Sunday, October 31, 2004

Another hour apart

For your general knowledge, Japan does not observe daylight savings time. Thus I am now 15 hours ahead of most of you (CST).

See if you can work this tidbit into conversation today. You'll sound so smart and cultured. :)

Oh yeah, it's Halloween...

I woke up this morning feeling plenty of leftover funk from last night. Perhaps the funk even multiplied in my sleep. I felt sick, I didn't want to walk in the rain to church, and I didn't want to do much of anything in general. However, I was teaching class this morning, so I truly had no choice but to go anyway. And once upon a time I remember being taught that the times you don't want to go to church are usually the times you need to go the most.
As I sat at the bus stop in the rain, I thought back to the verse I quoted last night about God's mercies being new every morning and scoffed as I thought of waking up in a nasty mood. Thus I entered into a round of culture stress. I bemoaned everything about Japan on the bus and train ride, consumed with the idea that this is not where I want to be. First rate pity party. And for the record, the intellectual knowledge that you are going through culture stress does not make the process any easier.
But I made it to church, said my ohayo gozaimasus, and tried to mentally prepare myself for class. Then, of course, the Lord provided, and class turned my mood around completely. I thought of the people in class-- Mizumi, a non-Christian woman who comes every week and is truly seeking to know God; Sho, a junior high boy who answers every question in class and says the closing prayer each week (one of the most precious people I've met here!); Yusuke, a high school boy who made it a special point to come to class today even though he had to leave right after and spend all day working at school; Jun, a Japanese Christian who has become a powerful witness at Ibaraki Christian High School and is so encouraging each week... and they all touched my heart. These people are devoted to coming, despite inconvienence or busy-ness or effort. They come because the church is a priority.
The church. I have such a newfound appreciation for the church. My brothers and sisters. They are my family here. Before I came here I would seek comfort in the verse, "everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life" (Mt. 19:29). Leaving family and friends behind is hard (understatement of the year), but God's promises are true. The Christians here are amazing people. I wish I could list by name the people here and tell you about them, but that would be tedious and ineffective, I think. Perhaps instead you will hear snippets about different people and get to know them gradually.
So tonight, I am thankful. Funk over. :)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Wrong side of the bed?

Today was really a great day. I went to Japanese class this morning, met some cool new people. The Kikuchis had me over for an amazing lunch, and they are always wonderful company. Then tonight I got to have some much needed, high quality conversation with a great friend. A day of blessings, really.
So tell me then, why am I in a funk? Maybe it's the rain, maybe it's the cold. Maybe because I didn't want to leave Mito. Maybe it's because I didn't get enough sleep last night. Maybe homesickness or culture stress or frustration with communication limitations with friends back home. Maybe misplaced expectations, disappointment in myself, or this notion of the depravity of humankind that has been haunting me all week. I don't know.
Maybe I should just go to bed and start over tomorrow. His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. Oyasumi.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Minor issue

Does it bother anyone else that it says "1 comments"? Hasn't computer programming technology advanced us beyond this point?

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Bush Campaign Site Inaccessible Abroad

I can testify to the truth of this article, because I, in fact, cannot access the George W. Bush campaign website. It tells me: "You are not authorized to view this page. You might not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials you supplied." My credentials being that I am in Japan? Guess they don't want my type. :)

So much for non-political blogging... :)

