Friday, May 28, 2010


Before you come into my place to join me for tea and cookies at my new table, you will go through my little gate, past my new name plate. As one of my Japanese missionary blogging friends said recently, in the previous places I have lived I have just written my name on a piece of paper and stuck it up on the door. In my last place, the post man actually told me to post my name. (I didn't think it was super necessary since the post office seems to know where all the foreigners live, anyway!) But, I feel more official, now, with my nice name plate in both Roman and Japanese lettering!

I have some nice veranda space to have plants growing. I have been to my local home center several times looking at the plants. I keep asking questions like, "how long does this plant bloom?" or "will it bloom again next year?" because I was looking for an easy way to have beautiful plants. I wanted to just buy the plants, set them out on the veranda and, wala (I have no idea how to spell that, but that is the way it would be spelled in Japanese:), have lovely flowers blooming all the time.

I am learning that gardening doesn't work that way. If I want to have flowers and tomatoes, I have to take time to take care of them. I have to monitor their progress, I have to make sure they are watered, getting enough sunlight, etc. There is no magic wand to wave and everything is just done.

This is a bit like my relationship with God. I want to just show up to church and everything is going to be just fine. I go, I listen, or even lead, then I go home. And, everything is great. But, relationships, like growing plants, take work. To get to know God, I need to spend time with Him, to talk to Him, to listen to Him.

But, I don't want to. I have other things to do. People to see, places to go. So, I run on my merry way, thinking all is okay. Somewhere along that path, though, I begin to feel the emptiness. Something is missing. My relationship is a mile long, but only a centimeter deep.

I desire to be the garden at the end of Isaiah, "a well-watered garden" (58:11) and not the one from the beginning, "a garden without water." (1:30) In order to do this, though, I need to drink the Living Water, spend time with my Saviour, build a relationship that goes deep.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Backward in time

I'm going backward in time a little here, but wanted to share about my meeting with my friend's parents.

Noriko came to visit me in the US last year and got to learn all about nothing!

A couple of weeks ago Noriko invited me to lunch at her parents' house. We were both excited to meet each other and they wanted to say thank you for the opportunity she had to visit me.

We had a great afternoon eating and chatting, sharing stories and looking at pictures. Their family lived in Thailand when Noriko was a little girl so I got to hear about some of their experiences there. Noriko's mom also showed me some pictures from some of her travels, the Grand Canyon, London, Peru. I appreciated their hospitality and kindness.

Thank you for a wonderful afternoon! I look forward to many more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Parking Fun

I live in a crowded country. It is not like South Dakota where everyone has plenty of space to park their several cars. Amazingly, at my condo each unit is allowed a parking spot. My spot is underground and has a height limit of 150cm, 25 cm shorter than I am.

And, how does this underground parking work? Remember those square plastic puzzles we used to do? They had a picture or lines that you had to put together by sliding tiles around until everything was in the right order. That is kind of the way my parking garage works.

In a space where we would park five cars in SD, or maybe less because we would have more space between the cars, in my parking garage, 14 cars are able to park!

I have to back onto my rack, like I am going to get my oil changed, except there is a floor between the tire tracks. But, in order to get my rack, #69, I have to open the control box, put in my key and press #69. Then the fun begins! It depends on who left last as to what happens next, but usually one of the upper racks goes up. Then racks slide to one side or the other and my space is exposed. Finally, my rack climbs up from below the surface and the gate opens. I can now back in or drive out.

I don't have a video of this yet, but here are a couple of pictures of my car emerging from the depths of the garage...

Unfortunately, there the two racks on the right side are empty so you can't see how close together we park, but here is my car emerging.

Here the car has reached the ground level and the gate is going up. In this picture you can see one of the cars which has an upper rack sitting, waiting to be let down.

Monday, May 10, 2010

This year, too

Last year three of my friends from choir and I got together for a jasmine tea party. This year I made it back in time to attend again. Last Friday the jasmine was in full bloom as we gathered. Unfortunately, it was raining so we sat inside instead of outside under the jasmine (maybe that was good, I didn't get a headache from the strong fragrance!).

We had delicious food and lots of good conversation. Miki san made us spaghetti and naan pizza. Kan-chan and Anne brought different kinds of sushi. And, I brought cookies, surprise, surprise! It was a new recipe for me and turned out quite nicely. (Thanks, Aunt Karen for the new cookie book!:)

Here are our lovely desserts and tea. After this we added jasmine blossoms to our teacups but I didn't get a good picture of it.

You can sort of see the jasmine blooming out back. Wouldn't it be great to have this garden as your neighbor's, natural aroma therapy!?! (The flash spot is also full of jasmine blooms!)