OneRepublic- Love Runs Out (Cover by The Last City)

So we recently made a new video and, while I know I’ve said this before, this is one of my favorites so far.  It was fun to make and put together.  It does a good job of showing who we are. Without further ado, here’s our cover of Love Runs Out by OneRepublic!

I hope you enjoy it!

We just finished up Golden Week which meant I had a couple of extra days with no classes. It was refreshing to practice a little more consistently and get back to a place of feeling comfortable with my instruments. I miss that.  I love teaching and I love my students, but sometimes I wonder about the cost.

One day, if we can make music videos and create music for a living with teaching being on the side, we will be better people.  I’ve been reading a book by Sir Ken Robinson called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.  It’s full of anecdotes of different people who are living out their passions and, while it’s not an easy or quick thing, it’s incredibly fulfilling.  I want everyone to be able to find their Element and do it full time. It’s idealistic, I know, but who says dreaming is a bad thing?

daydreams

He points out several things that I love.  My favorites: Intelligence and creativity cannot be put in boxes.  Intelligence is not only in reasoning and math, creativity is not only in the fine arts or creative writing.  They work together in different combinations in every person and, when allowed, make beautiful things.

I’ve been challenged to find ways to be creative and intelligent in the things that I enjoy doing instead of trying to do things that I think are creative and intelligent just so that I can say I’m being creative and intelligent (Yes, word games, I’m looking at you).

Anyways, another post to come soon on that whole balance thing that I was obsessed with at the beginning of the year. It’s related to this in a lot of ways but I have to go back to the administrative tasks that seem to consume my non-teaching times (Challenge time, how can I make recording attendance creative?)

Until the next time!

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Oh hey, welcome to 2014!

As I reflect back on the past year, I realize that my blogging career probably won’t be taking off anytime soon… That being said, I would like to start blogging more and have made it a goal to blog at least twice a month.  We’ll see how that goes… So along with a new year comes some updates!

I believe that I shared our new website before. We have both been blogging over on that side as well as our new Hubpages site. Our goal is to slowly create a larger and larger web presence. We’ve also been adding to our Youtube, tumblr, twitter, and Facebook accounts.

So here’s what I’m thinking for the new year. To make it better, I have goals set.  They’re small daily goals as opposed to really huge ones, though.  I saw a create idea for calendar check lists that basically gives you a visual to motivate you to complete small things each day.  I have one for 15 minutes each of language learning, quiet time, exercising, and working on music.  I also have plans to blog more, read more, create more, and promote more.  I’m also doing a month long health challenge with some friends that Adam and I did last year. I’m pretty stoked for it! All this productivity means less time for time wasting!

So while of course taking care of my body and becoming fluent in Japanese (ha!) are important, my spiritual life is definitely of greatest importance and one of the parts of my life that I have tried to take the most time to reflect on this year.  One of the verses I have been reflecting on as I begin the new year is 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  Then today I read a couple of things that I really want to take in to the new year with me. The first is from Matthew 11:27-30.  Three sections that seem kind of disconnected when read on the surface are really well connected when taken deeper.  The first discusses things being hidden from the wise and revealed to children.  The second discusses knowing God through Jesus.  These contrast head and heart knowledge of God.  While both important, heart knowledge is necessary for the third part, which is coming to Jesus completely openly where He offers to give us peace and rest. But until we are willing to drop our pretensions and assumed knowledge of him, until we can come to Him like children, we won’t be able to fully come to Him.

Speaking of dropping pretensions, I read a great post today by John Piper, “Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses.”  It encouraged me to drop the facade of strength that I have so that I can fully allow Christ to work His plan through my problems and weaknesses. That’s good for me to remember.  One of these days I’ll get it. Anyways, have a great New Year!