Two Months Today

Quick recap.
Monday morning I ran to Mito to get my visa adjusted so I can re-enter the country after my visit home for Christmas, which was mostly a beaurocratic inconvienence (and not cheap). That afternoon I received two great packages from home which absolutely made the world a better place. :) Thank you mom! I spent Monday evening cooking a Brazilian/Mexican dinner for my co-workers and then playing hostess all night. I thought Jared was going to have a coronary when he saw pinto beans. Not to brag, but those beans and rice tasted wonderful after two months of not having them! It was great fun, but boy was I worn out by the end of it.
Tuesday was a cold day. I spent most of my time at work shivering, and vowed to never go to work without more than one layer on ever again (until May at least). Then the Hitachi group all went out to a local club where several of our own were singing that night. I was so impressed at the talent that we have pooled here! The sense of community here is awesome. That was great, but made for another late night.
Wednesday. Once again my 3-8 class made my day by giving me little paper flowers they made. They now decorate my desk at school. Have I mentioned how much I love those kids? It's strange to not go to church on Wednesdays. Makes you feel a little pagan, a little lost, a little empty, but I suppose it's part of the package I accepted when deciding to work here. Thankfully, I got to have a good talk with a faithful friend here who I hadn't gotten to have a good talk with in a while. It's always good to compare notes and check up on each other.
Lately I've been thinking (already) about what to stock up on when I go back home for Christmas. One primary thing is music. Internet radio is okay, but there is some stuff that I want to listen to. I'm going to get Chris Rice's first album (the only one I don't have), some worship CDs, maybe a Beatles CD, and probably some of Caedmon's Call's stuff. Hmm, I'll probably get some classic Acappella, too. Their early stuff still moves me. Anyone else have any suggestions of quality CDs worth my investment? I especially need input for the worship stuff. I'm probably going to try to order them online while I'm here so they will be at home when I get there. Same goes for books, but they have to be really good books. Donald Miller ("Blue Like Jazz") just came out with a new book, so that is definitely on my list. Let me know your input. I respect the opinions of those who read my blog, because you obviously have great taste. ;)
Song of the moment: Wedding Dress by Derek Webb.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


...a candidate I can get behind. I would like to come out of my non-political closet and publicly join the Brits in endorsing Homer Simpson for president. See story here.
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Sunday, October 24, 2004

My genius idea

Today on the way to church I had a genius idea inspired by the upcoming election. Well, perhaps genius isn't the correct word, but I think it would be fascinating. What would the democracy be like today if every person were given a vote-- that means parents would be able to place votes for their children under the age of 18. I think it would be a very interesting political study to see the results. What do you guys think would happen? Has anyone else had similar thoughts, or am I the only crazy out here? :)

Sweet Taters

I have never thought of myself as a city girl, but today I learned that I am definitely not meant to work the earth. After church a group of about 12 of us went to a church member's field to help him harvest his sweet potatoes. I had envisioned this in a romantic autumnal sense... simply scooping up nature's bounty into baskets. But instead I found out that it was hard work! There were bugs and dirt and stubborn roots to contend with. :) I had a blast, but now I have a much deeper respect for anyone who works the earth in any form. We got to end the day by taking home as many sweet potatoes as we wanted and snacking on freshly baked sweet potato. Yum... I just hope the man invites us back to help harvest his strawberry field in a couple of months. :)

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Praying Mantis in Japan

I saw this today and had to post it in honor of one of my blogger friends, Praying Mantis. :)

PS- Ben and Monica, next time it rains on Sunday, guess who will be honored? ;)
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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Okay here...

Just in case you've seen this headline: Major Japanese Earthquakes or this headline: Major Japanese Typhoons, I just wanted to assure you that I am okay. People keep telling me that the weather (do earthquakes count as "weather"?) is really not normally like this, but since I've been here things have been a little nuts. I don't know whether to take that as a good sign or bad sign. :)
Isn't it strange and somewhat disturbing how much I talk about the weather?

Autumn Festival

Ann and Ayaka
Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but kids are becoming more and more adorable to me. Especially cute little Japanese kids in Halloween costumes. Today I helped out with an Autumn Festival that the McClain's school (World English Center) was hosting in Mito. In case you're wondering, I was Boo from Monsters Inc. :) I got to be the group leader of the black cats, which included a photo scavenger hunt and a carnival. It was a blast to get to play around with the kiddies all day, and I got to meet a lot of great new people. I look forward to helping again next year!
If anyone wants to see all the pictures from today's festivities (including the photo scavenger hunt results, which were too cute), then click here.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

One more down

Well last night I made it through another typhoon. It was loud, but I was tired, so I slept through it. I hear another one is following closely behind it, but I also heard that the second one might skip us and hit Taiwan. Of course I don't wish that on the Taiwanese, but a break sure would be nice! :)

More than you'll ever know...

I have always and will always maintain that God blesses me more than I could ever deserve through the amazing people he puts in my life. Here is a brief, non-exhaustive list of things that remind me how gracious God is to me.

