Saturday, April 26, 2008

Okinawa - land of farewells

It doesn't seem to matter what time of year it is - there always seems to be someone leaving Okinawa. Last night, Josh hosted a farewell party at his house for 2 of my favourite Americans - Eric and Nate. Eric has been on island (sort of) for the past 18 months, and has been a joy to get to know. I love his passion for the Lord, and his motivation to accomplish as much as he can with the time God has given him. Nate has been here for nearly 2 years now, and I have had so many good memories with him that I can't put into words how much I'll miss him.

There was SO much food last night, and it was all tasty! (And where there's food, there's Akira! My student from Okisho came out to join in the fun, and was pleasantly surprised to find his elementary-school-days ALT, none other than Dan Pallmann, in attendance! Small world eh?) After much eating and chatting, we gathered around the 2 guys, shared memories, and prayed for them. I know I will miss them a lot, and will pray for them as they continue their careers with the military in San Diego. Thanks for all the wonderful memories, guys!

And of course, whenever there's an opportunity to take pictures of Nico, I'll do it! This guy is awesome! I'm glad he's not leaving just yet...

A Day in the Park!

Yesterday was a great day. Our school had a day at Okinawa Comprehensive Park, and one of the highlights of the day was a great lunch, brought to us by Subway. It would not have been made possible by our man Joe... thanks, man! Yukky and 3 of the students helped me bring the food to our picnic area, and then the kids all sat around waiting... and on Kenney's 3-count, everyone dashed towards the food!

Then in the afternoon, Kenney had various activities planned for the kids. There was volleyball, some running game, and true-false quiz (which turned into dodgeball). Most of the kids left with smiles on their faces, and perhaps a little too much sun (as was the case for me)... but overall, a great time was had by all!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Welcome Sayaka!

Our department at school has a new member: Sayaka (a.k.a. Sayuri) Kawahara. Sayaka is a former student of Okisho. She is coming back now as a teacher of English, this year focusing mostly on STEP examination preparation. It has been awesome having her in the office here... she speaks great English and has a very positive attitude. The dynamics at work ROCK! Last night we went out to Daikon no Hana, a restaurant known for its organic food buffet. The food was awesome, and I broke out the "quiz game" again. This time the subjects were Sayaka and Kabashima - he's not new to the school but he is a math teacher whose desk is surrounded by English teachers... so we wanted him to join in on the fun. I learned a lot about both of them, and of course I learned more about Kenney, too! Anyways, I am looking forward to another great year at Okisho!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The River and the fireworks

God has a funny way of working sometimes. About 2 years ago, I opened up a myspace account. It was not my proudest moment but it is indeed a part of my past. I posted news on occasion, and even did a bit of blogging. Well one of my entries concerned a really weird dream I had had about a fish tank, and a giraffe's head and one fish that, despite its diminutive size, was able to swallow up anything whole! I interpreted the dream to mean that even a "little" sin in the fish tank of our lives will destroy anything in sight, leaving us empty of all good things. Even putting "big fish" in the tank (like spiritual stuff) is useless because the little fish of sin will eat it up and our works will be meaningless.

Well anyways, some complete stranger up in Tokyo saw my blog and wrote a comment, something to the effect of, "Cool illustration - can I share it with my friends?" So I replied and we became "myspace friends." Well I canceled my account because I just didn't like the idea of myspace anymore. And she did, too... but we did exchange contact information.

Last weekend, River came down to Okinawa from Tokyo for the first time. And so she called me, and we got together on Saturday night to check out the fireworks down at Tropical Beach, and then again Sunday for lunch. It was cool to actually meet her, and it felt as though we had known each other since childhood. River is a warm-hearted, fun Christian woman. I am so excited that now I have someone to visit if I ever make it up to Tokyo... but even more excited with the idea we toyed around with - when she and her boyfriend get married, maybe they'll move to Okinawa!

What have EYE done? 目がねぇ~


Last Saturday I went out for a bite to eat with Simon, my good brother in Christ. He is actually the same age as my real kid bro, so I see him as a younger brother. After hanging at McDonald's for a bit, I got to enjoy some good Mexican food at Ally's place. She's a great cook, and it was fun chatting with her friends! Some time in between those 2 food sessions, something happened to my left eye. It was (and still is) bloody and even a little puffy and it kind of hurt. Not too badly, mind you. Anyways, pray that it would be completely healed soon. It doesn't hurt anymore but it is scaring some of my students.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I'm a WHAT? Tanning?

