Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am STILL a foreigner!

Sometimes I forget that I am a foreigner here in Japan. Daily life feels so much a part of me, understanding everything that goes on around me, being able to read a lot of what is around me, etc. It all just feel so normal. This is my home. So sometimes I really do forget that I am a foreigner. I completely forget that I look different. EVERY once-in-a-while a little kid will stare at me, and I'll remember that you can tell by looking at me that I am not Japanese, but even these occasions can be rare. Then days like today come along and I get a strong reminder.

For some reason, today EVERYTHING around me was screaming "FOREIGNER!!!"

When I took Hana preschool this morning, I was standing near a couple of little two year olds who were playing on the floor and they noticed my toenails. I painted them pink a couple days ago and they dropped all their toys and headed for my toes. They were touching them and looking at each other like, "what is this?". I moved across the room once, and in a few moments again realized that something was still touching my toes. They had followed me and were continuing to observe my toes while I put some more of Hana's things in the proper places for the day. Then as I went to the door of the room to go out, they followed me again and continued to touch my toes. I remember growing up, my pastor's wife Carol telling me about her first Sunday at church in Africa when they were missionaries there. She wore stockings, and all the people in the church were mesmerized and the children wouldn't stop touching her legs (at least I think this is how the story went, that's how I remember it at least). Today in that moment I thought of Carol, and I was laughing to myself. I felt like I was re-living her experience, with these little Japanese kids so mesmerized by my painted toe nails (although that isn't such an uncommon thing here).

Then we made a trip to Costco to get some necessary items and while I was there I heard some comments from people around me about the tall, VERY pale skinned foreigner. No doubt about it, that is me. The only thing is, to be called pale skinned here is a COMPLIMENT! (Those of you who know how hopelessly WHITE I am will understand how much I appreciate that God sent me to Japan to be a missionary, where my hopelessly white skin is admired!!!) *wink, wink*

Then on the way to pick Hana up from pre-school this afternoon, in at least three separate locations I had little old ladies going on and on about the foreigner as they watched me walk by. It is rather amusing because they assume I can not understand what they are saying, and I hear and understand EVERY word!

Anyways, today I was reminded that I am not Japanese. I really forget that I look different here sometimes. I forget that this is not REALLY my country, because on the inside of me it is home! But the outside is still foreign!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Let the summer begin...

Oh, it was HOT and MUGGY today! I just couldn't bring myself to walk Hana to preschool this morning because I was all ready to go speak at chapel and I just knew my make-up would all melt off on the way down to her school (a mile walk). I'm not sure I'm ready for the hot humid summer this year. I always HATE it! I really love spring and fall in Japan. I used to love winter, but I don't enjoy that anymore either. It is rainy season right now too which is not fun either. I loved April and May, they went by way too quickly.

This summer is going to be so busy. Lots of travel in the near future. I do hope I survive. Some our travels are going to include taking trains, and hauling luggage and a 12 kilo "baby" up and down stairs and through train stations! Whooo, I get tired just thinking about it.

But the one GREAT thing about this time of year before the busy summer starts, is that we are usually at home in the evenings which means I get to go work out very regularly! Things are going well in that department. Today is even Tuesday and my gym is closed on Tuesday. Hana was in bed right on time tonight and I didn't have anything to do, so I strapped on my OLD worn out tennis shoes and went for a walk/jog. I was out for almost 30 minutes, I did speed walking for about 15 min and jogging for about 15 min. My shins are already feeling it! but it felt great. This evening is cool and not very humid! It felt really great. I could have gone longer but kept thinking my shins weren't going to hold out. I always had really bad shin splints in High School too. I guess some things never change. One of these days I'm gonna get some awesome jogging shoes and maybe that won't be a problem!

