Monday, May 31, 2010

A revelation...

As I was reading today I came across Revelation 7. It begins with the 144,000 that are sealed before the world is destroyed but then it starts to talk about the multitude in white robes. As I continued reading I stubbled on what is now something that I'm really looking forward to and something that is going to help me continue on this mission I'm on. Revelation 7:9 says "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count,
from every NATION, TRIBE, PEOPLE and LANGUAGE, standing before the throne.
Then a few verses down it explains what they are saying.

"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

Then on down along with the angels...
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

Not only do these verses remind me of the song "Salvation Belongs to our God" but also how great worship can be. We can be singing the words of the Bible and not even know. I had no idea that the words to that song are word for word the Word of God. It is so exciting to me. The biggest thing that hit me though is the fact that he felt it important to write that every tribe and nation will be there. Every language will be represented. Being in a country where speaking the language is a struggle for me everyday...this is exciting! Exciting to know that I will be able to see all of these people that I meet here whether I see them again in this life or not. Not only will there be my family and Americans but every Nation!!! This shows me exactly what my mission is. I've always known it but sometimes I show these people that I come into contact with how great it will be to be apart of the multitude. And when that day comes...I'll be able to understand them. Just a little excitement I thought I'd share with you.

Here's the link to the song I was talking about if you've never heard it. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Things that would never work in the US!

There are so many things in the Japanese culture that when compared to the US are quite different. When I think about some of these characteristics in a US environment I laugh. I'm not saying that all of these are bad but things that would never work in America. Most of them are school related because that is where I get most of the culture I have been exposed to but there aren't. So here we go...

  • Kids wondering around school all the time. (This isn't the case with most of them but there are a few kids at my school that I see around the school at times when they should be in class. Sometimes they even come hang out with me in the English room.)
  • School lunch for everyone! Everyone eats school lunch unlike the pack or buy dilemma that we always deal with. Also the kids serve each other. Their classes lunch is delivered to their door and then they pull it out and make an assembly line for everyone to get their food.
  • Indoor/outdoor shoes. The kids have shoes that they where inside and they are all identical but then they have their tennis shoes for outside.
  • 4 outfits a day: school uniforms to school, normal clothes once they get there, gym clothes, lunch clothes and they where aprons for recess and cleaning.
  • Cleaning the school. The Japanese schools don't hire janitorial staff but have the kids do it. So everyday after recess they all have their assignments and so they clean (or act like they do) Normally the school is more dirty after they are finished cleaning.
  • Studying a foreign language in nursery school and elementary schools. I realize that English is the international language but this is prime time for kids to learn a 2nd language and we don't take advantage of that.
  • No central heat or air.
  • Riding bikes to school or anywhere for that matter, especially in the rain! This would never work for America as a whole.
  • Airing out mattresses or futons. Things mold here quickly because of the humidity so everything must be aired out frequently to keep that from happening.
  • There are about 12 different types of recycling. Ok maybe thats an exaggeration but it feels like it. Burnable and Non-burnable are the 2 main categories.
  • Omiage is when you bring gifts back after a trip. Not only for those close family members but for your coworkers and such as well.
  • Chonco! This has only happened to me recently but it is when a child will basically stick their finger up your butt. It's really awkward and odd but they do it to each other all the time and some of my little kids did it to me the other day. Weirdest thing ever!
These are only a few and I realize that these things are just different. Most of them aren't bad they are just things that I'm not used to. I find it interesting things that you learn only from living in the culture. I didn't know half of this stuff when visiting Japan before but this is a chance to learn something new while I'm here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's been a while...

So it's been a while since I've posted anything so I'll give you a quick update. I am working on a great entry but it's not quite finished so this can be an intermediate one. A quick update...

  • I have been playing volleyball on Thursday nights with both Japanese and foreigners which is so fun. I think most of the Japanese would rather us not be there but we have fun anyway.
  • I bought a bed!!!
  • I started at my nursery school today which is teaching 4 and 5 year olds. It's quite interesting but I know that they are like sponges so I'm trying to make English fun to make them want to learn it.
  • I've decided I wish everyone had a blog because I hate not knowing about peoples lives!
  • I'm trying to live in the present HERE in JAPAN instead of the States. It's tough but I'm working on it.
  • Plans for weekend trips are popping up all throughout June so that is exciting!!
  • Simon and Mary are making plans to come visit. Any one else interested??? :)
  • Communication with my teachers is getting better and better. It's a big step!
Thats the short of it! Things are going well and I'm excited for whats to come!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

It's not all fun and games...

I have been trying to portray a fun image of my life here in Japan for the first few entries but it's not always that fun and exciting. In fact a huge struggle that I think I'll be working on throughout my stay here is the loneliness. I am here with 24 other AETs and we all try to see each other quite a lot throughout the week, which is great, but no matter how much I hang out with people...I will always return to my empty apartment. Don't get me wrong, there are some days that I am so thankful for a place of my own but then there are other days where I just want the apartment to be packed with people!

Emily and Luke are the couple that I have grown closest to from the beginning. They are from the west coast and went to Cascade College instead of OC, which is a change of pace from all the others. We all get along quite well and I am so thankful for them and how they have taken me in as the official 3rd wheel.

Kendon, lives 2 doors down from me and is on his 4th year here in Japan. He is official my buddy in the AET program and has been showing me the ropes. Since we are so close, we often hang out after work and catch up on American tv shows such as 24.

Both of these are good options which I take advantage of quite often but there is always that something missing that only my closet friends can make up for. I believe these people will become close but it has only been a month and the bond is different at this point. I miss being able to pick up the phone and call my family or call my best friends and talk to them. I hate having to always convert the time into Eastern time and plan my morning around it. I realize that I am only one month into a year commitment but I want to express some of the difficulties that I'm facing. If you are reading this, if you could say a quick prayer that I can look to my God to be my best friend and the one that is always there. I know that He is there in my head but sometimes I forget to reach out.

