Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Art of Embarrassment

We were asked to be actors in the church play this Christmas. We weren't quite tricked, like last time, but we definitely didn't know exactly what we were agreeing to either.

Our church performed a shortened version of "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. We didn't know this until half-way though the first read-through. I naturally thought the Christmas play would be more nativity related. I was quite confused when there was no pregnant lady traveling with her fiance, & when the main character battled a monster named Apolyon. Stephen, who's read the book, on the other hand, guessed right away what the play was.

I was asked to be the wife/mother. I assume because ever expanding belly makes me look matronly. Stephen was my son.
The feat of learning lines in Japanese and knowing when to say them gave me a bit of a panic attack. Thankfully, our parts were small. And we didn't have to memorize our lines.

When my English students found out I was going to be in a play in Japanese, they asked about coming to church to watch. So, Christmas morning, two of my English students came to our church Christmas party to watch Stephen and I looking foolish reading lines in Japanese with bad American accents.

Everyone in the play was very gracious about our performance. Which was good, because when ever I said a line, the whole audience laughed. ( I don't think that is how the author intended it)

It was a light hearted production, and no-one took themselves too seriously. Well other than this guy...

It was a great experience. It forced us to learn some sentences we otherwise wouldn't know, and the promise of seeing their English teacher be embarrassed got two of my students to come to church.

Gift time

Christmas time is the time for giving and today I was able to give some gifts to a friend and a brand new friend today.

The first friend is a Ramen chef who I've known since the beginning of my time in Japan. My first bowl of Japanese ramen was from his store, and after tasting ramen from other places his ramen is still my favorite. I eventually became a regular at his store :). I get to practice my Japanese with him and He also advertises for my Church's English Class.

We took a picture together when my mom came to visit

The new friend I made this week is the owner of the barber shop right next to my apartment. We became friends when he helped me dig my car out when it was stuck in the snow. I thank the Lord that he provided me with that help (being a California kid I don't know anything about snow). When I went to give him a gift to show my appreciation for his help today, in the conversation he asked if "the the phone made it to me safely". So ... it turns out that his family has helped us twice.

Two weeks ago, Kathryn dropped her phone and lost it somewhere near the apartment, when I was home a Japanese woman came to my door and gave me Kathryn's phone. I was very thankful but I didn't know who it was at the time.

Like most Japanese, since I gave him a gift he immediately returned the favor and gave me something. I have no idea of what it is. I didn't understand when he told me what it was. I think he said that it was for my ear.
If any one know what it is, please tell me. :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

...If Only In My Dreams

The other day I was out running errands: gifts to buy, gifts to mail, grocery lists to fill. Even though the busyness is the same no matter where you spend you Christmas, the differentness of Japan at the holidays was taking it's toll. Little things like not hearing Christmas music everywhere you go, or not seeing kids sitting on Santa's lap at the mall. Just little things, really.

So, when my errands took me into Starbucks, I had to take a short break from Christmas in Japan. The music on the speakers was the same as I always remember, the toffee-nut late tasted just like always, and the cranberry bliss-bar reminded me of good times with friends. I closed my eyes and let Japan slip away. If only for a moment, I was sitting at Riverpark, taking a break between stores. When I opened my eyes, it was Japan again, just like I'd left it, but now somehow a little more like home.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An Early Christmas Lunch

Today, we had a Christmas lunch with our students in Chitose.

I racked my brain for some Christmassy thing to make. Thanksgiving is easy. The menu is pretty standard, with a few variations depending on your family. Christmas dinner, though, is different for most every American I ask.

I ended up making beef stew with biscuits. I don't think I've every personally eaten beef stew for Christmas dinner, but it felt American and homey, (and it was super easy because of my crockpot) so it fit the bill.

After class, we brought in the food.

It was a meal of firsts: first time eating biscuits, first time seeing a crockpot, first time having American beef stew.

It's been so nice getting to know "our Chitose ladies" over the past few months. Sharing this meal together was a nice way to grow in relationship and spend time together before the new year.

