Day 42 Costco and Pizza!!

Monday October 12th, 2009

I have to say the thing we were the most excited about today was Pizza. It has only been a little over a month since we had pizza, but having something that's tastes exactly like we want it to will be awesome! We woke up fairly early and headed into town towards Costco. The traffic was horrible. It was a holiday, so everyone was heading out of the city towards the country. It should have taken us 20 minutes or so to get there. Instead it took an hour and a half. After waiting in traffic a long time Steve got out to check if the traffic was ever going to move and to stretch a little. IMG_4649

We really wanted to find a few items and groceries. When we got there it was so crowded. We were lucky to find a parking spot. Steve with his crazy driving skills found a parking spot for us. Costco was crazy!  It was like a “Black Friday” sale in America.  We had to fight the huge crowds of people to get a slice of pizza. We stood in line for about IMG_465120 minutes, then had to wait another 30 minutes for the pizza. We started out shopping by strolling through the isles to see what this Costco had. Soon Paul called and our pizza was ready. YAY! We found a nice bench outside and after the blessing we dove into that pizza. IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!! (That’s right, six exclamation points!) IMG_4653


IMG_4654I think it was the first thing we’ve eaten here that tasted like food from the good ole USA. It was so good. We shared a large which for Japan was really big. It was just right for the four of us. We were all full and ready to shop. We walked up and down the isles and found lots of wonderful things that we needed for our house. What a great day so far.

After Costco we headed back to the Carrell’s to drop off all the wonderful goodies and the car. Then we were going to downtown Matsudo to look around and ride the train for the first time. I think for me it’s the first time ever. Paul rode the subways while he and his family lived in New York. He has a funny story he likes to tell about his dad you will have to ask him about it some time:)IMG_4656

We got a cool “Pasmo” card and filled it will a little money. Its like a credit card for the train. You just scan it as you go through the gates and It keeps track of where you came from and takes the money off the card. IMG_4658Paul found he could just slap his wallet on the sensor and it would pick up his “Pasmo” card and let him through.  He toyed with the idea of sliding his back pocket across the sensor just to check how sensitive the scanner was.  But we both soon had visions of the Japanese people around us staring in horror if Paul tried to slide his rear across the sensor.  You know, when you’re a missionary you have to sacrifice some things.  So we didn’t try it. (yet)

IMG_4663After our awesome ride we found a train conductor and took a IMG_4669picture. He was really shocked we wanted to take a picture with him.  I think it made his day. :)


Then we walked around downtown until we headed home. Debbie was going to make us her wonderful spaghetti.  We watched another movie, “Dave,” and talked with Steve and Debbie until we couldn't stay up any longer.


Day 41 Weekend at The Carrell’s

Sunday October 11th, 2009

It’s Sunday morning and we are excited to worship with another Japanese congregation this morning. We are staying with the Carrell’s today, Monday, and Tuesday. We are just relaxing and IMG_4605getting some much needed wisdom from the Carrell’s. They have lived in Japan for 30 years. They speak awesome Japanese and are fully experienced in evangelizing to the Japanese people.

So we IMG_4609are excited to spend some time with them. Oh and did I mention they are native English speakers? Extra Bonus!

We started off the morning with the Matsudo church of Christ. They had about 15 people attending this morning plus us. We enjoyed the sermon because Steve gave us a great summary in English to start, so we IMG_4622could kind of follow along. After services we had a potluck lunch, a business meeting and a bible study. Whew. They know how to take care of business. After lunch we went back to Steve and Debbie’s house and decided what to do for the rest of the day.IMG_4624


Paul and I really wanted to find a couch at the local recycle stores. (if we could fit it in our van) So off to the recycle shops we went. (kind of like a flea market and pawn shop in one)  We found a few things we liked, but it was the first place we stopped. We tried to go a few more places, but they were all closed. It was IMG_4637another holiday weekend. So we thought long and hard about the couch we found at the first shop. We decided to get it. It was really awesome.





