28 December, 2013

Photo question #45

We're on holidays in the mountains (and not in tents). So I won't be blogging much thus next week. However I thought I'd leave you with a photo quiz. 

How do you suppose you should pronounce this shop's name? (Only guessers please, if you actually know, please hold on and we'll see what guesses come up.)

27 December, 2013

Morning Tea, anyone?

This morning we had American friends over for morning tea. They asked, "Is Morning and Afternoon Tea an Australian custom?"

It really comes from Britain, but there is no doubt that it is an Australia (and New Zealand) tradition. Both David and I grew up with these between-meal snacks.
Wiktionary says: "A small meal or snack eaten between breakfast and lunch; a period of time set aside for this purpose, taken as a break from schoolwork, work, a conference, etc."
A recent Morning Tea for friends.
Morning Tea is a midmorning snack that usually involves a hot drink, usually tea or coffee. Sometimes it is called "smoko" which originates from people having a cigarette at this time also. It is usually a pretty casual event, but if invited to "morning tea" usually the hosts would make it a more formal event by setting the table with nice dishes and putting an array of sweet snacks on nice dishes.

Afternoon Tea is the same, except around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. That would be the first thing we did after coming home from school: gather around the kitchen bench or the table and have a drink (water or juice for children in my childhood home) and a snack. If there wasn't time to go home (like when I had piano lessons), Mum always provided a snack in the car.

Just to confuse, the large evening meal can also be called tea. If you would like more background on "tea" as a social event in Britain, check out this link.

When everyone's home on the weekend or on holidays we almost always have morning and afternoon tea, but not as formally as the photo shows. Usually just a selection of snacks from the plastic/tin containers that hold them in the cupboard.

26 December, 2013

Sport connects us

For many Australians, sport is a topic of great importance. Conversations often start with comments on the weather (especially about rain) or with the current season's sport. 

We rediscovered yesterday that sport really is a way into conversation with many people.
Today, "Boxing Day" in Australia, is a big sporting day. 

The traditional Boxing Day cricket test match began today (it's a five-day event). Additionally the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht race began this morning. I believe there is also a lot of tennis played in this week after Christmas, including the Australian Open.

Even people who aren't that much into cricket will be involved in some kind of outdoors activity in these weeks: for example backyard cricket, or hanging out at the beach or pool.

We've been boasting about our eldest son's wrestling achievements on Facebook. Most especially we've put the videos of his last two bouts (which were fast wins via pins) up there. What surprised us was the response of relatives to the videos. Yesterday we had surprising conversations with people who usually don't show much interest in our lives in Japan at all, mostly precipitated by them watching our son's sporting performances. 

Wrestling is an unusual sport in Australia. I've never known anyone who does it, schoolboy or otherwise. So, we've brought this unknown sport into the lives of our families and they can relate--it's sport after all! I'm amazed but thankful. 

Finding ways to connect with family back in Australia who can't imagine our lives here is hard. Most missionaries will admit this. I'm thankful for small things which help.

25 December, 2013

Dreaming of an Aussie Christmas

Here's what an Aussie Christmas looks like:
Yep, beach holidays.


Summer camps for kids. We helped out on this one for middle schoolers.

This is what happens when you help out on camps (this is molasses among other things).

This is an end-of-the-school-year party, which, of course becomes
a Christmas party because it is December.

BBQ

Getting together with family.

It's hot! 

Outdoor carols by candlelight.

Actually this was a huge presentation by a local church in our area.
Live camels and everything.

Followed by fireworks.

Backyard cricket, often on Christmas afternoon.

And if you're lucky enough, find some water to play in. This is
a creek on the property my brother and sister-in-law were working on at the time.
Here's a Youtube clip of Aussie Jingle Bells, which gives you a bit of a humorous glimpse at an Aussie Christmas (this one is pretty amateur, but funny).


Here are some explanations of some of the unique words in the song:

Singlet is a sleeveless t-shirt. Essential for hot, summer days.
Thongs in Australia are flip-flops.
ute is a pick-up truck in the US. People sit in the front and the back is an open tray/tray with sides.
Swaggie, short for swagman is difficult to explain briefly because it goes back a ways in Australian history. Basically a transient worker who carries his swag/bedroll on his back. Here's Wikipedia's entry.
Esky is a cooler that you keep food/drink in.
Holden. You know this, surely? An Australian brand of car.
Kelpie is an Australian sheep dog.
Beaut is Aussie slang for amazing, great, or even beautiful.
Shoot through is to escape or depart quickly.

