To be completely honest, I haven’t written about my Taiwan adventures because I’ve been trying to think of a really cool and witty title for my blog.  But I came up with nothing.  So, I’ve decided why fix what’s not broken and to go back to my blog that I started when I first left Amurica to go to Japan way back in 2009.  This way, if I get nostalgic, I can go back and read my old posts, realize how poor my writing was back then, and feel better that I’ve hopefully improved since then.

It’s been over three years since I’ve posted in this blog.  One thing I did notice about my old blog posts, was that I wrote WAY too much, which is probably why I’ve discouraged myself from writing more posts since it felt like such a huge investment in time.  But now I’ll keep them short and sweet.  This way, during my two year contract, I’ll hopefully write more than a dozen posts.

Today was my first day of orientation at school.  I got to learn a bit about the history and vision of Morrison Academy, which was nice.  Then we took a tour of the school, which has gotten me both pretty anxious and excited.  I found my office that’ll serve me for the next two years.  My first thought: these walls are really empty.  My second thought: I’m going to need more inspirational cat posters.

BELIEVE– mike

April 26, 2011

From April 21st to 23rd, I went with a team called “Hope Japan” to Ishinomaki to help with relief efforts.  On the day of arrival, our team of seventeen members pulled up to an elementary school where the refugee camp was set up.  In the gymnasium, there were about a dozen families living together separated by cardboard boxes.  During the three days we were there, we cooked meals for them, massaged them, cared for them, and help reconstruct their houses so that they would be able to live in them again.  We slept right by their sides in the cardboard boxes and ate the same meals as they did.

I’ll be honest with you; there were several times that were really discouraging for me. It was so easy for me to feel underappreciated for our efforts.  The two children that were always running around kicked me and punched me while calling me “気持ち悪い”(seriously, I don’t think I’ve heard that word said so many times in my entire life).  When I handed out bags of beef jerky that was donated to me, one person didn’t thank me but asked me if I had a beer too.  I never got to meet the family of the house my team spent an entire day to clean.  One family asked us why we didn’t come sooner.  At times I felt used.

Now that I look back, I feel like I was romanticizing the situation.  I thought, here I am as an American coming in to volunteer to help these people.  There would be banners, cheering, high-fives…you know, all the things you see in TV.

But once you turn off the TV, you realize that things aren’t like they are on the flat screen.  This world is full of suffering and pain and it was right now in front of my eyes as we drove past kilometers and kilometers of utter destruction.

I realized that most of my discouragement was a result of my attitude, an attitude expecting them to make me feel good about myself.  Yet my attitude should’ve been one of a servant, to care and love them.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand the pain and loss that they’ve had to experience over the past month.  Many of them have lost so much hope as they live day-by-day in empty cardboard boxes, losing everything they’ve had in a moment and now living off the charity of others.  But like it says so beautifully in the Bible, love is patient and persistent, always endures and never ends.  I’ll continue to go over and over again, no matter how long it takes, to share with them all that despite everything, there is always hope. And luckily, I have a perfect example for me to follow: Jesus.  He didn’t have to come down from Heaven, he didn’t have to be mocked, whipped, beaten, rejected, and ultimately crucified.  But he did it all.  For me, for you, and for the people in Ishinomaki.

I will be going again with the next “Hope Japan” team on April 29th, this time for five days, to continue with the relief efforts.  Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers that my efforts will be filled with love and grace.  Although I can’t convey that with my words, pray that my actions will speak for me.

On a final note, Mirai, one of the two girls that kept hitting me over and over again, wouldn’t talk to anyone after the earthquake.  To be able to hear her laugh and giggle now, even at the cost of being punched many times, losing to her in tag as she changed the rules over and over again, being called disgusting, was completely worth it.  Kids do the darnest things.

4 Things I’ve learned during mustache March:

1. Kids don’t like you when you have a mustache

2. Parent’s don’t like you when you look at their kids when you have a mustache

3. Sunglasses + mustache = creepy combo

4. Mustaches of love doesn’t exist (something worth looking into…)

It's been a good ride, but sorry mustache you're gonna have to go.

