Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Day of Patience Testing

Monday was a national holiday in Japan. That means I got to go to a meeting! Every year our church conference has a seminar on the September holiday for church workers and lay leaders. This year a lawyer came to explain the process of becoming a religious corporation, where we are in the process, and to answer questions people had about the process.

The first test of the day wasn't really of patience but of sheer stamina: could I get to Naka san's house by 6AM so we could join the holiday traffic and make our way across the peninsula to Tsu? On my way to Naka san's house I realized I had about a 1/4 of a tank of gas so would also have to try to find a gas station open at that time of the morning! As I got closer to Naka san's house I also realized that I didn't know exactly where it was! After driving up and down a couple of streets, with a one way thrown in just for fun, I found Naka san's house and we were off, keeping an eye out for open gas stations before we hit the highway.
First test survived.

We arrived in Tsu over an hour early since the traffic was not bad at all. I took a nap in the car and Naka san went inside and put her head down on the table and had a nap, too.

The second test was the first test of patience: a seminar in Japanese using legal language! The morning session I did quite well at paying attention, looking up words, and sort of following along. After lunch, however, my concentration started to dwindle. I began relying more heavily on the notes Joan was taking for us in English. Just for fun, there was an extra meeting thrown in at the end of the day-at least it wasn't about leagal things, though.
Second test barely survived.

The final test of the day came just after our stop for a bathroom break about halfway home. Just a few kilometers up the road we noticed the road condition announcement sign was saying there was a 20 kilometer traffic jam because a car had broken down. Yes, we sat on the road moving at a snail's pace for over 2 hours! We were very thankful we had stopped to go to the bathroom and get drinks and snacks! Although, those little Oreo cookies don't do much to curb hunger at 9PM! We were both very thankful to get home!
Third test finished! I guess we passed since we arrived safely and not angry at the traffic or each other!

It was dark and I did not have my camera so there are no pictures! But, I think you all know what a traffic jam looks like!:)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


(I rotated this and saved it under another name, yet it is still sideways. I don't know why!:)

Do you complain about stupid things? I think pretty much all complaining is stupid. Although, I am quite good at it! Does this mean I am good at being stupid?! Hmmm...

Anyway, last week one night I took my dinner dishes to the sink and noticed I had a ton to wash. Since it is just me I don't wash my dishes after every meal, sometimes not even every day-okay, rarely every day! As I walked to the sink I thought, "I am so tired of doing dishes!"

Then, I remembered the reminder I had in "The Rest of God" book I am reading, be thankful. (That book is not the only place I get this reminder!:) Anyway, I started to thank God for dishes and realized how selfish it is to be ungrateful for dishes. I have a home, a ton of dishes, and plenty of food to put on those dishes. What in the world am I complaining for? Because I don't want to stand over a hot sink for 10 mintues?

To put it mildly, I felt the kick in my seat that night. Now every time I wash dishes I am reminded to be grateful for everything God has blessed me with.

(I used my cell phone to take these pictures. I tried taking them horizontally and vertically and yet they still came out sideways. Some day I will understand technology better! Ha!:)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Jazz Street

Today was the first time I got to be a part of a concert with our Gospel Choir. We had a great time singing at the train station! Thankfully there were mics and speakers so that we could be heard. Singing outside is a challenge. We were also thankful for the roof over the place where we sang. Although it didn't rain while we were singing, it did rain for the next group.

Here are a few pictures of the day. My camera seems to be having a hard time focusing-can anyone relate?! So, I only have a few pictures. Paul Ewing took a bunch for me with his camera so I can post more later.

Thanks for coming!

Clarinet accompaniment
(This was my way of getting out of memorizing one song in Japanese!:)

Intro to the other Japanese song, which I did get memorized!:)

Next concert, November 4!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Writer's block

I finally got an outline ready in English for my sermon next Sunday. After a break to wash dishes and let ideas flow through my head I sat down to start writing in Japanese. The problem, I couldn't get started.

