Sunday, May 29, 2011


so i've been saying i was going to write this blog post for the past 3 weeks.....

but i'm finally doing it! hurray!

Team Bonding Day in Tachikawa Park

it's almost the end of May, which is insane because i feel like May just began. speaking of beginnings, the rainy season of Japan has officially begun and is now in full swing. in fact, there's apparently a typhoon going on..for Tokyo, it means lots of rain and wind. not the best combination when you have to bike everywhere. it's also tough because we can't plan any events outside or anything due to constant rain. and most students won't hang out outside (due to rain) so there are less places to meet students on campus.

but speaking of campus, i suppose i should update on that. May has been very busy and productive. i joined a futsal circle called Diente FC that has many students who speak english (futsal is basically soccer but the court is smaller and the ball is a bit smaller and heavier)- its a very relaxed circle though so basically i just go play whenever i have the time. i also started playing soccer on tuesday afternoons with some Paddy members- i'm discovering that sports are a great way to bond with students. of course, now that it's raining so much games are sometimes cancelled but that's life. i also officially joined Odori Samurai, a traditional Japanese dance group. they do a style of dance called Yosakoi, or Soran. here are a couple of videos from a couple years ago- we perform both stage versions and parades:
there are about 150 students in the group, so it's an amazing place to meet students and build relationships. every practice i meet new people, and many of them speak english which is helpful. unfortunately practices are all run in Japanese so a lot of the time i have to ask for clarification, but everyone is really nice and supportive so it's encouraging. everyone goes by nicknames that the leaders give you- they gave me mine even before the first practice: Ninja. it makes me happy, not gonna lie. everyone thinks i'm cool because my nickname is Ninja. my first practice was so fun and i met some girls who spoke english really well, but my second practice was pretty difficult because they weren't there so i was pretty much on my own. on the way home i felt really frustrated and i actually skyped my mom and was considering dropping Samurai, but she talked me back into it and afterward i realized that i think a lot of the frustration was spiritual attack. my mom reminded me why i first wanted to join the group- because of how many people i can reach. she reminded me that it's been so easy for me so far because the clubs i've joined have many english speakers, so this will be more of a challenge, but it would be worth it in the end. the challenging part of being in Samurai is that they send out a ton of emails every day and of course they're all in Japanese so i have to get them all translated and so i often feel like a burden, but i think deep down it's my pride just not wanting to have to ask all the time. Samurai is definitely forcing me to practice Japanese more though- both speaking and listening, so while it's difficult, it's also good for my Japanese acquisition. we are performing in Hokkaido (northern Japan) at a huge festival in 2 weeks, so we have lots of practices but it's worth it. it's going to be such an amazing opportunity to grow relationships in the club- i'm really excited.

