the first week…

September 27, 2009

I can’t believe how quickly a week went by in Tokyo.  I’m sorry I haven’t updated any sooner, and now I must pay the consequences.  There is SOOOO much to say about EVERYTHING.  First, before I even arrived in Tokyo, the traveling there was quite an ordeal.  So here it goes…

Sept 20th. Trying to get to JFK airport at 3am is not fun at all.  First, for some reason the Holland tunnel was closed off.  Then there was crazy detours to get to the Lincoln tunnel.  I began to worry that I would not even be able to get into NY.  Then finally, we arrived in NY and thanks to my dad’s awesome navigation skills (without a GPS I might add), we were able to route ourselves to JFK, only to find that they wouldn’t start checking in until 4:30 and that we’ve arrived about 20 minutes early.  Huge sigh of relief.  My parents chilled w/ me, did our super long good byes, and then they left.  I was worried about my luggage, but one was exactly 50 lbs and the other was 49.5 lbs.  Another huge sigh of relief.  I get into the airplane and I’m not feeling too well.  45 minute flight to Washington DC (which I originally thought was Washington and I wondered why my flight was so short).  Then a 5 hour layover until my flight to Tokyo.  From DC to Tokyo I was coughing and blowing my nose like crazy.  Some around me even put on those crazy masks to shield themselves from my disease.  I didn’t know how to change the languages on movies and was stuck only being able to watch “Taken” again (awesome movie).  Arrive in Tokyo to have forgotten my address in Tokyo and the woman gave me a hard time about it.  Then I had no more space in my passport either, which she gave me even more hard time about.  She eventually put my visa onto the “amendment section”, not a real page in my visa portion of the passport.  Woops.  Hope that doesn’t get me in trouble in the future.  I met Jess Tekawa a girl who is joining Cru’s international staff and  took the bus together to Kichijoji to meet Cam, and the guys on my team (AJ, Ariel, and Evan).  Went to my apartment to meet the rest of my team in Japan (Lyndsey and Maria) who warmly welcomed me into my new humble abode for the year.  Yay.  Excited but very tired and just passed out in the living room.

Sept 21st.  My team brought me out to go exploring for my birthday!  And it was amazing to be able to explore Tokyo on my birthday.  We explored around Mitaka (the area where we live), Kichijoji, and Shinjuku.  I began learning about Japanese norms, especially NO jaywalking (and they really mean it).  Also, hardcore recycling.  I had to carry around my coffee cup for a couple hours because I couldn’t find any paper recycling, only aluminum and plastic.  They then treated me out to all you can eat Shabu Shabu (Japanese hot pot).  It was absolutely delicious.  Then went to the girl’s apartment in Iidabashi, where they surprised me with a cake.  Okay, there’s a story behind this.  After eating all you can eat shabu shabu, my stomach was not very happy.  I had to go to the bathroom big time, and once I arrived at the girls place I booked it into the bathroom.  I was sitting in their happily until Maria (our team leader) asked me how much longer I would be.  Awkward question.  Then I came out and saw the cake.  Apparently, before I came out, they lit the candles too early, and since they were trick candles, they weren’t able to blow them out either.  So they just kept burning and burning until it just burnt the cake.  By the time I was out, all the trick candles were burnt out (and the cake slightly burnt) and all that remained were normal candles.  Woops.  But HUGE thanks to my team!!! It made me feel so special =) I have the best team I could ask for.

Sept 22nd @ 23rd.  We had a slumber party at the Campus Crusade Student Center in Mitaka.  I was able to meet some students for the first time from Toyo University!!!  It was awesome being able to meet them and some of the staff.  I must say, the staff here are AWESOME.  They are super hilarious and I just can’t get enough of them.  We played a bunch of crazy japanese games (variations of the korean bunny bunny game).  They were absolutely hilarious.  Then Atsushi busted out the N64!!  I rocked everyone in Smash Brothers and then we played some Mario Kart 64.  Afterwards, Atsushi went even more old school and busted out the Famicom (Japanese Nintendo).  I watched him play some Megaman 4 and another game called “iiki” which was awesome.  I slept super early since I was still exhausted from the day before.  The following morning we played even more crazy japanese games, as well as “blockus” and rummikub.  Ate some awesome ramen that night.

