Day 14 – Preacher’s Meeting

Monday Sept 14th 2009

IMG_3792Its our first preachers meeting! We went to Yokohama church of Christ. Once a month most all of the preachers around the Tokyo area get together to discuss different topics and help each other.

It was a great time to meet a lot of the other preachers and a few of their families. IMG_3812-1
We met up with Steve and Debbie Carrell. We were glad to be with them. They helped Stacey (me) so much especially by translating most of the meeting. Boy was that frustrating not knowing what they were talking about. Paul also met an old friend from OC, Ken Hysten, who helped him translate. Paul just found out Ken has been here for over 10 years doing mission work. What a small world!
IMG_3803They served us a few different snacks and tea twice during this 2 hour meeting. I tell you what, for being so small, Japanese people sure do eat a lot. After the meeting we all went down the street to a nice hotel that prepared a nice meal in one of their banquet rooms. Then we took a tour of their new church building and one of the ladies gave Debbie and I a hand made flower.


  After the meeting we drove home. We went through Tokyo. It was really fascinating. So many different shaped buildings, so much English in all of the billboards and businesses. We enjoyed our ride back to Haruna. And Paul got to drive some more on the open road.

When we got home we decided to try the heart shaped meat that we found at the grocery store. MMMmmm good! Its just ground beef (we think). If its not, it sure tastes like it. IMG_3870(So don’t tell us what it is.)  :)

Day 13 Worship and Paul's cell phone

Sunday Sept 13th, 2009

We woke up to a great morning. I think Paul was a little relieved to just be able to focus on worshiping God this morning and not having to speak in Japanese. We got ready and walked down to the building. The message this morning was harder to keep up with. Obata-san doesn't speak very much English in his sermons, so we have to pay attention and catch every word we know. He preached on Deut 1:5-8. “The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them."
His central message was for us to realize that the Haruna church had been on the mountain long enough, like Moses, and needed to “turn and take the land.”  This was a call for a new start at the church and with the addition of the Herrington’s, Brother Obata was asking the congregation to get behind him in a new outreach to the community.  It was very moving.
Then after services we stayed around and had tea and a Chinese dumpling called Manjou.  It was a bread filled with meat. It was really good. It tasted like sloppy Joes. Yumm. Then about 5:00 we met up with Rieko and Ryosuke to pick-up Paul's cell phone. It only took about 30min this time. Yeah, Paul has a phone now and it's not pink or flashy gold. He has a nice blue/black phone.
After that we decided to stop by an auto store and look at a GPS, we’re a little tired of getting lost. We've seen a few but they are really expensive. But they are huge here. The screens are at least 5" or larger. Well we got some good info and Paul decided to go home and search the web for a better deal.
When we got home we had another visitor. He was on our front door this time. I guess that’s what we get for leaving the front light on!


Day 12 Internet & Tacos

Saturday Sept 12th, 2009
Oh we've been waiting for today. Today we get INTERNET! We can finally talk to our family. We really hadn't talked to any family for almost 2 weeks now. I have to say I'm getting sad, but not for long. We will be up and running today and then tonight when its Saturday morning in Wichita we get to call our parents and sibling and maybe have time to talk to a couple friends. Oh I can't tell you how excited we are. Ok so we counted down the time and finally the door bell rang. It was NTT. Yeah! Please start hooking up our internet onegaishimasu (it means PLEASE!!). They started asking us questions, and Obata-san wasn't there yet, so Paul told them to wait and our Japanese friend would be right over. Obata-san to the rescue. He came and they started working diligently. With in a couple hours they were finished. So I made them a cup of coffee and a plate of Russell Stover candies we brought with us to share. So after they left we tried our new internet…
It didn't work. :(  Ok its a little different than we are used to. We opened the software and started the installation. It wouldn't even open. Oh man. Our computers are not compatible with Japanese software. Obata-san was still here helping us. So we went to his house and he let us borrow one of his laptops. Ok lets try again. Ok its running... and then it came to a prompt screen asking for our provider information. We didn't get a provider. We thought we didn't need one. So after a few hours of trying Obata-san went home, and we sat around staring at each other very disappointed. Paul tried to call the customer service number, but they couldn't understand each other. urrrrr. We are not going to get internet today are we? We decided to make some dinner. We used some of the taco stuff Memorial Road sent us. It was really good. Well at least we had a good Mexican meal today even if we don't get internet. IMG_3765

Soon Steve Carrell (American Missionary) called to check on us. Luckily our home phone works now. So we told Steve about our problem. He said he could call the customer service number and talk to them to see what we needed. After that conversation he called back and now Debbie, his wife,  was talking to us while Steve was on the other line to NTT. So after about another hour of this 3 way call. Steve found an internet provider that we could pay for right then and they would give us the info we needed to get through the install CD. Ok lets try it. ... ... ... ... ...

