30 November, 2009

CAJ must read my blog!

The Christian Academy in Japan (where my husband usually works) must read this blog! They put this in their weekly bulletin which came out today:
Why don't we put in a grass playing field? We will be redoing the drainage and surface of our playing field in December. After extensive research and consultation with competing contractors, it was determined that any sort of grass surface would not hold up to the three seasons of sports, daily playground use, and weekend and other activities including parking. Artificial turf surfaces were considered but are very expensive both to install and maintain, as well as to replace.
I wonder what the new surface will look like then?

29 November, 2009

Church in a shed

Today we helped run a church service in a shed on someone's property. Unfortunately the temperatures were in the high 30s (Celcius). It was stinking! I have to admit I felt as flat at the people who were facing me as I spoke. I just hope something of what I said made a difference for someone. In the midst of it all we mentioned that there is no grass on playgrounds in Japan - at Japanese schools as well as at the school my husband works at - Christian Academy in Japan. A bloke came up to us afterwards and admitted he was the groundkeeper for a local school. He wondered why no grass. The place we were meeting has been in drought for quite a number of years. He wondered if a lack of rain might be the answer - but no, most of Japan gets more than sufficient rain. Perhaps the amount of traffic the grass needs to endure? Perhaps it is just a cultural thing. Strange, really, that Australia is addicted to grass (and swimming pools) when our rainfall is so low in so many places. Traditional? It would be difficult for most Australians to imagine going to school without a grassy oval to play on!

27 November, 2009

Reverse culture shock...still

Today I went looking for chopsticks. I'm amazed that large shops which stock quite a variety of international food do not also sell chopsticks - or at least as far as I was able to determine! Tomorrow we head out to a town called Bell about three hours from here. A very small town where friends of ours are ministering in the Presbyterian church. We hope we can be of encouragement to the folk out there. It will certainly be an fun to see our friends again. But now it is nearly past my Cinderella hour, I'd better go and pack...

26 November, 2009

Finally it all fits together

After four long years of being messed up at this time of year, everything finally lines up.
  • It is hot.
  • We have Christmas carols playing.
  • The Christmas cakes have fruit in them.
  • Schools are breaking up for the year - the end of the school year.
  • and the icing on the cake, so to speak:
  • Cricket is playing on (free-to-air) TV in the background.
Ahh, music for my soul. All the dots are connected and I actually know what time of year it is at at snap. And Mum wanted to know if I wanted a traditional roast for Christmas - no way! Give me a hot day with a cold meal followed by a snooze. Purrfect.

25 November, 2009

Hermit crabs still live

Just to let you know, the hermit crabs still live! This is Jessica, formerly known as Sarah, however "Jessica" seems to have stuck. The intense interest in them has died down, but they are still valued members of the household. They are particularly entertaining when they fight over a spot (usually a corner) in the crabitat or over some food. Their favourite foods seem to be apple and cornflakes.

23 November, 2009

Shopping moods

This morning it took me longer to do the groceries than usual. I found myself in rather a dreamy, floating kind of mood. Sometimes when I'm shopping I'm all business. Occasionally I get visually (or auditory) overload and can't wait to get out. Other times I'm in a spendthrift mood, ready to compare every product to save a cent. Occasionally I'm much closer to the mood that shopping centres want me to be in - happy to spend and just a little bit impulsive. Different kinds of moods are required for different types of shopping. For example, Christmas shopping cannot be done in a spendthrift mood. Careful spending is obviously required, but if you enter a shopping centre not willing to spend any money at all, then not much Christmas shopping will be done, will it? However a business-like approach to weekly grocery shopping works best and most efficiently. So here's some questions for you: 1. What sort of moods do you encounter when shopping? List up to five. 2. When do you do your best present shopping? 3. Where do you prefer to shop? (on-line, large shopping centre, small strip mall etc) 4. How do you move out of negative non-shopping mood when shopping is essential (maybe you don't have this problem, but I do)?

Slipped my mind

I thought of a great little blog post to put here, but was walking the kids to school and now I'm back - it's gone. Maybe I left it at school too? Now off to the gym and the weekly groceries, it may slip back into conscious recall, you never know.

