Monday, December 31, 2007


In Japan, the end of the year is a time to do major cleaning in the house. It's called "大掃除" or "big cleaning." So I decided to get caught up in the spirit, at least partially make my house clean again. I took apart my living room, literally. All the furniture, save the TV stand (too many wires) moved into the kitchen, and all the tatami mats made their way onto the balcony. Then I sprayed them down clean, wiped all the walls, fixtures, beams, and laid everything down again. The layout is different from what it once was, but most of you don't even know what it looked like, so it makes no difference!

Anyways, it feels good to have a clean living room, smelling fresh and looking different. Next up: the bedroom and kitchen. Last: the dreaded bathroom! (I'll spare you the details by not posting updates on this one!)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Settlers Withdrawal Satisfied!

So yesterday I was doing a little shopping down by the Convention Center. My first pleasant surprise came when I stepped into a shoe store. The unpleasant surprise was the lack of shoes that they had in my size. Then I saw an employee and asked him if they might have more stuff in my size that I just wasn't noticing. He answered me, "トレバー?" (if you can't read Japanese, that's my name as it would be written in katakana) I was stupefied by his response, so I asked him who he was. Turns out he was my student way back in the day on Iejima. Isn't that cool that he recognized me? So we chatted for a bit but then he had to get back to work.

Then as I was driving home, it was already about 6pm, and I was thinking to myself, "What should I do about dinner? I don't want to cook, but I don't want to eat out." A few minutes later my phone rang. ♪あーなーたーは髪の毛ありますか?ありますか?ありますか♪ I know based on the ring that it's my buddy Glenn. We were slated to get together the following Thursday for a game of Settlers. But he tells me that he and his wife made a bunch of food for a get-together, and their guests canceled on them, and would I mind coming over and helping them eat? Hahaha, the Lord is GOOD! Of course Farah is an awesome cook, so I stuffed myself with chicken, rice, and cookies. And of course when I go to the Phipps', apple tea is my drink of choice! But perhaps the best part of the evening came when...
I WON! Yep, I beat Glenn at his own game, in his own house! Thanks for a fun evening guys, and for letting me win!

Friday, December 28, 2007

沖縄尚学学園-ザ 忘年会

Last night Okisho had its year-end party (忘年会)at the Royal Orion Hotel down on Kokusai Street (国際どおり). The event included a wonderful musical performance by our fearless leader, Mr. Masajiro Nashiro, a speech about us fighting the good fight and doing our part to help build a society that does not tolerate the crime that has been occurring lately in Japan. Then there was a raffle... the prizes were quite spectacular! A 20" plasma TV, a DVD player, a Nintendo DS, an iPod, and many other things. I was not a winner, unfortunately, but I did get to have my picture taken with "the leader" (shameless Simpsons reference).

It's funny how we tend to hang out with the same people at parties (or other social gatherings for that matter) as we would at work, or in our day-to-day life. This was a perfect chance for me to get to know other people who work within the company, and yet for some reason I kind of kept to myself, talking mostly to Kenney and Yukiko (seen below with Mr. Enoki, my department head, and Mr. Nashiro, the vice-chairman of the school, whose idea it was to pose in this way).

The night came to a rather early conclusion, at least compared to what I am used to with Japanese year-end parties, but I was sort of glad in a sense - things did not get out of control and I believe a good time was had by all. This is a pic of me and a friend of mine - Michael Fad - who was hired at the same time as I was, but has a considerably more difficult position that I do!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Night

Last night, a bunch of us guys gathered at Starbucks for some coffee and guys' talk. It was all in Japanese, so maybe this blog should be, too!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

This morning we gathered at Pastor Tom's place (he and his family are in the States but he opened his home to us anyways), and had a delicious breakfast potluck and gift exchange. It was PACKED. I think the total, including baby, was 38 people! After a lot of people left (sorry guys) I pulled out my chocolate fondue set and we ate fruits the fattening way!

