Saturday, July 28, 2007

Two Weeks On

It seems a lot longer than that. We have packed so much into the days. We have enjoyed shopping for a few things to make our house more user-friendly. Warren decided I needed a microwave that wasn't 30 years old and we have bought an electric kettle for the endless cups of tea.
We were taken up the Suzuka mountains which are 30 minutes drive behind our house. What beauty. There are hot springs, wonderful waterfalls, wild deer and very steep, green high mountains. The cable car took 12 minutes to climb to the top. It was 1.2 kms up. We picked a clear day and the views were spectacular.
My observations of Japan have been made up of the little differences in ways of doing things which actually become quite important. I am amazed at how every little purchase is individually wrapped. A box of crackers will have groups of 4 crackers in mini-packs inside box. Cakes will be pre-sliced and each slice wrapped.

This weekend our church has hosted a 2 day 'joy joy camp' for the primary age children. It has been very well planned with activities, talks, games and a trip to the mountains to swim and visit the hot baths. I was helping to pack afternoon tea which consisted of something that looked like paste rolled in a brown sweet something. Each serving was placed a pre-pack plastic container. We then used sticky tape to paste a toothpick to each lid and then when closed we put an elastic band to keep it closed. That is today's example of organisation, neatness and wrapping things.

The language barrier is a big one. None of them speak much English and although I am starting to recognise words and sounds, I cannot put them together to say anything of substance.

We start teaching this week. I am looking forward to being able to legitimately freely talk in English. I'm sure it will have its misunderstandings.

These are our stairs to the bedroom and office. They had a handrail put in for us for which we are grateful, especially coming down in the middle of the night

Thursday, July 26, 2007

View from bedroom window

Journal Monday 16th July 2007

Give thanks unto our Lord for He is faithful.

Between the noise of the frogs and the teenagers calling out in their baseball and tennis matches next door we find ourselves enjoying our new home. The sounds are different. The season is new to us and the countryside is so beautiful and green. Water is rushing around us after the typhoon which greeted us on Friday evening.

We enjoyed a comfortable flight with Qantas. As we left Cairns airport we were told to take up the extra empty seats at the bag of the aircraft. We had three seats each for the whole trip and so were able to stretch out and rest well.

It was raining when we arrived. Customs and immigration were straight forward and we were greeted by Hama-sensei and Yuko-sen, the designated driver. The trip took about 1 ½ hours along very smooth highways with heavily industrialized areas and the harbours. We have seen so many Toyota cars that are different to anything we get in Australia.

After a long day of travel we reached our little house in the country. We were warmly greeted by Kawamura-Sumi-san, our landlady. She eagerly showed us around the house, explaining how to use the various gadgets and make the windows work. There were others here to greet us and we were glad to have a hospitable house. Our landlady had thought of everything for us – even toothbrushes and food in the fridge.

You can see some pictures of our house. It is quaint and beautiful with a very large garden area. We are truly in the country with rice paddies behind us, tea plantations across the road, a large greenhouse with healthy vegetables growing and a junior high school on the other side of us. Our house looks over the large tennis courts and baseball fields.

We were invited to a welcome dinner on Saturday evening at a traditional Japanese restaurant. It was a banquet type meal with small servings of every possible traditional food containing raw fish dishes. The experience was educational and the food very healthy.
We have slept very well each night and are thankful to have comfortable beds which are not at floor level. Each room has an air conditioner. Only our bedroom one is broken right now. It is the wet season here and temperatures are high and weather is humid. There is so much water around us with all of the rain that we would love to send some to Brisbane.

The drive to church took us through the quaint village of Nishiyama and Sawaga. The road is very narrow and winds between houses and shops. There is hardly room for two way traffic. It is not at all like the views from google earth. We sat in the back of a Daihatsu while Chikko-san’s two young children were buckled into the front seat together.

Our first view of the mountains was enjoyed from the church building on Sunday. Until then the heavy cloud and rain kept us from seeing much in the distance. We were at church all day. The day began with a Sunday school teachers meeting, followed by junior church and Sunday school classes. The morning worship began at 11. Our dear pastor’s wife Hama-sensei had written out the sermon for us in English. We all enjoyed lunch together which consisted of a triangular shaped package of rice wrapped in seaweed with something mysterious inside and an egg bread roll. Every piece of food is individually wrapped.

After lunch we were able to use the church computer to check our e-mails. We have yet to work out how to get internet to our house. We now have a cell phone (09098994943) but not a house phone.

We met with the English school committee and discussed how it will be worked out for this year. There were long sessions of talk we could not understand. We are beginning to understand what it is like to have a language barrier. There is only limited understanding of English which off course is why we are here.

It is a holiday today to commemorate the sea. We will be going to the supermarket for the first time this afternoon. Tomorrow we will be given our blue two-door Mitsubishi Mirage. It has been kindly made available to us by a lady from church. We will also visit the ward office to apply for alien registration. The other two tasks to be done are applying for multiple re-entry permit so that if we need to leave the country we will not void our visa; and applying for our national health care cover.

As we get ready for bed we can laugh at many things that have happened. We have made many mistakes but our Lord has been gracious in His provision to us. We have met our neighbours and the most important business man in town. Sumi-san took us to meet these people and gave gifts on our behalf. We would not have known to do this. The market gardens are directly across from our house and we have been told that we can buy fresh vegetables there. What a privilege. I had to leave my ripening tomatoes, broccolini, capsicum and lemons at home but I have good supplies of very very tasty tomatoes here.

Our cooking experiences have been simple meals. We don’t have great storage space so we will be buying food often. We have two gas burners, a toaster and a microwave (about 30 yrs old).

Our funniest experience today was being told how to get rid of our garbage. Japanese are very conscientious about separating and recycling. There are strict rules about how this is to be done. No pick up comes to the house – instead we are to take the garbage in different bundles on different days to a depot about one kilometre down the road to a roadside pick up depot. As we don’t have a car yet, Warren will be walking the km tomorrow morning between 7 – 8.30a.m. to dump food wastes and papers in a special plastic bag. This can only be done twice a week. There are other schedules for other wastes. I have decided Warren can be in charge of this complex process.

The supermarket experience was quite good except it was hard to pay our 4,368 yen (about $43.00) for our purchases. We are not used to thinking in thousands. The prices actually seem comparable to our prices at home. We thought we bought peanut butter but it is peanut jelly. You can only buy bread in half packets and only white. We bought a packet of small bread rolls and found they already had butter in the middle. How do they do it? Every slice of cake and every biscuit is wrapped individually. No wonder they are fussy about recycling – so much cellophane and plastic is used.

We met Hirikoshi-sensei tonight for the first time. He has been away to Tokyo as the guest speaker at a conference. He is a very gracious kind man and wants to do all that he can to help us here. His wife, Hama-sensei has been looking after us very well.

View from our bedroom window

We are in the country. It is very green and lush. You can see the house next door. The foreground is our garden. There are rice paddies on the flat land.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here is the pastor with his son, daughter in law and wife. They are inside the church building which at this stage is a demountable.

Pastor Hirokoshi and his church

Today we received our first picture of the pastor of Saoi Christ Church. It must have been taken in winter. We are looking forward to meeting him.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

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We have just published our first newsletter. You can view it here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007