Saturday, December 17, 2011

American Idol

This post's title does not refer to the television show in particular, but to the general idea that we (North) Americans are idol worshipers. We may not want to admit it, but we are.

Let me ask you a question: What is your passion? What do you get really excited about? Whom do you talk to the most? Whose advice are you quick to take? What words do you have memorized, flowing from your mouth more often than not?

I have a passion for sports. I get really excited about the Jets, my fantasy baseball team, and new Switchfoot albums. I talk to my fiancee the most (in my estimation -- I have never measured my talking time). I am quick to take the advice of people that I respect. And I would say I have the lyrics to my favorite songs memorized, and I can quote them or sing them to anyone at almost any given time.

I have a passion for God, but sometimes I think sports get more of my love.
I get excited when I hear about people receiving eternal life, but I probably shout out for joy more when I beat my rivals at fantasy sports.
I talk to the Lord, whenever I think of it, but I probably still speak more to my lifelong partner.
I know the Bible fairly well, in my own estimation, but I probably still have more music data stored in my head than I do Bible data.

So what?

Exodus 20:3 - You shall have no other gods before Me.

Back in the day, those "gods" were wooden or metal statues that people bowed down to. People would get all worked up, sent into a frenzy. They would belt out words in loud voices, they would dance, they would cry, they would release all sorts of passion towards these statues.

CRAZY, isn't it? Who could even THINK of doing such a thing? It's absurd!

I do not have statues of the Winnipeg Jets. But I do have a t-shirt, and I used to have posters and jerseys, among other memorabilia.

I do have a sort of statue for my fantasy baseball team... well, it's a trophy that I need to send away to this year's champion.

I do not have a shrine to Switchfoot or any other band, but I do have all their music, and it's in pretty heavy rotation.

I have never bowed down before my fiancee in worship, but I do think about her a whole lot.

Do any of these things make me an idolater? Good question, in my estimation.

Every Winnipeg Jets game at the MTS Centre features 15,001 fans screaming at the top of their lungs, getting into a frenzy. Especially when their beloved team scores a goal or wins a game. The passion in those arenas is unparalleled in the world of NHL hockey, according to many. There is such adoration for the players, it borders on idolatry.

I have only seen Switchfoot in concert once (at a festival, and I was a good hundred yards from the stage), but I know from seeing live footage that fans get pretty intense. Lots of sweat is poured out, lots of people scream and cry, and many even fantasize about spending time with the band members. Just shaking hands with them is a big deal, one that has a lot of people losing track of who they are.

(Just as an aside, I can recall experiencing this twice. Once, when I was 16, I met members of the band Slaughter, and shook their hands, and did not know what to say to them. I was completely star-struck. Also, around 5 years ago, I saw legendary pastor Chuck Smith in person, and I was so flabbergasted that I could not say a word.)

So at music concerts, too, people are practically idolizing the bands they are watching. It's crazy.

I am not saying any of this to condemn others. If anything, I have to point the finger at myself first. I am an idolater. I put others before God. It is something I hope to change about myself, though. I believe God can, and will, change me.

It all begins with an admission that I am an idolater. If I make any kind of excuse, or belittle my behavior, saying "everyone does it" or "but they're a Christian band" or "but I still read my Bible a few minutes each day and I pray every night, too" then I am not in a repentant state of mind anymore.

So I some out clean, and admit it to you all. I am an idolater. I have broken God's first commandment. Lord, have mercy on me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Problem With Posting

Many of you know that I am a bit of a sports fanatic. Have been for as long as I can remember. I used to lay on the kitchen floor with the newspaper spread open to the sports section when I was like 5-6 years old. I would read the latest statistics about the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Winnipeg Jets, and even a little bit about other sports stars like Magic Johnson and some new guy named Jordan or something. I could even count by sevens before I got too deep into elementary school, because as you all know, that's how many points a touchdown is in football.

Anyhow, lately in the news of MLB (Major League Baseball, for those of you who are not into sports), Japanese phenom pitcher Yu Darvish has agreed to let his Japanese team (the Nippon Ham Fighters, who play in Sapporo) accept bids from major league teams for his services. See, he is still under contract with the Fighters, but wants to play in the best league in the world. So any MLB team that wants to sign him to a contract, must first pay the Fighters organization in order to gain the right to negotiate a contract with the pitcher. This money is referred to as "posting."