Sept 24th.  I was able to meet the Tokyo West side staff as well as students (the side that I’ll be working on) at a fun little “kick off” meeting.  I was able to hear about some of the students summers and their ministry that they did.  However, the highlight was meeting Hyung-san.  He’s korean and only speaks korean and japanese, but was really excited to talk to me.  I didn’t understand a word he said except for one KEY part.  “Tokyo Game Show”.  I got SUPER pumped that I finally met a student who knew about it and would bring me along.  We exchanged contacts and just talked about how awesome it would be.  Oh, and I got my bicycle too.  Sweet.

Sept 25th.  Didn’t do much besides grocery shopping and being super super excited for the Tokyo Game Show.

Sept 26th.  TOKYO GAME SHOW!!!! AHHHHH!!!  Although the communication between Hyung-san and I were SEVERELY limited (my japanese is awful and he doesn’t even know any english), we were able to connect through our love for video games.  Evan, Ariel, and AJ tagged along as well.  I was expecting a lot of people to be cosplaying, so I wore my Waldo (or Wally in Japan) costume.  Didn’t see many people cosplaying while I was going there so I was getting a little bummed out, but once I was actually IN, there were a BUNCH.  And apparently there was a “cosplay” corner that everyone went to.  I went there and it was really crazy.  The creativity these Japanese people have are remarkable.  Saw a ton of Final Fantasy 7 and 8 characters.  Kingdom hearts and Metal gear solid characters were also big hits.  Took a bunch of pictures with them.  However, the real jewels was the event itself.  There was literally thousands of people at TGS.  The lines to try the games were almost all over 2 hours long.  I decided it wasn’t worth it and rather just explored around to all the booths trying to get all the free swag I could get.  The largest crowds were around Konami and Square Enix.  It was crazy trying to get passed them.  In a small corner was “behemoth” games (creators of Castle Crashers).  I got a poster of Castle Crashers signed by the artist of the game.  One of the guys from Mega64 was also there just chilling w/ them.  However, the BEST part was being able to see…HIDEO KOJIMA!!!  I can’t believe I saw him in person.  I didn’t understand a word he was saying, but it was awesome.  I got some REALLY sweet Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker posters.  I left TGS 09′ as a very happy person.

Sept 27th.  I went to New Hope church which was really cool.  I met Peter again, an australian guy who lived in the YWAM apartments with us last year when I was in Osaka.  Small world!!!  Then we had team meetings and such and got some great ice cream from Hiroshi.

I wish I could be much more detailed, but it’s getting really late and I’m getting tired.  As you can probably tell, my first week in Tokyo was absolutely nuts.  School hasn’t started in Japan yet so I’ve been having so much free time to explore, but once it starts on October 1st, things are going to get really busy.  I’ll hopefully post up my pictures soon before that happens.  I’ll probably upload them on facebook since it’s much easier that way.  In the mean time, please keep me up to date with everything back at home!!!

❤ mike

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one man’s junk…

September 18, 2009

A couple days ago I decided to clean up my room.  This is a big deal.  My room is normally pretty messy, but I wanted to leave it at least bearable for my parents while I’m gone.  I also cleaned up my desk.  And if any of you have seen my desk, it is one huge mess (especially the top of my desk).  However, to me, my desk is full of little gems of nostalgia.  On the back of my desk are pictures of me from way back when, ranging from playing hockey on the all star team with my cousin as a wee lad, to me in middle school trying to do “blue steel” from Zoolander with my friends that I grew up with.  But the real treasures are reserved for the top of my desk.  Now THAT is messy.  When I tried to clean/rearrange the items up there, I kept sneezing from all the dust that has settled from the many years they’ve sat there.  However, when I was rearranging them I couldn’t help but think of all the fond memories they bring back.  I have my birthday cards that I’ve received since middle school.  I still have my bracelet from senior year post prom (and the can of the first energy drink that I had to consume to stay awake when I drove back home afterwards).  Looking at my bowling trophies brings back my memories of my bowling club team “wumbo”, whom I did with my two childhood friends for three years.  I also have TONS of spongebob toys.  And I’m going to stop there, because if I was to categorize everything it would take me forever.  Whenever people come over, some of the reactions I get are “YOU STILL HAVE THAT??”  But the reason why I keep them is because I cherish all those memories so deeply in my heart and I want to save something from that time just as a little keepsake.