 

 

March 28, 2011

[Disclaimer: It’s been over two weeks since the earthquake has hit and it has taken me two weeks for me to fully process everything. What I’ve written here has expressed my struggles as well as my own heart’s thoughts. I understand it’s a little long, but I hope you read through it to the very end]

Dear Family and Friends,

As you all already know, on March 11th a massive 8.9 earthquake hit Japan in the Tohoku region. The current death count is around 8,450 and the number continues to rise as bodies wash up on the shore. Officially, there are 12,931 people still reported missing. Hundreds of thousands of people are left homeless in the wake of the earthquake and resulting tsunamis.

I want to thank you all SO much for your constant thoughts, concerns, and prayers. My heart feels so touched every time I open my facebook as well as my gmail account, as I am constantly sent messages of love and encouragement. As of right now, I am safely in Kyoto with the rest of my team. This decision was made after concerns began to arise over the recent events regarding the nuclear power plants. Although I believe the news has sensationalized the event, we have taken safety precautions in case the situation gets worst. Kyoto is over 600 miles away from Fukushima and we are a safe distance from the radiation.

Let me rewind a little bit. Just last week we ended our yearly student conference. Although I was reluctant of how many students would come due to transportation being close to hectic, I was amazed and humbled to see about a hundred students come from all over Japan, even one coming from Sendai. Since some of the seminars (and even one of the main events) were cancelled, I had ample opportunity to talk with many students and friends. My heart broke as I heard of family members being in Sendai, homes being completely destroyed, and lives that will never be the same as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis. Soon after, I heard about the situation in Fukushima and the problems regarding radiation. Things just seemed to be getting worst and worst and there was rumor being put around that I might have to evacuate out of the country. When some of my friends in Japan asked me what I would be doing, it was so difficult to tell them that I might be leaving Tokyo and perhaps Japan. Soon my suspicions were confirmed.

We were directed to leave for Kyoto from our leaders and we were not given a choice. My heart broke as I heard this decision, because if I were given a choice, I would have wholeheartedly decided to stay with the students and friends that I have met in Tokyo. In fact, in my heart I was seriously considering ways of how I could sneak away from my team so I could remain in Tokyo and perhaps make my way to Sendai (sorry if anyone from PSW is reading this!)

I consider my friends in Japan like my family here. I have shared with them so many occasions of laughter and joy that they have made my last year and a half in Japan seem like a minute. And at that moment I wanted to be right at their side with them during, probably, their most difficult trial of their life (and now that I’m 600 miles away from them, I can still recall one of the students saying “no, don’t go Mike! Don’t go!”). But as I began to plan what I was to do, I realized I couldn’t act so rashly on emotions. I needed to just STOP and pray. Although I so desperately wanted to stay in Tokyo, I also knew that this would take a toll on my parent’s mental health (they were urging me to come back to the US or at least Hong Kong). I finally came to a conclusion that I probably should’ve gotten to much sooner: there is absolutely nothing I could do to mess up God’s plan. Regardless of whether I leave for Kyoto, Hong Kong, or the US, I heard a whisper in my heart to have faith, faith that the God who made the country of Japan shake is the same God who sent His son to die for Japan. I’m reminded of a quote Mother Teresa once said: “God hasn’t called me to be successful; he has called me to be faithful”. I originally thought that going to Kyoto was an act of fear, escaping from the danger of the radiation and earthquake, and by staying I would be “proving” my faith. But a brother I just met quickly reminded me that I have nothing to do to “prove” my faith. Becoming a martyr doesn’t give you a badge of faith and unnecessary suffering is just masochism rather than faithfulness. God knew how desperately I wanted to stay behind, but I also know that God desperately wanted me to trust in Him. Plus, if my leaving for Kyoto was an act of fear, I knew that God would just send a whale to swallow me up and spit me back in Tokyo (it’ll at least be cheaper than taking the bullet train and probably more comfortable than taking the night bus.  I’m secretly praying for this to happen). So I took a deep breath, and began to pack.

