Wednesday, July 27, 2011

we're home...

We made it... we're "home"!

Still haven't exactly figured out where home really is yet though... hence the quotation marks!

Hirao/Japan felt like home when we were there and then again, our apartment here feels like home right now! I heard a phrase the other day that suits us pretty well... "home is wherever we're together"! I guess that's pretty much our story!

Anyway, our trip went well... no troubles with immigration which we were VERY thankful for! and our bags arrived in Winnipeg all in one piece so we're pretty happy!

Now we have 5 days to recover/process/rest/readjust... and then we're off again for another month! (2 weeks in Toronto for a language acquisition program, and 2 weeks in NS visiting my family) I think today calls for some unpacking and vegging on the couch!!

Someday I'll post pictures.... but not right now!! Thanks again for your prayers...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our First Anniversary...

Hello again!

We've made it safe and sound to Yamaguchi-ken and it feels SO good to be back here. We are staying with our co-workers and were also able to have dinner with our other co-workers last night... and tonight all 6 of us will have dinner to celebrate Bobby and T's birthdays (a day apart).

Last night Bobby and I drove home the way we always used to after English class (by the water) and it felt just like we were dating again! It's fun to reminisce and be "back where we started" :) (Except it's way more fun to be married now!)

We are really looking forward to seeing our friends again... our week is pretty busy, but it's exciting. Yesterday Yumi came to the train station with our co-workers and she was just as excited and enthusiastic as ever! (It was a little hard to be as excited as she was because I was so tired from the past 3 1/2 weeks and our trip down here... but still so good to see her again!)

I feel like I didn't exactly do our experience justice on here, but to be honest I'm pretty exhausted and don't feel like 'closing' that part right now... I just wanted to post some pictures of our anniversary celebration! (Part one... we are planning a trip to PEI while we're in NS next month)

You can find them here! Enjoy :)

PS Happy 8th Anniversary to my sister and her husband! :) We love you guys!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

We're practically famous!

That's right... we made it into a National newspaper :) how fun!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birthday Boy...

In the midst of our hectic schedule, we've had the opportunity to celebrate two occasions this week... Sunday was our FIRST anniversary and today is Bobby's birthday!!

I remember when Bobby and I were dating, I wrote a birthday tribute to my sister on my blog and Bobby commented that he couldn't wait for his turn to get a birthday tribute... I just realized today that I never did give him one last year because we were on our honeymoon!! So, today I want to do that... I want the world to know just how thankful I am that Bobby Baden entered the world on this day 32 years ago...

I am so blessed. So blessed that I'm not sure where to begin! Bobby and I were good friends before we started dating and it allowed me to see a lot of his true colors. We spent nearly every day together which obviously led to us getting to know each other quite well. Although our relationship wasn't "love at first sight", I'm love the way it blossomed from a friendship into a romantic relationship. Over the months we spent together getting to know one another, I grew to appreciate his character and his deep love of the Lord.
He is one passionate man when it comes to the Lord! He is so good with words and he's able to explain the Truth so well to anyone who's willing to listen (even those who aren't so willing!) I've had the privilege of watching him share his testimony several times, particularly while on this trip, and he's got a powerful story. He's not ashamed of sharing the Gospel and He loves to tell anyone he can about how much God loves them.

He is so gifted with the Japanese language! He began studying in High School and even though he didn't know it then, that was all part of God's hand in his life. He's so smart and learns so quickly! He's good at pretty much everything he tries, and even when he's not so good, he's got a great attitude about it!

His smile is amazing. It makes my heart skip a beat when he smiles and laughs, especially when he's looking at me! He can make me smile when I'm at my worst and I appreciate his great efforts to make me happy when I'm feeling down. He has an incredible ability to make me (and anyone) feel so special and strong even when I'm at my weakest moments. He makes me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world and is very generous with his compliments. He's so encouraging and he's always quick to point out someone's strengths and giftings.

I'm pretty sure everyone who meets Bobby likes him from the start. He's so easy to get along with, and he's incredibly patient with those who are "difficult to love". He's quick to apologize and often apologizes when I don't feel it was necessary for him to. He's very accepting of my flaws, and has been so good at learning to laugh at our differences instead of criticize me for not being like him.

It's be an incredible blessing to have Bobby in my life. He brings strength to my weaknesses in so many ways and he's taught me so much. He's so disciplined, and always faithful to his commitments. He's a hard worker. He is a man of incredible integrity and I deeply admire that.