So, there you go. Australian Christmas. It's almost enough to make me feel homesick!

This is comes largely from a post back in 2011 (see here).

24 December, 2013

Christmas Eve adventures

Feeling a little better today, but headed off to the doctors his morning for more asthma meds. I had a tagalong--my middle son who fell off his bike yesterday and split the skin on his chin. They were on the way to the large ¥100 shop for our annual shop-for-one-another's Christmas presents when he came a cropper.

Alas I missed out on the shopping trip. But I was home to welcome our injured rider, who decided to turn around and come home. Thankfully he had no other damage. If it hadn't been a public holiday we would have taken him to the doctor (he rode home past the doctor's surgery!). We thought they'd stitch it or glue it, but in the end they did nothing except clean and dress it. He'll have a nice little scar. 

It's days like today that I'm so happy for the no-appointment policy of most local doctors. We just rocked up and within 45 mins saw our favourite doctor, together!

My drugs, plus the explanation sheet from the pharmacy. As they don't come
in separate cartons it is useful that they include a photo of the medication
(I guess I could read the labelling...).
He's given me a swagful of drugs, though. Asthma med plus some pills to treat my cold symptoms. Japan is fond of polypharmacy.  Hopefully this cold is on it's way out now. There were way less tissues beside my bed this morning when I got up, so I'm hopeful. I've certainly treated it with lots of rest. I've done little since Friday afternoon!

On the way home we stopped at a smaller, but closer ¥100 shop to give us wounded/sick people a chance to do our Christmas shopping. After reading many Facebook statuses documenting the nightmare of Christmas shopping today or last night in Australia, I have another reason to be thankful I'm here and not there. No (bike) parking hassles and no more people at the shops than usual. 
Can't get much closer parking than this. The steps
mark the front of the store were I bought more bandaids. This
 is on the route home from the doctor. I basically parked on the road, only 2m from where I would ride. 
So convenient!
More convenient bike parking: out the front
of the 100 yen store.
At the 100 yen shop I couldn't resist taking some photos of this product covered in appalling English. 



It was hard to take photos—so many lights shining on the plastic! Here is
some of it:
"Of a hand of infant and child is not going to arrive, and please keep it.
Because there is not breathability. I am very in danger when I put a bag on 
a head. Please stop it."
"I am going to become fire and a high temperature". and please do not put a
gas ring or a toaster oven.
So onwards onto Christmas Day. The boys are so excited that they're having trouble eating (at least the non-teenagers are). 

I hope you're able to have a special celebration in one form or another this week. May God bless you as you celebrate those he's given you as special in your life. 

23 December, 2013

Miserable Cold

No avoiding it any longer: I'm down with a nasty cold. It's in my chest and my head and I'm reminded me of this ad:

Colds are always complicated by asthma for me, therefore I'm not very happy with myself that I've run out of my main asthma medication and can't get anymore till tomorrow (today is a public holiday). So, I'm lying low. This is the third day running that I've not gone anywhere, nor have I done a lot around home. Cross stitch and a lot of iPhone Spider Solitaire card games! Today I've mostly been lying down reading. 

Thankfully I didn't have many responsibilities to tend to these days and David is around to help with the boys. Unfortunately we had to put off another fun morning tea this morning when friends were coming around with their little boys. Hopefully I'll be well enough by Friday to make good on that one. Actually I'd like to be well enough to go to the Christmas Eve service at church tomorrow evening. We'll see!

I guess I'd better go and rest some more, not much else for it but to let my body heal itself.

22 December, 2013

Belonging

One of the thing I love about having my boys* involved in sports at school is that they are belong to a team. Belonging is something that is very important to most people. While growing up it's something kids long for. So to be a part of a team as middle and high schooler is a big thing. 

Belonging: CAJ's cross country team.
It is one great thing about cross-country and wrestling at CAJ is that the middle and high schoolers all train together. It is a very inclusive atmosphere and they make friends across grade levels there.

