Saturday, July 30, 2005

of vacation...

Today is my first day of vacation! Horray! Actually, eventually today I will do some work, like clean my classroom etc, return flour, and other fun things like that. Maybe I will also start on cleaning my house more. Tomorrow is Sunday, and after church I will go to watch the famous Japanese fireworks! Horray! I am so excited about it! Anyway, I doubt summer will be all that exciting, but I'll keep posting if I have anything to say. :-)

Friday, July 29, 2005

of party day...

Wow, today can only be referred to as "Party Day". I started off the day with a takoyaki party (yes, octopus balls, no not those kind of balls Marlo). It was fun. We made our own. I took pictures. I will put them up later. We also talked about underwear. Yes, strange party.

Then I had an ice cream party with my favorite kids class. There are three boys and they are so well behaved (around 4th grade). We had ice cream and we let the little brother of one join us. Then we played Uno and Skipbo (the little brother played too, and the boys were super nice helping him and encouraging him. None of them were upset that he was in the class that day.) The little brother was great too. When we played Uno, I made them use English (Red Eight, etc) and the little boy was able to say it loud and clear and with no help! I was so impressed. It was great. And then Mika mentioned that I don't' have plans for the summer, and now my two favorite families have my phone number and e-mail address. So maybe they'll ask me out during summer break. Hehehe

Then my next two classes didn't show up. That's ok, because those classes don't seem to have as much fun anyway. LOL.

Next class was my fun beginner class. They brought food, (I forgot what it's called, but it involves sushi type rice, sashimi{raw fish} and nori {seaweed} you put the rice on the seaweed, then add your toppings and then roll it up and eat it. It's very delicious!). They also brough alcohol. Wow, I think I drank more than I have before. Don't worry, no bad effects. I didn't drink too much. But I did eat too much! Wow, you wouldn't think raw fish would fill you up so fast! I mean, it seems more like a snack than a meal, but it really does add up quickly! I don't know how Japanese people eat like that all the time! Wow.

So today was a good day. The last party lasted until like 11:00 PM! (the class started at 8). But I'm tired. So I'm gonna go now! Ja ne!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

of "eel day"...

Yes, today is unagi day. This means every sane Japanese person should go out and eat some wonderful eel today. :-) I didn't, not because I don't eat eel mind you, I love the stuff, but because I'm trying to be a good girl and save my money for other things. :-) Just thought everyone should know that.

And on a different note, I have one more day of class until summer vacation! Tomorrow I get to have a tacoyaki party! (octopus balls, no not those!, these are fried round thingies with octopus inside... Just think of it as taco and it's not as disgusting!) Yes, I am excited about eating octopus. I like it. Lots! Hehehe. Also I get to have about three ice cream parties. Whoo-hoo!

Other great news of the week? I might actually be close to the end of the left overs. Thanks to Mika helping me eat them everyday this week! Thanks Mika! :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

of the oddness of growing up...

Growing up is odd. I mean, realizing one day that you are a reconized adult, it's strange. For me anyway. Today I got an e-mail from a church member in America. I have known this person my whole life. She used to teach me Sunday School. And now she's sending me e-mails and talking to me like we are equals. How strange!

I guess it's just hard for me to internalize all the changes that comes with being an adult. I still find it hard to believe some days...

Monday, July 25, 2005

of randomness...

yes, we all know how much Amber loves being random (and beginning sentences with the word "yes"). So, here's a random post:

Many Japanese people are fascinated by the fact that I can braid my own hair and wear it in so many styles. They often think my hair is fake. LOL.

A typhoon is coming tomorrow. And I'm supposed to meet my students to go out for a party. I wonder who will show up... I wonder how I will get there...

There is no such thing as plastic knives in Japan. You can find plastic spoons and forks (often smaller than normal) in various colors, but it's is just about impossible to find knives.

I have become quite a fan of unagi (eel). It's actually quite yummy. :-) The problem is the super fine bones. I don't like bones. :-( To date, I willingly eat Squid, Octopus and Eel. But I can't eat Mexican food. Yes, I am such a strange American...