the first week back on campus we focused on just meeting new students. our goal was to make 4 separate conversation initiations with people we didn't know. Monday night i had a horrible dream about zombies and got one of the worst sleeps of my life- woke up feeling not only exhausted but sick as well and seriously contemplated staying home but i knew it wasn't coincidence that i woke up feeling so gross our first day back on campus, so i prayed that God would pull me out of bed and He did and we had an awesome hour of prayer on campus that was so refreshing and afterward i was not only feeling better but so excited to go and meet people- Henry and i paired up and we met 2 girls in the cafeteria- Miki and Akiko. they were freshmen and rather scared to speak english so the conversation didn't go that far but they were nice and it was an enjoyable lunch. afterward we sat on a bench outside and watched a guy attempt to pass out flyers- he was not having much luck but he was so energetic and entertaining, so once he'd handed out his last ones we clapped for him and he ran up and gave us high fives and we ended up talking to him and his friend for a long time- his friend even invited henry to go drinking haha. then we wandered to another part of campus and met 2 guys on the tennis team; one was also on a futsal circle (similar to soccer but the ball is a bit smaller and heavier, and the court is smaller than a soccer field). we gave them our contact info but they still haven't contacted us which is sad but oh well. then we went to Building 11 (or the SILS building as we call it- SILS = School of International Liberal Studies, so almost everyone in the department speaks english at least some). there we ran into our friend Suguru whom we met last semester- he knows literally everyone in the entire SILS department. hang around him and you meet 5 new people in 5 minutes. we played cards with him and 2 of his friends, Mizuha and Hiroki, then on our way out of the SILS lounge i met a girl named Tin who wants to hang out even though we didn't talk for long at all! so encouraging! later that afternoon as i was waiting for Paddy's meeting to begin i went to Building 14's "Sun Room" (we call it that because it's basically all windows so when it's sunny it's really warm) and sat at a table with a girl who looked kind of lonely. she ended up asking where i was from and we got into good conversation- turned out she's 1/2 Japanese and 1/2 Korean and also a Christian! i invited her to church but she's very wary about church in Japan because she had heard rumors about cults and churches that don't teach the Bible. hopefully she comes soon though. that night i got to meet 7 new people at Paddy's meeting and get into some awesome spiritual conversations with several of them! Wednesday lyndsey and i had lunch with 2 freshman girls named Shiomi and Achiko- they were nice but their english wasn't that great so the conversation didn't go too far. we went to the SILS lounge and i ran into my friend Miko who introduced me to 4 of her friends, then we met a group of people in a tennis circle in a different lounge, then 2 more girls in the law building. none of these conversations went too far but we were able to share about Student Impact and talk to them a bit. that night i had Samurai practice and got to meet a few more people who speak english. Thursday Ariel and i met 3 girls at lunch named Mimi, Satomi, and Yukie- their english level wasn't great but they were so sweet and Yukie actually had been to Paddy! we got their contact information and they want to meet up more! after that we met 2 girls named Mona and Yui- we were able to get into pretty deep conversation with them but they started getting uncomfortable so it didn't end that great so it was a bit discouraging but afterward we just prayed that God would work in their hearts and protect them from any lies Satan was putting in their minds. afterward was more encouraging- we met up with a Christian freshman student named Takuma who wanted to practice evangelism so he brought us to meet a ton of his friends. Friday i woke up feeling really sick so i didn't go to campus. Saturday i went to homeless church and MIke and i had Bible study with Yusuke, who has started to want to have Bible studies with us every Saturday. he's been coming to church every week as well- it's really exciting to see his enthusiasm to know more about God. Monday the 16th i had Samurai practice and met 3 more people who speak english- their nicknames are Rock, Pioneer and Galileo. Galileo is one of the sweetest people i've met in Japan-- sometimes she meets me at the station and we walk to practice together or we'll take the train back together.

the 2nd week of campus we decided to have picnics to bring together old and new friends and make 1,000 origami cranes for Tohoku, or senbazuru in Japanese. God blessed us with good weather all 3 days of the picnics, and brought more students than we ever imagined would show up.
many of the friends we had invited also invited their friends so we got to meet a ton of new students. in fact, at Thursday's picnic there were 3 girls sitting close by whom i invited to come sit with us and they turned out to be great english speakers and want to meet up more! at Friday's picnic i met a girl named Mari- she's friends with our old friend Atsushi who brought her to the picnic. she and i basically had everything in common and were calling each other "twin" by the end of lunch. but the best part- she used to go to church and wants to start coming to church with us! God is awesome! that Friday i went to Paddy and got to meet 5 new people, and Ariel led a discussion on joy- our group got into awesome deep conversation about joy vs. happiness, and i was able to share that my joy comes from relationship with God. i think the discussion really opened up a lot of minds.

May 21st we had a huge welcome event we called New Start, a way to welcome new friends, see old ones and challenge them to think about what they're living for this year. Henry shared a message on purpose based on Ecclesiastes 1, and through that was able to share his testimony and the Gospel. many of the students who came were interested in learning more and afterward we got to have a ton of great spiritual conversations! i even got in a really deep conversation about heaven and hell with one student named Gosuke- his english is amazing and he is also in Paddy with me and Ariel. all in all the event was a success! Henry talking about purpose
spiritual conversations after the event

sorry this was such a long post- and i definitely left some things out- but it was quite a busy first month back on campus for us! i can't believe it's almost June though! we only have 2 more weeks left on campus now, and 4 in Japan!!!

