Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kids Church

The younger ones sit on the mat at the front. Teenagers join in with the kids. There is a good sense of family. There are curtains and wall dividers to make the facility more versatile.

This is what Sundays look like from here

After church we all have lunch together. The kitchen is kind of in the middle of the building and as usual is the centre of most people's attention. Today the ladies cooked up three kinds of rice as well as miso soup. There were side dishes of pickles and sweet red beans. What a treat!

The kids get to the food first.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


We have a large bedroom with tatami mats covering the floor. We werre provided with single beds which we have pushed together. Warren has rigged up extension wires from the computer with speakers downstairs and headphones in the bedroom so that we can listen to ABC and BBC radio news. We also have our ipods to listen to our favourite music and CCC sermons. There is not much point watching TV as the programs are not in English. We are getting into a good habit of reading. There is a good bookshop in Yokkaichi which has an English section with a lot of the classics.

Even though our bedroom is upstairs, one night when the window was open, Warren had a frog land on him in bed in the dark. We wonder how that happened! We also have friendly geckos and the usual mosquitoes and cockroaches.

Our office is in the second room upstairs. The third room is very tiny and is full of Japanese bedding supplies. Our office is big enough to also be a guest room for when you come!!!

We do most of our preparation in here and are finding the printer/photocopier to be invaluable. We are going through a lot of printer ink.

Each of these two rooms has an a/c for which we are very thankful. The weather right now in August is extremely hot and humid. The cicadas and frogs are very noisy.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Warren's musings

Dear Friends,

We have just got our internet installed and are glad to be in touch with the outside world. We tried to use the church computer, but it kept translating our words into Japanese randomly and was quite frustrating.

Just to catch you up on all of our doings over the past two weeks. We had a busy time getting ready to leave Brisbane. We really appreciated Dave and Sandra getting us to the airport at 6:00 am on Friday, 13 July. Especially so, as both of them were not feeling very well at the time.

The trip here was good with a stopover in Cairns. We had a row each to sleep on the way. We were met by Hama sensei, Pastor Horikoshi's wife and Yoko san, an elder's wife. It was dark and raining all the way to Yokkaichi (1 1/2 hours). We were in the leading edge of the typhoon which hit the next day, Saturday. On Monday and Tuesday we had the earthquakes which destroyed a lot of homes and badly damaged a nuclear reactor which was built on a fault line(!). A lot of damage northwest of here.

Our house is fantastic. Our landlady, Kawamura Sumi san, was at the house to greet us. We really appreciate her, as she is most gracious, generous and friendly. She is the widow of a doctor who owned a hospital. He bought several traditional houses in order to preserve them. This house hasn't been lived in for years. It was only used for entertainment and parties. The house is really beautiful. It is an older traditional home with ornate an Japanese style tiled roof, unpainted timber outside, heavy rough beams in in the downstairs ceiling, a fireplace in the middle of the living room with no chimney, tatami mats, different floor levels, sliding doors, paper screens and all the touches to make it look authentically Japanese. It is on a large property with a garden and small pond with 4 frogs.

The house is located on a narrow lane out in the country surrounded by rice paddies, tea plantations and bamboo groves. There is a greenhouse across the lane to buy veggies. The house has 2 storeys with three bedrooms. It all looks like one imagines Japan to look like. It is not easy to live in such a house and to keep it as Japanese expect, but it is well worth the effort. There is plenty of room for guests!

The loo is not traditional Japanese, in fact it's 23rd Century. It's a Toto Washjet with ventilator, heated seat, three consoles with 13 buttons, 3 knobs and six blinking lights. It took a while to learn that 'stool washing' meant flush. It has several controls for 'hip washing' and drying. We simply don't know what all the buttons are for and not particularly interested after trying the hip washer. The bathroom is traditional Japanese and we are not used to all the water that gets splashed around. The kitchen is very small and basic with two gas burners, a microwave, toaster-oven and fridge. Almost no counter space.

There is a junior high school right next door with the tennis courts and baseball field next to the house. We enjoy the sounds of school. Nishiyama is right at the base of the Sakuza Mountains which are 4,000 feet high. We can see the cable car to the lookout at the top from our house. The view from the top is spectacular. The mountains are snow covered in the winter with good skiing. We can see Yokkaichi-city spread out below and on to Nagoya, and I am told, Mt. Fuji on a very clear day. There are wild monkeys in the mountains and lots of deer. Doesn't it make you want to come and visit us?

The church and the people are very nice. They meet in portable buildings and hope to build on good land nearby next year or so. The pastor, Horikoshi Nabuji sensei, and his wife have been welcoming and most helpful to us. He is very kind and we can see that the people love him. He doesn't look or act like an 81 year old man. He is very active and was away in Chiba speaking at a conference when we arrived. The congregation has Sunday services and meetings from before 9:00 am to late in the afternoon. They sell food so we can stay on for the afternoon meetings, all in Japanese. I have been asked to preach once a month.

Folks in the church have provided furniture and supplies for the house, and an elder and wife have given us the use of a Mitsubishi Mirage car. So we are well cared for. Driving is not as difficult as we expected. The roads are very narrow in the country, but good in the main city streets. Japanese drivers seem more courteous than Aussie drivers.

I understand that some of the folks speak English, but they pretend that they don't. They have an active Sunday School in a country where 75% of churches don't have a Sunday School. The kids of all ages are very well mannered. The majority of churches here have less than 30 people in attendance. There are about 60 at Soai Christian Church, with a good number of young families. We are slowly picking up some vocabulary, but are too busy to spare the time to really get down to serious study of Japanese yet.