My genkan (entrance way where you take off your shoes before entering a house) smells like feet.

I will probably be eating Mashed potatoes and gravy, and "slime" for a month! If it doesn't go bad first that is...

I have a floor. Yes, this is often in doubt in many places I live, sadly enough. But a vast majority of my floor is now visible. That's what having Cell at your house does. The goal is for me to completely clean my house during vacation so that I can start having my Sunday Bible study at my house. Ah, goals...

I don't like that icky sticky feeling that comes with humidity.

I can't type or spell tonight.

Yahoo! Avatars

of appreciating doing nothing...

Wow, this month has been crazy insane busy. So much happened. So it was American Culture month. In Adult classes we talked about America, in kids classes we made some crafts. It was good.

I also filled my plate in other ways this month. I experimented with having two Coffee Houses. I had one at 2:00 and one at 7:00. The experiment was a success. I had 4 people come to the 2:00 one, including a woman who had never been to Coffee House before. It was good. I will continue to play around with the Coffee House thing. I am considering having a small meal between Coffee Houses, and maybe that will help people loosen up. :-)

I also did Gingerbread House. I only had 4 kids show up this time, but probably because it's summer vacation here, a lot of my regulars had other plans. But that's ok. It still went fine, and I think one little boy liked it better in a small group.

But the kicker of the month was my American Dinner. I sold tickets, invited Students, Church Members, VYM, and my language partner. Some of all the above came. I had around 45 people come (I was shooting for 30). This just goes to prove how awesome a God I have. I started this whole idea on impulse (looking back, I'm pretty sure it was at God's prompting). Someone asked me what the purpose was, and I just kinda made something up on the spot. LOL. But I firmly believe that God wanted this to happen, and it's possible for a purpose I know nothing about. Why do I believe this you say? Well, because it happened and was such a success. I mean, we all know me. There were a few times when I let the ball slip, or waited until the last minute to do things, etc. But God came through all the time and made things work smoothly. He provided me with great helpers who didn't complain when I asked them to do the yucky prep work, and who took care of things like setting up tables and finding chairs. God even gave me energy. I was working on something like 3 hours of sleep, but I made it through the day with energy to spare. Everything went perfectly while cooking and all the food came out just like it should. I was happy. I had never made anything in such great quanities before (only for like 15 or 20 people before) so I'm really surprised at how well it worked. I was worried for a while that I wouldn't have enough food. People kept signing up at the last minute to come and I just felt like I couldn't turn them down. I just kept praying to God that there would be enough food. I also made a few rather bold statements like, Jesus fed 5,000, I'm sure He can help out with 45. Well, thankfully God didn't let me down. Like the previous food miracles, God provided and with more than I needed. I have tons of leftovers now. I don't know how I can possibly eat them all before they go bad. And it's not because people didn't like the food. I know one kid went back for 3rds! So many people asked me how I made things. Oh yeah, my menu was Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed potatoes, gravy and cheesy broccoli ("slime" if you know my family) and ice cream for dessert. Japanese people seemed fascinated with the gravy (they insisted on calling it white sauce) and wanted to know the ingredients. I saw one woman who went back for seconds, of only gravy! I have never seen anyone eat just gravy before! LOL. So the short and long of it all is that the American Dinner was a heaping success! Everyone seemed to have a good time, I was only 15 minutes late finishing the gravy (the gravy took longer than I thought it would) and I spent the day with people who's company I enjoy. I even had fluently of people who took charge of the clean up. (which was good because at that point I was about to drop. I can imagine trying to clean up all that with just me!)

But wait, the night wasn't finished. After the dinner, we had Cell meeting at my house. We had 9 people come (because most of them just stayed after the dinner) and that's the largest group I've seen since I joined Cell. Thankfully my house was mostly presentable. It went from disaster to I can see the floor now in little less than 24 hours while I was also preparing for the dinner and sprinkled with procrastination. But I am happy.

So, the reason for the title of the post: I am so glad it's my day off and I don't have to spent it getting ready for another event!

Tomorrow starts my last week of classes before summer vacation. It promises to be a good week because I get to have a party in virtually all my classes! Horray!

