Monday, August 31, 2009

My "smile list"

I really need to start keeping a list throughout the week so that I can remember everything when I go to make my list on here!

But... today, I think just one picture can sum up the list of things that made me smile this week...

Not exactly the most flattering picture of me, but the jar I'm holding is the reason I'm so delighted... I got my very own 1.89 L jar of dill pickles! (It barely fits in my fridge-although that doesn't say much) One of my friends went to Costco in Fukuoka this past week and she asked me if there was anything I would like to buy... dill pickles was #1 on my list! I am absolutely tickled pink! I loved the smell when I opened the jar and I couldn't wait to eat one! I don't think I realized how much I love dill pickles until I got this jar! I've had them a few times since I got here, but now having my very own jar is wonderful :) Now if only I had some dill pickle chips....

Homestay #2... the Reader's Digest version

Hello again!
I'm finally home again! It's been a busy weekend and I've finally got a minute to write a quick blog!

I'm feeling a little lazy as far as sharing all the details of my week last week so if you want more than what I'm writing now, send me an e-mail!

This time I stayed with an older couple and it was a really relaxing, slow paced week. We stayed close to home for most of the week. (although I did have a few things to go to like team prayer meeting, my language lesson and a party with the Saturday kid's English class so that probably got in the way of making plans) I got to do a lot of reading, studying and I even had a nap every day! :) I learned a lot from this family too and it was really fun getting to know them and be a part of their lives for the week!

The highlight of my week was going to the aquarium in Shimonoseki! It was my first time to an aquarium and I loved it! I took lots of pictures so I made another slide show. We (Mrs I, her friend and I) went to Shimonoseki by bullet train around 9, and then we met one of her friends for tea. After tea they took me to a famous Shinto shrine. It was the first time I had been to one and it was a really good reminder of why I am here... My heart ached thinking about how many people in Japan are so lost and living in darkness.

This week we had a necklace making party with some of the kids from our Saturday English class (and our 2 Sunday School kids). It was really fun and it went really well! We watched Veggie Tales "Where's God when I'm Scared" in Japanese which was quite entertaining for me! It helps when you know the story in English already, and there's a video to go with it, but I was actually able to understand a few things!

Here's some of my favorite pictures from the party...

Although I'm sure there's lots more to be blogged about, I need to call it quits for now because I need to do some lesson planning! Classes start again tomorrow and I certainly didn't accomplish my goal of getting ahead this month! (good thing I have all day off today!)

Until next time...
-Hillary :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Am I a blog-aholic?

So I think I'm becoming a blog-aholic! I just have so much to say these days because August has been so full of ''cultural fun!" I have a feeling the blogs will slow down in September when life returns to "normal" with English classes again.

I wanted to make another list of things that made me smile this week because I've thought of so many things! I like doing this because remembering them makes me smile again and it makes me thankful for the many blessings God has given me :) Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it!

Here's what made me smile recently....

-Japanese kids... I think this is going to be on my list every week! They are all just incredibly cute! Yesterday one little girl in particular made me smile at the grocery store... she was no more than 2, just toddling alongside her dad wearing a cute little dress and a cute hat. I loved her look of surprise and her adorable laugh when she dropped her hat!
-seeing a Cross Training classmate hold his 6 week old baby girl this morning via skype
-little old ladies with jet black dyed hair!
-memorizing verses with Teresa... (mostly it's my sad attempts to get the words perfect that bring the smiles/laughter!)
-this sign on the train...
(the one on the right made me laugh... it says "don't run for your train. It's dangerous and embarrassing if you get caught between the doors" I love how the green path says "run" too!)
-thinking I was safe from embarrassment while taking this picture... but suddenly having the train conductor walk by and smile at me as I held up my camera! I'm sure I looked like quite a tourist, but I laughed at myself after she passed!
-3 rounds of hosting guests in one week!
-helping with Yumi's English classes over skype! (and the little boy who tried to say he was 12 years old but said he was 20 instead!)
-finding a loaf of bread with 8 thin slices! (as opposed to the usual 4, 5, or 6 gigantic size slices)
-a eucalyptus tree that made me think of my Mom because she likes that smell... and thinking of my dad too because he hates it so much!
-guests who help with dishes :)
-getting compliments on my cooking!
-a high school boy pulling out a pocket mirror and proceeding to 'fix' his hair for the next several minutes
-Grandma Okamoto reading the Bible out loud in church
-smiling so much that my face hurts
-watching friends who absolutely love karaoke and put their whole heart and soul into belting out the songs!
-Dad calling just to say hello because he was missing me :)
-singing along with the YMCA song in Japanese! (Don't be too impressed... what I mean is that I did the 'ymca' part!) :P
-fishing on a boat in the ocean... and catching 5 fish at once!
-working with a couple who has been married for over 20 years and still look at each other and act like they just fell in love yesterday :) (reminding me of my amazing parents who are the same way)
-a 1 hour and 45 minute skype call with an amazing friend from high school
-eating a whole dried squid by myself
-Mom's suggestion to name the two flies that seem to have called my apartment home and make them my pets! (and then the laughter that came from my 11 year old guest when I told her that!)
-teammates who fill my bike tires with air and bring me a plant when they come for dinner
-the Japanese equivalent of a slurpee... kakigori :)
-a hot pink sunset and breathtaking sky after a rain shower
-knowing that I get McDonald's for breakfast tomorrow morning before my mentor time with Teresa :)
-an evening where it's finally cooler outside than in my apartment (which I am enjoying tonight!)

