Tuesday, December 14, 2004

of mistaken identity

Ok, so about 6 or 7 years ago I created my first e-mail account. I thought long and hard over what I wanted my address to be. It had to be original and describe me. It also needed to be short and easy to remember. I also wanted it to be two words (don't ask me why, I just wanted it that way). Well, after much deliberation I finally came to the perfect two words to describe me: Blue Paradox.

Well, I thought this would be sufficiently original that I wouldn't have to ever add numbers to my new name or have people mistake me for someone else. Well, apparently I was wrong. Over the last few years I have had to add words to my little name to get some e-mail addresses and I have had several people IM me thinking I was someone else. Yes, I am sad about this.

(I really don't like sharing my name. I like my name, Amber, but growing up I always had to share it with someone else. So I think that's partly the reason I really wanted an original screen name. *sigh* It was not to be so. But I certainly won't change it now because I really like it.)

Anywho. This story has a point. Today I had another IM from yet another person who thought I was someone I am not (in this case some guy named Ryan). Well, apparently Ryan likes to joke around because it took a little while to convince the girl that I was in fact, not Ryan. The whole thing was about this poem Ryan was supposed to write for her boyfriend, Dan's, birthday. Well, somehow along the way, she decided to ask me to write a poem too. So, writing a random poem for some stranger's birthday strikes me as hilariously funny. Of course I agreed. So anyway, without further ado, here is the poem I wrote for some girls boyfriend named Dan. Happy Birthday Dan. :-)

Happy Birthday, thou I don't know you
I am in Japan, but not writing haiku
"Kyou wa anata no tanjobi desu"
is what the Japanese might say too.

I met your girlfriend by mistake online
she asked me to write a poem and I said "fine."
the meter is bad, but at least there is rhyme
I think it's pretty good for not so much time.

I know it's not much, but I hope you find this funny
I think a good poem is better than money
I hope this new year for you is always sunny
and that your nose doesn't often get runny.

I pray good friends you always have
that will stick with you in good and bad
But just so you know, this is always true
no matter what, Jesus loves you!

~Amber (Missionary in Japan) :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

of reflections

So I was standing on the train as I am prone to do when there are no seats available. I often stand by the doors so when we exit the subway I can see the scenery as we pass (if by scenery you mean lots of buildings). Well, when you are in the subway, and when it is dark outside, you can see reflections in the window. I find this is a good way to observe the people in the train without staring at them.

Well, all this got me to thinking about the nature of reflections. Reflections are handy things. You can see things you wouldn't normally be able to see (can you imagine living your whole life never seeing your own face?). But the problem with reflections is that they pale beside the original. Reflections can't catch all the details. If you only watched the reflections, you might think it was enough. But then you see the real thing and wonder why you thought the reflections were good enough.

Ok, so yes, all this rambling does have a point. All of this made me think of how reflections work in our lives, esp mine. Ok, so maybe it means more to me since I have this whole reflection theme going on. But for instance, lets use my theme as an example. When you read my posts, these are reflections of me. Of my thoughts, my experiences, etc. But it is not the same thing as knowing me in person, or experiencing these things with me.

Well, this makes me think about my relationship with Christ. I believe that Christians are reflections of Christ. But like all reflections, we are a poor substitute for the real thing. Each Christian is a different kind of reflection as well. Maybe some of us shine like mirrors. But maybe some of us are like muddy water. I think most of us are somewhere in the middle (maybe like the windows in the trains). But it's true that no matter what we do, we reflect Christ, if we want to or not. So my thought is: What are we reflecting in our lives? Are we showing Christ through muddy water, or are we mirrors reflecting His perfect light? I think in the end, Stacie Orrico says it best in her song "Don't look at me."

Don't look at me, if you're looking for salvation
Don't look at me, I will only let you down.
I'll do my best to lead you in the right direction
But don't look at me, look at Him.

He's the One that lived the Perfect Life
He's the One that always gets it right
He's the One and Only Guiding Light
He is everything that you'll ever need.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

of "un-disappointments"

Yes, it's an odd title, but you have to understand, I am used to being disappointed. It had always seemed that whenever I really looked forward to something, I would inevitably be disappointed. So this whole concept of what I look forward to actually being fun is a new thing for me. So far, these past months have been wonderfully full of un-disappointments. I really am having the time of my life.