I love...
  • my family because they always sound so happy to hear my voice when I call.
  • my friend who will take on the entire Honduran government to be able to work with her kids, if she has to.
  • my former professor who will go to the trouble to mail me a quick note to let me know he's thinking about me, when it would have taken 30 seconds to shoot it off in an email.
  • my friends who always IM me and ask me what time it is here. :)
  • my friends who may not agree with my views, but always respect me and engage me in lively debate. ;) Iron sharpening iron...
  • my extended family who print off copies of my blog and pass them around for everyone to read.
  • my professors who will read and respond to my emails when I have concerns or things I want to talk over with them.
  • my friends here who I can call at any time for anything.
  • the church members here who will walk with me the second or third or tenth mile to help me settle and feel welcome.
  • my mom who knows exactly what to put in my care packages.
  • my co-workers who have welcomed me into their group of friends with open arms and have also helped me with all the logistics of moving to a new place.
  • people who stumble onto my blog and leave encouraging notes that make my day.
  • my connection group in OKC that prays for me every week.
  • my dad who emails me stories and pictures and new bits that he knows I would want to know about.
  • my friends who write things like, "I pray for you everyday" and remind me that "friends may come and go, but they don't have to."

God, I am so blessed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Back to the point

It seems like lately I haven't actually been posting much about life in Japan, so I will try to catch up on that some today.
Well first of all, we are bracing for another typhoon. CNN even pities us, see the story here: Japan Prepares for Tenth Typhoon of Season. There is a perk, in that typhoons make the weather slightly warmer. And while we're on the topic of weather, it is starting to get cold. It would be perfectly lovely if we had the luxury of only being in the "crisp air" between buildings and our car, but no... despite all of its technological advances, Japan lacks central heat AND insulation. Which means it gets pretty nippy at nights and in the mornings. I currently sleep with 3 blankets on my bed, and I just bought an electric blanket today. Pretty soon we'll be going to the gas station to buy kerosene for our heaters and such. I am going to be a tough chick after I survive the Japanese winter. :)
I reserved my ticket to come home for Christmas today. I'll be arriving in OKC on December 16th, Lord willing, and returning from Little Rock on January 5. That'll be some nice time home. When I get back I want to go straight from the airport to Ted's Cafe Escondito. YUM. You see, Mexican food is a rarity in Japan. What I wouldn't give for some of that queso on a flour tortilla right now... Okay, I've got to stop talking about that. :)
School is great. On Mondays we ALTs (in Hitachi, at least) don't go to our junior highs, instead we take turns going to different kindergartens, elementary schools, and special needs schools. In a couple of weeks Ian and I are going to a special needs high school, and so one of the teachers came by today to talk about the lesson plan. Guess what I get to teach them! The "Boot Scoot Boogie"! :) Of course it will be highly simplified and I will throw some hand motions in there, but I think it'll be fun. Hey-- they wanted an "American folk dance," so I am going to deliver the best I know how! :)
Thank you to everyone who's been posting comments and sending emails. They're so encouraging! It's nice to have reminders of friends and family when you're far from home.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Hail to Oklahoma Christian...

I love my alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University. And apparently somebody out there loves me. I would like to give thanks and a shout-out to my wonderful department, Language and Literature (also home to STD), for featuring me on their new blog!
And I would also like to humbly ask the marketing department to forgive me for ripping off the logo. :) I believe there is a handbook that regulates logo usage, and I just may be in violation.
Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Sunset over Nihon

This picture doesn't do it justice, but tonight we had a beautiful sunset. Many thanks to all those who prayed for a clear day in Japan, because the last 3 days have been great!!!
By the way, since I've gotten the internet in my apartment I've been listening to sermons online. Does anyone have any good or favorite websites with sermons on them? Please leave them in the comments! I really appreciate it!!!
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Something to think about

When's the last time you were intimate with someone? When's the last time you laid your heart on the line - not just skimming the surface of your struggles - but revealed the ugliness, the sickness that is inside your heart? Because if you strip away the facade, the layers of callouses built up from years past - you'll find out that as different as we seem, we're just the same. We're all fighting a fight, we're all seeking for answers, and we all just want to be loved.
So what's keeping you from being intimate?
--ripped off of Nina's AIM profile

