Saturday, August 11, 2018

Bicycle ride to Arakawa

One thing I am trying to do this summer is go for significant bicycle rides at least once a week.  What I usually do is hop on my bicycle and head out in a direction.  As I bicycle I'll turn left or right depending on what I feel like doing.  Generally I aim for about 30+ km, especially if I leave mid-morning as the temperatures are in the mid 30's or so.
If I head east I end up at the Arakawa at some point, if I continue that direction.  It has beautiful bicycle paths on either side of the river.  I haven't arrived at the same point of the Arakawa any time I have been there.  This time also brought me through some tall grass and some paths that probably were not fully designed for bicycle riding.  I took a couple pictures along the way to share with you.  Enjoy the view.



I did stop to purchase a couple of bottles of water.  I'm glad there are vending machines all over Japan.

It was a good ride, but I admit, it was quite warm on the way back and I was not so speedy.  I am glad for the beauty I was able to view from my bicycle seat.  I am grateful for the country that I live in currently and enjoy these opportunities to explore. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Kagurazaka

I have a friend at church, Junko.  Junko also works at Christian Academy in Japan.  A few times a year, we arrange to go on what I call a field trip.  Junko knows Tokyo and has been able to take me to some of the interesting parts of the city.  This past Sunday, August 5 we went to the Kagurazaka area near the Iidabashi station.  During the Edo period this was an area where geishas, teahouses and much entertainment happened.  There is also a French influence now.
When we arrived, we did some walking down the street and popping into a few shops.  We found some authentic Japanese shops that piqued my interest.  We did arrive around lunchtime and I chose an Italian restaurant, Pagliaccio Margherita.
Lunch was delicious with fettuccine and pizza as main dishes.  Our side dishes were cold pea soup and salad.
This was the pizza oven in the restaurant.  
This is where the cold pea soup was.  It was really good especially on a warm day. 


Partially eaten salad


The rest of the afternoon we sauntered up and down the street as well as wandering down some of the side streets.
French restaurant






Main street away from Iidabashi station
Looking towards Iidabashi Station
Further down towards Iidabashi Station


Entrance to a place where geishas would entertain.

The upper part of the geisha entertainment place.
 One of the stores we went into, they sold some traditional Japanese accessories such as umbrellas, wallets and bags.  I was intrigued by the bags and ended up purchasing a black leather bag.  The shopkeeper assured me that they made the bag right there and it has the stores label inside the bag.  I love it.

 We ended up having a coffee after walking up and down the streets.  It certainly was an interesting area.  I enjoyed seeing some of the still Edo period buildings, but there are some new modern buildings seemingly replacing some of the old buildings.  I am glad I was able to enjoy this little part of Tokyo.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Adopt a Family Project

Christian Academy in Japan's three core values are "God is the author of all truth. God created humans in his own image. God created humans for community."  Our mission statement is, "Equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.
So, how does one work these core values and mission statement out in a school during day to day activities of education?  What sorts of things does a teacher or group of teachers do to reflect our core values and equip our students to serve?  Today our grade 6 and 7 teachers and students participated in one activity that equips our students and also is related to our core values.
For those of you who have followed my ministry, you have heard about the Middle School's Homeless Outreach at Ikebukuro.  This year, the Middle School teachers decided to pursue a different avenue of service by connecting with Second Harvest and with Dr. Bennett who has a Sidewalk Chapel.  In a previous post, I wrote about the experience of going with some grade 8 students to Yoyogi park and participating in the Sidewalk Chapel.  Other grade 8 students went to Second Harvest on a Saturday and participated in food preparation, distribution and clean up.  Today the grade 6 and 7 students participated in another Second Harvest program, Adopt a Family.  This morning each of the homeroom classes were putting together a box of food for a low income family.  Students were decorating boxes and writing notes to the family and filling the box with various food items.  Students were excited and looked like they were enjoying the activities.  Here are some pictures of the various classes.













Figuring out how to write encouraging note to the family in Japanese.






Today CAJ's grade 6 and 7 students were given the experience of putting a box of food together for a low income family.  We shared that people are important, created in God's image, no matter how rich or poor.  Students experienced that we are community, we care for each other.  This activity gave the students an experience of service for those who live in Japan.  Students wrote encouraging notes to the family, some notes were simple statements of love and compassion, a way to share God's love.  God has blessed me with a great place to work and a great place where we can be a blessing to others.  It is enjoyable to watch this happen and feel the excitement in teachers and students, showing how the core values and mission statement play out at Christian Academy in Japan.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sidewalk Chapel

I have not been posting regularly or even posting so quickly, but I wanted to share this new adventure we tried at Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ).
CAJ's mission is, "Equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ."  Quite a task if you really stop and think about it.  How does one equip students to serve?  What does that look like?  Is this equipping only related to academics because we are a school?  We at CAJ, see this equipping as more than just academics.  Equipping includes all aspects of life, it can be a daunting task if we are doing this on our own, but we are partnering with our parents, providing varying experiences for our students.
Middle School has always had a Homeless Outreach program, where the students define homelessness, what it looks like here in Japan, culminating with going to Ikebukuro station early in the morning and passing out lunches for the homeless who sleep in the station during the night.  It was a great way for us to serve those who do not have homes or have regular meals.
This year, the Middle School teachers were looking at different opportunities to interact with homelessness or poverty.  We have one of our parents at CAJ, Dr. M. Bennett, who coordinates with various organizations who help Tokyo's homeless population.  The grade 8 teachers communicated with Dr. Bennett and one event that he organizes each week is Sidewalk Chapel at Yoyogi Park.  The grade 8 class plan to bring small groups two times in February to help with the Sidewalk Chapel.  Today was the first time our students went to meet Dr. Bennett and help out.
CAJ and others who came to help.
Getting instructions on the program


Carrying supplies from the van to set up on the sidewalk.



Setting up to put together bags of dry food


Beginning worship

 I know this song was sung in Japanese, but do you recognize its English version?

Dr. Bennett talked about the Parable of the Sower. 
Scripture

 The talk was in English with Japanese translation.

Breaking up into small groups. 
Serving hot coffee and tea while in small groups. 

Getting ready to serve dinner
Large pot of delicious soup


Assembly line working well

Our students interacting in Japanese.  

The meal consisted of rice and a hearty soup with many vegetables.  They also had an option of having crackers.  Each person was given a bag of bread consisting of buns and croissants.  We had pastrami sandwiches donated for distribution at the end of dinner. 
It was a delight to watch our students willing to do whatever was asked of them.  They wanted to participate in serving the food as well as a group made a special effort to engage in conversations with those whom we served. 
 I believe this is one tangible way we can equip our students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.  What a great opportunity!