foz do Iguacu (a park with over 300 waterfalls in one place) to amazing beaches to rainforest to modern cities.

Foz do Iguacu
Posted by Hello


I wrote this post in 2004 based on three summers I spent in Brazil. In 2006 I moved to the city of Itu for six months. It was one of the best experiences of my life and the country of Brazil is very dear to my heart!

That said, there are so many other things I'd say about Brazil now, 5 years later. It seems silly to sum up this beautiful, diverse, complex country in 10 points. But congratulations to Rio. I look forward to seeing que delicia the 2016 olympics will be! Deus e Brasileiro, ne? ;)

Below- proof of my love for Brazil. I almost got suffocated by a huge Brazilian flag at a national volleyball game in Brasilia. :)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Hiatus Over

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I've been kind of busy. Since I haven't updated in a while, this will be a somewhat scatterbrained post.
First of all, I went to Houston and came back to apply for my Visa at the
Consulate General of Japan. That was a funny experience. It first required my maneuvering my way through downtown Houston (which is really cool, by the way), then maneuvering my way through the Wells Fargo building downtown. It was a pretty bizarre building. You had to go up to the 36th floor on the elevator to go back down to the 23rd floor. But I figured it out. I did embarrass myself thoroughly once at the office, though. I couldn't get the door open, then I saw a doorbell to the side and thought maybe for security reasons you had to be rung in or something. So I rang the bell and then the Japanese military guy inside was yelling at me that you just have to pull open the door. I was trying to push, I guess. But I got all of that taken care of, and they said it should be mailed to me Monday or Tuesday. So Lord willing I will get it before Friday, which is when I think I'm going to leave.
Houston was fun. I spent the rest of Thursday and Friday morning/afternoon with my dear friends Jessica and David. Jess was my lifesaver in T-town and really made this place bearable. I love her so much and miss her dearly, but I know she and her hubby are doing great things down in Houston.
I had a genius idea. Some web master mind should write a program that combines and so you can enter in your departure time and find out what the weather will be like along your route. If someone else wants to take this idea and get rich off of it, go for it. I would appreciate the service.
I love watching the Olympics. It's really cool that they can get all the best bodies in the world and have them scantily clad in one place. :) That's just a joke... kind of. I think that overall swimming has the best looking people. If I were suddenly going to be given the ability to perform at Olympic level in any event, I would choose long distance running. It seems so therapeutic. I've always loved running, but the past year or so my health has really put a kink in my exercising ability.
I also love watching the
Amazing Race. I am so glad that the Mirna and Schmirna were eliminated this week. Charla always claimed that she was racing to show the world that little people can do anything big people can do, but I think that she instead played off of her small personness to get sympathy and special favors. Oh well. I personally am rooting for Collin and Christie and Chip and Kim. Go teams!
I got my hair cut today, and it actually looks different than before. Shorter and sassier. :) I love it.
I am still a plethora of emotions. I keep thinking about all of the people and places and things I'm going to miss. I just need to suck it up and be brave.
Posted by Hello

Jess and David

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Japan Update!

Just to let everybody know, my paperwork for Japan arrived in the mail today! Tomorrow (Lord willing) I will go to Houston to apply for my Visa, then next week I'm up up and away (again Lord willing)!

My secure state of denial is slipping away. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

What is this thing called a sojochick?

I realize that my screen name is probably not self-explanatory, and I've heard some erroneous assumptions about it's origins in the past, so I thought maybe I should take the time to explain where I got my handle.
First is "sojo". Sojo is not a Spanish word, as one of my friends once pronounced it "soho," which I thought was a funny and logical assumption. Nope, instead sojo is short for sojourner. A sojourner is a traveler or temporary resident. I figure that was a good self-description on both superficial and deep levels. I like to travel, and so far in my life I've just been a temporary resident wherever I am, and ultimately we're all just temporary residents of this world.
Then "chick." I just like the word chick. I think it's cute. But I don't suggest anyone out there calls me a chick. I like it more as a self-description than a nickname or term of endearment.
So there ya go. I'm just a little sojochick, trying to make my way through this world. :)
Posted by Hello

A Grateful Heart

O Thou who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one thing more- a grateful heart. --George Herbert
I could not end this day without sharing and giving thanks for the blessings the Lord has given me today: a good medical report for a friend, a reminder of good times in a country I love, a message in a blog written for someone else, but was exactly what I needed to hear, and a movie night with my family.
Jehovah-jireh- God provides.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Cyrus Manning on Worship

An example of why I love Leaving Ruin, a novel by Jeff Berryman (although I cannot vouch for the grammar).