I've loved having my son involved in wrestling. From early on the high schoolers looked after him and included him as one of the guys. To see a high schooler come over and talk to my awkward 12/13 year old was sweet to behold. 

I can see it extending a little to his younger brothers too. As we've supported the team as a family, the younger boys become part of the package. Last week we stuck around at the school gym after the dual while the team put the mats away in the smaller, training gym (via a crane: the smaller gym is on the second floor adjacent to the main gym). Our younger two helped roll the mats and the team gave them a ride on the mats across to the crane. The grins on their faces were priceless!

Students involved in sports (or other "teams" like the cast for a musical) gain so much and a lot of it has to do with belonging to a group. They connect in ways that you don't get with just being in classes with others. This is especially great for boys. Doing things together seems to be the way the male sex relates better, more so for boys who haven't yet developed much in the way of social skills. Sitting around having conversation just isn't their thing. My son has many more relationships that he otherwise would have, just because he's participated in extra curricular sport.

The search for belonging is a common one, not just for kids and teenagers, for adults too. We're always subconsciously searching for other people who agree with us, who have similar thinking about things to whom we can "belong".

It comes to mind at this time of year, a time of year when people generally gather together with others that they "belong to". Family groups, friends etc. It is equally a time when people feel lonely, sometimes because they don't have anyone they "belong" with or because those you might assume they "belong" with have rejected them. Others have had significant people in their lives taken from them by death and so there is loneliness. Others can't physically be present with those they "belong to" like us. Often those of us in these situations make up by spending time with friends.

I was reminded of this theme of the search for belonging by a sermon I heard this morning. One of the points the preacher made was that if we have accepted Christ as our saviour, we belong to His group. All who have done the same are His family and ours too. Like a child that has been adopted. They once didn't belong, but now they do. 

That's the reason for Christmas. Jesus came to earth so that he could make a way for us to belong to God's family. It makes a lot of sense, given the deep longing for belonging that almost every human being seems to have from birth. It's what we were created for: to belong. And it is the ultimate in belonging, we will never not belong, it is forever.


* Yes, I'm speaking about the future, right now only one is involved in extra curricular sports because the school only does this from middle school and onwards.

21 December, 2013

Christmas is different when you're away

Christmas away from family, as we've been doing it 12 out of the last 14 years, takes on a different shape than it does in our home country.
Parcels from home are always
a great part of Christmas
when you're away.

In the last few days I've helped a couple of other people prepare surprises for someone else. Both surprises are things that aren't able to be bought in this country. One was being made by someone concerned for a homesick friend. It's been a great privilege to help bring joy to others at this time when hearts can be lonely and longings can go unfulfilled.

Rather than a season full of family, it is a season where we're mindful of family but we spend it largely with our nuclear family and our "adopted" family of friends. We have fond memories of the various people we've shared parts of Christmas (and New Year) with over the years here in Japan. 

It is a season, not so much of excess, but of special treats from home and our own traditions that we've developed in Japan.

On Monday we're looking forward to one of those family traditions. We'll ride to a large ¥100 shop and each buy a present for everyone else. It makes for a fun time of whispering, dodging, and mystery without breaking the bank.

Next year Christmas will be different. We'll be in Australia where the season will feel right, but much of what we do will be like a salute to Christmas past: memories of what Christnas used to be like. Nonetheless it will be a great time for us all. Probably the last Christmas we spend in Australia with all our boys as "boys". By the time next one rolls around we'll have a university student! Wow. 

So, I'm going to savour this one. Unique: the only time we'll have Christmas with 8, 11, and 14 year olds!

20 December, 2013

Christmas can begin now!

I love stories when something I post on Facebook or write on my blog leads to another unexpected thing and results in a lot of pleasure.

On Sunday I baked Fruit Mince Pies from scratch. I posted this photo on Facebook and an English friend who lives nearby expressed an interest. I invited him and his family over for morning tea and they came this morning. 

It was very satisfying from a cook's point of view to witness his delight in savouring my Fruit Mince Pies! But we also had a lovely time just chatting together with them.

