It’s a Birthday Party :)

Today was a pretty good day.  I am, by nature, an introvert…so when Monday rolls around, I use the day to recharge my personal batteries from the eventful weekends, and prepare myself for the next week.  I know, I know…you’re thinking…um, Sarah, you go to strange restaurants and just start talking to people on the street and stuff…you’re living in another country half-way around the world…how can you call yourself an introvert??  I know, I know…but I can only do that after diligent training, and proper R&R.  But anyways, I had a great day inside today (especially since it was raining all day today), and I did some lesson planning, some email replying, and some sewing.  I’m doing a cross-stitching pattern right now…but I also have “homework” that my yukata teacher gave me…I need to have it finished by Saturday.

  Besides all of that mundane stuff, the real action happened this evening.  Samantha (my coworker living here at the Center with me) has her birthday tomorrow (6/3), and my birthday is the 14th!!  So, Nakayama-san, the older Japanese woman who lives here at the Center with us too, decided to buy us dinner to celebrate.  Not just us, but she also invited our boss and brother, Taka, and his wife Aki.  The restaurant of choice was, of course, the beloved Brasserie Quixote!  It was a course dinner, I believe probably 4 courses and then dessert.  I was so suprised by what I was able to eat…some shrimp, and one whole course was soaked in vinegar wine…I managed through it!  Also, the main course was steak…and I did just fine…my teeth did feel funny afterwards, but I made it through…I think I needed the whole day of rest to prep myself for the dinner.  But it was all very delicious.  It’s not that I don’t like the taste of the food…it’s mostly texture that bothers me.

  Mitsui-san and Satsuki-san bought Samantha and I two clay cups made in Hagi, which is famous for its pottery.  It’s treasured by the Japanese, so it’s really wonderful that they bought the cups for us!  They also bought a really cute cake with strawberries on it.  So yummy.  It didn’t come with the course dinner, but it was special just for us.  Oh, and I forgot, when we walked to the door, there was a sign saying that the restaurant was reserved for a special party…ours!  🙂  Some people even called to see if they could come eat, and Mitsui said no because of a special reservation.  hehe.  So, for my birthday this year, a whole restaurant was reserved!  🙂  I’m attaching a link to a picture of Samantha and I with Mitsui-san.  The other Japanese regulars have begun to jokingly say that he is watashi-no nihhon chi chi, which means, my Japanese dad.  🙂  I’ll get a pic up of Satsuki-san soon!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2993640&l=8db95&id=500635206

Shimonoseki Update – Japan #13

This is one of a series of emails I sent while preparing and living overseas in Japan, from April 2008 to April 2009. They are mostly for my own benefit, but also for anyone who may care to read them. Enjoy 🙂

Hello from the breezy blue skies of Shimo!  We have had some great weather this weekend!  It’s been beautiful!  I think it may change soon, but such is life, I’ve enjoyed this while it was here. 

This has been a great week.  One person in particular has been the main highlight of the week’s events and that is MIKA!  Below is an account of the Bible Time in our Tuesday night class.  Let’s see, Mika and I had dinner on Friday…on Saturday she and a few others came to the Center and we watched Chronicles of Narnia 1 (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe)…then today, she and I went down to Kokura and saw the new Prince Caspian!  It was great, I laughed, I cried…all I expected from the movie.  Afterwards, we caught up with Eri who was just getting off work in one of the Kokura malls.  We all rode the train back to Shimonoseki and chilled with Eri until her connecting train arrived.  Mika and I were starving and so went to Mr. Donuts and had some noodles and doughnuts…what a combo!  She is always searching and always asking questions, some that really throw me at times.  She’s really curious about church, Christianity, and the Trinity and the various roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Please look below for an encouraging story!