So, I decided to go to the Jazz Street concert at the station. This weekend is "Jazz Street" in our city. At about 10 different locations throughout town there are concerts going on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon-one of which our Gospel choir is singing in on Sunday afternoon. A gal from our choir also sings in another Gospel choir and that director works with another choir which was singing this evening. Since I was stuck in my writing, I went.

I figured out why I was stuck! About 9 people from our choir were there and after the other Gospel choir sang we got to chat for a while. I also got a feel for where we will be performing tomorrow. Also, we decided that the 5 songs we have been practicing were not enough so we needed to add one more. I am glad I was there for the discussion, I may not have checked my email to find out that we are singing another song!

While I was annoyed that I didn't get to start on my sermon tonight, God had plans for me just to hang out and enjoy some music! It goes with what I read in "The Rest of God" this morning! Buchanan said, "In God's economy, to redeem time, you might just have to waste some." He was reminding us to not be so rigid about time, to give ourselves permission to spend time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Safety Driver

This week I renewed my Japanese driver's license. It is a bit more of a process than in Madison, SD! The last time I renewed my license in Madison it took about 10 or 15 minutes. On Tuesday, here in Japan, it took me 2 hours-and that was the short version!

In Japan there are different levels of driver's licenses. The first one you get is the 'green' license and lasts for two years. Next you get a 'blue' license which lasts for three years. In order to renew your license from green to blue you have to sit through a two hour lecture. I did this when living in Kyoto. Apparently, Kyoto has a high number of motorcycles and scooters. The lecturer must have told us every five minutes that it is our responsibility as car drivers to watch out for motorcycles and scooters, be careful of motorcycles and scooters, pay attention to motorcycles and scooters. You get the idea. (The license itself is actually just white but has a colored line highlighting the expiration/renewal date.)

This is my sister pointing out the interesting English on the back of my car.

If you don't have an accident or speeding ticket in the three years then you get to get a gold license! Renewing from blue to gold is only a 30 minute lecture. I guess Osaka is not as worried about motorcycles and scooters. I did not hear one time to watch out for them. Part of our lecture was taken up by the man explaining some recent changes in the laws, which pretty much don't affect me. I learned that after about 70 years old no matter what color license you have you have to sit through a 3 hour lecture since old people are involved in the most accidents. And, the most accidents in Osaka are rear-enders. We saw a video about this.

Since I have no tickets and have had no accidents, I now have a gold license! They call the person who has a gold license a "safety driver." I found out at the end of our lecture that there is a special card for safety drivers that gives us discounts at various hotels and amusement parks around Japan.

So, I am now a 'safety driver!'

Sunday, September 9, 2007


August was crazy busy. September is not looking much slower. And, I have begun to add even more to my plate for October. What am I thinking?

But, gradually, I am being reminded of rest, Sabbath and God's reason for all of this.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a few books from CBD. Since there is no more sea mail from the U.S. they got here quite quickly. The book I started reading first is "The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath" by Mark Buchanan. I read one of his books a few years ago, twice, "Your God is Too Safe." He has a way of taking what you know and reminding you of it and how to live in these truths.

There is so much I'd like to quote but there are probably copyright laws about that sort of thing! Plus, I don't have time to type up the whole book, I'd like to rest sometime!

One thing that really grabbed my attention was his talk about being too busy! I think I wrote something like that in a blog last month! He talked of a man from his church who was so busy that, finally, he just had to stop because of his health. The man said that he knew God was trying to get his attention, he just wished he could figure out what He wants it for. Mark thinks, maybe just that, attention! And then says:
"This is the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment."

Then he talks about seeing God's bigness. Somehow he gets to sleep-a great topic! He says that the Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown-in other words, with sleep! Sleep, he says, is an act of faith. How vulnerable we are when we sleep! "We sleep simply because we believe God will look after us." Do you?

"Either God is good and in control, or it all depends on you."
I think I am going to try to live in the first half of that statement! I saw "Bruce Almighty" and I don't want that!