Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Keeping up

So, turned out the cold I had was much worse than I thought it was. Last week, I ended up loosing my voice for a whole day, and in danger of loosing it for most of the week. Very sad. Even now, I'm still wating for my voice to get back to normal. I'd like to be able to sing again!

In random news, I found out from a student a theory of why medicine is so weak in Japan. Apparently the government is very strict about what kind of medicications they allow into Japan. If there are even small side effects, it's not likely to be allowed in. So, much of the medicine is weak. That, and difference in physique.

So the good news is that I'm finished with all my classes but one. I still teach this Friday. This means, since today is Monday, I don't have class for three days, and then I come back to teach one day. This left me with a really strange spring vacation. The solution? A short trip with one of my friends. Starting tomorrow, I'm going on a three day trip with a Japanese friend. This will be fun and exciting for me. This might be my first "road trip" with a friend. And it might be my longest time spent only in Japanese. We'll see how long I manage to last! Haha. Please look forward to the awesome pictures I'm sure to take!

This spring break, like most spring breaks, looks like it's going to stay pretty busy. This week is my mini-trip. Then come back, teach for one day, then Easter, one day off (probably spent packing) then it's off to America for a quick trip. There's a lot I need to pack into that trip too. I just hope I get some time to rest in there too. Travel can be fun, but it's certainly not restful for me. But, I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, here are some random pictures. First is a nice sunset in front of the church. Second is one of my students with his head in his bag. Yeah, I don't know why his head is in his bag. Last picture is of my house on one of the days it snowed this year.

Ok, I guess that's all for now. I'll try to post when I get back from my first trip. If not, it'll be when I get back from America.
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Friday, March 07, 2008

Just another update.

Just in case you were wondering about these things, (which I'm sure you are not) this is my 192nd post. This means in 8 more posts, I'll reach 200! How exciting is that?

Anyway, I finally uploaded a bunch of pictures from my cell phone to the computer, AND I figured out how to get Picasa working right again. (my computer has been such a pain lately...) So I have some fun pictures for you today.

First picture, look closely at the fine print. This is a sign of an English school near my house. I wonder how many people notice this?? what do you mean "or children?" You mean I have to choose between having Useful English and having children? What if I want both? haha. Actually, I'm pretty sure the "f" in "for" just faded away. But it's still pretty funny.

This second picture is of a fun drink you can make yourself at the local family resturant. I go there a lot with students. You get this drink by first putting in orange juice, and then adding some sweetener. Then you pour in over the top, hot, freshly brewed rose hip tea. That's what gives it the nice color. But it's better to drink if you actually mix it up first. It's fun to make and look at, but the tea still makes it a little too bitter for me.

In other news, I've officially come down with a cold. Probably because my body is finally relaxing after almost an entire month of stress and tension. I just hope it doesn't get too bad. I really hate colds in Japan. It's super hard to find decent over the counter medicine. Japanese medicine seems weaker than American medicine, and even in America, I often have to take the strongest dosage of the medicine. So, I feel like taking medicine does almost nothing here. A lot of people go to the "hospital" when they have colds. "Hospitals" in Japan are more like clinics than Hospitals. Or rather, a combination of the two. But there's just something in me that rebels against going to the hospital for a silly cold. After all, it'll eventually go away on it's own.

In slightly related news, did you know? I have never once missed a day of work for being sick while working in Japan. (I did miss Japanese class a few times back in orientation though...)

And in other fun news, it looks like I'll be able to visit America again this year at the end of this month. I should be home for only about 10 days this year. My spring break is a bit short this year for various reasons. And my summer is already booked. Hope to see you when I am in America!
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Survived the big event!

So this Sunday was the big event, Open House. I had actually been planning this event pretty far in advance. (over a month, this is huge for me!) As I'm not a big fan of the normal layout for Open House, I decided to spice things up, Amber-style.

There was actually two open houses, one for kids (started at 1:00) and one for adults (started at 3). The kids one we made projects of things we studied about in class to show to the parents. And then we performed songs from class. The returnee's also did a dramatic reading of the book "You are Special" by Max Lucado. Yang Sensei gave a message about the book too.

But the big event was the Adult Open House. Usually the adults give speeches. But I'm not a fan of speeches, so I changed it this year. We loosely based the theme on a popular TV game show that airs at the end of every year. Since it sounds very similar to my name translated in Japanese, I decided to make an English version of the game. "Kohaku."

Each of my classes had to think of a short English game, make the rules, and do all the preparations for the game. This way every class participated even if they couldn't come. There were 9 games in all, but we only had time for 7. All the participants (my adult students, plus two families of returnees, plus 4 Trash Box Jam staff members) were divided into two teams, Blue team and Silver team. At the end of every game, the members of Trash Box Jam (who were serving as judges for the event) would vote to see which team got the point for the game. It was a great result that ended in a tie. I was happy. The games were followed by Trash Box Jam playing for them, and then a small party. I think it went off really well.

So now, I'm rather happy to be finished with the planning and stress. And I'm satisfied with the results. It was a good event. And there was also another message in Japanese after the band played so the band members (and around 10 or so fans,) plus students got to hear a Christian message. This was the third time I was able to include the band in my events. So far it seems to be getting positive responses, and it's what I'm passionate about. I really love having a job where I am free to work with my passions. God is good. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. :-D

Here's a slide show from the adult event. (Thanks to Yoshiko for taking all the pictures for me, except the band ones at the end.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Basking in Blessings

Well, it's exciting, I'm finally figuring out how to operate blogger in English again, AND to get out of the html editing mode. Man, that was crazy.

Anyway. Here's a quick update. Spring Retreat was good. Real good actually. God really provided everything I needed. I was a bit surprised this year, because ususally watching the people return back to America doesn't impact me so much. I get over goodbyes pretty quickly. Probably because I treat it about the same way I treat stagefright, which is that I just don't deal with it. Anyway, this is the first group that I have both watched come and go. I was actually there to pick them up from the air port (and take pictures, which they weren't so appreciative of...). I have watched how they have changed in Japan, and how they have changed Japan. It's amazing. So it's going to be strange to watch 4 out of 5 leave in March.

It had kinda snuck up on me too, that they had changed me as well. That's amazing. And I guess that's what forming a community does. The impact on each other is so much greater.

Anyway. Here are some pictures from the weekend. Every Spring Retreat is always held in Tokyo, because of the special events and such for the returning volunteers. So there are a couple of pictures of Tokyo tower. I think this is still the closest I've come to the actual tower. Someday I'd like to actually visit the tower.

Then there's a picture of us at Karaoke. It was a great time, and thanks to this game thing at the begining, we were able to win 50% off of our time. I really like Karaoke. It was a ton of fun.

Final picture is of me at the band concert last Sat. It was really good. Tomorrow is my last big event of the school year, Open House. It's gonna be a long, long day. Today is practice time with the kids. I realized yesterday, that I had forgotten to ask anyone to help me with the practice, so it's probably going to be me and almost 30 kids. Haha. Fun stuff. Hopefully it will go allright.

Ok, that's all for now. I need to get ready for the kids.
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