Thursday, October 14, 2004


I completely forgot to mention one of the brightest spots of my job-- class 3-8. In the true manner of "The Wayside School," there is no class 3-7. All I knew before teaching in this class was that 3-8 was for special needs students, which my teachers translated as "emotionally disturbed." I was envisioning this class to be all of my shaved eyebrow gang that I mentioned before, that likes to cause trouble for the teachers on a daily basis.
Imagine my surprise when I get to class and see the sweetest little 7 smiling faces you've ever seen. Only 7 kids in this class, out of a school of 700. I'm not sure how that works. I heard a rumor that in Japan parents have to consent to putting their children in a special class, and many will refuse to do it. I can't swear to that fact, though. Some of the kids in there act just like "normal" kids, except you get the impression that much has never been asked out of them. I finally asked one of the teachers today how a child is chosen to be in the 3-8 class, and she told me that they scored as "unteachable" on an IQ test. An IQ test determined the course of the rest of their life. You see, compulsory education ends after junior high in Japan, so since these kids have been separated and pretty much babysat through school. So the chances of them making it into a high school are virtually non-existant.
The kids are fabulous. They know no English whatsoever, other than hello and goodbye, but I really think that they could get all the basic greetings down if they would just let me work with them some. Don't get me wrong-- there are some troubled kids in there. Maybe some of them can't learn. I don't know. But they are the sweetest children you'll find at Namekawa JHS. When I taught them last week we played a game of Uno, and my teaching consisted of me saying the number and color of the card in English. Of course they were doing the same for me in Japanese. :) By the end of the game they were doing pretty good on their colors and numbers!
The kids there are so sweet! Whenever one does something good they all rejoice with them with clapping and high fives. The brighter ones help the more troubled ones play their best cards. They seem to really love each other like a family. Their teachers in that class are just as awesome. At the end of my class with them they all walked me back to my desk at the office to make sure I made it back okay. :)
Ever since my first class with them I have made a point to walk by their classroom as much as possible, hoping to catch the door open so I can wave at them and say hi. Today I got to play with some of them after school. Just seeing any of them makes my little heart so happy it could burst.
I never thought I would enjoy or be good at working with special needs kids. I thought it just wasn't my cup of tea. But these kids have already taught me great lessons in loving and potential, and I can't wait to see what else they teach me over the next two years.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fair Warning...

Hear ye, hear ye, consider this fair warning for my politically motivated friends out there. Perhaps you have noticed the lack of any political statements on my blog, even though the election is approaching quickly. Well that is purposeful. I feel that, at least in my situation and circle of friends, politics is devisive and discussing it is like chasing after the wind. So this is my statement about my lack of statement on politics.
Here is the warning: any emails of political nature, especially those deliniating how one candidate is clearly from God and the other is a tool of Satan, will not be tolerated. This includes stupid petitions to your senator or representative or grandmother or whoever else you're sending them to. You have two strikes, then you are out. The first one I receive from you will be ignored and trashed, the second one will put you on my spam email list. Some of you already have one strike! I know this sounds harsh, but this is an area of great irritation for me.
Call me crazy, but it is my belief that God is not a democrat or republican. I also believe that neither dems or reps are seeking to do the will of God in all circumcstances, so it is equally crazy for Christians to tow party lines. I have seen more Christians reduced to hateful behavior and comments over political issues than any other. Suddenly people think that in the political arena it is okay to be judgemental and crass. That is ridiculous and embarrassing, and I won't stand for it taking up space in my email inbox.
Thus ends Ann's official statement regarding politically motivated emails. Have a nice day. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Treasures and Prayers

2 Corinthians 4
Treasures in Jars of Clay
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Please pray for:
  • Yusuke-- A high school boy studying the Bible and truly seeking God
  • Yukati-- A woman studying the Bible, but being fed lies by Satan that she is unworthy of becoming a Christian
  • Hitomi-- one of my students from a couple of years back at OC who is being baptized on Sunday
  • McClains-- Members of the church who own an English school to bring in vocational missionaries, but are battling to find people to hire and looking at having to downsize their school. They are starting to wonder if this is a spiritual battle they are fighting.
  • Students and teachers at Namekawa JHS
  • Oohira-sensei-- the teacher I mentioned who wants to start coming to the church's English classes
  • For the rain to stop! It's really starting to get to me. A nice, clear, sunshiney day would do my heart wonders, I think.