21 November, 2009

Summertime relaxing in Brissie

We took a day off today. Not a day off parenting, though when the boys are having fun it feels a little bit like a holiday (I won't mention almost losing two of our boys when they took off...). Our 10 y.o. had his final basketball game of the year and seeing as we were already 'in town' as Auchenflower feels like to people who live further out, then we skipped over to South Brisbane, spent the dangerous middle-of-the-day hours in the air conditioned museum and then trotted over to the swimming action at South Bank. Nice, though parking costs quite a bit after four hours, so we left before we were really ready. Nevertheless, we left, promising ourselves we'd be back soon. It is a great feature of our 'home' town. It cost us less than $35 because we brought our own sandwiches and left 'early'. A Great Summer Saturday.

20 November, 2009

Trying on my old career

Once upon a time I studied at university for four years. At the end I graduated as an Occupational Therapist (OT) and went on to work for a few years in my profession. After a couple of years I got married and headed with my husband down the path of mission and having babies. Both of these took over my world and OT got pushed to the rear crevices of my brain (except while raising my kids - it might be just a fluke that all my kids are good at cutting, colouring, writing etc.). Today, almost ten years after I gave up my OT registration I headed back to what felt like uni. I sat in a workshop with one of my former lecturers teaching us about OT intervention with kids with coordination difficulties. I was scared. Yesterday I started to feel uncomfortable and this morning I woke an hour early (nearly unheard of). This was worse than going to a class reunion. Not only did I fear seeing people I'd trained with, I felt like I'd be pretending to be an OT. How easily could I stuff up? Well I made it through, without any major embarrassments. It even inspired me, brought back some of that old passion, if you like. I didn't anticipate not knowing some of the lingo, though. Abbreviations like DCD, COPM, PACS etc would stump me. Other words like scaffolding, daily log and four quadrant model induced puzzlement. New terms have dared to enter the field while my back was bent over Japanese textbooks. Now I have my challenge all laid out before me. How to achieve my goal? More reading and aquisition of resources. I hope to be able to offer a small service to the younger expat. kids attending the school where my husband works in Tokyo. We'll see if I manage it. It was all so much easier when I was a new grad. I could put all my energy into one task - being an OT. Now I have numerous important things to attend to. Being a mum, a wife, a missionary on home assignment, an aspiring writer and editorial assistant...and now an OT too. Getting a balance is not easy!

19 November, 2009

Feeling competant?

One of the things I like when my husband goes away is that I get to do everything. Weird? Let me explain.

 Living in a foreign country where you don't speak the language well makes you feel incompetent. Live there for many years and it can get you down. You can easily begin to believe that you have never been capable.

 One of the great things about coming back to Australia is that I can talk to (almost) anyone. I can do my own banking with ease. I can fill out forms with no help. I can make phone calls without even thinking about it. Going to the doctor is a breeze and I don't have to take my dictionary (unless we are interpreting Japanese immunisation records). Hey, I even took the car to the mechanic last week and talked to him both face to face and on the phone.

 I'm remembering that I once was a competent professional who held down a challenging job, managed my own finances and even lived on my own for two years. It is good to remember these things.

 My husband is a wonderful partner in the business of living and raising a family. In fact he is exceptionally competent in many things and in Japan is more competent than me because he's managed to learn more Japanese than me. Therefore when we're in Japan I lean on him a lot. He does the banking, he makes many of the phone calls, reads the kindy notices and fills out the forms.

He enjoys being in Australia because I am much less dependent on him. When he is away in Japan I feel very fragile. When he is away in Australia I feel a bit shaky, but much less so.

I do know that my self-worth doesn't come from what I can do, it ultimately comes from Christ and that I am loved and accepted by Him. However I don't think it hurts to remember the abilities that He's given us and use them when we can. Actually the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) tells us that God wants us to use, and presumably appreciate, the abilities He's given us.

I am thankful for all these things - for a wonderful husband, for a Lord who loves me and for the opportunity to live in Australia where I can communicate easily. Last week God was very gracious to me in providing all the help and strength I needed to survive the week. He also gently reminded me that the gifts and abilities He has given me are sufficient for where He's placed me.