I'm glad Jesus has a birthday once a year just like the rest of us... not just because we can gather and fellowship, but because it reminds us of the miracle of His birth, and of course the subsequent perfect life, sacrifice, and resurrection! Thanks, Lord! Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas with the Mexicans

No, Sosimo didn't come back to Oki for Christmas... I was invited over to my friends' place for dinner and good times. The Barrios family have been in Oki for over a year now, and they are a lot of fun to spend time with and be chased by their kids. Julia, Alondra, and especially Nico are so much FUN! Here's a pic of Nico wearing my Santa hat. Also included are pics of Yoshi beating Dave (Barrios) down at chess, a pic of Ayu and Tim appearing from behind a cake, and one of a bunch of people sitting around while Tim laughs.
Christmas is a great time of year, isn't it?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Service - W2

Last night we gathered as always at the Koinonia Cafe. Instead of continuing through (and finishing) the book of Job, we had a special Christmas service. Andrew and Dan led us in worship and Christmas songs, and some guy named Trevor gave the message in Japanese. Pastor Tim translated into English for the non-Japanese folks. Afterwards we had a dessert potluck. To the best of my knowledge there were no confessions of faith, but I know there were some non-believers who came, heard about the miracle of Jesus' birth, and experienced God's love and Word in a powerful way. It was an amazing night!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

HP Acquitted - Computer Owner Blushes

Ginowan, Okinawa (AP) - It turns out HP doesn't stand for (Mis)Handles Parcels. In an earlier story, a shadow of doubt was once again cast upon HP's competence. After a rigorous investigation, the truth has come out. It turns out the problem was a clerical error by the merchant combined with a hasty assumption made by the new computer owner.

"When I got the computer back from F-S [name omitted for store-anonymity] there was a CD attached," new HP owner Raj Raichura explains. "I just assumed it had my son's data on it."

Raichura further revealed that he quickly made a back-up copy of the disc before sending it off to his son. Turns out the CD was filled with pictures of a stranger, and songs no longer in the possession of Raichura's son. At his request, we are not authorized to divulge his identity.

The Raichuras have agreed to try anew to get the data from the HP to the new Acer, somehow. Our coverage will continue as the story develops.

Has HP struck again?

My saga with my old computer continues. For those of you who don't know what happened, I posted a short article found in the Ginowan Times a few months ago. In any case, after a major run-around with HP, I finally understood that my only option was to ship my computer back to Canada for repairs - at my own expense! Well, after them wasting a month to diagnose the problem and fix it (the computer's under warranty), I decided the best thing would be to sell it to my father and buy something new, something local.

I wound up buying something online, as most computers in Japan are about twice the cost of the computers in the West. So anyhow, I asked my dad to burn all the data from my old computer (pictures, videos, music, work files, etc.) onto DVDs and mail them to me, so that at least I wouldn't have to start all over from scratch. After a long wait, I finally got an envelope in the mail last night. I ripped it open excitedly, and pulled the CD out of its sleeve. To my surprise, it said "Camile Backup" on it. "Hmmmm..." I thought to myself, "My name isn't Camile!"

I put the DVD into my computer, and found a folder for iTunes, and another for My Pictures, so I thought maybe everything was OK. But the pictures are not mine, and the music isn't either! (Although there was a lot of stuff that I used to listen to as a teenager!) So I'm left thinking...

HP must have sent the WRONG computer to my Dad! If this is the case, then first of all, someone else has MY old computer with my old data! And that kind of frightens me! (Not that I have anything to hide... but I don't want some stranger somewhere in Canada to be looking through the past year of my life!) It also means that the problems my Dad says he's been having with the computer (and that it has some kind of virus and that HP didn't fix that problem while working on my computer) are not actually problems with MY computer, but with some stranger's computer. Man, HP is definitely on my black list!

