December 22, 2009

So I want to apologize for not updating in this as often as I would like.  I’m surprised to see on the statistics that people still visit this site even though I haven’t even looked at my blog in over 2 months.  It’s not like nothing crazy has been happening, rather the contrary…

Today while riding my bike I got pulled over by a cop.  He spoke to me in Japanese for about 30 seconds without a break until I awkwardly interrupted him saying “sorry I don’t speak any Japanese”.  He then continued to speak in Japanese, but this time with hand gestures.  I put two and two together and figured he was asking me for my license and registration.   I took out my ID and my bike registration and handed it to him.  After he spoke more Japanese, he pointed at what the problem was:

the reason why the cop pulled me over...broken basket

So apparently it’s illegal to ride your bike with a broken basket.  It’s also illegal to:

  • ride while on the cell phone
  • ride while intoxicated
  • ride while holding an umbrella
  • ride with someone sitting on the back
  • ride at night without your lights on

Fines are 20,000 yen and up ($220).  Luckily, since I was a gaijin (foreigner in Japanese), he let it slide.  I was the first person on my team to get pulled over by a cop.  Today was just not a good day.

and yes, that is my bright orange bike.  it’s easier to find in a sea of bikes (just a little).


prayer on an empty stomach

October 6, 2009

Today was the world wide day of prayer.  Our schedule was praying from 9:30am to 3pm, with a couple breaks in between.  The thought of me praying for almost 5 and a half hours straight was a little daunting, as the ADHD in me tends to make me a little antsy at the thought of doing something for so long (minus video games).  The icing on the cake (that was the worst figure of speech I could use right now) was that someone told me the day before that we were encouraged to fast during that period.  Although I was a little reluctant, I decided that it would be a good idea.

It was an honor and privilege to be able to pray for the needs of people all over the world.  It’s no coincidence that a couple days ago I was reading Luke 11 and the disciples asked Jesus “how to pray”.  And now I know why.  To be honest with you, I was a little nervous since we were separated into small groups and my boss was in my group.  I was thinking of how I could make my prayers extra fancy so I could sound super spiritual around him (I hope he’s not reading this).  But then I realized how dumb I sounded.  When Jesus responded to his disciples, He recited only three sentences: praise, sustenance, and forgiveness.  Nothing fancy, just cutting straight to the point.  And now I’m speechless.

After 3:00, I realized the stupidity of drinking two cups of coffee on an empty stomach.  One of the staff warned me, but I ignored her.  Note to world: caffeine makes your head hurt.

Now it’s 8:33.  I haven’t eaten for over 20 hours.  My head hurts.  I glance at my clock to see how much time has past since I last checked, and it moves oh so slowly.  I am so hungry.  However, amidst all of this, I am reminded of several things.  I’m reminded that a majority of the world has to go through this each day.  There are so many things in life that I take for granted.  I can’t believe that I’m complaining over not eating for a day.  I know that by tomorrow I’ll have a meal to eat and I’ll totally forget about all my hunger.  However, I just can’t stop at that thought.  Just feeling bad for them doesn’t do anything for them but just strip them of their dignity.  Then I was reminded of Richie.  I want to share with you about Richie.

Richie is a homeless man whom I’ve grown to love and care for over the past couple years.  The first time I met him on the corner of a street in Chinatown, I tapped him in the shoulder and offered him a cup of coffee and a danish.  And then we chatted for a little bit.  And boy did he talk, he kept on talking on and on about everything he could think of, so much that I had to stop him or I would be late for my appointment.  Then I began to notice him at the same spot over and over again, and every time I saw him I would offer an ear for him to talk to.  Over the course of our friendship, what I have come to learn is that other than food, what the homeless want is dignity.  They want someone who they can talk to, someone that cares for them in this society that has so blatantly rejected them.  I can’t help but notice the awkward stares I get from people who pass by me as I sit down next to Richie.  It makes me think, when has it become so strange for people to care for other people?

One day I saw him reading from the bible and it peaked my interest.  I asked him what he was reading and he gave me a mini-sermon on faith.  Wait, what?  A homeless man was teaching me about faith?  He shared with me about having faith without sight, just like trusting a pilot on an airplane, you don’t really know the pilot but you are still going to trust him with your life.  I’ve listened to many powerful sermons in my life before about, some from famous pastors, but his topped all of them.  His message was fairly simple, but all together beautiful.  Here is a man who seemingly wasted his life, at first glance has nothing in life going for him, but in reality has it all and is teaching me about faith.  And I was humbled

The week before I left for Japan I went to NY to spend time with my family, but I made sure to stop by Richie (my extended family).  I got him his usual danish and bottled water (it’s too hot for coffee) and told him I would be leaving for a year to Tokyo. Normally, Richie would talk on and on about his week, but this time he kept it short.  He just looked in my eyes and said “Thanks for everything and  God bless you”.  I have learned SO much from Richie, it’s remarkable.  I am not sure how he’s doing now, but thinking about his well-being just reminds me of what he has taught me about faith.  Although I don’t get to see Richie anymore (at least for a year), I’m just going to have to trust and have faith that God is providing for him.  At least I know Richie is.

Over an hour after writing, and now my hunger doesn’t bother me as much.

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

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!! =)


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.


– mike


August 30, 2009

So I’ve been meaning to put up one of these guys for a long time, and I finally had some time today to set it up…

As some of you know, I’ll be going to Tokyo for a year.  When I was applying to go to Japan, one of the biggest things holding me back was the fact that I’ve never been gone from my friends/family for more than six weeks.  Now that I am actually going, it really scares me to be away from the people that I hold dear to my heart.  I hope that this blog will be both a place where I can find solace when feeling alone (in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it’s still possible) and joy from sharing all the small little details that makes life so interesting.

So make yourself comfortable.  This is going to be a crazy year.

❤ mike