Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Registering in Shimonoseki

When we first arrived in Shimonoseki, we had to register as residents in the city. A group of 3 ladies from the church took us down to the City Hall and helped us fill out the forms, sign up for healthcare, and register our pregnancy. When we pulled into the City Hall parking lot there was a line of cars. We were told and soon figured out that there is limited parking at City Hall and the parking guard will only let in so many cars at a time. This seemed liked a great idea because when we walked inside there were no lines and someone helped us right away.

We registered as residents for 1 year because our Visas are for one year and then we will renew. We had to re-fill out a form or two because our names on passports and residency cards are in Capital letters and we wrote in lower case. It had to be exactly what was on our cards :) At the very end we thought that we were finished until they asked for proof that we were actually married :) So glad that I had brought copies of everything from home and showed them our marriage license. They could not read it and one of the ladies had to translate it into Japanese. They got confused with the date of application to marry and the actual marriage date. But after some explaining we got it all figured out. That was a close one :) They seemed welcoming and gave us a packet and guide book to Shimonoseki, but it's all in Japanese and we can't read it yet!!

Then we went to register for healthcare. There is a national healthcare program in Japan where citizens pay based upon their income. We do not know yet how much this will be each month, we have to wait for our first bill in September and for our cards to be mailed to us. 

Our last stop at the City Hall was to register our pregnancy. They gave us a little pink and white bag with various items inside. We were given a 'Guide to Pregnancy for Foreign Mothers' which I know means I am a foreigner having a baby in Japan but it sounds like I am foreign to mothering :) But this book was in English and is very informative. Also there were various advertisements for baby needs (once again all in Japanese) and a mother baby sticker which we think is for our car. If you can see in the photo below I was given a keychain for my bag that gives me priority to sit down on the bus or train. Which is nice because even at 17 weeks, I am still barely showing.

The last item shown below is the Maternal and Child Health Handbook. Mothers have one for each child and it has to be taken to all doctor visits to keep track of everything. They usually call the ambulance to take pregnant women to the hospital when they go into labor the handbook tells the EMT's how far along they are.

We will have our first doctor visit on August 31st. We were told that our doctor speaks some English, so we will see!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our new home!

Stephanie and I feel extremely blessed to have the type of apartment or "mansion" as many Japanese refer to it as. We were very fortunate to get into the building that we did with a great location for both groceries and work. Stephanie and I have both on separate occasions called it a hotel but I think that comes with the fact we ride an elevator up to our room and that we are still getting settled in.

We found this advertisement for our apartment hanging in a store window and thought it would be good to see the actual floor plan. If you want to get a better idea on how large the rooms are you can do the conversions to feet.

Not sure why but the building itself is called Global Shimonoseki- not sure what makes it global.

The building is 13 stories high and we live on the 10th floor . Because we are so high we have a nice breeze to dry clothes with and keep us cool but we will have to wait and see how that works out during the winter when its below freezing.

We have a really nice grocery store right beside our apartment- which you can see in the background. We still cannot read Japanese but I am pretty sure the store is called Red Cabbage.

A Wonderful view from the front door of our apartment. You can notice a large tree in the left side of the photo which is actually part of a temple for a Shinto shrine, of which I put a photo of directly below.
Literally across the street is a constant reminder of why we are here.
One of our rooms. Notice the floor which is called tatami flooring.

This is the kitchen with a few items that were donated to us from the church members on the countertop.

Here I am checking out the tatami flooring in what will eventually be a guest room/ baby room.

Several of the doors are made of a very light material that you just slide open and closed. It is actually quite convenient for sectioning of areas so you do not have to heat or cool large areas.

Here is our wonderufl new refrigerator that we got on Thursday. Very excited to get it, and Stephanie has already started to decorate it with our wonderful trash pickup schedule (we have to sort our trash, but thats has to be a separate blog.) I am pretty sure you cannot see it but Stephanie was very smart to write down in English what all the colors mean when one person from the church told us. 
Japanese style shower, which is actually quite spacious which I found to be odd when compared to everything else.
We got a really nice washer/dryer, but unfortunately we have to try and remember what all the buttons do since they are all labeled in Japanese.
Thats it for tonight, because I need to head to bed. Thanks again for all your encouragements, thoughts and prayers. We could not be here if it was not for all the people that partner with us in prayer and finances.

Friday, August 24, 2012

We took a train ride

Waiting in the train station in Tokyo

This picture gives you a good look at the city and farmland close to each other
The buildings in Tokyo seemed to just keep going and going

We got a quick look of Mt Fuji as we traveled on the bullet train

One of the more impressive rivers we saw during our ride

Japan has very little farmland but what they do have is very nice

A train station we passed along the way to Shimonoseki. The rail system in Japan is quite impressive.

I love the mountains here and they are pretty much everywhere.

More mountains with some farmland at their feet.

We started looking for our parking space and could not find it because all the names were in Japanese symbols. We were soon rewarded for our efforts when we saw the name Cook, and since it was the only thing in English we felt fairly confident it was meant for us. 

We will try and update some more as soon as we can. We are very busy with setting up our apartment and getting settled in. Always a joy to hear from you and thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pics of the last few days

Mountains near Word Of Life SYME

A rest area near Tokyo- very different from an American rest area. 
Enjoying some pre-frozen ice cream (comfort food) at the rest area

Had a Japanese style all you can eat buffet in Tokyo

Kazu Kato was very kind to take us to a Shinto temple and tell us more about their customs.

The largest wooden archway of its kind in Tokyo, and I believe in Japan

We are standing directly below the arch

Found a cool mask in our travels around Tokyo and Stephanie wanted to take a pic of me in it. As we walked around we were able to get a good grasp on what things cost and just how impersonal living in the city is. Imagine every day passing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people on the street and subway- not knowing any of them- not making eye contact with any of them- not one of them being a brother or sister in Christ. While we walked through Tokyo today I was constantly saddened by the fact that as we walked, bussed, and trained almost all day we probably only came into contact with around 10 Christians. Pray for the Japanese people that God will move and they will come to Him for their salvation.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family Camp at SYME Japan

The photo above is the schedule for the family camp for this past weekend. It was in Japanese and a little English so we really only knew what was going on when it was in English or if someone told us what to do. The speaker Randy Gilmore is a pastor from Indiana. He and his family are here to help with WOL Japan and SYME during a transition time. It was awesome to here preaching in English while at a Japanese family camp :) Kazu Kato translated all of his messages in Japanese.

Above and below are some of the views that we woke up to in the morning after the fog cleared and we could see this all day. It was beautiful in Karuizawa. 

Activities from Family Camp:

For lunch on Saturday we played a noodle game. You had to catch the noodles and put them in your bowl of soup. I did not get a photo of it, but water runs down the gutters and someone is putting the noodles in the water to flow down.

Amy and Kazu's nephew Kota enjoying noodles from his mom!!!

Amy Kato catching her noodles!!!

There were some of us that went last through the line and all of the chopsticks were gone so we had to use forks ;)

This was the end of the line; the little kids would get them from the basket at the end if they could not catch them in the water. 

On Saturday afternoon we went into Karuizawa and saw the first Christian church that was built in Karuizawa in 1906. We also walked around and saw some of the sights and shops in the area. 

On Saturday night, we had a campfire in the parking lot and roasted marshmallows and made smores. There were also little fireworks for the children. 

Overall it was a great weekend and we are very thankful that we had the opportunity to attend and meet many members of Kazu and Amy's church. We also picked up some Japanese words :) On Tuesday, we plan to travel to Shimonoseki by bullet train.