Again, I'm sure I could go on for quite a while, but that's where I'll stop for this week! and, I still want to hear what made you smile/laugh this week! Thanks God for giving me so many things that put a smile on my face! Thank you for the gift of smiles and laughter!

No one has been commenting lately :( [Do I sound pitiful enough to get some comments this time??]

I am going on my second homestay tomorrow so I won't be blogging all week... but I'm sure I'll have lots to say when I get back! Thanks for praying for my time with this family!
Have a great week... and don't forget to comment! :)

it all started with tacos...

Yesterday I had one of my students and her niece over for lunch and I made tacos for them. Things were going really well... we ate, played card games and then a bazillion rounds of Uno. While we were eating, we got to talking about fishing because my student had brought some fried fish that she had caught with her husband not so long ago. I then told her that I love fishing and that someof my favorite childhood memories come from when I used to go fishing with my Dad really early in the morning before he went to work. She asked me if I would like to go fishing with her and her husband sometime so I said YES! then she asked if I had any plans for that evening so I said no. That led to a phone call to her husband and before I knew it, we had plans to go fishing around 4!

Here's some of the pictures I took... again, there's a lot so I put together another slide show!

These are some of my favorites...

It was really cool to catch more than one fish at a time! I caught 5 once, but of course I didn't have my camera ready! They weren't the biggest fish ever but these were about average size.
My student, Chikako san and her husband and nephew. Can you tell I was absolutely thrilled about this experience?! :)

I captured this one on our way back to the shore... I really like it! Probably not the safest place to be, but he had the rope wrapped around him and his dad was right beside him! I thought it was pretty cute!

After we finished fishing, Chikako san invited me to her house for dinner and we ate the fish we just caught! (Some of it raw) It was really fun and I felt really privileged that she had invited me to spend so much time with her! I had a blast! Once again, God met one of my unspoken desires! He is so good to me!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

friends are the best!

This is kind of a random blog, but it's what I was thinking about today...

Today I was reminded of what a blessing that friends are. I got to talk to a friend from Junior High/High School for an hour and 45 minutes on Skype today and I loved every second of it! She is one of those friends that you can go for weeks or months without talking to, but pick up right where you left off when you do get a chance to catch up again. I love how we can get totally girlie when we talk, but in the same conversation we can get so serious we come close to tears! I was laughing so hard today that I'm sure my neighbours think I'm a nut! Dayna, I just love you so much! thanks God, for giving me Dayna!

Then this evening I had my neighbour and her friend over for dinner and games and it made me realize how much fun it is getting to know new friends! These girls stayed for about 3 1/2 hours and it was really great! We even made some plans for a day trip in October! It is certainly a blessing to be able to say I am making friends here!