His comment as they left: 
"Christmas can begin now!"
Indeed, we have the right food, we've got the decorations up, the boys are all on holidays, and we're beginning to relax. Let Christmas begin!
 

19 December, 2013

Snapshots from my day

This was Yesterday. 

Morning
I worked on the computer from when the boys left till 10. Then I headed to school for the start of a crazy day. I dropped by the library to pick up some books about the Human Brain (a topic for a future post about a big project one son is doing). Then I popped on my Santa Hat and joined the 5th Grade class for their Christmas party.


I got them going on some Charades and then a collaborative building activity (making a Christmas tree out of just a few materials like paper plates, chopsticks and straws). Unfortunately we ran out of time to play the Chocolate Game (see here).
Trying to make a Christmas tree. Alas this group ran out of
time.

After that I shuttled back and forth between the 5th and 3rd grade classrooms taking in both parties. I've got to say, though, the 5th graders had the best food! Home made fudge topping on ice-cream, plus stacks of home cooked goodies.

Afternoon
After all that food before midday, three of us weren't very hungry for lunch. One boy ended up having lunch at 3pm!

At 1.30 I headed off to spend a couple of hours with my language exchange friends. We had a great time, as we usually do, over our coffee/tea in a small restaurant.

One of the things we talked about is this Japan Times article I read during the week. It talks about how Japanese school students are mostly taught English using their own alphabet and pronunciation, which means that English words get very mangled. Japanese has less sounds than English, for starters they only have five vowel sounds. 

For example, when you use Japanese pronunciation, brush and blush sound exactly the same! Here are a number of other examples, that I blogged about a few years ago.

Not only do English words get mangled, but words get attributed to English that aren't actually English, for example sutaduresu taiya, Japanese for "studless tyre". This is something you won't find in a dictionary (but you will find it with a Google). My language exchange partners thought this was pretty funny.

Often, too, the meaning gets changed, as meanings often do when you borrow words from other languages. The word "mansion" has been borrowed by the Japanese language, but it doesn't mean a large house occupied by one family unit, it means a large block of apartments, particularly newer apartments.

Here's some sage advice posted as a comment on the Japan Times article as a comment:
When I was learning Japanese, my professor made is learn hiragana/katakana [Ed's note: Japanese alphabets] the first few weeks, and then the classes were taught solely with them; the English alphabet was absolutely forbidden. It should be done this way with English classes. it may be difficult at first but it results in learning much more quickly than relying on your native alphabet as a crutch.
I totally agree, we were taught using the Japanese alphabets. I now find it hard to read Japanese if it is written in English letters.

While we were inside discussing these fascinating things, the heavy clouds finally began to drizzle. And drizzle at about 5 ˚C just isn't very cheerful! (The drizzle continued all night and all day today too.)

Evening
At 5.15 the family headed off the school. For the final wrestling event of 2013. We watched our wrestlers face up against Yokota Air Base's wrestling team. There were some good bouts, at least from a CAJ point of view.

Our son got a wrestle and pinned his opponent. His fourth pin in four bouts this season. Not bad! His first shot nearly went badly wrong, but he managed to extract himself and
Just as the pin was called. It looks like they're lounging,
but in truth they were both straining as hard as they could.
nailed his opponent in only 31 seconds.


The award for the happiest wrestler goes to the son of colleagues of ours. It's his first year wrestling and he's had some tough bouts (he has no competition in the team for his weight class, so he's been wrestling the best wrestlers on the other teams in his class). Yesterday, though, he won against a tough opponent and looked so satisfied at the end.


So there are some snapshots of my day. For some reason, though I was quite tired, I had trouble dropping off to sleep last night. I hope that that trend reverses tonight. Perhaps I was just too keyed up by the day?

18 December, 2013

Raising Boys

I grew up with two sisters, I never expected to be the only "girl" in my family as an adult! But here I am. 

Parenting boys is different to parenting girls. That is generally agreed on by any parent I talk to. Those of us with only one sex tend to have a more intensified experience of that sex i.e. we have a very male household. I probably don't help that much because I'm not a girly girl (little pink or frills, no nail polish etc.). 

I've learned a lot about parenting boys, but it is good to occasionally read something from an expert (and not just another parent who's got "good kids").