I would also like to take this moment to ask YOU for a special favor.  I know that I send out these emails each week (more or less…heh), and that you all have really enjoyed them.  I have been praying about it and trying to think of something else we could do.  It’s great that you are reading about what’s happening here, but I want you involved so much more!  Would you be willing to pray specifically for my students.  I know, I know…you already probably are…but I would like to ask that you, your Bible Study group, your Sunday School class, you church, or your family…whatever…would adopt one of my classes, or students, or friends.  I have been getting individual pictures together, and working up biographies for each of the people, focusing on how you can pray for that person.  I’m also putting up their birthday, so maybe you would like to send a birthday card for that person…whatever God lays on your heart.  BUT, there’s a power that I don’t feel is being put to good enough use and that is prayer!  Maybe it is just on my side…He knows that I don’t talk with Him enough…but I really am excited about this project.  I’m including adults, young adults, teens, and children.  Here is the link to the page I am using for this information:  link has expired and has been removed
  I am so thankful for you all.  If you diligently pray for these people with me, you will share in the harvest at the end.  What a great reunion it will be in heaven!  Right now, I only have one class posted, but I’m working on the rest.  Thank you so much and here’s the link to my daily (semi-) blog:  http://xanga.com/pkcricket

In Him,

Sarah ><>
BTW, have you noticed that it’s June yet??  🙂  Yep yep!
Oh, and let me know which class or person you are going to pray for and I will try to make sure you have up-to-date info on them.  🙂

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Our Bible Time on May 27th, was tremendously good! We covered the story of Jesus welcoming the children and then the story of Zaccheus. Everyone seemed to get a lot out of the two stories, especially the great love that Jesus must have to associate with such a bad man as Zaccheus, and then the subsequent change in Zaccheus’ life.

Following the Bible Time and some English exercises and such, we were asking each other, “How long…” questions; i.e., How long have you lived in Shimonoseki? How long have you known your husband? How long have you owned your car? I then asked if they had any questions for me. Mika raised her hand immediately and asked, “How long have you believed in Jesus?” I answered that it was since I was 7 years old. Suddenly, the whole class went in an uproar of discussion, all of which was in Japanese. Before I knew it, Nakayama-san was explaining something to them, and this went on for a good 5-10 minutes. I had no idea what was going on, but I felt like it was important, that I was sitting in on God doing something. I prayed that God would give Nakayama-san the words to say, and that He would open the ladies’ hearts to the words.

The next day, I asked Taka to find out from Nakayama-san what had happened, since I don’t speak well enough Japanese and she doesn’t speak well enough English for her to explain to me. So, as he approached her, she came to him and asked him if he could tell me what had happened in class. It was funny.

She said the big discussion was from the shock of me saying that I became a Christian when I was 7 years old. They were of the mindset that people in America are all Christian because their parents were…it is something you are born into. But Nakayama-san was able to explain that it’s not the case…God has no grandchildren, only children. They were able to see that it is a personal decision, representative of a personal relationship with Christ.

June is here!

Today was just a beautiful day.  I got up early to take a shower, and by the time I looked out my window, I realized today would be spectacular.  It rained throughout the night, but by sunrise, all the evidence was gone.  I stepped outside and began walking to the train station, the sun gently kissing my face with warmth, and then the wind sweetly brushing my hair out of my face.  Wow…it feels like a great summer day…not too hot, not too cold.  Plus, I put on a moisturizer this morning that has sunscreen in it, and the smell accentuated the whole sense of summer coming!  It’s almost June!!!!!!!

  Well, actually, as it is 1:00AM here…it is already June…my favorite month!  Where everything is perfect….hehe.  Well, give or take a few things.  Today’s weather was beautiful, and as I walked back and forth from Kawanaka and the train stations, and then walked to Hikoshima to pick up a movie rental…I was tempted with the thought of thinking Japan is the most perfect place…weather-wise.  🙂  Don’t worry…don’t worry…in just a month from now, we will be in the midst of perpetual terrential downpour, and such pleasant thoughts will be furthest from my mind.  🙂

  I have been so pleased this week with what God has been doing.  So many of our Japanese friends have shown very vividly that they are searching for Jesus and want to know more.  I am thinking of Mika and Sonoko particularly.  Please keep these ladies in your thoughts and prayers.  They are special.  Mika is my student and Sonoko is Samantha’s.  We watched Chronicles of Narnia 1 with these two, Hiroka, and Sonoko’s husband.  It was great, and Sonoko and her husband were very interested in how the movie related to the Bible and Christianity. They are both very close and very open, so please pray that they will realize that this is the one thing missing for them and they need it desperately.  Thanks for your prayers.  Oh, Mika and I will be going to see Prince Caspian today, so pray that there will be opened doors for sharing more about Jesus with her…the real Jesus…not just the one she learned about in high school, who is more of a impotent god than the all-powerful, loving God. 