IMG_3766It worked!!! We were so happy. I hooked up Skype so fast and called my Dad. It was the perfect time to call in the US. It was about 9:30pm here and about 7:30 am there. It was really good to hear his voice. After we called a few more people we went to bed very happy. Ahhh. At last we are connected. Now we could call anyone any time we wanted to. What a great feeling. We didn't realize how dependant on the internet we were. It was pretty late. I think we stayed up till 2:30am talking. Now we can go to bed.

Day 11 – Sept. 11 and Yamada Denki

Friday Sept 11, 2009
Back Home in America this is a special day to remember. It was very strange here on this day. No one really gave this a lot significance. Well we still remembered. When we first got here Obata-san gave me a Veterans of Foreign Wars Calendar (for the US). So I've been watching how to display my flag. Today we would be flying at half mast.

We started the day off around the house and worked on the office and blogs. Closer to dinner time we decided to head towards Takasaki to find dinner and maybe Yamada Denki. We found a paper map in the car that was a big help! We stopped at Yoshinoya for dinner. They have a really good Gyudon. We went inside and ordered. They really only had Gyudon, with different sides. We got salad and miso soup. The salad was a little different than back home, but miso soup is about the same. Ooo,  they gave us salad dressing on the side. The waiter gave us two different kinds to try. I shook up my first little packet, and took a closer look at the instructions as i squeezed it a little and... POP, right in my face and over my head goes the salad dressing. As I look a little closer I see the clear picture that shows the packet facing downward toward the salad. Oops. Well Paul had a good laugh. The waiter hurried over to give me a wet towel to clean my face and hair. I looked around and was surprised that no one was looking or laughing at the silly blonde haired girl that just opened salad dressing into her face. Needless to say we were just about finished with our meal. Paul paid the man and we went on our way. On our way out I saw the huge amount of dressing that splattered on the floor behind me. It must have flew over my head and onto the floor. I might have to change my hair color to eat there again. Ok on to Yamada Denki. We asked for some directions and with our trusty map we were on our way. With Paul's superior driving skills and my savvy map reading (all of it in kanji)...
we found Yamada Denki with no problem. And we even made it 2 hours before closing time. So we could actually go in and look around. It was attached to the Takasaki station. The shopping center was 5 stories tall. We parked in the parking garage, very cool, and ended up on the 5th floor where all the classy restaurants were. So we wandered around and looked at each floor. Paul signed up for a point card (it has digital paper to keep track of the points). His first point card! It seems like almost all businesses here in Japan have these point cards. It's kind of like punch cards back home. If you spend so much here you get 5% or 10% of your purchase as points on your card that can be used later at that store. 1 point = 1 yen.  We looked around some more and Paul found the cell phones. They had all the carriers lined up to help you, and all the different phones on display with a working model to play with. Paul loved it. He even carried on a lengthy conversation with a young man that worked with AU (our cell phone provider here in Japan). We found a few things small things we needed, but we had to leave because they were closing soon, so we made our way to the parking gargae.
It was the cleanest parking garage I'd ever seen, and we found a few cool cars to look at. Paul paid our parking fee and we made our way back home. No problem.
On our way back home we decided to stop off at Mister Donut. We tried a few Japanese donuts. Pretty good, a little chewy, but really good. We got a big glass of milk to wash it down, but I couldn't drink it. I think it was more of their drinkable yogurt than milk, so I ate my donuts and Paul drank both glasses of milk. Paul really liked the big glasses there, so he went up the counter and asked the young lady working (in japanese) "Excuse me, May I buy this glass?" She very promptly said “No, No!” We were kind of taken a back by this, not the usual response, but we thought ,“well I guess you can't buy the glasses here.” Oh well Paul had an excuse to use his Japanese. We went home and were tired from all the adventures we had today.

Days 9-10: First Mail and First Business Meeting!

Wednesday Sept 9th 2009
We spend all day at Obata-san's house using the internet to update our blog/finances and trying to connect with people back home. It was nice to be able to get a lot of things done, but it was still frustrating because although we had access to the internet,  it was still only 2:00am in the U.S. so we couldn't talk to anyone from home. One step closer to getting things in order here. We went home pretty late that night and Paul was excited to find our first piece of mail in the mailbox. It was an info packet and a cable for our internet. It will be installed this Saturday. Oh how excited we were, especially since we just spent all day on Obata-san’s couch typing and replying to emails. Only 3 more days!!