   It reclines, the middle section folds down into a table, and it comes in 3 sections (that way it will fit in our van). We went back and bought that couch and a few other things. Then we stacked the van full. It all fit!! We were really hungry by then so Debbie and Steve suggested we eat at Bikkuri Donkey.IMG_4646 It means “Surprise Donkey.” We kept wondering what the surprise was, but later one of our Japanese friends researched it and found out they want to surprise their customers and make them happy. They choose "donkey" because they thought the donkey has very kind eyes and seems like hard worker.  (Interesting huh?) I have to say the food was pretty good, but Paul was a little disappointed he didn’t see a single donkey while we were there. After a wonderful dinner we headed home to plan our next day adventure. On our way home Steve treated us to some vending machine ice cream. Pretty good for a vending machine. At their house we watched our  first movie in Japan, The Island. One of our favorites. Then for tomorrow we decided we will go to Costco tomorrow. Yeah, I was excited. Especially because they told us there was delicious pizza there. We are just hoping they still remember what good pizza is. Better not be any of that mayonnaise and squid stuff. I guess we will see.

Day 40 Road Trip of Encouragement

Saturday October 10th, 2009

We were invited to an Oklahoma Christian Banquet this evening. So we talked with Obata-san and we are going on a Road Trip!  Encouragement and Adventure, GO!!! We were excited to take a road trip by ourselves. Just me, Paul and IMG_4518the GPS.



IMG_4516Here’s our chance to really test this thing out, on the open road. We left Haruna around 2:00pm and drove to Mito. Our drive there was beautiful.  We saw a lot of rural Japan, and some wide open spaces that reminded us of home.  Pretty rare in most of developed Japan. IMG_4519






IMG_4541We got to stop when ever we wanted and stay as long as we wanted. So cool. We stopped at one rest stop and they had fun food so we decided to take a late lunch break. I went to the restroom and this little old lady stopped me and was looking at my hair. All I could understand was “pretty” so I politely said thank you. Then she started to wipe her face with my hair. Not really sure what that was all about, but it was a funny story to tell Paul.  Soon we ordered lunch. Paul ordered something like a chilly dog. I took the safe road and bought a ham sandwich and Pringles chips. After lunch Paul went back into the rest stop store and got us some ice cream. Chocolate ice cream. Until now we really hadn’t found any GOOD chocolate ice cream. It was delicious! One our way out the little old lady from the bathroom waved at us from her car as she was leaving too. I really wish I had gotten a picture of her.

It took us about 3 hours to get there and we were an hour early. So we had a little time to look around. They were having the seminar in the top floor of a huge department store. IMG_4579We walked around a little, then soon found the place where the meeting was. We also found some friends we met last time we were at Mito church. The Thompsons are an awesome couple. They are here teaching English at a couple of schools, but they still find time to preach and teach the Gospel to whom ever they find. Allen was telling us how he had just preached a lesson on adversity to a homeless shelter. WOW. He is a very passionate guy. His wife Laura is so sweet. I wish we lived a little IMG_4592closer to them. I think we would enjoy hanging out with them. We met so many nice people. There were students there on the Pacific Rim trip, Japanese high school students looking at going to OC in Oklahoma, Alumni that work at Ibaraki Christian University, and a few missionaries from around Japan. It was a very fun night. We loved meeting all the wonderful people and having some time away from home.   IMG_4590Here’s Paul with John and Joel Osborne. They are brothers.  Joel is a missionary currently working in Sendai, and John is OC’s Director of International Programs.


That evening we went to the Carrell’s (American Missionaries in Matsudo) house to stay the weekend with them.

Day 37 Our First Wednesday Evening Bible Study – GO OUTREACH!

Wednesday October 7th, 2009

Tonight was our first Wednesday Night Bible Study with the Haruna Church!


We put out flyers, handed out invitations, and made announcements from the pulpit advertizing “English Bible Study and Singing.” Here’s Stacey’s flyer that she made!

wednesday flyer3


We were anxious to see how many people (if any) would come tonight. Haruna has never had a midweek study.  This is also one of our first big attempts at outreach. We are trying to reach out to the surrounding areas and hopefully get some high-school/college kids in here who are interested in the Bible and English.


Around 6:30 we headed towards the building. No cars in the parking lot yet. Closer to 7:00pm a few people started to come in. YAY! We have ears that want to hear. We  ended up with 4 people that showed up.  No new young people from the community, but a woman that Obata-san has been talking with showed up, Junko-san!  Also 3 members from the congregation came, and we are very excited about doing some equipping.  Most of the members are fairly new Christians or have grown very little since they were baptized, so we are excited to share with all who will come. 


Paul did another great job starting with the first part of a  2 lesson series on “Why the Bible is Special,” and then we’re going to dive into the book of Luke.  If the Lord wants us to work on training up the people in the body then that’s what we want too!

Day 35 The Many jobs of a Missionary

Monday October 5th, 2009

I know this probably isn’t very interesting, but I had to write about it one time.