Happy Birthday! :)

  Yesterday was Wednesday, and as always, it is my most difficult class.  I think the women in my 6:30 class at Kawanaka have hardened themselves so much to the Gospel that they just don’t participate in class.  But, in a few days, it will be Miwa’s birthday (31st), so we decided that we would celebrate in class yesterday.  Sonomi brought a box of specialty cookies from….yes, I’m serious…Santa Claus.  It’s a pastry shop, a really large pastry shop, here in Shimonoseki.  Very popular.  Actually, I first heard about it when Brian and Yoko were discussing directions and they said, “You take a right at Santa Claus and then keep going…”  I about lost it!  To think, that after all this time…Santa really lives in Japan!  🙂  It was funny, we all got a big laugh about it, and Santa makes the best pastries in the area.  🙂

  So, Sonomi brought the cookies, which were two cookies together with a dried fruit cream in the middle.  They were yummy.  Maki brought a bag of chocolate-covered corn snacks in the shape of stars.  They were good too…kind of like those candy bars, with the light, crunchy layers, and can be covered in chocolate that’s pink, or brown, or yellow, they have the fence-like pattern on the surface.  I hope you know what I’m talking about…I can’t think of the name of them.  Anyways, it was good.  Keiko took care of getting the tea and stuff together.  I brought a handful of snacks, but we didn’t eat any of them…I don’t think they didn’t like them, we just had a lot of other stuff…which means, more snacks for me to use in my classes here at the Center!  🙂

  I had walked from the Center to the train station and then on to Kawanaka from the other station…but it was raining, so I didn’t wear my flip-flops (only because it’s hard to walk in them when they are very slippery).  I wore my dress shoes…but for some reason, my dress shoes decided they didn’t like my feet, and the skin was rubbed off the back of my ankles.  I had to go to MaxValu to get the snacks, so I decided to grab some bandaids.  I also crushed the backs of my shoes, which I’ve seen several people here do.  When I went into MaxValu, one of the clerks came up to me and started talking to me.  He asked which country I was from (all in English, mind you), what state I lived in, and what I was doing here.  From what I gathered in our conversation, He had never been to Ohio, but about 10 years ago, he had traveled to Kansas(!!) and worked with Walmart’s pharmaceutical department.  When I asked him where the bandaids were, he ran and got some from the worker’s supply and offered me those…but I said that I could buy my own.  So, we got that settled, but I think I’ll have to go back again sometime and say hello to him.  I have no idea what friendships I should invest in and which ones aren’t going to lead anywhere, so I just go with the flow and try to make the most of my time.

  Oh, for Miwa’s birthday, I painted a little shelf kind of thing…it was blue with pink and orange flowers all over it and on the sides.  On the front, I put the Bible verse 1 Peter 5:7 – Cast your cares on Jesus, because He cares for you.  I felt this verse was very appropriate for her because her son had killed himself several months ago.  It’s hard to be able to talk with the women on that level, but I’m sure she’s still grieving…I can’t imagine the sorrow that would come from something like that, and to go through it without the hope and peace of Jesus….unfathomable.  Taka helped me and typed up the verse in Japanese and I put it on a card, so that she could read what the English meant.  They were all stunned by it…but I have this love for painting, and a love for birthdays, and I have to use both of those for Jesus.  Ok, this is very long.  Have a great day!!  🙂

Great Sunday and a Practical Joke Gone Perfect :)

So, on Sunday, we had a really good service.  Taka swapped churches and preached at Kawanaka, which is always good.  I like it when he preaches.  After the service, Mark invited Eri and I (Samantha already had lunch plans) down to Karato to meet some of his friends from the university.  His friends are exchange students, mostly from *China* and one woman from Pusan, S Korea.  After determining that taking a bus would be more efficient and quicker than hoping trains and then a bus, we ended up in Karato at a great Chinese restaurant.  It was a buffet – any buffet restaurant or set up is called “viking” I have no idea why, but I get a kick out of it every time.  Maybe it’s because you go to one place, take what you want, and then move on to the next tray, like the vikings did…hmm…maybe I’m on to something!

