Sunday, September 29, 2013

May, June and July! Oh my!

Well, it seems like the time has quickly come and gone and, seeing how these months are long gone, I thought I would just fill in the gap for the spring here.

Since Caitlin and I are now married, this blog will mostly fill space for my ruminations on Japan and the various adventures that we get ourselves into that don't make it to the monthly newsletters posted on Caitlin's blog.

May, June and July went by fast, and the first trimester of my second year of classes was over before I knew it. Between finish grading, continuing to plan new classes and getting ready for our wedding, things were quite busy.

We did have Sports Day again, which was again enjoyable, even though the black team didn't win.
Cheering on the black team!
School proceeded as usual for the most part, although I am teaching new classes and still had to continually plan every week and still keep up with grading.

One of my favorite diversions from the planning was the time spent with Caitlin, mostly by Skype calls, but also with a few lovely visits from her, and occasionally, with her sister in tow. We also managed to plan for our wedding and transport the majority of Caitlin's things down to Kyoto in preparation for her moving down after said wedding.
A wonderful visit and good food too!
That's a quick wrap up of the quickly fleeting spring. We appreciate your prayers and please continue to pray for both the work we do in Japan and our new marriage!

Monday, May 6, 2013

An audacious April

Hello friends and family!

In Japan, school begins in April, so we have started another year already! Things are going smoothly, thanks in part to the fact that I have had a little more time to plan for the new year and I have a year's experience under my belt.

This isn't to say that everything is easy though. I'm teaching a whole new section of classes, along with many of the ones I taught last year. Some of the students in my new class are relatively new learners of English and it's been a little bit of a struggle to find activities that are at the student's levels. One of the best parts of my days though, are when the students finally 'get it' and their eyes (and relieved expressions) show realization that they do know what a concept means in English.

Making pancakes for Easter breakfast!

I ended March and started April in Tokyo with Caitlin and her family. We had a lovely time during Easter and during the break between school years. She was able to come to visit me in Kyoto during the festivities of Golden Week, one of the largest (and longest) holidays of spring in Japan. We had a wonderful time together, getting the apartment ready for her arrival this fall, attending a friend's wedding and getting our engagement photos taken!

One of my co-workers is a very talented photographer and he graciously offered to take some engagement photos for us. We had a great time - laughing and posing, but still trying to act natural in front of the camera. If you're interested in Japan or just like good photos, you should click here to check out his website.

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • Pray for all the students as the year continues. 
  • Pray for Japan and the salvation of the Japanese people. 
  • Please continue to pray for the teachers and staff with all the work we have to do.
  • Pray for peace and repose as Caitlin and I finalize our wedding plans. 
Thank you for your support of God's work in Japan!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A fleeting February and a maniac March

Hello friends and family,
It has been a while! My apologies for the lull in updates. Between school ending, days of endless grading and my computer becoming a very large paperweight, I regrettably did not send out a newsletter for February.

February, as always, was a short month. Valentine's Day this year was notable, as Caitlin came to visit me. We had a very nice time taking walks, exchanging gifts and eating lots of chocolate. Valentine's Day is a little different in Japan, as women as expected to give chocolate to men. The next month, on March 15th, men are expected to return the favor and give the women a gift in return. White Day, as it is known, was created by candy companies to sell more product. The Japanese mindset of reciprocation is also a big influence on both holidays, as anyone who gets a gift is obligated to return one. For a little more detail, see this blog post.
Exchanging gifts for Valentine's Day.
It was fun to see the students giving each other little gifts and enjoying the holiday. I was also able to share in my classes about St. Valentine and his love for others and appreciation of marriage and love between couples. I also gave all my students a small piece of candy on White Day, although some of them seemed confused as to why I would do that.

March came and left almost as quickly as February, but with lots more to do! KIU follows the Japanese school year, which means the school year ends at the end of March, which means I have finished my first year of teaching! March was full of grading, planning for next year and graduation for the senior class of 2013. Things were very busy, but we got everything accomplished!

Enjoying the cherry blossoms in Tokyo!
This week I'm enjoying a bit of a break and relaxing with the Essenburgs in Tokyo and getting some planning done for next year. Classes start in a little more than a week, so please keep me in your prayers as I start my second year of teaching!

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • Pray for my planning and lesson making for brand new classes and a new school year. 
  • Pray for all people in Japan who suffer from hay fever, myself included. 
  • Please continue to pray for the teachers and staff. 
  • Pray that school year can start well, both for the students and teachers. 

Thank you for your support of God's work in Japan!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Jaunty January

The chill in the air is still here in Kyoto.
January has passed and it is cold!

After staying in Tokyo as long as I could, I made my way back to Kyotanabe for teacher workdays. Winter semester has started, and I am almost done with my first full year of teaching at KIUA! School is still a bit of a challenge, but things are going well. The short winter term means that I have to start getting ready for next year already! Between grading and planning for next year, there's not much time for anything else.

Thankfully not much time doesn't mean no time for anything else. This month, I was able to visit a rice pounding ceremony called mochitsuki at the local city hall. Mochitsuki amounts to a New Year's Festival where cooked rice is made into a soft dough, called mochi, by pounding it with a hammer. The dough is eaten with various fillings and toppings and is very delicious. For those who live stateside, there is even one in Portland every year!

I might have gotten a little excited...

Kinako, in front, and anko filled mochi. Tasty!

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • That I can stay on top of planning and grading this trimester.
  • For the students' health and attitudes- that both would be good.
  • Please continue to pray for the teachers and staff.
  • Pray that the final trimester of the year will be finished strong and planning will go well.
Thank you for your support of God's work in Japan!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Delightful December

Winter is definitely here, the weather is chilly and my apartment is very cold!

There is no central heating in Japan, and getting used to living without it has been a bit of a challenge for me. I do have a heating unit in my apartment, but it is not the best when it comes to raw heat.

Despite the cold, December went quickly. We had one week of classes and followed by Finals Week. I seem to have gotten some kind of hang of things, and this finals week was a little better than the last one. After I managed to get a large amount of grading done and my scores reported to administration, I zipped off on the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo!

Christmas with the Essenburgs
I got to spend a lovely Christmas season with Caitlin and her family. I was inducted into the rather extensive traditions of the Essenburg family, which were all wonderful. We made a gingerbread house, enjoyed Christmas pudding, eggnog and other holiday treats, watched Christmas movies and filled in the advent calendar. Unfortunately, the holiday could not last forever, but I really enjoyed it while it did!

Caitlin and I also worked on our wedding and honeymoon plans. We are happy to report that the honeymoon lodging is booked!

 This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • My personal level of stress and that I can deal with it - preferably with more exercise.
  • That I can get acclimatized quickly to being back home in Kyoto.
  • Pray for the winter trimester that we can all do our best, teachers, staff and students.
  • Pray that the last part of the year will be finished strong.

Thank you for your support of God's work in Japan!