Monday, December 17, 2007

Saturday 15-12-07

(Graduation Day) I’m already forgetting what happened on Monday – that’s what happens when you get busy I guess. So today we are going on our retreat. We are supposed to be packed and out of the houses at 9:30 to walk to the boys. I don’t see it happening (and I can’t say I’m helping the cause by typing this) but that’s what life has been like for the last 4 weeks and oh well. Besides I’m packed. I’d like to clean something, but Cecilia’s stuff is still everywhere and I’m not sure what ministry stuff we need to put away. Oh well.

Monday – the last day on campus – was the same old same old Monday that we usually have. I’m not sure anything in particular happened of important significance (and even if it did, this just goes to show I can’t remember it now anyway :P). Monday night was free to meet up with contacts and while the girls didn’t have any appointments, the boys did – they stayed out till 1am with Disuke and Peipo and their mates from Aichiu.

Tuesday we had a goodbye breakfast at Jody’s place with all the Nagoya staff (and their families (or the members who weren’t in school anyway)) so we left home at 20 to 8 (challenge for us, but I went around and knocked on doors at 7:00am to make sure we were all awake). Riding to the station to take the train to the other station where Jody would be picking us up from I managed to crash my bike into a pole. I’m ok – I stood back up (the bruises on my leg now form a smiley face) and we kept riding.

After breakfast we had prayer and Seiji shared with us a vision he had had. He took a cup and he asked Takeshi how he would make it better. Takeshi used to be a potter, so he said he’d have to smash it first to start again to make it better. Seiji said that that’s what God does with us. We look good to start with and we serve the purpose, but we can be better. Sometimes he has to break us to make that happen, but once we are back together, we are a lot better than before.

Seiji encouraged us to not be afraid of God breaking us, because if we trust him, he will make us better.

After some more prayer, we gave presents and took lots of photos. My hand (which was a little sore after falling of the bike) started to be very painful, so Jody got me a bandage (which was too long) and they wrapped up my arm so it almost looks like I’ve broken the whole thing – which I haven’t I just sprained the wrist. ☺ whew.

After that we went to Lunch (another goodbye thing) and I ate my rice doria with my left hand using chopsticks – so proud right now ☺

Then, the Megumi team caught the 3 or 4 trains home and did some more prayer (singing accapella because not only are we not allowed to play guitar in the apartments (no instruments clause in the contract) but I couldn’t strum and it was raining). Then the boys went out again, this time meeting up with their neighbour Julius, who is from Tanzania, married a Japanese woman he met in England. They now live in Japan, while 3 of their 4 children are in Holland, their youngest (maybe) lives with them here. Sounds like a pretty hectic life. They stayed out late and then the boys also met up with Kaji and went to karaoke and didn’t get home till 2am.

Wednesday. This was the day I aimed to meet up with Yurie and share the KGP with her.

Sunday 16-12-07

On the Sinkansen.

Wednesday we went to uni at the usual time. Had lunch at the usual place. I talked with Yurie over lunch and we arranged to meet up after her class at 3:00 in the Com Pla (short for the Communication Plaza). When she left I talked to Esther about trying to share the KGP with her. Esther wasn't sure she was able to, but Sachie was hanging around, so I set her up with Sachie to practice with, before Shiho and I went off to confirm stuff with Andy.

I’d been working on a power point for the goodbye party and I needed Andy to get the photos off everyone’s memory cards onto his computer and then on to mine for the power point. After talking for a while, Esther went missing, so Shiho and I went to meet Yurie.

Our conversation was pretty fun, just chatting. Actually I’ve been quoting musicals and movies and songs all mission and then saying “Where’s that from!!??” and no one ever knows. Today when I said it – “yep yep yep! Where’s that from?” to Shiho she said “The land before time!” AHHH! I was so shocked!! Someone knew the answer!!! Anyway back to conversation with Yurie.

I threw in heaps of moments to lead into Christianity, but nothing seemed to be taking – my sisters, my church, everything! AHH!! It was frustrating to be trying to get something deeper going, but have nothing happen. Eventually, I just said: “Hey Yurie, you know we are Christians and I know you want to know more about Christianity, so do you have any questions you could ask us? Because we leave soon…..”