If you're interested in making the stew or biscuits, here are the recipes I used along with a note or two.

(Credit: Taste of Home)
*When I make this next time, I'll decrease the apple juice and increase the beef broth by equal parts


  • 4 cups frozen vegetables for stew (about 24 ounces), thawed
  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 envelopes brown gravy mix
  • 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
  • 2 teaspoons steak seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef broth
  • 1-1/4 cups apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cold water


  • Place the vegetables, water chestnuts, mushrooms and onion in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the gravy mix, soup mix, steak seasoning and cinnamon; add beef, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. Add to slow cooker.
  • Combine the broth, cider and tomato sauce; pour over beef. Add bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until meat is tender.
  • Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into stew. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes or until thickened. Discard bay leaf. Yield: 12 servings.

(Credit: All Recipes)
*These were a hit! I'm looking forward to making them for Christmas Eve dinner for Stephen and me.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg


  1. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk milk and egg. Stir into crumb mixture just until moistened. Drop by heaping spoonfuls 2 in. apart onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Tis the season... be really busy!

after hearing about all that is planned for Christmas a friend from America commented, "well I guess being in a different country doesn't make you any less hectic at the holidays." No, it really doesn't. :)

But, you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope to be back to the blog to share snippets and updates from Christmas time in Japan. There is, and has been, a lot going on this month that I'd love to share. But as is usually the case, when we have to most to write about, I have the least amount of time to sit and write. :P

So for today, I'll leave you with some pictures and commentary from last weekend's Friends Christmas party.

A simple dinner of soup, salad, and make-you-own-sandwich was a hit.
Some American soda was an extra treat!

And of course, no Christmas party would be complete with out way too many sweats!

We played "Pin the nose on the snowman"

I think we underestimated how hard it would be!

Luckily, there was plenty of participation from the peanut-gallery.

We're so happy to have been able to invite our friends over for Christmas fun!

Friday, December 9, 2011

5 words/phrases for winter

It's cold!

It feels like this phrase has been on repeat around our house for the past few week. (I have a feeling, it's not going to stop anytime soon. )

We've officially arrived in winter. The snow is sticking, the nights are below freezing (as are most of the days), and I've been wearing more layers than an onion!

I asked a few of my English classes to share 5 common Japanese words & phrases for winter in Hokkaido. Even if you don't live in the tundra, I hope you try them out!

1)  しばれる (Shi-ba-re-ru) : "colder than cold!"
If your freezing your behind off, try saying this phrase.

2) つらら  (tsu-ra-ra) : "Icicle."
(I've been pointing out all the tsurara I see on houses and dripping from the hoods of cars since learning this word)

3) さむいいですね! (sA-mu-i dess neh!) : "It's cold, Isn't it!" (or, "It sure is cold!")
This is equally as popular in the winter as "Atsui dess neh!" is in the summer ("it's hot, isn't it!")

4)  そうですようね!(so dess yo neh!) : "Yeah it is!"
This is used to agree with the previous sentence.

5) ゆきがふりましたね! (yu-ki ga fu-ri-ma-shta- neh!) : Literally "Snow fell, right!?" My student told me it's like pointing out the obvious. If a lot of snow fell, you would say this. (like the English equivalent of "It's really coming down out there")

Monday, November 21, 2011

Third Time's the Charm

The process of getting our Japanese drivers licenses has been putting us through the ringer. After much time and paperwork, we've only just hit the halfway point in the process. Just getting here has been an exercise in patience and perseverance.

In order for a license-holding American to get a Japanese drivers license it involves providing a pile of paperwork, taking a written test, taking a practical test, and retaking the practical test a few more times until you pass. (Foreigners do not have a very high first time pass rate on the practical exam). Only after you've jumped through these hoops, can you get your real Japanese drivers license.

We started the process back in September, to give ourselves enough time to do everything before our current international licenses expire. Little did we know, just to take the written test would take 3 tries.

