Saturday, July 29, 2006

Postcard from San Francisco

It's a foggy night in SF and I'm awake at 12:50 am.
I didn't end up spending all day in the Osaka Airport; I put my bags in a storage locker and took the commuter train down to a nearby outlet mall type place and haunted a Starbux for a few hours and window-shopped. It was relaxing. Came back to the airport, took a shower, got on the plane, felt comfy, didn't sleep, there you go. Got to SF and crashed for 8.5 hrs at my friends' house. Got up, didn't do much, went back to their house and slept from 1:45 pm to 5:15 pm. Nice. Ate dinner at home and went out for coffee to SF's North Beach district. The vibe reminded me of Seattle but was sleazier, w/ not only coffeehouses but also girlie shows and bars in abundance. Interesting place, though. We talked about debate and abortion and other fun things; I'd say it was appropriate conversation for a Fri night at a coffeehouse, wouldn't you? My decaf was terrible, my coffee cake lethally good, my Americano (to make up for the disappointing decaf) was sublime. Should've ordered a shot of decaf espresso in the Americano. From that mistake stems the fact that I'm blogging at 10 'till 1 am when I should be sleeping.
Tomorrow is Damien's wedding. Beforehand we'll go to Alcatraz. Neat.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This is me wishing for a fast-forward button

This is me in the Osaka Airport.
My flight leaves at 5:50 pm. I am here at 7:30 am. You do the math.
I did not do the math before coming here and will thus pay the price.
The lesson here is twofold: do not forget your flight departure; learn to do math.

So what am I going to do? That remains to be seen. At least Aubrey made it back OK w/o any major problem. My luggage is stinking heavy but I sent some stuff in the mail from Kagoshima yesterday to lighten the load and so now it is near manageable.

Nothing else to say. It is hot here. I`m out.

Friday, July 21, 2006

BBQ Party pictures

Party people everywhere!
1) Me in the kitchen w/ Mrs. Tokumoto. It's a deceiving pic - I didn't do much to prepare. Here I think we are figgering how to bake the brownies in her oven. They didn't turn out bad, nor did they turn out great.
2) Mitsuda-san a-BBQ-in'.
3) Us at dinner, talking to the vet and his wife.
4) #3 reprised.
5) The bitter end of the BBQ. I was tired.

Let's not eat in tonight.

T-Minus 4 days.
Aub has less and I have a little more. Come to think of it, if I'm not mistaken, my Tuesday night ferry will leave on Tues night around midnight. Kind of a shame, really - I'd like a little more time in Kagoshima during the day. And there's a Senegalese guy who lives there w/ whom I hope to grab a bite, and I'd like a little more time w/ him too, but I think I can still squeeze that at least in.
Packing is still a bit of a looming challenge, but I think we can pull it off. We may have to send one more slow box to the US, but I hope not to have to do that. Fortunately, Aubrey doesn't have to do much of anything w/ her luggage in terms of carrying it around. At the airport in Kikai, other people will be there to carry it. In Kagoshima, she might have to roll it around a bit, but the airport is not very big, about 1/2 as big as the OKC airport. But after she checks it, she won't see it until OKC.
I, on the other hand, will probably have some pretty heavy luggage, in addition to a guitar and a satchel containing a laptop and a couple of books and a bit of computer peripheral equipment. But I should be able to check that at the bus station in Kago and walk around a bit. The annoying thing will be having to move the luggage from the Osaka bus station to the Osaka Airport and everywhere in between. Not looking forward to that, but I think I have plenty of time to get there, so I guess I'll just slowly make my way thru the city.
We are REALLY busy these last days, too. Tonight is a good-bye party w/ Aub's office. Sat lunch is taken. Sat dinner is probably taken. Sun lunch is taken. Sun dinner is taken. Monday lunch is probably taken. Monday night we reserve for ourselves. Ooofff. But to be sure, as I've said, Kikai food is good and so that's cool. And two of those meals (tonight and Sat dinner) will very possibly be steak. Mmmm, steak.

