Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update...

I just realized how long it has been since I've posted a blog. Not much has gone on in the last few weeks, not anything to write home about I suppose. I'm going to be really honest right now about the last week or so, definitely an emotional one. I found out last week that my classroom aide would be quitting due to personal issues that she has been struggling with this year. She has been having issues sleeping and the doctor's have not given her a clear answer as to why, but they did advise her to stop working. So with that, Friday was my last day with an aide, as the school will not be replacing her. It has hit me real hard, especially since this class/age level has been a difficult one for me to pull through. I do not know how everything will go with my 16 four year olds (of course with the possibility of more coming in the next few months) but I do know that God has got to be at the front of it all. I came here, called by God, and knew that things would definitely be a challenge if not for the sheer fact that I would be living in a foreign country. God has been faithful throughout this entire experience. He placed me in a church with a huge emphasis on prayer and a constant challenge to grow closer to God as well as an unbelievable, seriously amazing, group of people. I couldn't have asked for anything better! So as i sit here writing this, feeling tired and weary, I make a choice to not only start and end each day with God but allow him to carry me THROUGH each day.

Isaiah 40: 28-31
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Long Weekends...

Monday, Gina, Itsuko, Alison, and I went to the Hot Stones Bath. Itsuko is from here and she and Gina used to go every other week. When we got there we paid our 900yen and got two towels and sweats. We went and took our showers put on our sweats and went into this dark room where we laid on hot stone beds. It was pretty funny though...there are stars on the ceiling and also a moon with e.t. riding across it. haha It was basically a sauna with heat packs. It felt really nice and was a great way to relax. Itsuko and Gina were telling Alison and I about how you have to be silent in the room if there are other women in there, but as soon as we are the only ones we can gab as much as we want. Sadly, that only happened for a couple minutes. As we all know, I am slightly ADD and couldn't lay quietly very well so I spent some time making hand puppets on the wall. :)

Kim and the kids took Alison and I to the movies on Friday night. We went and saw Bride Wars then had Taco Bell for dinner. It was a fabulous way to end the week! On Saturday, being Valentine's Day, Kim invited Alison and I over for dinner since her husband worked and Alison has just been longing to cook dinner in her kitchen. We had lasagna. YUM! It has been WAY too long!
Here are Kim, Maizy, Alison, and I eating dinner on Kim's balcony
Another typical self portrait of Alison and I
Gina and Rocky have decided that they needed to join in on the tour book fun and since they have Sage for the next few weeks we thought it would be a great time to visit the Ostrich Farm where the tour book said visitors could ride the ostriches. Well, Monday was the planned day for this event and we had more company in Benny, Pauline, and Alisia, from church. We drove to the farm only to find out that you can no longer ride the ostriches but only feed them. It turned out to be fun anyways! I'm secretly glad I didn't have to ride one, cuz they're kind of scary. Their necks are SOO long! Feeding them was quite the scene, I'm pretty sure one tried to take off Rocky's head.
Here is a group picture of the gang!
From the farm we made a stop by the Pineapple Park. Yes, I do realize this is our third time now, but no one else had been and they've been here for 2 years plus. How can that be?? Anyways, everything is fun when we're doing it with new people!
I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of the Neighborhood church family!

Post office, Valentine's, and Fun Day

Last week was a busy week for Pre-Kindergarten. On Tuesday we walked to the Post Office up the street, way up the street, from school. The kids were mailing a Valentine to someone in their family, anywhere in the world. The lady at the post office was really nice and let each of them pay and put their own stamp on then slip in the red mail box. They had a great time taking care of their "business."
Tuesday night, Alison and I went to Rocky and Gina's to bake cookies for our classes to decorate at our Valentine's parties on Thursday. In class, the kids had a great time decorating their bags for their goodies and then had an even better time with their cookies, frosting, and sprinkles.
New Life held their annual Family Fun Day on Friday at a "nearby" athletic park, one Alison and I struggled to find. We even had to stop and use a pay phone to call Pastor and find out where we were supposed to go. Needless to say, thanks to a car we recognized, Alison and I made it, and only 30 minutes late! The day was nice and short filled with lots of family and games. I also got lots of special treats from my class for my "belated" birthday. It was really great seeing the families interact and have some fun together. We did our chicken dance cheer first, then we played various games including a bean bag toss, sprint, hula hoop race, a race with a ball between the legs, and it all ended with a tug of war. First, the Yamauchi campus kids went up against the teachers on our campus. WE LOST! yes, against 35 4-6 year olds. Then the Yagibaru campus teachers went up against their students and LOST! oh boy. It all ended with the teachers of New Life against all the parents...this wasn't even a competition, we got whooped. I guess that's what happens when your staff is made up of a bout 20 people against a school of 115. It was all fun nonetheless.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A great way to end the week...

