Monday, December 13, 2010

Evening Music

The last Saturday of November found us at church where we hosted a "Live Gospel Cafe". We had a good time listening to music, eating and chatting. Here is a little recap in pictures...

The evening started and ended with "Now and Ever" -- the group that meets in our church for rehearsals. Several of the members are also current or former members of AGC. I liked this action shot of them:)

Noriko and I followed the choir. We had a good time practicing and praising God together.

Phil Driscoll, I mean, Paul, followed a little interlude by Leilani on piano, which I forgot to take a picture of because I was talking:) This isn't the best picture, but wanted to show a bit of the audience and set up of the room-notice the food spread in the background on the right...

Now and Ever members enjoying snacks.

Some of the snacks, mostly made by Melissa.

AGC friends enjoying snacks and chatting.

New friends getting to know one another.

No evening is complete with a visit from reindeer!

The evening seems to have been a success! We are looking forward to doing it again someday soon!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another trip

A few weeks ago I wrote about a trip to Kyoto with Becky and Amber. Well, the next week I took another trip to Kyoto with two of my friends from choir.
Last summer I was talking with them about some of my favorite places in Kyoto and they said it had been a long time since they had been to Nijo Castle, one of my favorite places in Kyoto. So, we made plans to go in the fall. In October we set the date and were all excited about our little excursion. Unfortunately, one of our other friends who had planned to go with us wasn't able to go. We missed her!
As the time grew closer we decided we may want to visit more than just one place in Kyoto so started looking around for another place nearby. We discovered that the week we were planning to go was one of only two weeks during the year that the Kyoto Imperial Palace is open to the public! That settled it, we'd found our other destination! Two palaces in one day.
It was so interesting to visit the two palaces, to see the contrasts and to learn a little more about the history. I love learning about the history of places, I just wish the information would stick in my head so I could share it with others!
Here is a little recap of the day, in pictures...
The day started with a beautiful sunrise!

The gate of Nijo Castle. No picture taking is allowed inside the castle. There are many beautiful painted paper doors, wood-carved walls and a lovely nightingale floor. You'll just have to come see them for yourself!

There was a full array of fall colors in the garden!

Then we got to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Looking into the courtyard in front of the hall used for coronations.

I got into a frenzy of taking pictures of bridges in the garden there. Something about that curved bridge just attracts me.

After standing in line for some yummy mochi, we made it to lunch, which was also delicious!

Out the window of the restaurant we could see a lovely river-actually the joining of two rivers. As we ate I watched many people cross the river on these huge boulders that had obviously been set in place for such a reason-some of them were even in the shape of turtles! The train station where we needed to catch our train home was on the other side of said river. So, what do you think is the most logical way to get to the station?! Yes, there was a bridge where cars were driving that had a sidewalk. However, if you have ever spent any time with me in nature you will know that I am part billy goat. If there are stones to be climbed, that is the route I will take. So... here are my friends carefully following me as I jumped across the river:)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Evening Relaxation

I love the Christmas season, like most people I know. This year has been so busy coming up to December that I almost didn't feel like decorating or anything. Then I pulled out my advent calendars, a couple I have saved from years past and a new chocolate calendar plus a new tea calendar.

Reading that first little square, "And the angel said to Mary..." helped me get excited and start thinking about advent, waiting expectantly for our Savior.

It is only December 2nd but I am already enjoying this new idea of taking 5 minutes at night with a cup of tea, a piece of chocolate and my kindle with an advent devotional downloaded to refocus and relax before bed. (I should not have sat down before taking out the garbage tonight!)

I am looking forward to getting the decorations up sometime soon! And, wonder what tomorrow's tea will be...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn Afternoon Amble

This afternoon I took a few minutes out of my busy schedule to enjoy the lovely weather and colors. Here are a few pictures I snapped along the way...

(I admit, I used my thesaurus to get the alliteration in the title:)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Field Trip

On Monday I went on a field trip of sorts with Becky, Amber, and Pastor Yuzawa in Kyoto. Carol and Mrs. Yuzawa were planning to join us, but, unfortunately, there was a sudden illness preventing them from joining us.

Since moving to Kyoto Pastor and Mrs. Yuzawa have taken the opportunity to study the history of Christianity in Japan, especially in Kyoto. Monday was our chance to learn more about this topic from them. In the morning we heard a lecture from Pastor Y about Christianity coming to Japan. He started with the silk road and ended with us!

From 1630 until 1853 Japan was closed to the world and Christianity was outlawed. Many people were martyred when they refused to renounce their faith in God. Twenty-six people in Kyoto were arrested, had part of their ear cut off and then were paraded on an 800 km walk from Kyoto to Nagasaki as a warning to others that this is what would happen if people chose Christianity. Then these 26 were crucified.
(A map showing the route the 26 took from Kyoto to Nagasaki, 800 km in one month)

(The ceiling at the restaurant. I like how it looks like there is a heart in the middle as the colors are changing!)

(My delicious tapas lunch!)