Oh, and I'm very happy to announce that my English classes are finished. Praise Jesus! Collecting the delinquent fees is a bit tough but the kids' mothers have proven to be quite cooperative, so that really makes it easier on me. I only lack about 10% now.
That's it for now.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Dare I post this?

It's just that I'm a bit nervous to mention this a propos perhaps the one American in connection to whom it is least OK to mention anything less than complimentary. But I forge on.

See if you can guess who wrote the following words (based on my hint) before you click on the link:

Hence, we must affirm that Christ is a unitary personality, and this unity we find in his own ego. There is nothing in rational speculation nor New Testament thought to warrant the view that Jesus had two personal centers. We must then think of Christ as a unitary being whose divinity consists not in any second nature or in a substantial unity with God, but in a unique and potent God consciousness. His unity of {with} God was a unity of purpose rather than a unity of substance.

Another weakness in this theory of atonement is that it is based on the assumption that the chief obstacle to man's redemption is in the nature of God. But there was never any obstacle to man's redemption in God himself. The real obstacle to man's redemption has always lain in man himself. It is from this standpoint, therefore, that the death of Christ is to be interpreted. Christ's death was not a ransom, or a penal substitute, or a penal example, rather it was a revelation of the sacrificial love of God intended to awaken an answering love in the hearts of men.
We are compelled, therefore, to reject the idea of a catastrophic fall and regard man's moral condition from another point of view. Man's fall is not due to some falling away from an original righteousness, but to a failure to rise to a higher level of his present existence.
In the same vein we must reject Luther's and Calvin's view that man is incapable of performing any saving good, and that man can do nothing to save himself. Certainly we must agree that the image of God is terribly scared in man, but not to the degree that man cannot move toward God.

Written by: Mystery Author


It's 9 pm after a tiring couple of days. We went to our friends' (the Tokumotos) house last night for an outside BBQ sayonara party for us and about 6 other guests came which made it a fun time. I think that, for the 1st time at one of these parties, I at least participated in at least one convo w/ every guest. Pretty cool. I could post some pix but I already started uploading the pix from today, so I'm too lazy to turn back now.Anyway, we stayed up kind of late. I got up this morning early, as is my habit on Monday and Tuesday, to go on a prayer walk w/ the pastor of the church where we often go. I got to his house on time, at 5:59 am or so, and he had already left to beat the heat. I biked after him a bit but didn't see him at a convenient place, so I just parked my bike and prayer walked alone. Or, today, I half walked and half sat on a low wall in the shade. Even at 6:30 am the sun was hot and I was comfy praying there. No prob. In particular, I prayed for our friends in Beirut and in Israel. Please join me in prayer for the believers in that region, that they would use whatever time and opportunity to shine for Jesus.
At 12:30 we went w/ the Tokumotos and a couple of other friends to the beach known as Hawaii Beach. It's a nice place to swim, to be sure. Apparently the riptide or current or sthg just off the coast of Kikai is a bit dangerous for swimming, but the island comes standard w/ several natural shallow swimming harbors, and this is one of the best. So we snorkeled and sat on the beach and piled sand on our legs and stuff. I skipped a few coral rocks. It was fun. In the middle of the day, though, you really have to be careful about the sun, man, especially for gringos like us. I put on a fair amount of sunscreen but still got a little pinker than I'd like. Nothing serious though, fortunately. And ALWAYS wear a T-shirt when snorkeling, kids.
After, we went to another beach down the road to take freshwater showers and hang out in the shade of the shelter. Walking to the shelter, we noticed two black kids in the water frolicking w/ the others. 'Tisn't often you see other gaijin on Kikai, so our curiosity was aroused. I saw a guy playing w/ them and when he came up to the top of the hill where I was standing, I went over to ask him about them. Turns out he was the Jehovah's Witness missionary who had taken me to the Kingdom Hall last week. Seriously, what is the deal w/ these guys? Anyway, we chatted and then the woman w/ a 3rd child in her arms came up the hill to chat. She was Japanese and her 1-year-old looked straight black, but apparently all 3 kids are the product of a marriage between this Japanese woman and a Congolese man from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Now, for those of you who know your Central African geography, the DRC is not Brazzaville but Kinshasa. The DRC, at this point in time, is well-known for chaos, anarchy, armed militias, and the highest population of illegitimate children produced by unions between UN Peacekeepers and their refugee charges. All such unions are, of course, 100% above-board and are in no way a result of bad supervision (due to general UN incompetence) of renamed and armed militiamen who are responsible for thousands of defenseless Congolese, Rwandan, and Burundian women.
At any rate, it turns out that this lady is a JW as well (sigh) and her husband came to Japan to teach French in 2003 from the DRC, and they're down to visit their JW buddies. Apparently he's not a JW yet but he's studying the Bible. I hope to establish contact w/ him and cannot deny that I might share a few --ahem-- choice Bible passages w/ him in relation to JW theology. But that's b/c I'm a bad boy.

