Sunday, September 30, 2012

Picture Post: Life in Shimonoseki

These are various photos we have taken since being in Shimonoseki:

The above two photos are the entrance to our apartment building.

There are 13 floors and we are on the 10th floor.

Our view from the 10th floor looking out of our front door.

If you look in the lower right hand corner you can see our parking lot where the car is usually parked. We are next to the white truck on the left side of the lot.  

The two above photos are our view from the balcony behind our apartment building. 

This is the entrance to the temple across the street from our apartment building.

This is the grocery store less than 30 yards from our apartment building. 
In Japan, there are many stores that are all in English and many that are a combination such as the above. But we did not know this was a grocery until we went inside.

Our parking space is a block away behind our building. 

This is the English version of the sign in the train station. It alternates between the English and Japanese.

This is a timetable of the San-In Line that we ride to and from the church where David's classes are. I work at the Christian Center which is near our apartment building but the church is about a 15 minute car ride and where all of David's English conversational classes are held. 

People standing in line waiting for the train. 

The train.

Us riding the train to David's classes. 

If you can read it the Priority Seats on the trains are for the elderly, those with crutches or crippled, pregnant women and those with small children. We sit in these seats when they are available.

This is outside of the Christian Center where the Pre-School is located. There is a group from South Korea of Pre-School/Kindergarten teachers that have come over to Shimonoseki to see what we are doing to get our Pre-School up and running!!!

This is the puffer fish. It is a staple fish here is Shimonoseki and the city is known for it.

This is the sign at the church where David teaches his classes. The gray house with the red trim in the background is Tony and Marcia Haug's house. 

This is the front entrance to the church.

In the front of the church and the Christian Center you have to take your shoes off and put on slippers. It is the same in homes and as I found out this past weekend in most dressing rooms at the mall. You have to take your shoes off before entering your individual dressing room :)

The above photo is the box of slippers that guests wear or if you don't have slippers at the church. I have slippers I brought to the Christian Center because I am working there, but I don't have any here.


This is not an uncommon sight in Japan, everyone's slippers they wear at church. These are all of the church members slippers. They will purchase a pair to use when they come to the church for meetings and of course, church!! If you wear socks you don't have to wear slippers but if you are barefoot slippers are a must.

The umbrella holder at the church. Most people will carry an umbrella even if rain is not expected to shield them from the sun. Japanese (women especially) like to have very fair skin.

The bookshelf at the entrance of the church.

The above two photos are upstairs where the church meets. 

David in his classroom upstairs at the church. This photo is set up for the children's classes. For the children's classes we sit on the floor. The photo below is set up for the adults with a taller table. 

Stay tuned!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Difficulties of being a Christian in Japan:

David and I had the opportunity to sit in on a discussion with some of the church members here at Shimonoseki Christ Bible Church. The discussion was about their difficulties after becoming believers in Christ. It was wonderful to hear many of their personal stories and how we can better for pray for them as they strive to show Christ in their neighborhoods and at family gatherings.

·      The primary religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism. Shintoism is a religion native to Japan that teaches that everything has a spirit. In Japan a birth is celebrated at a Shinto shrine, while funerals follow the Buddhist traditions. Below is a photo of a Japanese style cemetery. They are sometimes built in the sides of mountains to save on space and people are usually cremated with the urn at the cemetery.

·      One of the hardest things for Japanese deciding whether or not to accept Christ is to fully choose Christ and reject idol and ancestry worship.

·      There is pressure from family members and neighbors to continue to worship idols as well as the ancestors after the new believer have made a decision for Christ.

·      After accepting Christ and choosing not to worship idols and ancestors many Japanese Christians experience friction with family members daily or at family get togethers. 

·      For Japanese Christians, accepting Christ has to be complete lifestyles change not just a change in their Sunday routine. 

·      There are many neighborhood temples. The people in the neighborhood are expected to pay fees to take care of the temples. Japanese Christians have to make a decision to continue paying the fees or be different from the other neighbors and choose not to pay the fees. The church member who found our apartment is negotiating with our building so that we do not have to pay these fees. Below is a photo of the temple right across the street from our apartment. The arch is the entrance and then you walk up the steps.

·      Japanese Christians have to make a decision whether or not to participate in a neighbor’s funeral.  The funeral is a Buddhist style funeral, which entails worship of idols and possibly that neighbor. They often experience rejection from other neighbors for not attending the funeral.

