Pix - 1st on top left is me cooking keihan at the Summers' house in Houston. Nice kitchen, good food, good friends, Dr. Pepper...makes the evening, man.
1st on top right is a bunch of Trinity iMPACT people at Santa Fe Steakhouse in Norman, enjoying good ol' SW food and the best dinner rolls I have ever had. No kidding. And I'm picky.
Next down is a view of Kagoshima looking out from the inside of the big Shinto temple there. Notice the neato tree and the huge gate - had to be 10 meters tall at least. Next is the cute little Buddha statue I found in the hillside park in Kagoshima. It was rainy, so someone was nice enough to clothe cute little Buddha in some red knitted raingear and a hat to make sure he didn't get his chub belly all wet. They also bwat him some fwowahs and a nice cup of gween tea. Nice widduw Buddha. Gag me.
Made me think of this biblical passage.
Last one is me at the OU-Iowa St. basketball game w/ some Chi Alpha friends, the day after the ice hit Norman. By this time, I'd been in the States for about 42 hours. Seriously, it was a great trip.
It's been a week of getting back to normal, and I think I've succeeded.
Does that mean that I will join the realm of "normal people"? Mmmmm, no. I meant "normal" in a very postmodern, comfortably relativistic kind of way. It just makes me feel...happy. Tolerant. Accepting. Affirming.
All strange prefaces aside, this has been a good week, actually. I finally realised that I have a bit of a discipline problem when it comes to hanging out on the Internet during the day - I just spend a bit too much time on it. And then, when I try to study at home, lots of stuff gets in my way, like snacks and little errands that suddenly occur to me, or a book on the bookshelf that suddenly seems a TON more interesting than studying how to count various specific items in Japanese.
You may laugh, "You mean you haven't learned to count yet?!?!?!" Hear me out, now. Japanese uses certain "counters" for all different kinds of things, analogous to the way that English says "3 pairs of pants" or "a glass of water". And when is it a glass and not a cup? Ah, now, my friends, you are catching wind of the difficulty. So in Japanese, you have to say, for example, "At my house cats 8 animals there are." That's a more-or-less literal transcription. In Latin characters it's, "Uchi ni neko ga happiki imasu" (he said just before double-checking "happiki". I was right). Anyway...that's what I studied today. The point is that I've taken to timing myself while on the PC and shutting it down when I'm done, and then studying at the liberry. It's been working well so far and I'm learning at a good pace.
This new approach to self-discipline has, however, come up against a 6'8" 260 lb. all-muscle contender in the ring, w/ the words "March Madness" proudly emblazoned across its championship belt. Ooofff. And my bro hooks me up w/ a website where I can watch all these basketball games for free, and even live. Thanks a ton. I'm half-sarcastic...sigh. I do so love March Madness. That and the occasional (just under one per week in the autumn) college football game are about the only things that get me in front of a TV on any reliable basis anymore. Were I back in the States, I'd be watching the games on TV during several spring evenings. But I'll get my fix and then just kind of leave it alone. The challenger can be starved! If I can just stop chucking T-bones at him...
Tonight Aubrey and I went to Sugira Beach, the big park not too far away from our house and the place where we swam on New Year's Day, and where many things happen. We were going to play basketball on the court since there's supposed to be a coupla communal b-balls in a storage locker next to the court. It was empty so we contented ourselves w/ bizarre games on the playground, wrestling a bit (very chastely, thank you very much) in the grass, and making fools of ourselves. Great time. Then we were watching the sun set (sun set or sunset?) on top of a playgrd toy when two high school girls showed up and started swinging. We talked to them (yes, mostly in Japanese) for a while and then took a coupla pictures, and they were saying "Oh, lub lub," which means roughly "lovebirds." Seriously, our marriage is a huge testimony around here and we asked them if they wanted to know our secret. I wasn't surprised that they said yes, but I was surprised that they showed a ton of interest, even when we were stalling most of the way thru, not knowing the right words. We pretty much told them our story and then shared our and their need for Jesus as best we could. What a divine appt! I'd never met these girls before, and Aub had maybe once. I challenged them to challenge Jesus honestly to prove that He exists (a challenge I make to anyone reading who doesn't believe Jesus to be the only way to God), and so yeah. Quite a cool time. Tomorrow we're getting together w/ a young couple who speak English to watch Jonah: A Veggietales Movie on our laptop, since it won't play on theirs (FYI - DVDs are set from purchase on regional settings so a Japanese DVDR typically can't play an American DVD and vice versa. Yes, it is annoying in case you were wondering). That should be neato.
Many teachers who have finished their 3-yr rotation are preparing to ship out and we'll start seeing lotsa new teachers soon. We are praying that we can meet many who will become our friends and hear the Gospel. Heck, we're also praying that some will be believers already - that would definitely qualify as nifty.
I spent so much time making sure the text wouldn't get all wranged around by those pix that I'm tired now. Catch you later.