I understand that not everyone who is reading this letter shares the same faith in God as I do, but that’s ok and I still have a deep love and respect for you. What I do want to do is ask is this: what do you have faith and hope in? We just saw last week an earthquake and tsunami completely destroy in an instant what a person may have worked their entire life for. For the last four months I’ve volunteered at a weekly food distribution to the homeless community in Tokyo. One of them was a manager in a prestigious Japanese investment firm, only to make one mistake that landed him homeless. Right now we are heading into the Sakura (cherry blossom) season. For a couple weeks these leaves will bloom, and when they all do finally bloom it will be beautiful. Yet it only lasts like this for three days until they all slowly begin to fall down, a symbol of the ephemeral nature of life.

One of the parables that Jesus taught is of two men who built castles, one on stone and the other on sand. In an instant, the castle that was built on sand, what was once a symbol of pride, was wiped away from rain and wind. For me, I have a foundation built on God, in hope, and in love (all things that, in my vocabulary, are synonymous.). This foundation of mine is rooted in things that nothing on this earth could ever take away from me, no natural disaster or small little mistake I am so prone to making. And when my life is over, it will be far from the end, rather the beginning of eternity. I will be face to face with God in an eternal party (and there will be dancing) where I long to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”

My friends and I have already signed up and taken the steps to head straight to the Tohoku area to help with relief efforts. While there are people heading the opposite direction, we’re going straight towards the exact places they are fleeing from. Everyday I read different reports of the varying dangers that might be involved, whether it is radiation or strong aftershocks. Some people take this as crazy, but do you know what I think is even crazier? To look at the photos and videos of all the destruction, to look into the eyes of the tens of thousands of people whose lives will never be the same, and do nothing about it. When I applied to come to Japan in 2009, God knew that this earthquake would happen. And so here I am. Many, many, people are wondering why this has happened; how can anyone even say that there can be a God amidst all this suffering? I can’t really give an answer to that as there is probably a different answer to everyone, but to just trust and know that God knows what He’s doing. And as His hands and feet, I am to do something about it.

My friends and I will be partnering with CRASH, a Christian relief group. Many of you have asked in what ways you can support the efforts in Sendai, and with a humble heart I’ll point you towards their website. I would also recommend both World Vision and the Japanese Red Cross.

Finally, my last comment will be a request. This all sounds well and good written on a computer screen, but I know that it’ll be a million times harder to actually go through with it. So please pray for God’s continued wisdom and faith, faith that there is absolutely nothing I can do to mess up God’s plan. Please continue to pray for Japan, that amidst all the suffering, they will remain hopeful. And finally please pray for my team and myself that as we go out, we will be filled with an infectious attitude of love, hope, and grace.

Thanks again and I hope to see you all soon.

Love,

Mike

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Acts 20:22-24

“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe, but he’s good. He’s the King I tell you”

– The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

baseball…fail

April 14, 2010

So some of you might know that I’ve joined a baseball team at the University I go to in an attempt to make friends.  Before I share with you about my first baseball game, let me rewind a little bit.

I don’t really play much baseball.  I just got into it quite recently.  I played a couple games for fun, but I’ve never played seriously.  My senior year in college I started a softball team where we were creamed (albeit the games were REALLY fun) each game.  Our first game we were mercy ruled in the 4th inning, losing 0-18.  Okay, so now back to Japan.

I joined a REALLY casual team.  They really just want to enjoy baseball, as do I.  When I joined their team, they told me their motto was “Let’s Enjoy Baseball!”.   They are a VERY relaxed team and don’t really practice much.  On the several weeks before our first game (the time we were supposed to practice) we had picnics and nights out together.  On our one and only scheduled practice before our first game, we decided to just rent out a gym and play basketball, dodgeball, and volleyball… essentially everything BUT baseball.  As a someone side-result of their recreational behavior is that they are the last in their league.  But hey, that’s good for me, I’m used to that anyways.