Anyways, I am seeing 61 kilo on the scales EVERY once in a while the last week or so. But only in the morning. I'm not trying to lose more weight, but I am mostly trying to shape my legs more and in that process I am sure I will lose a bit more. Toning my legs is the LAST on my "to do" list and then I'm just going to maintain. I might branch out and try some aerobics classes, or even the pool. I was watching a water aerobics class while on the elliptical last night and it looked really fun. But to try it means I'd need a bathing suite that fits, and a swimming cap. I don't think any of my old bathing suites are going to fit anymore... which means I gotta spend MORE money on clothes. Man, losing weight sure can get expensive!

I wore a size 5 slacks today, comfortably! It is amazing to be back in that size!!! Amazing! I am LONGING for a trip back to the states to go clothes shopping. We are considering using our AA mileage to go to Guam for a vacation. AA has changed their rules and mileage will expire from now on so we have to use ours! Oh I do hope the Guam trip works out. It would be SO fun!

well that was just a ton of rambling cause I am putting off doing other things this evening...

guess I better go do some things!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The mission family...

When you live overseas like this, away from "family" then so many people become your family. All the missionaries are Aunt Jane and Uncle Bob to the kids. The missionaries you serve alongside are like big brothers and sister (ok, someday soon, maybe there will be some younger ones that will feel like my "little" brothers and sisters! but I still seem to be the baby, as I always have been, in the family). This is truely a beautiful thing! This type of family is priceless and precious. Something about sharing the same calling, the same desire to reach the same lost people, sharing the same frustration with a foreign culture, sharing the same joys and struggles with language and cultural barriers, understanding why you pointed to your nose instead of your chest when refering to yourself, or why you can never remember certain English words anymore, being able to throw in foreign words without a pause in the flow of your conversation, sharing a life that is sometimes so impossible to understand for those who've never been "here". It makes being on the field even more of a blessing, and makes it easier.

But the hardest part about it is, missionaries are often in motion. Going home for a year, or 6 months, or so. Moving to another city to start a new ministry or church plant. Leaving the field...

I found out today that some of my mission family members are leaving Japan. We haven't lived very near one another for a long while. We rarely ever see each other. But there is just something about knowing they are in the same country that makes them still feel close. When an ocean seperates you, even though the email still works the same, and the phone can be just as easily picked up, there is just something so distant about that. An ocean. A different country. Another continent. Family...

Japan seems a little lonlier tonight, just thinking about more precious family moving away.

I am so blessed to know some of the most incredible missionaries in the world, who've devoted years of their life to bringing the Gospel to one of the most difficult nations to evanglize in the World. Precious, precious people.

MY family!

Monday, June 18, 2007


I guess sometimes Monday's will be Monday's. You know, the typical "bad day" thing that usually goes with Monday. I usually don't have "Monday's". All my days of the week are basically the same, we don't really have a weekend in our line of work. Sometimes we are busy ALL the time (most of the time this is the case) and sometimes our schedule is random. You just never know. So Monday doesn't usually stand out that much. But today, I had a MONDAY.

My morning went fairly well, but Hana came home from pre-school in a very demanding NEEDY mood. She was impossible to deal with. I knew she needed/wanted attention but even trying to play with her didn't work, she was being rude and ungrateful about EVERYTHING. My solution for this behavior is, if you don't play nice then Mommy doesn't play AT ALL. She could NOT handle me getting up and walking away from our activities when she was being unkind. So we had SEVERAL meltdowns this afternoon. Once Daddy finished up his work and tried to help out he got a dose of the same medicine, and had to deal with a couple of fits too. She was just out of sorts today. Too tired, or something? I don't know, but it left us both really frustrated and we were very glad when bedtime rolled around.

Then my workout was HORRIBLE. I just didn't have the energy today. I had a LOT of carbs yesterday, and I think that is what zapped me. I had some rice AND bread at the cook-out lunch (it was served to me and I felt I had to eat it) and then we decided to treat ourselves to PB&J sandwiches for dinner. I considered just having one piece of bread and folding it in half, but I haven't had a pb&j for YEARS and I REALLY wanted to enjoy a good one, so I did two slices. And this isn't your basic sandwich bread it was the really thick slices. That was way too much bread for me. So even though I ate well today, I think I am still paying for this weekend, and my workout was just crummy. I struggled to finish everything, and only did 35 minutes of cardio. ugh! I did treat myself to a nice time in the sauna and cold pool a couple of times after my shower.