God has certainly blessed me with many wonderful friends all over the world in my 23 years of life and I'm grateful for each one of them! I've known it before, but today reminded me what a wonderful gift friends can be... both new and old! thank you God, for each friend who has invested in my life over the years. thank you for creating humans to need each other!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Well... I did it! I survived my first Japanese karaoke experience! (actually first karaoke experience anywhere!) Yumi has been asking me for months to go with her but I have put it off, using the excuse that I am busy. She knows how deathly afraid I was of karaoke so she tried to secretly plan a karaoke evening tonight, but I figured it out before tonight...

I had told her we needed to spend some time together doing something fun because we haven't been able to really 'hang out' for a couple of months now. I left the planning up to her and she later told me we'd make dinner together, then go watch her friends play badminton and then we would "go somewhere" with her friends. I asked her where we were going and she said it was a surprise... I knew exactly what she was going to make me do as soon as she wouldn't tell me!

Anyway, tonight went as planned and I finally had to give karaoke a try! Yumi was really good about not forcing me to sing and I actually had it pretty easy since they were selecting mostly Japanese songs. But, after a while she decided to put on 'My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion, handing me the second mic in hopes that I would join in. We had sung that song together in her car one time so she knew I could "sing" it. About half way through the song, I decided to just go for it... and I actually sang! (terribly though!) I'm sure I would have made Celine proud, representing Canada with her! Yumi was so delighted so it was worth the embarrassment!

The friends that Yumi brought with her were hilarious! They were a newly married couple and the girl LOVES karaoke and she seriously made me laugh the whole time she was singing! She just put her heart and soul into every song! Apparently she's even more enthusiastic when she drinks! Here's a sample of my evening....

Here's Yumi and I singing together... (I'm not sure which ones are posed pictures and which ones we were actually singing in)

Here's Naomi and her husband being the stars of Titanic as we were singing!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the power of words...

This morning I woke up to an e-mail from one of my teammates who is on furlough in the States. This e-mail happened to contain one of the most meaningful compliments I have ever received and it got me to thinking just how powerful our words can be...both in a good way and a not so good way!

God has entrusted us with quite a weapon by giving us a mouth and a voice... or perhaps even a pen and paper or a keyboard.

Think about the last time someone said something nice about you or to you. Didn't it make you feel extra special and valued? Then think about the last time you heard someone say something nasty about you, to you, or even about or to someone else. It probably made you feel quite awful and belittled right? What a contrast... the difference between the way nasty words can make you feel and the way sweet, encouraging words can make you feel is incredible.

And I was also thinking about how words have the power to stick with you for a long time... sometimes even forever! Think about the potential you have to impact someone's life just by something you say... again it can be positively or negatively.

I'm sure there's lots that could be said about this subject but today I just wanted to challenge you (and myself) by asking you how you've been using your words lately... have you been using the power of your words to build others up or tear them down? What can you say today that might make someone's day?

Choose your words wisely and take the time to think before you speak!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I am certainly enjoying this week! Yesterday we had our monthly field prayer day where all the Christar missionaries get together to pray for each other. I usually enjoy our prayer days, but yesterday's was especially good :)

After I came home around 3:30, I had a little nap! (how amazing it is to be able to just take a nap when you're tired!)

Later on I went for a bike ride to watch the sunset by the water (but I was a little too late so I missed the best part of it) It was fun watching all the crabs come out and scurry away super fast when I drove by them!

Today we had a team meeting in the morning and then I had my mentor time with Teresa. I sure do treasure our time together! It is such a blessing to have a mentor. I love how Teresa not only teaches me, but she's also learning with me... we are memorizing verses together! We are working our way through a really good book called "Screams in the Desert" by Sue Eenigenburg. Her stories are usually quite funny but they almost always have something that really impacts me.

Our team meeting went a little long and so did our mentor time so it was after 1 by the time we finished. Bob and Teresa invited me to stay for lunch and after lunch they helped me with my language study. Have I mentioned that each one of my teammates are amazing yet...because they are!

When I came home around 4, I decided to finish up my cleaning. I did my dishes, cleaned my sink, cleaned my living room from top to bottom....floor wiping, furniture moving and all! I actually ended up re-arranging my living room since I was moving my furniture anyway! I felt like changing things up so I switched my couch and my table. It's not a huge change, but it's something different! I'm not sure I like it yet, but it's too much work to change it back so I'll probably keep it this way. I really can't figure out if I am a person who likes change or not!