Since there weren’t many practices, I’ve been going to the batting cages.  There are tons and tons of them all over Tokyo due to the popularity of the sport.  I set the speed to around 75 km/h (approximately 45 mph).  I knew the pitchers were going to throw faster than that (not too much faster I thought), but I hit the balls pretty well, so I was pretty confident coming into the game.  Unfortunately, we were playing against one of the top teams, with the best pitcher in the league.  I was to play left field and was batting 8th in the lineup.  From left field and from the stands, the pitches didn’t seem that fast.  Then I was up.

I just let the first pitch go right passed me just to test out his pitches.  Strike one.  The next one I stared at again…in unbelief of the speed.  Strike two.  Then my teammates kept saying “SWING SWING SWING!!!” and I swung…really really late.  Strike three, out.

So yeah, apparently his pitches are at 120 km/h (approximately 75 mph) and up.  I went 0 for 4 that day.  My fielding was a little better, didn’t make any errors and caught the fly balls pretty well.  We still lost the game 1-6, but we ended the game all laughing and enjoying ourselves.

Next week we’ll be playing one of the other top teams.  Between our next game we have practice a bowling party.  Man I love my team.

1/2 of the baseball team at our picnic party under the cherry blossoms =)

By the way…I miss Matsui =(

pinkkkkkkkkkkk

April 1, 2010

Last year I went to Washington DC as a “Scarlet Ambassador”, tricking recruiting students in the DC/Maryland area to come to Rutgers, the school I graduated from.  During that time, I was lucky enough to see the sakura’s (cherry blossom’s) in full bloom in DC.  I enjoyed being able to experience a little bit of Japanese culture back in America, since at that point, I’ve been back from my short stay in Osaka for almost a year.

Now here I am in Japan, experiencing the sakura festivities.  And it is beautiful.  With sakura tree’s so prominent alongside the roads, the streets of Tokyo are beginning to look more and more like a nice fluffy pink cloud.  I can’t explain to you how happy I am, taking my bike ride to work and walking to campus.  During my first baseball practice, we played in a field surrounded by sakura tree’s.  It was just so beautiful.  What’s even more amazing?  A student told me that they aren’t even fully bloomed yet, only about 70%.  “Wait till you see them on the weekend” he said.

Last night, a couple of the CCC staff went out to the park for “お花見 (ohanami)”, literally translated (I think) to “looking at flowers”.  The brightly lit moon provided the sakura a nice soft light, making it look even more pretty.  Walking passed all the other drunk college kids enjoying their ohanami, we dropped our bags near some monkey bars and enjoyed ourselves.  The staff taught us how to spin around on them as we all laughed at the failed attempts of each other.  I’m pretty sure there will be monkey bars in Heaven too.

After a while, I got pretty exhausted and sat down.  Yusuke, one of the staff, sat down next to me and we chatted for a bit while gazing at the sakura.  He told me about how the cherry blossoms only last for about a week or two, and only stay fully bloomed for 3 days.  He said “that’s why Japanese people love them, they are so short lived.  It makes us realize how short our lives are”.  After the three days, they just blow away in the wind.  That’s his favorite part.

It’s interesting how much this applies to things outside of sakura.  We often settle for things so short lived, temporary happiness, things that once they are gone, will only make us realize how empty and broken we are once they are gone.  Everyday I see the empty faces of business men on the train going home after another long day of work.  On my bike rides home I bike pass men stumbling out of tiny bars, trying their hardest to stand up and find their way home.  Almost every week I see an announcement on the train of delays due to “accidents”, which is a soft way of putting a person committing suicide by jumping in the tracks.

But I feel that our lives are meant for so much more.  To be loved and cared for, to have a sense of purpose in life.  As a Christian, I believe that one day, after all the cherry blossoms in this world have blown away, I’ll be together with God, the creator of each and every sakura leaf, in Heaven.  There will be a huge banquet with (I think), an ice skating rink, monkey bars, and probably sakura too.  Except these sakura will last forever.

