Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

For our first Thanksgiving in Japan, we had a fabulous weekend. Kan had planned to take a half day off Friday and while we were shopping at Costco, he got called back into work. Boo. But him going into the office for a 8PM meeting on Friday helped me to get some cooking done for our Saturday meal. If he had been home, I would have been tempted to be lazy and lay on the couch and watch a movie. So, the cooking for me started Friday night. I made sweet potato casserole and this fabulous apple/cranberry dish that is served warm. On Saturday I got up and made pancakes for breakfast - this served a dual purpose as I was supposed to take pancakes to a church luncheon on Sunday! Then more cooking for our Thanksgiving feast. I made mashed potatoes, broccoli and cheese casserole, green bean casserole and the turkey on Saturday. Our friends from California joined us and she made the stuffing. We had a huge spread and I must admit, I was quite proud of myself. We are always at one of our families for Thanksgiving and I never usually cook. I just help with a side dish or two and bring some pies along, usually Derby pies. So I was a bit nervous about how all of this would turn out, especially the turkey. But it was delicious and the best part is we are still eating on it. I think I can get one more dinner out of it and then we can nibble on the leftovers for lunch or snacks. We did have pumpkin pie as well, but it came from Costco! I told Kan I felt like an official mom/house wife doing the entire Thanksgiving meal. An added bonus to our day was watching football games from Thursday that we had DVRed and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Sunday we were both pretty worn out - me from cooking and Kan from staying up all night to watch the UK/UT football game. I won't mention anything more about that. However, I had a women's Thanksgiving brunch to attend for church so Kan got to keep Miyako for the afternoon and bring her to church. The brunch was a huge success. The food was fabulous and we had about 20 women there. We were really pleased. It was very laid back. We shared a meal together and then made a craft sharing what we are thankful for.

Sunday night after dinner we put our Christmas decorations up. We have a small tree and people from back home made us some homemade ornaments to adorn our tree. We also have a Little People nativity set we put out. We are waiting until Christmas morning to bring out baby Jesus (Thanks Kim for the idea). Our wall in the living room has these hooks that are supposed to be used for pictures. Since we only have one piece of artwork in our apartment, the remaining hooks have our stockings hanging from them with care. At first I thought I would be disappointed not having a big tree, outside lights, or a whole house full of decorations. But I must say, our little tree makes our apartment very cozy. And, I only had to get on a step stool to get the decorations down rather than climbing a ladder into the attic. On top of that, it only took us about 20 minutes to put everything out. Clean up will be a piece of cake! These are some of the positive things in downsizing! It is all a matter of perspective isn't it?

Enjoy the pics of our Thanksgiving weekend. And let the holidays begin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

50 Things I Am Thankful For...

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I would dedicate a post to things I am thankful for. I hope to use this entry to go back to on the days I find myself complaining or being bitter or resentful about something in life. It always helps to write down the positive things to remind yourself just how blessed you really are. So here we go...Today on November 24th 2010, I am thankful...

