Saturday, December 1, 2012

What a busy couple of weeks!

Konnichiwa!  Ok, thought I'd try a little Japanese on you!  I have to admit, I'm slowly, however so slowly, learning new words and characters.  It is complicated.  There are three different alphabets, Hiragana, Katakana and Cangjie.  All three can be used within one sentence.  There are different symbols for the same sound depending on the alphabet.  So, lots to learn for this brain!  
ヒらがな Hiragana  C日弓土十戈 Cangjie  カタカナ Katakana
It has been a busy couple of weeks with a lot of activities going on.  November 15th was a special day for Grade 6 and 9 at CAJ.  It was Greek Day!  Both classes have been practicing their Greek myths skits for a number of weeks prior.  That Thursday the students were to present their skits.  Parents visitors and other classes came into the auditorium to watch few of the skits.  After the skits were completed, by about 1:30 - 2:00 or so, a number of parents had prepared some Greek food for the students.  It was a fun day! 

Busy preparing for skits and presenting skits.  
I had my first Thanksgiving meal the Saturday before Thanksgiving weekend.  About 30 women, carrying different country passports, living here in the Tokyo gathered together at a mutual friend's place to share a Thanksgiving meal.  We did not all know each other but we were all connected to a couple of teachers at CAJ.  It was a fun evening and a first Thanksgiving meal for some of them, not having experienced things such as stuffing or pumpkin pie.  
All of us at the Thanksgiving meal on the Saturday before US Thanksgiving.  Some of the leftovers on the table.  
 We also had a Thanksgiving meal with the Christian Reformed World Mission missionaries and partner missionaries at Michael and Kim Essenburg's house.  We shared another traditional US Thanksgiving meal, sang some Thanksgiving songs and were able to have good fellowship.  
Right after the meal, seven of us drove/rode up to Takayama to stay in Brian and Bette VanderHaak's cabin for the long weekend.  That is where I had my third U.S. Thanksgiving meal!  Friday evening there were about another 30 people who live in the neighboring missionary cabins, came to Brian and Bette's cabin to share a Thanksgiving meal.  It was great getting to meet a number of the neighbors there.  
I have only been up to Takayama two times now, but really enjoy the time there as it is very relaxing and I get to spend time walking or running the beach.  There were a couple of new things that happened this trip.  First, I met Jenny, a yellow lab who lives with the Potter family.  I will be dog-sitting Jenny and Hana (VanderHaak's black lab) over Christmas break.  Here's a picture of both Jenny and Hana on the beach.  I was adventurous and took both, Jenny and Hana for a walk.  
Jenny and Hana both like walks on the beach!
The second thing that happened was that Simone braided my hair adding extensions!  Simone had some extra extensions she brought from the U.S. and she was willing to put them in my hair.  Yes, I look different and well, it has been interesting the reactions to my braids.  I think now that people are a bit used it now and they have asked about how I had it done.  Simone took a large chunk of Saturday just braiding my hair!  Here's a picture of what she accomplished that day!  
Doesn't it look interesting? That's Kelsey Hardeman in the back.
The third interesting thing may not be so interesting but it's been a long time!  I made peanut sauce!  It's based on a recipe in the Wild Boar on the Kitchen Floor cookbook for West Africa.  I haven't made peanut sauce in quite a while and had to do it from memory not knowing for sure how much of the ingredients to put it.  It was a bit of a hit and mostly hit.  It turned out fine and all seven of us had enough to eat.  
YUM Peanut Sauce!
Visiting Takayama gives me to opportunity to do some exploring, especially looking at the damage the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, envisioning what it must have been like to have this HUGE wall of water destroy so much of the homes and land.  The area is called Shichigahama, which literally means seven beaches, a lot to explore.  Here are a few pictures of what I explored. 
Waves coming in

Another beach
A destroyed bridge
I have to admit, I'm struggling with the fact that today is the first day of December!  How did that happen?  Wasn't it just August 11th and I landed in Narita?  Only two more weeks of teaching and Christmas break will be here!  Christmas events have begun.  Last night, November 30th, was the first Christmas concert at CAJ.  The High School Music department presented its Christmas concert.  It was about two hours of bands and choirs.  I was quite impressed with the wide range of musical skills the students at CAJ have.  Even one student directed a musical piece!  
Wide range of choral and bands at the High School Christmas Concert at CAJ
Saturday, December 1st was the day for the Run For the Cure in Tokyo.  It's a fundraiser for Breast Cancer.  Tanya Hall, our Middle School Principal organized a group of us from CAJ to take the train and head down to Hibiya Park where the stage and registration was.  We picked up our t-shirts, took pictures, had our faces painted and then headed over to the start area which is by the Imperial Palace grounds.  

This is the CAJ group.  Some of us walked, some ran the 5 km.
Map of the 10 or 5 km run/walk 
It was fun to walk with colleagues, chatting about various things outside of school.  The weather held out until we finished.  About 15 minutes after we finished there was a down pour of rain.  We ran to the train station and hopped on a train that headed home.  
Saturday evening December 1st, Simone and I took Bette to The Himalayan Restaurant in Tokorozowa.  We went there a couple of weeks ago.  We like the curry they serve there as well as the naan.  Here is a picture of my dinner.  YUM! 
I ordered an eggplant and a chicken curry.  There was also a salad and rice with the naan. They have this delicious yoghurt as a dessert
Finally, saving the best for last! About a week ago I got an email from the Business office at school telling me I had a HUGE package!  Of course I still had to teach a couple of classes before I could get down to the business office.  My curiosity had peaked.  During fourth period I walked down and went to pick up my big box.  It was from the grade one and two classes at Washington Christian Academy!  I opened the box and the most thoughtful gift was included!  They had put a small Christmas tree with 24 gifts from the students!  Each bag had a date on it, meaning that was the date I could open the gift!  December 1st was supposed to be the box, but they had forgotten to put that note on the box and I had already opened it.  So, today's gift was the tree.  This past Tuesday I was able to take the gift home, since I ride a bicycle, here's how I did it...
Good thing the bicycle has a front basket.  I was able to fit it into the basket for the most part.
 When I arrived home, I set up the tree and the gifts are lined up in order on the shelves.  It is such a wonderful idea!  It just warmed my heart that they thought to even do that for me.  
I dedicated two shelves for the tree and all the gifts!  How fun is that!  The Canadian flag was a VanderHaak addition from earlier this year.  
Did I ever tell you that the class chosen me as their missionary they pray for regularly? We have been able to set up about a one a month Skype session.  It is so fun for me to chat and answer their questions about living in Japan!  It is such a blessing to know that there are so many people praying!  God has been good to me.  When I sit and think about it, I truly am overwhelmed by the tremendous support, whether it be through praying regularly, encouraging emails, Skype sessions, FaceTime sessions, IMessages, phone calls (I have found out a way to make calls to Canada and the US for free) mailing packages and financial support.  Thank you all!  May God bless you!  


  1. Loved hearing all the news. Appreciate you walking for the cure. Blessings.

  2. I can see that this was really God's plan for you!
    I miss you but all the photos and updates are great because you don't seem so far away when I look at them! Thanks for taking the time to post everything.
    Enjoy the adventure!!

    Love the hairdo!!!

    I will keep praying for you.
    God bless!