Thursday, July 5, 2012

There and Back Again

so i'm back in Japan.

i arrived June 9th, and so it's now been a month since i first arrived. i honestly was unsure if i'd be able to come back, but by the grace of God, He allowed me to return for the summer and finish out my STINT year in Japan.

it's actually been a much easier adjustment than i thought it would be. i guess since this is my 5th time in Japan, coming back is more of a "sweet i'm back in Japan" as opposed to a big adjustment process. i did still have a few days of jetlag but not that bad. i think the biggest adjustment was living in Koenji again- i lived there for 5 weeks on Summer Project in 2009 but haven't lived there or really been back there much since, so it took a little while to get oriented to the fact that i had to go different directions on the trains. i lived with the Summer Project team girl leaders, Tori and Beth, and the other girls lived in the apartment next door. the team had 5 guys (including Devin from UH Hilo) and 6 girls- most had never been to Japan before, but they were full of passion and excitement for ministry in Tokyo.

my first Sunday back in Tokyo, June 10th, i went back to my church, New Hope Tokyo. it was so awesome seeing everyone again. in fact, it was Yusuke's 1 year anniversary of becoming a Christian- it was so cool to see him and celebrate that with him.

my ministry time was half spent helping out the Summer Project, and half spent reconnecting with old students. i spent my first Monday and Tuesday re-acclimating, unpacking, etc. Wednesday i went to ICU High School with the Summer Project. many of the students i'd been friends with had graduated, and there were many new freshmen to meet. Thursday i went to Waseda with the team- i was pleasantly surprised to see that the JCru staff and a few students + the Summer Project had begun an English lunchtime on Thursdays at Waseda. it became an awesome place to invite students and connect them with staff, and of course, they wanted to meet students from America so i got to introduce them to the Summer Project. 

on Friday we hosted a huge "American BBQ" for the ICU High School students in a park in Mitaka. we played games, ate hot dogs and "banana boats," and got to have spiritual conversations and share the Gospel with several of them. it was so encouraging to see how the ICU High School ministry has grown over the past few years- when I came on my Summer Project, it had just begun, and now it's a full-fledged ministry! praise God! 

on Saturday i went back to Odori Samurai practice for the first time. it was so fun to surprise people (most of them had no idea i was back in Japan), and really nice to be back in the Odori Samurai environment. unfortunately it was also a bit frustrating since i couldn't dance, and while i was in Hawaii they learned their new dance for 2012 (they create one new dance a year), and not gonna lie, i really wanted to learn it. it was frustrating to have to watch from the front and not be able to learn it. but it was still nice to be back. 

i think the most frustrating thing about Japan was/is the state of my knee. not being able to dance, or play soccer, or even little things like having to search for elevators or escalators at train stations (some don't have them, and stairs are a rather big challenge) or not being able to run to catch a train, so if i miss it i just have to wait for the next one (some trains only come once every 15-20 minutes) -- it's difficult to not be frustrated, to not think about "what if?" i know God's plans are perfect though, and it's easier to have a better mindset now that i can walk without crutches. the first week was pretty rough.  but every time i started feeling sorry for myself, i would see someone in a wheelchair with one leg, or someone with a twisted leg on crutches, and i would stop and apologize to God, since at least my injury is temporary. 

and on that note, i end my first week in Japan. more to come! and now for pictures:
my room in Koenji
Summer Project students sharing their testimonies in ICU High School classes 
small group discussion in ICU High School classroom  
worship at Thursday night Student Impact meeting  
ICU High School picnic 
getting ready for the relay race at ICU High School picnic

Sunday, July 1, 2012


some of my favorite pictures with my 2011-12 Pacific Islands STINT team.

Fellowship Forever. a hui hou.
STINT Briefing 2011- where it all began
first team picture in Thailand, after being separated for 5 months (with Matt Mikalatos, who wishes he were on our team)

hanging at the Matsuis cabin in the mountains

the girls at Richardson's Beach, Hilo
the girls again
first team picture on the Big Island
Pacific Islands STINT 2011-12
Green Sands Beach on St. Paddy's Day
Band Picture #1, Volcano National Park
Band Picture #2 
the airport. we spent a lot of time here. 
first time surfing at Waikiki Beach 
Akaka Falls 
Mauna Kea
The Hunger Games
the British bunny brothers 

Hilo Coffee Mill, in front of a cacao tree
The Avengers
Asian family portrait with our adopted white sister on the beach in Maui
last Pacific Islands STINT picture...i love you all so much
STINT 2011-12

Memories of Paradise

some pictures of the islands. 
aloha mau loa, a hui hou. 

first glimpse of the Big Island
The Shire- our home
hibiscus in our back yard

first time in Kona
first rainbow 
palm tree sprouting out of a coconut in a volcanic field
the south side of the island, on the way to Green Sands Beach
driving down the highway, the ocean all around us
cow crossings, a common highway sign. also common: donkey crossings. Hawaii- who knew?   
paddleboarding for the first time in Hilo Bay
sunset over Waikaloa
beach in Kona
my first experience with vana (sea urchins)
sunset over Kona
Pearl Harbor, Oahu 
Akaka Falls
banyan tree in the rainforest 
the top of the world, Mauna Kea
Maui in the distance from Mauna Kea 
sunset over Mauna Kea and the observatory

coffee plants at Hilo Coffee Mill
Lanai Island

snorkling point #3 of Lanai  
hula dancers in the sunset on Maui  
a luau in Maui 
sunset over Maui, looking at Lanai in the distance
Waipio Valley
last sunrise over Hilo
last glimpse of the Big Island - you will always be in my heart
The Hi Life
Pacific Islands STINT 2011-12 (Maui)