18 November, 2009

Depressing shopping

Shopping for female swimming costumes (called "togs" in Queensland) has to be one of the most depressing activities one can engage in. I've been avoiding it for 12 years and finally today, with our summer holidays fast approaching, had to go and find a replacement. Standing nearly naked under harsh lights in front of multiple mirrors is bad enough, without having to try on a variety of badly fitting garments. Add to that the challenge of doing it on your own and with a limit to how many you can take into the fitting room, and you potentially have, not only a depressing activity, but a lengthy one. I'm now considering swimming in a coverall from neck to knee this summer! The one positive is that the current trend allows women to wear board shorts instead of garments that seek to show as much of your hips as possible. Unfortunately that kind of modesty doesn't extend to the upper body. We went swimming yesterday in the face of 39.5 degree Celsius temperatures. Later my youngest son saw my old one-piece togs (they'd been modestly hidden by a tank top). His comment was,
"Some people wear more skin than that."
Ain't that the truth. My aim is to "wear" as little skin as possible!

17 November, 2009

Satay chicken recipe

Some interest was shown in the recipe I used last night, so I've typed it up for your enjoyment. Satay Chicken (slow cooker version) 1 kg chicken breast or thigh fillets 2 cloves of garlic 2 heaped tablespoons peanut butter (1 Australian tablespoon = 20 mls) 5 teaspoons soy sauce (1 Australian teaspoon = 5 mls) 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon tomato sauce (ketchup) 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce 3/4 cup or 185mls (1 Australian cup = 250 mls) coconut milk 3 teaspoons cornflour (optional) Remove any visible fat from the chicken and cut into strips. Peel and crush the garlic. Place in the slow cooker with the peanut butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Place lid on cooker and cook for 3 hours on High. If necessary or desired, mix the cornflour with about 2 tablespoons of cold water to a paste and use a little or all of it to thicken the dish. Vegetables can be included in the sauce (but I didn't, my boys prefer naked veggies). Peel and finely slice vegetables such as carrot, celery and onion. From: Slow Cooker by Sally Wise

Origami sumo wrestlers

Barbara asked for a photo of the origami sumo wrestlers I mentioned in a previous post. Here it is. The fun with these little guys is that you can actually stage a 'wrestle'. By putting them on a slightly unstable surface and tapping (gently or violently, depending on your personality and the surface's stability), you can have a match. Who wins? Simply the one who remains upright the longest. With many days in Japan where it was difficult to take the boys outside, this was a popular pastime - both the folding and the wrestling.

16 November, 2009

I was wrong

They loved their Satay Chicken, sweet chilli sauce and all. Our 7 y.o. asked for seconds - the ultimate complement when cooking for kids! I am falling in love with my slow cooker.