Our English classes begin next week with trial classes for the month of August and regular classes thereafter. We are spending a lot of time preparing for the classes. We will teach 20 classes a week for all ages and abilities. Each class will begin with devotions and scripture teaching.

The weather is very humid. Most days it is cloudy or rainy, but when it is clear, the country-side sparkles.

We are really enjoying our experiences here. It is beautiful and very foreign. The people are generally friendly. Every day has some odd experience or adventure which could only happen in Japan. Some day when I have time (lots of it) I will describe what is involved in garbage collection. If we had known this we may have had second thoughts about coming. Then too, there is the Japanese shower, but that is another story.

To show how courteous they are, an example at the Shell station might be helpful. We stopped in on a rainy day. The owner, his wife and mother came out to service the car and windows. After the petrol (gasoline) was in and we had the ceremony of paying and receiving change, the wife got out in the street with an umbrella to stop traffic so we could leave safely with all the proper bows.

We would love to have folks come for a visit. You might even like to try the hip washer.

Our new address is: 7261-11 Nishiyama-cho
Mie, Japan 512-1101

Please not that there was a mistake in our newsletter. This is our proper address.

Mobile Phone: 090-9899-4943
Japan's code is: 81 There may be an area code. I am not sure.

Our email is:

Also we have a website:
and emails can be sent to:

Please pray for us that we would develop a genuine love for the people here, that we will be faithful witness of God's grace and that we will be effective English teachers.

Let us hear from you.

Yours in Christ's service,

Warren and Jan Myers

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Two Surprises

Nobody told us about the complex ritual of garbage and rubbish disposal! Fortunately Warren as head of the household has been assigned this complex task. On Tuesdays and Fridays (every week) you can dump kitchen food scraps and paper - a one kilometre trip down the road between the hours of 7 - 8.30 a.m. On Mondays (twice a month) you can deposit plastics. There is a different schedule for 'pet' products and off course batteries, used furniture, clothing etc. Then there are the burnables and the recyclables with their own schedules. The good news was that when we applied for our alien registration we were given the 4 page coloured instruction guide in English. Before that we were struggling to work it out in Japanese. We were also given two large manuals on 'earthquake awareness and readiness'.

Needless to say Warren is beside himself on many mornings between 7 -8.30 a.m!

Fortunately our faith in Japanese ways has been restored in the 'filling up with petrol' process.

Our first experience was at our local 'shell' station. It was raining and when we pulled in, we did not have to get out of the car, simply pull the lever, using our hands to imply we wanted to fill up the car, and smile. Three members of one family including an elderly mother-in-law, hurried around us filling the car, cleaning the windows, checking under the hood and taking our money on a little tray through the car window.

Finally, the piece de resistance - the wife, with her umbrella walked out into the traffic - stopped the cars and ushered us out onto the road with a wonderful low bow. We laughed the whole time and Warren has vowed that we will return to that service station. We were most impressed.

Contact with the world

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our first week of teaching

This has been an eye opener for us. It has been very challenging but it is now Friday evening and we have finished the week. This week we have had another typhoon which has left us with strong winds, much rain and extreme humidity. One night, in closing up the church, and locking the front gate (not an easy task in the dark), in the wind and rain, we both realised we still had our 'inside' slippers on instead of our 'outside' ones!!! Everyone at church has their slippers on a series of racks by the front door. I'd be happy to go barefoot.

Our first week of teaching has been called a 'trial' period and it is named correctly. Many of the church children, young people and adults were our students. During most lessons we had an audience as well, the pastor's wife and some of the children's parents. Several times we had a group of children aged from 5 to 11 with different levels of English ability arriving for the one class. So it was very hard for us to cater to everyone's needs based on our preparation. Jan will teach the kindergarten and beginner elementary class but Warren also must teach an elementary class as there are 2 scheduled at the same time. This has been a steep learning curve for Warren who does better talking to teenagers and adults. We are mastering the photocopier although all the buttons have Japanese instructions as does everything that we buy. It is amazing how much you can work out from a picture.

Because August is a trial time newcomers are welcome to come for a free lesson. We are having to do a lot of photocopying and preparation of pictures and flash cards as we are not to use the new books until September - the official start. The communication process often leaves us in the dark as to what each class will be like. We keep our sense of humour and have found a Denny's and a McDonalds only about 15 mins drive from our house. So far that is the only place we have been able to buy coffee.

Because on four days of the week we teach from 3.00 - 8.30, we take our dinner with us to church and have an hour's break to eat at around 5.45 - 6.45. We are learning to get organised for this new routine.

We are excited to meet our new students next week. Several hundred advertisements have gone out as inserts in the local papers. The church has made many good contacts with the community through these efforts. Both the pastor and his wife are teaching and discipling people as a result of the English classes.

In the process of us buying bedding to make our hard mattresses more comfortable, we were served by a young Japanese lady who spoke English well. When we told her we were from Brisbane, she said that she had been to Byron Bay. She has taught herself English but was very pleased to hear that we are here to teach. She has called us several times and has now contacted the pastor's wife and is coming to the class next week. We are excited to see how God will use these classes to fulfil His purposes in people's lives.

This weekend is the 'Yokkaichi Festival' with all kinds of bands, parades and fireworks. We plan to drive to a train station, park our car and catch the train into the city tomorrow to observe some of the festivities. On Monday we can go and pick up our 'alien registration' cards. 'How exciting to be an alien'!

We should have some new pictures to post over the weekend.