It did the trick in that she asked a question, but it wasn’t really what we were expecting: she asked about Campus Crusade. I felt like she has questions, but she doesn't know what they are. After a while more, I was about to pull out a KGP, but we had to go! Ahhh FRUSTRATING!

We arranged to meet up with her again – on Friday, and then headed off. George and Andy had another night of contact meeting, hanging out with the Frizbee people, but the girls had a night at home. We made sushi again, which was really fun. Probably some of the coolest times on project were the nights I had with the girls. Wednesday night I also got to talk to Steve, which was really good considering the long weekend that I had coming up.

Thursday morning I cycled over to Andy’s place in the rain to let him and George know we were catching a bus and also to grab photos off him (on the USB). Turns out that George was out until 3am with the frizbee guys – playing pool and darts and then to Karaoke, but Andy had come home around 10 for an earlyish night. Shiho, Wai Ling and I all caught the bus to uni to be there by 10:30 for the CE’s (Shiho and Wai Ling with Mika, and Me with Ayumi (or so I thought)) and everyone else came later (supposedly for lunch, but not arriving until 12:30).

Shiho and Wai Ling started their CE with Mika on time, but there was no sign of Pam or Ayumi for me. It was strange, but I just prayed a read a bit of bible and then Shizue turned up. She wanted to hang out and chat, and we ended up talking about Christianity – she has an Aunt in England who is a Christian. The conversation was so unexpected, but it flowed naturally to a KGP.

I was struggling through reading a Japanese one to her (so much Kanji that I couldn’t read!!) and looking over at Shiho and Wai Ling (who were joined by Kahori and Sachie – that was 3 Christian native speakers at their table!!) and praying that I had someone to give me a hand, when Shizue stumbled across a word she didn’t know (possibly sin or sacrifice or something that’s not used much in Japanese). The first thing she did was look up, see Sachie and then call her over to help out! Praise God for answered prayer!!

Sachie came over, saw what we were doing and then went back to get her lunch. It was really cool to see Sachie take over and help Shizue through a KGP. Sachie only became a Christian in August, so this is something she’s only new at but she was so willing to share it with her friend. Hooray!!

Over at the Mika-CE table – Wai Ling asked Mika if she thought she might be able to pray to receive Christ now, knowing what he went through to save her (they had just finished CE 2 – all about the death of Christ and why he died) – She though about it and then said yes!! Praise God!

When everyone started turning up for lunch we all sat around together. Some guys came and hung out for a bit too – which was really cool. Then, we all caught the bus to Aichiu with Pamela, who told us some more exciting news – Ayumi (Kaji’s Girlfriend) had bought another friend to her CE lesson on Wednesday and after going through a KGP, had prayed to receive Christ!

At Aichiu, things were pretty quiet – Andy and I ate our “Mega Tomato”’s from Maccas – 3 beef patties, bacon, tomato, 2 slices of cheese, lettuce, 3 pieces of bread and this strange mayo with pepper in it (who’s crazy idea was that?) – which was pretty good. Everyone at Aichui is in exams, so we only had 6 people at ESS which was a bit sad, considering it was our last one, but it was also really good to see those who did come.

There weren't many coming to the Immanuel meeting, so Jody, the boys, Disuke and I all caught the bus and the train to Kamiyashiro, while Ibuki drove the girls. At the Immanuel Meeting – it was a Nabe Party – because it was the last meeting for the year. Nabe is pot – like a ceramic pot. We Australians thought this meant bring a plate, so we had bought 2 containers of rice (left over form the sushi Wednesday night ☺). This actually meant pots of water which was boiling and you cooked things in it – veggies and meat etc. :D

It was pretty fun. I talked with Ayumi about her friend receiving Christ and just how she’s going generally. She’s done hip-hop dancing for 4 years so she’s really good. I think Fiona would like her ☺ After that I went around chatting to other people and just generally having a good time.