Another unpredictable day in our house

Our family is complete again. David flew home this morning. I found it a little disconcerting that when I went to be after 10 last night, he hadn't even gotten to the airport in Perth yet, and when I got up just after 6, he had been in Brisbane for over half an hour! Weird. We picked him up at the train station and had breakfast at McDonalds (one of my boys wants to know why Aussies call it Maccas). First time I think I have ever done this, goes against the grain. However, it ended up being scarily similar to what I normally eat for breakfast - muesli and yoghurt, orange juice and coffee. Even more scary is that our 7 y.o. ate his McMuffin with immense speed and continues to rave about it. We took the boys to school on the way home from Maccas. At home David first emptied his bags all over the bed and then collapsed - on the lounge. I'd diligently cleared a space on the bed, knowing he'd be exhausted (after doing a couple of all-nighters several weeks ago), but he grumpily declared that he wasn't going to allow himself a proper sleep or he'd not sleep tonight. Before I left for the gym and grocery shopping, he was quite asleep. It would have been more comfortable in bed! Finally got to the gym! I had almost constant kids last week, with gastro taking all my child-free time away, so no gym. Even a week without exercise was noticeable, today my muscles were protesting earlier than usual. About five minutes into Woolies (Woolworthes grocery store) my phone rang. Our 4 y.o. had just thrown up at Pre-Prep (like kindy). This is a bizarre virus. 7 y.o. hadn't thrown up since last Wednesday - where did our 4 y.o. get it from? So, grocery shopping prematurely interrupted, I raced back to school to pick our youngest up. Drove home and found David finally horizontal in bed. I wondered whether to leave them together and go and finish my shopping, but decided to risk it, being someone who is persistent - I'd planned to shop after all! Returned an hour later with all the goods to last us another week and found the youngest family member asleep. David had awoken refreshed and was checking email and almost back to normal. He made me lunch - one thing I'd missed. I hate making lunch at lunch-time. 4 y.o. threw up again after lunch. The trouble is he's been having sympathy pains since his big brother became ill over a week ago. It is hard to know what is the truth and what is wishful thinking. Though I have to admit, actual vomit is pretty convincing. Later this afternoon David also rang the taxation office to sort out a large tax bill that we errantly received last week. It was solved pretty quickly. Apparently he was given bad advice by the previous person he rang there and put figures in the wrong boxes. The tax office was treating our earnings in Japan as overseas business investment-type stuff and promptly started billing us for the year to come as well as charging us several thousands of dollars in taxation for last year! We're so glad it is mostly sorted out now (waiting till we get the reassessment to say it is totally sorted out). Now I am going to go and get a new recipe for Satay Chicken out of the slow cooker and try to persuade three of my family members to eat it. It has Sweet Chilli sauce in it. I'm rather suspecting that this experiment is going to end badly. Maybe I should pack my cooking ambitions away and just serve them plain hot dogs, sauce-less meatballs and plain cheese pizzas. Doesn't do much for my taste buds, but certainly promotes family harmony. So, there is a sample of the most interesting bits of our day. Are we ordinary? Yes we are!

14 November, 2009

Fun doing deputation

Two weeks ago tonight we were in Toowoomba running a Japan mission event which ended up with about 100 people attending. We've received overwhelmingly positive feedback. We ourselves had a lot of fun. Here are some photos from the evening. 1st David is helping people explore the Japanese language. 2nd In another group, Wendy is showing people how to make origami sumo wrestlers. 3rd Our deputation stand, that we cart, assemble and disassemble many times over. 4th Everyone eating Japanese curry rice.

13 November, 2009

When I'm an adult...

We periodically get asked what our children love about Japan. Difficult question to answer, because it is just the place they live, not an exotic place they've travelled to on holidays. However my 4 y.o. gave me interesting insight this morning. He said,
When I get to be an adult I want to live in Japan because my raincoat is there because it rains a lot and the lawn is never brown.
What lawn? Never mind. As a 4 y.o. he already has a broader view of the world than most of his peers.

12 November, 2009

A spear in the wash

This morning I carefully removed a spear from my lingerie bag. No, the natives haven't been here, but a portion of Lego was vomited on yesterday afternoon and it required washing :) Thankfully our 7 y.o. woke up cheerful and with a slight appetite today. No more vomiting or diarrhoea today! I've caught up a bit on housework, as well as mop the floor of the toilet and bathroom again after our 4 y.o. left it a little bit too long before going to the toilet. Tomorrow I finally have adult company. On Sunday I missed all the adults I'd counted on seeing - church and a party with good friends. Not really much in the way of decent conversation since (except a couple of phone calls). I have to admit to being a tiny bit tired of whinging kids. Lots of tantrums today, from 4 y.o. fighting with the others. And our recovering boy who swung from being happy to be alive to being grumpy due to a lack of energy, not having eaten since Saturday morning. Incredibly picky too - criticising all sorts of things like his brother's grammar and my facial expressions. A friend is coming for morning tea tomorrow and then Mum and Dad come after lunch for the night. Dad is putting in a couple of ceiling fans to help us cope with the heat without aircon. Gotta love having a dad who's an electrician. Though I have to say that this house is rather well built. Near the top of a hill it gets good breezes much of the time, tinted windows and insulation do their job well too. Well, it is past my bedtime, so I'd better make the effort or regret it tomorrow.