- i think i have bronchitis-- please pray that God heals me quickly so i can continue these last few weeks strong
- that God would provide lots of appointments these next two weeks with people who are interested in learning about the Gospel
- good time management, energy and strength!
- our first Summer Project team just got here last week-- please pray that God uses them in awesome ways in the 5 weeks they are in Tokyo and they would be able to have a ton of opportunities to share the Gospel!

Monday, May 9, 2011


tomorrow is our first official day back on campus at Waseda University. school was pushed back a month due to the earthquake which makes it tough for us because now we only have 5 weeks- FIVE WEEKS- on campus until our debriefing. so not only are all of us somewhat freaking out that tomorrow is our first day back on campus, we're also freaked out that we only have 5 more weeks to meet people and share the Gospel. technically i have all of next year too but i need to focus on the present.

it seems so short. and yet Summer Project was only 5 weeks and it seemed so long. but we all know it's going to go by so fast. the start of the year is a crazy time and we want to make the most of it. this week our whole focus is new students- basically meeting as many as we can. also the clubs are starting up again so we're checking those out as well. i'm already in the English club (speaking of, Yusuke is coming to the English club tomorrow! he wants to improve his english to talk to us more because we've started doing Bible study with him on Saturdays after the homeless church!) and i'm joining a futsal club (basically soccer but it can be indoor or outdoor and the ball is a bit smaller) as well as Odori Samurai, which means Dancing Samurai- it's a traditional Japanese dance group and they are SO AWESOME. anyway i'm excited for those!

so now i will briefly recap Golden Week, the first week of May in which Japan basically goes on holiday for the whole week. we got back from Tohoku on Tuesday. Wednesday my church had a huge picnic and we (most of the STINTers and Yusuke) spent the day in the park eating, meeting new people and playing sports, which was really fun til i twisted my ankle playing soccer. luckily i had thought ahead and brought athletic tape so it didn't swell too bad. the night ended with worship around a bonfire which was pretty sweet. Thursday i took an easy day and got some things done like laundry. Friday we had "team fun day" and went to Tachikawa to play in the park- we rode tandem bikes, took lots of pictures, and attempted to jump on Marshmallow Mountain but since last year they changed the rules so only elementary school children can jump on it and we were very depressed. other than that it was quite a fun day. Saturday went to homeless church for the first time in a few weeks so it was good to be back. Yusuke, Mike and i had Bible study together at breakfast- it's so awesome seeing him ask questions and want to learn more! afterward my friend Kari from USC was visiting Tokyo so she treated me to Disneyland- it was pretty awesome. then she spent the night and left to go back to Hokkaido (where she's teaching English) Sunday morning. Sunday there was a special Mother's Day service, and after we went to eat at Mcdonald's with Yusuke. then i had Holy Spirit dance practice and they commissioned me to do a jazz/lyrical solo for one of our dances we're performing in 2 weeks...need to choreograph that soon. it was cool to be asked though. i think it was because they don't have choreography for that section but oh well. no idea when i'll have time to do it though- this week's already looking crazy busy. excited to go back to Waseda though!


also, this Friday we're having our 2nd Waseda Unity night- so excited to see the Christians at Waseda come together to pray for revival!

Please Pray For:
- lots of new students we can meet
- focus and perseverance
- clear opportunities to share the Gospel
- spiritual protection
- boldness and courage!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


man...where do i even start?

by the way, it's MAY. how weird is that? it's MAY. that means i only have 2 more months of my first year of STINT. that's crazy. AHHH. ok freak out time later. for now, i'll write about what you really want to read.

so, Tohoku.