1. For my Savior, Jesus Christ, who has saved me from my sin and given me abundant life through His grace. Without Him, I would not have much to be thankful for as everything I have comes from Him.
2. For my husband, someone who on days seems to be my polar opposite, but God so graciously brought us together - he is my best friend, the steady and consistent person in my life and I absolutely love being his wife. We have a lot of fun together.
3. For my sweet little Miyako and the other Baby K on the way. What a blessing children are.
4. For our families - we are so blessed to have three extended families to share life with.
5. For the view outside my apartment as it gives me a sense of freedom in such a populated concrete filled city.
6. For BSF and the children's program - I love picking up Miyako and hearing them sing The Doxology.
7. For my dear friends all over the world - in Tokyo, Europe, Russia, and the US - from high school, to college, to post-college, to married years, to social work friends, to book club, to kid years - God has given me way more friends than I could ever ask for or imagine.
8. For college football and basketball - and for my husband who reminds me it is simply for my entertainment, and I am not getting paid to coach the team. :)
9. For the smell of fresh baked cookies and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.
10. For food - I love food, all kinds of food!
11. For the fact that my husband loves food too and he is not picky so we eat all kinds of ethnic foods.
12. For the gift of travel and all of the countries I have been able to see in my very short lifetime so far. It truly is a gift to have your eyes opened to this large vast world and see for yourself how big God is.
13. For the two years I spent in Belarus - life changing and such a rich time in my life.
14. For really great roommates leading up to Kan. He is pretty great too, but I have had fabulous roommates from my freshman year in college and on.
15. For family vacations - both with our immediate family and extended families.
16. For the beach - I am a beach girl.
17. For Colorado in the winter - breathtaking beauty, even if you are not a big time skier.
18. For the sound of the waves, and for sound machines that have an "ocean" sound on them.
19. For the holiday season - I LOVE it - I want to put my tree up before Thanksgiving and start listening to Christmas music in October. I love the lights, the shopping, the parties, the food - and of course the "reason for the season" but He was mentioned already. :)
20. For technology and how it keeps me connected to people all over the world.
21. For great churches God has provided me to be a part of my entire Christian life.
22. For the Henderson family, who first introduced me to my Savior.
23. For the women who have taken time out of their busy lives to invest in me and my spiritual growth. God has given me a lot of them.
24. For UT/UK match-ups and the teasing it brings.
25. For live music.
26. For G Funk and the All-Stars and the opportunity to have them play at our wedding. Kan ditched me for football games and buddies and I ditched him for G Funk and dancing. It was fabulous!
27. For our wedding day - it was so much fun!
28. For the chance to see UK play for a basketball National Championship in 1997. They lost a close one to Arizona, but the atmosphere was electrifying and I loved every minute of it.
29. For Campus Crusade for Christ, summer projects, and the friends I still have from those days.
30. For good health.
31. For fabulous grandparents and fond memories with them.
32. For Redeemer Presbyterian Church, their church plants, and their vision for big cities. Makes me want to be a part of it for awhile.
33. For the sound of Miyako singing praise songs on her own.
34. For dance parties with Miyako to either Elmo or Black Eyed Peas. We dance to it all in our house.
35. For my gym friends - and our Vandy/UK road trip in November 2007. So much fun.
36. For spinning.
37. For fall - the crisp cooler weather and the changing of the leaves - so pretty.
38. For spring in Tokyo and cherry blossom viewing.
39. For the chance to have two Thanksgiving dinners in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving. What a fun weekend in store for us.
40. For a husband who works very hard - as much as it can drive me crazy and I can cuss those long hours, the opposite would be someone who is lazy. I would rather have the hard worker.
41. For a dad who set the example of working hard.
42. For God moving us to Japan.
43. For the chance to have a baby "abroad."
44. For Disneyland and living so close to it.
45. For Nana's sweet potato casserole recipe of which I plan to prepare twice over the course of the weekend.
46. For Rincon restaurant - where we went on our first date.
47. For planes and how they enable us to get home quickly if we needed to.
48. For P90X and Insanity DVD's that allow me to work out in my apartment since gyms are so expensive over here.
49. For a roof over our heads and food on the table. We never are in need of anything.
50. For Community group at church and the chance to get out by myself one evening a week to fellowship with other women.

I could go on and on...maybe next year I will do this again. It will be interesting to see what will be the same and what will be different. I think it is pretty evident I have a lot to be thankful for. Don't we all? God is so gracious to us. Look at how much He has given me here on this earth, which does not last very long in the scheme of eternity. If life is full of this many blessings here on this fallen earth, how much better will it be when I meet Him face to face. Now that is something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grace City Church Tokyo

Today we became "temporary" members of Grace City Church Tokyo. We did not give up our membership to TCPC in Lexington, Kentucky, but we did temporarily commit to our church here and pledge our desire to serve this community and allow this community and their staff to shepherd us while we are in Tokyo for however long that may be.

I admit, it was a bit strange in a good way becoming "members" of GCCT. (What is it by the way with PCA or PCJ churches and these initials - TCPC, GCCT - I get all my letters confused?!) It was a reminder to me of committing to life here. We have been gone now for 9 months and slowly Tokyo is becoming "home." Before we became members, we met with our pastor and a staff member from the church. I shared with them how hard it has been to live here - just feeling like you are part of two worlds and not feeling like you belong in either one and the nature of the language difficulties can really discourage you. Living in Tokyo brings very high highs (aka, vacation in Singapore and Malaysia or just running around the big city with all the lights) and very low lows (have yet to see one nativity scene here, long long work hours for Kan, carrying the stroller up and down steps in the subway). I shared this with our pastoral staff and how I longed for the joy of Christ to set me free so I can truly enjoy being here. I know when God brings about the time for us to return to the US, I will be sad, so I want to make the most of this opportunity. But something kept holding me back. This may sound odd since my blog posts typically are upbeat and show the fun side of life in Tokyo. But I am human, Kan and I are human, and we have days wondering "Lord, why on earth did you bring us here? What is it you want to do in us and through us so that you can be glorified here in Tokyo?"