And on a random note, several of my students called me beautiful last week. (one said I looked like a doll with my glasses off) I of course wouldn't say I am ugly, but I wouldn't say beautiful either. But I can always chalk it up to people finding people from other races beautiful. ;-) But still, it's nice to hear! :-D

Ok, that's all for now!

Friday, July 08, 2005

in pictures:

So I decided to try out the new picture feature! Here goes:

Here is Pastor Shiba, my co-worker Mika (on the left) and my Japanese Teacher Nunokawa Sensei (on the right cutting the watermelon). We were sharing a watermelon I had bought one day after my Japanese lesson and before I started teaching. It was fun.

Below: The first picture is from Gingerbread House. I'm telling the story of Noah and Yoshiko is translating for me.

Next picture: This is my cutest class ever! They are six and seven years old and all cho kawaii (super cute). They are kinda shy and don't talk much, but I think I'm winning them over. And can you belive, the puppets were all around a dollar! I really love Japan!

This is the younger sister of one of my students. Cute ne?

of national pride...

So this whole week I have been teaching about America in my classes. I plan to do this the whole month in celebration of independence Day. It seemed like a good time to introduce a subject most of my students are really interested in. Well, in the course of teaching this week, I found out a few interesting things. One being: not all people in every country have national pride. I was asked by one class, "Why do American's love America so much?" And several times I heard comments along the lines of, "It must be nice to have a country you can be proud of." It makes me wonder, is America really that different from a country like Japan? Why are American's so proud of our country? Why can't my students find something to love about their country? It also makes me wonder, how does a people learn national pride? Is it something we are taught? I don't know, but I somehow have a sad feeling for these people who don't feel patriotic when they look at their countries flag. I mean, I can understand it if you are living under an oppressive government etc, but Japan is a democratic country now. Japan has a long and rich history. But so many people here are ashamed of war. Maybe this is something I can't understand. I don't know. Somehow, I'm not really capturing my thoughts and feelings about this subject very well. My thoughts are vague and hard to catch. But I am left with this sort of sad feeling for the people of this country. I wish they could love it.

Well, my week was good, and now comes yet another busy weekend. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

of comparisons...

The differences between working in Japan and working in America (or Why I like working in Japan):

1. Japan: I can wear as much, or whatever kind of jewerly I want, and the Japanese mothers tell me I am stylish.
America: I have to be careful what jewerly I wear and when or people might get upset at me, depending on where I work.

2. Japan: I wear blue hair extentions. Again, I am stylish.
America: I wear blue hair extentions and mothers wonder if I should be allowed to teach their children (and at some places it would be against the regulations)

3. Japan: I wear flip-flops to work and people tell me how much they like my shoes.
America: I wear flip-flops to work and people ask me if I bother to get dressed (and once again in some places this is against regulations)

4. Japan: If I don't like the parents, or don't want to talk to them, I can always pretend to not understand them (in most cases this is true!) Best part: so far, I like all the parents!
America: yeah, I have to deal with them.

I'm sure there are more great comparisons, but they'll have to wait for another time.

Anyway, quick update on my weekend (and by quick I mean long and detailed...)

So Saturday I went out with some students, of course you know that because you already read that post. Sunday, like usual was really long. I did Sunday School, Church, Bible Study and then went to Suginami for Cell. Bible Study was a bit difficult because the Chinese woman that has been coming is actually rather difficult to understand when she asks questions. So far, no one knows what she is asking. This is strange, because usually her English is pretty good. Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon.

Cell was good, there were only three of us. We got to spend more time just talking and catching up so it was good. And then I spent the night at Lauren's. OH yeah, we had Japanese pizza for cell. Now Japanese pizza is rather interesting. It's about 30 bucks for one pizza, and the toppings can be very strange. It's not uncommon to find corn or mayo on a pizza. This pizza was good. It was sea-food with no tomato sauce. I think it either had sea-weed or spinach on it, but probably sea-weed. I liked it. And I brought some sweet potato apple pie too. That was yummy as well.