  Anywho, it was really nice to spend time with some Chinese students around my age and get to know them.  They were all really excited about International Cafe, so I’m going to keep them posted when the next one is.  Also, Mark said he’ll let us know whenever they have a shindig of sorts so that we can join them.  It was a really great time.  One girl in particular was very friendly and wanted to keep in touch, so please pray that, even in my stay in Japan, I might be used to reach some people in China!  That would be awesome!  🙂

  After that, Eri and I went back to the church where we began setting up for a practical joke for Tony, the pastor/missionary/boss.  We got the keys to his office and taped newspaper all over the bookshelves, desk, pictures, clock, etc.  We went all out.  Then we started blowing up balloons to fill the floor with…but we ran out of steam and had to call it a night.  The next day, Monday, Samantha and I met back up with Eri and we all finished blowing up the rest of the balloons (11 bags in all ~ 110 balloons!).  Then, we covered the entrance behind the door with newspaper, so that you couldn’t see what was inside until you broke through the paper.  It was great.  Samantha had the idea to put gridded tape as another boundary, so that he’d have to cut through in order to punch through in order to see the mess.  It was so much fun.  Every time we’d leave the room to take a break and came back, the hilarity of it all hit us again and we’d laugh for a good minute or so.  I have put a link at the bottom so that you can see the process and stages of the project.  Enjoy them, laugh, they are fun. 

Also, I did get a phone call early this morning from Tony thanking me for his “welcome home” gift.  🙂  He has a good sense of humor…but I’m wondering who tipped him off that it was me…we were sure he’d suspect the secretary, or Samantha, first!  Anywho, there you are!  My week so far!  🙂

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=115008&l=d22b4&id=500635206

Yukata, Yokata!

Oh, today was a fun day!  It was rainy all day long, which made for an interersting trek to and from the train stations….but it was just one small part of a really fun day.  While I was at the Ayaragi-eki (station), two women in their 60’s started talking to me…I think the one was the same woman who had verbally accosted me a few weeks ago…but they were nice, and I have learned a bit more Japanese since then, so I was able to communicate a little more than before.  We established that I still don’t know Japanese, that it was cold-ish outside, and rainy…that the Japanese I do know is very good, but it’s difficult, that the one woman’s grandmother had been to Wisconsin at some point in history, and that they would like to swap noses with me.

I shopped for some goodies for movie night tonight, and some eggs so I could make my “Sarah Special” for lunch.  It’s a really yummy dish and I don’t see myself getting tired of it any time soon.  When I describe it to people some say that it sounds like an American/Japanese dish…so they’ve all just settled on calling it the “Sarah Special.”  I’m satisfied. 

At 2pm, Mika came by and picked me up for my yukata putting-on practice lesson today.  Her dog, Dinah, a boy dog, was in the car with her, and repeatedly tried to have his way with my arm…all to the wonderful tunes of Avril Lavigne.  It ended with me hanging on to his collar, forcing him to lie down on the seat between Mika and I…my arms were tired of holding him back by the end of it.

Mika’s mother works in a kimono shop and teaches women how to put them on.  She decided to give me a yukata, which is the summer version of the kimono (not as many layers and therefore, easier to put on).  She gave me all the accessories too!:  The special undergarments (not like the Mormons wear), the sandals, a handbag, the yukata itself and the obi that is wrapped around it.  My homework is to sew together the underwrap that is used to minimize the curves of a woman’s body.  In old Japan, the straighter the more attractive…which is kind of difficult for me, but it went over very well.  We practiced putting on the yukata first…doing it three times.  My arms were exhausted.  It’s a very elaborate procedure, but really interesting.  It’s like a dance in itself.  Mika was having trouble and her mother concluded that I am more Japanese than Mika because I was learning very quickly.  After that, we learned how to put on the obi, which is just as elaborate as putting the dress on itself!  We did that three times and finally I got the seal of approval.  I’m going back next week for a refresher course (ha!) and to see that I finished my “homework.”