So anyways, I'm left puzzled and wondering if the data I had on my old computer will ever find its way back to me. *SIGH*

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hula Classes

Our fellowship was blessed with a visitor from Ishigaki Island. Her name is Teresa, and she is originally from Hawai'i, though she has lived in Japan for some 21 years now! So she came to our li'l church and offered to teach us "gospel hula." Being a mix of white and brown, and having gotten the dancing skills of both my parents (I'm just guessing here as I've never seen them dance), I decided to skip the actual lesson in favor of taking pictures. However, my camera ran out of battery half-way through, so all I got was a bit of the action! Anyways...

Teresa gave a short testimony at the start, while the people sat down and listened to all she said. It was cool because she translated for herself, and her Japanese is incredible! If her Japanese ranks 10/10, mine's about a 5! Anyways, it was awesome to hear how God is blessing her as she reaches out to the people of Ishigaki via hula and other things.

While this was going on, the kids (Julia, Alondra and Nico) were in the back room watching a movie and snacking. I actually took part in their stuff, and it was so fun! Nico sat in my lap and chilled... made me wish I had my own kids! Check out Nic eating a sandwich in the video below. He's so CUTE! All in all, a night well spent!


Well since I did take a few pictures while I had no computer, I do have some stuff I can update on my blog. And since they allow bloggers to change the date of each post, I will do so and it will look as though I didn't miss a beat! Hahahaha! Enjoy the "old news"...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Look who's back?

Well folks it's been awhile. HP basically welcomed me to the harsh realities of their customer service (I use the term loosely). Fortunately for me, I was able to get the computer fixed under warranty (unfortunately it cost me $100 to ship back to Canada), sold it to my dad, and now have bought a new computer. So now I can get schoolwork done with greater ease, update people on my life more regularly (as in, actually updating the blog at all), and even prepare for sermons better! Life is somewhat back to normal... and I welcome you to come back frequently to see what's going on. Hallelujah!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Just church stuff

The day after Vunder's triumphant return to the mound, I was sitting in church and felt like taking a few pictures of the people I call 'family' here in Oki. Andrew leading worship, with Naoko singing back-up, Vunder playing the electric and Hide on the bass. Tommy giving the message in English, and Natsuki making it make sense to the Japanese people. And then there's me. Just sitting in the back, taking pictures. Church is such a blessing. Keep praying for our fellowship, that the people would be fed the Word.

(Incidentally, as I update this blog on December 20th, I can now say that this picture of Tom is actually the next-to-last time he has given the message on Sunday morning. The following week I was up, and then he spoke once more - I was sick and missed it - before Pastor Tim took over. We're going through the book of Mark now, and Tim is giving the message in Japanese! He's hired a few good men to translate for him. Pray that it will bless the people and the Lord!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Return of The Man

A shaky outing last game wasn't enough to deter Robert "Vunder" "Double Death" Wunderlich from taking the mound on Saturday. His team of formerly great ballplayers were slated to face Meio University of Nago in the first round of what was a grueling tournament. Not for the Naha Samurai, though, as they bowed out after this game. But for Meio it was a tournament to be remembered. They took home the championship trophy (a shiisa baseball player batting with a goya stick) and declared themselves the best among the washed up and the never-will-be's.

OK enough of the sarcasm. Back to the main point. Vunder came out smokin', but his team came out chokin'. Despite allowing no hits and just 2 walks in the first inning, somehow the score was tied 2-2. Then after allowing a mere single (and a walk), Meio took a 3-2 lead after 2. Then the dam broke. A couple of consecutive hits followed in the 3rd, followed by a couple of walks, and that was all she wrote. But Vunder struck out 5 of the 7 batters he retired, and definitely would have lasted much longer were it not for a plethora of errors causing multiple runs to score. It was a lot of fun to watch, and we're all so proud of our buddy Vunder, the best pitcher on island, possibly soon to be scouted by the Yokohama Bay Stars?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Harvest Carnival

Last night, Calvary Chapel Okinawa hosted its annual Harvest Carnival. The kids gather together and have a whole lot of fun at various booths. There are games, candy, Twinkie-eating contests, live musicians, bouncy-houses, and even the occasional scary person! It was a real blessed night, as I got to see a few people that I hadn't seen in a long time. I also got to invite some of my former students out to the event... eight of them showed up somehow, and got witnessed to by my buddy Shawn Shavers. So I don't know what's happened since then, but prayerfully they will come to know the Savior soon!

