New adventures!

The past few days have held a few firsts.  I finally got a bicycle so we have been riding all over the place.  It’s pretty exciting.  It was given to me second hand and so it was definitely in need of TLC but it pedals and that’s what’s important!  Riding down the hill from our apartment is actually pretty terrifying and I don’t quite reach the speed that Adam does… but mayhaps with practice it will get easier.  I’ve definitely almost hit multiple pedestrians, and once I fell off a sidewalk… while I think it’s true that one never forgets how to ride a bike, it’s definitely possible to be out of practice.

Sunday I met up with a friend of mine from Kenya to braid her hair.  Turns out I know how to do cornrows! That was pretty exciting, and slightly weird since I’m in Japan… that type of thing doesn’t happen much here.

Yesterday held a couple of adventures.  Because we don’t have a washing machine and we didn’t feel like lugging laundry up and down the hill, we washed our clothes in the bathtub.  I think it was successful.  Adam did most of it since I had to leave for work…

We tried okonomiyaki for the first time which was delicious.  What we didn’t realize what they used fish powder to season it.  Fortunately, I tasted it before Adam got too far into his… he ended up waiting while the nice man fixed another one.

Last night we went with the other new peeps to see “hotaru,” or fireflies.  I haven’t seen anything quite like it before.  They were a lot bigger than the ones in the States, and only come out for a short period of time.  They were quite magical.  Afterwards, we went to a little farmhouse for dinner and fortune cookies. The fortune cookies here are way more detailed than any I’ve ever had before.  It was quite a pleasant evening overall..


The News at 12

On the Job front, I (Adam Charles Palmer the First) after two interviews have found part time work at the International YMCA.  Before we arrived, one of the teachers injured her foot and now requires surgery.  A normally routine surgery, but because of the language barrier, she prefers to have it done in the states.  I will be helping to pick up her class load.  Some days I will be watching kindergarteners as they play for free time, other days teaching conversational english to adults, and other days working as an assistant for the four’s teacher.  

Currently it is only part time, mainly because of my visa status (Spouse Visa = only allowed to work 20 hours a week), but come fall, I believe I have the option of picking it up full time.  We shall see…

Over the hill

On Saturday we decided to take a hike up a trail that we had been told about to have a nice little picnic.  We had no idea what we were in for.  We stopped at the first spot and recorded part of this then decided to keep going.  It turned into a pretty amazing hike… I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  Video to be uploaded soon.



Concerning food

We have many more important things to talk about, but one thing that I wanted to discuss a bit is food.  We have only been here a week and have had many experiences with food. We’ve eaten Japanese, Indian, Australian, and American.  We’ve experienced a couple of chain restaurants, and we’ve discovered that it is very important to know how to read labels.  For example, I let Adam go get lunch at the store the other day.  He came back with what he thought was surprisingly cheap chicken.  We mixed it with spaghetti and bit in excitedly to find that it was rather rubbery and decidedly not chicken.  Neither one of us was able to finish it, and when I asked the dear lady who has been our translator what in the world we were eating, she informed me that it was chopped up internal organs.  That put a bit of a damper on things. Thankfully, other than that we have managed to avoid anything too crazy… Anyway, I thought I would share some of that. In the video below, you can see Adam trying out the McDonald’s french fries. Surprisingly, the McD’s chicken actually looks and tastes like real chicken. It’s quite amazing.

While we have eaten out a number of times, I have also been cooking quite a bit.  There are lots of premade packets with things to mix with rice.  I also discovered that I could make rice pudding with leftover rice, and it turned out quite delicious.  I managed to make naan on our griddle although it wasn’t nearly as big as the real stuff but it was still pretty good.  Aaand now I’m done for real.


All things new

Remember when you were a little kid and you weren’t always really sure what was going on or what to do or how things worked? That’s how we feel at the moment.  Fun new experience of the day… yesterday we tried to use the washing machine (see the video if you want to know what it looks like) and after being washed three times our clothes are currently being dried a little at a time in the drier.  I’m not actually sure if it’s working or not though, I have to go check on them as a matter of fact…

They weren’t dry… just hot and soggy… that’s ok though…

In other news, we went apartment hunting yesterday and found a place to live! It’s about five minutes walk from the university (up a really steep hill…) and the university will pay for half of the rent each month.  It’s a beautiful little place with an amazing view.  I’ll definitely be drying clothes on the balcony… I took some video of that as well!

