Friday, April 29, 2011


The title of this song (the title of my blog today) means "On that day, the whole world..."  It seems to be a pretty popular Japanese worship song, which you can check out here if you're interested.  Sorry, I couldn't find one with English subtitles, but.  They use lots of English-language songs translated into Japanese, so original Japanese worship songs are pretty cool to hear.  I heard it today, so it's in my head, which is why I'm sharing it now.  But anyway.

I know I'm realllllly behind on my blog, but I want to write about today right now, so I will.  I'll catch up on everything else soon, I hope!

Today was the seikai, which is a conference for all the Japan Baptist Conference (JBC) churches.  Most of the people who came (pastors, but also lay people from the churches) were in the main room listening to the keynote speaker and such, but I went with Becky to help Kensaku and his wife Hiroko from the Chita church, who were leading the event for the youth.  I helped lead a couple of games, and Kensaku gave his testimony, and also spoke about the Bible story of the woman who loses one of her ten coins and searches until she finds it (Luke 15:8-10).  He explained how that's like God searching for us, and how much He celebrates when He finds even just one lost person, but extended it to talk about how each of us, like coins, have value, no matter where we are or what we're doing.  But just like money can't do anything by itself if it's just laying around, we have to be in God's hands to be used by Him.  This was all in Japanese, but Kensaku is easy to understand when he speaks, so that even I can understand.  It was also nice to be able to see the missionary family today, even if I was only able to see some of them briefly.  We have our annual conference next week (during Golden Week, so it's not really a vacation for me haha), so I'll be able to spend time with everyone then.  :D

After the seikai ended, the Osaka missionaries (Shan, Yuri, and the Ewings), our friend Haruna (who helped out with childcare at the seikai), and a bunch of our friends from Chita came over and hung out in Becky's and my apartment for a while.  I discovered that Kensaku shares my love of Mountain Dew (probably the first Japanese person I've met who does!), and people told funny stories about mistakes people make when learning a language (like, you know how Japanese people have trouble with L's and R's?  Imagine what it sounds like to say "It's all my fault" if you mix up the L and the R...).  So yeah, that was a pretty hilarious conversation.

But what our friend Naho (from the Chita church) didn't know was that this impromptu gathering was really stalling until her surprise birthday dinner at Casa Mia.  I guess the other Chita people (Kensaku and Hiroko, and Naho's boyfriend Iori) acted like they casually decided to go out to eat, and Becky and I happened to join, but when we got to the restaurant, Carol had decorated and had everything ready.  The surprise definitely worked; Naho had no idea!  So we ate lots of really delicious Italian food and chatted for about two and a half hours.

Group shot!  From the left: me, Iori, Naho, Becky, Hiroko, Kensaku, Carol.

Apparently this is the only food picture I took haha.  Everything was amazing!

Naho, Iori and I ended up talking amongst ourselves most of the time, and that was probably the highlight of my day.  I've gotten to know the two of them a little bit recently, and I haven't written about any of it here in my blog yet, but Naho got baptized a few months ago, and more recently, Iori accepted Christ, and I was able to go to his baptism at the Chita church a few weeks ago.  I also got to hear his testimony at that time, and it's a really powerful story of how God pulled him out of depression and totally changed his life.

Iori's baptism.  (They're standing in a pool thing, if you can't tell...)  I'll blog about this day later, I promise...

Last Sunday he gave his testimony at our biweekly CrossRoad event, so I talked to him a little bit then, which was probably the most we'd talked up until that time.  All of this to say, I've talked to Naho here and there at different events (she speaks pretty good English), and I've really only talked to Iori a little bit, but the three of us talked for a long time over dinner today.  Some of it was small talk, of course, but at one point we somehow got on the topic of why I came to Japan, which led to a pretty deep discussion about the way God works in our lives.  He uses everything, good and bad, for His purpose, even if, at the time you're going through something, you might not understand the reason for it.  We also talked about how there's so much pain and suffering in the world, and people fail each other even when they try not to, but how God's love is the only perfect love, and Jesus is really the only answer.  Even when we talked about music, Iori talked about how, once he became a Christian, he got rid of tons of his cd's (he used to have hundreds), because he doesn't need that music anymore, and he doesn't like to own so much material stuff.  Talking to a baby Christian like him is so inspiring.  He has so much passion for God, and it's so clear that he really gets it.  He definitely talked the most of the three of us, I think, but he had a lot of great stuff to say.  (I was really working hard though; most of this conversation was in Japanese.  I'm actually kind of proud of myself, to be able to more or less follow along with everything.  We did have English Time for a while though, because Iori, who doesn't speak much English yet, wanted to practice haha.)