The problem is this: if he were a free agent, he could leave Japan and the Nippon Professional Baseball league without the Fighters receiving a yen of compensation from the major leagues. Not a problem yet, but... if a major league team wants to sign him, they are looking at paying upwards of $30 million just to get exclusive rights to sign him to a contract. So what happens? The major league team then has $30 million less to pay Darvish himself. The result is that his contract is significantly less than it would be if he were a free agent. Make sense? Let's say the Toronto Blue Jays win the bidding war. (They are one of a few teams that are said to have a serious shot at him.) And let's say they have $80 million to play with, over a period of, say, 5 years. Well, average that out, and it's $16 million per year. But wait... $30 million goes to the Fighters, leaving $50 million for Darvish. Now, $10 million per year is a pretty hefty salary, but when you consider it's 37.5% less than he would get were he a free agent, well, that's a pretty significant cut.

Why am I wasting so many words to explain what's happening to a baseball player that has nothing to do with my life? (Well actually, my friend's daughter used to see him jogging around their neighborhood up in Sapporo, so he is *sort of* connected to me!)

Because I experienced something similar in my own life lately. Let me explain. It's Christmas time, and I have family back in Canada. To be honest, none of my family, other than my nephews, is getting presents from me. It's just the way our family does things. We have all the material possessions we could possibly want, so instead of spending time and energy and money on getting each other gifts we really don't need, we just skip the commercialism of the season.

Back to my point. My nephews are getting gifts from me. And I have X-amount of money to spend on their gifts. But because of the distance between us, I cannot just spend 100% of my allotted capital on their presents. I also have to consider "posting" costs. So even though they deserve expensive presents, roughly 37.5% (haha, just using the same number as above) of my money goes to the post office, for the service of delivering my gift to Canada safely. Perhaps one of these years, I will find a way around this, and my nephews will get a closer approximation to what they deserve, instead of gifts that have a "posting" cost factored in.

Either way, Merry Christmas to my wonderful nephews, my brothers, my "in-laws" and my parents in Canada. And my friends and family all around the world. It's still a little early for those words, but I figured I'd better send you season's greetings while I think of it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Technology - Blessing or Society's Downfall?

These days, I have been seeing a lot of people walking to and from work with headphones in their ears. And I am one of those people.

Then I get on the train and see tons of people sending texts, playing games, among other things, all on their smart phones. And I am one of those people.

Then I get on the bus and see more of the same. And I am one of those people.

It surprises me when I see people in their sixties with headphones in their ears. Why? At least my excuse is, "I grew up with this kind of thing -- granted, my first one was a cassette player, but I have been listening to music on my hand-held player since I was like 10 years old!" It seems like mp3 players, iPods, etc. are not just common among the younger generation. (Dare I still group myself in with the younger generation?)

I wonder... are we ever going to miss the sounds of nature? The sound of a stiff breeze blowing through a wind tunnel or a city street? The sound of leaves gently flapping against each other? The sound of the cicadas' shrill in the summer? (We won't EVER miss that one!) Even the sound of a child crying out excitedly when he sees a bug or finds 100 yen on the sidewalk?

We get so absorbed in our own worlds sometimes, that we fail to see beauty around us. I think it bugs me most when I see people texting while walking. I am going to make an effort to not do this anymore. I want to look around, let my eyes take in nature, take in people, take in the world around me, instead of the 2.4-inch screen that seems to get too much of my attention.

The song "Headphones" by Jars of Clay comes to mind as I ponder this subject. These words so often make me feel a little melancholy, and I really hope this kind of thing does not become too common in the world, although I am afraid it has already become so. At least in Japan.

I don't have to hear it, if I don't want to
I can drown this out, pull the curtains down on you
it's a heavy world, it's too much for me to care
If I close my eyes, it's not there

With my headphones on, with my headphones on
With my headphones on, with my headphones on

We watch television...but the sound is something else
Just a song played against the drama,
so the hurt is never felt
I take in the war-fires, and I'm
chilled by the current events
it's so hopeless, but there's a pop song in my

Headphones on, in my headphones on
With my headphones on, with my headphones on

At the Tube Stop, you sit down across from me
(I can see you looking back at me)
I think I know you
By the sad eyes that I see
I want to tell you (It's a heavy world)
Everything will be okay
You wouldn't hear it (I don't want to have to hear it)
So we go our separate ways...