After my living room, I moved to the bathroom and I cleaned my shower and my tub (how can an unused tub get so yucky?!) which were in desperate need of a thorough scrub!

It's so satisfying having a clean house... especially since it's been SO messy for SO long! I still have to clean my kitchen floor, and organize my closet, but boy it feels good! If only I could keep it this way for longer than 24 hours! Seriously, it's kind of sad but I know that this will not last long because I am just a "messy" as my Mom calls me! (there's a book called "living with a messy" or something like that and my Mom thinks it was written about me!) I really do like having things clean, but my clean habits just don't stick! I can be clean when I have to though... that's why I like having company over because it means I have to clean up! (but that's not the only reason I like having people over though!)

Speaking of company... this week I am excited that I get to host a few guests! Tomorrow Bob and Teresa and maybe Bobby are coming over for dinner and games, and on Friday night I am having my neighbour over with one of her friends that came to our last Friday Night. I'm still wating to hear back from a couple of people about coming over this week, but I'm not sure if they will respond. I really do love hosting... it's so fun! :)

Tomorrow I don't have any plans until dinner so I think I'll end up finishing my cleaning projects, doing a little Japanese study, and maybe a little lesson planning... who knows what the day will hold! (There certainly is no shortage of things to do though!)

Thursday I will go to Tokuyama for my conversation class with the church ladies and then I will have my Japanese lesson. After that, I am meeting my good friend Yumi and we're going to do something 'fun' together since we haven't been able to spend time with each other for a long time.

Friday I've got no plans until dinner again... my neighbour Noriko and her friend Tomoko are coming over :)

and Saturday... again, no official plans yet! I sure do love vacation! I've got plenty to do, but it's so nice to be able to just do it with a more relaxed agenda. As much as I like teaching English, it's going to be hard to get back into my 'regular' routine in September... maybe I just won't think about it right now! I'm so thankful for this time of rest even though it seems to be flying!

Well, I think I'm going to go reward myself for my 3 hours of cleaning... I'm going to make some popcorn and watch a movie :) Good night!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Things that make me smile...

I kind of liked making a list of things that made me smile a couple weeks ago so I thought I'd do it again this week... and maybe make it a weekly tradition!

Here's what made me smile over the last few days....

-a little boy standing next to me who shared his goat food with me at the zoo so that I could feed the goats too!
-an old lady swatting a friend on the shoulder with her fan just to say hello as she passed... not exactly the traditional Japanese greeting! (especially for older people!)
-Towa's laughter as I mercilessly tickled him
-roasting marshmallows by chopstick!
-running into 4 people I knew in a city that I never go to!
-saying 'ouch' in Japanese when bitten by a rabbit at the petting zoo!
-Teresa's laughter as I told her that I got bit by a rabbit!
-Bobby's whining as the package of squid he picked up at the grocery store leaked all over his hand... and watching him avoid touching anything until he could wash his hands (I will give him credit that he picked up the squid because he was buying it in consideration of those who might not like beef at the BBQ!)
-Bob's great sermon illustrations :)
-a house that smells like fresh cupcakes!
-Japanese fireworks
-Adventures in Odyssey
-a cool breeze on a hot summer evening bike ride
-the ocean... and long drives along the coast
-a week full of things that I love... good food, good friends, the zoo, the ocean, laughter and games
-Japanese TV... and a professor named 'Sakana kun' (Fish boy)
-eating a grilled cheese sandwich at 1:30 am while talking with my parents on skype!
-Japanese kids
-funny pictures
-being asked for the recipe for my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
-using a new umbrella on a rainy night :)
-watching families spending time together

What's made you smile lately?

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Hello again!

What an exciting week I had!! I had an awesome time with my homestay family (the T family) and I am so glad I did this! This family has a 9 year old boy named Towa and a very cute little Pomeranian!

I'll do my best to do a day by day recollection of what I did this past week...

Monday was my first day there and my teammates Bob and Teresa joined us for a delicious lunch! The family I stayed with invited some of her friends over that speak English and we had a really good time visiting with them!