Anyway, everyone gave Naho gifts and cards and such, and we had dessert, and after a while we finally wrapped up and headed out.

Naho with her dessert~

Before the Chita crew hit the road home though (it's more than an hour's drive), we prayed together, and I really felt the unity we have as believers, and as friends.  My friendship with these people is just beginning, and I'm really excited to see where it leads.  The longer I'm here in Japan, the more I realize how many amazing people God has put in my life.  I can't really express my feelings well, but I feel incredibly blessed to know these people, and to be here, doing what I'm doing.  There's no place I'd rather be.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Even if I went back, I'd choose the same path

So!  Picking up where I left off on my last post.


I went to Curves in the morning, and then, since Melanie was still around but was about to leave, she, Becky and I went to lunch at Yaoto, the little Japanese place near us.  I got ten-katsudon and also this amazing rice-filled spring roll thing.  I have no idea what they used to flavor it but it was SO GOOD.

And I think the rest of the day was a pretty standard Tuesday?  Becky, Carol and I had our weekly meeting, and Becky and I went to gospel choir, and I probably studied Japanese or something afterwards.  Nothing too exciting that I recall.


In the early afternoon my time, I had the privilege of talking to my youth group (from Impact Community Church in Sacramento) on Skype!  :D  The timing worked out really well, since they were having Tuesday night youth group.  I was able to talk to them about my point of view on the earthquake and everything that had happened since up until that point, plus it was really cool just to talk to them about Japan in general and listen to some of their questions (including some ridiculous ones, of course).  I love those kids.  :'D  Other than that, a pretty normal Wednesday.  I had a bit of a rough time with one of my students not wanting to do her work, but she apologized the next week for her behavior.  So sweet, and made me feel a lot better.  I hate having to be mean when I'm teaching kids, but it's kinda inevitable sometimes...


After my Japanese class, I went to the foreign foods store in my city to pick up my case of Mountain Dew.  Which sounds like no big deal, but I walked and took the train.  So there I was, walking for like 20 minutes, carrying this really heavy, awkward 24-pack of Mountain Dew to the train station, and then another 10-15 minutes from the station to my apartment.  At one point I was really smart and tore the box open accidentally and cans spilled everywhere and there I was at the side of the road picking them up and putting them back into the now-damaged box.  Yeah, I'm special like that...  >_>  When I told my friends, they were laughing really hard at me.  What can I say, I live to entertain.  And I think I'll order from Amazon next time...

The rest of my day was pretty much spent working on stuff for the displays we had at our prayer meeting for the earthquake, which was on Friday.  Oh, and I watched August Rush to prepare for movie night.  So much love for that movie.  <3


Busy day.  Becky and I went to Curves in the morning, and then met up with Carol for lunch at Casa Mia.  It was delicious, as usual.

After that was more preparation for the prayer meeting, and then I had classes.  The prayer meeting started while I was still in class, so I missed half of it.  After the prayer meeting, we had movie night.  Everyone loved August Rush, which made me really happy.  The discussion was really great too.  :D  Three girls stayed over at Becky's and my place, and we had a lot of fun drinking coffee/tea and eating snacks and chatting until we finally decided, hey, it's like 2am, maybe we should sleep.  It was a lot of fun!


I met up with my friend Michele, who lives in Wakayama Prefecture, in Nagoya!  She's a fellow Arashi fan, so we were destined to have an awesome day.  We decided to check out a Pokemon store (very disappointing, actually) and a couple of other novelty stores like that, then had lunch at a bakery.  So delicious~  After that, we went in search of the official Johnny's Entertainment store (there are only a few in major cities in Japan).  We followed a walkthrough from the Internet, which was a huge help.  It...was not very nice-looking or official-looking.  It wasn't even in any kind of shopping district.  Strange...  But we found it and that's all that matters.

Little sign up on the second floor of this building.

A closeup of the weird logo.

Tiny, really high up sign.  

I have never seen this logo on any Johnny's product ever.  o_0  Even though it's an official store...  And the stairs to the second floor were really shady.  Michele called it "a test of our fandom dedication," and I agree.  Once inside, I was a little surprised: it was a very bare-looking room, with a bunch of pictures on the wall of all the different groups, and you write down which pictures of which groups you want.  You'd think that, with this entertainment company being as huge as it is in Japan, the store would be a little nicer...but anyway.  The Arashi section was, of course, rather crowded, but we eventually chose our pictures and paid for them.  150 yen per picture doesn't sound like that much, but it adds up fast...but enough about that.  :D

From there, we went to Denny's (Michele apparently didn't know that Japan has Denny's, and that it's nothing like Denny's in America haha), where we got dessert and coffee and looked at our pictures and chatted.  Surprise surprise, Amber went for the chocolate.