April 28, Thursday night for us, we all met at Shinjuku Shalom Church, one of the churches involved in Hope Japan, to load up a truck of supplies to bring to the tsunami survivors, as well as meet our team and have orientation/ briefing. the members of my team: STINTERs- me, Esther, Mike, AJ, and Ariel + Yusuke (a friend of Mike's and mine whom we met at the homeless church- he's not Christian but has a huge heart for people) and Makoto (a high school student friend of ours from ICU High School), then the rest of our team was Tomo (or Tomo-chan as we call her), Maiko, Michiyo (our official translator), Hiro, Mency (or Auntie Mency), Ingo (from Germany), Toshi, Rachel (from England) and our team leader, Nobu. i think i said in my last post that there were 17 of us- there were actually only 16. we had 2 guys driving the truck but they were only with us for the first 2 days, and to be honest i never got their names. anyway after they explained what our schedule would be like, we had some introduction time as well as prayer time, then we loaded the cars and were off! my car included Mike, Yusuke, Esther, Mency, Tomochan and Nobu. Nobu was so patient with us. we had a lot of fun though. we left about 2 am and drove 10 hours through the night to Yamada-cho, where we served udon to 400 people at Minami Elementary School, one of the schools being used as an evacuation center. we were all pretty tired but the need for speed spurred us on since we had so many people to feed. didn't really get to talk to too many of the evacuees because i was working so much but a few of the Japanese volunteers were able to talk to them a bit. it was a bit difficult to hear their stories because they weren't very willing to open up to strangers, but some were more willing to talk. we ended work about 4 pm, then we loaded the truck and headed to Ishinomaki, our home for the next 4 days. Ishinomaki was about a 5 hour drive from Yamada-cho, so we stopped and got dinner along the way. we arrived at the elementary school evacuation center about 10 pm and claimed our "rooms"- basically cardboard boxes. my box- #59. it was actually rather cozy (but i was surrounded by boy boxes and they snored, especially Nobu, Mike and Yusuke...) my box all fixed up the evacuation center- elementary school gym

the next morning woke up at 4:15 am because we had to leave by 5 am to get to Ofunato, Iwate by 10 am. Ofunato is a coastal city that was devastated by the tsunami. we went to Sakan-cho Kameria Hall, one of the evacuation centers and handed out clothes and supplies, as well as cooked soup and BBQ for 350 people.
people lining up for food this lady told us how she and her coworkers saw the water coming and had to run away from the tsunami up a crazy...

the coolest part of the day was that one girl we met accepted Christ! she had been sitting nearby where we were setting up the supplies to hand out, apparently waiting for someone. we tried talking to her a couple times but she seemed reluctant to talk. finally lyndsey and tomochan started talking with her more and heard her story- she was actually waiting for a guy she'd met online because she was so lonely and didn't have anyone she could trust, so lyndsey and tomochan started sharing the Gospel with her and she said- "how do i have this?" it was awesome. great way to end the day! we left about 5 pm, grabbed dinner at a combini along the way, and got back to the evacuation center about 9 pm, where we were able to meet some of the evacuees and talk with them a bit. i really wished i knew more Japanese but thankfully we had several people on our team who could speak both Japanese and English so they were able to translate. i gave out some candy and chocolate to the people who were still awake (some of the older people went to sleep pretty early)- the great thing about candy is you don't have to speak much Japanese to give it out. there were 4 kids in the evacuation center- Misaki, who's about 7, her older sister Mirai, 9 years old, Shoto, a boy who's 10 years old, and his brother Toya, who is 15. we got to hang out with them quite a bit which was a lot of fun. they had way too much energy though. probably because they're living in boxes in a gym and have very little to entertain them...