The IM people had arranged a good bye for us, so after Shiho gave her testimony (a first for her in front of such a large group) Andy (as team leader) made a speech and then they gave us all presents – diaries for next year (with a helpful reminder in the front cover “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” :P). Jody laid it on hard for us in his goodbye speech – “in these Australians who have given up so much to come to you – you have seen God – who gave up so much to come to you as Jesus” intense!!

It was really nice to hang out that night, Shubo, a Nanzan student, and I ended up jamming a bit which was really cool. After Shiho’s testimony and a KGP, a girl called Yuki who we had met in our first week and had come – it was her first IM, prayed to receive Christ. It was exciting because Ayumi, who is doing the CE with Pamela and Shizue were both there as well. So good to see our contacts who were interested in Christianity getting connected into this community of believers who can encourage them and help them grow! Yay!

We walked home and went to bed pretty late, but still phyced for our last day on campus.

Friday morning we left home early – almost on time too in fact – the boys came around to sign cards for Jody and Pam and then we cycled together (just like our first day) for the last time to meet them for breakfast at a coffee place near Gaidai. Breakfast was fun – boiled eggs, toast and a drink and then it was campus time!

Our last day on campus – so many students came to the Gaidai Lunch, the most boys we have every had. Kenji came along – which was a highlight for everyone – it’s so good to see him coming back to God. He says that he has been missing something ever since he cut ties with his Christian friends and now he’s getting it back, and he’s going to start a bible study with Jody every week as well. Hooray! Andy also got talking to another of the guys, Takayuki, who is going to go to Tasmania on a tour and hit Sydney for a couple of days – they are going to meet up then.

I sat around with Yurie for a long time this day, and she asked more questions about the bible. Eventually I pulled out a KGP and asked her if she had seen it before and explained what it was. She was eager to have a read with me, but then she had to run off to class!! AHH!!! We made a date to read it that night at the farewell party. I kept praying that God would make it happen.

Soon after we all headed over to Nishin to set things up. Andy and I worked on the power point – getting the timing for the songs right and what not, only to put it on the church computer and find that while my Mac couldn’t count to 2, (for 2 seconds between each slide) the church computer did, so everything was out again. We ended up scrapping the sound on the power point and using Andy’s iPod instead. :P (more mac products).

We had about 30 people come – from all sorts of places – ESS, Gaidai, Christians, non Christians, people we had only met once, other staff members, extra friends we hadn’t even met. It turned out to be a pretty good crowd, and after a few fun games we started eating the masses of curry rice. (and then trying to feed people the extra 8kgs of rice that we had cooked (sorry mum – I can’t judge like you can!)).

We had a sharing time – where the Japanese students could say thanks to us and what not – Kahori spoke first and it turned into a bit of a sermon. She is a bit on fire for God that girl. Ibuki cried, and Yuki shared how she had just become a Christian the night before. Kahori’s dad came during this time – which was great considering he isn’t a fan of Kahori’s Christianity. He spent a lot of time chatting afterwards even though everyone expected him to take Kahori and leave.

After that it was our turn to share. The plan was that everyone would say one thing – a thank you or a “my most special moment was” and Andy and I would work a bit of testimony into it. We were running short on time and Kahori had already gospel smacked everyone, so I was the one doing it. Wai Ling however got carried away and started sharing bible verses with everyone and adding gospel in everything she could, so in the interest of keeping things short and not to heavy on the Christian front, we scrapped me too.

After that, the Japanese people had organised a song for us. It’s funny because Jody had been joking with Andy and I about what song we were going to put on the power point and saying “as long as it’s not that soppy friends song by Michael W Smith” (we had chosen Goodbye by Audio Adrenilin and God Sent by DC Talk) and when the Japanese people spoke up, we all got a sinking feeling in our stomaches.

It was the Friends song by Micheal W Smith. Nice a soppy :P

Later on Sunday night – watching Soccer with Okaasan and Yuta.