A little shout out to one of my good friends from college, Joe,  who wrote this song in college and I’ve tried many times (humorously) to recreate.  Fleeting Happiness

“Please give me eternal joy and not fleeting happiness

Don’t tell me to depend on things that will surely fade away”

He’s long removed this song from his site (it’s one of his older songs), but luckily one day in college while he was showering I took my thumb drive and stole a bunch of his original songs from his laptop.  E-mail me if you want it.

One of the roads I walk down on my way to campus each day, full of Sakura trees


Hamburga vs. Hamburgu

January 24, 2010

In Japan, there are two ways to get your hamburger.  It’s either “hamburga” or “hamburgu”.  They are totally different.  A hamburga is your typical run of the mill hamburger, like the one you would get at mcdonalds.  A hamburgu is like a normal hamburger, minus the buns, vegetables, and condiment.  Which leaves you with…a burger steak.

So why do I bring this up?  Well, hamburgu’s are fairly common in Japan which makes it difficult to get a real good ol’ greasy American burger, probably because they eat so darn healthy here.  So AJ and I invited two students over to our apartment for dinner and to talk about God and stuff.  But let’s focus on the dinner part, more specifically the preparations.

If you know me, I’m a really bad cook.  However, I’ve been trying to learn how to cook since it’s so expensive to eat out all the time in Tokyo.  I wanted to be a little ambitious and make a good ol’ fashion American burger for my friends.  I looked up a good recipe for a burger and got everything prepared.  After everything was ready, I proceeded to heat up the frying pan to get the oil nice and hot.  Then I did something stupid…really stupid.

So remember when I said I’m a really bad cook?  Well, I just typically think of what a good chef would do (probably thinking of Emeril) and I thought it would be really cool and dramatic (like on TV) if I just slapped the raw beef patty into the frying pan (while saying “BAM!”).  And I did.  And the boiling hot oil splashed everywhere, especially my left arm.  The oil did quite a number to my arm, I mean com’mon, it was hot enough to melt my carpet.

The scar doesn't even look cool. Can't say I fought a bear or slayed a dragon.

So lesson learned.  Watching TV promotes violence.

make a differense

January 4, 2010

2010. wow.

New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan.  Businesses normally do not close for any holidays, but New Years is an exception.  Even garbage is not picked up for a week, to give the workers time to visit their families.  We were warned by one of the staff that Tokyo would be completely desolate and to do shopping a couple days in advance or you won’t eat.  So, a couple days before New Years I went out and bought tons of food.  I felt like I was shopping for Y2K…but not.

Come New Years Eve, we find out that that staff was exaggerating a tiny bit.  Or maybe it’s just a sign of changes in Japanese culture.  Some chains would still be open and the trains would still be running.  So we decided as a team to go out to Yokohama, a city outside of Tokyo.  One of my teammates family came to visit from America and wanted to treat us out so we ate in the “Chinatown” of Japan.  Ate some wonton noodles, with a little japanese flair in it, just like how in the NY Chinatown you get a little American in your Chinese food (can I say General Tso Chicken?  Who am I kidding, that’s one of my favorite “chinese” dishes).

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I decided to wear flip flops.  And it was cold. real cold.    Yokohama is on a bay, so the ocean breeze made things cold.  We wandered around, and eventually sat inside a really pretty (and conveniently heated) port.  After defrosting my feet and resting, we headed out again with 3 hours left in 2009.

We still did not know what to do, so we just walked towards the bright shiny lights.  And lo’ and behold we find an out door ice skating rink.  It was beautiful.  It was a little crowded, but it was in such a peaceful area.  It was dimly lit with Christmas lights that would flicker on and off, some imitating the drop of an icicle.  After deciding (running ahead and buying a ticket) to go ice skating, we just went in.  First it was only a couple of us.   Then after good ol’ peer pressure, we got a bunch more to follow suit.  It was really refreshing to be ice skating.  Some of them didn’t know how to ice skate, but after a short tutorial they were up and skating.  Quickly, all the worries of each other’s skating abilities, and just worries in general, just melted away.  We were all laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  Just the way I wanted to end 2009.  I really think Heaven will have an ice skating rink too.