Tuesday morning I had a team prayer meeting so after a breakfast of salad, eggs, ham, rice, and miso soup, I headed off to that. I came back and had lunch with the T family. We played Uno after lunch and I was able to relax a little. A few neighbours came over for a BBQ in the evening and they stayed until 9:30 or so.... I just have to say that small talk gets old pretty fast! Between my limited Japanese and their limited English, there wasn't much conversation on my part, but I still had a good time interacting with them!

Wednesday my morning started with salad, salmon, tofu, rice, miso soup and natto (fermented soya beans... you should google it!!). I had my Japanese lesson in the morning in Hikari and then I came home around lunch time again. After lunch we went to the mall and did some browsing. Then we went to KFC for supper (I looked at it as my reward for eating natto for breakfast!) and then we went to the 'night zoo' in Tokuyama. (Once a year they have the zoo open at night for a week so that you can actually see the nocturnal animals being active) It was lots of fun with Towa as our guide :) I have to say it was kind of funny to see prairie dogs and raccoons at the zoo! (although I guess they have them in North American zoos too don't they?) I just love the zoo!

Thursday morning was relaxing and I slept in a little. I wrote some letters and did some reading. Then at lunch some neighbours came over for a 'tako-yaki' party. (battered octopus) The lady who made the batter and brought all the fixings brought her daughter who has a 1 1/2 year old son. She was really nice and her English was really good. She actually lived in Canada for a year and met her husband there! (he's from Japan too) It was kind of funny... as we were talking, she was asking about how I like Japan so I told her I love it here and I will most likely end up coming back permanently. She thought it would be a good idea for us to switch places since she loves Canada so much and I love Japan! I told her that I would switch on the condition that we trade again in August so that I could escape the humidity!

Then in the evening we went to the much anticipated 'Goldfish festival' in Yanai. We walked around a little, then we watched the parade... which was actually one of the strangest parades I have ever seen... Basically from what I saw, they line up the floats (which are almost all the same) and then they just stop and people walk arond the floats. They are unique floats though... they spin around and kids take turns spinning them around. After the parade, there was fireworks... only 7 minutes though! (as opposed to the 70 minute ones I got to enjoy last week at the Hirao festival!) We watched them from the second level of a parkade with a bunch of other people. They were really good fireworks even though they were short! I took a video of part of them....

I loved seeing all of the traditional clothes and just taking in the cultural experience! I got to watch a little dance that a bunch of girls and ladies did in a circle on the street. Man, Japanese kids are just SOOO cute!

On Friday we went to Oshima island because I've never been there before. It was absolutely gorgeous! I am so blessed to be living in such a beautiful country right by the ocean!! I love the ocean so much! We stopped at a petting zoo, and then a 'touch pool' which was really cool! The petting zoo wasnt' that great but sort of fun... we were feeding some rabbits and one of them bit me!! Thankfully it didn't break the skin, but it still hurt! This petting zoo also had a dog breeding place where they just have a bunch of random dogs outside together and then a little 'store' inside where they sell the puppies. Towa and I fell in love with a big Saint Bernard! I love big dogs, but I don't exactly enjoy their massive slobber! The touch pool was sort of neat too... it's basically a small room with little pools of fish and starfish that you can reach in and touch. Towa actually went in the water and tried to catch the fish with another little boy, but I'm not sure he was supposed to! There was an octopus in there somewhere but it went into hiding when Towa and the other boy started fishing!

When we came home, I made dinner (tuna casserole) and we had 'make your own sushi'. Mrs. T's sister and her husband came over for a visit with their little 8 month old girl! They didn't speak a lot of English and I was a little discouraged by the fact that just as I felt like I was making little baby steps toward progress in understanding more Japanese, I wasn't able to understand more than one question they asked me!!

Their little baby was so cute, but she was really afraid of me! She cried almost the whole time I held her! (I eventually held her so she wasn't facing me and that seemed ok!) Poor girl!

After they left, some of the neighbours came over with their 2 boys that are around Towa's age and we lit some fireworks! I think I'm becoming addicted to Japanese fireworks! We did have some bigger ones where you light them and back off, but we had a lot of 'hand held' fireworks which are kind of like sparklers, but a little bit bigger and more fun.