It was such a fun time and I really got to interact with Mika’s mother, which was great.  It’s very seldom that you are invited to someone’s home…and, well, I actually didn’t go inside their home…it was a side building, set more in the garden, but still, it was within their gate (a very expensive gate…they are wealthy people.)  After that, Mika took me back to the Center and then decided to stay as we had a movie night.  We watched “Flight of the Phoenix”…the new one with Dennis Quaid…and either I was in a poor mindset for it, or it really was a badly made film, I would suggest not watching it.  Anywho, there you go, and here are links to some pictures for you to enjoy!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2915151&l=5d5cc&id=500635206

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2915136&l=712df&id=500635206

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http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2915137&l=bf3c6&id=500635206

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2915145&l=e73e5&id=500635206

Have a great weekend everyone!   Sarah ><>

Randominity

I don’t really know about the title of this blog except that it is all about random things.  Here it goes!  :

I walked out of the Center on my way to buy paint at Daiso (100 Yen shop/Dollar store), turned the corner to walk to the intersection and was run over by a bicycle.  After he began apologizing in Japanese and I apologized in English, we both established that the other one was ok, and we went on our ways.

I wanted to buy batteries, but DeoDeo (electronics store) is being remodeled, so I had to settle for just getting paint today.  It was ok

I walked into Daiso and was looking around.  I saw a transvestite…the first transsexual person I’ve seen in Japan since I’ve been here.  We have a lot of metrosexual guys, but they are firmly hetero…but this was obviously and trans.  He wore a skirt, had dark, thick eyeliner on, and man legs…he also made a loud clodding noise as he walked around the store.  I could tell when he was coming near my aisle.

Katakana is a great thing.  It “Japanese-izes” just about any English word.  “Cup” becomes “ka-pu”…and so forth.  Once I learn how to read it, I will be set. 

I now have a Japanese dad.  It is Yoshio-san at Quixote restaurant.  He gave me 9 tickets for the Wind Ensemble Concert in June, on Father’s Day.  That will be fun. 

I got off the train at Ayaragi and several men in construction worker uniforms were holding banners and handing out leaflets. I thought maybe it would be my first encounter with striking in Japan.  Alas, they were pamphlets detailing with pictures and bright colored words which side of the street bicycles should be ridden on…also, that you should not ride a bicycle under the influence, tandem, or side by side talking with someone else.  After my first encounter with a bicycle today, I’m pretty glad they are handing out the flyers en masse.

I was practicing with Noriko-san the music for Sunday, b/c I’m supposed to sing on the Praise Team with Eri (in Japanese, mind you).  So, I’ve been going over the words and such…and Noriko stopped by the Center to practice the piano, so I thought I’d run through with her, confident that she would help me through any problems I was having.  We got through the first song alright, and the second one, until Noriko started laughing so hard that she couldn’t play anymore.  The Japanese characters had been written out in the Romaji (english letters) so that I could quickly get the sounds, and she told me to say a certain word as “shu”, which means Lord.  But I couldn’t find “shu” on my page, only “syu”.  So, I kept singing and saying “syu” and she started laughing again.  Turns out that I was saying “vinegar” instead of “Lord.”  Thankfully she corrected me, so I should be safe Sunday morning, but everyone is getting a good laugh out of it.

Oh, there’s a burger place by Sea Mall called “Lotteria.”  If that wasn’t weird enough, they sell “straight burgers”…as opposed to crooked ones?  eh?

Also, they play American country music outside of the KFC…just saying…that’s weird…country music in Japan??  Well…country music at all?  hmmm…it follows me everywhere…

Oh, and the Mister Donut sells…yes, doughnuts…but also Chinese noodles, soup, and dumplings.  It’s a great world we’re living in.

Shimonoseki Update – Japan #12

This is one of a series of emails I sent while preparing and living overseas in Japan, from April 2008 to April 2009. They are mostly for my own benefit, but also for anyone who may care to read them. Enjoy 🙂

Konnichiwa!

Hey everybody from a beautiful Japanese Wednesday morning!  The weather has been great lately!  I’m so glad that it is warming up and there are so many things going on outside and around town.  It’s so pretty here!  Starting in the middle of June (after my birthday, thank goodness) we will enter into the rainy season, which will last for a good month and a half.  Yippee!  It will rain pretty much nonstop the whole time.  My classes go through the middle of July, but after that I won’t have any classes until September.  Samantha will be taking off for the States at the end of July and then I will hang out by myself for a month or so until Washeila can come over from England.  She will be the new teacher/missionary, and most likely living in the Center with me.  She is an older woman, saved out of Islam, and she works with Pioneers.  She will be here to start the new term of classes. 