Despite that depressing realization, things have begun to pick up and have been more busy. I started Japanese class at the church and one of my first grade teachers offered for me to sit in on the 1st grade Japanese lesson so my 1st graders, where I am teaching them English, they are helping me with Japanese. I feel like its a fair trade, despite the fact that I feel like a big dumb idiot! Class has become smoother and I'm beginning to enjoy the times with the kids. I thank God for all these new and fun things!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A typical day at Kawawada Shogakko

Kawawada Elementary is my main school where I go 3 and a half days out of the week. So this school actually claims me as their official AET. Just like all other schools, the schedule is different everyday so my M, T, F are all different.

Special things about Japanese schools:
  • They have 2 recesses. One short one in the morning and then one after lunch.
  • None of the schools have a janitorial staff so the kids have cleaning duties everyday. It is quite funny because the school looks more dirty after cleaning time then before but the kids have fun with it.
  • Everyone eats school lunch. You will always have a meat of some kind, a salad/veggie type thing, a soup and milk. Sometimes you will have dessert. (I will write a whole post on lunch!)

M- I have the 5th and 6th graders. There are 2 classes of each so I have 4 classes, all in the morning. I eat lunch with in a classroom. Recess and cleaning are after lunch and then I have my whole afternoon to do an assortment of things. I don't leave until 4:40pm so I will work on decorations for my English room, study Japanese, or just act like I'm busy. The kids will leave sporadically from 2-4 and I like to be outside and say goodbye to them so that eats up a lot of my time.

Tuesday- I have class ALL day. I start 1st and 2nd period with 2nd grade, then 2 1st grade classes. This morning is pretty crazy because most of the time I am teaching the kids a BRAND new thing that they have NEVER heard before so sometimes it's a challenge. After lunch, cleaning and recess I have 2 3rd grade classes. By the time I say goodbye to everyone I'm exhausted but it's normally pretty close to leaving time by then.

Friday- I only have 2 4th grade classes. Friday is a day that I normally just wander around and look for things to do. Last week I was making all different flags to hang up in my room and I broke the laminator so I spent most of my day making flags, breaking the laminator and ruining my flags back to making them again. The Japanese put a lot of emphasis in LOOKING busy. If you look busy then you are doing what you are suppose to so I'm perfecting that!

Wednesday I'm at Akatsuka Elementary for just the one day. I don't normally plan any lessons just follow along with what the teachers have planned. I have been teaching 5th and 6th grade but I am now moving to 1st and 2nd. There is another AET splitting his time at Akatsuka so this school gets 2 of us.

Thursday I have at nursery schools. I have 2 different ones and I will alternate between them. In the afternoon I'll return to Kawawada. I haven't been to one of these yet but I'm excited to see what it's like. I never thought I would enjoy teaching but so far it has been fun. The best is when it finally clicks in the kid's heads at what they keep repeating. The kids are super cute too! I'll post pictures of the kids and my English room soon! LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Golden Week

This 3 day holiday we just had is called Golden week. It came right as we were getting started but also gave us a little break to get a handle on our new lives here. I'll give a little summary of what I did each day. Lots of old AETs went traveling but we didn't have time to prepare a trip so we stayed in Mito and explored.

Monday- We went to the lake again and had a picnic and played soccer, volleyball and frisbee. Allen Thompson was with us so we obviously met people while we were there. We met a family where the dad was from Iran and he has lived in Japan for 21 years. His wife is Japanese and they had one fireball little girl. We took turns running around with her and she wore us all out. After the park a group of being the 5th wheel like always, went to do karaoke. Now karaoke in Japan is different from karaoke in the States. Here you are put in a room with all the equipment and go at it. You only have to preform for those in your party and you can buy food and drinks and make a night of it...unless you don't know Japanese and then you only stay for an hour and then go eat. (That was us!!) But it's so much fun!!

Tuesday- There is a new missionary to Mito Church whos brother is the one who is the one that interviewed me for this job. Joel has been in Japan for almost 8 years but only in Mito for 2 weeks longer then we have. He shares a house with an intern, Sasha, and their Japanese friend Gaku. They are fantastic people and invited us new people over to the house where we had lunch and went to the grocery store and learned what exactly we were buying. Basic things like this become very difficult when you can't read any of the labels. This day was very relaxing and helpful to be able to talk through how our experience has been so far.

Wednesday- Joel and Sasha had invited us to go out with the Tsunekis (the preacher and his family) and them to Hitatchi Seaside park. I wasn't sure what this was but Mari, the mom, had emailed me and asked me if I was coming so I couldn't say no. I was looking forward to getting a chance to spend time with a Japanese family and someone from the church so I could get plugged in. I fit right in with the family of 6 and loved the fact that they had lived in the US for a time and the oldest 2 knew English well and the younger ones understood most of it. The only problem is I tend to be like my dad in that I like to pester the kids until they strike back, just in fun of course. Mom tends to see and I get them in trouble. It's even worst when you can't understand most of the lecture the parents are giving to the crying boy. I'll work on it. It was a fun day of riding carnival rides, a ferris wheel, looking at thousands of tulips and a hillside of blue. It's amazing how God can be so creative with the colors and the styles of the same flower. He is quite the artist and He reminded me of that today. The park is right on the ocean so it was a GREAT view from the ferris wheel. Being my last day of holiday I was exhausted when I got home and was excited to go to sleep.

Sorry...long post but there is my week in a nutshell. Of course the kids nor the teachers wanted to return Thursday and Friday so we were all a bit run down and exhausted but we had fun. Thanks for reading. You guys are amazing and I hope you have a good weekend!!