Then Saturday we had another relaxing morning with breakfast and lunch together. Then I packed up and after a few more rounds of Uno I came home. Towa and I finally started to bond around Wednesday and he seemed sad that I had to leave. We had a good 'ol tickle fight right before I left so I've got a really good 'last memory' of him :) It was fun to have a little brother for a week since I've never had a younger brother! (I can't say I've never had a brother though because now Brad is my brother!) I'm just glad that it wasn't a 'final' goodbye because I'm still here for a few more months and I know that I will be able to see them any time I miss them :)

Those are just some of the pictures I took this week... Some of them aren't that great, but hopefully it gives you a glimpse of my week! That was the easiest way of posting all of them, but e-mail me if you can't see the slideshow and I'll post some of my favorites individually.

Saturday, about an hour after I came home, I left for our "Friday Night" event... yes, Friday Night on a Saturday this month! We had intentions of having a beach BBQ, but the rain made us have a BBQ at the church instead. But, it was still fun and I think everyone had a good time! We started at 5 and I think everyone left just after 10! We ate and then played games after. I came to the conclusion that I love games... with the right people of course! It's such a fun way to get to know people! Last night I lost my title of 'spoons champion' (although I can blame it on the fact that we played 'bears' instead of spoons... we used tiny plastic bears!) but I did do pretty good at Scum!

Well, I think that about sums up my week! I should probably get going... I've got cupcakes to finish baking! (yes, that's right, I made cupcakes from scratch!!) (Can you tell I'm getting a little bit proud of my new kitchen skills?!

Oh, speaking of kitchen skills... when I helped Mrs T make Japanese curry, Towa said told her that he doesn't usually like her curry but he did that day and he said that I need to come and help her make curry more often! Then, when I made tuna casserole, Mr T kept saying 'oishii' (which means delicious!) and she said that he never says that about her meals! (My Mom was teasing me that I caused major family problems because of my cooking... hopefully that's not true!)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I got my wish! I looked out my window around 10 last night and it was raining!! I was so excited that I ran outside with my new umbrella and went for a quick walk down the road! I think I had a smile on my face the whole time and I'm sure I looked a little strange!! I'm such a nerd... but it was fun!

I guess I've kind of gotten into a daily blogging habit now haven't I?! Today I did have a purpose though... I just wanted to explain that I probably won't be blogging or answering e-mails this week because I'm going on a homestay. I get to live with a Japanese family for the week! I'm excited but a little nervous too. I am excited to learn as much as possible, but I just don't like not knowing what to do and how to act in new situations.

Please be praying for me and the family I'll be staying with. I'm pretty sure they are not Christians so pray that I will be a good testimony to them.

I think that's all for now! Stay tuned for stories at the end of the week... I'm sure I'll have plenty of stories about 'cultural mistakes' that I've made!

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

the best teammates EVER!

I just have to say that I have the best teammates in the whole world!! Tonight, two of my teammates (Bob and Teresa) were bringing my other teammate (Bobby) dinner because he's working on his sermon for tomorrow and they decided to bring me dinner too! It happened to be one of my favourites- chicken alfredo complete with homemade corn bread and edamame... and even chocolate for dessert!

Then, as if that wasn't wonderful enough of them... yesterday I mailed in the last part of my ethnography (which means that it's officially done) so today they bought me a "congratulations on finishing your ethnography present"... they bought me an umbrella!!!
I absolutely love it :) It's got hearts and polka dots on it! Hopefully we'll still get some rain though! I will be looking out my window constantly now, just waiting for that first drop of rain to come so I can test my umbrella out!

Seriously, I am SO blessed to be on this team! I am so well looked after in so many ways! God has given me wonderful teammates... each one of them is so special to me and they have become like family! It's already hard to think about leaving in January...

Thank you Bob and Teresa for being so thoughtful tonight! and thank you God for my fantastic teammates!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Today I realized what a blessing it is to have people around you that deeply care about you hold you accountable... people who ask you how you're doing Spiritually.

I realized that it means a lot to me to have someone ask me questions like "How have you been doing without Facebook and... have you been using that time for more quiet time like you had been hoping to?" and "What are you reading in the Word these days? How has it been speaking to you?" It's a blessing to me because it keeps me on track. It's sometime hard to answer honestly, but I think that if someone cares enough to genuinely ask you those kinds of questions, they deserve your honesty.

