Friday, May 27, 2011

Keep on Running

I feel like the blog has gotten a little stagnant. I have not updated in awhile. Some things that are going on are not worth reporting at all, and others are so big that I don't feel the blog is the right forum for them. So for those of you who are "in" -- you know who you are because you know what's really going on -- and for those of you who are just casual observers -- here's a little insignificant update.

I am running again in 2011... trying to be consistent but not always having huge success. However, today I ran my usual route (which is about 3 miles / 4.8km) and did it in record time! I'm not sure the exact time, but it was around the 23-minute mark. That puts me about a full minute faster than my previous best! I attribute it to my recent weight loss. I am proud to say that somehow I have lost approximately 1/7 of my body weight since last November. Now the goal is to keep that weight off for good! So as my blog title says, I will "keep on running."


今年もジョギングに挑戦しています。なるべく週3回に行きたいんですが、なかなかできない自分がいます。でも、今日はいつものルートを走って(4.8キロ)、新記録を果たしました。前の自己ベストより1分早かった!なぜそれができるかというと、去年の11月以来、私は体重の7分の1を落としてしまったからです。これから、体重が上がらないように努力して行きたいです。だから、ブログのタイトルは「Keep on Running」(走り続ける)です。

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring has Sprung!

Well, finally Sapporo is starting to look a little warmer. (It still doesn't feel too warm, mind you!) Yesterday I got out and attended a cherry blossom viewing party. Unfortunately, the day before was rather rainy and windy, so many of the blossoms had fallen off the trees. It was still chilly and not too comfortable standing outside for 3+ hours. But God is good, and I had a great time mingling with co-workers and students from my newest part-time workplace. The food was great, too! Two of my bosses are professional cooks, and they made the largest paella in Japan! SO good! I am looking forward to some nicer weather here, at last!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tohoku - Day 3



The third day was a little more lax than the others. We had intended to go check out Ishinomaki in the morning, where the worst of the tsunami damage was, but because we feared getting caught up in traffic, we abandoned those plans. Instead we woke up late (6:00?) and had breakfast, devotions, and headed back to the Ushiami Evacuation Shelter. Once there, we divided into groups. Some went back to Mr. Chiba's to do more cleaning, others headed out to the fields to plant seeds. I decided to stay at the shelter and play with the kids. Ms. Seya did the same, as she taught kids calligraphy and helped them to make original T-shirts. It was a lot of fun!

But after awhile, I felt like I needed to do some physical labor, so I headed to Mr. Chiba's. I helped out a bit and then sat and talked with him and his friends. Wow, Tohoku Japanese really IS hard to understand! Anyways, then we headed back to the center for barbecue lunch, cleaned up, and said good-bye to everyone there. The drive back, as predicted, was hard. We left the center at 1:30pm and didn't get back to Tokyo until around midnight. I was so beat. Physically and mentally drained, I still managed (by God's grace) to get us back safely. I also received help from the people in the car, who kept my mind engaged by talking about ice cream among other things (yes, we ate ice cream twice on the ride back). Amazing - I only spent 3 days with the people, but I felt like I got to know them really well, and hope we can meet up again sometime. If God gives me the chance to head out to Tohoku again, I will gladly go! Give me another chance, Lord!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tohoku - Day 2



We arrived kind of late on the first night, and spent much of the evening speaking with Mr. Chiba. We were so tired when we got back to our inn past 11pm, that we did a quick bath time and then headed to bed. The next morning we got up early, had breakfast together, did a quick devotion, and then headed off to our first destination: Mr. Kimura's house on Okumatsu Island. He is an avid samurai sword collector, and many of his valuable swords were still in his house, so we were able to retrieve many of them. He also had armor dating back to the Edo period. Amazing stuff. It was hard to see a house so badly damaged on the inside, but Mr. Kimura appeared relieved to be able to get some of his stuff out before the home was scheduled to be demolished.