In other news, return plans are looking good to go. I'll go back to work at Seagate Technology, who was good enough to take me back. Burn no bridges you don't have to, my friends. And I'm getting more used to the idea of coming back. It's God's Will, after all. Getting used to it is what one might call advisable.
This week Aub is just hanging out at the Board of Ed all day for work. Nothing to do. I pity her much, but there's little I can do to help. I COULD lend her the laptop. Might do that, actually. Fine idea, that. Anyway, Tues night is the sayonara party w/ the Kikai English teachers. Wednesday is the sayonara party w/ the people from my community center English class. Thurs is free but might fill up for me. Fri is badminton. Sat is ping pong. Sun is w/ the Harada family. Monday is Departure's Eve. Can't come too quickly for us, I think. Tomorrow we're sending two boxes via post back to the US. It's more than twice the price as a similar pkg coming to Japan from the US. Argh.

(I included this here pic b/c it's a good cross-section of all stones on Kikai. Everything here is made of coral of differing colors.)
Finally, for the wanderlust-driven, Hebrew-speaking romantic in all of us, I commend to you my friend Shay's blog wherein he describes his preparations for and execution of a hike along the Israel National Trail and other adventures.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Last day of teaching

I have just emerged from the safety of our bedroom, which is the only air-conditioned room in the house, in order to surf the Net a bit and stuff. I also ate popcorn, I must admit. I am duly ashamed.
Today was the last day of teaching on Kikai. I'm a bit sad, I guess. I have to admit that the Jr Hi school where I spent the last 6 workdays was a pretty fun place to teach. The teachers are pretty nice and the kids are quite fun. They are generally enthusiastic and they like to play soccer, as do I. Or I did, up until I twisted my already-aching ankle on Tuesday, which put me out of action for Wed, Thurs, and Fri. That was disappointing, since I'd been counting a bit on playing badminton and ping pong like mad until we leave, so as to make time pass a little faster. 'Cause believe me, it's CRAWLing.

Could be partly b/c I have a pretty exciting itinerary ahead of me. My rapidly-progressing hope is that I'll leave Kikai on 25 July by ferry, hang out all day in Kagoshima, take the night bus to Osaka, take off on 27 July from Osaka for San Francisco, hang out w/ my friends Roberto and Jess there and also see my old friend Damien from France get married, and then fly to visit my brother in Denver around 1 Aug. It just so happens that my parents and other brother were already planning to visit Denver at the same time, so we'll be together until we drive back from Denver around 10 Aug. So yeah.

Oh, did I mention that we're coming back to the US to live for a time? Probably at least a year we'll be back in the Norman area. I'm thinking of it as a furlough, but we have some issues we need to work thru that we can't get done from the mission field. JET didn't end up offering me a job, so that actually remains an option for the future maybe, but I also found a few other possibilities in Japan that sounded pretty attractive. And I have observed that I'm fairly bummed to go back to the US, so here's hoping this is only temporary.

