Thursday, March 24, 2011

The "Number 2"

There are basically 3 hair cuts in Japan.

(1)Long, (2) short and (3)REALLY short


After my first trip to the hair salon, I am now the "proud" owner of cut number 2.

Now, I didn't walk into the hair salon with the intention of having 1/2 of my hair chopped off. Nor did I expect to have bangs when I walked out, but here I am.

After been in Japan for about 7 weeks, I decided I needed a hair cut. Nothing fancy, just chopped at my collar bone, with a few layers. I asked my English-speaking neighbor where I could get a cut. She pointed to a sign down the street that read "Ka-to" (cut).

The shop was very close. Less than a 2 minutes walk. Inside, the hair dresser was working on two ladies at once: one getting a perm, and the other just finishing up a hair cut. I was able to have a seat quickly and explain in my broken Japanese, and her Broken English, along with a lot of hand motions, that I wanted my hair cut to here (points to collar bone). "Layers?" She asks me. Horray, I was worried how I would explain that. "yes," I say emphatically, "a few."

As she is piling the hair on my head to begin, the lady who just stood up makes a comment about gaijin (foreigner) hair and comes over to feel mine.

Once she goes, the hair dresser and I start up a long converstation filled with short sentences like "I come from California. Where do you come from?" "I like to cook." "I teach English." Only in Japanese. Mixed with random English from her.

A bit later, she shows me myself in the mirror. My hair had been cut to the right length, but no layers. If she hadn't have suggested it, I would not have asked. "Layers?" I ask.

"Ok" comes the reply. And she proceed to lift up random pieces of hair and start chopping. My hair is getting shorter by the second. I work hard to mask the panic from showing on my face. When she is finished, she hands me the mirror again, and I notice I now have bangs (something I haven't had since I was 9!).

Thanking her, I paid and rushed home.

I am starting to appreciate my new hair cut, but am continuing in my montra of "hair grows."
I think I'll go back to her again, at least once more. But next time with a picture of what I want.

Enjoy the "after" photos.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Doctor and Dinner with "S"

For those who know, I have a very temperamental nose. With my sinus problems and allergies I have been sneezing up to 15 times in a row. I decided to go to the doctor to see if I could find some remedy, but alas so much paperwork and my Japanese is not as good as I want it to be. Luckily my friend who I had made on the bus last month was available. This kind old gentlemen "S" picked me up in front of my apartment complex and drove me to the Nishioka Hospital. He translated for me, while I filled out paperwork. Then my name was submitted and we waited.

The Japanese hospital visit was quite the experience. While we were waiting, a nurse stopped by my chair and handed me a thermometer. While "S" was conversing with the nurse. I almost put it in my mouth, how embarrassing would that have been... it turns out I needed to put it in my arm pit. I am hard of hearing anyway, so when "S" was trying to explain this to me, the nurse just started unbuttoning my shirt and stuck the thermometer in my armpit. The nurses were all business here.

The Hospital layout was very strange to me. Connected to the waiting room were the patient rooms that were numbered in Huge Print "1, 2, 3, and 4" on the Doors. It was like a game show, what was behind door number 3? Apparently my doctor was, in a tiny little room. I just had to hope and pray that "S" was accurately translating what I was describing. When the doctor asked me to lift up my shirt to take my pulse, my half second hesitation was obviously too long, and him and the nurse started pulling up my shirt for me. Now that's service!

I was prescribed some medicine for I hope the symptoms I told the doctor and I was out the door. On the way back, I invited "S" to join me and my wife for dinner at my apartment. He gladly accepted. At 6 o'clock we served chicken soup and garlic bread, which "S" was a big fan of. We talked about our experiences in Japan, and "S" shared with us about the Chinese writing system and how Japan adopted it. We were able to teach him the card game "Go Fish" which went over very well. He had some surprising moments when he was asked for the card he had been asking for, and was at first reluctant to give over his card. Lots of laughs.

He stayed over until about 11:00pm. The night had gone very well, with lots of laughter and sharing. Usually Japanese people are very time conscious, I think he did not want the night to end. "S" is a very kind man, and he was very helpful to me, I hope as I get to know him better that we can speak of spiritual things over the dinner table. Pray that God would open that door.

3rd Person P.O.V.

I haven't been posting nearly as much as I would like. ( I know, that is always my lament)

With the Earthquke & Tsunami, and now the relief efforts, I feel that I have no new information to give to the conversation. When I get a free minute, I am reading blogs of other missionaries, on the island of Honshu (where the "action" is happening), as well as news articles and I feel that all I can do is repost what they have already so eloquently said.

Here on Hokkaido (The Northern most island), life for the most part is as normal as it has been. There are people here who are trying to find family members, and there are small teams from various churches heading into the disaster zones to give relief, but for the most part life is normal. We are not suffering from lack of food or heat; we are not homeless; we are not fearing radiation; we are not having rolling blackouts to conserve energy.

That being said, there is A LOT going on in Japan right now.

A team from our mission is currently in Sendai, setting up base camps for relief work to be done, and distributing (90 tons of) supplies donated from Samaritan's Purse.

Our Tokyo missionaries are partnering with CRASH Japan, to help register volunteers. Once the main flood of relief from abroad is out of the spot light, organizations like CRASH will keep working in the shadows, making sure the devastated are being cared for with Christ's love.