I am so sorry that I haven’t updated until just now.  I usually do it Sunday evenings/Monday mornings…but I had a very full Sunday, and then I couldn’t access my email account all day Monday.  The past week and a half have been really fun.  I have a new class on Tuesday mornings, that I mentioned in the last update.  They are a group of 5 women, all housewives.  They are very cultured and elegant in a lot of ways, but they are a lot of fun.  They have a great relationship with each other and we have hit it off really well so far!  Last week, we read in the Children’s Bible the story of Samuel being called.  We had some great discussion of how we would feel if God spoke to us in our sleep, and also what we would do if our child came to us in the middle of the night thinking we were calling them.  They all agreed that they would do just like Eli and say, “It wasn’t me…go back to bed!”  One even said she’d probably lock her bedroom door.  Hah!  This week we discussed our requirements for picking a king, and then we read about Saul becoming king of Israel.  Next week, we’ll move on to David being anointed as king, and why he is a better candidate than Saul was.  They thought it was so weird that Saul would be chosen just because of his height and that he was so cowardly that he hid himself from the people.  I really hope that through these engaging stories, their hearts will be opened to the truly engaging story of the God who loves them.

After the morning class, I’ve been going out to lunch with H, one of Samantha’s students.  Samantha has to run after class to Kawanaka (the church site) for another class right in the afternoon, so I’ve taken to chatting with H after class is over.  She really loves the Center and all of us who work here.  She knows that we have so much love for her, and she comes regularly to International Cafe, even bringing friends and her clients (she’s an aromatherapy masseuse).  Pray for her that she would realize that it’s more than just the love in our hearts that she feels when she is with us.  She has a yearning, and consistently searches and is learning, but her heart has not yet completely opened to Jesus.

My relationship with the Quixote people has been growing as well.  Several people from the church, too, have been going to have lunch and dinner there.  It is wonderful to see them pick up this restaurant and take it as their own ministry as well.  Several people have already set up days to go and eat with me (which is either great for me or I might start gaining back any weight I’ve lost).  Last week I went in and only Yoshio and Satsuki were there again, and Satsuki said that she considers me a dear friend.  It was very sweet to hear and I pray that sometime soon we could call each other dear sisters and not just friends. 

This past weekend was International Cafe which went very, very well.  We discussed the meaning of life, and watched a clip from Planet of the Apes (the old one…without Marky Mark, alas).  I will put a link to some pictures at the bottom of the email, and you can see the very special guest we had at the dinner party.  He couldn’t stay long, but he caused quite a commotion as he came to eat with us.  🙂  On Sunday, after church, a large group of us went to Karato for the special “One Day Picnic”.  It’s an annual event here in Shimonoseki and local venders and artisans get together and display their products and sell food.  It was really wonderful.  They had many coverbands also, so I got to sing with a lot of American classics.  🙂  My Japanese friends thought I was really funny for it, but they liked it.  A sister at the church, Noriko-san, had her own display booth.  She studied chalk art in Australia and has come back to start her own business of making display signs and whatnot.  I have a picture in the album below of her display.  They are fantastic! 

I think that’s about it!  I’d love to hear from you!  So please shoot me an email or whatever.  I love getting letters too, so if you want to, send me a letter.  Here’s the address:

[address removed]

And here’s the link to the pictures:
This link has expired and has been removed.

For anything else, and for interim updates, please check out my blog:    http://xanga.com/pkcricket

Have a great rest of your week!

In Him,
Sarah ><>

What a Farce!

Today, I went with Taka, after my classes, to see about getting a cell phone.  It’s the only thing that is keeping me from reeeeeally exploring my surroundings…the fear that I will get lost and will never be able to find my way back…unless I have a cell phone…then, I don’t know what I’ll do…maybe call someone who can help me and then have them talk to someone on the street who can tell them where I am.  Anywho, we went to the Softbank store to get the info about the phone, and much to my amazement, I see two very familiar faces on the wall, smiling and holding phones.  They are Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt.  Yes, endorsing a Japanese cell phone company.  You can imagine my surprise to see two, American actors, holding cell phones to their ears like they actually use Softbank.  I expressed my concern about the legitimacy of the company, to use American actors, who couldn’t possibly be serviced by the Japanese company, to endorse their phones.  He said, well, they are well known and were paid a lot of money.