I also can not believe that I’ll be leaving (God willing) this Saturday to Japan.  I already wrote a bunch about that in my prayer/update newsletter e-mail so I’m not going to repeat that here.  I wrote in that e-mail about how I write about pointless and random things, so here I am fulfilling that promise.  If you didn’t receive it and you would wish to join my newsletter, just e-mail me and I’ll be more than happy to add you.

Some of the packing that I've done so far...

Some of the packing that I've done so far...

a glimpse of my desk

a glimpse of my desk

Oh and happy birthday to my uncle Tony and cousin Ashley. And congratulations to my Uncle Tony (again) and my Aunt Liza for their 30 year anniversary!! =)

*sigh

September 10, 2009

So just a little quick update.  I will most likely not be leaving for Tokyo on my original departure date this Friday.  I just received an e-mail that my certificate of eligibility to get my visa has been delayed.  They only just received it on Wednesday morning (apparently the rest of my team already has it except for me and one other person) and are express mailing it to me.  However, once I receive it I still have to go to the Japanese consulate in NY and beg them to give me my visa the same day.  So unless I get my COE by today AND if the consulate gives me my visa the same day…it looks like i’m not flying out on Friday.  So my departure date has been pushed back to probably Monday.  Sigh.

On a different (but similar) note, I’ve always prided myself in living a relatively stress-free life.  I tend to make light of most situations (even ones that probably shouldn’t).  One of the themes of my life is “carpe diem”, meaning to “seize the day”.  Because of this I’ve also prided myself in having lush black hair.  However, come senior year and all the stresses of trying to graduate that year (taking 7 classes in a semester) I discover my first white hair.  Believing it was just an isolated incident, I just shrugged it off.  However I looked in the mirror today and there it was.  Another white hair.  At first I thought it was just a glare in the mirror, however after I looked at different angles, it was still there.  These past couple months has been pretty stressful on me.  Having to raise support for a year and the thought of leaving my family and friends has finally taken it’s toll.  I just wonder how long it’s going to take before I look like my dad.

back in the day dad

My dad wayyyy back...notice it was relatively all black (even though it's a B&W photo)

dad now

My dad now

Oh, and on a side note: Congratulations Jeter!!! Man… I could’ve been at that game too…

=)

September 7, 2009

“Mike, I’m not sure if the deck can hold that many people, it might collapse” -mom

Wow, It was kind of scary to see so many people at my house.  It’s not very big and it’s definitely not suited for too many people.  When I checked the amount of people attending the day before my party on facebook, it only said 22 people confirmed I (although like 30 maybe’s) so I didn’t think too much about my house being filled.  Then when I got back from the Pocono’s the next day after a mini-retreat with the youth group and saw that there were then 45 people confirmed I was kind of shocked, but didn’t think too much about that number (just hoping there would be enough food).

Then Newman was the first person to come (and the only person who came kind of “on-time” according to the event).  Since it was just us, we went to do some quick errands and played call of duty to pass time.  Then Theo and Cecilia came.  Then Edwin.  Then Ed.  Then it just all of a sudden somehow multiplied until before I knew it, my house was packed.   The entire street was filled with cars and my deck was full of hungry people for food and my mom began to worry.  Thankfully, the deck held up and didn’t collapse on everyone and there was enough food.  We played ping-pong, smash brothers, watched movies, watched Christabella run around, ate cake, and caught up with one another.

So I’m not saying all of this to just prove how “popular” I may be.  God and I know how that’s not true.  I just wanted to share with you how happy I was that day to see so many friends before I leave.  I am so fortunate to have had the privilege to have all of your friendships.  When I think about grace, to have something I don’t deserve, one of the top things that comes to my mind are my family and friends.  I do so many dumb and annoying things that even I get so frustrated with myself.  And yet so many people came out to my party.  And it meant so much to me.

friendship-collage

– mike