Exposition: Cyrus Manning, a preacher at a small town Christian church, is on the verge of getting fired and is explaining why some of what he believes makes people nervous.

And there’s other stuff, worship “issues”-- issues is a word that raises the ridiculous to a serious level of debate-- but I can’t get too worked up over this one. I like the old gospel hymns and the new praise songs, and again, I don’t care really cause I figure God likes music and variety, and praise is in the heart, and Jesus can change channels when he gets bored with one style or another. Worship styles 101. In spirit and in truth, and walk humbly, and I want justice and mercy rather than sacrifice, and maybe Evangelicals and Mystics and Charismatics and the High Liturgicals should just trade places once a month. I look at the entrails of my body, and the ecosystems of the planet, and I get diversity, but I also get truth, and the great evidence of God’s presence, and if he’d wanted to cross the t’s and dot the i’s he could’ve and would’ve, and on and on I go, just talking, talking, and a person starts to get the picture after a while.
I get in trouble all the time.

Don’t be surprised if more quotes from this novel pop up on my blog.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Good times with packing up my life

Since my departure date for Japan is nearing, I decided to get on the ball and begin to pack. I was doing really well, I thought. As you can see, I have one bag pretty full already and mentally I had alloted room to all of my remaining clothing and personal items in my other check-in and carry-on bag and was satisfied that I had just enough room for everything. Then I noticed something was missing. Something substancial. My underwear. Yes, that's right, as of right now I have no where to put the underwear. :) I guess that means some more re-arranging and shifting and gleaning will be taking place in my future. The time has come to separate the grain from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the necessities from the luxury items. Wish me luck! If anyone has any packing tips, please share! :)

Most of my Japan wardrobe will go in this bag. Posted by Hello

Friday, August 13, 2004

There is no emoticon to describe how I feel...

I've heard it said that emotions rarely come only one at a time, and now more than ever I'm feeling the truth of that.

I feel:
excited at the prospect of meeting new people and entering a new world of experiences
sad at the thought of putting so much physical distance between those I love and me
grateful to be given this opportunity and such a wonderful job that will give me a lot of material things that many people in the world don't have
nervous about jumping into a world I know nothing about in a language I don't speak
blessed that God would trust me with an opportunity so large
unsure about the future or the direction my life will take now
overwhelmed by the bigness of this all
confidant that the Lord has brought me this far and will continue to provide

So if my blogs are erratic, my emails seem scattered, or I just appear to be dazed and confused when you see me, this may be why. Please keep me in your prayers.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Oh yes, I should tell everyone that the Japanese government has officially (finally) cleared me to enter into and work in their fine country. My paperwork is in the mail and my expected departure date is between August 24 and 28. It's all becoming reality.

Quote of the Moment

"If you don't like saying goodbyes to people, you are in the wrong business." --TB

Yes, this is true, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Johnson Family Reunion

Today I went to my first family reunion. Those who know me are probably thinking, what? She's not a Johnson! That's very true. In fact I am only 1/16 Johnson, which made me part of the fringe at the reunion, but it was still fun. Before you write your own jokes about an Arkansas family reunion, let me just tell you a funny conversation that happened.
As my sister and I were in line to eat, I was like, "Now Molly, you can't flirt with any of the guys here; they're your kin!" (I say words like "kin" when I'm around those parts) Just as I said that, a drop dead gorgeous guy entered the room. Molly and I both looked at each other and I was like, "Well... ya' know this is an Arkansas family reunion, after all." :) No worries, people. We did not flirt with our 6th or whatever cousin, the hottie. We figured that might get us uninvited to any more future family reunions. My personal policy is that you probably shouldn't marry anyone who you can connect yourself to on a family tree.
People of Arkansas, please be not offended. I am one of you, too, and I mean this all only in good fun. :) Posted by Hello

My sister, grandparents and me

Friday, August 06, 2004

A technical misnomer

Today I noticed something while I was cleaning out our "recycle bin" on our computer. Why is it called a recycle bin? First of all, shouldn't it be a "recycling bin"? Second of all, isn't it really just a trash can? You're not really looking to re-use the stuff you delete, are you? No, you're trashing it. Deleting it forever. Putting it in the preterite, as Doctora Miller would say. Maybe one of you smart folks out there knows why it's called a "recycle bin" rather than a trash can.
Thus ends this random rant.

