Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Return of the Nabe... and the Fondue!

Last night was the first time I had people over to visit in a long time. It's getting a little cooler here in Okinawa, so I broke out the nabe. The nabe is a pot in which you put a soup base, and then throw in a bunch of vegetables and meat and bring it to a boil. You eat it with rice, and it's SO good! Warms you up real good, especially if you have tofu in it - that stuff retains heat like crazy! Also, it was kimchi-based, which also makes it real hot. It was SO tasty!

After dinner we relaxed a little and then had chocolate fondue... we cut up strawberries, bananas and apples. It was SO good! Aika brought chips and drinks, and actually the chips tasted good with chocolate too! Mari, a.k.a. Chara brought homemade pumpkin cream puffs. Very good!

Next time we gather it will be to watch movies... and probably eat some more good food! Thanks for a fun night, guys! Thanks as always, Joe!


Man, I hadn't gone for karaoke all year... or maybe I went once earlier in the year. But people, we're talking about one of my favorite things to do in my free time! Just goes to show you that free time hasn't been abundant this year. Well, it was just Josh and Paul and I... but we rocked it. Sometimes (no offense, ladies) it's funner to go just with the guys. Thanks, and hopefully we'll hit up the karaoke joints more in '09!

The Big Bonenkai

Okisho had its annual year-end party on Saturday night. We gathered at the Royal Orion Hotel down in Naha, and ate some GOOD food. There were a LOT of people there... I'm talking over 300 employees! My school is part of an organization that also has a vocational school, prep school, and cram school. So anyways, the jazz band (Teachers Plus One Minus One) performed again, and the prizes were outrageous! The grand prize was a 32" Hi-Def TV! There was also an iPod, a Wii, a Blue Ray player, a couple of portable DVD players, a stereo system... it was said that there were over $5,000 worth of prizes! And I won... fancy soaps.

Well it is always nice to chat with co-workers in a more relaxed environment than the hallways or staff rooms. I have two special co-workers that are a huge part of my life. Without them I am sure I would not enjoy Okisho quite as much as I do: Kenney and Yukky. Here they are with me.

A Happy Christmas Surprise

So my mom phoned me on Christmas night. I think it was almost midnight when she called, but I was still 'awake.' We have decided to talk sometime when I'm more coherent, though. The next morning, I was already at work, just getting ready to start a busy day (see previous post). My phone rang, and I figured it was someone from "back home" since the display didn't show any number. Well, it was my brother, Ash.

They are so cool... we chatted for a minute or two, and then Myles came on the phone. "Trevor? I'm gonna be a brother." (He says this mostly coherently, but I thought maybe my ears were deceiving me.) So he repeats it, and then gives the phone to his mom. "Did I hear him right?" And the answer, "Yep. We're expecting in August." WOW!

Congratulations, Ash and Nancy! And Myles, too! I'm so excited that you will be a big brother! Thanks for the best Christmas present of the year!

Bunkei Year-End Party

I work in the department of Humanities at my school, also known as Bunkei. We have 80 11th graders and we all love them dearly. ("We" is Mr. Suzuki - Kenney, Mrs. Higa - Yukky, me, Mr. Enoki - Mr. E, Miss Kawahara - Sayaka, and others.) Well, we decided to throw them a little party the day after Christmas, because they worked so hard all semester, and probably didn't want to endure another 3 hours of English classes before the break. So we created a few games, and then a special guest appeared: EnoSanta! Mr. Enoki is a big man, and the kids see him as somewhat of a teddy-bear. So he put on a Santa costume and delivered candy to them all. It was a special moment for the kids. Then, he gave them an encouraging message and a song. Great way to end the semester! I look forward to 3 more months of working with these kids!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gift Hop 2008

On Sundays we usually have W2 - Worship and Word. The teachers of the Word are either Dan Pallmann or myself, but this Sunday we did something a little different. Pastor Tim had a vision to reach out to the breakdancers and hip-hoppers of Okinawa. So he invited a breakdancing crew (Convention Crew) and a rapper (Ricky Gentile) to perform. His band, Hakugaijin, also did a set, and Tim shared from his heart about the true meaning of Christmas, the greatest gift: Jesus Christ. It was a really blessed night. People were ministered to, and got to enjoy the talents of today's youngsters. Praise the Lord for fresh vision.


Friday, December 26, 2008

1, 2, サン!夕祭 at Okisho

Last Saturday after school, the kids had their annual "talent show" type of thing. It was a lot of fun... the Nashiro father-son unit performed some harmonica/jazz band stuff, and there were various bands, dances, and comedy routines. I was so tired but still managed to enjoy the performances. You kind of get surprised though, because the kids that you least expect to break out into stuff are actually really skilled! One kid, who I thought spoke NO English (and he probably doesn't), did lead vocals for a Sum 41 song! I was blown away, even though I don't care for the band (though they are Canadian).


Thursday, December 25, 2008


Nope, I'm just a fun guy (fungi)!
Hahaha, Merry Christmas everyone!

One cute kid...