Thursday Sept 10th 2009

It was another beautiful and clear day. We could see a lot of the mountains. We started the day working on a few projects at home. At 10:00am we had our first business meeting with the Obata's. We went over a few ideas Obata-san had and we gave him a few things we had been thinking about as well. It was a really good meeting. It was good to get some ideas in motion and talk about new opportunities for the church.   We have a tentative plan for our work here!  We hope to finalize it soon! 

After that, we got a call that Paul's hanko was in. Obata-san wanted to go and pick it up and then go the the bank. Yeah! Japanese bank account here we come.
So into town we went. We decided to open an account at a major Japanese bank called Mizuho Bank. We went to Takasaki for the nearest branch. It took a little while. Obata-san helped us with all the forms and within an hour we had an account. Now we can pay our bills through an auto deduct or strangely enough, at the local 7-11 convenient stores. How exciting!

On our way home Obata-san wanted to introduce us to some of his friends。 They owned a Japanese Pear orchard. They let us walk through the orchard and pick a Nashi (Japanese pear). I peeled it and we shared it under the trees.

It was funny about every 5-10 min. you would hear a big bang. It was a firework or something going off to scare off birds and animals. I guess they get a lot of fox type (Obata-san didn't know the English word for it) creatures that eat and destroy things. I assume the birds can be a menace as well. They said they even get wild boars that come to steal the fruit!  The young man that helped run the orchard took a few picture of Paul and I. He was excited because we were the first Americans to visit the farm. So he posted a picture of us on his website http:/

After we got home that evening we decided to go on another adventure. This time towards the big city of Takasaki. Well we figured since we just drove through there we could find our way around. Off we went. We got off to a great start. We got to Takasaki just fine.
We found Mos Burger and we had always heard it was awesome. So we decided to stop for a Mos burger. It was really good.
We've also heard they are pretty healthy, I don't know. It's still a hamburger and fried potatoes. At least I think its hamburger. Then after dinner we decided to try to to drive a little further. Paul really wanted to find the Yamada Denki in Takasaki. Remember, It's an electronic store, imagine that. So we tried. Paul even went into a convenience store and asked, but it sounded really complicated, so we decided to head home instead. We will try another day.

When we got home we Steve Carrell  (American missionary in Matsudo, Japan) called and wanted to know if we needed help with anything. We thought we were ok, but then I realized we hadn't done any laundry yet. I really needed to know how to use the washer and dryer. So over the phone we compared machines and with Steve and Debbie's help we figured out how to turn it on and wash some clothes. Yeah! My first load of laundry. We had to run the machine several times, because it had dirt in it from the move. But soon we had clean laundry. Now I can go to bed a happy girl.

Day 8 - Visit to the mountains

Tuesday Sept 8th, 2009
Today we scheduled a day trip to the mountains, to visit brother Motoyuki Nomura.  Brother Nomura and his wife were missionaries to the Korean slums for many years and he has been preaching for many years here in Japan too.

We traveled about 4-5 hrs by car, Obata-san and Paul alternating driving. It was a beautiful day. Sun shining and fresh air.

All the way to Bethany home church of Christ we could see the mountains. We love to look at the awesome display of God's creation. We stopped several times just to stop and look at the scenery.

We stopped for lunch at Sukiya. They had really great Gyudon. Gyudon is a rice filled bowl topped with sautéed onions and beef, its great!

We were very excited to meet Nomura-san and his wife, because they gave us many dishes as gifts to start our new home here! So we were anxious to thank then with special gifts. P野村家While corresponding with the Nomura's through email. One of the first emails Paul responded to was to thank the Nomuras for the gifts they sent for our house. In the email Paul put a note carbon copying Obata-san and asking Obata-san to translate into Japanese if necessary.  Mr. Nomura graciously responded with an email. He told us that when he was young he took night classes at the local YMCA to learn English, but since the classes were during the night he could only understand English at night time, so he was glad to have received our email during the night so that Obata-san would not have to translate. Also he always referred to himself as an "old geezer bumpkin" After we read this we knew we had to meet this funny man. As we pulled up to their home they were waiting for us. It's so good to put a face with a name. They showed us around their home and the church (which is inside their home). They talked with us for a while, telling us how hard the work is in this area, and a bit about American Missionary history in Japan.