Friday night Alison and I headed out to Kim and Devon's (from church) to watch their kiddos for the evening. First of all, they live in an amazing place, practically on top of the ocean. So beautiful! The kids are great and we had lots of fun! It was such a great way to end the week! We ate pizza and did everything from watch Prince Caspian to sing and dance the Hokey Pokey. lol Alison got it on video but thankfully she refrained from posting it! I wouldn't want to give away my childish side! ;) Samuel was a bit camera happy...the following pictures are all ones he took!
We were taking a break from the craziness that was Friday night!
Matthew felt the need to get into as many pictures as possible and Emma is sportin her peace sign.
Then on Saturday Alison and I decided to go down south to the Peace Memorial Park. This was the main battleground for the Battle of Okinawa during WWII. Outside were the walls filled with names of those whose lives were taken as a result of this battle, both Okinawans and US military. It was something to be in this place, walking through the exhibits from the war and the Okinawans life under US rule. Hundreds of thousands of people died during this time, most of which were civilians. While, for the most part, the tension is not present today, it did not take away from the fact that we felt very "out of place" and "responsible" for the tragedy represented in this memorial. This was a very humbling experience!
Here is the view from the top of the grounds at the memorial. The building below is the memorial museum.
From outside the peace park
The purpose of the entire park is to promote permanent peace in Okinawa. They had a children's exhibit near the exit of the building and inside the room was this huge globe with pictures of children from all over the world, representing different countries, and in the shape of the various land masses.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Japanese food and rolling slides...

Before I begin with the real stuff check out this picture and tell me what is wrong with it...This is not a fluke picture, the man was literally "walking" his dog this way.


Two families were leaving Okinawa this week to head back to the states, one just retired from the military and the others were the associate pastors. Each time a family leaves the island the church has a Sayonara dinner for them at a Japanese restaurant nearby called Kitakaisen. Alison and I had never been and since we actually knew some of the people leaving this time (Alyssa, the associate pastor's daughter was in Alison's class) we figured we'd go Monday night. The food was really good. Alison and I tried Yakitori, beef skewers, and shrimp tempura. There were many laughs over all kinds of silly things from flying tomatoes to wash cloth fights, eventually ended by pastor.
Here is one of the two oh so crowded tables in the room at the restaurant.
Gina and I with the mysterious flying tomato compliments of Rocky's impeccable timing
Rocky is the object of every child's affection at church, not so happy when his hair is messed with though!
Rocky and Alyssa outside stop number two Monday night, Starbucks. It's been a really long week at work. Our PE, Art, and Japanese teacher (the same person) was out every day but Monday with her son who is sick with the flu. You know what that means? NO SPECIALTIES all week! Oh boy. Needless to say we needed a break and headed to the park today for lunch and free time with the Kindergarten class. The parks in Japan are AwEsOmE! You would never see these kinds of things in the states. Check out this slide! It made my heart skip a beat every time someone when down. Way cool, I would have gone down too had I been dressed appropriately.
However, the rolling slide was awesome too! The kids made me go down several times. Since I didn't want to ruin my pants, Azusa, my aide, advised me to go down on my feet, squatting down. It worked, though it also makes you go down at like twice the speed. It really was a lot of fun and a great break from our normal routine. Tomorrow is our 100th day of school! We've got a few fun things planned and will continue to push through February with a trip to the post office next week to mail our Valentines and the all school family fun day next Friday!
Check out the video below of a few of my kids and I going down the rolling slide.

video