Friday, October 10, 2008

Stories from class.


Today in my adult class, we had some interesting stories. The first picture is about a cat who is a station master at a rural small train station. This cat's name is Tama. Here is a picture of her at her job. She even wears a hat! Apparently this is a small local line. Sometimes these stations will have no attendants during the day. This cat seemed to want the job, and became a local celebrity. Soon news was all over Japan, and this cat has become a popular sight seeing attraction. I was told today that the cat has caused about 39 million dollars to pour into the local economy there. Talk about good for business.

Under the cat is a sign telling her working hours. During the summer she works 9-5. Winter is 10-4:30 and Sunday's are her day off. This picture was given to me by one of my students who loves cats.
Next is a picture of one of my more talented students. This student has been taking art classes, and he is quite good. When I showed pictures from Texas, he copied two pictures and combined them to make his own picture of the Texas sunset. Quite amazing. And I must say, I'm VERY jealous of his ability. haha (below are the two pictures he used as inspiration... He ended up not using the pump jack because it was a bit difficult to draw...)
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another Video

videoSo here's another video from the night I'll henceforth call "The Best Birthday Ever." After the band, my fellow missionaries came down and went all night Karaoke with me. (mostly co-workers from Tokyo, but one girl did come down from Niigata. Now that's some serious karaoke love!) Yes, I love all night Karaoke. It is wonderful. I took some videos. If I had known they were going to turn out so well, I would have taken more, but this is all you get. It was a lot of fun and the people were wonderful. Just a disclaimer, I totally made up the nicknames at the end of the video. So you can sue me if you don't like them. ;-) (just claiming responsibility...) There are some pictures up at my web albums page too if you want to head over there to check them out.

Ahh... Good times.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

posting spree!



Guess I'm just in a blogging mood today!

There have been a lot of butterflies in my garden lately. I really like butterflies. Here's one who's been hanging around lately.


In other news... It's around that time of the year when I'm trying to transition my students to the idea of getting a new teacher. A lot of the students are aware of the way the program works, but some of my new students, and younger ones don't know that the teacher is supposed to change every two years. Of course it doesn't help that I've been here 4, so there are many students who don't remember a previous teacher, or who have never had a different teacher. At first I was a little surprised to figure out that not everyone knew I wasn't going to continue teaching, but I guess if I don't tell them, they won't know. haha. So I've been telling moms and some of the kids too.

Well, one of my kids overheard it today as we were talking about getting a new teacher. The moms were asking when we would know who the new teacher would be. I told them it probably wouldn't be decided until January or Feb. Then my student pipes up and says (in Japanese) "It's better if they just don't decide." I laughed and told him that they needed to decide or he wouldn't have a teacher. And he said "Amber's fine." haha. I like kids. I didn't even know this kid liked me or not. It's a nice affirmation. But I also know, it's good for them to get new teachers too. It's a bitter sweet time...

My Birthday Song!

Here is the video of the Birthday Song that was sung to me at the band. It's the Autumn song. So I really like it. (they have 3 or 4 different original birthday songs!) I was lucky to have someone film it for me. (You can see the back of my hat...) In the end I had to edit the video in order for it to upload. Hopefully it will upload this time. Maybe one day I'll translate the lyrics and post them up too.
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Blessed beyond belief.





Last Sunday was my birthday. And I must say, it had to have been the best birthday ever. I have never felt so blessed ever. God is good to me. I got tons of presents, had some fun pictures taken, got cake, flowers, went all night karaoke, was given a guitar, got to see the band, got a special birthday song... the list goes on and on. It was a really, really good day. And I'm super thankful for everyone who helped to make it that way.

These are some pictures of one of the girls who helped make it such a wonderful day. Her name is Etsuko. She spent a lot of time with me, and I really appreciate all her efforts to make it a special day for me.

These pictures are from photo booths that are popular here in Japan. You take about 6 pictures or so and choose different backgrounds and then you get to decorate them. It's a lot of fun, and not so expensive. You get a sheet of stickers to share, and then you can also buy digital copies. Etsuko bought the set and sent me copies of them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Anniversary!


Today is my 4th Anniversary in Japan! Wow time flies. It's been long enough that I've started having difficulty remembering how many years it's been. (yeah, I'm just bad with concepts like time to begin with.)

It's really amazing to think that I've lived here for so long. This is long enough to get a college degree. (in all honestly, it felt like I've been in a kinda "hand-on" grad school.) This was long enough that my nephew (who was an infant when I left) will be starting Kindergarten soon. Long enough for a niece to be born. (she's about to turn two I believe, and I've only seen her twice!) Long enough to miss the death of two dogs.

Long enough to fall in love with an entire country. Long enough to have my heart broken by the deep pain and suffering I see here, but is so often covered up and ignored. Long enough for my heart to heal and be desensitized to things like that.

Long enough to loose over 60 pounds. Long enough to be able to speak conversational Japanese and read just enough to get by. (being illiterate isn't as hard as you would think...)

Long enough to see co-workers come and go. Long enough to see students come and go. Long enough to watch kids grow up...

But not nearly long enough...

I'm still in love with Japan. I love Japanese food. I love the fashions. I love the history and the romance. I love the style. I love the traditional arts. I love the people.

I don't really miss America. I don't miss my car. I don't miss the noisiness. I don't miss the politics. I don't miss understanding what everyone is talking about around me. I don't miss the unhealthiness.

I do miss my friends and family. I miss watching my niece and nephew grow up. I miss the future that will never happen. I miss shopping for clothes. ;-)

But I don't regret any of it.

Here are some pictures. The pictures of me were taken by my student Masahiko. He was very excited to see me in Yukatta. Please pray for Masahiko. He studies the Bible very diligently and he is a good student. But I would love to see him believe what he reads and become a Christian and my brother.

The other pictures are of my cute returnee class. They have all lived in other countries (three in America, one in Malaysia) and are great with English. We wrote a fun story in class the other day about a Skiing Egg. They are so cute!
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Thinking about gifts

As some of you might know, my birthday is this week (Sunday). As a result, I have already started receiving presents. It's fun and exciting, because, I like presents! haha.

But I was walking tonight and thinking about many different things. I remembered that I had been given two pieces of fruit last week. I couldn't eat it the day I was given it because I had been fasting that day. But now I haven't gotten around to eating them, and it might be too late.

It got me thinking about gifts in general. Like how we can take gifts for granted. Or not appreciate them. Or just not use them and allow them to rot and waste away. I am guilty on on counts.

God gives us many gifts. Some are blessings, something merely to enjoy, like sunny days, or flowers. But God also gives us gifts to use. The gift of teaching, the gift of healing, the gift of trust. There are so many gifts He gives us. But like my fruit, if we don't use them, they will rot away and we will loose them.

How sad. I can't imagine a greater loss. God gives everyone gifts. So many precious gifts. My goal this year is to not take my gifts for granted, but to be truly thankful for them, and use them for the uses they were meant for.

Random pictures: Me after the Trash Box Jam live last week. And one of the few pictures I had taken at prayer retreat this summer. A nice Japanese style garden where I prayed and studied.
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