With our headphones on, with our headphones on
With our headphones on, with our headphones on
I don't wanna be the one who tries to figure it out
I don't need another reason I should care about you
You don't want to know my story
You don't want to own my pain
Living in a heavy, heavy world
And there's a pop song in my head
I don't want to have to hear it

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Power of Words

I have to say, recently I have really been enjoying reading again. One particular book has gotten a lot of love from me. (No, not the Bible, though I do love it and have been giving it love, too.) The book Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears is so real... so theologically sound, but so presently relevant, and funny, and thought provoking, and everything I like about non-fiction theological books. A few snippets:

"I have never had a suicidal thought, but in the darkest seasons of life I do find myself daydreaming about Jesus' return, some people getting loaded into a wood chipper, the curse being lifted, and the never-ending sunshine promised in Revelation so I won't have to put the top back on my Jeep. In the meantime, the feces and the fan are certain to continue interfacing until the day Jesus gets back and cleans up the mess we've made."

"In the depths of my soul is a deep and profound love for righteous judgment and justice. I do not labor under the silly myth that deep down we are all good people and that our sins are simply occasional aberrations. No, we are rebels, lawbreakers, Satan's minions, fools, and evildoers without exception, beginning with the guy I see brushing his teeth in my mirror every morning. That fact is blinded by our own hypocrisy. We are prone to clearly see the sin that others commit against us and the corresponding pain that it causes. Subsequently, when we are sinned against, we tend to complain, yell, or honk our horn because we refuse to sit idly by without demanding justice. Conversely, when we sin, we cry with equal volume, not for justice, but rather for mercy, which is only a further indication of how corrupt and hypocritical we are."

These are just two paragraphs of a book that is packed with powerful words... some encouraging, some convicting, some eye-opening, some laughter-inducing, some painfully hard to read because they're sad truths about humanity's depravity. But through it all, Driscoll points our eyes to Jesus, and how His existence, death and resurrection (all facts, by the way) cover the multitudes of our sins, and gives us hope and reason to keep living. My favourite chapter was probably the second-to-last, entitled What Difference Has Jesus Made in History? Amazing to read in plain English just what an impact Jesus has had on the world as a whole, let alone the lives of millions upon millions of individuals. Read this book if you get the chance!

Monday, December 5, 2011

God Still Does Miracles

This morning, I woke up feeling warmer than I should have. The temperature outside was quite cool, after all, and I set the timer on my heater to turn on at 5:30am -- about 40 minutes before my wakeup time. But this morning, I felt a lot warmer than usual. I checked my cell phone to see if my alarm was about to go off. Uh-oh... the battery's dead!

I jumped out of bed and checked my clock. The time: 7:22am. I have to catch the 7:46am train to Ashiya if I want to get to work on time. I also stink and need to shave. And the train station is nearly a kilometer from my house. A 10-minute walk, if I take my usual long strides.

Somehow, despite having only 24 minutes to get from bed to presentable for work and to the station, I made it... with a few more seconds to spare than I do on some days! So ironically, I get to work on time, but sit at my desk, browsing e-mails or something, and end up late for class anyways. But fortunately, the students were also all late for class because of scheduling changes.

So the morning has been interesting and kind of weird, but I have come to the conclusion that this morning was nothing short of a miracle of God. Oops -- gotta go -- class is about to start!





Monday, November 14, 2011

The Power of Hyperbole

I have always liked music, and I have usually had an appreciation for poetry. Combine those and you get someone who loves song lyrics. When I listen to music, the words always make a difference to me. If the lyrics are good, I tend to like a song better even if it is not musically strong. If the lyrics are weak, I tend to like the song less despite its musicality.

Hyperbole is extreme exaggeration of something in order to make a point clearer. A good example of hyperbole in the Bible is when John said, "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25). While this statement may be "true"... if you really think about it, Jesus lived 33 years and spent 3 of those in ministry... so I do not think it would be impossible for "the world itself" to contain the books. BUT, the point John is trying to make is that Jesus' works were innumerable and incalculable. So great were they in number, that it astounds our minds to think about it.

Anyways, I have really been struck by a song lyric recently. It is in the song "I Can See Your Love" by Leeland. The song is pretty cool, with a great guitar lick and a vocal track to match it. But suddenly towards the end of the song, the tempo slows down and the following words are calmly delivered:

"Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of paper made
Every tree on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
Oh love of God, how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song..."

