Monday, July 30, 2012

In A Land Without Target

Since we've been living in Japan, there have been many occasions when we needed to purchase something and we had no idea where to find it. It usually is something simple like cleaning supplies, or miscellaneous household goods. Nothing too bizarre. Yet, we are often stymied when it came to where to look.
I would ask myself, "If I needed "X" in the states, where would I go to find it?"
The answer is always the same: "Target"

But of course, there is no Target in Japan. :(

Don't get me wrong, we've managed okay and been able to find most everything we've looked for. It just took extra thought to do so.

Most recently I was looking for a picture frame for a gift and thought, I can't be the only gaijin to have no idea where to find stuff. So incase there are any fellow confused gaijin reading this blog, I bring to you

"Where to find stuff in a land without Target."

Nitori is great for furniture and miscellaneous household goods. Its pretty much a one stop shop for things to get your apartment set up. They even have example rooms, like Ikea, to give you ideas.  The prices are very reasonable too. Unfortunately for us, we didn't realize going to Nitori was more economical than going to the secondhand stores. And unlike the secondhand stores, when you were done shopping at Nitori, all your stuff matched! We've even found for things like hangers, its cheaper to shop here than the 100 Yen shop.

Go to Nitori to find:
Furniture, household organization stuff, laundry accessories, bedding, curtains, rugs, hangers, picture frames, decorations, dishes, etc...

any denki (electric) store
Last winter we quickly realized not having neighbors on the floor below us meant our apartment was much colder at night than the previous year. We needed an electric blanket and we needed it NOW! Only, we were at a loss about where to find one. I searched Nitori since they had become my new go to place for home goods. Unfortunately, out of the many blankets they carried, none were electric. I was so happy when I stumbled across them while wandering the local denki store. I probably should have guessed I'd find it there. After all, denki mofu (Electric blanket), denki ya (electric store).

Here are some other things you can find at a denki store like Yodobashi Camera, Kojima, or K's Denki:
light bulbs
computers and accessories
cameras and accessories
printers, printer paper, and ink
blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons
headphones, speakers, music players

100 Yen Shop
I like the Dollar store in America, but I LOVE 100 yen shops like Seria, Daiso, and Can-do. Our local 100 shop has become an invaluable resource for kids' English class, craft parties, and other odds and ends. It's hard not to come away with a basket of stuff when you walk through a 100 shop. My favorite 100 Yen purchase has been my dishes. 18 months and still going strong.

I can't even begin to list all the awesome stuff you can find at a 100 Yen shop.

Shimamura, GU, & Uniqlo
Clothes, clothes, and more clothes. If I need clothes at a reasonable price I head to one of these 3 stores. Now, given, I'm much bigger than the Japanese these clothes are designed for, but for the most part I'm able to find stuff that fits for not too much yen. I've even managed to find shoes that fit my big ol' American feet at Shimamura. It was a happy day indeed!

I should probably add that I'm in no way being paid to advertise for these stores and my opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect other A2 missionaries.  Although I'm sure one or two share my love of 100 Yen shops. :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Culture Class: 4th of July

Stephen has been teaching a monthly American culture class to his English students in Chitose. In the past he's talked about things like St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day. Each lesson shares the historical origin, modern celebration, and vocabulary & phrases that go along with it.

This month, the class was focused on Independance Day. 

When Stephen's mom visited, she brought lots of fun red, white, & blue goodies for class.

The ladies we're blown away by our modern celebration of our nation's independence. 

So much red, white, and blue!
I made blue raspberry jello and topped it with whipped cream and a cherry to be festive. I was pleased to learn that they enjoyed their first bites of the classic american dessert. One student even asked me how I made it, asking for specific ingredients. "Did you add lemon juice?"
I smiled and explained that Jello is the easiest dessert in America; just open the box and add water.

Our students showing off their treats
Jillian made an appearance in her 4th of July finest.

a very patriotic diaper change :P

Besides all the sweets and laughter, my favorite part of the class was discussing the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It was interesting discussing how the idea of being created equal by God shapes American culture. We decided this line has a lot to do with why Japan and America are so different. In Japan, even the language is structured around the idea superior and inferior. Showing respect is a very important value. Americans are often seen as disrespectful from a Japanese perspective because we interact very informally with our superiors and people older than ourselves. After discussing with the group I think we do this because at the core of our national identity, we see all people as equal, not more or less important, and our language and interactions reflect that. 

I always have such a great time with our Chitose ladies. I am eager for the day when they recognize that they too were created by God. I'm looking forward to our next culture class and what truths we can share!

*If you have an idea for an American culture class, leave a comment. We're always open to imput and ideas. :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

God's Got My Back

 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.”  Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes,  he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.  News of this spread through all that region.
Matthew 9:18-26

It figures that the week my pastor gives a message on Jesus the Great Physician is the same week my back goes out.

On Sunday, I was so glad to understand the message. Like always, it was given in Japanese, but this week I felt I understood more than usual. As I was listening, I thought, I believe Jesus can heal, but I don't really have any personal stories to share in small group today. I feel like God was sitting up in heaven laughing, saying, "Child, just you wait..."

Now, I'm not saying God made my back go out to prove a point. I mean, He totally could have. But, no, I am sure this was going to happen regardless. (Too much up and down with the baby can mess you up.) I just feel like the message was extra timely in my life.

Wednesday morning, I was feeling a little stiffer than usual. Bending over to pick up the baby was a bit more of a challenge than usual. By Thursday, I was in tears limping to and from the baby's room. Pulling her from the crib was a force of will. The three steps from the crib to the rocking chair to nurse her took all of my strength.

I spent the morning literally praying through every step. Most of the prayers were something like, "Please, don't let me drop the baby." I even enlisted the prayers of my Facebook friends. (Those of you who prayed, THANK YOU!)

To make matters more interesting, Jill was in the throws of a growth spurt and wanted to eat more often than usual. Which meant I was mobile a bit more than I would have preferred.

For play time, I decided to lay on the floor with Jillian. It was great in theory. I got to rest my back and Jill got to play with Mommy. I say "in theory" because when play time was over, I realized I was stuck. It took me 10 minutes to get up off the floor.

Jilli didn't mind  a little extra playtime. She had Elmo to keep her  busy.

Thursday was the worst of it. Thankfully, Friday and Saturday have been progressively better. I feel like God has been gracious in answering prayers. I'm still not at 100%,  but each trip to the baby's room is a little bit easier.

I'm hoping to be better tomorrow to go to church and share my new story with my small group. Even if it is a week late.
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