Monday, December 28, 2009


Hello all!

After almost 40 hours of travel time, including 4 airports, customs, transferring my luggage at every airport and making several new friends on the planes. I'm home.

For anyone keeping up with every detail of my travels, yes this happened on the 22nd. With all the Christmas craziness and fun stuff, I'm just letting you all know this.

Hope I get to see everyone while I'm home.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Leaving in less than 24 hours

I absolutely love how the Lord provides. This time, I was crunched for time. I had no idea how I was going to get everything finished to come home, yet I got everything on my to-do list done and then some.

Which is AMAZING! Because I leave my town in less than 24 hours to take the train to Sapporo, stay the night and then fly out for PORTLAND on Tuesday! I can't wait for Christmas. So much so that I was going to burst if I didn't watch A Christmas Story (which isn't quite the same without Mandie sitting next to me).

So in honor of my favorite Christmas movie:

"I can't put my arms down!"

"Oh Fudge!!!"

"You'll shoot your eye out"

"He looks like a deranged Easter bunny . . . like a pink nightmare."

"You used up all the glue ON PURPOSE!"

"Fra-gi-lee . . . must be Italian"

If anyone wants to join Mandie and I on our Christmas eve tradition of watching it, one of the cable channels always has it on for 24 (or maybe 12) hours straight before Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Goals

So this evening I was reflecting on how fast November went and how I didn’t feel near as homesick as I had in October. What changed? I added a blog a day as a challenge and tried to keep up with my Japanese during that month. Two very big goals.

Possibly a little too big. I had a really hard time keeping up with both. The Japanese book was above my head and sometimes took more time than I had available in my usually free days. I know I stayed up way to late often because of trying to do so. On the other hand, I also felt less homesick which is huge.

I realized I need some new goals for December. In part to keep me focused on what the Lord has before me and in part just to push myself to grow. In thinking about the coming month and what is coming I’ve decided to stick with two goals:

Study Japanese everyday. I’ve seen great improvements in the last month and I want to continue to improve in December. Also, I want to have book 2 finished before I go home (right now I have a test and one section of a lesson left to do. Is this do-able? I’m not entirely sure, but I really want to be able to take book 3 home with me and work on it super leisurely.

Sleep enough. I don’t want to arrive home burnt out and barely rested. That would likely mean I would get sick too, which would be a terrible way to spend the holiday.

Study Japanese everyday and sleep enough. Can I do it? I hope so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November Reflections

Twenty-seven days ago (we started November 3), a friend challenged me to National Blog Writing Month. I decided to take the challenge, because I had tons of free time, right? Well the last month has been insane (in a good way). Just before that I received my first Japanese course book and began work on that, meaning that I would be spending (I had no idea of this at the time) about 2 hours a day working on one lesson (I think I picked a book that was too hard).

November recap:
• 27 blogs written
• 11,000-ish words written to my blog (they were added up in excel, which died when I had to restart my computer) – I have a friend doing National Novel Writing Month (50,000 words), I had to see if I was anywhere near her word count – nope, but I’m super happy with what I have.
• Shortest blog: 30 words
• Longest blog: 652 words
• 19 of 20 lessons completed in my Japanese book (did one and a half today)
• Great improvements in Japanese. I was actually able to hold some very simple conversations in Japanese today!
• Several Skype records broken, including the longest conversation I’ve had (over 6 hours) and most people in one conversation (at one point we had 5 people in on our conversation)
• Getting involved with a really amazing church with a pastor who’s words challenge me (via a translator)
• 3 Wednesday night Mini-volleyball meetings (super fun!)
• Attempts at riding a unicycle
• My first times driving in the snow
• Conquered the heater with the “magical rocks”
• First school festivals – my elementary school students are so incredibly cute!
• Getting clothing that is warm enough for Hokkaido winters
• Watching the 2 year anniversary of a good friend’s death come and go
• Cooking Natto – and getting to hear the story over and over after
• 115 hours spent on Skype  How did I ever have the time to do that? That’s just phone time, not chatting with friends time. That does, though, include some amazing Bible Study time and a few epic conversations with a friend
• 13 hours spent on a train getting to Wakkanai and back (and visiting the most Northern point in Japan)
• As of this weekend I officially used up the original $10 I put on my skype account when I first arrived in Japan (August 2)
• Christmas presents ordered to arrive at my house in the states for Christmas . . . and December hasn’t even started yet!
• Lots of growth in the Lord
• Discovering some of my passions

It was a good month. I think that writing everyday was a positive distraction for me from the homesickness I was feeling a lot in October. Will I continue to blog everyday in December? Probably not, but I think I’ll be blogging more regularly. Flickr is next on the to-do list. It’s been since almost a month since I added any new photos and I’ve taken plenty since then

How shall we end the month? Maybe with a fun story about the last point. I was talking to a friend and I said something like “I think I’m passionate about writing.” Her response? “I knew that.” I had no idea, but there was one day when I wrote two blogs and I think I wrote a poem (plus my prayer journal). That’s when I realized it. I’m sure you’ll see me writing more. I went from being the kid who hated writing and could barely get a clear thought down on paper, in Middle and early High school, to a grownup who loves to write. How did that happen? I’m thinking the Lord has something to do with it. How will he use my writing in the future? I have no idea, but I’m excited to see where he takes it.