I blogged back here about some good advice from a book about Raising Boys. It was good to go back and reread that post this afternoon, reminding myself of some great tips for parenting boys, especially older boys. I'd love to reread the whole book, maybe when I get back to Australia I can find it hiding in the library again. 

I quote the last paragraph of the above mention blog post here as a reminder to myself, and an encouragement:
Parenting is a massive challenge. Essentially though I learned that because our children have two parents still together who love one another, a father who is involved in their lives and a family who eat together two or three times a day puts us well above average. Yes, you can make yourself guilty about lots of stuff you don't do well, but these basics are a massive start.

17 December, 2013

Status Update

Home-made Fruit Mince Pies that I made on Sunday. You
can't buy these here, indeed buying the dried fruit to make
fruit mince is itself a bit of a challenge. But totally worth it!
  • The guys finish school tomorrow at midday.
  • Once again my two younger boys' teachers have "cooperated" and organised Christmas parties at the same time. This is both efficient and confusing for me! I get to go to both parties (down the hall from one another), but don't get to all of either of them.
  • I'm running games at the 5th grade party, including the Chocolate Game, which was such a hit last year. Our 3rd grader really wants me to run that game for his party, but alas, I haven't had the opportunity to volunteer for that role (and it would be a bit hard to split myself in two to do this at the same time).
  • These last two days have been exam-schedule for our high schooler. That means he's not been at school when he doesn't have a "culminating event" scheduled. That phrase continues to fascinate me, and in this case it is somewhat appropriate. He's not had exams for every subject. For example, today he had World History. They played a class game covering some of the general themes that they've studied. Afterward they had a reflection paper to write. They'll be marked on the reflection paper.
  • Wresting dual (which means between two schools) tomorrow night. At CAJ, thankfully.
    Today's two-bike-loads of groceries should keep us
    going for a few days. They always eat more when
    they're on holidays.
  • Christmas holidays only last for 2 ½ weeks, but we're going to make the most of that. Our holidays will include (Lord willing):
    • A trip to the zoo (perhaps, if the rain holds off).
    • Visitors from near and far for morning/afternoon teas.
    • Christmas Eve service at church
    • Boys at various events like a birthday party, sleep-over, Futsal clinic.
    • Six days away in the mountains (including skiing, sledding, all-you-can-eat restaurant and New Year's Eve partying with friends)
    • Magazine packing on Boxing Day. Yes, the Autumn issue will make it out by the end of the year,  even if its name (Autumn) is no longer appropriate, with temperatures mostly under 10˚C. Possibly this is the most appropriate-to-the-name activity I've ever done on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas).
    • Eating! I've been doing quite a bit of baking, and with a teenager who rarely admits to being full, it's getting consumed at quite a rate. A current favourite, that we shared as gifts with the 17 teachers who teach our kids through the week, is home-made fudge! Yum.
    • Resting. I'm looking forward to lot of reading plus some sleep-ins. With the sun rising at around 6.45 these days and temperatures close to zero at that time of day, our 6am rises are not that fun.

15 December, 2013

"What is your mission?"

This blog post, "What is your Mission?" is written by the daughter of a very good friend of mine. She is a young woman I would love to know better, not yet 20, but with such great insight.

She's beating the same drum that I beat here on my blog: that everyone has their own special gift, special place that God has given them. Do that, and don't put people like missionaries on pedestals and by doing that, put yourself down.

I heard a sermon this week that spoke to a similar issue from a different angle. If we accept God's grace we receive all we need to be acceptable to God. We cannot make ourselves any more acceptable. So if you're thinking that a pastor or a missionary or an evangelist or Mother Teresa is a better Christian than you, you're thinking wrongly.

The reason we do whatever "good" we do is because we love the One who freely gave us his grace.

14 December, 2013

Are you paid to do that?

My 8 y.o. asked me this the other day about my editing work. My first response was, "No."

But when I stopped for a second and thought about it I changed my answer to, "In a way, yes."

It was similar to an awkward question that a visitor from Australia asked recently. He asked, "Wendy, do you have a job...um, I mean, do you work outside the house, um, I mean not to say that being a stay at home mum..." 

Well, I put him out of his agony and said that I do indeed, "have a job that is beyond taking care of my family, but for the most part I do it from 'inside my home'. 