1st attempt:
The license center is an hour from us, but only 5 minutes from our supervisor's home. So, after a Bible study/staff meeting we went to the driving center with a pile of paperwork.
When we arrived, and found the right window, we were told that we need to make an appointment to take the written test. This didn't surprise us too much. We went in knowing this might be the case, but it's much easier to use our lame Japanese in person than over the phone.
What surprised us was when the lady told us we needed proof that Stephen had lived in the US at least 3 months after receiving his license. Apparently, she would accept my passport (issued after my license) as my proof, but Stephen needed something more.

Away we went, with an appointment, and a few more papers to find for the growing pile.

2nd attempt:
The day of our appointment, October 26, we got in the car early and drove the hour across town to the driving center. It wasn't until we were 5 minutes away that I realized ALL the papers I had gathered to qualify us for the test were sitting at home on the floor, organized in a nice little folder.
We went to the window, and explained to the woman that we forgot EVERYTHING at home, 1 hour away. Based on the look of terror and surprise, I don't think anyone has ever done that before.
We made another appointment for the next available time slots: November 21.

I should take a moment to mention that in addition to trying to beat the clock on our international licenses, we were also in a hurry to take the practical exam before it started snowing. Pushing the written test back to late November was not helping our cause.

3rd attempt:
November 21st, we awoke to find that it was snowing and had snowed the whole night before. That meant, the hour trip across town would now be an hour and a half. We got in the car and both made sure we had every single piece of paper needed. Yup, all there, and we were off like a herd of turtles.
At the driving center, we provided our paperwork, including 3 forms proving Stephen lived in the US, and were told to wait 2 hours while the processed everything. Rather than venture out into the snowy tundra, we opted to hang out at the driving center's coffee shop. (I suspect the /real/ reason they made us wait 2 hours was to get some more business for the coffee shop.)

The test itself was nothing too bad. 10 true/false questions, mostly common sense.
We passed and were able to make an appointment for next Wednesday to take the practical exam. We're praying there's no snow.

Oh, and of course, before we left the lady at the counter informed me that I too must find paperwork to prove that I've lived in the US since getting my most recent passport. Apparently she changed her mind and I'm being docked for not bringing my expired passport with me to Japan. Oh, well, such is life (in Japan)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow driving adventure

After close to 4 weeks since the snowbugs were spotted, the snow is finally upon us. We awoke this morning to a winter wonderland.

Fortunately for us, Stephen spent yesterday with the pastor changing our summer tires for the winter ones.

Unfortunately for us, the first heavy snowfall happened the night before we have to drive 1 hour away to teach an early morning class.

Since we didn't get our car until last spring, we have not had to drive in the snow yet in Japan. And really, since were California kids, driving in the snow has never been part of our day to day lives. Today was a trial by fire.. er.. uh, snow.

First thing about driving in Sapporo in the winter is that you must clear off the car.

We were in a hurry, so we left a nice pile of "lazy cake" on top.

Stephen did a great job. since it was the first real snow, it melted in the sun as we drove.
By halfway there, the road was mostly slush and water.

The most harrowing part of the trip was when a HUGE truck passed us and covered our tiny car in a tidal wave of dirty snow-water. I had a minor panic attack for the 1.5 seconds we couldn't see out of the windows. Stephen kept his cool and remembered the wipers. (That's why he was driving.)

We arrived safely in Chitose, with some lazy cake still on the roof.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Only in Japan: 10 Months Pregnant

Did you know Japanese women are pregnant for 10 months?

But, it's probably not how your thinking. Every woman is the world, Japan included, is pregnant for about 40 weeks. The difference is how the western world and Japan count those months.

In the States, pregnancy is counted by calendar months. Every month, is between 4 and 5 weeks long (with the exception of February, which just likes to be different).

In Japan, pregnancy is broken up into 10 4-week "months."

It took me some time to wrap my head around it, so I made this handy chart.

Both systems have their up-sides: counting with calendar months makes estimating a due date much easier. Also, trimesters are broken up more easily into 3 3-month periods.
With the Japanese way, I always know what months I'm in with out having to consult "What to Expect When You're Expecting."