·      There is something that is referred to as a 'God Shelf.' This God Shelf is usually a closet in the home near the entrance where idol objects and photos or relics are kept of family members who have passed. When a family member enters a home he or she is to give reverence to the ancestors in the God Shelf. Below is a photo of a God Shelf.

·      Sometimes the God Shelf is kept in a closet and some of these Japanese Christians have to literally and figuratively close that closet and choose not to participate.

·      One Church member said that she struggles with 'How to share Christ and not participate in these types of worship?'

·      Children of believers who have grown up in the church struggle also because it is hard to find Christians to marry.
·      They have to choose to 'put marriage on hold' and wait for a believer or choose to 'not wait' and marry a non-beiliever. One mother said that her daughter decided to wait for a Christian man and is married now and they live in a different city. Another mother said that her daughter choose to marry a non-believer and she expressed her heartache over that and how her daughter is expected to carry on the God Shelf traditions.

·      The Family God Shelf is passed down from generation to generation to show honor to the ancestors. The family is connected to one another through the God Shelf.

·      The daughter/daughter-in-law is expected to carry on the God Shelf and teach the children. One woman said that she was asked to leave the family by her mother-in-law because she did not want to carry on the tradition of the God Shelf. The mother-in-law took this as her not being responsible for the family traditions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cooking Chronicles: Breakfast

For Breakfast the Japanese usually have plain steamed rice, miso soup (which has green onion, tofu, and seaweed), broiled fish, sour plums; but many Americanized Japanese could eat any of the previous or a more American breakfast like fried eggs or hotcakes (pancakes). 
When we stayed with a couple from the church our first day in Shimonoseki, they prepared fruit, yogurt, salad, and toast. Pancakes, or hotcakes to the Japanese, are usually something served at supper and not typically with syrup, they will have butter or jelly on them. After we made a trip south about an hour to Costco we purchased a big bag of pancake mix.

*All prices are related to 78 yen per $1.00 even though the yen has been anywhere from 75-79 lately. 

The pancake mix was 858 yen/$11.00. 

That is a great price for the size of the bag. In the states if pancake mix was on sale I would buy it, but most of the time I would just make it from scratch with the flour, sugar etc. When we were shopping in Shimonoseki we found small bags of pancake mix and even smaller bottles of syrup. Syrup has a new name in our household ‘liquid gold’ because it is so expensive. We also purchased this at Costco.

Two bottles of syrup were 2776 yen/$33.00.
I guess it makes up for the pancake mix being so cheap.

Milk and Orange Juice come in 1000ml cartons only. Milk is around 200 yen/$2.50 and Orange Juice is around 130 yen/$1.60. 
We recently saw Milk and Orange Juice for a better price at another grocery, but we have to drive there, so I am giving the prices for the grocery right next to our house.

The photo below shows the materials needed to make pancakes.

The instructions were in Japanese and English but using Japanese measurements. Most cooking is done in grams and if you have a powder you have to measure on the scale how many grams of something you need. So compensating for the weight of the bowl I add the powder needed and that’s it. I take the bowl off of the scale and begin on liquids. I personally like to mix liquids in another bowl with eggs first because then if a piece of shell gets into the bowl you can scoop it out and no harm done to other powders or liquids. Liquids are in milliliters. I found a wonderful measuring cup that has cups and milliliters because I still think of measuring things in cups and some recipes I have use cups for measuring. So this was perfect. It is shown in the photo above also. I always add sugar and cinnamon to my pancake mix at the end before I cook them because I think it adds a little something extra! We have recently seen frozen blueberries so maybe someday if we get a good deal we may add some yummy little blueberries to our pancakes.

The finished product!!!

Besides pancakes we have been having eggs, cereal, fruit, and yogurt for breakfast.
The only cereals recognizable to us have been Kellogg’s frosted flakes and corn flakes and we also have seen the off brand of these two, which taste the same. There are other cereals but the Japanese don’t eat a lot of cereals cold like we do so we stick with frosted flakes and corn flakes.
Below is a photo two of the different kinds of frosted flakes we have purchased.

I unfortunately don't remember the prices for cereal but I know that a box only comes in one size and is more expensive than in the states.

Eggs come in sets of 10 not 12. They usually come in plastic containers and they insert a slip with the expiration date on them. The eggs here are very good. The photo below shows our egg storage in the door of our refrigerator, which can hold up to 16 eggs. I also place the slip for the egg date in a holder, shown in photo, so that we always know the expiration date.