anyway, Sunday we left about 7:30 am for church- we drove to Kensennuma and had church in someone's home because the actual building had been completely destroyed in the tsunami. but it was so amazing to be with the survivors- they still had so much joy and love and hope even though their church and many of their homes had been wiped away. in fact, right after the service, one of the guys came up and accepted Christ! it was so incredible to see- his whole family came up and hugged him and were crying for joy. after church we had lunch and fellowship time, and got to hear many stories from the survivors. after church we explored the area a bit- it was so surreal to walk among the devastation... to drive past it every day is one thing- you're looking out the window, and while it's heartbreaking, it's a bit difficult to take in because you're separated from it still...but when you're walking around, and you can touch the broken wood and see broken homes and smell the rotting fish and starts to hit you.
pile of debris with a submerged house in the river...

after we explored, we went to a sento (public bath house) for a shower and a bit of rest- we hadn't been able to shower since thursday because the evacuation center didn't have showers (as it is an elementary school). not gonna lie, it was nice to be clean. after we had all showered, we ate dinner and returned to Ishinomaki to spend the evening hanging out with the evacuees. gave out some more candy, hung out with the kids...made balloon animals and origami, etc. then me, Ariel, AJ, Michiyo and Yusuke had Bible study. it was so cool to see Yusuke's face start to understand more of the Bible and see his excitement to learn! he wants to start doing Bible study more and get involved in Student Impact! so awesome! then we had a team meeting where we divided into 2 teams for the next day- cleaning team and caring team. then we met with our teams ( i was the only girl on the cleaning team but i had already bought a jumpsuit, gloves, a heavy duty mask and a headlamp so i wanted to make use of them) then headed to bed. woke up at 4:30 am because some of the evacuees were already awake, dozed until 6 am then got up because we had to be ready by 7 am anyway for breakfast. we left at 7:30 am to go clean Nao Abe's sushi restaurant (he was one of the evacuees). it was the first time he'd been back since the tsunami, and we had to pry open the gate/door thing to get in. there was no electricity so it was really dark- thank goodness for headlamps. it was so helpful. when we first walked in, there was a ton of mud all over the floor, and the counter had at least 5-6 inches of mud. our first mission was to clean the counter and get the stuff off the shelves. Abe-san didn't want to keep any of it though- he had us throw everything in one of the wrecked cars in front of the restaurant. he didn't even want to keep any of the beautiful pottery or glass- it was sickening hearing the sound of shattering bowls and glasses as we threw bucket after bucket of things into the car. i think he partly just didn't want to keep anything that was a reminder of the tsunami- it was easier to start fresh. then we started on cleaning the mud off the stairs and the tetami section. the water line reached almost to the ceiling so there was mud on everything. the back room was the worst though- the mud was so thick and high that it almost took my boots off. we shoveled some into buckets, but we had to move out all the equipment before we could shovel the rest. there was an enormous fridge that had toppled over so the guys moved that out, then we were able to move out the tables/counters and sink, etc. so we could shovel all the mud and debris from the floor. Yusuke and i became shoveling machines- i think it was just adrenaline but also a sense of "i can't stop now." the feeling after we were done was indescribable. when we could look around the room and see no more was amazing. after we finished the back room, we cleaned the floor in the main room (being able to see the floor- also an incredibly exciting moment) and shoveled all the mud into bags. here are some pictures-
the back room after we'd taken stuff off the shelves but still blocked by the fridge the clean sushi restaurant! the car stuffed to overflowing w/ stuff from the restaurant bags full of mud so heavy they were impossible to lift cleaning team with the 2 owners of the restaurant - i'm on the far right if you couldn't tell. if you notice, the top of my jumpsuit is light grey- the rest of it was that color at the beginning of the morning, but 4 hours of shoveling left it black with mud. my boots were black too until Mike washed them off for me.