Moto (as he likes us to call him) says "the people in this local community are stubborn Buddhist, and will not listen to the Gospel." I think he has an especially tough area. It's an older community and they are so set apart from any big cities I think they are little more "set in their ways". Brother Nomura and Sister Nomura need lots of prayers to bring people seeking God to this church. After we took some pictures and had coffee and a delicious apple pastry, we decided to head home. It took us about 4 hrs to get there. Again the drive home was beautiful. We went a different way home. Nomura-san showed Obata-san a secret way. It took an hour off of our time home! So with a little extra time we stopped at an electronics store. Yamada Denki! (or in English Yamada Electric)  Its kind of like a big Best buy, but this one also sold a few food items and house wares. Pretty cool. We thought electronics would be a little cheaper here, but not so. We did find some ink cartridges for a printer/fax/scanner someone gave us. And we found Heinz ketchup. Yeah! The ketchup here is not the same. I think we use more sugar in ketchup in the US. Big surprise,  I think we use more sugar than any other country, but I have only visited 3 countries so far, so I might be wrong.

Videos of our first Sunday Worship with the Haruna Church

Well I thought you all might like to see a little of the worship service here in Haruna so we recorded the service and here are a few parts.

This first video is of Brother Obata leading the old hymn favorite of “I surrender all” (in Japanese of course)

The next one is the whole of my first Japanese sermon. It was rough up there but exciting as well to finally be in Japan speaking to the church there. I had to read most of my sermon/introduction because I wanted to say exactly how I felt and not be limited to my limited use of the language. I talk for about 5 min. introducing us and then I moved into the lesson about 1 Corinthians 12, which Obata-san was very kind to read for me. Then I wrapped up with the application and a thank you. At the end they clapped for me which I guess they only do for a special speech like this introduction one for me. In Japan no one talks to you at all after the service about what you said or gives you any encouragement. I have yet to understand if this is cultural or just the local custom. At first I thought I had not spoken clearly or was not understood because no one said a word to me after the service. I later asked Obata-san about this and he said they don’t talk to you about your message here. They just kind of soak it in. He said when he preached a few times in the states so many people came up to talk to him and encourage him. He was so encouraged he told me. I told him that when I could understand better what his sermons were about I would encourage him myself. This video is a little long, about 10 and a half min.

The last video is the Lord’s supper. I just wanted to show that all over the world people are worshipping God in a very similar way!

Well I hope you enjoyed those!


Day 7 - Our day off and work on the house

Monday Sept, 7th 2009

What a beautiful morning. It’s our first official day off and we started with our usual walk, we saw a couple of large double blade helicopters headed towards the mountains. Not sure where they were going. Again we went a little too far and got a little lost, so we had to back track until we recognized a path to get home. Oh well, more exercise for today. On our walk we passed a couple of cow farms and many rice fields. The farms and fields here are so much smaller than in America. It probably plays a big part of why the food is so expensive.
Today I made an excellent lunch today. It was excellent because I used all of my kitchen appliances to make lunch. I used the toaster for chicken nuggets, the convection oven for potato wedges (I still can’t read the buttons on the machines; I just punch buttons till it looks right. I turned it on and it started flashing, not sparking, but it flashes until it gets to the right temperature. At least that’s what I told myself. And I used the stove to reheat Mac and Cheese (I fried it in a pan). Well I was proud of myself for not blowing up the convection oven. Paul was taking a nap and I didn’t want to wake him yet. It was scary to use. I really don’t even know where the stop button was. But I told myself if it started acting funny I would just unplug it. After lunch we were really hot in our house, and we ventured to open the windows. Well today its clean air. Thank you Lord!

We worked all day on organizing the house, unpacking the last of our boxes and putting together the few things we bought at Cainz Home store the other day. It was a very productive day. We had a small friend that decided to hang out with us all day by the window. So far we havn't see very many unsual bugs. Although there are some places where the spiders get together to build these giant webs. If we can get a good pic, we'll post it soon. Paul once saw a huge dragonfly in the restroom at a rest stop on the highway, he said he was as big as a sparrow, but he wasn't fast enough for a picture. We were very thankful to be able to enjoy a beautiful day at home.

We made our usual trip into town to get a few things. One thing we wanted was more cereal. The cereal boxes here are so small. Overall a very relaxing day. At times the differences here can be overwhelming, but we are thankful that we don't have to rely on ourselves for peace, but the creator of universe takes care of us. Keep praying for us please!