The powerful images that this creates in my mind are absolutely astounding, and it has reduced me to tears just thinking about how great His love is. The truth is, His love IS written across the skies, and every man SHOULD be a scribe (not necessarily writing, but transmitting/imparting His love in some way), and yet there is no way to contain or fully express the vastness of His love. I can't wait for the day when I meet Him and experience that love in its purest form, uninhibited by my pride and weak flesh.

Beautiful song lyrics, to say the least. What do you all think about them?

Editor's Post-Publishing Note: I just did a little "research" and discovered that this was originally a hymn (?) written by Frederick Martin Lehman. Alas, the English did sound a little old-fashioned. Incredible poetry, nonetheless!

Friday, October 21, 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog...

For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you have noticed that there has been relatively little written in the past three months. In fact, it took me an entire month to report on my 10-day trip to Canada recently.

Well, since moving to Kobe, I have started to value "privacy" a little more, and I have definitely had less desire (or need?) to "publicize" my life. The result is that I have not really put anything up on my blog. I feel like those who know me well, know my news. And those who don't know me well, well, you can try to get to know me better in a way that is less "public" or even "impersonal" as a blog. And for those of you who don't know me at all, well, your lone option will be to read through my blog archives a little. But really, I hope you have better things to do with your time!

So is this the end of "Toreba's Burogu"? Maybe. At least for now. And certainly its current format (pictures, videos, etc.) will be put on the shelf for a while. I hope you understand. I am so blessed that many of you took the time to read my blog over the years. I pray that somehow, you were blessed by it as well.



これで「Toreba's Burogu」の最後の投稿になりますか?それは、まだわかりません。が、現時点では、このブログをアップデートしようと思っていません。アップデートをするなら、前の形と違って、自分の考え、思っていることなどをメインにして、できごとやイベント、写真を少なくすると思っています。


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Dad

For a few days, we got to travel out to the countryside and visit with my pops. He has retired from his old profession and is now a golf course marshall, part-time. He LOVES his job -- what avid golfer wouldn't want to hang out at the course on his days off? So Dad took us out to his golf course one day, and we checked out the greenery. It was fun cruising around in golf carts, talking to golfers and Dad's co-workers. And of course, just hanging out with Dad is cool, too! Thanks, Dad! Perhaps you can bring your clubs over to Japan and get in a few rounds one of these years, eh? (That's my way of saying, "Come visit!")


My Mom

Most of you have either met my mom or seen pics of her before, I'm sure. Many of you are even Facebook friends with her, perhaps? Anyhow, the lady on the right is my Mom. The other lady is my lovely Auntie Marie -- my mom's baby sister. Well anyways, I was so delighted to be able to spend time with my mom on this trip back. She is a lovely lady that I look up to greatly and wow, I cannot express my thanks to her! Many of you sons out there can relate, I am sure. Moms are the BEST! Love you Mom! (Love you too, Auntie Marie!)


My Grandma

I was so blessed to be back in Canada for my grandma's 93rd birthday. Well, technically that was the day we left, but we celebrated a few days early. The whole family gathered, and we ate some good Mennonite staples -- watermelon and roll kuchen, along with some other delights. Anyways, with so many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, my grandma was so delighted to be in the presence of the family on this day. It may not show on her face here, but she really was happy! She is getting old, but still hanging in there. Happy Birthday, Grandma! Love you!

私のおばあちゃんは先月、93歳になりました。誕生日の3日前に、家族が集まりました。9人の子ども中7人が出席しました。他の2人は遠く住んでいるため、欠席しました。孫は26人くらいいますが、今日は、12人が来ました。そして、ひ孫は数えきれないので、統計をやめます(笑) とにかく、おばあちゃんは、みんなの顔が見れてすごく幸せだったそうです。この写真ではあんまりわからないかもしれませんけど、帰りに、「ステキなパーティーだったねぇ」と言ったそうです。おばあちゃんは少しずつ老いててしまっているけど、まだ強いですよ!おばあちゃん、大好き!お誕生日、おめでとうございます!続けておばあちゃんの健康と幸せを祈っています。

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where is it?

