Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fun in Ishikawa

Today I was invited to spend some time with the Pallmann family up in Ishikawa. It was only my second time up there, and first time in 2010. Not because of a lack of invitations or chances, mind you. They hold prayer meeting there twice a month! But anyways, we ate delicious pita pockets and salad and fruit salad and pepper chips. Yum! Thanks, Debe and Dan, for preparing a great lunch!

Then we played a board game with the girls - I think Emi kind of wanted to play, because while we were just sitting around talking, she plunked the game down on the table and started setting it up! So we played, and Mika beat us all! Finally, Dan and I talked about the upcoming fantasy baseball team, and then we took some pics, and I was on my way. Thanks, Pallmann family! You have always been a huge blessing to me, and I love your family so much! I will miss you guys! May God continue to lead and guide you!



Revenge of the Nabe

Too many nabes in too short a time? Josh and I decided we needed to finish off the nabe ingredients I had bought for the Sunday evening gathering here. The result? Josh and I nearly finished eating what it took 6 people to eat on Sunday! OK, we only got about 2/3 done, and in our defense (or maybe in defense of the 6) there were some rather small eaters on Sunday. Still, we did our best, but Josh crashed out while I was doing all I could to put down the rest of the food. It was GOOD, but man! I have been eating TOO MUCH in the past week!


Many favourites all at once

Yesterday I had Kenney and Yukky over for lunch. We ate homemade pizza. Drank Sasoriza milk tea. Had cookies and cake for dessert. Can a man ask for anything more? Wow, two of my favourite people, sharing my favourite meal, drinking my favourite drink, and having one of my favourite desserts. Perfect time! Thanks, Kenney and Yukky! Love you!


Monday, March 29, 2010


No words, just picture.

Nabe Party - Part ??


The nabe parties simply do not come to an end in this house! Yesterday I had 5 special guests over to enjoy yet another pot of vegetables and meat (again, tastes a lot better than it sounds): AKI, who was visiting from Saitama; RIE, who was visiting from Miyako; TAMIKO, who likes chocolate and feet (maybe not in that order, and maybe not together) more than anyone I know; NAOKO, who has to be one of the funniest people ever; and JOE, the token American. The food was unbelievably good, and the laughs were plentiful, to the point where my stomach has never received the kind of attention it got yesterday! Thank God for great friends and a blessed time of food and fellowship!

Introducing... (Part 2)

Love is a beautiful thing, isn't it? Paul Smith and Natsuki Iha became one on Saturday, at a beautiful ceremony and reception on Camp Kinser. The groom looked majestic, and the bride looked stunning. The music was beautiful. The ring-bearer was his usual charming self. The flower girls were cute. God was glorified as His beloved son and daughter held hands and pledged to be loyal to each other for the rest of their lives. I don't know what else I can say to capture the beauty of the day. So with that, here are a few pictures to keep your eyes entertained:

The Beautiful Bride: Natsuki Iha (now Smith) / The Usher: Chuck Robb

The Groom: Paul Smith / The Best Man: Rob Smith / The Ring Bearer: Asa Ruiz

Maid of Honour Kayo Neely

Pastor Tommy Ruiz

Musicians Emi, Andrew and Amanda

Ring bearer Asa Ruiz

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Okisho Bunkei Bye-bye

Many of you already know that I had my last day at Okisho on Friday. It truly was a bittersweet kind of feeling to be walking out of there for the last time. On one hand, I am excited about what the Lord is going to do in my life as I move to Hokkaido and take all my orders from Him. Also, (with all due respect to the school) I spent many days (months, really) frustrated at not being able to use a lot of the knowledge I was acquiring at grad school because of Okisho's curriculum. (By the way, it's an excellent school for students who want to get into elite universities, but I was not free to teach in a way that I saw as fit for the students' future. Sad.)

Kenney & Yukky - they were like a brother and sister to me - even fought like siblings!

On the other hand (沖尚生のみなさん、あの熟語わかる?「一方では』というつなぎ語だよ!)I absolutely loved my students and co-workers. I think about each graduating class I taught at Okisho (total of 4 groups of students), and can't help but laugh and smile when I think about the wonderful minds I had the opportunity to teach. As for my co-workers, I enjoyed talking not just with the English teachers but also the math, social studies, and Japanese teachers from the Humanities department. Here are some pictures of the people I had the pleasure of working every day with. (There are also several teachers who were not around when photos were being taken. In fact, three of the teachers I respect the most - Mr. Enoki, Mr. Yamaga, and Mrs. Chon, are not in these pics.)

Akemi (Classic Japanese) the Tea Ceremony Expert and Yonamine (Math) the Pun Master!
茶道の専門家の明美T(古典)と ダジャレ王の與那嶺(数学)


Gucchi (Japanese) the Smiliest Man Alive and Aoki (Japanese) the Host with the Most
いつもニコニコしているぐっち(国語)と いつも家に誘ってくれた青木先生(国語)


Monday, March 22, 2010

今晩は特別なボブ(アズ ラザーズ)の集まりだった。来週の月曜日にアブラハム(愛称:マレーブラハム)は千葉県に引っ越しします。そして、火曜日に知行君(愛称:トモ)は故郷(山口県)に帰ります。二人トモ最高のキリストにある兄弟です。これからも神様の導きによってたくさんの人にイエス様の愛を述べ伝える機会が与えられる事を信じます。また、みんなソフトバンク同士なのでタダトモだよ!キープインタッチ!