Nope, I'm a "tannin" (担任). Yep, I am officially a homeroom teacher at Okisho now! Can you believe it? I honestly had hope of being a "sub-homeroom teacher" this year... just a hope is all... but the vice-president of the school graciously offered to make me the first foreigner to be a homeroom teacher in the school's 26-year history! Actually my buddy and colleague Michael Fad is also a homeroom teacher, meaning we will enter the history books together. Anyways, I believe this is all God's plan. I am so blessed that He is giving me the responsibility to take care of these students. It should be a year of much learning, many mistakes, and as a result, a whole lotta grace from my Creator.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Beach Bento Baptism Bash!


Today we had a fun time at Tropical Beach. Everyone was asked to bring bentos (boxed lunches) and a smile, and we played volleyball, frisbee, went swimming, and all sorts of other things. It was awesome! We had 4 people get baptized in the ocean: Sosimo, Nate, Yuka and Ally! It was such a blessing to see these 4 make a proclamation of their faith to everyone who was there. It was a big blessing for me, as Pastor Tom asked me if I would assist Pastor Tim with the baptisms! So I got in the water and supported him and those being baptized. It was awesome! Thank You Jesus for a beautiful day, for giving these 4 the faith to be bold... and please Lord, keep on using them to shine Your Light in Okinawa and beyond!

For more complete photographic coverage, check out Pastor Tommy's blog.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Best Singers in Ginowan

Me and the boys went out for some singing... man it had been TOO long since we'd last gone! I think this might have been my first time out in 2008! Anyways, Josh and I did out usual U2 song, and Nate did a bit of dancing on the chairs. Yoshua did Haisai Ojisan, one of my favorite Okinawan songs, and Ryota did an awesome rendition of an Exile song. It's cool because he looks like the lead singer, so we had a good laugh while he sang. Sosi did some sweet Usher, and Daniel, well that guy's just amazing. You can listen to him a little in the video below.

土曜日の夜は久しぶりにカラオケに行った!僕はいつもと同じ曲を歌った:GLAYのHowever...、ロビン・ウィリアムスのFriend Like Me(アラジンの曲)、野茂が投げれば大丈夫(HIDEOの歌)、など。。。しかし、今回はトランスフォーマーのテーマ曲、リンキンパークのWhat I've Doneに挑戦した!けっこううまく歌えたと思う!今度はみんなの前に歌ってあげるよ(笑)



Friday, April 4, 2008




As with my previous reports, I figure this one is best done in English, seeing as how you can read Japanese reports of the game pretty much anywhere online. Here's a site I recommend, though.


Okinawa Shogaku High School won the 80th Annual Spring All-Japan High School Baseball Tournament! This is the second such crown in the school’s history, the last one having come 9 years ago, when current manager Koya Higa was the school’s ace pitcher. I could be wrong, but he is probably the youngest man in Japanese history to have won the tournament as both a player and a coach.

Unlike the previous 3 games, which I watched from home, I took this one in at school. MAN was that fun! I will never forget the experience as long as I live! I spent the entire game watching from about halfway to the front of the auditorium where we all watched the game on the big screen. I am sure there were well over 200 people there, maybe more like 300-400! Students, teachers, parents, grandparents, alumni, and news reporters.

Well a few times I went to the front (via the doors set up there) to get pictures of the crowd (such as the one to the right). There were several reporters in the way though, so I couldn’t actually SIT there and watch. BUT… I knew my final chance would be at the top of the ninth inning. With the outcome already determined (it was 9-0 from the 5th inning on), I knew that pandemonium would break out when the final out was recorded. So I stood there and took pictures patiently, and when the crowd burst into celebration, I saw a quick opening between two cameramen. I slithered through and joined the mass of students who were yelling, screaming, dancing, and cheering. And I joined them in jubilation. And what a jubilant time it was!