Well, the reason I spent the night with Lauren was because Monday we met up with Tami and her friend from America, Warren. We met up and went to the Ghibli Museum. So Ghibli is an Anime studio. This is the company that made Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and more recently Howl's Moving Castle. It was rather interesting, and educational too. It showed how animation was made. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. After that we went to Tokyo Dome City and wandered around. Then we had a Hawaiian dinner. It was good, but the day was long. I was happy to get home. The bad part about Monday: It rained ALL day long! And I did not exactly have the proper shoes for that. I slipped twice. Wasn't hurt, but got wet. Also, I had to carry my bag all day. It was heavy because it had my clothes and my big honkin Bible in there. But other than that, it was a good day.

But in any case, the weekend was full. This week starts American Culture month. So far the classes enjoy it. Next weekend is Coffee House where I will experiment with having two. Week after that is Gingerbread House and the week after that is my Homecooked American Dinner. I have some plans for the beginning of August, but after that class is out and I will be pretty free. I'm sure I'll find things to do. Oh yeah, I also plan to go to Costco this next Monday and see the new Star Wars movie with Lauren. Tanoshimi (I'm looking forward to it).

Ok, I think that's enough of my rambling for now. I'm going to study now for my Japanese test tomorrow.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

of raw fish...

I guess every American in Japan has to write about eating raw fish sometime... I went out today with some students from one of my classes. They are great and I have a good time with them. We went to this really nice restaurant, the kind where they serve you food in "waves." There was so much food! And it was all Japanese food. I like Japanese food, don't get me wrong. It was very delicious. But wow, there was SO much raw fish! If you had told me a year ago that I would willing eat that much raw fish without hesitation, I would have never believed you. But I did, and I even enjoyed most of it. I think Japan is definitely teaching me how to try new things and be more mature in that area of my life. Well, maybe it's just something I've been growing into for the past few years... Anyway, I am happy about that part of me.

In fact, lately, I have been rather happy with the person I am. This is not normal for me. Normally I have a rather low self-esteem, but I think I'm gaining a rather realistic perspective lately. Of course I am not perfect, I never will be until heaven, but I am happy with my life right now. I wish I could feel this way forever...

Life is still good. My weeks go by quickly, and my weekends seem to be filling up. I have plans this weekend and probably the next. I have plenty of things to keep me busy with so that is good. For a little while, I was feeling somewhat lonely for good friends my age that I could call up and hang out with in my area. I put up an online ad looking for some, and I have gotten many replies, but we will see where that goes. Many are boys and it seems they are just looking to date a foreigner, doesn't matter who it is. I am wary of people like that, so I doubt those will go anywhere. But I think it's best to leave these things up to God. I am glad I have God to rely on at times like this. I mean, it's so easy to be confused about what I want and what is good for me. If I let it, this whole thing could really stress me out. But I can say, "here God, you know better than me, please deal with it and tell me what I should do." I want good people in my life, not people who will distract me from what's important. Also, I don't know if this is a good time in my life for me to think about dating and stuff like that. I mean, sure I would like a relationship, but can I really deal with one? I have no idea. But I don't want to just go out looking for one. I think it's better to let these things happen through God's guidance. Hmmm, maybe I'm just being lazy and using that as an excuse, but then again, maybe not. I still think it's best to leave these kinds of things to God. He's a better judge than I am.

Well, so that's my rambling for the night. I won't be home tomorrow night. Gonna spend the night with Lauren and then we are gonna go out with Tami and her friend to see an anime museum on Monday. I am looking forward to it.

And on an ending note, I am so full, I don't think I need to eat for a week. Not bad for a free meal (my students of course wouldn't let me pay for it.) Also, it's a rather odd feeling for me going out with my students. I mean, at least one is old enough to be my father, and they are all married with children. And here I am, this little 25 year old, and I am their TEACHER, and they are taking me out and talking with me. Somehow this is just strange to me. But I enjoy being with them, even if I don't understand half of what is being said (they spoke in Japanese most of the night, so I only caught bits and pieces of the conversations). But it was a good time, and I really like them. I guess in some circumstances, age really isn't a factor! But still, it would be nice sometime to have friends nearby who aren't at least 10 years older than me... LOL