it was quite a day. the mud had so much rotting stuff in it that there were chemicals and some type of most likely toxic film stuff on it, and i was pretty covered in it by the end. it was even in my hair somehow. we smelled foul. and we couldn't shower. but the guys respected me i think for working so hard with them. and it was all so worth it, just to see the hope on Abe-san's face that yes, perhaps he could reopen his restaurant, he could rebuild, he could start anew and there was life after the tsunami. and when we got back to the evacuation center i scrubbed my arms and legs with soap and water, and wiped off with wet wipes, and washed my hair in the sink...while it all left something to be desired, it did feel better. i had to throw away my watch though- the band was kind denim/leather and it smelled putrid. i threw away my jumpsuit and gloves and am still debating whether or not to keep my boots. after we returned to the evacuation center and cleaned up a bit, we had lunch and then took a tour through Ishinomaki, basically to get a closer look at the devastation around us. then we returned and cooked dinner for the evacuees/ played with the kids. it was really sweet- even though i really couldn't talk to the girls, everywhere i was they would come running up to me saying "Kimichan Kimichan! come play!" (but in Japanese) so that made me feel good. they even called me on Tuesday when i was back in Tokyo just to say hi. Mirai especially loved piggy back/shoulder rides...i have never been a pony so much in my life, and my shoulders are still feeling it. but it was so worth it once again, just to hear the girls laugh and see their smiles. a lot of us went outside and played tag with the kids as well. after dinner we all made origami cranes and wrote "May God bless you" and "We're praying for you" in Japanese on the wings and then Makoto and i went around to each evacuee and gave them out along with a vitamin drink and told them just how thankful we were to be able to stay there and we hope to come back. everyone was so sweet and appreciative. one of the little old men asked to trade his crane for a kiss from me, which was a bit awkward but sweet just the same. i think. in the end i kissed my hand and touched his cheek. after we finished passing out cranes, we packed up our stuff and it was time to head home. we said our goodbyes (Misaki and Mirai took it rather hard and so we gave them our phone #s to call us) and then we were off! AJ joined our car for the ride home, so it was rather rambunctious but fun. we arrived back in Tokyo about 6 am, and it was difficult to say goodbye to the team. we had all bonded so much over just a few days. thankfully everyone goes to New Hope so we'll get to see them again at church and i'm sure we'll all hang out more again. the whole team

i think i'm just starting to process it all. it's still a bit weird for me to sleep in a bed and take a shower, to actually be able to use the tap water and not brush my teeth with a water bottle...and as i look through my pictures i'm just starting to realize, wow, i was THERE. the places the news has been taking pictures of...i was there. but the pictures i took weren't to preserve memories- they were so i could share with you all what it's really like. even after almost 2 months, a huge part of Japan still looks like this. yes, people are beginning to pick up the pieces, but very, very slowly. people are still in shock. many have no hope of any future. their livelihoods, their homes, their families are gone. they have nothing left. many suicides have already been reported. so what can you do? you can share these pictures with others. you can pray for God to work miracles in this country. you can send money to organizations like and and the Red Cross. you can even come and help.

and you can remember. you can keep the world from forgetting this happened even though the news is no longer reporting it. we have a bad habit of only paying attention to "fad news." don't let yourself fall into apathy. this earthquake and tsunami shook up not just one nation, but the world. don't ever forget that something like this could happen anywhere, even (gasp!) America. will you be ready? will your friends and family? do they know of a hope and future that surpasses this life? do they know who to cling to when everything in their lives has been destroyed? if they do not, then your mission is clear- to share with them that Jesus Christ offers them something much better than this life, an eternal life in Paradise, and a love that conquers earthquakes, tsunamis, and even death.

here are some pictures of the destruction: for more, please feel free to look at my Facebook album (if you have Facebook) -

"Ganbarou" - probably the most used phrase in Japan right now, along the lines of "You can do it" or "You can get through this" but can also mean "Do your best" or "Hang in there"

prayer requests:
- for the over 200,000 evacuees of the Tohoku region
- for Misaki, Mirai, Shoto, Toya and all the other children who have lost their homes and families -- may the Lord prevent this trauma from negatively affecting their mental states
- for people like Nao Abe who's businesses have been destroyed- may the Lord rebuild them on a foundation that cannot be shaken
- for God to send many many more workers to be His hands and feet in Tohoku!
- for Yusuke's heart to be opened to the Gospel soon!

God bless you all!