This led me to wonder…do all the movie stars who “use” certain products in the States actually use those products?!  If American actors can really go overseas and pose for advertisements of foreign products and services that they have no access to in their own homes…what about the national products and advertisements?!  It threw open a part of my mind that had never been exposed, and now it is cold and harsh with the forces of nature…that actors would lie about actually using products just to make a profit.  Is Michael Jordan really a Hanes guy?  Does Cindy Crawford really drink Pepsi?  Or is she a Coke babe?  What about Queen Latifah…what if she isn’t a CoverGirl?

A Dear Friend

   My week has been so uneventful/eventful that I forgot to update since (I think) Monday!  So sorry!  My last blog was about the sad situation in China following the 7.9 earthquake.  I cannot even fathom the number 50,000+ believed to be dead.  That number does not compute in my mind to something tangible.  I hope you continue to keep the residents of Sichuan Province in your prayers…also the many Chinese tourists visiting the area, and tourists from foreign countries.  The Sichuan area is so beautiful and attracts much tourism for China and the towns and cities. 

   I had a brand new class Tuesday morning.  It’s not new to the program, but new to me, because the women had said they would be busy until May…so it was delayed.  So they are a bunch of 5 women, all housewives, and very wealthy.  I guess they all intimidate the other teachers, even Taka, but they are really nice, and we got along great.  I led the Bible Time, and the English is minimal, but it still went really well.  Our story was on The Calling of Samuel.  I’ve always loved that story, and they thought it was funny…how Eli kept telling Samuel to go back to bed and basically leave him alone, until he realized it was God calling the kid.  They personalized it and said they’d probably tell their kids the same thing, and thenlock the door after them.  Pray for more openness with these women.  PS.  One of them is in the Shimonoseki Orchestra, so I’m going to see about maybe joining up with them.  It would be great.  I don’t know what night they practice on, so that will be the only thing to stop me.

   I went to Quixote today for lunch.  It was only Yoshio and Satsuki, which is fine.  They are great to chat with.  They try their hardest to communicate without knowing much English, and I try the same with Japanese.  The environment is not really conducive to fine dining, though.  I’ve realized even more that I’m sure there are mice in the walls, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen insects scamper across the floor.  But I just choke the thoughts back and think about loving these people and them coming to know Christ.  Yoshio also smokes in the kitchen, but he is pretty discreet about it…it doesn’t bother me somehow.  Satsuki was going on and on about how wonderful I sounded on Sunday.  Samantha had given her testimony as well, and Satsuki said she did such a great job, and she had tears coming down her cheeks.  I was so touched by that.  I just feel like these two people are open and generous.  They are both 56 (?) and basically grew up together.  I don’t know if their spouses are still alive, but they are dear friends with each other, working together, and sharing in each others’ lives.  Satsuki said that I am a dear friend, and they are so glad that I come to see them.  I asked about Shirayama and she said she was fine, and I had missed her by one day.  It’s been a few weeks since I had seen her, but I’m still going to go to the concert.  I think I’ll take her a rose…if I can find one.  They also help me with practicing my Japanese.  We’ll go through some convo and they will correct me and give me some new vocab, and then oo and aw as I repeat it.  Satsuki asked if I can speak Japanese, and I said, just a little (choto, choto).  She said that my choto Japanese is the best.  🙂  They are so sweet.  I would love to be able to introduce them to you in heaven when we all get there…pray for them that more would be awakened in them besides just being “dear friends.”

  Also, my uncle Tom is doing worse.  The tumor is pressing against his spine and making it hard to control his pain.  They don’t expect him to last much longer.  My uncle Tim, Aunts Kathy and Connie, and my grandparents are down there pretty much making their last visit.  Please pray that the pain can be controlled enough so that Uncle Tom can go home.  He doesn’t want to go in the hospital.  Oh, and his granddaughter, Carleigh, turned 2 a couple days ago.  bittersweet.  Thanks for your prayers, they are much appreciated.