Other things intervened here and I wasn't able to give a more extended answer, however if I could, I would have explained that it is not a "paid job" as in no one from JEMA pays me to edit the magazine. No one from OMF pays me to head up the 31 Days of Prayer for Japan, project.

Being a missionary is a strange career when you compare it to most people's work. We're basically professional volunteers. We aren't living off our savings or an inheritance. But we aren't paid by an employer either, instead our needs are supplied by people and groups who choose to be a part of our story. Those people don't require us to submit time sheets,
This was taken at the very start of this overseas
adventure in 2000. Don't we look young!
or produce a tangible result for their contributions.


Our mission leaders do hold us to certain standards, standards that include pretty personal reviews (see here). They "pay" us, as in they handle the money that is given to support us and they put it into our bank account. The organisation is pretty useful financially-wise, actually. Most of that money is given in Aussie dollars, but we're paid in Japanese yen. Because our organisation is international, I believe we save a lot of money in international bank transfers (but don't ask me to explain that!)

The other big expectation of our mission is that we report back to our supporters. Not with a time card, or a written report, or a financial returns statement, but in person. That is what our home assignment is partly for: to reconnect with all those people who choose to "pay" us for what we do.

Of course the explanation here gets tricky. About half of our "support" comes from David's job as a teacher. A regular job where he has regular hours and regular employer's expectations upon him. That money gets paid to OMF and not directly to us, however.

So, anything I do as a missionary is on the one hand as a "volunteer" but on the other hand it is "paid". It's a tricky question! I don't get paid by the hour for the editing work I do, nor do I have a contract. But I wouldn't be able to do it except for the people who give so that we can be here (otherwise I'd have to have a job with an employer who did expect me to fill out time cards).

Such a great job to have! I really wouldn't like to exchange it for a regular job.

13 December, 2013

Conversational Bore!

I'm a terrible conversational bore at the moment.

In all my conversations I end up mentioning wrestling or other pursuits of my kids. If you get me off
that and ask me how the magazine is going, you're in for a tale of how we're a couple of weeks into December and our Autumn issue hasn't made it out yet.

In general, sports seems better route, but if you're English you'll not want to mention cricket. If you are American you won't know to mention cricket!

Alas, perhaps it's better if I just stay away from others right now? Hang out with my husband where I can feel free to boast about my kids, talk about wrestling, and have total harmony when it comes to the cricket. As for the magazine, I think he's probably tired of hearing about it too, we all are. Hopefully that will be done and dusted by the end of the weekend or you definitely won't want to raise that topic with me!

My instigating son

This week I'm so proud of my sons and some things they've done or are doing this week.

But here I will focus on my youngest son. He's a handful! Smart, full of ideas and initiative, bold, competitive, extrovert, leader. These are all good qualities, but like any strong personality qualities,
My son is the middle boy here.
they have their negative side. I was looking for a descriptor of him yesterday and this is what one electronic dictionary gave me:

Noun1.instigator - someone who deliberately foments trouble; "she was the instigator of their quarrel"
ringleader - a person who leads (especially in illicit activities)
bad hatmischief-maker,trouble maker,troublemakertroubler - someone who deliberately stirs up trouble
2.instigator - a person who initiates a course of action
leader - a person who rules or guides or inspires others
aggressor - a confident assertive person who acts as instigator

I'm not sure how that he often tries to "foment trouble" but he sure brings enough of it down on his head just by being him. As you can see above, there is a pretty fine line between the two definitions of the same word and that's how it is with him too. At eight, he often lacks the maturity and discernment to deal with his strong personality and it causes trouble.

But yesterday it was used for good. A teacher at the school, knowing that he needs a bit of a challenge at school, suggested that he might be interested in starting up something like a club and his  suggestion was a science club. The teachers have included him in the planning and promotion of the club and he's getting lots of credit! Yesterday they had their first meeting and there was lots of enthusiasm.

It also seems that his idea has sparked off a number of other students interested in starting their own clubs.

I'm so happy for my son, who tries so hard to keep up with his two big brothers, that his strengths have been recognised and produced something that benefits a number of other people. I pray that this is the start of more and more good things in his life. I can't wait to see what he ends up doing as an adult!

