Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bits and bobs 2

Don't know why this is all underlined and it's annoying so very quickly from left to right, top to bottom:

1. Cooking hotdogs in empty fruit juice/ milk cartons

2. Bathroom slippers

3. Group photo during camp: I was very scared of heights; thought I would fall through the cracks between the logs

4. Louise and I at Heathrow

5. House slippers - in the house we have to wear slippers at all times but when we get to the bathroom, we have to change into the bathroom slippers!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bits and bobs in pictures

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. English class eating dinner. Kids english class ended at 6.30pm and the Adult class started at 7.30pm so we all ate together between that.

2 + 3. Motoi (on guitar) and Keiko leading Sunday school in songs.

4. Nagai somen; several tubes cut lengthways in half are joined together to form a 'canal' and water is poured down it like a river. Noodles are then dropped from the top to let it flow down and everyone lines the two sides to try scoop as much as possible.

5. A day at the pool.

Blogger only allows me to send 5 pics at a time :(

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sleep walker

Kay three days in Japan, too much to say so I'll bullet-point. Tried to send email but computer with weird Japanese scrawls on it that does not look like my computer crashed on me. So here it goes.

First breakfast at OMF Guest Home in Japan - granola or garanora as they call it and seaweed tea. Met Ruth Ayling. Will talk more to her when return. 12.25 took train into Tokyo to catch 13.08 Shinkansen bullet train to Yamagata. Could not fimd right platform. Asked around. This was the time to put my Japanese into practice. Got to the right platform. The bullet trains are linked; two trains joined at the nose and they split at Fukinawa (or something like that). Asked which train went to Yamagata, "Kore wa Yamagata-iki no densha desu ka?" Was told really nicely. Waited. Lined up behind someone in the queue. Started talking about Yamagata. Lady said I was on the wrong train. So with 5 minutes to spare, asked another businessman standing there. He said this was the right train. Asked someone else. They said I had to go to the other end of the platform. Only about 200 metres away with less than 3 minutes to spare. Panicked. Eventually sat in one of the carriages going the right way. Several stops later, found out we were in the reserved carriage and we had to move. And move. And move. Finally got to the last carriage and sat down. Arrived Yamagata 3 hours later.

Yoshimi and Okasensei (pastor)met us at the station. Took us to the tallest building in Yamagata and told us to go there if we were ever lost in Yamagata. We could see the north and south. Yamagata is huge for a city, if it can be called a city, of only 250,000 people. Could see the church through binoculars. We have been and will be staying in the church building for our entire trip. The pastor and his family lives in an apartment 100 metres away. Met their children; Kioshi (amazing pianist, only 13, extremely talented, very Godly... I want my kid to be called Kioshi AND it means holy. How cool will that be??!!??) and Megumi which means grace. Megumi is 16 and makes me feel really old cos she is still so carefree and childlike. Yuji came to welcome us to Yamagata. Had a time of prayer. Started discussing plans for next 2 weeks including teaching English to adults and children, leading camps, having a 'coffee house,' helping during service, giving testimonies, getting to know the congregation - there are only 40 members - and going to various schools and universities to share the gospel. On the church door is a poster with our faces on it. Yoshimi had asked me for a picture and I, not having any and thinking she only wanted one to recognise my face by, told her to go to my blog so the piture you see on this blog, is the pictured plastered, A4 size on the door for the entire church to see! I am sorry to disappoint. They kept on telling me they were expecting a movie star... We received house slippers as presents and we have to wear them in the house at all times except when we go to the toilet, then we put on bathroom slippers. Yoshimi's mum gave us a vase of flowers.

Our first dinner was beef curry. Yoshimi had called Rosanne and asked her what she thought suitable for a first meal in Japan which wasn't too adventurous. After dinner, I wandered around the church and came to the noticeboard. There the profile in my blog came back to haunt me as I read my description of myself, again for all Nanbu Church's congregation to see (thank goodness not many of them speak English!). Dastardly cute... Had a midnight snack of more granola that Yoshimi bought for me. It was really nice but I'm ready for some Japanese food.