He's good with people of all ages... from newborns to 82 year old missionaries... he knows how to make people feel loved! I know he's going to make a great dad someday.

He makes me feel so safe and protected... the other night I woke up during a small earthquake and Bobby reached over and squeezed my hand to remind me he was there with me.

It is a privilege to be his wife and I've enjoyed being the "special someone" in his life. It is a real honor to share life with him. I love that he's always willing to talk and spend time with me, and always makes sure that I'm happy. He's so thoughtful of others, always looking out for someone else... usually me.

I really can't say it enough, but I love being married to Bobby. Spending every day with him is an incredible blessing. He brings so much joy to my life and he's everything I'd hoped for in a husband and more. He's so romantic and always looks for creative ways to express his love. I'm so thankful for his love.

I wish that everyone could know and love Bobby as much as I do, but I must confess that I love having an intimate, close relationship with him like no one else does. Sometimes I find it hard to share him with others!

Even though I could go on and on and on about my love for Bobby, I should probably finish this off. I love you with all my heart, Bobby! I hope you know how special you are and how grateful I am that God allowed our paths to cross! You are one amazing man!! Happy Birthday!! :)

What to say??

Hi there... sorry for the lack of updates in the last week! Our schedule here is pretty hectic and like I told my Mom this morning, every spare minute I get these days all I want to do is sleep, not blog! :)

Things are going well here, but we're very tired. I'm developing a greater sympathy to those who are involved in this type of ministry full time! I've taken today off (Sad how I'm taking Bobby's birthday off but he couldn't because a team needed a Japanese speaker to go with them) :( so I'm able to catch up a little bit today. So much to say, but I don't know that I have the energy to get it all out!

Last week was quite different from the week before... in one of the affected towns, they put up a HUGE temporary tent that was called a "charity bizarre" where various groups/companies came and offered services. They had everything from clothes to toiletries and family portrait takers! It was an incredible event and it allowed us to get creative with our outreaches and we were able to set up a bingo and women's craft table the first day and the rest of the week since the kids were in school, I set up a 'manicure table'. I had a blast! I was truly in my element and I LOVED serving in that way. God truly knew what I needed and He gave it to me!

It was so amazing to be able to bless so many women with a manicure and some nail art... I painted flowers and hearts and everyone loved it! It was just awesome to be able to use something that I love doing so much as a form of ministry! The reactions of the ladies were priceless! Some loved it so much they came back and asked me to do it again (which I must confess was a bit of a humbling experience after having spent so much time on them a day or 2 before!) Such a simple act yet so meaningful. I was able to help them relax and also feel beautiful! Some of the ladies joked that they weren't going to do anything that night... no dishes, no supper!! :P (I'm sure I wasn't very popular among their families!)

While I painted, Bobby was usually sitting beside me and making conversation with the women. It was so neat to be working side by side and also allowing the women to heal through our conversations. We certainly heard a lot of heart breaking stories, but at the same time we made some wonderful friends. (not just the survivors, but also with other Japanese volunteers) Many, many seeds were sown last week... pray that they will grow!

I also got to spend quite a lot of time with babies throughout the week and of course immensely enjoyed that!

One thing in particular that stood out from that week was how many stories we heard of people who hadn't lost their homes but were struggling to survive now with no stores left in their town. Certainly a perspective we hadn't thought of before.

Yesterday marked 4 months after the 3.11 disaster... hard to believe. Even though it doesn't look like it at first glance, a LOT of progress has been made. Yes, of course there's still a LONG road to recovery ahead of Japan, but the people here have come so far.

We've had a few earthquakes recently that have made the news at home from what I hear... everything's fine here and we usually feel at least one earthquake every day. On Sunday we had a fairly large one (registered as a 3 where we are) just before church started and it was the biggest one I've felt so far. No damage though and things stayed on the walls/shelves so it wasn't terrible. It was the first time I was really scared though because it was the longest one I've felt.

It was interesting to be with Japanese people at the time it hit... you can see the effects of post traumatic stress in many people around here as there was a lot of panic in many of their eyes as the room shook. It was an eye opener for us as to just how much they've been through and what they are facing.

I should get going... I've got laundry to hang! I'm going to end with a vidoe I took last week during a drive through the areas we're working in... hard to watch, but it's an eye opener!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

a picture says a thousand words...

This is a picture I took today while we were stopped at a red light... If you look at the picture closely, the sign says "Tsunami Attention". It's almost like salt in a wound to see a sign like that, particularly in a pile of debris like this one.