12 December, 2013

A dream fulfilled

I looked at the question: Who would you be if you could be anyone at all?

I decided to answer it.*

Actually, I didn't have a choice. All the missionary women at the small retreat in northern Japan were expected to contribute an answer. 

At the time I'd been in Japan for three years, had two young boys and were hoping for a third child soon. Neck-deep in parenting small children as well as culture-stress, it wasn't so hard to dream about what else I would like be doing.

My answer surprised people: magazine editor. 

I think it surprised me too. I wasn't a solid A student in English at high school. Nor did I study anything to do with publishing or writing at university. My degree was in the Occupational Therapy (OT).

However, in the years since I’d married, had kids, and became a missionary I'd drifted away from OT. One of my monthly pleasures was to produce our family's monthly newsletter, the one required of missionaries.

At the time this question was asked, I had no plans to become a magazine editor. I saw no avenue for that in the missionary work we were committed to. But only a couple of years later other missionaries began to ask for help with various publishing projects. Around the same time I began to work proactively on my writing skills: taking a short course, joining an online writing critique group, and seeking avenues for the publications of my articles.

Soon, to my surprise, I found myself with an invitation to work on the editorial team of a quarterly magazine in Japan for missionaries.

Now it’s been nine years since I answered that question and I’ve been the Managing Editor of Japan Harvest for nearly two years. It’s not been an easy job, but I enjoy the challenge and the satisfaction of the finished product. I’ve learned many things and it’s given me much pleasure. But probably the best thing about it is that I can look back and see how God’s taken a dream (or maybe gave the dream) and made it a reality.

Dreaming of the future can be a good thing, especially when your current situation makes you feel trapped.

 *This was a writing prompt from the blog, writetodone.com called Scene Stealers.

11 December, 2013

A mobile blog post

This morning I spent time getting the next stage of an editing project for our mission out of the way (31 Days of Prayer for Japan). This involved going through several critiques of our draft booklet. 

Then I rode over to a friend's house to help her clean prior to their departure next week. Sadly I won't see her again
for at least 18 months. It was a fun time, however, the best way to clean a house: with a few girlfriends.

After that I rode home and got ready to go out for the evening on an unconventional date. I'm now sitting at a US airforce base, with my husband and several other parents, watching high school wrestling again. Our younger boys are being watched by a former student of David's. To be honest it is nice to be off the after-school duty for once. 

And to our joy our son once again got a bout and he pinned his opponent. Yay! Definitely worth coming, not just to see our son but to cheer on the whole team. 

It's a latish night, however. Hopefully the traffic will be light on the way home!

10 December, 2013

Hole in the floor

This morning there was a guy in my kitchen. Actually under my kitchen.


Can you see? We have a wonderful "man hole" in our floor that gives access to the space under the house.

Under the house.
Lid of the hole
This is the plastic storage container that is
suspended under our kitchen floor. It is actually a
pretty common storage item in many Japanese
houses, I believe.
It is actually very useful. Here we keep potatoes, onions,
rice, paper towels, emergency water etc.
The reason the man was "under" our kitchen is because there seems to be some sagging floor boards in the kitchen. You get used to Japanese houses moving as you move around in them (the floor in our lounge has dips in it too). In some places, if someone heavy walks past me, I can feel the floor dip under me. 

But this little spot in the kitchen is looking worse than the others and the lino has now begun to split too. So we asked him to have a look at it (or the real estate agent did). He also checked out a few other little repairs around the house.

I had to laugh, though. Japan's repair men are high tech. He was snapping photos on his digital camera and when he started to look under the floor I offered him a torch. He declined and promptly turned his iPhone into a torch. At least he did his measuring with a good old fashioned metal tape measure!

The biggest challenge for me is understanding what he said after his investigations (although this guy was younger than many repairmen I've met and his Japanese wasn't too difficult, he even used "kitchen" and "owner-san"). I think I've guessed most of it, but as for the discussion about the floor. I mostly agreed that it would be difficult if the whole floor needed to be replaced. But as to how they are going to fix that sagging board, I've no idea. He has to contact the real estate agent who will contact the owner and we'll see what they decide to do. Wait and see is our motto!