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.

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