Eggs are about 188 yen/$2.00 for 10.

Stay tuned for the next entry of The Cooking Chronicles!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

English Classes

Just finished with the second week of teaching English here in Shimonoseki. I am very thankful to be here and so happy to get started in this ministry. It's been a joy starting to get to know the students and in some cases the parents of the students. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be here in Japan.
To give you an idea a normal class I will give you a general outline of how they go. For the youngest kids; I teach them english- often with their parents in the room- for 30 minutes. There is a curriculum to follow and the lessons are very well laid out so we take as long as the class needs for each lesson. The last 15 minutes of the class we read a bible story in English and either a parent or a member of the church is present to translate and explain it in Japanese. For this type of class the children are basically studying the Bible for over 30% of the time and often the parents are in the room reading right along with the children. The older kids have 45 minutes of English, and 15 minutes of Bible and the adults have an hour of English with 15 minutes of Bible. The first week I taught a lady asked if she could take the English story Bible home, and the next week she came back with every single word we had read defined in Japanese so she was sure she understood it properly. Most of the students are unsaved and often this is the first time that any of them have heard any of the stories in the Bible let alone anything to do with the salvation message. Please pray for wisdom in how to develop these relationship with students and parents, for strength as we continue to adapt to the different lifestyle, and most importantly for God to draw these people to Him that they might know Him as their savior.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Cooking Chronicles/Grocery Shopping: Introduction

Cooking in Japan:

David and I have been enjoying going into the grocery stores and trying to find things for meals. Everything is in Japanese and expensive. We have had to cook and learn through trial and error. We have purchased some sauces to cook our chicken in that have tasted very strange, so we know not to get that one again!! Our weekly food budget has doubled from what it was in the states because of prices. We purchase based upon when things go on sale and the meal that we are planning on cooking that night or the next night. We no longer buy food once a week or once every 2 weeks, we purchase for daily or 2-3 day cooking. So we visit our grocery more often.

We sometimes don't know what we are buying. For example, we thought we were buying regular plain potato chips, David opened the bag and was overwhelmed with the smell of BBQ. I was overwhelmed because they were SO good and I got to eat the whole bag myself :) (OK, not all in one sitting, it was a small bag, I'm pregnant and still trying to gain back some weight I lost in the early weeks of pregnancy. I was 126 pounds when we found out we were expecting, now I'm back up to 122 pounds, Yeah!! But this little guy inside really does make me hungry more often than not. Last night I got up at 1:20am and made boiled eggs and then went back to bed.

We have been having fun though. I have been cooking most breakfasts and David has been cooking most suppers. He has always enjoyed cooking and now that he has the time I am glad to let him do it. He cooks and I clean up for most suppers. It has been working out great!!!

I will leave you with a photo of our favorite breakfast. We were thrilled to get a huge, HUGE, bag of pancake mix from Costco and I have been making these once a week. 

Stay tuned for more Cooking Chronicles from Japan with photos of things we have purchased for meals and prices in yen and dollars, as well as how we cook differently based upon Japanese measurements, and how we have set up our kitchen!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sorting Trash

In Japan, there is no room for excess. In Shimonoseki, we have to sort our trash due to different pick-up and recycling days. There are four colored trash bags that have to be purchased from the grocery and certain types of trash have to be sorted in each bag. Trash pick up is Monday-Friday.

Mondays are Blue- which is plastic wrapping/packaging and small plastic containers such as for fruit or the container for eggs which are all plastic, shampoo bottles and the lids off of soda bottles.

Tuesdays and Fridays are for Red- which is burnable trash such as food, paper products like tissues, and small box packaging like tissue boxes.

Wednesdays are for Gray- which is newspaper, magazines, and cardboard/boxes. There is not a gray bag we just have to walk these items down to the trash area.

Also, every other Wednesday is Pink-which is for plastic bottles, but don't forget the lids go in Blue :)

Thursdays are Yellow- which is for glass bottles and aluminum cans.

We have a wonderful calendar that reminds us each month of the pick-up or if it is a holiday of some sort the trash will not be picked up on that day. If we happen to forget what goes in each bag, the back of the calendar has pictures of what goes where.

Below a picture of the place at our apartment where the trash bags are to be put for pick up each day.