Long post, but worth the read IMHO :)

Sorry I've been lazy about updating. Sometimes I just don't feel like rehashing my days, but I'll give you a quick run down on the most recent excitement.
Sunday I went to church at Taga, which was a blessing as always. The Bible class Judith teaches is so refreshing because it's such a mix of people. We have two junior high students, a woman in her twenties who has been studying the Bible for a while, a high school boy who comes because his teacher first got him insterested in it, his teacher, who is a fellow OC grad in TEFL and vocational ministry and a great leader in the church, me, and Judith. There are sometimes others, but I think that is the core group. We're reading through and discussing the gospel of Mark, and it is always good to get fresh perspectives on old stories.
After church Jun (the high school teacher) was kind enough to take me to help get my internet set up so I don't have to steal it from Jared forever. That took about an hour... gotta love Japanese beaurocracy! He was so nice and patient to do that for me! Then a big group of us went to eat at Yusuke's (the high school student's) house. His mom prepared a sushi feast for us, which luckily included options besides just raw fish. But I did eat raw ham! That was an amazing meal. Sunday night we had a big birthday dinner for Judith (see earlier post) then went karaoking afterwards. I love to karaoke!
Monday was another random national holiday, this time "Health Sports Day." God bless the Japanese and their plentiful holidays! Monday was nuts. Long story short, the assistant principal at my school gave me a bike, only he lives half an hour away and I somehow had to get it back here. My dear friend Tomoko was kind enough to meet me there and haul it back here for me. It did involve dismantling the bike, but it is here! Then I spent the rest of the day shopping with them. There is an amazing store here called "Uni-Qlo," which is essentially Old Navy, only maybe better. I stocked up on warm clothes for winter, because it was sooo cheap and they had such good stuff! Then I hauled it all back on the train that night. Trains are great, just not for hauling stuff. :) So there was my holiday. A thousand thanks to the Kikuchis for helping me out with that crazy bicycle.
Sometimes I wonder what on earth I'm supposed to be doing in Japan, and if I have actually done any good so far as far as spiritual things are concerned. Have I been helping to build the kingdom? I don't know. But today the Lord gave me a healthy dose of encouragement. One of my English teachers at school has very little confidence in her English, and she is really embarrassed by it, so she asked me today if I would be willing to give her lessons. There opened the door of opportunity! I was like, "Well my church gives English classes every Sunday night..." and she was thrilled by that and said she wanted to start coming and bring a friend with her! Please pray for her heart to be prepared and touched by the message of God that she will hear if she comes to these classes! I am so excited. What more teachers come? What if my students start coming? Oh, the possibilities are plentiful.
I love the people at Namekawa Junior High school, and I take very seriously the responsibility of being possibly the only Christian influence they have in their lives. Being here has forced me into a level of humility that is breaking me down-- acknowledging my helplessness and my dependence on others-- and that has translated into my faith as well. I was reading the passage in 2 Corinthians the other day comparing us to jars of clay holding the beauty and splendor and the power of God inside of us. Isn't that an awesome thought? To quote Caedmon's Call (my favorite calvinist group... ha ha ;) ), "I'm so thankful that I'm incapable of doing any good on my own." Imagine the misery and despair that would be in if we were responsible for our own salvation through our good works? We wouldn't make it; we'd miss the mark. Thank God for dwelling inside of us to be the light to the world.
Okay, sermon over. :) Ha, my dad's always joked about me just needing to find a pulpit, and I finally realized that I have one-- my blog! :) Love you guys!

Happy birthday, Juju-chan!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish a very happy birthday to a faithful blog reader, Judith. She has been a great friend to me since I have been here in Nippon, saving my sanity and my butt when I needed it. I look forward to many more adventures together! Happy birthday, chica!

Judith and I weathering the typhoon
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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Typhoon Fun

Just wanted to let everyone know that I made it through the typhoon a-ok, so thank you for your prayers and emails! It ended up veering at the last moment so I don't think we got the full force of it, but there was some pretty violent wind and rain. The news was hilarious because they would put some poor reporter out on the beach next to the 7 meter waves. I just know they were being punished for something! And then they kept showing shots of people running down the street after the wind and rain had demolished their umbrellas. Yet some people still continued to try to protect themselves with it. Go fig.
My friend Judith and I actually rode out the storm at the home of a family from the Taga church, the McClains. They're great people with a beautiful family and I look forward to getting to know them better. The McClains own an English school in Hitachi-Taga and employ those seeking to be vocational missionaries. They're actually currently looking for a new teacher, so if you or anyone you know is interested, let me know!

