Saturday, February 25, 2006
Tuning In From Rainy Kikai
It's not cold here right now in the middle of the Pacific but it is rainy and windy. Spring has definitely embraced Kikai. All the yellow radish flowers and other unknown beauties are littering the patches of empty lots that aren't overcrowded by the proud sugarcane, Kikai's cash crop. And even though spring is unpredicatable and easy to get sick, I am glad there IS a spring because summer is long and sticky-and I don't mean Wrigley's either.
I have been quite sick recently with an attack of Celiac symptoms. It was confirmed that I have it about a week after I left for Japan, last July 2005 to be exact. A few people that I talked to probably already guessed I had it but I was truly hoping it was an allergy for if it were, I would outgrow it or beat it but alas I am stuck with it until I go Home. And yet, I know that God is going to use even this disease that I have to bring Him glory and I get to be a part of that. I am not for sure how He will do that but I am reminded over and over again that it truly is when 'when we are weak, He is strong'.
I wanna thank all of you who have been praying for me, for us and for many others here in Japan whom you have never met, never bowed to, or shook hands with yet. All who have called just to say 'hi' or even to chat a while, I really really appreciate it a lot. Conversations with people here have been sweet and He fantastically shows me sometimes a small piece of their part in the Body of Christ, if and when they give their lives to them. I am not saying other people groups are not talented but I have been around Japanese people for a while now and talent abounds in really incredible ways...I smile to myself as I fade into the background thinking what it would be like if they were my brother and sister...
I have a friend who has been introducing me to rather common customs of the Japanese culture. I am sure she relishes them but these customs I have only read about and seen on movies and heard countless stories from my Japanese or other friends who have been here. Take 'tatami' for example. 'Tatami'is really so interesting. It is woven rice grass into tiny small squares measured according to a standard size of Japanese houses. We have a three-tatami room while others have a six-tatami room. A beautiful design outlines these huge mats. People spend a lot of time on their 'tatami' floors either scooted up to the small table, resting on it, or just doing whatever. I do have to say that sitting up straight with no chair support (even though there is a wall sometimes) is hard on the back though. Another thing that I am coming to relish is the Japanese bathtub. It's a small deep tub that is filled almost to the brim with hot steaming water-no bubbles. The protocol is very important: wash oneself outside of the tub by sitting on a plastic stool and doing all your washing there first. Next, you get into the tub to soak and relax-not to wash. After you are finished you get out and dry off and the NEXT person comes and uses your bathwater or vise-versa. This is really hard on the American mind, at least mine since I usually START in the tub not go there second. So, I guess the huge amount of water being used is justified by the fact that everyone in the family will use the same water. If I were born in Japan, at least I would've been the third to get in; being the oldest does have some benefits!
I am not the main chef at our abode but I do get flairs and wild hairs for cooking sometimes. Mostly, I just thrive in a kitchen that is big, spacious, clean and has an oven and interesting ways to hang or arrange all the utensils, pots and pans. I wanna learn how to cook good meals that people will like but with a truly international edge to it. I've never been big on American food since I moved to Norman anyway so I don't often crave a hamburger or hotdog-not anymore since Celiac but I still love French fries. So, I am hoping that in the coming months, I can slowly begin to explore this idea.
Finally, I just want to say 'hello' to my sweetie, Alan. He has been a huge huge encouragement to me while we have been separated. We took special care to give each other things to remember and things to read while apart. And so, I'll leave with that. Signing off from Agaren in Kikai, Japan.