Sunday, February 26, 2006

of being accepted...

I've never felt so accepted by so many people in my life before. Granted, I have generally been blessed with friends who put up with me for many years. I'm surprised when I consider that I have such loyal friends, because surely they ought to have seen what a horrible person I am by now. But they are faithful, and I am thankful. It kinda gives me a glimpse of God in my life to realize that people keep giving me chances.

Well, I must say, Japan is great for my self-esteem. Everyone is always complimentary to me. I seem to get along well with most of my students. Some students even look forward to coming to class. I'm happy about this. And I'm making friends in the places I go often. Yesterday, I went to hang out with the band/groupies as usually. I didn't get to see them last week, so I was excited about yesterday (this being the third major thing I'd done that day, after the prayer meeting in the morning, and then the English School Open House in the afternoon). Well, they weren't playing because Mako couldn't be there, but Sing was there selling postcards, so I went to talk to him. It was cool. I had a good time. But the great thing was how I feel like I can become a part of that group, that they really like me and welcome me.

Apparently a bunch of the group got together to form a kind of team. I don't know if they compete or anything, probably not. But this is like mini-soccer. I guess it's the same rules and stuff, just with smaller goals and field. Well, yesterday Kumi asked me if I'd like to play with them. I'm so happy about this. It's during the week, and it's after work, so it'll be a little rough, but I think I'll do it. It sounds like a lot of fun, and I think it'll be great exercise. I had just been thinking of how I needed to exercise more. This is a great way to help me do it. I know I probably overreact, but things like this just make me so happy. It makes me feel like I'm closer to being a normal person with a normal life. Friends and activities, and a job, and responsibilities. I feel so blessed.

On another happy note, I had one of the best Bible Studies today. And it wasn't even me at all. Sometimes this woman comes. Her English isn't so great, but she used to live in America, and she was exposed to Christianity there. So now she really cares about learning and stuff. Well, she asks lots of questions and tries to apply things to her life. Sometimes I think the other students might get frustrated, because she doesn't always understand my English, or she thinks about something for such a long time. But today she started really good discussions. She was even bold enough to ask the other students what they thought about what we had learned that day. It was a great chance for communicating. And it allowed me to witness to them and show them that God is already working in their lives. I think they are surprised by my answers sometimes and have to look at God from a different angle than before. I think this is great. I will continue to pray for this class. God is really working there. I'm so happy to watch it happen. God is being really nice to me!

Ok, time to clean my house for the weekly Cell Group meeting. Ick! Yet another area I still need to improve in...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

of flying time...

I'm just sitting there thinking to myself (as there is no one else here...) "Is it Friday already? Where did the week go?" Time just seems to go by faster and faster. I'm amazed I'm keeping up. Soon the year will be over. I wonder where I'll be in a year. Japan? America? Some country I've never heard of? Good thing God's in control of my life. Otherwise I'm sure it'd be a spectacular wreck by now.

Anyway, basically I'm floored by how fast the darn world's been going lately. That's all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

of being unaware...

Today I discovered something new. I went to a nearby conbini (convince store) to pay a bill I needed to pay. I went to one I don't go to as often because it's a bit farther away and I don't really like the food as much there. But I needed to get some more cash to pay the bill (yes, I pay all my bills in cash, that's the way things are done here) so I needed to go to that store because it had the ATM for my bank. But I've gone there often enough for the clerks to recognize me. Now most clerks I'm sure know who I am, but most don't bother to small talk with me. But at this particular store is a younger girl who speaks English. She has gotten up her nerve to start some conversations with me. Well, I don't really put so much thought into encounters like this, and so I easily forget them. But apparently I haven't been there while she's been working in a while, so when I went in today, she seemed really glad to see me. She told me she had been worried about me and wondered if I had already gone back to my country. This made me realize that here is a perfect opportunity for me to reach out to a new person. I should be more aware of the people I can impact, even while doing mundane things like shopping or paying bills. So now, I think I need to go to that conbini more often. I'm thinking I might invite the girl out to dinner sometime or something. We'll see what happens. I should learn her name. LOL.

Experiences like this make me realize how much that ministry is not just limited to the people at my church or school. I can create many ministry opportunities just by living my everyday life. Just speaking English and I guess looking non-threatening enough to talk to, can open many opportunities to make more friends and build relationships. How amazing is that?

Today was a nice day of rest. I slept in, which was wonderful. Then I did some work on the computer and actually went grocery shopping. I also studied Japanese. I'm pretty happy about the day. It's definitely been interesting day.

Monday, February 20, 2006

of Spring Retreat...

Well, Spring Retreat is finally over. I was a lot more involved in the preparations this year, so the past few weeks have been busy. But it looks like I'll just have to get used to busy. Anyway, I helped provide bedding, and I escorted the coordinators to Costco for food and stuff. It was a good retreat. Anyway, the big news was announced at the business meeting, so I can write it here now. Beginning in March, I will be the new Assistant Director of our program. It was funny because everyone was shocked. Everyone, (including myself) had thought this other girl would get the job. But the director explained why she chose me, and that was good. I'm really happy about it. It's nice to have a vote of confidence. There will be a lot of changes going on, so we will see what happens. I'm a little nervous about this new leadership position, but I'm sure God will see me through it.

Anyway, it was a good weekend over all. I didn't get much sleep, but that's normal for retreats. I did however get to see the Niigata crew one last time before two of them return to America for good. I also got to have many good conversations, and I got to go bowling for the first time in forever. I was also voted to be one of the next retreat co-ordinators. (well, I have been campaining for this for a while now) Things will be exciting. I was also involved in cutting my director and another girls hair at unseemly hours of the night. That was a fun experience. I hope I didn't mess up their hair too much. I also got some more insight of how I am viewed by others. I give off many impressions I didn't know I did. I wonder if I should start trying to become more professional in my appearance. I don't know. It's very interesting. I'll see how next year goes.