Another former student of mine showed up on her own and it was cool to catch up with her. She was always a lot of fun to talk with at school, and even though her English is limited, she was never afraid to try. So it was cool seeing Shino again - the cool thing is that she goes to the same school as one of the girls at CCO, and they're the same age. They had never met before last night, but now they know each other, so I'm hoping that maybe Shino will start going to church or youth or something! Anyways, fun night!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Special Guests = Party

At Okisho, whenever we have special guests from abroad, we always have a little party to welcome them to the island and to the school. So the other night, we welcomed a man named Dave Bennetts from the University of St. John's in Minnesota. "Dave", as he likes being called, is one of the men responsible for sending us American ALTs. This year we have Paul Telthorst, Mary Wagner, and Grace Brogan. All three are great additions to the Okisho team, and we have Dave to thank for them! So after a night of speeches (eloquently translated by our vice-chairman, Mr. Masaichiro Nashiro) and eating, we took a commemorative photo and the fun night came to a close. Thanks, Dr. Bennetts, for coming to Okinawa and giving us an excuse to eat good food and get together like we did!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Welcome Grace!

Back in July, my dear co-worker Aaron left Okinawa and Okisho behind, and moved to Tokyo. It left a huge void in our office. You see, me and Yukiko and Kenney love having a fourth companion. Well after 2+ months of loneliness, we were graced with a new co-worker from Minnesota: Grace! So at the end of her second week, we celebrated her arrival by going out for dinner together. It was a great time of getting to know her, and I look forward to getting to know her better and working with her!

Below is a short clip of my co-worker Kenney explaining the circumstances of his class' basketball practice in the park. Quite funny, especially if you've ever met Kenney.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Live from the Koinonia Cafe...

Hakugaijin! That's right, the one and only, the man who wowed the crowds at the Franklin Graham Festival. Our very own Pastor Tim Newell assembled an all-star band to back him up as he mesmerized a packed coffee house of teenagers and 30-something photographer(s). It was really cool, and the guys all did a great job. The side room was equipped with a projector, so those who couldn't clearly see the "stage" could see it projected on the wall of the room they were in. Click on the upper-right picture - you can see the screen right in the middle of the picture. There were fun games, great songs, and lots of Jesus. We look forward to Hakugaijin's next performance, rumoured to be some time in late January!

Monday, September 24, 2007

School Festival!

Every year, Okisho has an "open campus" event in order to attract new students to the school for the upcoming school year. It reminds me in some ways of the OCSI Carnival, but it's a little more Japanese in its nature. Each class gets a chance to do some sort of fundraiser... not for the school's sake but for the class to have a little party afterwards. Some classes sold various "festival foods" (snow cones, yakisoba, etc.), others performed dances, and many of them converted their classrooms into haunted houses. Also, various clubs put up booths, sold "specialty foods", and displayed pictures/videos of their club's activities. Two days before the actual open house, we had something called 前夜祭 (zenyasai - pre-event festival). It's sort of a pep-rally kind of event where different students put on performances ranging from dance to stand-up comedy to mini-musicals. It was so much fun! The school headmaster came out and played the harmonica, while his son, the assistant headmaster, played drums in a jazz quartet. They only practiced twice (so they said) but they sounded amazing! All in all, it was an incredible weekend! Below is a picture of me and one of my faves, Arisa.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Computer Crashes - hp owner panics

Ginowan City, Okinawa (AP) - Hewlett Packard is hiding something from its consumers: hp is in fact an abbreviation of "hibernates periodically"! Ginowan resident Trevor Raichura is the most recent computer owner to discover this. On Sunday night, Raichura returned from Calvary Chapel Ginowan's W2 service to find his battery completely drained.