When was the last time you asked someone "How are you doing Spiritually?" Why is it that those words don't escape our lips more often?

Thank you God, for putting this kind of people in my life to draw me closer to You.

I just have to say that I have an amazing God. He knows me better than anyone else and I am continually in awe of how He takes care of me...

When I got home from camp on Wednesday I stopped for a minute and thought, "I'm kinda lonely now!" After having spent the week surrounded by people, my apartment suddenly seemed lonely and boring!

I realize I am a complicated person to figure out because as much as I love people, I actually love my 'alone time' just as much! But, yesterday I was just wishing I could 'be with' someone. I didn't feel like I needed someone to talk to or do something with, I just wanted someone there with me. Well, God obviously knew how I was feeling and He decided to take care of that for me...

Today I went to my teammates' house to do laundry and have lunch with them and their language partners. After that I had Bible study with my mentor and was planning to just go home and maybe clean my house or watch a movie or something. But, my teammates decided to ask me if I wanted to just 'hang out with them' for the rest of the day (and evening). We ended up napping, ate dinner, and watched movies together until almost 9!

I'm sure they had no idea how much I needed that, but they were a huge blessing to me today! Even though I didn't accomplish much of anything today, I got to 'be with' someone :)

Now that I think of it, it's kind of funny that I am so surprised by how well God knows me... He did create me!

Anyway, those are some of the random thoughts in my head before bed tonight! Thanks for reading them if you did!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

two discoveries...

Today I made 2 profound discoveries....

#1- You know it's time to clean your house when you literally have something growing on your floor and in your sink!! (that's pretty gross, I know!)

#2- You are legitimately allowed to complain that it's hot and humid when you walk out of the grocery store and your glasses fog up! (it's the opposite of Canada in winter!!)

Aren't you glad I shared that information with you?! :)

oh to be 13 again...

It's amazing what a good night's sleep does for you! I definitely enjoyed waking up to no alarm this morning!

Just thought I'd post a few pictures from FEC today... I don't have a lot, but it'll give you a glimpse of what we were up to!

Some of the girls playing cards in the cabin during free time

2 of the girls in my English class sleeping as they were supposed to be helping clean up the cabin. I couldn't resist taking a picture of them because they are sleeping in the storage area where the blankets and pillows go! (we had an English class after this and yes, these 2 could hardly hold their eyes open...hmmm, maybe you shouldn't have stayed up so late last night!!)

signing notebooks before saying goodbyes :(

"My girls" (my English class)... Haruka, Yumi, Megumi and Ayaka

The group shot :)

I had a really good time and it was fun trying to get to know the girls. It was hard sometimes because of the language barrier...I just wish I could snap my fingers and speak Japanese! English classes went well, but it doesn't feel like you can teach a whole lot in less than 4 hours! I think the girls still had fun though.

On the second night I brought out my nail polish stash and the girls loved it! Then I decided to stay up with the girls and joined their circle and "listened" to their "scary stories" (obviously not comprehending a whole lot!). It was fun bonding with them! I think we stayed up until around midnight or so and then I decided it was time for bed for me! I heard the next morning though, that some of the girls stayed up until 3! (No wonder they fell asleep in my class!)

I got a good laugh when one of the girls nearly jumped out of her skin when the girl next to her moved the curtain with her foot! Then we got another good laugh when we had an outburst of stomach growls in the middle of the scary stories! It was fun feeling like I was 13 again!

I did discover this morning though that apparently I'm not as young as I'd like to think I am! Yesterday we played a game called "Spin the Bottle" (no, it's not what you're thinking-I'm sure there's another name for it but that's what it got called!) where someone stands in the middle of a circle with a pop bottle filled with water and tied to a rope and spins it around while everyone around the circle has to jump over it as it slowly gets higher and higher. Normally I'm not really a big fan of group games, but I decided to give this one a try since it was the last one... I loved it! I was actually quite good at it! I think I ended up in 4th or 5th place and I was the 2nd last girl! It was fun, but I'm kind of stiff this morning!! We did play several other games and I did run/walk around a lot over the week, but maybe I'm getting old! (Or I could just say I'm out of shape or that I just don't normally have that much activity in my daily routines....)

