Monthly Archives: April 2016

New Routines

So far this year, school has been surprisingly great, much better than I thought it would be two weeks ago.   Although my first day this year was weird and uncomfortable, I now know all the faces of my classmates, and I have many new friends.  I’m also getting to know my teachers, lessons and new school schedules.  My daily routines are much easier.

My class in school is pretty international, which is fun.  Besides me, an American, there’s a boy in my class who’s Chinese, and another who says he has lived in Chicago and Brazil.  Also, my friend Lisa, from last year, is going to go to Canada as a high school exchange student in June for three years. What a great opportunity!  And guess what?  Her host family has a pet pig!!!    I will miss her.

Already, we have been busy.   In May, all the third year students are going on a trip to Kyoto and Nara.  We will be there for three days and two nights.  Each class will separate into groups with seven to eight people, and each group gets to pick where to go.  Everyone’s pretty excited, and it’s a great way to get to know the people in your class a little.  At night in Kyoto, the whole school will stay in a huge ryokan (a Japanese style inn) which all the teachers are saying is beautiful.  And from what I hear, my dad is going to be jealous when he sees what I will be eating for dinner!!

Yep, school is different, and I am still getting used to it.  But I LOVE IT!!!  This is going to be a great year.

Becoming Visible

We have been in Japan for over 10 months.  When we first arrived last June, we didn’t know anyone.  All our neighbours were strangers and it was as if we were invisible.  Since then, Akira and I have walked through the neighbourhood and around Josie’s Jr. High and Josiah’s Elementary school praying for families, teachers and students to encounter Jesus.  We have read the names on houses in our neighbourhood and prayed for families by name.  In our home we created a prayer board listing friends, neighbours, students and teachers God has placed on our hearts.  Every Sunday, we pray for them as a family, by name, asking for Jesus to touch them and change their hearts, that they may receive Him.

During these last 10 months, we have also been rooting as a family into the community.

  • Josie and Josiah have attended the local Jr. High and elementary schools making friends and learning how to live life in Japan.  The last week of March, they finished their school year.  One week later, in April, they started their new school year.  Josie is now in the third and final year of Jr. High and Josiah is now in the 5th grade.
  • Since November, I have been studying Japanese at a local Kumon.  Every Tuesday and Friday afternoon, I go to Kumon to study.  At the same time, many kids from Josiah’s school are also there.  Now, several months later, I recognise many faces and they recognise mine.  They smile at me as I enter Kumon to do my study and I smile back.
  • Akira walks to school every morning with Josie.  On the way, he greets all the students on their way to the elementary school as well as those on their way to the Jr. High.  Many kids now know him as Josiah’s and Josie’s papa and say good morning.

We are becoming visible.

And now, we have been asked by Nitta Sensei, the Kumon head teacher, to come and have a special English time with the kids.  So, one Saturday a month for the next three months,  Josie, Josiah and I will teach this special class and talk in English with the kids.

There is also a very good possibility that I may be invited once a month to do a 20 minute English read aloud time to Josiah’s class.  I will be allowed to read any english book I choose.  Already I am thinking about what stories I could share with them, especially during Christmas.

Akira has also been inspired to write commentaries for a local newspaper about family, identity and life choices, each highlighting Biblical truths without saying the name “Jesus.”  Already, one of these has been published.

It is true we were nearly invisible when we arrived.  People did not look at us or initiate friendly greetings but we did’t strive to make connections.  We chose instead to make family first and let God take the lead.  He has.  Now in many ways we are becoming visible.

It is a beautiful thing to smile and greet now familiar faces and see that smile returned.


The Start of the New School Year

Today I had my first day of 9th grade…which is the third year of Jr High school in Japan.

There are seven classes of kids in my grade, and each year they scramble them up, creating new classes.  If you are lucky, you will have old friends in your new class in addition to all the new students you don’t know yet.  In my new class there are about six kids from my old class and I am glad to say at least two of them are friends, sort of.  At least I know their names and faces.  My homeroom teacher is an English teacher, so already my last year of junior high has brightened up a little.  Still, I have to say that my first day of school wasn’t quite what I expected.

I arrived at school early, and already there were kids waiting. Then, at precisely eight twenty, we were given papers which told us what class we were in and who was our teacher.  I somehow managed to reach my new classroom, which felt too clean and shiny, and basically stayed at my desk until I found someone who I actually knew.  We talked, and then, when all the kids had arrived, we had a little introduction with our teacher.  Then the whole school headed to the auditorium.  There, we listened to the principle and all the teachers give little speeches.  It took two hours. After that, we returned to our classes, turned in our homework, got some papers to take home to our parents, and school was finished for the day.  Everyone left at ten twenty in the morning. No classes, no lunch, and not much time to meet the people in your class.  So, I really don’t know how I feel about today. I hope that tomorrow will be a little better.