Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm Still Alive!

I have a billion things to blog about...but in order to not get ahead of myself, I'm going to start with July, since my last blog entry was about June.  I'll just hit the high points!  (lol I say that, but it's still gonna be long...)

☆ On July 2, I went to a bazaar at a local high school (actually, the one Becky attended)!  I've always wanted to attend an event like this, and it was pretty fun!  There was the actual bazaar, which was basically a rummage sale with goods donated by students and their families, I'm assuming.  There was also lots of food, and lots of games (aimed at kids, so I ended up not playing any).  A couple of my students attend this school, and I was able to see both of them!  I ate kakigoori (shaved ice BUT BETTER) and the school's famous traditional donuts.

Strawberry milk flavored kakigoori!  :D

Later in the day, I went to eat with my friend Haruna at Uretano, a popular cafe near here.  It's super cute, the food is delicious, and the people that run it are super nice, so I kind of frequent it!  Haruna took pictures of me and then sent them to me haha.

The daily special.

SO EXCITED FOR MY PARFAIT.  Seriously though, their parfaits are legit.  

☆ On July 3, I went to an English-speaking church in Nagoya.  It met at a park on this particular day, and while it was a bit warm, it wasn't too bad.  But there was a MARCHING BAND practicing nearby for a good chunk of the time we were there...made things interesting...  The pastor and his wife are both really nice people, and I'm planning to visit that church again soon!  After church, a couple of girls I know who live in Tsu accompanied me as I did some shopping to buy accessories for the wedding I was going to attend at the end of the month.
When I came home in the evening, Becky, Carol, and some of our friends came over, and we had Japanese pizza for the first time (for me and Carol)!  There were some pretty crazy flavors, like one really good one with potato, and one with mochi.  We ate the pizza while watching a cute movie called My Darling is a Foreigner.  Fun day!

☆ On July 7, Carol and a student of hers invited me to go with them to a local department store to celebrate Tanabata.  Before going to the actual department store though, we went to this area where the local preschools had kids' wishes on bamboo branches all across this one bridge.  It was cool, and very much fit my image of Tanabata.

The sign says "Tsu Tanabata Festival"

Orihime and Hikoboshi, the star-crossed lovers (literally; check out Wikipedia for the story)

These watermelons were super cute!

Pikachu <3

I want to be Anpanman (a superhero loved by lots of little kids)

I want Pretty Cure toys!  (a cartoon loved by little girls)

Spanish?!  (There's lots of Portuguese around here, but not much Spanish!)

We then went inside the department store, where they have a special little tea house that they open only on Tanabata, and we took part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.  I failed to get any good pictures though.  :(  Lots of people were wearing yukata (like a lightweight cotton kimono), and there were people setting up for a festival!  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the actual festival.

☆ Also on July 7, Becky left to go to Sendai, one of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake/tsunami.  She was there for a week with a couple of other of our missionaries, and they helped clean up a farmer's field.  It sounded like they had a really good, worthwhile time.  In Becky's absence, I held down the fort here at the Center.  I even answered the phone, which I hate more than anything!  (It'd be okay if I didn't have to speak Japanese haha, but seeing as this is Japan...)

☆ On July 9, there was an Inspa barbecue at a park right next to the ocean in Chita, a city near Nagoya.  It was lots of fun!  But I totally failed to take pictures haha, so these are all taken from Facebook.  

It was a really, really beautiful day.

Should've brought a bathing suit.  Oh well...

The traditional Inspa barbecue watergun game.

Playing a game on the beach.

Passing a sponge filled with water!

A very fun day!

After the barbecue, a few friends went to dinner in Yokkaichi (which was on the way home for me, and where some of the people I was with live).  We had really delicious Korean food!  It was a great way to end off a fun day.

☆ On July 10, after church, a group of us went to see Mie University's concert band perform.  The whole thing was really fun, but especially the second half, where they did lots of fun numbers, like West Side Story, a medley of songs from the movie Tangled, and a jazz version of a traditional Japanese fishing song (souran bushi).  In the evening, we had CrossRoad, but Becky was still in Sendai, so Carol and I ran it by ourselves (with some help from our friend Takako when I couldn't manage to translate something into Japanese).  I gave the Japanese!  It was my first time to do so.  I had written the whole thing out and basically just read it, but it's a first step.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  :D

☆ On July 16, we had a summer cooking event.  That was the very day Becky came back from Sendai, so Carol and I had done all of the prep ourselves.  We prepped all of the ingredients in advance, and we stayed up later than I care to mention one night working on everything.  We took a picture to commemorate our hard work.

I'm glad this picture is small enough that you can't see how tired I am...

On the day of, thanks to Carol's great planning, everything went wonderfully!  Everyone learned how to make two salads, a dessert, and sun tea.  There were two sessions of eight students each, and I was a student in the second session!  I may learn how to cook yet!  (That's a big maybe.)
After the event ended and the cleanup was finished, I went to Yokkaichi to meet up with a friend to go watch a movie.  We saw Thor, which is a superhero I wasn't very familiar with at all, but I really enjoyed the movie! We also got Thai food and hung out at Starbucks for a while.  It was a really fun day!

☆ A group of us who call ourselves Gica-gico (all girls who have had experience living overseas) met up for dinner on July 17.  This restaurant was amazing!  In typical Amber fashion, I took pictures of food, not people.


Tamagoyaki (fried egg)!  But with spices and stuff!

Tofu with tuna and stuff on top!

Hot pot!

Cheesy mochi stuff!

Me wearing someone else's glasses!  (Note: not food.)

After eating, we got dessert at a convenience store and came back to hang out at Becky's and my place for a while.  It was a pretty low-key, fun day.