Don't look at me in that tone of voice!

Today Dr. Phil said that only 7% of communication is verbal; 93% is non-verbal. What does this say for things like email and instant messaging? I love email; I have several friends with whom the vast majority of our communication is through email. I have one dear friend who I communicate with exclusively through instant messanger, and we've been doing that for the past 6 years. However, I do believe that with some relationships, instant messaging/emailing can be from the devil. Miscommunications thrive in those media. Unfortunately, I'm entering a lifestyle through with non-verbal communication is going to be my only way to stay in touch with most people. I figure if you have a true connection with people built on solid foundations, you can communicate through things like email and IM. I'm hoping so, at least. :)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

My Encounter with the Honduran Mafia

The following is a segment from the epic email I am writing of my adventures in Honduras. I call this, "My Encounter with the Honduran Mafia." Enjoy!

We finished our lunch and made a game plan for finding a hotel. We thought that it would be best if we decided upfront to visit at least 3 hotels and decide where to stay after looking at all of them. We picked some out of the holy handbook that met our standards (private room for four and bathroom) and we were off. We started trekking down the street and suddenly there was a woman standing in front of a very nice hotel calling to us. We walked over to speak with her, then suddenly she switched from speaking in Spanish to speaking in English. We realized that she must be the Dutch owner of a hotel there in Omoa, which we had seen mentioned in our book. She was very kind and was very eager to show us her hotel. However, she shared a lot of information that was quite disconcerting. She began her speech:
Yes, you should stay here with me. I have very nice rooms that you can come up and look at. But, you cannot tell people that you are staying in my hotel. You need to tell everyone that you are my friends and you are staying here with me for free. But you will not stay for free, you will pay. You see, it 's all Roli (the Swiss owner of another hotel in town). Roli is working with the Honduran mafia, and he wants to buy my house because it is on the beach, so he had the Honduran government take my husband's hotel license away, so right now we do not have a license. Please don't tell Roli that you are my customers. Just tell him you are my friends.
Now, let me just tell you some of the key things going through my mind at this point. First of all, do I want to get involved with anything having to do with the Honduran mafia? Second of all, do I really want to tell an active member of the Honduran mafia that I am friends with one of their enemies? Third of all, am I going to be arrested and thrown in a Honduran prison for aiding and abetting someone looking to run an illegal motel?
At this point, I truly thought that I was the only member of my little foursome that saw anything wrong with this. Amber piped in and said, "Well can we go see the room?" Pia (the hotel owner woman) had taken us up the balcony of her hotel and left us out there while she went inside to open the door. While we were waiting, we heard a voice with another thick (Swiss) accent yelling from behind, "Hey!" We all turned around, and as we did we saw a European looking man on a bicycle taking our picture. Roli. He shouted, "I take your picture because she is keeping you illegally!" Then he rode off on his bicycle. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
At about that time Pia came back to the door and let us in. She showed us the rooms, that were really exceptionally nice. Amber told her that we liked what we saw, but we wanted to look around first. Alarmed that we were going to check out Roli's Place, Pia quickly dropped her price. We assured her that it wasn't the price and that we weren't going to go snitch to Roli; we just wanted to look around. She believed us, and wished us well on our journey in case she didn't see us again. As we walked off the grounds, my eyes wide as saucers, I was like, "Guys, I do not want to stay there. I will not wakeup with a horse-head in my bed." Thankfully, the rest of my group had the same idea and we quickly went off to find another hotel. Posted by Hello

27 Years Today

That's right-- in the year of our Lord, 1977, in Prescott, Arkansas, the people who were to become my mother and father entered into holy matrimony. So here's a salute to my parents, who through their relationship have done the world much good-- especially by bringing me into it. ;) Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!!! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Because sometimes you need reminding...

Tips for Conflict Resolution
courtesy of Dr. Mike Landon
Remember the power of words--
  • The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. --Proverbs 15:4
  • A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. -- Proverbs 17:27
  • When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. -- James 3: 3-12
  • Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!" -- Proverbs 26:18-19

Conflict is not innately bad; the response determines whether it's sinful or not.

  • Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. -- Ephesians 4:25-27

Construct a BCF (behavior, consequence, feelings) statement. The behavior should state what the other person did to make you angry. In the consequence include it's ramifications on you or other people. And obviously, in the feelings portion state how it made you feel.

  • When describing behavior, describe it in such a way that they cannot deny they did it (avoiding always, never, all)
  • Describe what they did, not what you think they meant.
  • Do not include a solution to the problem.
  • Focus on talking about the problem
  • Control the voice level
  • Listen to what the other person is saying.

Remember forgiveness-- it is the art of re-interpreting the past.

  • Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. --Colossians 3:12-14

Blogging from the other White House

CIA Asks Bush to Discontinue Blog

A view of Dubya's blog.

:) I heart The Onion.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Sayonara Ann!

Tonight was a "Sayonara Ann" party that the ladies at church hosted for me. It was a wonderful time with good visits and good food. I appreciate so much the effort that they went to to try to find Asian/Japanese themed decorations to set the mood! Domo arigato to everyone who helped! Posted by Hello

Monday, August 02, 2004

Richly Dwelling

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

A Successful Hunt

In olden days, men proved their masculinity through killing wild beasts to feed the family. Today in a similar ritual, women prove their skill through finding cute things for low prices. Today I had one of my most successful "hunts" ever.
First, I found the purse. Some of you know that I have a major thing for cute purses. I had spied this purse at the JC Penney at Quail Springs Mall in Edmond, Oklahoma several months ago. I fell in love with it then, but wanted to hold out to see if I could find a better sale. Here in Texarkana they had the black and fuscia versions of it, but I really liked the green and was holding out for it. Then today, low and behold, they had a green one in stock. The only one in the store and it's mine all mine now.
Originally: $20.oo. Ann's Price: $9.51. Woo hoo!
Then the necklace. for my junior prom I bought a beautiful black beaded necklace that I adored and wore many times after that. However, sadly, last year it broke and fell all to pieces. Since then I have been looking for a replacement. Then today I found it sitting there waiting for me.
Originally: $12.50. Ann's Price: $6.37.
I am very happy to have found these wonderful items I have searched so long for and very proud that I got them at such a bargain! Thank you JC Penneys! (I told you I'd miss their sales!) Posted by Hello

Very Random

Since I have nothing clever to blog about, I hope this will suffice.

1: Grab the book nearest to you. turn to page 18, find line 4. write down here what it says: " is important to be humble and courteous while in Japan."
2: Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. what do you touch first?: the desk
3: What is the last thing you watched on TV?: America's Funniest Home Videos... I love that show!
4: WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what the time is: 12:40am
5: Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?: 12:37am. boy I'm good.
6: With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?: the fan
7: When did you last step outside? What were you doing?: about 10:00pm, coming home from my grandad's house
8: Before you came to this website, what did you look at?:
9: What are you wearing?: khaki shorts and my pastel striped shirt
10: Did you dream last night? What about?: I think I dreamt about going to a Stephenville High School band reunion, except we were all expected to still be able to play our instruments
11: When did you last laugh? Why?: America's Funniest Home Videos! The clip that won was hilarious.
12: What is on the walls of the room you are in?: flowery wall paper
13: Seen anything weird lately?: I saw gas for $1.56 in Hope, Arkansas!
14: What do you think of this quiz?: blog filler
15: What is the last film you saw?: film? Well I'm halfway through "The Two Towers", which I am loving!
16: If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?: charity first, then pay off school loans
17: Tell me something about you that I don't know: I have posters of Jeff Gordon and The Rock hanging in my closet
18: If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?: provide basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, affection) for everyone.
19: Do you like to dance?: actually, yes
20: George Bush: is he a power-crazy nutcase or some one who is finally doing something that has needed to be done for years?: I plead the fifth. They're probably monitoring my blog.
21: Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?: These questions are silly, but some names I like are Morgan, Faith, Grace, Joy, Maria and Abigail.
22: Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?: Morgan, Joshua, Jonathan, David... I like Bible names. I also like names that can go easily from one language to another, but I guess that all depends on what languages you're talking about.
23: Would you ever consider living abroad?: Yep! :)