We did about 6 or 7 takes of the “final out” celebration so that cameras could capture the moment from different angles, and chanted and sang for about 30 minutes after the game ended. It got SO hot… it reminded me of a rock concert where sweaty teenagers pack together and sweat on each other. Anyways, here’s a shot of some cameramen and reporters doing what they do best.

Okinawa Shogaku High School is now the best baseball school in the nation… at least until the summer tournament in August or so. This time, instead of watching from the middle of a packed auditorium, I hope to catch the action live at Koshien Stadium!

Okisho omedeto! 沖尚、おめでとう!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Road to Glory - Heading to the FINALS!

We DID IT! Okisho is headed to the FINALS of the All-Japan High School Baseball Tournament! It was an unbelievable match. The two teams’ ace pitchers, Sato (from Toyo Dai Himeji) and Higashihama (from Okisho) came into the matchup having pitched 50 innings and allowing a mere 2 earned runs. That’s a combined ERA of 0.36! Ridiculous! It was destined to be a low-scoring game… right?

Not entirely. Right from the start, the game had me on the edge of my seat, though. Higashihama struck out the first batter on 3 pitches, then had the next hitter pop out on the very next pitch. However, with 2 outs and no one on base, Himeji got a triple and then followed it up with a single, making the score 1-0 heading in to the bottom of the 1st. Okisho put the pressure back on Himeji, loading the bases with only 1 out. BUT, the next batter grounded out and then the next batter popped out, keeping the score 1-0. Then the pitchers took over for much of the rest of the game. Himeji scored another run in the 7th, putting Okisho in a real precarious position: scoring at least 3 runs against a pitcher who hadn’t allowed a run in 25 innings. The 7th went by without any offense.

And then, the bottom of the 8th. With guys on 1st and 3rd, Nakasone came through in the clutch, driving in a guy. Then the next guy up, Minei, hit a single that was helped by their right-fielder’s bobble to bring in 2 more runs. We had the lead! Guys on 1st and 3rd again, with 1 out. And our next batter struck out… but the pitch was wild, so he was able to run to 1st safely, and our guy on 3rd scored, making it 4-2! That was it, as Higashihama came up and popped out to shallow left.

Then the 9th, the inning that we needed to shut them down one last time. Higashihama got the 1st guy, then walked the next one. A ground ball made it 2 outs with a guy on 1st. And in fashionable style, Higashihama struck out the final batter.

WE WIN! SEE YOU IN THE FINALS, SEIBO GAKUEN! All of Okinawa will be watching the game tomorrow… so don’t you miss out, either! Pre-game starts at 12:30pm on NHK and RBC!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Road to Glory - Final Four Bound!

I'm so proud to be a teacher at Okisho! Not that I teach any of the guys up at the tournament, but they're still part of my school, and it's awesome to see my school faring so well in the national high school baseball tournament! Since there are enough reports out there in Japanese, I will do an English one here. If you want to read about the game in Japanese, go to this site. You can also watch the game or the highlights there, too!

Okisho was up against Tenri (Nara Prefecture). Tenri had won their previous game 10-1, and have a pitcher with an unorthodox release, so I was a little concerned heading into the game. But with an ace pitcher like Nao Higashihama, what do you have to worry about, right? Well it turns out manager Koya Higa (ace of the '99 All-Japan Championship Team) decided to go with Wataru Uehara (see right) as his starter. THAT concerned me even more, going up against a potent offense like Tenri's. After a couple of shaky innings to start the game, Uehara settled down nicely and struck out quite a few guys before allowing a solo homerun in the 4th inning. That was the end of his start, and Manager Higa brought in Higashihama to finish the game. With a 3-2 lead, it seemed like it would be a fight to the finish. Could Naoyan (nickname) hold off the Tenri attack? Well he did an awesome job of it, going 5 innings and allowing only 4 hits while striking out 4. He made a sweet double play in the 8th inning to get out of a jam, but then proceeded to take a ground ball off the knee (see picture below). He left for a few minutes and the game was put on hold. The Okinawan crowd breathed a sigh of relief when he returned to the mound, caused the next batter to ground out, and then pitched a near-perfect 9th inning. Final score: Okisho 4, Tenri 2.

Next up (tomorrow at 1:30pm): Toyo Dai Himeji. Should be a great matchup! Watch it if you can - it'll be on NHK and probably a local channel, too!