Of all the questions I got before we left this was the one that most surprised me. “What are you going to do about your hair?” Just in case you never noticed. I am not a natural blonde. At least not right now. I was blonde as a child until about second grade. then it slowly got darker over the years. So I decided to go full out blonde a couple years ago. I enjoy my blonde hair and I wanted to keep it that way if possible while we were in Japan. So out of my own money I bought and brought with me enough supplies to stay blonde for about 2 years. My beautician in the US helped me figure out what I needed and showed me how to be careful and bleach my own hair. She is an awesome beautician she always kept my hair just the way I liked it. So I hauled 5 large bottles of developer, 3 large tubs of powder bleach and all the utensils necessary to do my hair. Just one problem, I can’t see the back of my own head. Oh Paul… He agreed to help me. In return my hair won’t fall out! So, I am so thankful to have such a wonderful. loving, husband that will do just about anything for me.

Paul: Yeah this is awesome I love it sweety! Anything for you!





But, seriously , I do love you. :) (Just not hair dying.)

Day 34 First Singing Class and Bible Study!

October 4, Sunday, 2009

IMG_4435Today is our first class for the congregation. Today we will start teaching them English Hymns and studying the Bible. We were happy to see so many people show up early for singing. So before service we introduced two new songs “Because We Love the Lord” and



“JustIMG_4436 as I Am”.  Paul gave a short lesson about the meanings of the songs and why they were written. We sang the songs for the congregation, then they joined in. For being such a small group they sure do sing well. We sang for about 20 min. Then services began. Obata-san led the service as usual. Paul helping with the Lord’s Supper and a IMG_4438prayer.




After service Rumiko-san had a small lunch ready. So we all ate together, then we started the Bible Study. Everyone stayed for the Bible Study. This is awesome. Paul is teaching them about the Parables of Jesus. Today we talked about Mary and Martha. Paul did an awesome job of putting together a few great points. That there are many ways to worship God. IMG_4439Mainly about how what Martha was doing was good, but Mary had chosen the best thing to do. Worship God while He was with them. Over all the members didn't say a lot, but what we have observed about the Japanese is that they listen. They don’t always say a lot. We are hoping to get them to ask more questions and to have more discussion with each other.  Paul was pretty nervous, but excited to be working in the Kingdom.  This is why we are here!


Day 32 Obata-san’s Art

Friday October 2nd, 2009

We were invited to see a small art show in Takasaki. It was for some of Obata-san’s school mates. He stays in touch with some people that he went to middle school and high school with. A couple of them own an art gallery. They have also taught Obata-san how paint. I think he mostly uses acrylic and oil paints. So we were very excited to see some of Obata-san’s work.

He had two paintings displayed. They were both beautiful. I’ve tried painting. In any medium its hard. I prefer a steady pencil to work with. So for him to have completed these and then have them displayed is awesome.


After looking at all the pieces. We stayed around for a while visiting with Obata-san’s friends. None of them knew English, so we mostly listened. The owner of the shop had been to the USA, so he showed us a photo book of his trip. He had been to California and then Arizona to the Grand Canyon. He really enjoyed showing us his pictures.


They gave us a few snack to have while we waited. One was a very traditional dish which contains mochi (rice paste). Obata-san said his mom always made this for a treat. IMG_4419

It looks like a big fried cheese stick. But it’s not. It’s a type of mochi that you dip in this hot soy sauce. Not on my list of favorites. Paul didn’t seem to mind it. But he eats anything nowadays. :)IMG_4420

On our way home. We say this crazy van drive past us. Obata-san knew we wanted a picture, so He tried very hard to get close enough to take this picture. It was a fun chase. I really wish we could have taken a picture of the whole thing. It was crazy. In Japan they have very strict laws about motor vehicles. Every two years they must be inspected and repaired to code. This van was not within code. Obata-san said He probably wouldn’t get a ticket, but he would have to take off all the body kits before the next inspection. The picture of the girl on the back is Ayumi Hamasaki. She is Japan’s equivalent to Brittany Spears.  IMG_4428

The purple van looked crazy.  Paul looked online and found a clearer pic of a similar style.  WOW huh?

pikachu van

Day 31 The work starts NOW!

Thursday October 1st, 2009

Its officially started. Our time to adjust is over. We are getting started with the work that we came here to do. Don’t get us wrong, adjusting to the new culture, language, and environment has been work. But we didn’t come just to meet the wonderful people of Japan and to feel uncomfortable eating strange food! So, we started off this morning with our first Language class with Obata-san. He has decided to read through the Japanese Bible with us. I guess you could say he is using the LST method on us. through t..