Woke up in a daze. Had a weird dream that I was in Malory Towers (Enid Blyton school stories). Had granola for breakfast again with vanilla flavoured milk. Met the Women's Fellowship in the morning. They were cleaning the church. More planning for children programmes. Songs chosen; Peace like a River, Our God is a great, big God and Deep Deep, Down, Down (I Love You, Jesus). I also have to do a presentation on Malaysia and London which includes topics such as national dress, food, weather, religion, the people and etc. For lunch Kioshi and Megumi cooked us spaghetti. The Japanese call it spag-eti. Then Motoi (pronounced Mo-to-ee) walked in. I think you'll be hearing a lot about Motoi. He leads snging for Nanbu Church and is a 4th year Medic. We were told we were going to sing Shout to the Lord in Japanese, Amazing Grace and an English duet in front of the church. We could not refuse. Perhaps because refusing is just not commonplace in Japan. Also had to prepare for Sunday school which included a lot of running around and praying. Oh, Motoi leads that too. By 4pm we were exhausted. We were then given the Lord's Prayer and Apostolic Creed in Japanese to learn.And then at 5.30pm we attended the Women's Fellowship welcome dinner. It was really fun and quite a few of them speak rudimentary or understandable English and we get by. One of the first things they asked us to do was to go to an onsen (nude spa) with them. In fact on our first night in Yamagata, Yoshimi invited us to go to an onsen. Initially I thought it would be fun but now I'm not so sure so am trying not to think about it too much and if it happenes, it happens. I think it's the way ladies bond in Japan. I don't know if I want that sort of bonding. After dinner we said, "Gochiso-sama deshita!" which is a standard thing to say after a meal. Like saying "Bon apetit" before one. It was late when we went back to bed.

Garanora breakfast again! When will I start having miso soup?? Had another night of weird dreams. Dreamt I was looking for postcards as promised but was in Aldwych in London and was looking for Swiss postcards. Was also carrying a very pretty, dark green evening gown on my arm and had just missed the Law ball. 8.30am Kids service started. Games, songs, Bible study on Genesis 28:15 and memory verse. We were already tired after running around but still had to be at the main service. So dang in front, did not go horribly out of key and got out relatively unscathed. Message was on 1 Corinthians 15:20-34. Had to give a brief introduction in front of the church then they threw another welcome party during lunch. The children had made us meals that looked like the flags of Malaysia and Britain and instead of blue colouring they had used seaweed. I took a picture of it. Then came question and answer time and we tried to answer all the questions. Then they all sang for us. First the children, then the guys, then the women. We were given more presents and festivities finished about 3pm. We then had to plan the adult English teaching programme. It was then that Lou and I realised we were going to do ALL the teaching and not just helping out as we originally thought.

We had fun using Google map to find our houses from satelite and I managed to find my house in London, my family home in Kuching and my sister's residence in Australia. I could even see 'Horace' the tree that stands in my backyard. For the evening service we had to wear kimonos. I just felt silly cos it felt weird and I couldn't bend over or scratch or anything. Evening service at 5.30 ended on a high note and Lou and I went to bed knackered.

On this very memorable night, I sleepwalked. For the first time to my knowledge. We has said our goodnights and I had dozed off. The next thing I knew I was talking to Louise and I was sitting on a couch in the room and she was asking me questions. Apparently she had woken me up by shouting my name as I was sleep walking or sleep sitting as I wasn't really going anywhere. She says that I was whispering Japanese words under my breath and she thought I was talking to her but when I didn't respond she shouted and that's when I woke up and said something like, "Oh it's you..." All I know is that one minute I was on the floor, the next I was sitting on a couch and had no recollection of how I got there. Oh I forgot to mention that we're sleeping on the floor Japanese style and have to roll our mattresses away every morning and unroll them every night. Needless to say we were both freaked out.

I had cornflakes for breakfast after a very restless night's sleep following an eventful night of sleepwalking. We set off for Daikon Elementary School where we presented a bit about ourselves, organised games and taught them Christian action songs. We also had a round of questions and answers which ended with the whole class singing for us. We did that twice, ending at about 1pm. The visits to the schools are made to establish links with the authorities and to encourage, indirectly, children to hear about the gospel and to come to the church the team came from as we are not allowed to speak of Jesus in the schools. Yoshimi took me to buy a skirt because when we go to the High School to do another presentation on Thursday, the authorities prefer a certain dress code which Yoshimi didn't tell me about so I didn't bring any skirts with me. Unfortunately we couldn't find anything suitable so we may go back tomorrow. Yoko (another lady) then took us to Yamaderu, a mountain that has 1,000 steps leading to the top and we climbed it! The scenery from one of the look out points was breath taking but right at the top of the mountain was a huge pot full of Buddhist/ Shinto incense. What insolence! To have a man-made, good for nothing shrine at the peak of one of God's wonderful creation. My legs felt like jelly when we walked down at 5pm. We had ramen for dinner, I emailed, but the computer crashed and now I hope this blog stays.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day by day