So now I can barely keep my eyelids open! Hopefully a nice long sleep and tomorrow will be a better day!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The weekend!

What a GREAT weekend we had!

Saturday morning I was up and going to prepare for English Circle, and we headed out the door to our friend's house. Well, just Hana and I, Daddy is neck deep in CD production right now, so we left him at home to all his mixing and mastering!!!

English Circle started out as "English preschool" sometime last year when my friend Yukie and I decided we wanted to do some preschool with our kids together. Yukie invited friends, and we had a small group of about 6-8 kids twice a month for some fun time in English. It went well, but the beginning of "real" preschool for some this Spring meant that weekdays were out of the question. So we switched to Saturdays, re-organized our purpose and thoughts, re-named it and started again. Twice a month on Saturdays we get together. There have been few in attendance lately because Saturday isn't the best time for everyone. But this week! WOW! We had 6 "students" and 3 "mini-students" (younger siblings of students). It was a BLAST! I could see the kids have all learned things. They enjoy the activities and it feels so good to be their little "teacher"! We had a great Saturday.

Today was Sunday and it was another great day. Rocky filled the pulpit (it was a BIG pulpit to fill too, literally, that thing was so huge Rocky refused to stand behind it, and I couldn't blame him) for another church in town this morning. Then after the service we headed across town to a church member's house (our own church) for a cook-out. We spent the afternoon feeding our faces and talking non-stop with church friends. I LOVE the people in our church. It was soooooo much fun today!

Now another new week begins. I'm sure there are a lot of things I need to do, but I will sit down and organize my thoughts tomorrow!

NOW for my own fitness journal-ing (this part is probably boring for all of you so you can stop reading if you want!) I just journal this stuff for my own sort of record keeping, self-motivation, accountability kinda reasons. (There are a few people who keep me accountable by mentioning that they read my blog! and that helps keep me in line! *wink wink* you know how you are!)

I've given up on weekends. It is just impossible to find a way to get to the gym in the middle of the day. So I am resigned to waiting until I can buy a decent pair of running shoes and can go for a jog, before I can work out on the weekends. I'm having major shoe issues in Japan right now, but that is another blog!

BUT last week I made it to the gym 3 times, and all three times did my 50 minutes on the elliptical. I did close to 750 calories each time!!!!!!! AND I lifted weights each time. Then on Wednesday the gym was having a special. You can do this body scan thing and it usually cost 1,000 yen but on Wed. it was 100 yen. So I decided to do it! My scores were EXCELLENT! I was so excited. I'd give anything to have these stats from before I started my fitness program last year. My BMI and so forth is right on target. This machine also calculates your body fat percentage, which was right near the bottom of the normal range. I can't read my chart very well cause it is all in Japanese, so I am not sure what all the numbers are. All I know is that the star for that reading falls in a good place! But the most exciting part is the muscle mass. On the little level scale, my star was on the 8 for 1 out of 8!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My arms alone scored an 8 and legs scored a high 6!!!! I was so excited about this. I've been doing simple weights, 3 sets of 10 and some other toning exercises, for over a year now, and it really really shows on this scan.

This machine also scans your internal body fat percentage which is very important. All my reading about weight loss and fitness lately says that they are finding diet without exercise is NOT very effective at removing internal body fat. With diet alone, people can slim down but will retain most of the internal body fat, around your vital organs. So without exercise, you really aren't improving your health adequately. This internal body fat is what leads to disease and is what needs more attention. My internal levels were again on the low end of the "normal" range.

I would give ANYTHING to have these numbers from before I started working out.