We are reading the book of John first. At our first meeting we started with Obata-san reading the first five verses in Japanese to us. We mark where the words divide (other wise we read run-on words). It’s difficult to read Japanese because they don't put spaces between words or have capital letters. They also have Kanji (the word picture characters) which are extremely difficult for foreigners to learn. So after we get the words straight we take turns reading through the verses that Obata-san just read. Then we go through the vocabulary that we don’t know. So the first five verses, we went through about every word. Obata-san is very patient with us. He did say he was happy that we could read hiragana and katakana (the 2 phoenetic alphabets). That made his job a little easier. Thanks WSU! Thanks Foster Sensei! Obata-san is also quite a Greek scholar so we get a great Bible study in every language class.

SO our first session of going through the first five verses of John took 2 hours. Whew! Lunch time!!

Day 30 Japanese Church History Day

Wednesday September 3oth, 2009

Today we went to Nomura-san’s house. We visited him a few weeks ago, but we went to help him pack up books that he is donating to Pepperdine University’s Heritage Center. Dr. Jerry Rushford, Head of church relations for Pepperdine, is in Japan to receive these books and to research church history in Japan.


When we got there the work was mostly done. A couple of the younger preachers came to help Nomura-san box them up a couple of days ago. So we got to sit around and learn about the history of the churches of Christ in Japan. Very cool. After listening to them all talk and go through pictures we shared a meal together then headed on our way home. Brother Nomura is a great friend and always a treat to visit.  He is a true mountain man as well.  He basically lives on the side of a mountain!IMG_4393 IMG_4399 IMG_4404

Day 29 Soba with the Chief

Tuesday September 29th, 2009

We have been able to enjoy so many wonderful things in Japan. Mostly because Obata-san has so many good friends in Haruna. Today we were invited over for dinner at the chief of the community’s house Nakajima-san. Actually he is the father of Reiko. The young lady that has helped us out so much and is a member at Haruna.   We were also told by one missionary that it is always good to make friends with the leader’s of the community in Japan.  Then everyone accepts you and knows that you are a honorable member of the community and not an outsider.  This sounds good to us and we are always pleased to make new friends.

We were very excited. We heard that he makes Soba (a buckwheat noodle) from scratch.


We arrived at their house and his wife greeted us. She also speaks English. She showed us around the back of the house to where we would be eating. Nakajima-san built a special little house just for making soba! WOW! So we walked around for awhile until dinner was ready. IMG_4345



Then Nakajima-san came to say hello, and he showed us around a little more. He was very proud of his Soba house. He and his friends built it together. IMG_4375IMG_4379


And last summer they built a brick pizza oven just outside of the Soba house. Cool. I can’t wait to try pizza from that!


We all gathered together inside and waited to eat. They prepared so much food. It was delicious! You eat soba dipped in a cold soy sauce based broth. We also had tempura (fried vegetables), potato salad, rice, and nashi (Japanese pear).IMG_4365

IMG_4359 IMG_4358    

Nakajima-san had a lot of interesting stories to tell us. One was about this trophy he won. We had heard about Golf in Japan. There isn't a lot of space for a golf courses, so they are pretty expensive to build and not a lot of people can afford to play. There is such a thing as hole-in-one insurance you should have if you play golf. This IMG_4370insurance is to cover you if you should get a hole-in-one. In Japan it is customary to have a very big party if you get a hole-in-one. This insurance pays for that party if you should ever get a hole-in-one. So Nakajima-san’s insurance was about to expire and his friend told him not to renew it. Well wouldn’t you know within the next month Nakajima-san got his first hole-in-one. And he had to throw a big party all on his own dime. Soon after that he renewed his insurance.

We talked most of the evening. Nakajima-san is a very interesting man. He was a principal of a school, then a superintendant, then he was in the city council of Haruna (after the city was absorbed by Takasaki, now he’s retired) and he makes Soba, Pizza, has a plum orchard, and does a little farming on the side.  He and his wife are typical Japanese Buddhists.  Paul hopes that his Japanese gets to the point where he can discuss some of the more important issues.   Nakajima-san also likes old American Western movies and was very excited that Paul and I had seen many of the old ones he had seen like “Shane” and old John Wayne movies.  He said most people our age didn’t know about these American Classics. :)  I guess its good that our dads both liked old westerns and we grew up watching them.  It was a great evening and we hope to get to know the Nakajimas better.