Thailand and other things

I apologize for not updating sooner, we have been staying really busy with music and, I am excited to say, are almost ready to release our new EP along with some other cool things!
As you know, I recently went with a group from my school to Thailand. It was a wonderful experience and I’m hoping to get some of the pictures up on Facebook soon! I was with a group of 7 students and one other leader.  We travelled first to Bangkok where we got to see first hand some of the issues that go along with poverty and other social problems.  We visited a center called the Mercy House, a community center and orphanage that specifically reaches out to families that are effected by AIDs. They also have after school programs and supplementary education programs that help keep children off the street and get them back in school.

One of the other really significant organizations that we visited was the Zero Baht shop.  This was a place built in a community that had been living under a bridge but then was displaced by the government to a patch of land outside the city.  One man in the community saw the need for better food, education, etc.  He also saw the huge amount of garbage that was building up in the community. So he created a system that basically allowed people to bring their garbage to this store and exchange it for credit.  It was then built up more to include a community garden where community members could bring organic waste and exchange it for produce and eggs.  This system has grown and ended up working out really well.  The people who run the store have the garbage collection down to a fine art.  They separate the garbage so that they can resell it to the recycling centers.  Because they separate it first, they are able to get more money for their labor. They have also found ways to make handicrafts out of garbage that can’t be recycled or isn’t worth as much. For example, to make a profit off of magazines, they have to collect a whole bunch of them.  Instead, they found a way to make paper beads out of those magazines and now are able to sell jewelry for a much higher price.  The money they make goes towards buying goods to stock the shop and also towards the community.  They place a huge emphasis on education.  It was so encouraging to see that this organization was completely run by the community. They had no government help or involvement and they want to keep it that way.  This is a very sustainable, effective model that can be taken and used in other poverty-stricken communities.

The majority of our time in Thailand was spent in the northern part of the country in an area called “Phayao.”  We stayed at the Phayao Center, a YMCA shelter for children who are at risk of being trafficked. The gravity of what these children have gone through hit us almost immediately.  Not only were we asked to not take pictures of individual children or of one of us and only one child, we were asked not to post any of the children’s pictures on Facebook or other social media sites (hence the lack of children for a lot of my soon to be on Facebook Thailand album).  The time that we spent there was incredibly insightful and educational.  We learned a lot about human trafficking as well as the individual stories of some of the children.  To keep it short, most of the children were girls who came from families in poverty. Many had family members who were in the sex industry and were at risk of being kidnapped by neighbors, friends or even parents and sold.  While we learned a lot that made us incredibly sad, we had many joyful times as well.  We were able to experience cultural nights completely planned by the children. We also created one for them which they absolutely loved. My students worked hard and played hard and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I think that they really grew a lot.  We built the concrete floor of a pig house and let me tell you, it was really hard work! We carried gravel and sand back and forth in bucket lines, mixed concrete by hand and then moved that in the buckets to the pig house area.  Despite the two days of working in the hot sun with really sore muscles, there was not a single complaint.  On the last night, the children planned a going away ceremony and from what we were told, it was better planned and the children practiced harder for it than any other past group.  We were incredibly honored and by the end, almost everyone was in tears. The boys were the only ones who hardly showed any emotion.  For them it was more a “Really… is this really happening now?”  They were good sports.

Of course while we were there we were able to experience a lot of the culture.  We visited a really strange temple on the last day which there are lots of pictures of.  It was built pretty recently and is not very conventional. On the inside of the temple (where we weren’t allowed to take pictures) various cultural symbols from around the world were painted on the walls. My guess is that they were meant to illustrate the worldly pleasures that tie us down.  I haven’t ever seen Spiderman or Batman put in that context before.  It was quite interesting.  We also experienced a lot of food.  By the end, I was finally used to it. The spiciness was often more than I could handle, and I think my body was pretty annoyed with me because of the lack of sleep and stress I had put it through the couple of months beforehand.  We were also able to visit a Thai museum and see a lot of interesting cultural things and hear the history of the country.

Overall, the experience was wonderful, the people were lovely, sweet and kind.  I was glad to get back to Japan and the cleanliness, safety and order that comes with it.  However, I was deeply impacted by my trip to Thailand and am hoping to go back again in the future!

Thanks for reading all of that, for something a little more fun, watch our first installment of the EP promotion! It’s a video for our song “Erasing the Ending.” I hope you enjoy it!