10 November, 2009

I'm frustrated

It is amazing how, in a day, frustrations can build up. Today, our 7 y.o. continued to have occasional diarrhoea. He seemed sparky, but every now and then a rush to the little boys room. So he's still home. I've had to cancel tomorrow - the day I'd planned to indulge in some leisurely shopping for me. First frustration. Second frustration. Getting the boys to swimming. I'm lucky, David usually does this. It wasn't too bad, except that our ill son looked pretty flaky. Poor kid, getting dragged to school for pick-up and then to swimming. But there was no one to leave him with, so in the car we got. Third frustration. When we got there I realised that our youngest had forgotten his goggles. Pointed it out while we were waiting the half an hour for his lesson (shouldn't have) and he whinged and whined and cajoled until his ill brother finally relented to walk back to the car with us to retrieve the goggles. 7 y.o. decided he couldn't walk all the way to the car, so I said to both of them to wait for me at the entrance and I'd drive around and get them. Did they believe me? No, 7 y.o. changed his mind while I was walking and 4 y.o. came running through the car park a fraction later as I manoeuvred the car back to his spot. He almost ran out onto a busy road. I raced home trying hard to stay to the speed limit; we only live about six minutes from the pool but several traffic lights bar the way. Dashed into the house, retrieved hotly desired goggles and raced back to the pool, all while our 10 y.o. did laps of the pool in his lesson. Dragged our sick 7 y.o. back into the swimming pool arena. The next one blindsided me. 4 y.o. who loves water, refused to get into the swimming pool. He was pretty creative in coming up with excuses, from "I'm shy" to "I want to swim in that lane (next one)." After all that I'd done to ensure he'd have a good lesson, I could hardly believe it. Sat next to the pool stunned for several minutes, occasionally expressing my disbelief to my sons. At least our 10 y.o. had a good lesson. And the kind lady at the front desk said that we could have make-up lessons for both the younger ones. She is not obliged to do that, it was a soothing balm to my ruffled soul. Now all I need is my husband home so I can verbally offload the whole frustrating story. But, there are still six sleeps left.

08 November, 2009

Husband leaves. Child develops gastro. Figures.

WARNING: If you have a delicate stomach, go to someone else's blog today! If you are a Facebook friend this title may be familiar. It is what I posted yesterday. Yes, our 7 y.o. had diarrhoea and vomiting yesterday and still hasn't picked up on energy or appetite yet. He managed a spectacular vomit in front of all three visitors I had in the house at the time. Two left rapidly (they were nearly going anyway, this just made their leaving speedier). The other, bless him, stayed around until I had all the boys in bed. He took the others for a walk while I spent a considerable amount of time making our house liveable again and was the source of much hilarity all afternoon. Male second grade teachers are pretty rare and certainly a precious breed. This one loves boys and is most happy to go (in conversation) to the places that boys always tend to go. He happened to be reading a page to the other two about vomit at the exact time when their brother provided a brilliant example of the topic at hand. We always struggle to have decent table conversation and it's worse when there is only one adult. Unfortunately current events have made it infinitely worse - they can hardly stay away from our amazing event of the weekend. Our 7 y.o. can't wait to get back to school and tell his friends that he "pooed his pants five times"! Our 4 y.o. is wondering out loud why the vomit was multi coloured and mostly contained vegetables as well as numerous other things like what a "vomiting bug" might look like. Thankfully the other two don't show signs of illness. I haven't vomited (not even when I cleaned up the dining room yesterday), but I'm a tad worried about the other end... The most unfortunate thing about this is that a much anticipated birthday party involving several of our best friends and their children is starting up about now. And we're missing it. Tragic for this extrovert who usually lives in a different country to these friends and has few opportunities to meet them. Oh well. At least they all live in Brisbane and we still have eight months left in the country. There'll be other opportunities.