I am 4 months pregnant in the US and 5 months pregnant in Japan.

Luckily for us, both countries also count pregnancies by weeks. To make things easier, I tend to default to weeks when ever someone asks how far along I am.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: Squid

Pregnancy cravings and aversions are a funny thing. They're never what you think they'll be. For example, though I've never been much of an OJ drinker, for 6 weeks straight I craved and drank multiple glasses each day. As for aversions: I never thought, being a missionary in Japan, that Japanese food would wind up on the "get that away from me, now!" list, yet somehow it has.

This little quirk of pregnancy has made life a bit difficult for me, as you can imagine. But, I think my greatest challenge was today's Japanese cooking class.

Today's menu: rice stuffed squid-head, & sauteed squid-tentacles.

I'm sure it has a pretty sounding name, but I didn't catch it while I was staring and the whole, raw squid I was about to dismember.

The last time I was that up-close and personal with a squid was 8th grade biology.

I'll spare you the gooey details. but,
with much prayer, I was able to disassemble, clean, chop, cook, AND eat the squid.

Pictured center: squid-head stuffed with rice
Pictured left: sauteed squid tentacles

the Japanese expression "Ganbatte" (try hard/persevere) has never meant so much to me.

I think today's class may have been the end of my Japanese food aversion. Just to be safe though, I'll still be staying clear of the fish section and the grocery store for now.

Friday, October 21, 2011


This past week or so, we've been enjoying a sunny 60 degree Autumn, so I was quite surprised to hear that according to Hokkaido tradition, and my English students, Snow is on its way.

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for class, I glanced out the window and saw snow. At least, it looked just like snow. Even Stephen was fooled. But considering it was 60 degrees, and sunny with out a cloud in the sky, we decided it must be something else.

(The picture I took was not nearly as clear as this one I found online)

When my students arrived to class, they were all abuzz. "Did you see the Yuki mushi (Snow bugs)?"
So, that's what they were!

My students explained to me that these bugs, only found in Hokkaido, always appear right before it snows.

(Again, not my picture. But, don't they totally look like snow!?)

No one could say how long between Yuki mushi sightings and first snowfall. All they could say was, "mosugu" (soon).


November 15th, we got our first snowfall. It melted quickly when the sun came up, it it fell non the less. That's 3.5 weeks from seeing the snowbugs. 3.5 weeks does not seem like mosugu (soon) to me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

10 days with "Living Hope"

Short term teams are a breath of fresh air: they give everyone new life, energy, and motivation.

Our short term team from Living Hope Community Church was no exception.

Before they said their good-byes today, I was able to interview a few team members to get their perspective on the 10 days they spent serving in Japan.

It was great for me to hear what things impacted them as they ministered this week. I was surprised to hear that many of their answers were the same. I guess it just goes to show their unity and how God was working in their team this week.

Q: What was a highlight in ministry this week?
-"Seeing the example set by Akita Sensei, the associate pastor ofthe Chitose Church. Even though, he is gentle and reserved, he never missed an opportunity to share the Gospel."
-"Watching the interactions of this very international church in Sapporo. It reminded me that God's grace is not limited to one people group. We are all one in Christ. Language doesn't separate us from God's grace."

-"Seeing God's plans overtake our own. For example, when we went to Hokkaido university's campus, I was hoping to meet non-christians. Instead, we met a young Christian man who came to our evening event and was the life of the party. Him being there was important for developing relationships that night. "

Q: What surprised you the most?
-"Separating the trash was a big surprise."

-"I didn't expect to give my testimony, until an hour before church on Sunday. I was glad I did though, because after, many people came up and told me that my story is similar to theirs."

-"Before I came here I was only superficially interested in Japan. I liked how cute and effiecient everything was. I was surprised that God has opened up my heart to love Japan spiritually."

-"I was talking to a girl on campus about if she knew God, and she said, 'What's a god?" That surprised me: that here, so many people have never even heard about God."

Q: What was the best food you tried this week?