Anyway, I have posted here the pics from my last day at Nichu Jr Hi; all students and staff ate lunch together and I got to give a speech. Mindful of the fact that this is Kikai and that I'm in some respects like the 1st bringer-of-Gospel-goodness to Kikai, I laid on the Jesus thick. The English teacher who interp'ed for me did a fine job though she fell victim to the common but annoying error of substituting "Kami" (god) for "Jesus" except for the very 1st mention of Jesus. I am very intentional, actually, about saying "Jesus" anymore, especially in Japan, but this sort of thing happens a fair amount. Well, what are you gonna do? Learn to make your own speech in Japanese, I guess. At any rate, it was a nice good-bye from them and they all wrote these funny little notes to us saying good-bye. I had taught several of them the phrase "You rock my pants off, yo" and one of them wrote it on his good-bye card. I taught them well, I did. Makes me nostalgic.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rented a car

It's late on Saturday night and I'm listening to the Wimbledon Ladies' Singles Final on webradio. I dig webradio. The Internet is amazing.
Nate and I are discussing whether Bono works for Jesus. Tongue is in cheek.

This week has been tough b/c Aub and I are completely unsure about what to do this coming year. It's funny; as time has progressed, we become LESS sure of what we should do - come back to the US or stay in Japan. So your prayers would be appreciated on that.
Anyway, during this tough time, I decided we should loosen it up a bit in the face of the coming typhoon, which I am hoping will skirt us to the west. Fortunately, it does look like it is going to move more towards the west. Too bad it doesn't look like it's moving towards Pyongyang. That would be great. Moving on, flowers were involved in the loosening up, as was a rental car from the place across from the airport. It was a small car but it had what I wanted - steering wheel, motor, potent A/C, and CD player. Yes, A/C was very important. So I got back from work, went to get the car, came back and surprised Aubrey, and then took her for a drive. We just enjoyed the A/C and the fact that moving around on Kikai didn't require sweating up a storm. We went out to dinner at the restaurant in the middle of the island and just kind of drove around and purposely got lost at night. This morning we went to the beach early and then came back so I could talk to our Jehovah's Witness friends. This time one of the original JWs came along w/ a Filipina convert who spoke pretty good English. We had another good convo and I'll probably go to the Kingdom Hall on Tues night, just for the hex of it. You know how they say you won't win over cult mbrs w/ just a few convos? True, but you do what you can. Got nothing better to do on Tues night, that's for sure.
Anyway, the rest of the day, we used the car to do some shopping to prepare for the typhoon (if it's bad, the stores will be closed and so will school on Monday). The rest of the time we just drove around.
Later we went to our friends' house to eat dinner and feed them some of my Rice Krispy treats. I didn't think they were all that great b/c I didn't put in quite enough cereal and the cereal was halfway to getting a little stale. But all present ate a ton of 'em so I guess they weren't bad.
Here's hoping that the electricity and Internet will withstand the coming typhoon. That's hoping for a lot but a guy can always dream, right?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Storm's coming

It's hot and muggy. And there's a typhoon coming. According to this site, it might hit here on Saturday. Man, I'm REALLY not looking forward to that. I've seen a few typhoons turn aside before, but I've only seen like 4 total that formed in the S Pacific and started up this here way, and one hit us and the other 3 apparently knocked Taiwan. Sorry, Taiwan. :-Today is Monday and I went to school today... just did two classes, and after lunch I was SLEEPY. Oh man it was tough. I hate it when I get all sleepy and I'm at work.
Before I got sleepy, I was out in the coolest part of the school grounds, in a breezeway where there's abundant shade and the wind blows nicely. There were some kids chilling out there, and I was sitting there studying vocabulary cards. All of a sudden, I am surrounded by 10 Jr Hi students looking down at me (I was sitting on a low bench). Not hostile, but it was weird. And so they asked me for my "yosoo" on the World Cup semifinals. Well, I knew France was in there and I knew they were playing Portugal, and so I asked them who else was playing. Incredulously, they said "Um, Germany and Italy, duh." Oh, sorry. ;-) So my yosoo, my prediction, was Germany over France in the final, since France never beats Germany. That satisfied them and it appears that I made the same prediction as most of them. So that was kind of funny.
Anyway, what else is going on? Still exploring options on next year, particularly in terms of seeking other English speaking jobs in Japan. Still don't know whether we'll be here next year.
Making cookies tonight, skillet cookies. Yummy. We have dates that we need to use and also some cereal that Aub doesn't like too much w/ milk but likes fine in cookies.
Not much else to say I guess. Sorry.