As I thought about today and committing myself to this body of Christ in Tokyo, I was reminded that God wants us here at this time. Through BSF we are learning in Isaiah about just how sovereign our Holy Lord is. He knew long ago that Kan and I would move our family here. He knew it would be hard and we would have those days where you question everything. He knew it would strengthen our marriage and make us more dependent on each other, make us a stronger family unit. He knew those days long ago where we would really miss Saturday GAME DAY and having two TV's running with different ball games on all day long. But God is so good. He is providing for us a community where we can worship Him and serve Him in a country where .22% of the population claim to be evangelical Christians. He is graciously taking care of us here. And He is slowly restoring to me the joy He intends for me to live with through His Son.

I see it in little steps. Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. I do think about sometimes what we would be doing if we were home. Would we go hand in hand to Neyland Stadium this coming Saturday with me in my big blue and Kan in his big orange? HA, probably not, hand in hand anyways! But I am excited to cook Thanksgiving, or attempt to cook it, on Saturday and spend it with new friends we met from California. I got to talk today to my high school friends. They were all at home enjoying our annual holiday party. I thought I would be really down after getting off the phone with them. I wasn't. Kan and I were heading to brunch with some new friends we met from Australia and England. Does this mean I do not miss them? NO! Not at all. But I think what it means is that God is giving me a healthy perspective in being here and making a life here. I cannot live in two worlds. Do I forget about my world in the US? No. But I do commit to my life here and what God has for me. I am sure this week I will have a day where I will have to re-read this post to remind me of what God is doing in my heart in regards to being in Tokyo! But He is faithful, good and completely in control of this, and in these truths I can rest and find my joy.

It has been a true blessing to be a part of GCCT. I do not think we would have made it this long in Tokyo without our church community. Both Kan and I attend weekly community groups, Kan is helping serve the church by being part of the translation team, and I am helping our missionary friend with the womens' ministry. It is a small church, a church plant through Redeemer Presbyterian Church out of NYC, but it is a growing church. In a city where pressure is high and stress deteriorates the lives of the people, GCCT is providing a community of grace and freedom for people to come and truly relax and be themselves. I praise God for providing us this type of place to worship at and find community.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Big Sister in Training

Miyako loves putting diapers on her babies. This week I taught her how to put them on as she often had the tape side on the wrong end. After I showed her how to do it, she became a pro. Check out these babies and animals and their new diapers (or "dirty" as she calls it). She is in training to be a big sister - I just wonder what how I will find the new baby with one of Miyako's diapers put on. Miyako may stop trying to put on diapers if he or she pees on her. :)

Miyako also got called in for a photo shoot for Uniqlo through an agency we registered with here. Unfortunately when I gave our agency her current height, she was too tall for what the magazine was looking for. Oh well. Maybe next time. At least she was asked.

Another fun fact for Miyako this week - On Thursday I came home and took off my shoes at the door. When we were getting ready to leave in the afternoon, I could not find my shoes anywhere. I just got another pair and went on my way, but it was really bothering me that I could not find them anywhere. I assumed Miyako put them somewhere but I looked under couches, beds, in my closet - no shoes. Today I said, "Miyako I still cannot find my shoes." She opened the shoe cabinet at the entry way and low and behold there were my shoes. They magically reappeared in the cabinet.

The best part about this week though is that Miyako is singing precious songs. Not only is she saying, "Old McDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O" but today before naptime, she sang "Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves The Little Children," "Holy, Holy, Holy," and "B-I-B-L-E." It was so sweet. I hope these words are impressed on her heart for the rest of her life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tasty Thursday

So after class on Thursdays, me and my friend always walk home and spot these cute little hole in the wall type places we would like to try. There is this Indian restaurant we pass every week and it always smells so good after class. But I am usually rushing and trying to get home so Nena can be on her way. I decided to have Nena stay an extra half hour so we can try some of these restaurants. I am calling the post Tasty Thursday! Today we opted for ramen noodles. I have had ramen before but usually got a spicy broth since I like spice, but found the spicy ramen a bit difficult to finish because they were always REALLY hot. Today I just went with your basic ramen and added some cabbage and pickled vegetables in it to spice it up. It was delicious. I look forward to tasting something new next week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Family Photos

We had some family photos taken for Miyako's 2nd birthday by a fabulous photographer here in Tokyo a friend recommended. I miss our photographer from home, but we had to find someone. :) Nana and Opah even got in on the action since they were visiting at the time. The best part is we get all of the images on the disc included in our package so you will see one of these as either a Christmas card or a Christmas email letter!