Thoughts on Marriage

Since being married, I’ve learned a lot. Being married and in a foreign country adds pressure to the cooker that is a long-term, committed relationship. One of the things I’ve been realizing more and more is that marriage, I think more than almost anything, is about knowing and being known. It is a beautiful reflection of our relationship with God in that those innermost places that you don’t even know exist are slowly revealed over time. Unfortunately I’ve found that those places are pretty ugly (mostly Adam. just kidding…). But through knowing and being known we feel more and more comfortable revealing more. I think that if I had learned all Adam’s ugly at once before we got married, I would have run as fast as I could the other way, and vice versa. It’s gotta be sloooow… but it’s empowering in a way. Being known gives an accountability not possible in any other situation, to know that this other person that you love deeply knows an ugly part of you is huge motivation for trying to change it.
So then we “change” over and over, thinking we’ve leveled up and finished dealing with a problem that keeps coming up because really we’re exactly like the child who’s too young to realize that just because he can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. Maybe one day we’ll figure it out. In the meantime, we will continue to grow and to know each other.
This marriage thing is hard.

In other news, we have new videos up at http://www.youtube.com/thelastcityband! Enjoy!

Getting Serious

We’re getting really into music, and we’ve been putting a lot of work into trying to produce good audio and video! Of course we are learning as we go, so we’ve definitely got a long ways before we’re pros at it, but that goal is definitely not out of reach. Here’s our latest video! Enjoy!

Justin Bieber – Bad Day (From Heartbreaker – Guitar and Violin Cover by The Last City)

Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy ( Acoustic Guitar, Violin, Piano ) Cover by The Last City

 

Who doesn’t love karma?

Ok I don’t believe in karma, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend.  We have a couple of updates! First, our new website, http://www.thelastcityformiles.com, is updated and awesome!

Second, check out the OneRepublic – Counting Stars, Violin and Guitar Cover by The Last City!!

Third, I can finally post some video footage from our trip to Namibia. There will be more! This is from a really nice little charter cruise we did one morning with Catamaran Charters.

Fun Facts:
There are more seals in Namibia than people. About 2.5 million compared to 2.2 million.
Oysters in this part of the ocean grow over twice as fast as normal oysters because of the plankton rich Benguela current that runs through this area.
The dolphins are Benguela dolphins, the second smallest dolphins in the world.

Enjoy!

Praise and Worship (Guest post by Adam Palmer)

Wow, it has been a while since we posted.  And this will be short and sweet.  Recently our church started recording and posting praise and worship, and once or twice a month, Lizbet and I lead.  Unfortunately she didn’t bring her violin last Sunday, so this is just myself and a few of the regulars at church.

Long story short, back in November one of our pastors, Pastor Kris, gave a sermon on the Israelites through one of the minor prophets (neither he nor I could remember the exact one…) and ended it with a brief challenge that not using our gifts for God’s glory is a sin.  So, through the conviction of the sermon and the challenge at the end, I went home and wrote a song, essentially from the perspective on the Israelites, who obviously strayed from God in major ways and felt His wrath as well as His grace.  Hope you enjoy…it begins at 8:00

Lord I have been surging deep into your fire
Pushing through the smoke and ash of everything I once desired
Cause there’s forgiveness in the very hand that struck me
Even for the lost, forgotten, you promised an end is coming

I’ve felt your mercy
But I’ve watched you destroy
I sowed in tears but, I’ll reap with joy

When I see your glory

Every shadow proves somewhere a light is shining
You were there til roads untraveled were nothing but a thought behind me
Lord, when I remember how eagerly you bore my sickness
I am crippled by the shame of how I could be so indifferent

When I’ve felt your goodness
And relentless grace
But my disillusion, will be replaced

When I see your glory

And when I’ve forgotten everything you did to tell me
I can never be more lost then when I try to prove you’ve failed me
And when I have questioned every single word about you
I still know there’s nothing for me, if I try to live without you

So I will scream your glory