When I was a kid, we had the best house ever. It wasn't huge, and it wasn't even really pretty... but it had a lot of fun things for kids to do! Pool, trampoline, sauna, basketball hoop, big yard, slopes (for sledding in the winter), hockey rink (winter only, of course), chickens (first year only), lots of trees for climbing, a patio for chilling in, and more! Unfortunately, the "flood of the century" resulted in that house becoming a danger zone, and my parents were forced to move out of the area permanently. The government bought the property and sold the house. It is now somewhere in Manitoba, but not where it once was. so now when I go back to visit, all I see is this:

Sad, but I will always have great and fond memories of that home and my childhood. Thank You, Lord, for giving us humans the ability to remember things for years!


Go-Karting with the Nephews

One day in Winnipeg, my bro and his wife invited us to join them as they took their sons go-karting. It had been years since I did any go-karting myself -- I remember getting kicked out for reckless driving back in the day -- so I thought it would be fun. And it was! Myles took turns riding by himself on the kids track, and with us on the grown-up track. Damon rode with his mom. Pizza dinner after the intense riding -- who could ask for a better day?


Best Friends -- Canadian Version

Hard to believe I have known this guy since I was 8 years old. That's a lot of years already! Rick and I played on the same hockey team for a year, but never really talked a lot through elementary and junior high (we are a year apart in age). Then in high school we started hanging out, and before we knew it, we were best friends. Well, it was a foursome that eventually got pared down to us two. But anyways, Rick has been an outstanding friend that I could talk about anything with. And talk we did! Countless nights at Perkins, in his basement, in mine, we were roommates for a few months, I was the best man at his wedding, and now all that awaits is his long-promised trip to Japan! One thing might prevent that from becoming a reality: his newborn son! Congratulations to Rick and Danny on the birth of Remi... cute little guy! We had a great visit during my trip back to Canada. Though distance separates us and communication is becoming less frequent, true friendships survive the test of time! Love you, buddy! I'm excited about how life has turned out for you: great wife, healthy son, promising career!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Other Brother

Most of you know that I have two brothers. My last post was about the younger one, so this one will be about the elder. I have only recently understood how I feel about my older brother. I know he is not perfect, but he is one of my heroes. I admire so many things about him -- the way he is raising his sons, the way he thinks about the earth, his adventurous side, his intelligence, his ability to remain quiet (something I have difficulties with), and his awesome skills. One of those skills is photography, and he blessed us by taking engagement photos while we were back visiting. One of the results is below, and I think you'll agree with me that he's got a gift (and that my fiancee is pretty darn good looking!). Thanks, Ash! It was awesome spending time with you and the family, and I hope we can do so more in the future! (By the way, I look a LOT taller than my bro in this pic, but in fact I'm only 2 inches taller. I think I was standing on higher ground than he was.)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Brother

Perhaps some of you can relate to this. I got to visit with my younger brother Jay on the west coast, before making the trip in to Winnipeg to visit the rest of the family. I seldom get to see my bro, and we certainly do not keep in great touch... but there is something about a younger brother that is special. I was so blessed to spend time with him, even if we didn't "do" anything but shop for kites and other things. I am so blessed to have two awesome brothers, but I really do wish we lived closer together, or saw each other for more than a few hours per year. Love you, Jay!


Best Friends


I can honestly say that from April of last year, there has been something of a hole in my heart. I left Okinawa, and with that, I left behind my best friend, Josh. A few weeks later I was at his wedding, but since then we hardly ever spoke, and it was a really lonely time for me. But on this trip back to Canada, I was able to visit with him and his wife, Kristi! They are still doing what they always do -- blessing people around them. Yumi and I were blessed to be able to spend time with them. Let's keep praying for the Perry family!

Welcome to Canada!

Last month, Yumi and I flew into Canada and were greeted at the airport by one of my favourite uncles and aunties: Pete and Alice. It was so great to see familiar faces right upon landing in Canada, and we had a sweet time of food and fellowship together. Thanks for the hospitality and help, Uncle Pete & Aunt Alice!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Adullam in Kobe

This is the church group I have been worshiping with here in Kobe. A very tight-knit group, filled with love and a desire to worship the Lord with all their hearts.


Sweet Reunion


Within a week of moving to Kobe, I was able to meet up with one of my close friends from Okinawa. Robby and his lovely wife Rika were on their way back to Okinawa from Ehime. They flew out of Kobe Airport, so Yumi and I decided to meet them at Sannomiya and have lunch together. It was a short visit, and made me want to have Rob nearer to me here, but I was so blessed by God's grace. I will continue to pray for happiness and blessings upon the Wunderliches.