"I thought this to be a little strange, but not out of the realm of possibility," Raichura said via conference call. "I did leave the computer on 'Standby' without having it plugged in. After 15 hours, anything can happen."

Upon his discovery, Raichura plugged the computer into the wall, and went to sleep. When he woke up, the "charging" light was no longer illuminated, which would indicate that the battery has been fully charged. Anxious to listen to some morning music, Raichura pressed the power button. But to his shock, the computer remained still. No humming, no lights flashing, no screen coming to life.

Word has it that he is covered by his warranty, but has yet to take action.

"I actually am trying to take a few days off from the world of computers," he sighed. "Perhaps my life was revolving a little too much around the ol' screen and board."

The latest reports indicate that Raichura may not update his blog with frequency for the next few weeks. We'll keep you posted as this story develops.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

You call that a storm?

So yesterday, I was getting ready to have my afternoon triple-pack of classes. I actually don't mind those classes, though often the kids are at their most tired at this point. But about a minute before I was going to leave the staff room, the loudspeaker announces: "We have entered storm watch. School is canceled for the afternoon. Typhoonize the school and go home immediately!" SWEET! So exciting, any time we can get time off on account of heavy rain and high winds. And the thing is, the storm wasn't even that strong. It rained some, it was windy, but we still had youth group at night and I carried on as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

But here I am, back at school on a Saturday morning. Fortunately I only have one class, and it is probably one I consider the easiest and most fun of my entire schedule: the international studies students. They all speak good English and are excited about learning more. Then this afternoon it's off to the Shuri area for another season of TEFL. I'm not sure I will continue it all the way through (it's a sacrifice of 13 straight Saturday afternoons). I value my free time too much. What do you guys think I should do?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another typhoon

Well it looks like we'll have to brace ourselves for Typhoon Something-or-other. (But what's it called? I can't fear it if I don't know its name, right?) That's not right. Although typhoons are really nothing to fear. This one isn't expected to be major, though it might cause a few plans (and hopefully school tomorrow, too!) to be canceled. Here's the latest graphic showing its approach on the tiny island of Okinawa. (The first pink dot, under which you see the word "Naha", is pretty much covering Okinawa, in case you were wondering.) Please do pray for us, though, as there are always a few people who put themselves in dangerous situations as the strong winds swirl around us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Great weekend!

This past weekend, Pastor Tim and Intern Aaron helped lead a fun adventure up to the northern part of Okinawa. We went to the Genga River, which is just north of Nago. The water was cool and fresh, and the little "falls" were fun to jump from. We also got to play a fun "game" called スイカ割り (suika wari): split the watermelon. It's almost like an Okinawan equivalent of the Mexican pinata. But instead of being in the air, the watermelon is on the ground. Here I got a shot of Yoshua in the split second before he connected with the watermelon. I also have a video of Jesse's adventure. Finally, Yoshua taught some of us white boys how to do old-school face-painting. Basically the guys rubbed two rocks together until it formed a "paste" and then smeared it on each other's faces. Below are a few shots of Pastor Tim. They got a lot of great colors out of those rocks!

Praise God for beautiful weather (it's been raining since we got back Saturday afternoon, and is supposed to keep raining through Wednesday) and a great chance to bond as guys while enjoying His creation!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Same month, same fun, new person!

A new batch of Bible college students have come to Okinawa. Most of them are new faces, but one of them has come back for another round. Daniel is an awesome brother in the Lord, and I look forward to another semester with him. Earlier this month, I made perogies with Keisuke and posted a few pictures of us having fun. Well, little did I know, my buddy Daniel has some Ukranian blood in him, and knows much more about those delicious little potato dumplings than I do! So because of his mom's comment on my blog, I figured I should have Daniel over to make perogies. And we did. And enjoy them, we did! It was a great time of fellowship and food, and I look forward to sharing the love of perogies with anyone else who is interested!