We had a good day today, but honestly I'm too tired to write about it right now. Tomorrow we'll go to church, then sometime in the afternoon we're meeting up with a man from our church in Yamaguchi who works in this area. It will be exciting to see a familiar face, but I'm sure he has a lot of painful stories to share. (He was actually in Tokyo when the earthquake hit, but the company he works for is in the heart of where we were today and he's been involved in the clean up process)

Good night...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pray for Japan...

I came across this video today and thought it was worth posting. It's sort of cheezy that it's a Justin Bieber song, but it sends a good message and the pictures give a good glimpse of what the people here have been though and are recovering from. (I'm sure there's loads of other videos like this one too)

Pray for Japan! Pray that God's light would shine in this darkness!

Tono Base Camp Day 8...

so much for my goal of updating every other day! (We have pretty limited internet access and we've also been super busy)

Well, it's been quite a week. In some ways this feels like the longest week of my life and in other ways it feels like time is flying. All my days are blurring together and I had to actually count on my fingers to see how many days we've been here! We actually arrived here a week ago today, but it feels like that was ages ago.

Day 2 of debris cleaning was really tough on me and I've since decided that I will probably not be doing that kind of work again. Maybe I'll try it again sometime, but for now, I'm just taking it slow and doing other kinds of work in the mean time. I find it hard for me to not be critical of myself, comparing myself to the other female volunteers, particularly the Japanese women. They make me feel pretty weak. But... I don't know their stories and maybe they're only here for one or two days and are able to give it their all while they can, but since we're here for a whole month, I need to be careful not to wear myself down. It also makes me feel better when the team of 8 guys (grown men) from the States share about how hard it is on them as well.

The rest of our volunteering time has been photo cleaning. We have a team of two ladies from Taiwan here since Tuesday and so it's worked out well that they wanted to do some 'lighter work' as well. Today is their last day though so they decided to go out and do some debris removal. I was given the option of taking the day off so I did. I must be honest and say it's hard not to feel guilty about staying back today, but I know it's important for me to rest when I can and make sure I'm taking care of myself in all of this.

I've really enjoyed the photo cleaning work. It's also a pretty emotional task, but in a different way. I guess it's just a better fit for me than the physical labor. We've actually done photo cleaning in two different places and the procedures/set up were as different as night and day! The first place basically we just wiped down albums and swept the dry dirt out of the pages and pretty much left them "as good as we could get them" but there was still a lot of water damage to the pictures and some of the albums even had mold growing in them. (Of course, some of the albums were so old that it could have been there before the tsunami) And the little albums we took the pictures out, wiped them with "wet wipes" and put them in new little albums. This place had tables set up and people could walk through the gym and look through the albums and claim them if they recognized them.

One of the biggest blessings happened on our first (and so far only) day there... as we were cleaning some pictures, a lady came in and asked about some pictures that were cleaned the day before (She had come in and found them so they were cleaned and dried for her) to pick them up and while she was asking Bobby about them, she looked at the very pictures he was cleaning and called her grandfather over and said "these are ours too!!"

I couldn't believe it. The chances of her finding her pictures there were slim to none, and on top of that, the chances of the owner of the pictures we were cleaning finding and claiming those ones were even slimmer. But, God knew that I (perhaps I could say we!) needed that to keep us going. This lady and a few of her family members were looking through the gym for about 2 or 3 hours and actually ended up finding a great deal of albums. It was incredible to witness.

The other place we have been cleaning at has a whole different system. We don't get to see the people claiming them because we're not sure where they go when we finish cleaning them. They label all of the albums and each picture is carefully labeled as it's being washed. They also take before and after pictures of some (not sure how they decide which ones) and scan them and do touch ups and repairs to make them look like new again.

It was neat that it was our first day that we experienced the reclaiming because it makes the jobs we've been doing since them seem a lot less tedious. It's hard to think about the amount of effort you out into this without knowing if they will ever be claimed again, but because we met this one family, it keeps me going. Unfortunately there's just piles and piles of loose pictures that will probably never be claimed, but I know that this too is a special ministry and I need to put my whole heart into it.

Today I'm enjoying a quiet house, did some laundry, will do some reading and will help with some things around the house. Next week it looks like I'll be "kitchen manager" which I am looking forward to... except I'll need some meal ideas for big groups... there will be about 30 people here within the next week I think so it'll be quite a task! We don't really have an oven and only have 2 burners so this could be fun! :)

I should get going. Thanks again for praying for us. We can't say it enough how good it is to be prayed for. Until next time...