07 November, 2009

Meaning of English words imported into Japanese

Here are the meanings of the words I posted a few days ago.
  1. Manshon - mansion. But the meaning is different. This is a large fairly modern apartment block. Japanese are amazed that the meaning of the English word is for a large house that usually only has one family in it.
  2. Sutaduresu taiya - studless tyres. English? Yes, but not where I come from. These are tyres used on snowy roads, but have not studs (which wreck the roads).
  3. Sutovu - stove. Again a different meaning. This is a heater.
  4. Aian - iron.
  5. Pasocon - PC - personal computer.
  6. Beeza - visa
  7. Youkari - eucalyptus tree
  8. Lordo (has two meanings) - lord and load
  9. Sutsukesu - suitcase
  10. Makudonarudo - McDonalds
Make sense? Then you have to learn the script that they are all written in. アイオン is iron, for example. Lots of fun.

06 November, 2009

The end of a quiet week, but it isn't over yet

Yes, it has been a delightfully quiet week. One that I've even been able to contemplate non-essentials like vacuuming corners and writing non-urgent articles. But.. Tomorrow David flies to Perth (check your atlas, if you're unfamiliar with Australian geography - he'll be on the plane for about five hours - Perth is in the south-west corner of Australia and Brisbane is on the east coast). He'll be there for nine sleeps. I'll be here with three boys for the same length of time, though it will seem much longer on this side of the country than his! The last times we've done significant deputation (1999-2000 and 2004-5) we've all done the Western Australia trip. We have several supporting churches over there and OMF over there needs all the encouragement we can give them. The sheer fact of the matter is that we've grown larger as a family and take up more aeroplane seats - a financial concern. And two of the boys are in school now. So, I'm staying home and David is doing it alone. I'm doing the week alone too - with our three crazy, energetic boys. Not that he has it easy either. He's going to have a pretty full schedule. We also work as a team during these years at home. We're a typical introvert-extrovert couple. I do the chatting and networking side of deputation with more ease than my husband. The one thing in my favour is that for the first time ever (during a separation) I'll have everyone at "school" for three days he is away. Easier than the month we did apart two years ago. I had the kids with me all the time (and they were two years younger - meaning a two year old tantrum thrower) and we were living in someone else's house. Anyway, pray for us all, please. Be ready for crazy updates too!

05 November, 2009

Square Watermelons

This was passed on in an email from my friend Mrs Q: Square Watermelons A round watermelon can take up a lot of room in a refrigerator and the usually round fruit often sits awkwardly on refrigerator shelves. Smart Japanese farmers have forced their watermelons to grow into a square shape by inserting the melons into square, tempered glass cases while the fruit is still growing on the vine.

English words in Japanese

A friend commented on this post mentioning all the foreign words that Japanese absorb into their language. He was absolutely correct. Can you see the wonderful "English" in this photo? Here are some others, see if you can guess their meanings (for fun, please hold back if you speak Japanese and let the non-Japanese speakers have a go): (I've typed them as close as I can to how they sound in Japanese.)
  1. Manshon
  2. Sutaduresu taiya
  3. Sutovu
  4. Aian
  5. Pasocon
  6. Beeza
  7. Youkari
  8. Lordo (has two meanings)
  9. Sutsukesu
  10. Makudonarudo
Answers here.

04 November, 2009

A jus?

Anyone know what a "jus" is? I've been reading my new slow cooker cookbook and it keeps coming up with the word "jus". It really annoys me when recipes use words that are not English. Unusual ingredients seems to be pretty trendy too. I usually avoid such recipes - by the time I've hunted down the rare ingredients, I've wasted half a day at the grocery store. Actually the trend of using foreign or flashy sounding words even seems to have infiltrated the hairdressers - or maybe it is too long since I've been to an Australian hairdresser. There were signs up on the wall advertising various services they could provide, trouble was I could hardly understand them.

Christmas nearly here?

This morning we awoke to a 4 y.o. complaining that his big brother was singing. Not only was he singing, but his repertoire was Christmas carols. Later after he tired, he set the iPod to play more Christmas music. It is also blisteringly hot today. (I know it, I walked to school and back this afternoon.) An Aussie Christmas is definitely on the way. It feels pretty normal too - heat, school finishing up for the year, notices about Christmas parties at school etc. Hey, the cricket season is even starting up. This is our second southern hemisphere Christmas in nine years. We're a little excited...we'd be more excited if we weren't so drippy. Check here for an Australia Christmas Jingle Bells by a famous Australian Christian performer.