Me running to the supermarket to buy provisions for the storm :)
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PS- My typhoon made the news! Check it out! Typhoon Ma-on

Friday, October 08, 2004

My Bloggerific Buddies

I thought I should probably make reference to the fact that my list of blogger friends over to the right there has been growing a lot lately. I thought I'd give you a little run down on all of my good buddies who have joined the blog circle out there.

Raining on Sunday-- This is a blog by two of my closest friends, Ben and Monica. They provide great insight into all the things newlyweds go through, and they have recently moved, so they provide plenty of humor and insight from that as well. Just don't call them domesticated. ;) They're really funny, so go have a looksee as to what they're up to.

Praying Mantis-- I stumbled on this guy quite accidentally, and have been blessed ever since. He is a minister in Arizona, and often publishes updates on his ministry, original poetry, and other touching thoughts. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.

The Life and Times of a Neener-- This girl is my oldest friends. We became friends in 1stgrade and have been inseparable since the 6th. Although the past six years have kept us apart in distance, we still stay in touch very well thanks to the marvels of the internet. This is more of a journal than a blog, but it is oftentimes deep or humorous. Yay Nina Louise!

Marc's OC Blog-- This is a friend of mine from college who is actually being paid by my alma mater to chronicle his experience as an OC student. He's a cool kid who leads a pretty cool life, so if you want a glimpse into the inside track of OC you can check this one out.

Postmodern Christian-- Ooh, the name alone is enough to pique your interest, I'll bet. I have a feeling that's what he was going for-- ha ha. :) No, this is one of my good friends from college, a Bible major no less, who posts thoughts mostly about being a -- you guessed it-- postmodern Christian. Deep thoughts from an intelligent guy with a good heart. (man, from that sentence you'd never guess I was his nemesis ;) )

Critter's Life-- This is my dear friend Mer who is a grad student at the other UT (University of Tennessee). She is a relative newcomer to the blogging scene, but has already proven to be quite entertaining. Most recently she has decided to become her own "e-harmony" of sorts and start featuring her favorite singles. Maybe since I am giving her this promo she will feature me soon. :)

Amber's Honduran Adventure-- Amber is my good friend from college who decided to up and move to Honduras to serve children there for probably the rest of her life. She is also new to blogging, but even so far she has several great stories of the work she does there and who and how we can pray for her work.

Josh's Thinking Blog-- Josh is another friend of mine from college, yet another Bible major. :) I only recently started reading his blog, but I can already tell I'm going to enjoy it. He has a lot of good thoughts concerning the work and status of the church, as well as a Christian's role in today's culture. He's a great guy who I respect a lot, and if you want to see some of what I think better articulated, check him out.

Blakewell's Blog-- Wouldn't you know that the day after I posted this, one of my best buds went and started a blog? :) So no, I wasn't trying to exclude him. I can't really say much about it since it is brand new, but since this is one of my favorite people in the world, I am sure it will be definitely worth checking out. That is, unless he posts about political topics, in which case you should ignore him completely. ;) JK!

There ya go. Hope I'm not leaving anyone out. Post a comment if I forgot you. :)
By the way, have you noticed an increase in my blogging lately? That's because I FINALLY HAVE THE INTERNET IN MY APARTMENT! :-D That and the typhoon has given me a lot of indoor time to catch up.
And there was much rejoicing... yay. ;)

Make it a hurricane, before I go insane...

Yes folks, apparently I am on a natural disaster streak in my blogging. I referenced the typhoon coming yesterday, but it wasn't until today that I realized what a big deal this is. I arrived in Japan at the beginning of typhoon season so I have been through a handful of typhoons, all of which just resulted in rain then hot humid weather. But apparently those were just the result of typhoons that hit other parts of Japan far far away from me. Tomorrow's typhoon is supposed to go over us. And for those of you who don't know, a typhoon is just what the Japanese call a hurricane. So that's right folks, tomorrow I will go through my first hurricane. Earthquakes, hurricanes... next thing you know, 4 horsemen will be riding by.
In all seriousness, though, I am a little nervous and would appreciate your prayers for protection for my little area of Japan (the Kanto region) and anyone else who might be affected.