We had almost perfect weather! I actually got accused of bring the cold Canadian weather with me! It rained on Monday night and it was a little cool in the morning which was wonderful! Tuesday was a little cloudy and it was perfect for our game time in the open field! then it got nice and sunny for our 'water games' and Tuesday night when we had our campfire, it was actually a little chilly! It was really windy though, but I was quite comfortable! One of the missionaries said they think this was the 2nd coldest camp yet. Usually in August (like today...can I just say that's is 36 with the humidity right now?!) it's in the 30's with high humidity, but we were really blessed this year and the heat was manageable! Yes, it was really hot at times, but I honestly don't think we can complain!

Anyway, I should get going since I have quite a few things to do today! Thanks for reading my camp stories! Thanks again for your prayers! Please keep praying for these students that they'll remember what they learned from the Bible times and that the seeds that have been planted will not be stolen away!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Friendship English Camp...

We made it! We survived Friendship English Camp!
I forgot to mention it before I left, but Aug 3-5 was Christar's annual Friendship English Camp! It was a lot of fun and I am so glad I got to be a part of it! There's lots more I could say about it, but for now, I just wanted to say thanks for praying for us and the students who came! I think everyone had a great time and it was a wonderful first time experience for me!
The last 3 days have made me more grateful for just a few luxuries in life that easily get taken for granted... air conditioning, sleep, and my own shower!
I'm also really grateful for my teammates and the other Christar missionaries... they are so great to work with and it was really neat to watch everyone working together this week!
Now, I'm off to make dinner (yes, at 8pm!)... then shower and bed for me! I stayed up late with the girls last night and 6 came pretty fast this morning!
More stories and pictures to come soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

the simple things in life...

This weekend, I've been making a list in my head of some of the simple things in life that make me smile... I thought I'd turn that into a blog just for fun :)

-discovering that humidity and cotton candy don't mix... the result is a lump of chewy sugar! oops!
-spending time with good friends... knowing you've definitely crossed the line between friend and good friend as you make fun of each other (in a loving way of course!) and call each other silly nick names... like Chinchillary!
-laughter... and enjoying something that just makes you flat out laugh!
-re-discovering things about yourself like "Man, I hate crowds!"
-firework shows that last for over 1/2 an hour... and enjoying them with a perfect view and the perfect company!
-discovering that apparently frogs and crabs can be friends!
-having teammates that feel like family and make you laugh every minute you're with them!
-getting a wobbly toddling baby to wave at you :)
-watching pre-teenage girls try to wink at each other while sitting in a restaurant
-discovering mini Ritz cheese sandwiches are available in my grocery store here in Hirao (and they're just as yummy as I remembered!)
-the beautiful smile and laughter of a 'toothless grandma' :)
-newborn twins in a double stroller
-finally being able to confidently sing along with the worship songs in a Japanese church service... and getting every song number right in the song book
-McDonald's chicken nuggets and a mint oreo McFlurry for lunch in Japan... and the fact that Japanese Happy Meals serve 5 chicken nuggets instead of 4 like they do in Canada
-using a Japanese word in a conversation with your Dad, and having him think you just insulted him!
-seeing the sun set and the moon make its appearance at the same time
-having a Mom who thinks of you as she laughs because she just saw a girl (through the window) trip over her high heels
-crabs scurrying across the road
-watching the the sweetest '60 something' lady in the world respond to a 9 year old boy who told her she ate her ice cream bar faster than everyone else at the table... and seeing that same lady's face light up and take pride in translating something for me into English!
-knowing that God still loves you even when you fall asleep in mid sentence with Him!
- 2 words.... DILL PICKLES! :) (You can only get them at Costco and the American military base I think.)
-English/Japanese lessons with a 9 year old! (and enjoying the satisfaction of 'mastering' a new word!)
-Pineapple/grapefruit/orange air freshener :)
-Having a sister who affectionately calls you 'Little One', a Dad who calls you 'Pumpkin', and a Mom who calls you 'Sweetie Pie' (and a 'pretend sister' who calls you 'Pillary')

Although I'm sure my list could go on and on, these are just a few of the blessings God has given me that I'm thankful for! Take some time today to stop and enjoy some of the simple things in your life! Leave me a comment to tell me what 'simple thing' made your weekend! :)

Thank you God for showering me with things to be thankful for!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17