03 November, 2009

Pets for show-and-tell, vacuuming and writing

Yes, the hermies, as they've lovingly become known as in our house - easier than Jessica, Jaz and Spikey, made it to show and tell today. They seem to be fine, though possibly a little tired. Once they were settled and enjoying great fame at PrePrep (like kindergarten), I finished off an article I wrote called "Loving missionaries with your questions". It is based on a lot of what I've said on this blog over the last couple of months. Thanks for your comments, some of which I used. I've sent it off to be published in our small denominational magazine. I'm thinking of doing some rewriting and submitting it some other places too. While I was doing final editing, David rode off and posted his last assignment for the year. Yay! So, just to celebrate, we did some much needed cleaning. Such fun :) Actually it is far more fun when done in community (now you know my personality). I did a "corners and all" vacuum that took hours and David cleaned the toilets and washed a floor rug. Heaps more that could be done, but I've run out of housekeeping enthusiasm for today. It is far more fun writing stuff. Cleaning is a very satisfying task, but it has to be one of world's most easily undone. At least my 7 y.o. came in and noticed, "Why is the house all clean?" he asked! Now you know what my house usually looks like too.

02 November, 2009

Saturday went...

really well! I wore my summer kimono (yukata) for the first half of the evening and managed to find a girl almost the right size for our "girl's" kimono. We ate Japanese food (curry rice and miso) with chopsticks, did origami together, gave people a taste of Japanese language, showed videos on below-the-surface of Japan and had a lot of fun. People came away with a deeper understanding of Japan, the culture and what it might feel like to live there. We did have to cut a few things out of the program, like the slipper relay and questions at the end, but overall it was a good evening and lots of people gave us good feedback at the end. The main thing we kept hearing was that most missionaries just stand up the front and talk or show videos (or slides) - boring - but that our evening was "the best missionary event I've ever been to"! It was interactive and not at all static. People will remember it for much longer. What we really want is for more church groups to get enthusiastic about a program like this. It was not a small thing to organise, but very worthwhile. We'd happily do dozens of these, and even though they are more work, we'd rather do them than stand up the front of churches for a 10 minute missionary "spot". We had 100 people come to this small church. Quite a lot weren't even from this church. More than a dozen knew me as a child - a bit scary. However no dodgy stories of my childhood were told that I know of. One man who knew my parents before they were married recounted to us some of the message given at our wedding! We're all tired today. The boys were up till almost 10pm on Saturday night. Hoping that the fairly blank diary for this week translates into a quiet week. But now I'm off to the bank, gym and grocery store.

01 November, 2009

Outside face, inside face

Last month I wrote this small piece for our monthly news/prayer letter: Relationships in Japan Japan is a challenging place to make new relationships. It is a group society, yet they are not as communal as many other Asians. In some countries the place to meet people is on the street or at the market, but not in Japan. People are not in and out of each others homes, either. Japanese usually have long-term relationships which are based around work, education or location (i.e. neighbours). Relative status difference governs relationships and language. If they don’t know your ‘status’ in relation to theirs, they are nervous about talking with you. Avoidance of eye contact with strangers is noticeable. Tatemae and Honne refer to a key aspect of Japanese culture, the public persona and real feelings. Tatemae is a face that Japanese show in public. They may have a specific role due to their social status or position in the specific group (such as corporation or company). They behave as they are expected to behave in the specific situation, regardless of their personal opinions about the matter. In a land where population density is high, the use of tatemae is a key component to avoiding conflict. Japanese are very good at avoiding confrontation. To the westerner, this may sound dishonest, but I think Australians are pretty good at avoiding confrontation, too! Honne refers to real feelings and opinions. It is not something one is encouraged to show in public, especially during business dealings. It is something a Japanese shows only to his closest friends (or sometimes when drunk) and family. Rarely did we become close enough friends to hear real feelings and opinions. People have been quite intrigued and have asked lots of questions about it (good questions). What do you think? How different is this to what we do in Australia? We put on our "outside" faces too, don't you think. Possibly not to the same extent, but we certainly do it.