Saturday, January 26, 2013


I am lucky to have learned to sew and mend things from my father when I was in high school. I also got a lot of practice working in a costume shop during my second year at the Word of Life Bible Institute in New York. 

I brought a little bag of a few sewing items so that I could mend things by hand for us if needed, because I did not know if I would have a sewing machine in Japan or if one would be available to use. 

I was so excited when I was told that there was a sewing machine left by another English teacher that I could take home and use, in addition there was a whole box of fabric that was with it and I was free to use any of it that I wanted to.

This is the beautiful, about 40 pounds, 1968 Singer FashionMate sewing machine. Still in great condition and in English. After downloading the instruction manual from online, and reading about a few differences than my Kenmore machine from home, I was ready to sew. 

This is the box of fabric and cover for the machine.
I hemmed up some curtains that were dragging the floor.

I made 2 tablecloths for our table.

2 burp cloths for Samuel from extra blankets David's mom sent to us. 

This was one of David's blankets that I sewed a piece of padding into and folded it over to make a burp cloth.

I have a few other odds and ends that I made and a few items that were suggested to me to make for gifts for some Japanese people here who have helped us. It had been wonderful to be able to sew and mend things. I just think it saves money if I can hem some pants, or fix a button, or repair an item myself!!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Picture Post

These pictures are from various days spent so far in Japan. Some are even from our time in Tokyo when we first arrived here. They are not in any order, just downloading from our phones and cameras. Enjoy!!!

Our favorite toothpaste...
I think that we used every bit we could!!!

One day I heard children playing while sitting at our kitchen table. I did not know where the sound was coming from. I looked out through our balcony and saw, for the the first time, children playing on the roof of this apartment building behind ours. I thought it was interesting that kids play on the roof, but we live in a city and there are no yards and the closest playground is a bit of a walk away. 
Choices, Choices

Beautiful sunset in Shimonoseki

Another view of the sunset

In Tokyo visiting a coffee shop with Kazu Kato. 

All of the different kinds of coffee. 

The view from a very high building Kazu took us to in Tokyo. 

So thankful to get to spend some time in Tokyo with Kazu and Amy Kato and Naoki, Makiko, and Shuna 

Shuna enjoying her food :)

David driving around

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cooking Chronicles: Persimmon Bread

At one of our ladies Bible study, Marcia Haug had given us some persimmons. I had honestly never heard of or seen this fruit before. However, David said that he grew up with 2 persimmon trees on the farm. Marcia had made a persimmon bread for us and it was so good, when she gave us the persimmons I asked if she wouldn't mind sharing the recipe so I could try it out. She did and this is how it turned out.....

These were the persimmons that Marcia gave us, they were soft and ready to be used for bread.

I cut off the ends of the persimmons and the peels, this is what the inside looks like. I had to pick out each seed individually.

This is the persimmon insides after I took out all of the seeds.

These breads were so yummy. The pans are small so one batch in one pan in the states is about 3 little pans here.

Unless you can find things frozen, which is only at 1 or 2 stores that sell foreign items and it's very expensive, you have  to cook and bake by what is in season. I had enough persimmons for 2 batches, so after I removed the seeds I froze the second batch of persimmons. It will make for a yummy treat later on. 

David found some persimmons on sale for 100yen each, when shopping that week. 100yen is a little more than a dollar. 

David said that these are some of the biggest persimmons he has ever seen.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas and New Year's in Japan:

Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan because it's a Christian holiday and the religions practiced in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism. We posted about the difficulties of being a Christian at this link- Click Here -there is more information about Buddhism and Shintoism at the blog link also. 

Some people have asked what we do or how we spent our Christmas. In the U.S. whether you are a Christian or not you usually celebrate/observe Christmas with family or friends and most establishments are closed or have shorten hours. In Japan, it's just another day. The current emperor's birthday is December 23, and is celebrated as a holiday. 
December 23 was on a Sunday and if a holiday falls on a Sunday it is observed on the following Monday, which was actually Christmas Eve. So many people had Christmas Eve off. At our church we celebrate together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Some church members may be the only Christian in their family and it can be a lonely time for some of them. 