All I know is I am feeling GREAT and loving my workouts. I finally found a way to address my feet issues and so am taking care of some toe and ankle pain too. If I had the right shoes, I would be in HEAVEN! I can not find my size in women's shoes in Japan and I refuse to order a pair of shoes online. I want to try them on first! So unless I can get my feet to shrink about 1 cm, I am stuck with my cheapy men's shoes that are too wide, for now.

Well, I think I'm going to go hit the hay!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A new "drink"???

Pepsi Ice Cucumber!

Yes you saw and read that right! a Cucumber flavored drink! they will come up with ANYTHING here. No kidding. I will have to try to post some more of the crazy products we see.

Rocky came home with one today. Ummmm, it actually wasn't bad at all. It definitely smelled like cucumber! It tasted cool and refreshing but I wouldn't want a whole bottle.

Just thought you might find that interesting! (too bad that Hana hates carbonated drinks, she LOVES cucumbers so much she might enjoy this!)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Japan and robots...

This really struck me as quite odd today...

Japanese scientists build robot child

The fact that they built a robot child is not so odd. What is odd to me, the reason why they built it. To study child development??? Um, there are millions of children, REAL, and alive and well out there which a scientist can study to understand their development. I just want to understand HOW a robot is going to give them any form of accurate information on the development of a REAL human child. Is it just me, is this really REALLY crazy?

I wonder how much this says about how Japanese people perceive children? or even real life for that matter?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Another great workout!!!!!!

Ok, so I thought I could never top the other day. My last work out couldn't even compare right!? Well, I topped my best today. I couldn't believe it!

I hit 532 calories at the end of the first 30 min cycle, and by the end of the second cycle had a total of 750!!!!!!!!! I was so excited, one of my little gym buddies asked me what I was grinning about and I told him. He couldn't believe it either. He said, "Where does that energy come from!?"

Today, reaching that mark didn't come as easy as the other day. I never felt like I was pushing myself the other day, today I felt like stopping and had to make myself keep going towards the end. I really didn't think I was going to be able to top the last good one. I'm so thankful for my mp3 player (thanks again sugarpie!!!) because putting on an awesome song gives me the drive to keep going. The music makes such a big difference in my workout too.

I also kept my heart rate in the high intensity zone for almost the whole workout! WOWzers!!!!! somewhere between 85% and 90% the whole time. I'm just a little excited, can ya tell?

Then I found some new muscle toning exercises on the internet so I tried those out today. OUCH! My legs are going to probably be feeling it tomorrow, and my glutes! Switching things up a little sure makes working out more fun though. I need to remember not to get in a rut so I don't lose my motivation again!

I am soooooooooooooooooooo exhausted though, I'm off to bed. I did the sauna after my shower too, boy that'll zap ya. I'm gonna sleep like a rock tonight!

good night

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More confessions...

Wellllllllllllllll, I haven't been a good girl these past four days. Weekends are always impossible for working out, so you can't count that against me. I sure wish someone would explain to me WHY my gym stays open till midnight on weekdays but closes at 9 on Saturday and at 7 on Sunday! On the days people might actually have leisure time in the evening to workout, they close? UGH! But anyways, Monday, OHHHH Monday...

I crocheted until past 1 a.m. Sunday night (MISTAKE! I'm not as young as I used to be! and I now have an automatic alarm clock that doesn't come with a snooze button, her name is Hana!) Then, when I came to my senses and went to bed, Rocky wasn't feeling so great and was up almost every hour and that kept me half awake all night. Then there was the fire at 5:30 a.m. and that was the end of my "rest" for the night. I was dragging my tail ALL day long on Monday and could NOT bring myself to go workout that evening. All I wanted to do was sleep. Then Tuesdays my gym is CLOSED!!! Go figure! I'm not even going to try to figure that reasoning out...

