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.