I'm such a tease. One of these days I'll actually post a pic of Tim and Ayu and Masaki... but here's another of the cutest kids you'll ever meet. His name's Towa. He's so lovable, and plays well with everyone - boy or girl, man or woman. So since I don't have a nephew on this continent, I have to live vicariously through other people's kids. Thanks Nozomi for always trusting me with Towa. (Oh, and in the background of the 2nd pic is Alondra, the most hard-to-get, prima donna 5 year old I've ever met!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tokyo School Trip, Day 3

Well, this is it. The trip was really long but really short. I had a great time getting to know new students. I also got to see sights I never had before, and do things I never got to before. The final day we woke up, had our final breakfast, and then headed out to Ueno Park.

Ueno Park had a special 'bacteria' exhibition, which the students were forced to check out. It was probably the one thing on the whole trip that was boring. Now I am interested in almost all things unknown to me. But this was one thing I could not fake an interest in! Especially on the last day! Well, I tried to hang out with the funny girls, to make the exhibition a little more bearable. And it was! Riko is hilarious, and Mikoto (in the wheelchair) was also pretty funny. She and the tour guide and the nurse got real close over the course of the trip.

Then most of the students headed to Ueno Zoo... and so I went too. They have a good range of animals. I am not a huge zoo fan (animals in captivity) but I am fascinated by the animal world. In fact, I am probably going to order the Planet Earth DVD series... God has made an amazing variety of animals!!! Well, it was good times.

Finally, we had lunch at Odaiba, a famous new development in Tokyo. The food was kind of lame, but it was cool because there was a large convention of high schoolers from all over the world checking out Tokyo at the same time as us, so we took some pictures with them, and the kids were all excited.

I was initially so disappointed about being placed on this Hokkaido trip, but in the end I had such an amazing time that I would not trade in the experience and memories for any of the other trips (Korea, Finland, London/Paris)! Thanks to Mr. Hamasaki, Ms. Matayoshi and Mr. Kabashima, as well as the tour guides, bus guides, nurse, and all the students, for making this an unforgettable week in my life!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tokyo School Trip, Day 2

Today the kids had a day to get away from the teachers, away from bus guides (though the boys were happy with ours) and into a city that has all sorts of idiosyncrasies. I got to see some of the kids' pictures, and it looks like they all had a great, safe time. That's the beauty of Tokyo - while it's huge, the crime rate is really low for its size. The kids were always in groups, and managed to all get back on time, with the exception of one group, who got punished the next day.

So I headed out and did my own thing. The first and last things I learned while in Tokyo: the subway/train system is VERY complicated, and experience is the only way to become savvy at traveling through the city. I met up with my good buddy Mike, who's a missionary in Tokorozawa (about 30 minutes by train from Tokyo). We went to Starbucks and chatted about life in a country that is so different from our own. About life as single guys in their early 30s (sorry to reveal your age to the masses, Mikey!), about teaching English, about teaching the Bible, about future missions possibilities, and about iPods and cell phones. It was a sweet time of fellowship, and I look forward to hanging out with Mike at the start of January for a few days, instead of a couple of hours!

Then it was off to lunch with Yumi. I have known Yumi since she was 21 years old... I won't say when that was, but we'll just suffice to say I was also a young whipper-snapper at that time! So Yumi's up in Tokyo working for a company that wouldn't even give her the morning or afternoon (or evening on that day, for that matter) off to spend with a good old friend! So we had lunch together at a place that served Japanese soba. Neither of us care much for soba mainland-style, so we ordered tempura. It came so late that Yumi had to leave before finishing the meal!

Next, I went on a "personal" mission. You see, in our English textbooks at school, there's a feature on an inn called "Sawanoya", so I went to see it and take pictures and interview the owner. It was a BLAST!

Finally, despite faulty directions and the fact that I could have WALKED there instead of taking 3 subways, I got to visit with Chad for a few minutes. Literally a few minutes! It was unfortunate but we had fun anyways.

My day off in Tokyo was not one of sightseeing, but catching up with friends. Thank the Lord for giving me great friends, and that they all had a bit of time to see me!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tokyo School Trip, Day 1

We flew the two hours from Sapporo to Tokyo, and immediate hopped on the bus to Tokyo Tower. Our bus guide was a beautiful young lady, I mean all the boys were going CRAZY! Well anyways, we had lunch at Tokyo Tower, but were not allowed to go up the elevator and check out the view from the top. Talk about a tease! Then we headed to the Tokyo National Modern Art Gallery. I was floored by some of the stuff in there, though a true lover of art would have undoubtedly been underwhelmed. But I actually appreciated art for the first time in my life. What makes this art? Who says this is any better than what a 3rd-grader could draw/paint? Why did the author choose to accentuate just this person, and just in this color? What's with the use of all curvy lines? What's with the choice of pen/brush? What about the background? Why so much detail? Why so little detail? Why no facial expression? And so on.

Then we drove through Tokyo and saw the Imperial Palace (I think?), and other sites. Our hotel, the Asakusa View Hotel, was really nice and right near one of the most famous temples/shrines in all of Japan! I didn't get out to see it, but I did take a picture of it. Anyways, it was a great day. It ended late in the night, when all the girls got together at midnight to surprise Minami, whose birthday was the following day.