*Name the song from the post title and get a gold star in my book.

Kids Say the Darndest Things...

The assignment in my 2nd grade (7th grade) select (elective) class this week was to write a card to Denver, the ALT who I replaced. I thought this would be a good warm up activity that perhaps might help them gain closure on the fact that Denver is gone and I am the new teacher. They were due today, and one girl left a card on my desk when I got into work this morning. Here is a selection from it:
Ann is prettier than Mrs. Kushida. But mum's the word, because there'll be hell to pay. :)

I swear that's a direct quote. I died laughing when I read it. First out of shock, then out of amusement, then out of "where on earth did she learn those phrases?!". Should I be flattered or frightened? :)
So there you go. There's a glimpse into the fun I have every day.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

All Shook Up

My whole life growing up in Texas and going to school in Oklahoma, earthquakes were nothing but something that happened in far away lands. Now however, living in the land of the rising sun, the typhoon, and the earthquake, things are much different. Earthquakes don't happen everyday, but they are not uncommon. If you're walking down the street you might not even notice one is happening. They are most noticable when you're 1) still or 2) above ground level like on the second or higher story of a building. What's an earthquake like, you might be wondering? Well, imagine the ground shaking. There you go.
Last night as I was drifting off to sleep one hit that was noticably bigger than usual. It lasted at least a full minute, and was shaking things around pretty well in the middle of it. When things started getting rough I was like, "well maybe I should go stand in a doorway or something," but then it mellowed and ended. Several people today mentioned it and how they, too, thought it was stronger and longer than usual.
Then tonight I was downstairs at Ian's and suddenly the whole buiding shook rather strongly for about 30 seconds... no warm up to the strong jolts or anything. That frightened us both quite a bit. I made an offhand joke at it leading up to "the big one" but soon learned that "the big one" is not something to joke about... apparently Tokyo is overdue for their big earthquake that hits about every 90 years. Oh my. Living in Japan is always exciting.
So there you go folks. We've got earthquakes, and we're set to have a typhoon hit us pretty hard this weekend. Can't get much more adventuresome than this. :)

Hymn of the Moment

Sometimes those old school hymns have such a powerful message they carry through the years to give energy and strength to even a child of post-modernism. This song has been lingering in my mind for the past week or so, so I just wanted to share it's timeless message to my dear blog readers.

My Hope is Build on Nothing Less by Edward Mote

My hope is build on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, his covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found
Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Every line is so moving to me. What beautiful imagery, capturing our need for a savior and God's willingness to provide. Christ and his salvation really is the only place where we can stand, and even then we are being held up by his strength and grace.

There's your sentimental, deep post from Ann. :) Love you all.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Much anticipated picture...

This is natto. Ew and ew.
Posted by Hello


I am in the process of putting a bunch of new pictures online, thanks to my new internet connection (domo arigato to Jared!). Check them out! :)

Score One for the Amerika-jin

There are two classes that I teach on my own, which are the equivalent of the 7th and 8th grade elective English classes. These are kids who were actually crazy enough to want to take another English class. ;) No no, they're great kids, and they're alllll mine. I choose everything about the classes and conduct them entirely by myself. Today I had a lesson about the importance of knowing a phrase more than "I'm fine, thank you, how are you?" when responding to the question, "How are you?" I heard a story tonight that once Janet Jackson was touring in Japan and she said something like, "How are you tonight, Japan!?" and the entire crowd responded in unison, "I'M FINE, THANK YOU, AND YOU?" :) Gotta love it. So today we learned all kinds of words (adjectives) that you can say instead of fine. It will definitely be a challenge to come up with new materials for these two classes every week. But it is flattering to have the fellow English teachers think I am capable of doing it.
One thing that gives me some reassurance (and maybe even a little bit of joy) here is when I see a Japanese person who looks even more confused about something than I am. For example, today on the bus a girl got off and acted like she didn't know how to pay her money and had to have the bus driver explain it all to her. I was like, "whoa, I know something that that Japanese person doesn't know." :) Good feeling, even though it was at the expense of another.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Well Deserved Honor

Check out this wonderful tribute to a man who deserves all this praise and much more.
Oklahoma Christian University Students Honor Dr. Bailey McBride

Boxes from Home!