Soooooo, that brings us to today, and I did NOT want to go workout again. Another one of those situations where I could have easily said, "I'm not going." Something about dinner (or something I ate today) didn't agree very well with me. Could have been the Dr. Pepper I had a lunch, we were in a shopping center that sells them and I just had to treat myself to one!!! Or, it could have been all the carbs I had at dinner. I made some really delicious rice, with a variety of grains in it, and I ate a whole lot more than I normally do. Sugar/carb overload??? after a year of a low sugar/carb diet, that'll do it to ya. So anyways, I did NOT feel like going. And my precious SWEET WONDERFUL husband, rubbed my tummy for a minute and then helped me decide to get out the door. Have I mentioned how wonderful he is lately??? He's so great. He encouraged me to just go and see how it went, and if I didn't feel well after I started working out to come back home. What a precious amazing hubby!!!

so anyways, I went. And it wasn't too bad. I didn't feel too great on my cardio, and only made it 25 minutes. My intensity was pretty high for those 25 minutes, but right at the end I just didn't feel like it would be wise to keep going. As soon as I cooled down a little though, I felt good enough do my normal weight lifting routine.

It really is a day by day process to be healthy and stay in shape. One meal at a time, one choice at a time, every day!

Tomorrow is ANOTHER day!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Excitement at 5:30 a.m. today

At 5:30 a.m. this morning I vaguely was aware that Rocky opened his phone and made a phone call. I quickly fell back asleep, not conscious enough to think about what he was doing at such an hour. Then a few moments later I heard Hana crying and woke up to see that Rocky was GONE! I ran to get Hana and then realized I was hearing emergency vehicles outside. I put two and two together, Rocky always calls a number to see where emergency vehicles are going, so i figured something was going on outside. As I lay back down in our bed with Hana, I could tell that most of the vehicles were fire trucks, and so I assumed Rocky went to check where the fire was. He eventually came back to report that it was just THREE houses down, on OUR block, on OUR side of the STREET! Now to those of you living in more spacious neighborhoods, this may not sound like a big deal, but here on our block, the houses are literally inches apart from each other, if not sharing walls! So that sort of fire is a major big deal! And at such an hour, it is even more alarming.

Praise God, no one was injured!

We were totally OK and our home was completely safe, but the house that caught fire first and both neighboring houses were significantly damaged. I will try to take a picture sometime if I can, if our neighbor doesn't mind his burned home being put on the web.

Just so thankful that our home is safe and so are we today! It made for a crazy day though. Thing calmed down outside about an hour later, and we snoozed for a little while before it was time to get up anyways. All three of us were dragging our tails today, for lack of sleep!

Silly me, I am on a crochet kick right now, and stayed up till 1 a.m. crocheting last night! That didn't help matters at all today. Too tired to do much of anything at all today, except for have a wonderful lunch with a good friend of mine!

Well, I am off to chill out and hopefully get to bed at a more decent hour tonight. Please pray for the people who lost a lot of their belongings today. They have already begun cleaning up, and it is going to be a long road back to normalcy I am sure.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. Philippians 3:7-9

Rocky's message at church this morning was soooooooooo awesome! I loved it, it really hit home for me after the week I had last week with US immigrations! He spoke from those verses above, and I just needed to be reminded of that. Most of all, to be reminded of what is RUBBISH!

I found myself, when talking about Hana's nationality so much this last week, almost in tears sometimes at the thought of getting her "American passport" or her citizenship being "granted". I am very proud to be an American and would love for my children to have that privilege. Growing up in Japan, their connection to my nationality and my country are going to be very removed already so I at least wanted to be able to show them that they are a part of my country too, in their nationality, with a passport or certificate of citizenship.