-"Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). It melted in my mouth!"

-"Soft creme (soft serve ice cream) from a dairy in Chitose. I can never go back to eating McDonald's soft serve again."

-"The sukiyaki that Akita sensei made for us our last night in Chitose. You could tell he put a lot of work into it."

Q: What was your biggest cultural misstep or most embarrassing moment?
-"Speaking in limited Japanese. I kept messing up my vowels can calling Sapporo, 'Sopparo'."

-"Putting trash in the wrong bin"

-"Jet lag induced delirium while playing Taboo one evening. I had a really hard time paying attention and everyone had a good chance to poke fun at me."

-"I told two people "Hajimemashite" (a greeting which means 'nice to meet you') when we were saying good bye."


If you are interested in serving for a week or two as a short termer in Japan, send me an email (, can I can put you in touch with the right people to talk to.

We would love to have you come and share in ministry here in Japan!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome to Sapporo!

Our church has the pleasure of hosting a J-Team from Living Hope Community Church.

(Below: the team posing with the kids who attended an event Monday)
From Oct 7-Oct 15, this 8 member team will be hosting kids' events, meeting students on campus, hanging out with students at church, helping with English classes, and engaging in existing church ministry.

Pray with us for this short time of ministry would yield lasting fruit for God's kingdom.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Practical language

Language is awesome. The more I learn the more amazed I am at its beauty. Like euphemisms and expressions. I love how there are so many ways to convey the same thing.

Here's a list of my most recent, favorite expressions is English and Japanese:

I'm Eating for two.
I have a bun in the oven.
I'm in the family way.
I'm with child.
I'm craving pickles and ice cream.
We're expecting.
I'm preggers.
I'm knocked up.
My eggo is preggo.
I'm on stork watch.
I'm gestating.
I'm preggtastic.
妊娠しています(Ninshin shite imasu)

Yep, it's true. There's a baby on the way!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Friends all over

This last week we received training through Asian Access, during the fall conference at a seminar house in Kobe. Great training but also it was great to see more of the Asian Access family again who live in different parts of Japan. Not only that but I also got to reunite with some other friends and make some new ones.


Everyone says its a small world and it is. One of my supporters, Harry, had a close business partner from Japan 20 or 30 years ago. They remain friends till this day but Harry lives in California and Nakano-san lives in Osaka. I had the chance to meet Nakano-san and have lunch with him. He told me he was so indebted to Harry that he wanted to honor him by treating us to lunch. He also took me and Kathryn around to some famous sites in Osaka. Something that I will remember is that he mentioned that after all these years, he still remembers that on business trips with Harry that he would see him pray before going to bed. Nakano-san is 87 or so and still remembers that. Our prayers can touch people in ways we don't always know :) .


If you remember from a couple months ago, Keisuke was the Japanese highschool student who stayed with us for 4 days as a part of his summer vacation. I was able to give him a tour of Sapporo and invite him to our church's prayer time. It was a a very good time. Well, when his family heard we were coming to a part of Japan near them they invited us over to lunch at their house. The lunch was delicious and for desert they took us up to the hill country to a 400 year old house for tea.


"What kind of picture is that?" you might ask. Its "puri kura" the Japanese photo booths that make you look like a 13 year old girl even if you are a 26 year old man. When we were near Osaka we were also able to meet up with our friend Eri who we hadn't seen since she came to California. . When she came to California one year she did a home-stay with me and Kathryn for a week. Eri was my first Japanese friend and I feel that God used that friendship as a way to confirm Japan in my heart.

It is good for me to recount what God has done and where he has brought me. How he has brought people into my life. It brings me a lot of encouragement.

Thanks y'all.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Language Tests and Pretests

A few months ago, Stephen and I decided to challenge our language learning by taking the Basic level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) this coming December. Shortly after that, I jumped into the tangled maze that is the JLPT application process. Little did I know when I began that this particular test has several hurdles to jump, I can only assume, to weed out non-proficient people.

Let me fill you in on the madness.