After a light lunch at Matsushima (one of the top 3 sites in Japan), we headed to Mr. Chiba's (a different one from the man who met us at the evacuation center) to clean out his garden. It was filled with sludge and all sorts of other junk... it was hard work, but we were able to do a joyful work until the Lord. Afterwards, we headed back to the center for a barbecue dinner (soy chicken among other things) and a little entertainment to end the night. First, Candice (wife of Pastor Rich of Calvary Chapel Fuchu) did hula and taught some of the ladies some simple moves, then the Miwa family (all 6 of them) performed some worship songs, and finally their eldest daughter Megumi did a little magic show. The people really received everything well, and it was a great night during which we were able to experience God's grace.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Headed to Tohoku

So here we go! We're heading out to Tohoku (Northeastern Japan) to assist with disaster relief. The team consists of 8: Kiyo and Taeko, three of their church members (Kyuki-san, Arai-san, and Seya-san), two evacuees (Kimura-san and Ueda-san), and myself. We took two vans. Three of us drove. The cargo consisted of our gear, plus tons of kimchee and pickled vegetables, and boxes of tracts and Bibles. Normally the drive takes 4 hours, but because it was Golden Week, it took us about 10 hours just to get to Soma City (Fukushima Prefecture). From there, we still had about 90 minutes or so to get to our destination, Higashi Matsushima City.

When we arrived at the Ushiami Evacuation Center, we were greeted warmly by Mr. Chiba, the man who is running the place. He is so well-organized and takes good care of the people there, and also makes sure all helpers/guests receive thanks and respect. So he offered us coffee, and we sat and talked with him for an hour or two. Not only was I tired from the long drive, but listening to his Japanese was SO hard! It is said that Tohoku Japanese is among the hardest to understand in the entire nation. Imagine listening to someone from rural Alabama, or West Liverpool (no offense if any of you are from those areas!)... so I got to the inn completely exhausted. Still, the first day was a good one. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness!

火曜日の午前7時半に東北の被災地へ出発しました。私たちのチームは8名で成りました。清正さん、多栄子さん、瀬谷さん、久喜さん、新井さん、木村さん(目的地の東松島から東京へ避難した方)、植田さん(福島県から東京へ避難した方)、そして私でした。3人の運転手がヴァン2台をロテーションをして走らせた。貨物は韓国の教会が作ってくれたキムチ、漬け物、トラクト、聖書、そして私たちの道具や荷物でし た。普段4時間がかかりますが、ゴールデンウィークのため、10時間ぐらいかかりました!すごい混雑していました。

最初は、福島県相馬市にいるキヨマサの母親の知り合いのところに行って、キムチを届きました。本当は掃除の手伝いをもしたかったんですけど5時半に着いた ら作業が終わってしまった。その後、ラーメンを食べに行って、夕方7時過ぎに目的地の牛網避難所に着きました。あそこで、管理人の千葉さんに歓迎しても らって、一緒にコーヒーを飲みました。たぶん2時間ぐらい話しました。私は日本語がしゃべれるけど、東北弁は本当にわかりにくいなぁと思いました。幸いに もキヨマサさんは仙台出身で、千葉さんが話したことを標準語に直してくれました。でもその長い旅の後、すんごい疲れていました。宿に着いたのは11時過ぎ で、お風呂入って寝ました。一日目は思ったとおりに行かなかったけど神様が忠実で、いろんな良いことがありました。感謝します。

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Monday Night in Tokyo

I arrived in Tokyo and after hanging out with Mike and the guys at the airport, I headed off to Adachi Ward, to meet the famous Kiyomasa. He was not who I expected him to be, but he was a lot more! Dare I say he looks like a Japanese version of Gilbert Gottfried? You be the judge!

Anyways, it was great to spend an evening getting to know him and his wife, Taeko, before we started our trip up to Miyagi Prefecture.


Surprise Airport Meeting!

On Monday, I got to Haneda Airport around 12:30pm, and had planned on meeting up with a good friend of mine from the past, Mike Snider, who is a missionary at Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa. It was great chatting with him, as I find that we have a lot in common with one another. We enjoyed a light lunch at Starbucks, but then headed down to the departure area (he was about to board a flight to Okinawa). I was able to meet up with a few "old friends" there and even met a few new people as well! Travis was there, along with Tokito, and Pastor Tommy. Strangely enough, I have now met Pastor Tommy 4 times in the year since I left Okinawa: in Korea, Okutama, Okinawa, and this time at the airport! Always great to see him, as well as any familiar faces from my past!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

CC Sapporo in Kotoni

Steve and John, the other two foreigners!

Tonight we had a full house. Literally. The home church had 14 in attendance, in my little 1 LDK apartment. It was cozy and the worship was flawed (gotta keep practicing guitar) but it was all blessed. The Lord is doing a work, and people are coming to hear His Word and fellowship with His people. All glory to Him! May His name continue to shine brightly in this place, in this city, in this country!

Miwa and Masumasu


Mami-sister, Naoko and Miwa

Michiyo and Tetsuo

Eriko and Naomi

Motoko "Moko" and John

Not pictured: Tetsuharu, Koizumi Mama and Trevor