So after the soppy song, things wound up. Kahori wanted to love on us some more, so we sang shout to the Lord together – it was a bit much though because the non Christians just were outside the little circle we had going being left out – it’s things like that that make me think Kahori might need to slow down a bit, but oh well. After that Shubo and I started jamming again, and then we were joined by John, a Canadian who is here for a year (goes to Nishin Church). Then the coolest thing happened – Disuke and his friend Minami, who are non Christians came over and wanted to jam with us.

We didn’t have any other chords but the church songs that were lying on the piano, but Disuke (who picked up a bass) and Midori, were really cool about it: “we’ll just join in!”. So we played one song, then did Grace Like Rain – which went down really well. After that we ran through One Way, but it was a bit harder, I was sight reading the chords for piano and trying to sing and project, John didn’t know the words and it’s a very guys song, so yeah. Still it was super cool to be jamming with them and praising God. ☺ hooray!

It took ages to say good bye that night. Everyone was just hanging around and around. I don’t know why people can’t be more perceptive, but eventually it got to the stage where you’d say goodbye to people you had already said goodbye too. I was thinking “we have to get up early, we should go” but everyone else was living in the here and now and was only worried about saying goodbye over and over again.

When we finally got home, it was bed by about 12:30. I got up at 6:30 and woke up C. It didn’t take much for me to finish putting things into my suitcase and get my backpack ready for the weekend away. I was ready by 8:00 so I typed some stuff and then at 8:30, walked some stuff over to the boys. The plan for the weekend was that we would leave Friday night and go away to a retreat to wind down.

Because we were having a party Friday night, we weren’t’ going to leave until Saturday. When we left, we had to put all the girls suitcases had to be walked over to the boys to leave for the weekend (our apartments were only rented until Saturday, the boys have theirs until Monday) and then we would go from there. We were supposed to leave at 9:30. I knew it was going to take more than one walk over for some of the girls (Cecilia had 4 bags) so I took mine earlier so I could help out.

After walking back, I then loaded up my bike and took Esther (also loaded up with back packs) over on her bike. Then we left our bikes there and walked back to help with more stuff.

The other girls had been packing ministry stuff, and they still were. Ibuki had come over and was waiting for us to come back. So cute to see her again. I will miss her. Just when I thought we might make it on time Wai Ling tells me that she’s called Seiji (who was coming to get the keys at 9:30) and asked him to come at 10:30. *sigh* for once I thought we were going to make it – but no.

Anyway then I loaded up another bike and rode it back to the boys (for the 3rd time that day) while the girls walked their big suitcases over. Seiji met us at the boys and from there, he drove the 2 girls with no bikes back to their place and the rest of us started biking (via the girls place) over to Kamiyashiro.

We parked at Kamiyashiro and caught a train to Fujigaoka. From there we caught a the linimo to some other station and then another train to somewhere else – Asuke? – and then a bus. The idea of all of this, was to get us to a cultural villiage where we could relax and be cultural.

Monday 17-12-07

By the time we did all that bussing and training and what not – as well as leaving an hour late – we got to the cultural place with about 5 mins to go in before we had to start walking back to the bus stop so that we could make sure we got to the next place in time for the shuttle bus to pick us up to go to the youth hostel. Can you see me rolling my eyes at this?

In any case we didn't go in, we just walked back to the bus stop. It dropped us off at a hotel place, so we went into the lobby to wait for our shuttle bus. Everyone was so tired, so while most people slept Andy and I had a gruelling game of take two (my first 5 letters were Z X Y Q and E – make a word with that :P).

Just as we finished this little old man came in and loaded us into his Tarago. I have to say that the “Youth Hostel” we arrived at was amazing. It was an old school, now run by a family for people who wanted to hike up to the top of the mountain to see stars. It was clean and there were loads of blankets to keep warm. Hooray!

Dinner that night – which was only $10 – was this amazing piece of marinated chicken, fish, beef, veggies, misso soup, rice, tea, salad and a mandarin – how great was that!! Also the place was only $35 a night which is a bargin!! I’d love to come back there!! Breakfast the next morning – only $6 – was Japanese style with English bits mixed in. Salad, eggs, sasuage, fish, rice, veggies, misso soup, nato and apple. Pretty fantastic if you ask me ☺

It was cloudy so we couldn’t see the shooting stars (apparently you get to lie on a heated table to watch them so you are nice and warm) so that night we spent a few hours just chilling and playing cards and take two (Shiho and I had a Japanese bath! Yay!) before heading to bed at about 10:00.