After a lovely lunch we went to the Franciscan House where we learned more about the walk from Kyoto to Nagasaki and saw artifacts the 'hidden Christians' used during the 200 year ban on Christianity.
(This is a reflection off of a mirror. In the reflection you can see a crucifix, two kneeling people and the Spirit in the form of a dove.)

(This lantern has a Christian symbol carved in the base which was buried. Christians would gather to worship, pulling back the dirt to reveal the carving. The shape is also unusual, symbolizing a cross.)

We also visited a shrine. Most shrines have a torii, gate, at the entrance. This shrine, which is for silkworms, has a three-legged torii in a small pond (which is drained right now) whose waters are thought to have healing powers. The three-legged torii is thought to be a symbol of the triune God (god?)

There is so much more to learn and understand. Maybe I will be able to explain it more clearly in the future, after a few more lectures and field trips!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

God's Beauty

This is what I saw on my walk to work this morning...
How many colors do you see just in the trees?!

(I took this picture with my phone's camera. I have the cheapest phone available...)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


November is here, the month where we stop to pause and think of all the things we have to be thankful for. I have several friends who are making great lists on their blogs. It seems once we start, the ideas just come tumbling out like a waterfall. The important thing about thinking of all these things to be thankful for is remembering who we are thanking! (Can I get an amen?!)

My friend and her children were having an impromptu discussion about what God has made. One of the children said, "What about cars? If God made everything, did He make cars?" (Does anyone else recognize this question?!) I don't know about you, but I am certainly thankful that God gave people the brains to come up with the idea of an engine and then the idea to put wheels on it and call it a car! We sure would spend a lot more time getting from one place to another, wouldn't we?

Today when I was putting a load of laundry into my washing machine I thanked God for that machine. I am so thankful that He helped someone come up with the idea and others perfect it so that now I can have clean clothes in less than an hour without leaving my home!

As I spent time with friends this week, I was reminded the numerous friends God has provided for me over the years. How grateful I am for each and everyone of you. Each has played an important role in my life, many a deeper role than they may ever realize. What a blessing that God thought up the idea to provide us with friends for this journey called life.

If you visit my apartment and look around you will see pictures everywhere, of friends and family. God placed me in an incredible family. I have parents who loved me so much that they made sure I knew who God was, that I spent as much time as possible learning about Him. Parents who helped me grow and mature, who encouraged and challenged and disciplined me. Parents who provided a safe and loving home, a refuge from the crazy world around us.

However, the most important thing I am thankful for is my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am sure this sounds cliche to some, but it is the absolute truth. I am who I am, do what I do, think what I think, care how I care, love how I love because of Him. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. So, before I even knew I needed that, Jesus came to this earth and allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross. Because of that, I can now be considered part of God's family. But, He didn't stop there! He, then, three days later, rose from the dead, conquering death. Now, not only are my sins forgiven, but I also get to live forever with my Savior. Hallelujah!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Sunday, October 17th was the first annual Bentabulous Day.

My mom's side of the family is addicted to chocolate, pretty much every one of us. Last week my cousin was saying how much she wanted to make a chocolate cake. For some reason, she felt she needed a reason to make a cake. So, we came up with a reason, Bentabulous Day!

I made a cake called the 15-minute Chocolate Cake. The recipe has been requested, so here it is! It was delicious. I will definitely be making it again, soon.

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola or light olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 10 inch round cake pan. (I used cupcake tins)

2. In a large bowl, stir the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, beat in the water; the batter will be thin.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into edges to serve.

(Apparently, unmold is not a word, it keeps getting underlined by spell check!:)

Enjoy! Next time I will take pictures to post!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Monday was a national holiday here in Japan. Our mission family gathered at "Red Eye 48 Falls" for a time of hiking and enjoying God's creation and each others' company. It was a beautiful day!

Jonah found a crab!

Hiking and lunch were followed by a rehearsal for the Franklin Graham Festival next weekend. Then, after seeing Yuri off at Umeda station, I decided to grab a little supper before heading home. As I left the restaurant, I heard someone singing in English-wait, singing Gospel! So, I followed the music and found a group doing a street concert. Since it was night the pictures are dark. I also took a little video with my camera. I thought of it half way through "Oh Happy Day"! (It looks like the video may not work. Sorry if it doesn't. You can still get an idea from the picture, I think:)

As I was leaving the gal who had been standing next to me started talking to me. She is a recent university graduate who does concert promotions. I told her about the Franklin Graham Festival and she asked for a flyer.

Great day!

BTW, I am listening to Christmas music right now!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Flip Calendar

The quote on my flip calendar today-which may stay up for a few days...

"Oh, God, give me grace for this day.
Not for a lifetime, not for next week,
not for tomorrow, just for this day.
Direct my thoughts and bless them,
direct my work and bless it...
So that for this one day, just this one day,
I have the gift of grace
that comes from Your presence."
Marjorie Holmes

Grace for this day. That is my prayer today, for myself and for you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I was just spending a few minutes catching up on reading blogs. I have several friends whose blogs I follow and enjoy reading about their lives and how God is working around the world and in their lives. As I was reading I realized that it has been a while since I wrote anything. Not because nothing has been happening, not because I have been too busy, but just because. So, here is a little update on life...