☆ July 18 was a public holiday (Ocean Day!), so we had a cleaning day here at the Center.  Most of the other missionaries (those that didn't have to be in meetings), people from other JBC churches, and some of our friends came to help do some much-needed cleaning.  It was kind of fun to work together with everyone, and gave me a chance to get to know some people better.  And when we finished, we played some epic games of Uno!  After all the meetings and everything ended, all of us missionaries went out to dinner together.  

☆ July 19...was the first typhoon I experienced.  And it was pretty intense.  Paul, one of the missionaries, had gone home ahead of the other Osaka missionaries, just before lunch.  And then they closed all the freeways and he apparently didn't make it home until like 4am.  D:  But since the other missionaries who live in Osaka (Shan and Yuri) were warned, they ended up staying another night at the Center, so we all just kind of hung out haha. 

☆ On July 20, we cancelled all of our classes because we thought the typhoon was going to continue...but it didn't haha, so we just kind of ended up with a day off.  Carol, Becky and I had our meeting, and then we went out to dinner at Chabelita, the only Mexican restaurant that exists in Tsu, apparently.  It wasn't quite what I was used to in terms of Mexican food, but it was pretty good!

Chicken tortilla soup, one of my favorites <3

This is a burrito, believe it or not.

☆ Classes ended on July 23rd.  On the 24th,  a couple who ministers to missionaries, the Steiers, came to visit.  They did an interview with me to see how I'm doing in the afternoon, and in the evening, Alan Steier spoke at CrossRoad, and his wife Judy played piano.  After CrossRoad, most of the attendees went to do fireworks- my first time in Japan (but not the last!).  It was lots of fun!  I love that you can do fireworks anytime you want here!  (It is definitely not like that in California...)
On the 25th, the Steiers came with us to Osaka, where our whole mission had a three-day conference together.  It was my first time to stay in a ryokan, or a traditional Japanese inn.  You sleep on futons in a tatami room, and there's no shower in your room.  There's only the public bath, which is fine with me!  I've grown to love those.  <3

Futons are super comfy~

We spent the conference eating (oh gosh, we eat so much during these kinds of things), playing and hanging out, and the main goal: the Steiers facilitated time for us to talk about our personal strengths and weaknesses, how we can communicate best with each other, and generally how we can work together best as a mission.  I think it was a really meaningful time for all of us, especially since it was our last time to be together with the Ewing family before they left Japan for a year for home assignment.

After having breakfast at Yoshinoya, a beef bowl chain.  Everyone's together!

The first restaurant we ate at in Osaka.  All the dishes are cats!  <3

Carol, Becky and I love the Colonel.

On the last day of the conference, we had an impromptu meeting to discuss the future of our mission- basically, our vision of what we want to do from here.  It was very exciting!  But it also meant we didn't get home until late, which meant I had just enough time to do laundry, take a shower, and repack my suitcase before going to bed...because I went to Tokyo the next day!  But that will definitely be another entry.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

June 2011 (finally)

Every time I write a blog, I think, "Next time I'll post again sooner.  Next time will be different!"  And the next thing I know, it's been a month.  >_>  I hope you all haven't forgotten about me...  Really though, I can't believe we're already this far into July.  Where did all the time go??  Let's see if I can remember what I did last month.


In June, our first CrossRoad theme was Father's Day, and Ron Stoller came to speak.  The second CrossRoad was about rainy season, and Carol spoke about Noah.  We had pretty good turnouts to both!  We also watched Sister Act and The Bucket List for our two Movie Nights.  I hadn't seen Sister Act in I don't even know how many years, so that was lots of fun.  A couple of girls from Becky's and my gospel choir came!

Our monthly event was shodo calligraphy, taught by Higuchi Reihou-sensei, a member of our church and a professional shodo calligrapher.  I was hesitant to try at first (I'm not good at writing kanji in normal circumstances, much less with a brush), but I ended up giving it a shot!

Higuchi-sensei, speaking about his art.

My friend Takako and I practicing.  Note my ~intense concentration~.

Juri-chan and Yuri-chan hard at work on their projects!

My finished product!  It says "uta," which means song.  I'm actually a little bit proud of it.

Juri-chan's says "heart" (left) and Yuri-chan's says "peace" (right).  Don't ask me about the small writing though lol.

Taka-chan and Becky.  I don't remember what theirs mean lol.

Everyone with their finished products.  They did great!


If you know me at all, you probably know that cooking isn't my strength.  And yet somehow, I ended up taking part in two cooking parties in a row...

On Saturday the 4th, we had what we called a dorm party, because Haruna-chan and Raynoo, the girls who live upstairs in the women's dorms, joined Becky and I in our apartment to cook and eat some Italian food.  Haruna-chan's sister was visiting, and a couple other people came as well, so it turned into a pretty fun party! I had some classes that day though, so I missed the actual cooking part and just came for eating.  XD;;

Everyone cooking before I got there.

The Becky Special and Haruna Deluxe.

Having homemade tiramusu and coffee for dessert!

The next day, Sunday the 5th, we had what we call Gica-gico, a group of returnee girls who live in the area.  We cooked for this day too!

I did contribute, I promise.

Fun times~

There was Inspa in June, of course, and it was, as always, really great to see so many of my friends that I don't get to see often.  I wish Inspa was more than once a month!  Before Inspa, I met up with Erin, a girl I met at April's Inspa, and we went to see X-men First Class (called First Generation here), and it was amazing!  It was a really fun day with lots of my favorite people.  <3

I also went to gospel choir; attended a fourth-anniversary party at Curves, the gym Becky and I go to; worked; etc.  I also went to Nara with a friend, but I took so many pictures that I think that day deserves its own post.  July has been a great month so far too, and I hope to have a chance to blog about that soon!