My latest un-disappointment happened today. I have been looking forward to meeting with my new language partner for a while (not that I dislike my old one, she is wonderful and I really enjoy meeting with her as well). Today was finally the day. We met in a famous meeting place and walked around for a while talking (yes, mostly in English because really, I don't think I can carry on a full conversation in Japanese yet). We wandered around and found the Meiji Shrine. So we decided to check it out. The trees are turning colors (he taught me the word for this, but alas, I have forgotten) and some were quite beautiful. It was a nice walk and we had good conversation. He is not only very interested in learning about English and America, he also seems to be very interested in Christianity. He brought it up several times in the conversation. After the shrine we sat for a while in Wendy's and he very kindly made me have a conversation in Japanese with him. I really like the fact that he insisted on teaching me as well as me teaching him. It was fun. Then we went to another place for dinner. All in all it was a nice day. I spent about 6 hours total with my new language partner, which even beats my record with my old one (of course I can stay out to outrageous hours like midnight with her because we live in the same area and don't have to worry about catching the last trains home). I am definitely looking forward to the next meeting (assuming I can find time for it again). The amusing part of the day was when he seemed very nervous that I wouldn't be able to find my way back home on the trains (we had walked several stations away from where we started). I don't know why he thinks I can't figure out the trains. I have been living here for two months now. I actually had the train system down pretty much my first week here, so I take it for granted I guess. But I definitely had to assure him that I would be ok. When I told him to be safe too (I am used to telling all my friends that) he told me he would be fine, he is Japanese. I had to smile at that, but I let it go.

So yes. Today was nice. I slept in, had a good hair day, and spent 6 hours with a new language partner. Who could ask for more? Life is good.

of recurring "Chance" encounters.

Ok, so in the last post I wrote about the young woman with the dog (a long haired dachsun named Chichi btw). Well tonight, the three of us (we are referred to as the O'vers or Orientation Volunteers) were coming home from our director's house (where we were graciously served dinner and conversation). Well, amazingly enough, we met the same young woman (in almost the same spot as before) walking the same dog. I almost didn't recognize her, but the dog apparently remembers me and enjoys running to meet me (well, ok, he doesn't remember me and he runs to meet everyone). This is the second encounter and I was able to introduce her to the other two missionaries. One girl has studded Japanese for about 7 years and was able to speak to her in Japanese (but the woman understood English very well so it wasn't necessary). She was able to explain to us these funny little signs with lanterns that are hanging from so many shops (end of the year sales signs, good to know!). It was fun. And then when we parted ways from the other two (they live quite a bit farther from the station than I do) I told them I would see them on Sunday. The girl remembered that I would be seeing them at church. This is a wonderful thing to me. Now I know enough to not really get my hopes up that this young lady will immediately start attending church and become baptized just because she met me on the street. But I can rejoice because I know a seed has been planted. I may never see any results, but it is there now. I know this is probably because I am really new to the whole missionary thing (Japan being my first ever "missionary trip"), but I am excited because God can use me here. It it not even anything I have done. I have merely allowed myself to be where God wanted me when He wanted me. It is humbling to know that I am allowed to be one of His tools. Well, anyway, if you are so inclined, please feel free to rejoice with me for the seemingly "random" encounters that seem to continue to come my way.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

of chance encounters

Today, or rather yesterday, or is it today where my family is? Yes, so time is a bit confusing so, let's just pretend it's still today. Yes, so now back to what I was writing. Today I met with my Language Partner once again. And yet again, we talked until after midnight (hence my time problem). Well, this in and of itself is nothing to write home about (or my blog I suppose), but several interesting things happened on my way home from our meeting. It can't be more than a 7 minute walk from where we were, but it was certainly interesting. First of all, we were approached by a rather disreputable looking young man who had something to do with some sort of Host service. We ignored him and kept going. Then a man on a bike kept watching our conversation (we were still speaking in English and he was Japanese) and when we laughed, he started laughing! It was very odd. He said something to her, and she ignored him. These things make her uncomfortable, but they don't really bother me so much. So that was odd. But then, after she went her way, I was walking alone to my apartment, and this young woman was walking her dog. The dog decided to be friendly with me, and since I love dogs, I said he was cute, in Japanese. She was nice enough to start talking to me. She spoke English quite well, and we started talking since we were walking in the same direction (which was nice since there was a rather large group of disreputable looking men we had to pass, and I am rather glad I didn't do it alone.) So it turns out she would like to take English classes, and I was able to refer her to the church here and I invited her to the Christmas Party. She actually lives a stone's throw from my apartment and works at a place I walk by everyday. So, that is my story of chance encounters. She will hopefully call the church for more info on English classes. All of this is because I enjoy talking. Yes, God works in mysterious ways.

So, that was today. I haven't written in a while, so I guess I can give a brief report. I was sick for a while, missed a couple of classes, played catch up, we went on a field trip to the National History Museum (it was fun, I spent money there) and I wrote a speech for our Speech Day (in Japanese). I met with my sensei today to go over the first draft. There were surprisingly little grammatical errors, and she gave me some wonderful suggestions for making it better. Now, just so you aren't confused, my speech isn't so much of a speech as it is a simple story. I have to be different you know. So I will get to make props and have a good time performing my "speech" This will greatly aid in my memorization of the speech. I am excited about this. Oh yeah, I also went to a cultural performance. It was great. I saw some traditional Japanese dance and music. I really liked it. We also visited another church and decorated someone's house. It was interesting. So yeah, that's the brief version. Anime is on now, so I will try to figure out what is happening. Thank you for your time.