As for the church, I thought I’d expand a little on how exciting it is that we found it.  Some of the things we were really hoping for besides, of course, the necessities (Bible-based, some form of English service or translating), we were hoping to find a place that would allow us to be a part of their music ministry.  Adam also really wanted to have somewhere over here that he could play drums.  On Sunday we were enthusiastically invited to be a part of the praise and worship, and the head pastor said that we would be able to come to the sanctuary any time during the week to use the drums, grand piano, or wifi! There are also couples from different walks of life and of different ages, they have a deaf ministry (Japanese sign language is pretty different from ASL but I’m pretty sure I can pick up a little bit), and they even have a gospel choir which sings in English and Japanese!  I got some video of that as well.  It’s pretty fabulous to sing “Hallelujah, You’re Worthy” in English while the rest of it is in Japanese.

This is pretty incredible to me.  I know that God gives us the things that we need, but it amazes me how surprised I am when He answers my prayers so specifically, especially because I’m not exactly a prayer warrior and have so far to go in my relationship with Him.  I hope that He is able to use Adam and I, wretched though we are, to do good things in this church and community because, as Adam said, this place needs a lot of loving.  I think that’s about it for now… below are more pictures and a video for your entertainment!

The Sad Truth

While talking with a family at our church, Lizbet was told about the immense depression that grips the Japanese people.  After walking around for a couple of days with that in my head, it became more and more apparent how true that is.

On our second day here, we wondered all the way downtown, in the middle of a bunch of stores, street vendors, and just crowds of people.  I had read before leaving the States that social etiquette didn’t allow much P.D.A. (fine by me), so to see a couple walking a few feet apart didn’t surprise me.  The distance between these couples, however, is much more than a physical space.  Apparently, the guarded emotions and demeanor carries throughout their entire life.  The formal hospitality and conversation are a carefully constructed wall keeping things out and in.

So far the language barrier alone has prevented any kind of deeper divulgence from anyone we have met (Japanese that is), but I would venture to say this won’t change too much.  Being introverted myself, it’s easy to see in others when I am approaching that point they don’t want to cross.  And while I’m usually content with the acquaintance type relationship, I’ve come to realize that making any kind of lasting impact on someone isn’t going to happen through that kind of guarded, almost insincere interaction.  Even a brief conversation I had with the university chaplain ended with an awkward, swift subject change on his part when things got even a little personal and religious.

While this is comfortable (for me anyway), I know we are called to go outside of our comfort zone.  It would suck to come 7000 miles just to find another bubble to hide in.

The Truth

I feel the burden of providing perspective for the sunshine and roses that the wifey fills this blog with.  Yes, there have  been answered prayers.  But there have been moments…these small realizations that have rocked me to my core.  

We have spent hours walking around aimlessly downtown, and during one such trek, it occurred to me…Matt Damon is everywhere.  Whatever that “We Bought a Zoo” movie is, apparently it resonates with the Japanese.  On a DEEP level.  But as much as love Matty D., I would gladly trade him in for Christian Bale.  But there isn’t a Dark Knight Rises poster in sight.  No Imax.  Not even a theater so far.  Just trailers on youtube…

Jarl Hill ruined “Your Mercy is Falling” forever.  There will never be a performance of that song to rival the jubilant conviviality he created with it at Bethel.  Many have tried.  I watched yesterday as one such hopeful fellow made his attempt.  A primal anger burned in my heart…not at him, but at Mr. Hill for setting the bar too high for any worship leader, myself included, to ever do that song justice.  Yes, worship is worship…but Jarl took the first fruits of that song and all else is a tainted lamb.   

One moment that will forever bring me joy, though, occurred as we deboarded the plane.  For the entirety of our 12 hour flight, a small Japanese child insisted on being a child.  Redundant yes, but his parent also insisted on letting him be a child.  Loudly.  Eventually even a stewardess came over and reprimanded the boy.  Five minutes later, he was back at it, jumping in his chair, wailing loudly, bantering on about nothing.  Or maybe something quite profound, I can’t say, I don’t know Japanese.  But eventually, near the end, I managed to catch his gaze.  And as he looked deeply into the eyes of a stranger, i saw a fear and wonder grow in him.  A fear I have come to appreciate in others. And all was quiet.