Up tomorrow: the kids go out on their own in the largest city in the world. Crazy? You bet! Crazy fun? Uh huh! Freedom for the teachers, too? YAAAAAAA!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hokkaido School Trip - Day 4

So this is the day of transition. We woke up in the morning, ate a whole lot more delicious food, and then it was off to the airport. This is a picture of me and Mr. Hamasaki on the bus. He teaches Japanese at Okisho, and is a veteran of all things. He was the main man in charge on the trip, which made things much easier for me. I really appreciate all of his help on the trip. Next stop: Tokyo!

Hokkaido School Trip - Day 3

The romantic city of Otaru. Home of the music box. Beautiful streets, architecture, and a canal down the middle of town. Delicious food. What's not to like about this town? We arrived around mid-morning, and the kids had a few hours to walk around, sight-see, shop, and eat snacks. Then we headed to a delicious ramen (Chinese noodles) shop, and finally ended the day with a look at the Hokkaido Development Museum.

We switched hotels, staying at a beautiful one right in Sapporo, right by Odori Park, at which they have winter illumination. The hotel is said to be one frequented by famous people when they are up there. Well, after we checked in (almost forgot, we got to eat Gengis Khan - barbecued lamb - for dinner), the students got to hang out at the park for a bit in the evening. Good times!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hokkaido School Trip - Day 2

So we got our ski gear (minus skis and poles) sent ahead to our hotel rooms so that we could try it all on before actually hitting the slopes. I was so excited! You know, it's a good thing it was snowing when we arrived in Sapporo - it snowed all day and night, and even that morning when we made it to Fu's Ski School. Because without that snow, it would have been impossible for us to enjoy skiing!

Well, the morning consisted of the kids learning how to stand, propel themselves forward, stop, turn, and so on. And so I just kind of went along with them, watching them and having fun tracking their progress. We went inside for lunch, a delicious curry, and then hit the slopes for real in the afternoon! Of course I didn't fall all day, though a lot of the kids did, and unfortunately one girl even twisted something pretty bad - she spent the rest of the trip being pushed around in a wheelchair.

The evening consisted of more awesome food, and chilling in our rooms. Well, the teachers "worked" but the students sure had fun! A great day overall! Next stop - Otaru!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hokkaido School Trip - Day 1

I arrived at the airport at 6:20am, and was met by about 90 students and 3 teachers - most of whom I did not know. Many of whom I had never even seen around the school! Well, these would be my students for the next 6 days, my responsibility, and the ones that I would learn to love.

We got on the plane, landed in Tokyo, waited awhile longer, then got on another plane, this time to Sapporo. From there we got on the tour buses, but not before seeing and experiencing the cold and snow! This was the first snowfall for Sapporo this season, and for many students, the first of their lives! For me, it was a nostalgic moment. Ah, snow. So beautiful, so white, so cold.

So we drove to a place called Poronokoputan or something like that. It is the Hokkaido equivalent of Ryukyu Mura, which is a tourist place that shows what life was like for the area's original inhabitants. Cool stuff. They showed us traditional dancing, instruments, language, and we even got to try stuff out, too! I made a mukkuri (Ainu diggeridoo) and a lot of students did the same, but a few tried traditional Ainu stitching. It was pretty fun. Then it was off to the hotel to rest for the next day - skiing!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


It's a beard! And WHAT a beard! This is me after a month and a couple days of not shaving. Not bad, eh? We'll see if I last the entire 3 months that I said I would leave it (mostly) untouched...


American Thanksgiving - アメリカの感謝祭

Many of you know that last Thursday was Thanksgiving Day in the States. Well, since we have a lot of Americans at our church, we went all out - 3 turkeys, 2 hams, a whole lotta mashed potatoes, and all the fixin's went down and gave us all reasons to be thankful. We also had games, a music performance (Hakugaijin, and Hakugaijin feat. J-Spence), and a special message out of John 4. I'm so thankful that the Lord has given me a wonderful family in Christ, a sweet job, a car that doesn't stall spontaneously TOO often, and forgiveness. Oh, and for trials... they're the only way we grow. So yeah, it was a good way to reflect on God's goodness and have fun with a whole bunch of people.


New Daddy

Well, as of 4:24pm today, he's not yet a daddy, but the time will come soon... Ayu's ready for it, she had a baby shower a few weeks ago! So last Monday evening, the boys all gathered at the Café for Tim's "daddy shower." Pastor Tom did a great job of setting it all up. Tim had a special shirt made for him, wore a special hat, and we even participated in some fun games. Diaper races, bottle speed drinking (Sanpincha, which I suppose could pass for urine if you were to just look at it), and "find the treasure" diaper game (featuring peanut butter). It was a blast. Then we headed off to Blue Seal for ice cream, and then the guys went to Starbucks for more fun. Pray for Tim and Ayu and baby (I heard the name the other day, but I'll wait 'till it's official before I unveil it!).