Since Michele had a long way back home on the shinkansen, we headed back to Nagoya Station, where we parted ways.  It was a really nice trip, and we'll definitely have to hang out again sometime!  I spent the rest of my evening watching tv and chilling at home.  :D

Aaaand I'll stop there for now, because I want my trip to Hamamatsu to see Nick and Shar, my friends from college, to have its own post.  There are many pictures, after all~

Monday, April 4, 2011

Until My Heart Caves In

Alright, time to make a little more progress in discussing the month of March~


Once a month, there's a lunch for everyone after church.  This time was salmon fried rice.  It was SO GOOD.

After that, the young adults (seinenkai) had a going away party for Nao-chan, who was getting ready to return to her home prefecture after graduating, and Cho, an exchange student who would be returning home to China.  It was really fun!

Look at these amazing desserts!  We played a little game to choose who got which one.

The dessert I ended up with.  Who's surprised that I went for the most chocolatey one?

We got REALLY EXCITED when we saw all the cute desserts haha.

Everyone with the dessert they ended up with~

Eri leading a really fun game where we had to guess how Nao-chan and Cho would answer these questions.

Eri always chooses really...interesting gifts for people.

Although we all agreed that Cho made an awesome ninja.

Ridiculous awesome group shot.  :D

And then that night was St. Patrick's Day Crossroad, which went pretty smoothly.  A girl named Melanie, a friend of a friend of Becky's, came to stay at the Center, so we hung out that night and the three of us went to the onsen (public bath).  Melanie was hesitant at first (as most foreigners are), but by the time we were ready to leave she said she'd come every day if she could.  :D


Originally I was supposed to go to Iga with a girl named Julia, but due to various circumstances, she couldn't make it.  But since Melanie was visiting Japan and wanted to travel around while she was here, I ended up going with her instead.  Which was...interesting, because I'd never been to Iga and I didn't really exactly know how to get there haha.  Soooo glad I speak enough Japanese to be able to ask for help, even though I'm quite sure I sounded like a kid, the way I was talking haha.  At least we (finally) made it!

Iga is a city in Mie Prefecture, where I live, that is famous for its ninja history.  That's right...ninjas.  Awesome, right?  There is ninja stuff EVERYWHERE in that city, not even just in the actual museum area.

Epic ninjamobile.

Little shrines we saw while lost walking around.

A ninja house, complete with various traps and escape routes.  We got to try this one.  Also, child!ninjas!  They were super cute.

Our ninja guide, who showed us all the tricks.  She was really fast.  :o

Apparently ninjas could walk on water.

Shuriken.  Awesome, right?

Grappling hook, throwing knives, etc.

Weapons disguised as canes.

And of course ninjas wore all kinds of disguises.

For part of their training, ninjas had to be able to lift a 60-kg bale of rice with just their thumb and forefinger, so that they'd be able to hang from the ceiling with just their fingers.  Hardcore much?

Conclusion: ninjas are awesome.  You can learn lots of stuff about them by coming to this place~

Apparently this was some kind of famous haiku place.

Next stop: Iga Ueno Castle.

See the old castle wall on the left?

The castle.

Me on the stairs going up to the castle.  Because I am cool .  Yes.

Inside...was basically a museum.

See?  Ninjas everywhere.

Some awesome samurai helmets.  Probably the coolest artifacts in there.

Another view of the castle as we were leaving.

From a different museum just down the road.  Some kind of creepy demon parade...

Gigantic parade floats.

So after a lot of walking around, we were finally done sightseeing.  So we went for a late (late) lunch.

Whoever thought up omelette rice with curry as the sauce is a GENIUS.  <333

Saw this on our way back to the train station.

Coolest trains ever or coolest trains ever?!

So by the time we made it back to Tsu, it was kind of mid-evening, so I took Melanie over to Saty to shop and eat dinner at my favorite curry udon place.  I got vegetable and mochi toppings~

And when we went home after that, Melanie asked to go to the onsen again, since she'd liked it so much the previous night.  So we did.  It was a full, but pretty awesome, day.

This entry is getting pretty long with all the pictures, and also it's getting close to 2am, so I think I'll stop here for now~  :D