But it didn’t end there.  We couldn’t ice skate for three hours, so we walk even closer to the dazzling neon lights, and we found a carnival.  At this point there’s only 45 minutes left in 2009.  There was going to be a fireworks show and a countdown to 2010.  We secure a position on the stairs and wait.  We still had 20 more minutes left in the year.

Amidst being crushed by a bunch of Japanese people, I thought about my year.  2009.  wow.  I always had some year to look forward to.  I remember thinking “wow, 2005 I’ll be graduating High School and going to college”. “YEAH CLASS OF ’05 ROCKS!!! WOOO COLOR WARS!”.  Then after that I had 2009.  “Wow, in 2009 I’ll be moving into the real world”.  And here it is.  I’m in Japan.  Who would’ve thought?  Then after trying to think so more, 2010 rudely interrupted me.  All the lights turned off and some Japanese person said something trendy about 2009 on the loudspeakers.

There was a giant ferris wheel that had 60 spokes, so it was basically a giant clock.  And that was going to herald us into the new year.  60 ticks with some crazy flashy fireworks later, and I was in 2010.

So I guess this is the time I write about new years resolutions and things like that.  I told my teammates that I wanted to take the stairs instead of the escalator/elevator.  I broke that 2 hours into the New Years.

I’ve been reading a book about how our lives are essentially the same as stories, and the same things that make a story meaningful also apply to our lives.  We all live out stories, some more interesting than others.  That’s one of the reasons why we go watch movies, because our “stories” aren’t as interesting as the ones on movies (and they involve blue guys with tails fighting bad war monger people).  He wrote that “a story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it”.  A story involves risks, fear, failures, and a lot of pain.  We try our hardest to avoid these things.  And it’s true, I avoid taking risks because I’m afraid of what’s going to happen.  But it’s these things that makes life so interesting.  I realized that coming to Japan was probably one of the biggest risks i’ve taken in my life.  It involved a lot of joy coming to Japan, but also a lot of pain to leave behind the friends, family, and comfort I had back home.  My life, which used to involve school and grades, used to be pretty boring.  If I wrote a book about my life, it would probably have some funny little things here and there, but it would still be pretty lame.  But now I’m in Japan, and I want my book to be more interesting.

I wanted to explore Japan a little more.  I was always a little afraid because I didn’t want to get lost, miss the last train and eventually sleep on the streets.  But now I thought that would make for a pretty good story.  So I went to Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku, some of the more “interesting” parts of Japan.  It was fun, I got to explore the famous “crossings”, see some crazy fashions, and I even accidentally stumbled upon the red light district where I saw some really shady looking people.

I continued reading the book, and it also said that a good story always involves doing something good.  An audience wouldn’t care for the main character if he didn’t have anything good driving his motives.  Exploring around Japan was good and interesting, but if I made that into a story people probably wouldn’t care about me.

I was reading another book that shared a lot about caring for other people, especially for people, like Jesus, who “had no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).  As I walked around Shinjuku, one of the busiest wards of Tokyo, I saw people who had no homes to return to each day.  Even in one of the richest countries in the world, they still faced problems of poverty.  So I wanted my life to make a difference.  You hear that story again and again about the boy and a starfish, but it’s true.  The entire day I was thinking about that quote from Mother Teresa, the one about not being able to do great things, rather small things with great love.  I went to church, but was continually bothered about how I didn’t really “live” out a life like Christ.  Every moment of Jesus’ life was about making a difference in individual people’s lives.  He didn’t think “it’s just one person, it won’t make a difference”.  One of my favorite verses is John 11:35, when He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Two beautiful words.  So I made a decision and wrote on my hand “make a differense” (without spellcheck I’m kinda clueless).

It’s been getting pretty cold in Tokyo.  It’s no New Jersey, but it’s around 30 degrees.  I wake up everyday snuggled under three blankets, but i’m still cold.  We also have a closet full of clothes from previous STINTers.  They just leave all the things they  can’t fit in their luggage and throw it in this one closet.  So I went over to the closet, grabbed the thickest jackets I could find and threw them into a giant bag.  I felt like an asian Santa Clause.  And asians are always late, so asian Santa would probably be late for Christmas too.