New Apartment

Well, it's been a long time since I have put anything up here. Finally, I have regular Internet access and a bit of time (for the next day, then I start work), so I suppose I can share a bit of what is happening. It has been 6 weeks since I moved to Kobe now. Wow! It is HOT here... hotter than Okinawa, in the summer, even! But I think things will start to cool down a little in September, and will be comfortably warm come October. Can't wait! Anyways, here's a shot of my new apartment building. It's really small -- 6 suites in all -- and is situated next to the highest-ranked (academically) high school in all of Japan. No, I will not be working there come September -- my school's a few kilometers down the road and a steep bus ride up the mountain from where I live. Anyways, this apartment is temporary housing for me -- I am hoping to move into something a little more comfortable (fit for two, for sure) in the spring.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cleaning Crew


Yesterday after the movers took all my stuff away, I had to clean my apartment real good. Thanks to my neighbour, who used to work for a housing agency, I had the help (and the tips) to make my apartment spotless! Five of us worked hard for a few hours and the place was spic-and-span come evening. So what better way to celebrate than to go out for ramen? One last ramen meal in Sapporo... a man can't really ask for much more than that. As always, Kotetsu was awesome. I will be back for Sapporo ramen one day, for sure. In the meantime, I want to thank my friends for their time and kind hearts. I will not forget you!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Empty Nest

The movers came and took all my stuff away. Now it's just me, a suitcase, this computer, and a few other small belongings, until Monday. I hop on the ferry in just over 24 hours, arrive in Kyoto in just over 48 hours, and then drive down to my final destination the next morning. So Saturday, I will have a new address and a new apartment! The excitement never ends, does it?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Last Calvary Chapel Sapporo Service

Another "final" for me -- at least as a citizen of Sapporo City. Sunday evening we gathered as usual (well, we started 2 hours early) to worship the Lord. After worship, communion and the Word, we had a HUGE meal, lots of dessert, played games, chatted, and finished around 9pm (our usual finishing time). So it was a full day of fellowship. I love the little Calvary Chapel Sapporo family that has developed - from those who are there week in and week out, to the semi-regulars, to the first-timers! Great atmosphere, and always great food! Calorie Chapel lives!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Final Yuni Day

Thursday night was my last time out to Yuni for the weekly Bible study. It was great to spend time in fellowship with Hayashi-san, Yumiko-san, and Harumi-san. I am sad to not be able to partake anymore, but I know God has left them in good hands -- His. Steve and Michiyo plan on continuing to go out every week, preaching the Word of God boldly! Last week, Yumiko accepted Christ into her heart, and it's just a matter of time before the floodgates open! We want to see Yuni saved!


Friday, July 8, 2011

So Long, ULA!

I spent 12 of my 14 months in Sapporo working at ULA, a little English language school a few blocks from downtown. I had many great memories there, and really enjoyed the atmosphere. The boss was very kind to me, and the students were especially fun to teach. Thanks for the great memories, and I hope to stop by and visit someday! At the very least, I'll send postcards or pictures from Kobe when I get there!


Free Advertising for Jacksonville

One of my friends down in Tokyo told me about a good burger shop in Sapporo. How did he hear about it? He met the owner before the restaurant had even opened - my friend is from Oregon and this guy had been living there for several years already. Now, he is back in Japan, and makes the best burgers in Sapporo! If you get the chance, head over to Jacksonville!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Farewell, River Language School!

In the days ahead, I am sure to be saying "goodbye" to many people. The second group of people (after this one) include my students and boss at River Language School, located in Ebetsu. I was fortunate to be given the chance to teach here after having lost a few hours of precious work at a different workplace. So it is with great thanksgiving towards Mr. Hashimoto (above), and with a tinge of sadness, that River is flowing like water under the bridge and I move on.

The Kuno Family - always cheerful and a great way to start the night

Mr. Iwata - one of the funniest doctors I have ever met

Mr. Tsuchiya - a software designer and ramen aficionado


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

It's already July 2 here in Japan, and it's getting there in Canada as well, but technically we are still celebrating the founding of my home and native land... Canada is a great country, and I am proud to be part of it, even if I do not live there anymore! I am looking forward to my upcoming visit next month. In the meantime, look what I found as I was looking through my stuff in preparation for my move! Old Canadian money! Love it! I wonder if it's worth anything more than its face value?