Church planting
Sometimes when I say I am helping to plant a new church it sounds pretty unreal-me, a church planter. I suspect there are a few of you who have known me since I was little and wonder what in the world God had in mind when He sent me here. I tell you what, I have no idea what I am doing most of the time! I spend a lot of time doing things I never in a million years would have thought I'd be doing. I speak Japanese, I lead Bible studies-sometimes in Japanese! - I lead music-that one pretty much takes the cake- I preach- in Japanese! etc, etc. I went to college and studied elementary education. I taught elementary school. Little kids don't scare me. I love hanging out with them. I had fun being a teacher-although that first year about killed me, thank goodness my mom and principal made me stick it out! I lived in Texas. These are all things that were comfortable. Then, God uproots me, reminds me of a call He placed on me as a child and sent me here. I guess He thought I needed to be uncomfortable. I guess He wanted me to rely on Him a bit more. Well... !

I have been taking a piano class from our choir director (I do not know where that man gets all of his energy!) I like music, but I am not a natural musician. So, I am plugging away, trying to remember what Kris and Verda and James and Ted and others taught me about music. It is lots of fun and lots of work. Recently Paul has had to help out at another church or be at some other event so I have been left in charge at church. This means not only preparing a message. It also means I have to lead the music! I am thankful for a gracious group who sings their hearts out and pretends like they don't notice that I have no idea what is going on! I am also thankful that Noriko has been able to help out sometimes with the piano!!! Total dependence.

There are so many wonderful friends with whom I get to interact on a regular basis. We go to lunch, coffee, music practices, hang out at each other's houses, or whatever. Some want to learn more about Jesus. Many only speak Japanese. I am still learning how to communicate in this language. Total dependence.

So, here I sit, perched on the edge of my seat wondering what God has planned next, how He is going to bring this all together. I just keep trusting knowing He has a plan. Each day I am learning a little more about this dependence to which He calls me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friends and their Pets

Yuko, my friend who allows me to stay at her house, has 7 cats. Well, she doesn't, but between her, her brother and her mom, there are 7 cats living in their house. I keep my door closed all the time:) They are pretty nice cats, as far as cats go, and generally ignore me.
Here is Frosty just before he jumped out of the car-he doesn't like cameras!

Yoshimi, who lives down the street from Yuko, has two little dogs, Cherry and Shion. Cherry took a liking to me and was glad to have me join them for a walk one day. When I left them she was a little upset and Yoshimi had to carry her!

Friends and their Babies

When I lived in Karuizawa I played basketball with a co-ed city group. We had lots of fun. I was miles taller than the other gals, but we became friends and had lots of fun going out to eat or to the onsen after basketball.
Now three of them are married and have children. I love going back and seeing how their families have changed. Here is a little glimpse of our time together last week...

Tea time with Madoka and her second daughter

Dinner with Yoko and her one year old

Tea time at the jam shop with Fumiko and her two year old who is going to be a big sister next spring

A First

While I was in Karuizawa I went to my friends' for a BBQ. Some of you may remember me talking about the candle shop couple a few years ago when I lived there. They are still in Karuizawa and were having a BBQ with their 2 employees while I was there so invited me, too. When I asked if there was something I could bring, Etsuko started talking about the s'mores we had one time when I lived there, so I took s'mores fixin's.
The two gals who work for them had never had s'mores before. I think they enjoyed them!
Here are a couple of pictures of making s'mores. It was dark so I couldn't really see what I was taking pictures of until the flash went off!

roasting the marshmallows


Oh, I also got to have Mexican food in Karuizawa! The chef is even from Mexico and makes the tortillas every morning! Mmmm!


Saturday I spent most of the afternoon into the late evening with friends from choir. We went to a choir practice for the Franklin Graham Festival that is going to be held in Osaka next month. Alfie Silas, who sings with the festival band, came to practice with us. She sang a few songs for us before the rehearsal started.

About 600 people gathered to practice and sing praises. It was a great day! Can't wait until I have all of the songs memorized so I can really sing from my heart-all but "Oh Happy Day" are in Japanese, so this time it is taking me a bit longer to learn all the words!

Here is a glimpse of the practice...


I just spent a week in Karuizawa enjoying nature, friends, food, and rest. Although the friend I stayed with was not feeling well, we had a good time. Last Monday while she was helping a friend with her baby at the hospital, I spent the day walking around Karuizawa. I wanted to spend the day walking with God and reading, just enjoying God's presence. As with most people, it is hard to slow down. So, I decided to keep my camera in hand as I walked and take pictures of all of the different flowers I saw. It really helped. In fact, at one point I spent about 20 minutes on a 20 meter stretch of road. (There was one point I flew by a bunch of flowers because all of the tea I had had was ready to leave my body!:)

I have no idea what any of these flowers are, except the thistle. They were all growing along the side of the road-I tried not to wander into people's yards! Here in Izumi where I live I can see the mountains, I have a couple plants sitting by my front door, and there are trees around. However, when I got to Karuizawa and spent a week surrounded by trees I was reminded how important nature is! And, on just that one day walk I was reminded of God's creativity!