On Sunday, the 23, we had a big church service at our main location and had a covered dish luncheon. I love these meals because we get to try lots of yummy homemade Japanese food. 

All the shoes of those present at the December 23 church service.
There were 115 present at the service. 

Getting the tables set up for the lunch.

Fun in the kids room!!


The Japanese have a unique way of gift giving. Whether it's Christmas or not, if you receive a gift from someone it is polite to return a gift back. There are a few things to know about gift giving though. Marcia explained everything to me, which has been helpful. If you are invited to do something, it is polite to return an invite to do something or have a meal together. If I am returning a gift, I should not put it in a food container or bag that is re-usable because then food or another gift will be put into the container or bag, returned as a gift and the cycle starts again. 

Marcia said that we would probably receive some Christmas gifts from people at church. I prepared by making Peanut Butter cookies and putting them in one-time-use bags tied with red ribbons. My dad sent over Bath and Body Works Christmas scents antibacterial hand gels. They do not have scented travel size hand gels here and I asked for them for this specific occasion. When we received something, I had cookies or a hand gel ready to give :)

Peanut Butter Cookies!!

The hand gels.

On Christmas Eve, we went caroling at a local mall. 

The group

After caroling, we went to the church for a Turkey Stew supper and a 'white elephant' gift game. They play this game that you can steal a gift as many times as you want. It was a great weekend. 

After the Turkey Stew, someone brought these little cups with fruit dessert inside. 

Everyone waiting for the game to begin. 

The gifts.

Mr. Shimoda got some purple body wash :)

When someone opened a gift everyone would look very closely to see what it was. 

This man opened an apron. Someone took it from him!!

He ended up with a Christmas mug.

This green pillow was one of the most wanted gifts and it got taken and exchanged so many times I lost count. 

This little guy got our gift. It was a teddy bear/pillow and a red blanket. We were glad that a child opened our gift!!!

On Christmas day, Tony and Marcia Haug invited us over for Christmas lunch. We enjoyed spending time with them and their 3 kids, who go to college or work in the states, and Hilary, the other English teacher. We had an amazing lunch that Marcia prepared and played Rook and Scrabble. 

We had a great weekend and then enjoyed Skyping with our families in the states :)

New Year's is a big holiday in Japan. Marcia told us that many establishments, including Grocery's, used to be closed for about 3-4 days or the whole week. The grocery next to our apartment building was closed most of the week of New Year's and there was no trash pick up. 

There are many Buddhist and Shinto traditions celebrated here in Japan. One Buddhist tradition that is done on New Year's Eve is the ringing of the Bonsho Bell. (bonsho bell means temple bell) At midnight, Buddhist temples strike a large cast bell with a pole 108 times. 108 for each earthly desire that is believed to cause misery to mankind. We have a temple across the street from us and bells are rung at various times through-out the day. At midnight on December 31, we sat in our living room and heard it begin. We eventually lost count but we knew what was going on. 

Bonsho Bell
We stayed at home and celebrated our New Year's, knowing it would be our last one as just 'two' and not wanting to go out and get caught in any crowds that may be around at that time. On January 1, we began 2013 with a church service at our main location. I love when all 3 locations meet together at the main location. Each year a new verse is hung at the front of the church. 

In the upper left-hand corner is last year's verse posted at the Center location downtown, where David and I usually go and the Pre-School is located. 
The verse for 2013 is 2 Timothy 1:6 "For this reason I remind you to fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." NIV We were challenged to choose 3 people that we work with or know of in our neighborhoods or friends and to pray for them everyday in this upcoming year. To invite them to events, to reach out to them, to minister to them, and to present the Gospel to them. We do not know what 2013 holds, only God does. 

Pastor Tony left us with 3 challenges:
1-Love God more this next year
2-Give more time this next year for Jesus
3-Next year this time be ready to give a testimony of who we prayed for and what happened. 

We trust that ya'll had a great Christmas and New Year's. We look forward to what 2013 holds and we appreciate your prayers and interest for us and our ministries here in Japan. We will continue to update as often as we can about our ministries here in Shimonoseki.