When things click

29 10 2009

Today, I was sitting at the elementary school and realized that over the course of the day, I had understood several Japanese conversations around me. I didn’t catch every word, but I was able to catch enough to make sense.

After realizing this, I was left alone to wait for lunch; I decided to check out the lunch menu to see if I could figure it out. (In the past, I have been able to figure out milk and maybe one other thing)

It read:

Translation (at that point):
Some kind of ramen – didn’t really matter what kind, I had read it!!!
Milk Jelly (which is strange jelly stuff with fruit – I actually like it)
It does help that everything besides milk was in Katakana, but I still understood the whole thing!!

Side note – we got to lunch and I went to open my ramen. I opened the package, but apparently with too much force. It plopped right out of the package and onto the floor. Luckily, they had extras.

Anyways, the best part of this is when the two sweetest little girls, came in and asked the principal how to say “let’s play” in English. Not only was I was able to pick up on most of the conversation, but after they very quietly while they painfully try to get out “Let’s play” (these two are a second and third grader), I responded with “あそびましょか。” The looks on their faces were hilarious, when they realized that I could understand “Let’s play?” in Japanese. I’m pretty sure the last time I was here, I was barely understanding super basic Japanese and now, all of a sudden (for me too), I’m understanding what’s going on around me.


The dreaded flu mask

27 10 2009

Today, I come in to find out that about a third of my third-year students are out sick with the “new influenza” (H1N1, Swine Flu, etc.). So I’m told I have to wear a flu mask. Ok. No problem. I did this the other day and lived. I hate things covering my face, so I was definitely annoyed with it.

We walked into the classroom and found that every student had a flu mask. All but two had them covering their faces. One had it in his hand, and the other had slid his mask down around his chin. The student with it in his had seemed to wait until the bell rang for class to start, to wear his. Even when he was wearing it, it was below his nose.

This is the sort of thing I've had to wear . . . yuck.

As class went on, I noticed students uncovering their faces to talk with one another, lifting them to itch (can you blame them?) and other things. Are they blocking you from catching germs or others from yours if they lift them or don’t have their mouth or nose completely covered?

On top of that, apparently having something covering my face makes me yawn a lot. So I’m yawning and the mask is either trying to come off of my nose or come up from my chin.

Makes me wonder what mask etiquette is. We also don’t wear them in the staff room. Are there less flu germs in here? Or at lunch time, wouldn’t that be the easiest time to catch it? Yet, how would you eat if you wore it?

Basically, I haven’t seen the incredible powers of face masks and just think they are silly. Maybe as I “become” more Japanese I’ll get it. Maybe not.

Links about the flu mask:

As with all things in Japan, they had to find a way to make them “cute”

Someone’s research on them (complete with photo).

A new church family

25 10 2009

Today I attended church with my JTE, Michiko. One of the first things I noticed was that the church was so friendly, they seemed like they really wanted to know me. Another thing I noticed was that they seemed to have missionaries everywhere. They had two from Germany, one from Washington and another from Korea.

Today was the woman from Korea’s first day, mine as well. So they asked us to do a “jikoshokai” (self introduction). We did. Hers was drawn out and I’m sure, in perfect Japanese. Mine was a few sentences and in ok Japanese, except when I tried to tell them I had come from Oregon and I couldn’t remember which verb I was supposed to use (come, go, return?). Everyone seemed to appreciate my effort though which made it worth it.

It amazed me that this fairly small church was so excited about reaching people who don’t know Jesus. They have so many long-term missionaries because they want to reach the surrounding areas and start churches in them.

They asked us to pray for the new churches they want to begin. They also have an event next month that they are trying to invite people into, they asked us to pray. I felt like we were actually a part of preparing for the ministry which was super exciting.

Another thing to love about all the missionaries . . . translation!! This was the first sermon in Japan which I have understood, this trip.

Today they were working on the book of Numbers 8. Apparently, they are reading through the Bible, chapter by chapter. The pastor had three main points. God is the center; we have to follow him, not the other way around. We are chosen by God, not because we have some super abilities, but because he wants to use us. We have to let go of things that are holding us back from him, so that we can be free to do what he has called us to do. We have to share God’s love and pray for others to understand it.

Afterwards, we had lunch and I got to talk to the missionary who is from America for a little while as many Japanese people who were all incredibly friendly. I made friends with many of the young children and we ran around being silly and playing games.

Today was special because a couple had just gotten married in the church. (They’re the same age as me, so weird!) They had a wedding shower, since most of the church members had not been able to attend their wedding (it was where the couple had grown up). I loved getting to be a part of blessing the couple and seeing how much this church loves these two. They included me in the whole celebration. The youth group acted out this couple’s story. Apparently they had known each other since childhood and the Lord had brought them together. It was an incredibly sweet story.

At the end, I had to say goodbye to my new friends and promise I would come back in a couple of weeks, since I already made plans for next weekend.

The Lord has blessed me so much.

Obihiro Worship Workshop

25 10 2009

So in an effort to not send out another eight page long email, I’m going to try to update my blog more often and let you read my updates here. Then the people who are reading these via facebook, will have an easier time, since they update to facebook.

Today, I went with my High School JTE to her church in Obihiro. They were having a Worship Workshop. I had no idea what it was, but it sounded like it could be fun and I would get to come and visit my JTE’s church.

We got there a little late, so she didn’t get to introduce me to any of the people from her church. It turned out that we were working on Southern Gospel style music, in English (with the exception of two songs). It was exactly what I needed. It was so encouraging to sing praises, which I understood, to the Lord. They contained such simple truths of faith and it was a good time to connect with other believers.

I loved that we sang the song, “As the Deer.” Which I love the song in English, but I first heard it when I was in Japan the first time and we sang it with the church I attended while I was here in high school.

I felt completely welcomed by this church. I was only there for one event and I received hugs as I left, something I have been missing with all of my close family and friends thousands of miles away.

Because it was so late when we left, we decided to get dinner in Obihiro. My JTE thought we should go to a good restaurant she knew. She said it was “Asian” food. Kind of made me want to giggle, because isn’t anything we eat in Japan going to be “Asian” food?  We went and it wasn’t just Japanese food! I had Pad Thai. I was quite excited to have something that I didn’t have to make that I was used to making at home.