The entire train ride to Shinjuku, I was concerned about all the things that could go completely wrong.  I didn’t know any Japanese, so that was one problem already.  I was stopped two times by the Japanese police for just riding my bicycle.  I thought so many things could go wrong.  So I turned on my iPod and prayed.  To be honest with you, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.  But that was just part of the story.

I walked around Shinjuku for about 2 hours.  The farther I got away from the neon lights, the shadier and more scared I got.  I ended up in the red light district accidentally again.  I must’ve looked crazy, walking out of the red light district with a giant santa like bag.  But, each person I met, I greeted with a smile, knowing that each one could secretly be Jesus in disguise.  I would open up my bag of goodies, asking them if they would like a jacket.  They all had the same reaction: they would look in my eyes really confused.  I guess it’s not everyday a foreigner went up to them offering them jackets.  Some of the friends I offered jackets to declined, saying that they already had enough jackets.  One person said “thank you” to me, after realizing I didn’t understand a word he was saying.  And just like that, I was out of jackets.

The reason why I’m sharing this with you is because as you reflect on 2009, think about your own story and try to make a difference in someone else’s.  It doesn’t have to be anything big, a smile can go a long way.  Now, this post is getting a lot longer than I intended it to be and my eyes hurt from staring at my screen for so long, so I’m going to end this a little abrup

What’s your job?

December 27, 2009

Today just started as an average day.  I left my apartment a little early so I can take a stroll around the park before going to the church service at 4:30.  I went to service then helped the church with their end of the year cleaning.  At the end they had a gyoza (japanese dumplings) dinner as a thanks for the help.  Sounds normal, but what happened during all this was absolutely awesome.

There was a new guy at the church, Sho.  He introduced himself as a professional guitar player.  He also lived in the same city as me.  So afterwards I went to him and introduced myself to him.  I asked him what exactly he did as a living.  “I play guitar for some famous people” he said in rough english.  “Oh, like who?” I interestedly asked.  “Oh, ummm…for Exile, and, um, do you know BoA?”  When he said that my heart stopped.

I tried to play it cool.  I asked him to tell me more about Boa.  He was the guitarist for her next album “Identity”.  He also had a copy of some of the songs on her album on his ipod shuffle, though not all of them are complete.  He asked me if I wanted to hear it, to which I calmly agreed to.  However, with an ipod shuffle, he had to skip through a couple dozens songs before he could actually pull up her song.  I patiently waited.  When he finally got it, I eagerly took the headphones and listened to a song that won’t be out for over another month.

He told me that he didn’t like the administrative people around Boa, but that Boa herself was a pretty cool person. He told me about how he got into the music industry and how stressful the it is and how what used to be his hobby is now becoming a job.  Pulling out his cell phone I saw pictures of him with some of the artists he recorded with; some of them I’ve heard of, some not.  After talking for a while about music and Japan, we exchanged cell phone numbers.

Since we lived so close to each other, we rode our bikes together back home. During our bike ride back, I shared with him briefly how I became a Christian and what I was doing in Japan.  He told me that he himself was a pastor’s kid and has been a Christian his entire life, though he hasn’t been able to go to church recently because of his hectic schedule.  When we arrived at my place, he thanked me for talking with him and helping him with his english.  And even though he’s going to be really busy with Boa’s next album coming out, he told me that he really wanted to meet up again.

Sweet.

woops^2

December 23, 2009

Okay, seriously.  Can you believe I was pulled over AGAIN!  At the SAME spot too.  This time, after I communicated I did not know any Japanese he called for reinforcements.  About 30 seconds later another cop came with shaky english asking for my registration.  I’m not sure what happened this time, I fixed my bike…kinda.  I seriously think it was because he thought I stole a girls bike because i’m pretty sure he remarked about my brightly orange bike.  sigh.  this just isn’t my week.

Apparently the blue string bow just doesn't cut it.