Tonight was a special BOB (Brothers Of Boaz) gathering. Two of our beloved brothers are moving up to mainland Japan next week: Abraham (a.k.a. Malaybraham) is going to Chiba Prefecture (near Tokyo Disneyland) as an intern, and Tomoyuki (a.k.a. Tomo) is returning home to Yamaguchi Prefecture (near nothing, really). I have been really encouraged by the friendship that I have been able to have with these two brothers in Christ. I know you guys will be a blessing to many people in your respective new prefectures. And since we're all Softbank users, we can always keep in touch for FREE! God bless you guys!

And thanks to everyone for making tonight fun - delicious food and great fellowship!

This is Nostalgia!

Today I got to see two of my favourite people from my days on Ie-jima. In case you didn't know, I left Ie-jima 10 years ago. TEN YEARS AGO. I GOT THERE 12 years ago! AMAZING! (OK, enough yelling!) So anyways, when I first got to Ie-jima, I was teaching English conversation club at the two elementary schools, and there was this one little girl in the fifth grade who would ask me how to say EVERYTHING in English. I mean, she just would not leave me alone! I have a video of it! (VHS so I can't upload it.) Anyways, Mariko (Tamashiro) Voltz went on to study abroad in the States a few times, and 3 years ago (at age 19!) got married to Tom, lived in the States for almost 2 years, and is now back on island.

Less than a year into my time on Ie-jima, the new school year brought in a new batch of teachers, one of whom was Yoshimi (Nishime) Arakaki. She instantly became my favourite co-worker and person with whom I team-taught. In fact, that summer, she and 3 other teachers took a week out of their busy summer schedule to visit me and my family in Canada! It was awesome! Then when my parents came out to visit me, Yoshimi made sure they felt welcome, and helped translate things for them. As a final "team-task" Yoshimi and I helped translate some materials for the Ernie Pyle 100th Anniversary Memorial back in the summer of 2000. Remember that, Yoshimi?

So today I got to have lunch with these two wonderful women and their families: Shigehiko and Ryuto and Shuto, and Tom. Thanks for the great time hanging out together! I am blessed to have been given this chance to meet you again! Thanks for lunch, Tom & Mariko! Thanks for the hat, Yoshimi & Shigehiko!




Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vegetables in a Pot

What is 鍋物 (nabemono)? According to the best Japanese-English (and vice-versa) online dictionary, ALC, it translates as:
  • (Japanese) nabe
  • one-pot dish cooked at the table
  • winter cuisine served in the pot
According to the best Japanese-English (and vice-versa) iPod application dictionary, Kotoba, it translates as:
  • stew, food cooked in a pot
It doesn't do the food justice, though. Nabemono is: (a) healthy; (b) tasty; (c) filling; (d) a food that requires you to share with others. It's the perfect food to eat in winter, as it warms you right down to your core.

Tonight was the sequel to a nabemono night I hosted back in early December. The members were the same: Kentaro, Emi, and Naoko. All Japanese people! (Right?) It was awesome - the food tasted good, and Naoko had us laughing the entire night! Quote of the night: "This was my first time trying this kind of nabe" (said before eating the first bite).

The night ended with prayer, and I know we all felt thankful to have been given this opportunity to hang out as a family in Christ once more! Thank you, Jesus!







Friday, March 19, 2010

Big Radish Flower



Tonight was my first visit to Daikon no Hana (Big Radish Flower) in 7 months. The food there was awesome as always, and organic as always! We were down one member - Kenney had soccer obligations - but we still had a great time chatting with one another!

Teppei - the man who knows a lot of things about a lot of things. Is there anything you DON'T know, man? Yukky - the quiet one who listens to everything that everyone else has to say - and even laughs at my weird sense of humour - thanks for making me feel like I'm funny! It was fun hearing your running story tonight!

I really hope I can do dinner again with this same group, but what with the Okisho staff changing every year, this might have been the last chance. Still, there's always next week!

All Vegetables - 全野菜

Oops, wrong kanji! It should be 「前夜祭』meaning, "Night before the festival." Okisho is having its annual school festival, and as always, the day before features a stage night (well, it took place in the morning, but whatever!)... students and teachers alike get a chance to show off their talents to the rest of the school. The stage night started as it always does, with a performance by the Vice President (Masaichiro Nashiro) and his jazz band.

Then, a harmonica performance by the school president, Mr. Masajiro Nashiro. I love how the kids cheer him on as if he were their grandpa or something. Well, for one kid in the audience this was the case, but anyways, for two minutes there, he has 600+ grandkids cheering him on!

Then the hosts come out and introduce a plethora of performances: breakdancers, anime dancers, bands, karaoke, baton dance, devil stick performers, jugglers, baseball team dances, soccer team dances (how come boys always want to dress up like girls and do a Morning Musume dance?), and so on. It was an incredible time, as always! Okisho is indeed an awesome school, and these kids have a lot of hidden talents that (unfortunately) only come out once a year! Or maybe I just need to spend my off-hours at the school to see them at their liveliest?




Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No apologies... apologetics!

This past 6 days, we have been blessed with two special guests all the way from Williamsburg, Virginia. Pastor Tom Hallman and one of his brothers in ministry, Brian, came out and blessed us with: a special message at our men's breakfast, a Sunday morning message, and an all-day apologetics conference today.

What is apologetics? Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine." Well, I wish I could have been in attendance, but today was a regular work day for me. But I got there for the final 15 minutes of the final session, just in time to take a group picture (see above), a picture with Pastor Tom (see below), and hang out with whoever was around.

So, for those of you who read this and are Christians, how do you defend the faith? Have you had to? What's your best argument for:
1) the existence of God
2) the truth of Jesus' death/resurrection
3) the exclusivity of salvation through Christ?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Pray for BOB

BOB is not my friend. BOB is not a person. BOB is Brothers of Boaz. Brothers of Boaz is a men's discipleship group. Mondays, 7:30pm, my house. For the next 3 Mondays, anyways.

And that's one of the things I need you to pray about, please. Where will BOB call home starting April 12th? Who will take over BOB?

God has been so good... it's such a joy to be able to host the guys once a week, sing praises to the Lord, read His Word, pray, and then fellowship with one another. I know God will provide a new leader and a new home/meeting place. But we could use prayer! Thanks, everyone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Few of my Favourite People

Slowly the news is trickling out... and so people are already starting to say their good-byes. Chara (pseudonym, right pic) does not attend Calvary Chapel Ginowan, but made it out to the White Day celebration last night. She has such amazing artistic and cooking abilities, and it's been a blessing to get to know her over the years. Apparently for the first year she knew me, she had no idea I could speak Japanese! Anyways, God bless you as you continue to serve at YWAM or wherever the Lord sends you next!

And then there's my Okinawan mom, Hiromi-san (left pic). Always smiling, always looking to the Lord... and always able to make me laugh! Hiromi-san has 4 beautiful daughters, but no beautiful sons... so I came along and brought down the overall aesthetics of the family, but added a male presence! Also in the picture with us is her grandson... oh man, I forget his name! Anyways, we had a blast playing together, too!

Slowly it's hitting me, folks... my time here is limited! But I'm so excited to see what God has in store next!

White Day

In Japan, there is a lot less shame about turning Valentine's Day into a commercial "holiday" than there is in the West. Tradition is that women will give chocolate to the men in their lives on February 14th - whether the man is a true loved one (in which case he may receive homemade - also called 本命 - chocolate) or just a co-worker or friend (in which case he would receive a generic - also called 義理 - chocolate). Some women will give out chocolate to as many as 20 men - so it can be rather costly.

Then a month later, to add to the commercial shamelessness, the Japanese (and I believe the Koreans as well) have a day called White Day - a day on which men return the favour to the women that gave them chocolate. Traditionally they should give white chocolate, which is said to be sweeter and therefore more well-liked by women. Someone also told me that we are to give 3 times as much as we received! I don't know about that...

In any case, last month we had a Valentine's Day special dinner at the church... and last night we did a White Day dinner as well. It was wonderful - as always, the food was delicious! We have a lot of talented cooks in our fellowship! There were bands playing all night, little games/contests/door prizes as well, and a message about God's love, presented by Tom Cotton. It was a blessed night - perhaps my final potluck at Calvary Chapel Ginowan? Went out with a bang, anyways!

My Favourite Baseball Player - 1 year later

You might remember me posting something about my favourite baseball player last year around this time. It's spring training, and baseball fever is back. Just what is the man up to this year?

Well, he has returned to Okinawa after a stint in mainland Japan that just didn't go according to plans. It wasn't long before a company team called Enagic scouted him and signed him to a deal. He leaves every morning before 7am for practice, and gets home around 1pm, all tired out. I have been blessed to witness him in action both at practice and at games, and I have to admit he is getting better all the time. Control is better, pitch selection is better, and command of the language is also on the rise! Look for this guy in white (or gray) and blue, and remember to get an autograph from #30 on the Enagic Bluehats - Robert Eugene Wunderlich!

God bless you as you continue to reach out to the baseball boys with the love of Jesus Christ!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Kitaya - the 3rd post

Last year, me and the Okisho crew (Kenney, Yukky, Sayaka and Kaba) went to Daikon no Hana for dinner a lot. It's a great place that boasts one of the best spreads of organic food on island - all you can eat! A little pricey, but worth it!

This year Kenney introduced us (Yukky, Teppei and myself) to a different all-you-can-eat. It's a yakiniku place called Kitaya. We first went there for Teppei's birthday back in May, and have been back several times. I don't know why, but I always take a picture or two when there... just to post up here and remind everyone that food tastes good, and that we're all still (usually) getting along great!

This post is special because it is likely going to be our last time going to Kitaya together as an English department. But we're planning one last Daikon no Hana run for the week after next, so I'll be sure to post a pic or two of that as well!