The next morning the girls got up between 6:30 and 7:00 and got ready for breakfast at 7:30. Breakfast was stellar and then we hung out some more before having the little old man drive us back down the mountain to catch the bus. Then we caught the bus for another 40 mins, just missed one train and had to wait a half hour for the next (which was the one we were aiming for, but it was frustrating to have just missed the first one). Then we caught the linimo back to Fujigaoka and hung out in Mr Donuts for a while just doing “best and worst” moments and more personal evaluation.

Then we did a quick trip back to the boys place, the girls stopped at there’s and left the bikes there and walked on to the boys. Then one of the missionaries Takeshi-san took all our luggage and George to the train station. I took Andy’s back pack (which weighed a ton) on the spare bike while Andy finished off the photo burning to the CD’s on his lap top and the girls walked.

I met George at the train station and we matched up suitcases with back packs for everyone. As soon as they got there we grabbed tickets and caught the train. On the train it was goodbye time. George, Esther and I were going to Nagoya to catch a Shinkansen to Tokyo and everyone else was dumping stuff at Masayoshi and Pamela’s apartments and then going to Karaoke one last time, before Shiho and Cecilia went off to Gifu for the night to stay with Shiho’s brother (Andy and Wai Ling were staying with Pam and Masayoshi for the night before their early morning flights today).

No tears – even then!! – and all of a sudden the rest of the grew were gone and it was just me, George and Esther. We got to Nagoya, found the Shinkansen ticket place, grabbed tickets and made the train with about 2 mins to spare. Pretty good timing. The trip to Tokyo only took 1 hour and 4 mins and I made the 5:03 train from Ueno station out to Fusa! Hooray! I was going home!!

After my long train trip, my homestay dad picked me up from the station – there is a new carpark! Everything is just like it was at home though, except maybe Yuta – who is a lot more talkative. :D He poured a tea for me (yuck) and I was going to drink it anyway, but as soon as Okaasan noticed she’s like “No no! Paula doesn’t drink that! I put a water in the fridge for her today!”

How beautiful is my homestay mother! God thank you so much for giving me such a blessing. Kana is the same – she has hair extensions, but was wearing less make up than I expected. She’s working in Harajuku now – also something that suits her. Yuta has braces and was wearing the wallabies jacket that my mum and dad gave him - apparently he wears it all the time. ☺ My homestay dad was really funny, so good to see him again. God thank you for my lovely family. Happy is getting old now – she’s 9. Her gold fur is turning a little grey-white, but she’s still jumpy. When Obaasan (grandma) stays she usually sleeps with her in the tatami room (where I am) but I was worried that she would eat my teddy bear so I closed the door (Okaasan suggested it) but then this morning she was barking like mad. *sigh* I woke up at like 5:30 when Okaasan came down and ended up crawling out at 6:30 to lie on the couch. I went back to bed around 7:30 when Kana had left, and I was hoping to wake up before Okaasan left for work, but I just missed her.

She had left me breakfast though ☺. I zipped up all my things – including Fred -and let Happy into my room. After having a sniff around and finding that Grandma was indeed not there she left again. ☺ then I weighed my bags – Ottosan thought it might be too heavy, but that’s because it was badly packed because of the retreat. I took out Fiona’s heavy coat, which I’ll wear on the way home, and reorginised a few things and then weighed it and said it was 16.6, so (given I was holding it a bit) it is probably about 18 kgs – yay I’m under!! :D

Today I’m going to go see Kiyose for lunch and Michiko for dinner. I wonder if a day train pass would be cheeper, because I have to go all the way to Tokyo with Michiko… humm. I’ll see. Anyway now this is done I should probably get on to emails. ☺ I love being home again in Japan, but I’m glad I’m coming back to Australia soon.

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