Kay, it's 8.30pm where I am even though where my body clock is, it's midday. I'll just debrief you on what I did so you'll all know I'm still alive and kicking in the Land of the Rising Sun. So, off to Heathrow at 3pm. My flight only took off at 7.35pm but given the 2 hour check in time and the possibility of traffic jams, Lou and I thought it wise to be too early rather than too late. There were no 'real,' snail-crawling pace traffic jams and I arrived Heathrow in record time; 45 minutes. settled to wait for Lou and read Case for Christ. People around me were forming an ant-like trail with brightly and not-so-brightly coloured luggages and I wondered whether God saw us and thought we looked like ants in both our microscopic form (to God) and our human instinct; not really knowing where we were headed to but going with the flow anyway. A Japanese girl in a black and white striped dress with black leggings kept on walking by me. Reminded me of the 'lady in red' featured in the first Matrix. Lou arrived and we went for a bagel high-tea (possibly the last of our Western delights for some time besides the Ritz crackers I took onboard) and I had a Heavenly Bacon Bagel. I am hopeful that Heaven will taste better than it did.

In the plane I got the middle seat between Lou who had a window seat and a Japanese lady. Never had the middle seat before and 12 hours later I know why. With a window seat, you can lean into the window to sleep. With an aisle seat, you can lean into the aisle (kind of) to sleep. In the middle, you are truly stuck. I nearly took to sleeping on the floor but there just wasn't enough room. My legs weren't long enough to give me support to sleep comfortably so my body kept sliding down into the seat when I drifted off, hurting my back in the process. But I was too tall (too tall??!!??) to curl into a ball. I didn't get a very good night's rest but I did manage to sneak in a few winks here and there with Rod Stewart singing into my soul. Watched Failure to Launch and part of Ice Age 2. Failure to Launch starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughy(?) was typical relationship hoo ha stuff. Ice Age 2, despite it being a kiddie's cartoon had more depth to it, even though the only romantic tension was strung between two woolly mammoths, and is definitely better than Ice Age 1.

My first glimpse of Japan was at 2.57pm Japan time and I quote Lou, "It's very green." A few seconds later the plane landed. Immigration proved no hassle and at 4.30pm we were waiting for the train to take us to Ichikawa where we are now spending the night. From the train, one could be fooled into thinking that Japan was Malaysia. The trees look the same except for the odd conniferous peeping from over the top of the canopy and jungle vines cover both to make it look like a giant mound of green. However, Malaysia is rainforest and Japan is not. It feels good to be able to see familiar sights in Japan as I would in Malaysia. Zinc roofs, a Jusco supermarket and house structure and design are all typically Asian. Add wet padi (rice) fields by both sides of the track and roads teeming with familiar Asian brand cars such as Toyota, Hyundai and Honda and less Vauxhall, Peugeot and VW and you've got a very non-London setting but pretty much a Malaysian one. I did see a brown Sussex spaniel though :)

I haven't gotten into any serious miscommunications and managed to ask a guy (in Japanese) if he could take a picture for us. Tomorrow is another day and then another week and then another and then another but for now we're loving it and hope to continue being blessed and to bless others living in this country. One other thing that struck me, although this could be purely coincidental, was that on the plane there was an article and pictures about Mongolia and in our bedroom in the OMF Guest Home, there's a picture of a Mongol riding a horse in one of the country's anuual celebratory races. Perhaps that will be the next foreign country I will go off to but for now, I am in Japan and Japan is where I will labour.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Take off!

Well, not quite yet but this time tomorrow I'll be running through the house making sure sockets are not left plugged in, fridge is emptied, ringing the cab to remind him to pick me up and mumbling watashi wa...(I am...), watashi no (mine) and Kamisama (God) to myself and oh sushi, sushi, sushi. My visa arrived TODAY. My flight is t-o-m-o-r-r-o-w. God sure likes running things under a close time budget. However, rereading my previous blog and Lou's, He had much to teach us and we had much to learn before we even set foot on the plane so hip-hip-hallelujah.