It has rained all day. Literally. Not a break in the clouds. And it is cold. Brrr... I have been a little bit of an Ann-cicle today, but I am trying to mentally prepare myself because this is not the coldest it is going to get. But hopefully I will get my electric blanket before it gets too cold. Crazy Japanese and their lack of insulation/central heat. So needless to say I was not in the most genki of moods today.
That was until about 7:00 tonight. Then the faithful Japanese postal service delivered 2 packages from home to me! Yatta (yay)!!!!!!! I got a box of sweaters and a box of goodies, including some pictures of my family that we had made right before I left. Plus I got a Mrs. Baird's cherry fried pie, which I just happened to be dreaming of yesterday! My mommy can read my mind! I got lots of cool stuff, and I am eternally grateful to my folks for getting it together and shipping it to me. And you know once of the best parts? It smells like home. I can't explain it, but it does. Now my apartment smells like home. :) Awwh. So between the phone calls yesterday and the packages today, I am doing a-okay, even despite the cruel weather. God is faithful to provide for us exactly what we need each day.
Lately I have been re-reading through Judges. Judges is very endearing to me, because I believe it is a collection of how God used unlikely people to do great things. Just re-read through it sometime and notice that all of the judges are oddballs in one way or another. I guess sometimes when those most suited to leadership won't step up, God prepares and uses unlikely candidates for his glory and to fulfill his will. I am tempted to launch into a commentary on how this what is happening in the church today with female leadership, but I'll lay off that for now. :) Man, it's been a while since I've gone on a schpeil about some random Biblical topic. I think it's because I don't really know anyone here well enough yet to let them see that strong-willed, slightly eccentric side of my personality. :) Hmm, should I let my faithful blog readers peer into my true mental ramblings? We'll see. ;)
And I would like to give a birthday shoutout to my dear former roommate, Traci! Happy birthday T-Bird!!!! :)

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Blessing of Phone Cards

I am on cloud nine. Today I got my international calling card and I just got done talking to my family and two of my good friends. And I just can't stop smiling. :)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I Got Chills, They're Multiplyin'...

Hmm, what are the highlights of the last three days.
Friday I watched 6 junior high boys volleyball games. Exciting stuff. But I was proud, because my school's team came in 3rd place in the city. Go Namekawa go! Then we had an enkai later that night which was fun, but I found out that two of my favorite teachers are leaving, so I am very bummed out about that. :( One of them was a person who I was using as motivation to learn Japanese, because she seemed so sweet that I wanted to be able to talk to her. As I was saying goodbye she leaned over and said, "Don't forget me!" Talk about a tear-jerking moment. Then after the enkai I went out karaoking with my fellow ALTs, which was a blast. Ian and I did a mean rendition of the Grease medly duo. I have some of the coolest co-workers in the world.
Saturday I went to my frist Japanese class, which was awesome. Pretty much every town has a volunteer organization which offers Japanese classes for next to nothing. I was in a 2 hour one on one class and paid 500 yen, which is about $5. I had a really nice teacher and I think I am going to learn a lot from her. Then after class Tomoko (my roommate from college) picked me up and I spent the day with her, her family, and the OC study abroad student they are hosting. It was lots of fun to hang out with them. We went to a shrine which was interesting and exotic to me. Saturday night I had hands down the best meal I've had since I have been in Japan-- Japanese barbeque. Lord have mercy, it was sinfully delicious. Real steak! Yum...
This morning we went to church in Mito, which was awesome as always. The Sunday school class is listening to a taped sermon series by Rick Atchley at Richland Hills on revival, and it was awesome. I wish I could be there every week to hear it. Then after the service, guess where we went for lunch... Wendy's! :) Yep, I had a good old Wendy burger with meat and bread only (thanks to Chie ordering for me). Then back to church for EBC and home again. Good weekend, but full weekend. Doesn't really feel like I had much of a break. And for that very reason I am wrapping this up and going to bed.