Speaking of next year... The time is coming up soon again for missionaries to go home. The program is 2 and 1/2 years, so once a year we get new missionaries (October) and once a year the old ones go home (March/April). It makes for constantly changing dynamics. I'm wondering what the next year will bring. This is certainly a time of changes for my program. I'm excited to see how God is going to change things here. But watching people get ready to go home makes me think. I only have one more year. I used to think a year was such a long time. In America, before I came, I was thinking, "Man, two and a half years is such a long time for something like this." Now I know how short a time that is. It's hard to build relationships and then just leave them. Esp in a country like Japan where it's hard to build deep relationships quickly. A lot can happen in just one year. But it still feels like my time is ticking away. I've always considered extending. I don't know if it's possible, but I really love this country and these people. I don't want to give up what I have started yet. I don't know God's plans, and I trust that His Will is best, but I'm really hoping to stay in Japan longer.

I really feel like I have grown and become a better person here.

In other news, I'll be going home in roughly a month to visit family. The plane tickets have been provided, and I even got my re-entry permit today. Seems like things are going smoothly. I'm really excited about this. I came here prepared to stay for the full term without returning to America. But now that the opportunity is here, I'm super excited about it. It'll be good to get back and see people. I can't wait to see the horizon again. I can't see anything at all in Japan but lots of a.) buildings or b.) mountains. It'll be exciting to be back where things are flat again. :-D

Anywho, I think that's most of the exciting news. I'm sure I've forgotten things, but well, I do that, so people should be used to it by now. Good news is, I have a day off tomorrow! It's awesome! But for now, I think it's time to crash. I'm pretty tired and all my muscles hurt. Hopefully I'll write more later. Ja ne~ (later~)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

of a long day...

Man, weekends aren't for resting anymore. Today was LONG! I used to think, "yea! Weekend, I can sleep in..." but nope, that's not how it works here. LOL. Today was pretty long. I had to help give this English test for some of our students, and then after we had lunch and then Gingerbread House. It was lots of fun though. The weather today was great! We had a picnic outside and played a lot. It was great. But the kids stayed pretty late, and there was a lot of cleaning to do. So I didn't get the break I expected before the next event happened. After Gingerbread House, I went to this ministry at a nearby Lutheran school called Music Box. It's basically praise music in English and Japanese. Anyway, a couple of my kids go, so I decided I should go too. It was cool. All the new missionaries go and so I got to see them there. We went out to dinner afterwards. It was this really nice place that was super cheap. So that was fun. But the day wasn't finished yet. Then I went to go see the band.

I've been trying to learn some of the songs they play, and there is one song, "Rose" that I have been studying. So right as I walk up, they play that song. It made me smile right away. Then, I had a bunch of girls say hi to me and stuff. But the best thing was the chocolate. So in Japan, Valentines day is a big deal. It is the day the girls buy, or preferably make, chocolate to give to guys. They can also give to their friends, co-workers, etc. I didn't have any money, or I would have brought some chocolate. But anyway, one of the girls gave me some of her homemade chocolate. Apparently she had made a whole bunch to give to the groupies. But what really made me happy was that my name was even written on the bag! That means she had thought of me before and included me in her preparations. That just makes me so happy. :-D I also got chocolate from a couple of other girls, but I think those were just extras or something. Anyway, I was really happy. I also got to spend some good time in conversation tonight. Which is good since I won't be able to see them next week because we have a retreat. And the week after that, they won't be playing on Saturday. :-( So I'll have to wait until Sunday evening to see them again. And I always get there late on Sundays because I have an evening meeting. Oh yeah, they aren't playing tomorrow either. OH well, today was a good day anyway.

In other news, my second cousin wants to buy me a round-trip ticket home to visit my family. I'll probably come home in March. It seems like everything says I can go. I'm happy.

But man, right now I'm so tired! I have to get up early again tomorrow and Monday. *sigh* I'm sore too. So many of my muscles are so stiff and hurt right now. I need to go to soak in the public bath, but I don't have the money. Too bad.

Anywho, it's time to go to bed now. I have to pray first though. I just wanted to write these things down before I forgot them.

Friday, February 03, 2006

of perspectives...

Remember that teacher who always had a trademark "gesture"? Maybe it was a certain phrase he would say, or the way she used her hands when she said a certain word. I'm sure everyone has had a teacher at some point with that unique gesture that all the students could mimic and recognize right away.

It's funny, but one, I had never really imagined being a teacher. So two, it's even more surprising to me to find out that I am a "gesture" teacher. It's official. I have a gesture. I found out today after my first class. It's a great class. We laugh a lot. It's mostly housewives, and we all get along pretty well. Well, after class, one of the girls did an impression for me. Of me. Apparently, when a student asks me a question, I have this whole hand and head pose thing going on. I totally didn't even know I did it. I was so surprised that I had something so obvious to copy. The other ladies laughed and said it was exactly right. Apparently, they also think its cute. LOL.

I guess it just goes to shows how limited our own impressions of ourselves are. I'm actually already aware of this fact, but it does manage to sneak up and surprise me again sometimes. It makes me continue to wonder how other people perceive me. I wonder what I look like from the outside. I wonder if I saw myself, how I would think of me. Would I like the person I saw? What kind of flaws would I see? What kind of opinions would I form and keep to myself? What things would I like? Sometimes, I wish I could get to know the person other people know. I can only see myself from the inside out. I wish I could see myself from the eyes of other people. It would be such a fascinating experience.