Pretest 1: purchase the applications.
In the States when I applied for the many tests I had to take to get through college and credentialling (CBEST, 3 CSETs, & 2 CLEPs) it was always as easy as going online clicking a few buttons and voila! you are ready to test. For this test, I had to purchase the applications from "a book store in (my) area." That's really all the official website said.
I failed my first attempt at finding the test and ended up walking out of the store in shame.
After talking with a friend who took the test last year, I found the right bookstore, the right floor, and the right counter to find the application.
Pretest 1: PASS

Pretest 2: fill out the applications.
"No big deal," you are most likely thinking right now. NO! it WAS a big deal. Each application came with (I kid you not) a 53 page(!) instruction booklet. After my initial shock, I learned to love the instruction booklet, and I am sure it is the only reason I knew to do the next 3 steps.
Pretest 2: PASS

Pretest 3: take a passport style photo to include with your application.
WHAT?! Never in the history of education or test taking have I needed to included a photo in with my application. And of course it had to be a certain size and dimension. fortunately for us, our supervisor, Tim, pointed out the passport photo booth at the mall near our house, when we had just arrived in Japan.
Pretest 3: PASS (even if they weren't the prettiest pictures)

Pretest 4: Pay for application at the post office.
I mentioned in my last post about how Japan deals with the lack of checks. so, rather than including a check with my application we had to head to the post office and pay for each application, then include the receipt(with the id number that corresponded to the id number on the application) in the envelope.
Pretest 4: PASS (thanks to the very kind clerk)

Pretest 5: Mail the application via special certified mail.
I only knew how to ask for this because my now beloved instruction manual told me. And really, after all the other tests, this one was not only easy-breezy, it was my favorite one because it was the LAST!
Pretest 5: PASS

We are now just waiting for our test voucher to come in the mail, when I am sure we will have a whole new set of hurdles to jump. Oh, and studying Japanese, because after all this work, I'd kind of like to pass the REAL test in December.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Only in Japan: convenience stores

In the States I think I can count on one hand the number of times I visited a convenience store each year. Since coming to Japan, convenience stores (Conbini) have become as much a part of our lives as rice. I think we visit a combini 3-4 times a week.

"Why?" you ask. Here are the 5 amazing things you can do at a convenience store in Japan.

5-Buy dinner
Yes, even in the states you can purchase food at a convenience store. Hot dogs and mystery meat floating in funky water, sandwiches from before the turn of the millenium. That's what I used to picture when I thought about convenience store meals. In Japan, many people use convenience stores like 7-11, Lawson, and Seico mart to grab a quick lunch. We do too. When we only have a little bit of time between classes around dinnertime, a conbini onigiri (rice ball) or 2 hits the spot.

4-Pay bills
In the states when we needed to pay a bill, we would write a check and mail it in with the invoice portion of the bill. But, Japan doesn't do checks, like ever!
Instead they take their bills to the local convenience store to be paid. Once a month, Stephen takes our phone bill down to Seico Mart near our home. It nice not having to worry about having stamps. And while he's there he can pick up dinner :)

3-Send luggage on ahead
Why go through the trouble to lugging your luggage to your destination when it could meet you there when you arrive? I had never even thought about this as an option before coming to Japan, but Takkubin services are commonly used here and for not to much Yen. to make it even more convenient, conbinis like Seico Mart serve as drop off locations for luggage delivery services. Although we have yet to take advantage of this yet, it's good to know it's literally right around the corner.

2-Buy discount movie tickets
Family Mart has a kiosk to purchase "dokodemo, itsudemo" (any where, any time) tickets for 300 Yen off the standard ticket price. Yes, Please!

1-Pay for online transactions
How do you reconcile a society that is largely cashed based with on that is all about technology? You want to make a purchase online, but many people (these gaigin included) don't have credit cards. Convenience stores to the rescue!
Many things from Plane tickets to Amazon orders can be paid for at the conbini. Recently we have had first hand experience with both of these services. Having done it both ways, I think I like the convenience store payment method the best.
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