Saturday, March 28, 2015

A few pictures...

Camera isn't quite as good on the close ups.  It's starting to break out of the bud.
So, yesterday I decided to go and take Hana for a walk.  She's usually up for a walk.  I took my camera along to take any pictures of things as I went along.  Spring is starting to show up in various stages. 
Lots of buds still closed
See the egret? 
A little closer.
Blossoms!  There were still some buds on this tree.
Planted in a garden.
The sun was out, and as you can tell from the following pictures, there weren't too many blossoms out on these trees yet, but lots of buds in various stages. 

 There were a number of groups at the river, some families and some children just playing in the water.  There were a couple of fishermen too. 
He was busy reeling in a fish! 
Some were jumping into the water and some were just sitting on the edge.
There is a small festival by the river each year at about this time.  They were busy setting up their booths. 
After walking Hana, I went to Rogers.  It can carry some interesting items.  I found one item that made me think of WCA's History night cabin in the grade 5 classroom.  I was always looking for something that would resemble a fireplace.  Here I found something that could work!  Only part that doesn't work so well, is the whole distillery thing on top, but I think it could be removed.  :) 
That is a picture of a distillery, but I liked the way they made the flames look real. 
This week has been spring break.  Each morning, or so it seems, there is some group of young students that pass by my apartment.  I believe this is a yochien (kindergarten) group of students.  They are required to wear the same coloured caps.  They sometimes use a cart where students can stand as go on a field trip! 
They all had yellow caps.
There was a group of students walking, all holding hands before this cart, but I missed getting a picture of them.  It's quite cute to watch. 
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday.  I am privileged to be the lector reader for the 8:30 am service.  The passage I'll be reading is Psalm 118: 1 - 2, 19 - 29.  We are moving into the Passion Week, the week we remember Christ moving to his death on the cross, burial and Christ victory over death when he rose from the grave!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Today's adventure

Spring is definitely here!  This is a fairly close up picture of blossoms.  I was able to occasionally get a whiff of blossoms occasionally. 
This morning I decided I wanted to bicycle to Costco in Iruma.  It is about a 17 km ride one way.  I have bicycled there before, but it has been a year or so.  I decided to rely on my iPhone's map's directions, which was probably my first mistake.  I was remembering the way and came to a spot where I knew I usually turned right, but the directions was telling me to go straight.  I didn't stick to my gut and went straight.  It wasn't nearly as good of a ride.  There wasn't much bicycling space on the road.  I do believe I have been on parts of that road before since I recognized parts.   
As I was moving along, I was coming to the end of the directions, but wasn't seeing Costco anywhere!  The other thing that was happening is my battery on my iPhone died.  That left me using only my instinct.  I did get to a place I recognized and was able to make it to Costco.  I wasn't terribly far off, maybe a couple of kilometers.
One of the main reasons for going to Costco was to purchase a couple of items and to change my membership from the US to Japan.  Membership in Japan is a bit cheaper and actually since I use my card here, I thought I'd switch it to Japan.  Fortunately they usually have people who speak English and I got some help filling out the forms and getting my picture taken.
There it is!
Here's my official card.  I am now a certified Gold Star Member of Costco Japan. 
After paying for my items and packing them in my bags, I brought them to my bicycle and discovered that I had a flat tire.  It would be a 17 km walk back home.  I put my bags in my baskets and decided to start walking, thinking I would probably run into bicycle shop at some point. Remember my iPhone had died, so I was not able to search for a bicycle shop.  One of the things I learned living here, is that there usually is a bicycle shop by a train station.  I ended up walking to the Sayamagaoka station.  I was walking around quite a bit and truth be told, I kind of thought, "I'll just start walking home."  Wouldn't you believe it, as I made that decision in my head, I came to a bicycle shop.  The older man even spoke some English. 
My bicycle in the forefront, it looks pretty full in the store.
It took about 20 minutes.  He found a leak in my tube, put a patch on it, I gave him 1000 yen and was off to bicycle home. 
All tolled, I was gone for almost six hours, had walked/bicycled a total of about 35 kilometers and have a new membership at Costco!  I am very grateful that it was a beautiful, sunshiny day.  I'm also glad I am home.  Ready to put my feet up and watch a movie. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Second Harvest Japan

Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ) received an email from an intern working at Second Harvest Japan a couple of weeks ago.  Second Harvest Japan is an organization that "aims to create a safety food net in Japan."  They are involved in four different programs.  They have a Harvest Kitchen where they make meals for and hand out to homeless folks in Ueno park.  They have a Food Bank where people can come to pick up food.  They also have a Harvest Pantry where they store food and distribute to families who are in need.  The fourth program is promote advocacy and development of food usage in Japan.  Second Harvest Japan states that there are about 17.8 million tons of food a year wasted in Japan.  You can find more information on their website:  Second Harvest Japan.
They asked if CAJ would be interested in having a food drive to support their efforts.  The Middle School Student Council, a High School Chat group, and the grade two class have decided to work together to collect food.  We thought it would be a neat idea to tie this in with Lent. 
Food drive area for High School and Middle School.
The Middle School began collecting food last week.  The High and Elementary school began collecting food this week. 
The Middle School Student Council decided to make a thermometer to monitor how much food we have been collecting, by weight.  
The students took most of the food on the table and weighed it.  Based on what the students have weighed thus far, we have collected 113.6 kg!  Whatever food left on the table pictured above, has not been weighed yet. 

CAJ's mission is, "equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ."  This is one way we are trying to equip students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.