I don't have a digital camera so you'll have to make a date with me to see pictures.

London is sooo hot. I'm sweating or perspiring as some call it (does that actually sound more appealing ??!!??) just thinking about how hot Japan will be and how humid. You would think that being Malaysian born and bred, I'd have no trouble adjusting but I'm regretfully a 'banana' - yellow on the outside ie racially Chinese but white on the inside. I had my hair cut yesterday. Get this, it's now just below my ear! how cool is that? Both figuratively and literally. I have my sunblock, sunscreen and after sun care to prevent me from turning the colour of pan-fried lobster with saffron (mmmmm...), paracetamol to prevent me from turning green and lots of water to prevent me from seeing red (again both figuratively and literally). Hopefullt therefore, I'll return to you all a nice tan colour even though if I could stay as pale as possible, I would. I'll keep updates on my blog from time to time if time permits but otherwise, I'll blog again in 3 weeks. Adios.

Monday, July 03, 2006

2 and a half days

Japan, Japan, Japan. My visa has yet to arrive which is a major turning point in whether I'll actually be able to go. However after reading 'Jesus Says Go' by Robin Wells, I have peace of mind about the mission, regardless of whether I am sent or not. If I am not, I'll happily refund those who sponsored me so generously and if I go, I go. The main point I took away from the book was that both this material, physical world and our spiritual mission field are the Lord's; they are His vineyard and we are merely the workers who tend to it. On one hand, if we do not tend to the patch to which we are allocated, we would be failing in our purpose. Even if we desired to tend another patch for whatever reason be it selfish or sincere, if the owner of the vineyard says 'No,' who are we to disagree? Afterall, it is His vineyard and He knows best and wants the best from it. As much as I want to travel to as many countries as possible telling people about Jesus, if God says, 'No,' as much as it hurts, I can rejoice that He is still watching over His field and that no one He has chosen will slip through the net and be saved. If we over pump our zeal to save the lost and forget why we are doing it and who we are doing it for, we would be responsible for spiritual ignorance and foolishness. Ignorance! The thing we are calling people to turn away from, could be the very thing we fall into if we fail to follow Jesus above all, yes, even above full-time, non-secular work.

It is true that there will be disappointments if Lou and I can't go to Japan; does anyone want to take my place otherwise? Tickets and insurance have been bought and although I don't know if a transfer can be made, we can always try if you want to go and if I can't. However, besides the people of Japan, there is still the girl who serves me at my local Chinese takeaway and her family, the Fish and Chips dude, my immediate neighbours and friends who are still in London whom we can meet up with. The harvest will not be any less harvested if I don't go where I think I should but if I get angry or blame God for it, I would have forgotten why I wanted to go in the first place.

Jesus is awesome. We have no idea what He is capable of and that in itself is amazing news. Not even in our wildest imaginations can we begin to comprehend the extent He will go and measures he will take to rescue His sheep. If it is in His will to send me, I may be called to do more than I thought I could possibly do. As much as Japan is 'alien' to many, myself included, it isn't something I would feel was out of my control. People there still speak English and I will be armed with phrasebooks. But if I told God I really wanted to go to the furthest corner to serve Him, He might one day, take me up on my offer and send me to the furthest corner of the earth even thought the earth is round; I believe that God can certainly square it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Father Ted

You scored as Father Noel Furlong. I know! Let's have a screaming competition. I'll go first. AAAAAAAAAAH! Go on it's easy! AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

Father Dougal Maguire


Father Noel Furlong


Father Ted Crilly


Mrs Doyle


Father Larry Duff


Pat Mustard




Sister Assumpta


Bishop Brennan


Father Jack Hackett


What Father Ted character are you
created with

John 3:16

Kamiwa, jitsuni, fonohitorigo o oatao ni nattahodoni yo o aisarita. Forewa miko o shinjuru monogak hitoritoshte horobirukoto naku eino enochi o motsutanede aru.

Lou and I bought our insurance and train passes today. One step closer to going to Japan but it could still all go to pot if the embassey fails to process a visa in time.

An old man with twiddly bits out of his ears, nose and moles talked to me on the tube. As of late, I am extremely wary of strangers especially those of the male variety. At least it was in a public space so it's not like he could have assaulted me in any way, except maybe mentally. I know I've said before that I like older men but I may have to eat my words...

The Japanese Prime Minister likes Elvis!!