Next week, our pastor and 3-4 college guys, are heading into Sendai to work with food for the hungry. Pastor Kaji has connections in Sendai through his denomination, and has been talking about going down to help them as soon as the tsunami hit.

Because, the best I can give you is a 3rd person point of view, here are some links to people far more informed than I.

Monday, March 14, 2011

reflections on the Tsunami

Since the first earthquake on Friday, and the follow tsunami, I have been struggling to process the events. We've been getting many e-mails and facebook messages from concerned friends and family. I am so grateful to have so many people praying and checking in with us. My first job was to make sure everyone knew we were alive. Since that has been established, and we are finally back home, I feel I can finally process "out loud" as it were.

At first, when the earth quake struck, I thought it was a joke. I knew it was a real earthquake of course, but I thought it was fun and novel. Even though I am from California, I have never really felt an earthquake.
Then, it just kept going.
Then, it got stronger.

Yet, there was no damage done to our group, or the buildings.
It wasn't until we gathered around the news channel that the realness hit me. Reports of Tsunami, images of people gathered on roof-tops waving towels, cars floating down the road followed by fishing boats. This was major. Something had begun in Japan.
Our mission family, was glued to the news, watching the footage and praying for physical & spiritual rescue.

That next morning, at 4:02AM, we experienced another quake, this time from Nagano, the very same prefecture we were in.

I am not sure hoe many aftershocks there were that morning. I am sure my mind invented a few of them. Between the aftershocks and anxiety, I couldn't fall back asleep. My mind was racing with a thousand senarios all involving fleeing the building.
where were my socks, and shoes; could I get my shoes on fast enough to escape if there was another quake or should I run out into the snow barefoot; where was my jacket; should I get up and pack a bag; where's my waterbottle......

In my anxiety, I heard God say, "Put on your socks."

(Me) "What? Why? How would that even help?"

"If your socks are on, it will be easier to get your shoes on if you need to escape. If your socks are on, you can rest."

It seemed odd, but I grabbed my socks, put them on, and fell asleep within seconds.
God knew I would be safe, that the building would not fall, but that I needed something tangable to set my worries aside.

I've been reflecting on Psalm 46:1-3 these past few days.

God is our refuge and strength
an ever present help in trouble;
therefore, we will not fear,
though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah (pause and consider)"

Although there is much turmoil here; God is our refuge, strength, and help.
There is much to be done here: much prayer, much labor. Yet, God is our refuge, strength, and help.


If you are interested in giving to the relief work to be done, Asian Access is collecting funds to be used in the relief efforts for Japan, directing them through our local network of churches in the affected area where we have had ongoing relationships.

CRASH is also collecting donations.

We encourage you to give through one of these organizations, because we know the funds will be used to directly impact the lives of the Japanese people, through the local churches in Tohoku.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My new pastime...

so, because immediately after promising more blog posts, I got sick and had no desire to sit and write the post I indented on, here's another great (but short one).

When I'm out and about around town, there is always one thing that can brighten my day and make me laugh, guaranteed: Japanglish!

If you have spent any time in Japan, watch any Japanese TV shows, or know anyone in Japan, you probably have encountered Japanglish before. If you haven't let me introduce you to my newest form of entertainment.

Here are two children's T-shirts I saw the other day at the store.

sometimes Japanglish is grammatically correct, just something that is so unusual. Like...
I'm not sure about you, but I wouldn't want my kid walking around in a shirt that says "need love"

sometimes it is just a mash of English words that, when put together, mean nothing. Like this one...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

one month (and counting) + Our church family

We've been here in Sapporo for 1 month and 2 days. Since touching down, we have been super busy with all the things that are involved in setting up a life in a different country. (I seriously didn't realize how many things needed to be done, and I am discovering new things everyday.) That coupled with lack of internet in our home has meant that this blog has been sorely laking updates. For that, I apologize.

But now, even though the to-do list is only getting longer, we have internet in our home, which means I can blog! (I also apologize, especially to Tim, for that horrible run-on sentence, and for this one too. :P )

But as is usually the case, since we have been away from the blogging world for so long, there are too many things to share. So, rather than write one loooooooooong post; I'l write a few short ones.

So here is the first of a few installments: Our Church Family

As you know, if you have read this post, we are serving with Sapporo EV Free Church. Before we got here we only knew that they had a vision to reach college students in the area. I didn't realize they already were a congregation of primarily college students. Looking around on a sunday, you would be hard pressed to find a person over 30 (other than the pastors.) Another fun surprise was that a good portion of this church is international students from places like Ch*n*, and Korea.

We are having a great time getting to know these students each Sunday. We have especially liked the meal and hang out time between morning and evening services. I have never been at a church where people hang out for hours after church has gotten out. Those of you in American churches know what I mean right? After grabbing some goodies from the snack table, everyone jets out to do their own thing on Sunday mornings. It was a big surprise to learn that most sundays students hang out in the sanctuary; playing games and chatting.
working on a puzzle

Stephen asked one of the students why they hang out each Sunday. This student said, "There are not many places we can be ourselves." It's great to hear that we are at a church where people come, not only to worship, but because it is a place where they feel free to be who they really are; without pretense or facade.

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