Monday, January 02, 2006

Of a New Year...

Yeah, such an original title. What can I say? Good thing I'm not going for the original award. As much as I would like it, I think that this past year has taught me I am not nearly as original as I would like to think. Sad. Anyway. I suppose I should say something profound to reflect the old years passing and the new years coming. Well, I'm fresh out of profound, and the stores won't open again until the 3rd. Besides, I think profound's a bit expensive this time of year. Sorry folks.

Enough of that. I'm not actually a big holiday person. They just don't matter to me so much. But that's ok. I don't hate them or anything. Anyway, lets do a mass update, shall we? Here goes:

November: Well, I had Fall Retreat and then I went to Hong Kong. While the traveling was nice, it did manage to eat up every free weekend I would have had, and effectively killed all my day's off. It wasn't so bad, but by the end of November I was beginning to feel the stress.

Fall Retreat was fun. Every year we have two retreats, where all the missionaries in Japan, (well in my program anyway) get together. We got to get to know the new people and catch up with the old. I was much more comfortable this year than last year. Probably because when I'm not certain of my role, I tend to withdraw into myself until I know where my place is, and what is appropriate for me to do. But my revelation this year is that yes, I am probably an extrovert, but I don't like large groups. I find I get lost in the people and often wind up more alone than not. I think sometimes its more lonely being in a large group than just being by yourself. I mean, when you are by yourself, you can deal with the loneliness and understand why you feel that way. But when you are surrounded by people, and still alone, I don't know, it just hurts so much more. But I am getting way better than I used to. I think I'm finally growing up. Or at least growing closer to God. I think this is the reason for many of the positive things in my life recently.

So then we had the Asia Ablaze! Summit in Hong Kong. I wasn't so excited to go. I didn't really care about going to Hong Kong (although I was kinda excited about a free trip and another stamp in my passport). I was also sick. I had caught a cold at Fall Retreat and it had become a sinus problem. This in turn became an ear problem. Well, I ended up having to go to the hospital to get my ear drum punctured to relieve the pressure so I could fly. Let me tell you, going to a Japanese Hospital, with a hearing problem, alone is hard. But I made it through for the most part. And I went to Hong Kong. The Summit was much better than I had anticipated. There were all the LCMS Missionaries from all over Asia, as well as pastors and church leaders from various countries. I was surprised at how well it was done. We also had some time for sightseeing and stuff in Hong Kong. We had thanksgiving Dinner in Hong Kong. But the worst part was the busses. The roads were horribly twisty and turny (Hong Kong is build pretty much on a mountain). Well thirty minutes or more each trip in buses on these roads took a toll on my poor stomach. I was sick twice, once I didn't make it off the bus. But all in all, it was a good experience. But I have no desire to go back to Hong Kong. Although, I was excited to eat a Burger King hamburger and I was able to order it plain with no trouble at the airport. There is no Burger King in Japan. There are a ton of McDonald's and some Wendy's, but no Burger King.

I'm also pretty sure November is when I found out about Cold Stone Creamery coming to Japan. I went with Hiroki to get some. Yeah, ice cream in winter is strange, but we stood in line for a while to get some. Horray for Cold Stone!

Let's see. I think that's most of the interesting stuff from November.

December: Well, I started preparing my classes for Christmas. That was fun. We made snowflakes in my kids classes and hung them from the ceiling. People seem to like this. Then we had the traditional year end parties. I got lots of free food. I like free food. Christmas was good. I spent almost the whole time with people. Christmas Eve I was invited to a student's house for lunch then we went to Candlelight service together. Then Tami and I took some old blankets of hers and some boots to give to homeless people down at the station. I'm sure the men were very surprised to see these two gaijin giving away things. But they seemed very appreciative. Then we ate ramen together. After that, I went grocery shopping and then I baked until like 3 in the morning. Next day was church, and a pot luck. I had cooked garlic cheese mashed potatoes the night before while baking. It was a big hit. Then I chatted online for a little while, then I went Karaoke with two Japanese friends. That was fun. Then we went to watch the band play. (more on the band next post) The sad thing was they only got to play like two songs the whole night. The police came and ended up catching two of the groupies. They talked to them for like an hour. So after that, we ended up hanging out in McDonald's. That was much warmer than standing outside. I had baked cookies for them and bought some booklets in Japanese about the Christmas story and given them out. The cookies seemed to go over well. All in all, it was a good Christmas. I was very thankful for the blessings God had given me.

Then was New Years. I basically hung out with the Band for 11 hours straight. We started at like 10:45 and they played a while, then we had a count down and a toast. Then we went inside the station and talked and they played a few more songs quietly. We did that until 4 or 5 when we went as a group to the shrine. (around 12 or 15 people I think). It was nice. I got to walk Japanese girl style, with girls holding my hands and my arms for a while. It made me feel very accepted. I watched them do their thing at the shrine and took some pictures. We wandered around the vendors for a while (yeah, there were vendors at that late at night) then we went back to the station. They decided they wanted to watch the sun rise, but it was cloudy and the buildings were closed. So we found this abandoned field and played around there for about 4 hours. It turned out Mako had some balls and frisbees in his car, so we played with those. I had a fun game of three on three soccer and then joined in a Frisbee throwing contest. Sing is really good at Frisbee. It was really nice. Then I had to leave about 10 til 10 to go to church. I went to church and then straight to bed. I then slept for about 22 hours. LOL. So here I am today, typing, cold and thinking about needing to clean my house.

Last year was a good year. I'd venture to say one of the best years of my life. I wish I had written more things down to remember it all, but that's the way it works with me. I'm really lucky I wrote down the things I did.

Oh yeah. Some more news. There is now a Cell group meeting at my house every week and I'm the leader. (Cell group is like small group meetings with an emphasis on outreach). Right now there are three other women who come regularly. I'm looking for more Christians to join so I can invite more non-Christians. It's kinda difficult though. Well, I'll pray about it and leave it to God.

Ok, this post is super long and I think I've covered most things. If I left something out, or if you are confused, just leave a comment and I'll try to clarify. Happy New Year!

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