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.  πŸ™‚  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.  πŸ™‚

  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!  πŸ™‚  It was funny, we all got a big laugh about it, and Santa makes the best pastries in the area.  πŸ™‚

  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!  πŸ™‚

  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!!  πŸ™‚

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!  πŸ™‚

  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.  πŸ™‚  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!  πŸ™‚


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!






Have a great weekend everyone!   Sarah ><>


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.

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.  πŸ™‚  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.


I don’t really have anything to say on my own account tonight.  I found a ladder leading up to the roof on the side of the building from our back patio.  So, I decided to climb up it to our roof.  It was great…here are some pictures:





Enjoy those.  Also, Taka, Samantha and I had dinner at Quixote restaurant.  Yoshio was very glad to see us.

I came home to find news of an earthquake in the southwest of China.  It was pretty massive, in case you haven’t heard.  I know some folks from that area, so I feel connected to it, also, I had worked just south of there when I was there a few years back.  The biggest thing that I can see prayer for are the 900-some middle school students who have been buried under their three-story school building.  Pray for their safety and recovery.  I’m just so sad about this.  China will always be dear in my heart…I’m thankful that it happened further away from the Three Gorges Dam, as if that had been damaged so many more would be in danger from flooding.  Also, with the Olympics coming up in Beijing, they will not likely withhold details of this disaster for fear of criticism, but also in hopes of encouraging sympathy.  Keep these people in your prayers.  Many are not likely Christians.  I don’t even know what else to say. 


I forgot to mention another interesting point I learned from my visit to Quixote this past Thursday.  I think I spoke about Tanabe-san, the gentleman at the restaurant helping in translating and cross-lingual communications.  I found out that he was a teacher.  I asked him where, and he said that he used to teach everything…but now he was “too tired.”  I figured out that “too tired” meant “retired” and chuckled and continued the conversation.

  One thing that’s common with the Japanese is that they only know a few adjectives in English, and so they’ll use those adjectives until they’re run into the ground.  Tanabe-san kept saying, “I’m not boring, I’m [kakashite] exciting!”  I asked him why he was exciting, and he said, “It’s [mutsukashi] difficult to live in Japan.  It’s hard to live in Japan, so I used to be in the Japanese [insert Japanese word that I can’t remember].  In America, you call it the mafia!”

  I started laughing…I couldn’t help myself…this man looked like such a gentle grandpa-like man…I laughed in disbelief…and when I checked the faces of the restaurant owners for verification…I couldn’t decide if he was joking with me or if he was, in fact, telling the truth.  I told him my family’s history, and he seemed amused by that as well.  Then the conversation turned to something else and all was well. 

  Tomorrow is Mother’s Day…so Happy Mother’s Day all you mothers!  I am playing my violin for the service with the praise team, and I’m pretty excited about that.  I ask that you pray that the Quixote restaurant owners would come to hear me!  Then, they could hear the Gospel too!  I also found out that there is a Shimonoseki Orchestra.  Apparently one of the previous missionaries played with them, and David Crane (one of the other Pioneer missionaries) didn’t seem to think it would be hard for me to get in either.  They only practice once a week…maybe…and they perform just once a year in the fall.  So, I might, might, might be able to play with a city orchestra in JAPAN!  Hah.  It’s so funny…I’ve always thought that Japan was so much more advanced in string playing, but it doesn’t seem to be…at least in the general population…unless it’s just Shimonoseki’s style.  Who knows!  That’s it for today…not much, but have a great Sunday!!

This Thursday Was Better

So, last Thursday was my day of infamy…where I felt harrassed at every corner by people who didn’t care that I couldn’t speak Japanese, but ended with a nice punctuation mark of bats in the moonlight, darting around catching mosquitoes. 

  This Thursday was quite different.  I talked with my eldest sister through Skype and checked in on my uncle Tom…things are completely out of the hands of the doctors…there is nothing at all they can do except make him comfortable…only God could change the course of this tide.  I managed to get all my lesson plans done for the rest of the week by 1:30ish.  I then stepped out to drop some postcards off at the post office.  I was already planning on having a late lunch at Brasserie Quixote, but the co-owner, Satsuki-san, had stepped out to take care of the potted pansies by the door, so I stopped to say hello to her.  She tried to rush me inside right away, but I showed her my postcards and motioned that I would come back. 

  They were waiting for me when I got back.  It was kind of funny.  Almost like they were staring intently at the door until I came through, and they all did a sort of cheer when I said hello!  I sat at the bar this time, and ordered my favorite of omuraiss.  People may laugh that I order the same thing…but I usually only go there once a week, and I know that I like the omuraiss…so why change?  πŸ™‚  I’m a creature of habit..especially when I can’t read what else is on the menu. 

  I’m so glad that God set up this place for me to have a ministry.  I really enjoy conversing with the people, and now that I’m learning some more Japanese, I can practice it with them, and get to know them more.  They correct me when I need it, and help me out…kind of an even trade as I share English with them that they don’t know.  It’s pretty much a hangout for people involved in the wind ensemble.  I found out the concert next month is just a pick-up concert…which I didn’t understand…but it’s just two solo instruments with the piano…the clarinet (my friend from my first visit, Shiroyama) and the flute.  Yashio-san (the conductor/restaurant owner) showed me the music and it looks really beautiful, so I’m very excited about it.  The clarinet piece is by Schumann and the flute piece is by Donjon, who I’ve never heard of, I’ll have to wiki him.

  I mentioned that I’m playing my violin at church this Sunday.  Yashio-san misunderstood me and thought I was asking if the restaurant was open on Sundays.  He abruptly said “Clooooosed” with a big grin.  I grinned back and said that I was playing my violin on Sunday for Mother’s Day.  I had to explain Mother’s Day, and then where exactly I was playing.  I had a brochure for the English ministry, which has a map for both sites, so I pointed to Kawanaka and he studied it, really curious about the kyookai (church).  I told him he could keep it, and another man there, Tanabe-san, asked for one as well.  I kind of left the topic at that, not wanting to put them in an awkward position by inviting them to hear me if they didn’t want to come.  But Yashio-san asked what time I would be playing.  So I told him it was at 10a, and then we both kind of trailed off to other topics.  I told Taka about it, and he seemed to think that was encouraging that he might actually come to hear me play!  And with that, Taka is preaching that morning, so maybe he (and anyone he might bring with him) will hear the Gospel!  Please please PLEASE pray that he might come and hear…it would be amazing to me if it actually happened! 

  Another great point…I was relaying the story to Taka and Samantha, and I was afraid I was pronouncing Shiroyama’s name wrong.  So I corrected myself and said, Shiriyama.  Taka started up and asked me what her name was again.  I repeated, Shiriyama…and said, “It means ‘White Mountain’.”  Taka started laughing really hard and corrected me that it is really Shiroyama and to never make that mistake again.  Turns out the Shiri means “butt” and I was actually calling her the misfortunate name of “Butt Mountain.”  I’m soooooo glad I made that mistake in front of a teammate and not another Japanese person, or worse! one of the ensembles members and Shiroyama.  So crazy how one letter difference changes the whole meaning!