Check out the blog link below, scroll down, and you will see us in front of a large red door. If you scroll further down, just a bit, you will see Nana and Miyako. Enjoy. It was a lot of fun taking them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ueno Zoo

Yesterday we went to the Ueno Zoo with our kids' group from church. It was a lot of fun. When I told Miyako we were going to the zoo, she responded with "water." She assumes every zoo has a fabulous water park like the Singapore zoo. Unfortunately the Ueno zoo does not have a water park, but we did have some fabulous company and saw some fun animals and simply enjoyed being outside. It was a nice fall day and we had a lot of fun. Enjoy the pics. Oh, and Kan and I found the translation for the penguins quite funny - we did not know such a thing existed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ise and Oizu Bay

After lunch on Saturday in Kyoto, we did a small walking tour and then took a local train to Ise. In Ise we stayed at a very traditional Japanese hotel. Our friend from Nagoya joined us for this adventure so we had a girls room and guys room. The guys room had a personal Japanese onsen on the balcony. The onsen is a hot spring bath, but a lot of them are public where you put on your birthday suit and enjoy the bath in the company of others. However, since we had a private one, we each got to enjoy it in private! It was so nice. I did not get all the way in because of the little p-nut inside, but I did let my legs relax and it was lovely. I wish I had my camera at breakfast - we had fish, miso soup, rice, a barely cooked hard boiled egg and other traditional Japanese dishes. Needless to say, we found a McD's for lunch.

In Ise we went to the Jinju shrine. This is one of the most important shrines in Japan, and if you are Japanese you are supposed to make a pilgrimage to this shrine at some point in your lifetime. This place is like a shopping mall of gods. Come visit anytime. From there we hopped in our car and traveled to Oizu. Opah came to Japan in 1959 to help build a Christian camp in Oizu. We found the campsite where he spent the summer at, and he really enjoyed walking around and re-living those summer days. After visiting, we headed to back to Nagoya and dropped the car off. We also said goodbye to our friend and headed back to Tokyo.

We spent a lot of time on the train but it was well worth it. We got to see a lot, and I really enjoyed seeing the mountains and greenery. It was beautiful countryside and it was nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Nana and Opah leave tomorrow. We are all really sad to see them go. It has been such a treat having them visit. We are so thankful for them and how they have taken us into their family even though we are not "blood" related. We will miss you Nana and Opah!

Happy Anniversary - Hiroshima

On our anniversary we decided to spend the day in Hiroshima. Very uplifting! I guess we were trying to prove our countries can get along. I think next year I would like to prove that in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor. :)

Once we arrived we took a local train to Miyajima, and from there we took a fairy to the Itsukushima Shrine and O-torii Gate. The shrine was built in water and while we were there the tide was out so people were walking out to it. However, I have seen pictures of the shrine where the water was so high you would have to row a boat to get to it. The shrine dates from the 6th century. The pier like structure represents the holy status of the island. There were wild "sacred" deer walking around trying to eat anything you had. They took a bite out of our brown Starbuck's paper bag. Miyako wanted to look at the deer but she did not want to get too close - instead she wanted Opah or Nana to get close to them.

From there we took a boat to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. We saw the A-Bomb Dome. This is where the first atomic bomb landed on August 6th 1945. From the pictures you can see the dome was severely damaged. From there we walked to the children's peace exhibit. Kan remembers visiting this site as a child on a school field trip, and he made a swan to add to the exhibit. A little girl contacted cancer as a result of the bomb. There is a story that swans have a long life, and the little girl thought if she would make a 1000 swans out of origami she would be cured of her cancer. She died before reaching 1000 swans. So, Japanese children went to this site and made the origami swans to reach a 1000 swans. I think it is cool that he participated in this. After the children's exhibit we went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It was a very somber experience. There is not much more I can say about visiting the site where the US dropped the first atomic bomb, especially on your anniversary. :) I am so thankful to have gotten to visit Hiroshima as it is a city on my list to try to see while living in Japan. I can now cross it off.