But this morning I was reminded that IF that is not possible, it is OK because it's all earthly stuff anyways and that's all rubbish compared to knowing Christ. I'd much rather share with my children our citizenship in HEAVEN, than spend time and precious emotional energy worrying about their earthly citizenship. If the Lord makes a way for my kiddos to be American too, then Glory to HIM! But if not, it won't be the end of the world, that is for sure! For all these earthly things are "crap" (as my husband so eloquently put it in his message this morning, LOL) compared to knowing Christ!

and then at the end of Rocky's message I was reminded of the AWE and WONDER of what it means to be seen as righteous in the eyes of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes the power of the word righteous just doesn't quite hit home. I tend to read right over or skip the depth of its meaning when it appears in scripture. But righteousness is an unattainable state for human beings (by ourselves). Yet it is gift wrapped and handed to us by the only one who is righteous, for us to simply receive by HIS GRACE. To take in that thought, it is so profound. WHY ME?! This little spoiled rotten child, that throws hissy fits over not getting my way with US immigration, and finds deep embarrassment in spilled milk at McDonald's (of which are the least of my flaws, let me assure you), seen as righteous by GOD HIMSELF!? WOW!!!

I mentioned that a couple weeks back I had a long conversation with a woman after our concert. She was quite hung up on the fact that God would allow a murderer into heaven if he/she just believed on Christ, but someone like her or myself who have never done something so terrible, would not be allowed in if we did not believe. She couldn't wrap her mind around that, she didn't feel that was fare. My response to that was simply, we are not God and we can not say that any one sin is greater than another. Sin, in the eyes of God, is sin. Because He alone is perfect and righteous. And perfect simply means, perfect, I told her. We can not fathom perfect, for we have never seen it really. Could we even imagine a simple white sheet of paper that is PURELY WHITE, with no blemish or flaw, no mark or anything on it? I asked her if she could imagine something like that in her mind. And then imagine that same sheet of paper with only one tiny little bitty black dot on it. I ask her, is the second sheet perfect anymore? Of course it is not. Now take a third sheet of paper and scribble all over it with a heavy black marker. This one too is no longer perfect, but the one with the tiny black dot is no LESS "imperfect" than the heavily colored one. The perfect one is the only one that is perfect.

To fathom that kind of perfection which is basically righteousness, and then know that when God looks at me, that flawlessness is what He sees!? WOW!

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Nothing compares to this! What could I gain on this earth that could compare to what HE alone can give me!?

I was listening to a song earlier this week and the lyrics were talking about things that just seem crazy in human thinking...

Why would I spend my life longing for the day that it would end,
Why would I spend my life pointing to another man?
Isn't that crazy?
(and so forth, but then I LOVE the chorus)

I have not been called, to the wisdom of this world
but to a God, whose calling out to me.
and even though the world may think
I'm losing touch with reality,
It would be crazy to choose this world
over eternity! (Mercy Me)

Said perfectly right there, It would be absolutley CRAZY to choose this world over eternity!

This other song has been playing in my head all day since the message this morning...

Knowing you Jesus, Knowing you
There is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you Lord!

Friday, June 01, 2007

HUGE workout tonight!

Oh my goodness I have NO idea where the energy and stamina came from, but I had an AWESOME workout tonight. On the elliptical, I did 725 calories!!!!!!!!!!! 50 minutes! During the first 30 minute cycle I did 528! I just barely made it over 400 on Wendesday. What on earth happened? I don't know but I love it. There are three little meters on my machine, and I don't know what the middle one is counting because I can't read the title on it, but I usually can not keep the number above 170 for very long (it reads something about the rate at which I am running) but today, I staying over 200 for 6 minutes, and kept it above 170 almost the entire workout and I never felt sluggish!!! After the I lifted weights. ahhhhhhhhh, if only every workout could feel like this one. I hope I can keep this up! That last two weeks of upping my cardio to 50 minutes is really making a difference, I can SEE it in my legs and hips! The scales aren't moving, probably cause I'm gaining muscle, but I am now motivated to keep this up!

WAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I felt like screaming when I ended my run, I wonder what all those around me would have thought if I had hollared out!

Now off to bed, I am sure I am going to sleep VERY WELL!!!