Me and Shion-baba, Part 2

Roughly a year ago, I posted about Steve and Michiyo's daughter, Shion Viktoria. Well, this year she doubled in age and will be 2 very soon. She is growing bigger, faster, smarter, and cuter. I still enjoy holding her and being her uncle. I will miss Shion dearly, but am blessed to have had the chance to see her grow up for over a year, and I look forward to seeing her again in the future.



It has probably been 5 years since I have sat and done a puzzle. I don't know if they are time well spent, or if I should be putting that time towards other things. But once the whole thing is done, it always seems like it was worthwhile. Puzzles are also great analogies for a lot of life's mysteries. What do you all think about puzzles -- fun? waste of time? puzzling?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Job - NOT in Sapporo!

Well, I have kind of been delaying this news for awhile. At least I didn't change the post-date and hide it lower in my blog, as I did with this bit of news! Anyways, in my last post, I said it was "too bad" I was only working at DLS for another 2 weeks. The reason? Well, watch the video below, but I think the picture above gives you a hint about it. Can I just say I am beyond excited about the changes going on in my life? And can I also just say that God is GOOD? I will say both. I did say both. Rejoice in the Lord!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Job in Sapporo?

Actually, one of the reasons that I stopped working at Kumon was because of the position I got at an English conversation school downtown, near Sapporo Station. The name of the school is DLS - Downtown Language School. There are actually lessons in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Chinese, and maybe some other obscure languages I have forgotten about! As you may have guessed, I teach English. I also have one French student, and occasionally am asked to teach other lessons in French, too. But 90% of my workload is English. The students are all very motivated and energetic and fun. It's a great place to work, and it's too bad I only have 2 more weeks there. Why, you may ask? My next post, whenever that might be, will reveal that to you...


Farewell Party

I started working at Kumon about 2 weeks after my arrival in Sapporo, last May. It was such a blessing to have employment, no matter what the form, as soon as I arrived here! God is good! Well, at the end of April, I resigned from my position, in anticipation of other things God was going to do in my life. As it turned out, my May and June have been fairly lax, and the busy rush of April was a one-month deal. But anyways, yesterday, Mrs. Yahashi (my boss, sitting on my right in the picture) decided to throw me a farewell party, 2 months after my final work day there! It was a blessed time of food, fellowship, and sending me off.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Special Place

Joe and I went out for a drive on Thursday. As we were heading towards Furano, we came across someplace unexpected, so we pulled off the main road and checked it out. I hope you enjoy this little video! (Subtitles take longer than you might think!) Hokkaido really, truly is beautiful in the summer time! Come on out and visit, if you get the chance!



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Joe's Visit

Just a few hours after Simon flew back down to Tohoku to continue his volunteer work, I was at the airport to pick up another friend who had come from Okinawa to visit. This was an expected visit, so I was ready to show Joe around, take him out for good food, and just catch up on old times. Unfortunately I had to work a couple of hours every day that he was here, except for Thursday, but we still got out a bit, and checked out some sights.

Joe is a good friend and I was blessed to be able to spend time with him again after 3 months of not seeing each other. I hope I get the chance to hang out with him again in the near future -- perhaps not in Hokkaido, though. Where will you bring us together again, Lord?



Monday, June 13, 2011

Simon's Visit


I met Simon the Shizuoka-native Teen Challenge staffer / Samaritan's Purse Tokoku volunteer back in Okinawa around 4 years ago. Last weekend, he made a sudden trip up to Hokkaido. While his schedule was quite busy, he did stay at my place for 3 nights, and we hung out whenever he was free. We mostly went out eating, but we also went to Sheep Hill and also spent time praying for each other and also watching movies. We never know when God is going to move us, to send us out somewhere... but I am so glad, and I was so blessed, to have been able to spend these 3 days with my bro.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yuni - A New Beginning

Well, we are no longer able to minister at the Yuni Ministry Center -- but God has opened the door for us to rent a room at the community center every Thursday for a very reasonable price. It is spacious and allows us to set up our sound equipment, play a worship set, and go through the Word little by little with the people who want to hear more about Jesus. Praise God!

And of course, it is also nice to be able to eat a good meal afterwards at Harumi's husband's shop -- Ajitori. Steve has taken to the sashimi lately, but I'll stick to the chicken on rice or the ramen!