Thursday, March 31, 2011

Japanese Lessons

Honestly, we're always so tired by the time Thursday night comes....but I'm always glad after we've spent time with Akikosan.  We continued working on Emergency type words...things that it may be good to know like "tsunami kikenn" or "tsunami shiji" or "genn patsu bakuhatsu".....


We made some  orizuru (cranes). Akikosan told us when someone is sick or there is a disaster they make sennba zuru (1,000 cranes) which have their "negai to inori" (wish and prayers) for "heiwa to kibou" (peace and hope) and they send them to  afflicted ones. Come to think of it, it's not much different than the prayer quilts that some tie, praying with each knot.....she had us make cranes....and we learned...

Japan would be in trouble if her hope depended on US making 1,000 cranes (of course they believe the hope is in the wishes and prayers - so if we prayed with each crane....may be a good prayer prompt?)

Our homework is to write down the names of each of these animals before we eat them.....I had a bit of trouble telling the hippos from the squirrels (the squirrels have bangs LOL). 
 

I purchased some starter pots and seeds. I've been waging an internal debate over our gardening plans this year. We did some container planting last year and it really worked well. I had planned to double or triple the amount of containers this year. Then rumors began to fly....and continue to fly...will I be here to harvest the pots? Should we take a chance on wasting money? I think getting outside and planting something, having something to tend for and look forward too would be a good thing....the girls have been asking to plant some flowers.....Should we spend our summer in concern that we may be evacuated? Frankly, this cool down process at the reactor is going to take a LONG time - though American's like things to move quickly. The Japanese are saying the best case scenario is that it will take 2 - 3 YEARS to cool down....and maybe 20 - 30 years.....I don't think we're in immediate danger, unless it becomes a political hot potato to keep military families over here...to plant or not to plant??????


Akikosan helped me decipher the maps and time schedules on the seed packets. We agreed if our family is forced to evacuate (the only way we plan to leave at this point) her parents/family will take all our containers of produce....Now we have a REALLY good reason to go ahead and plant.....big...because we can give it away to our Japanese friends if we get evacuated and it won't be a bit dishonorable for them to accept it as they'll be helping us out. 

For the first time ever I'm really starting to wish we could be done with the military and moving on into civilian ministry. I wish we could give our undivided attention to learning Japanese, building relationships, offering aide.  I wish we had the freedom to simply move or stay where we felt God would have us move or stay...ah well...for now I'll plant some seedlings and pray we are here for a good long time.  I'll be content where God has placed us and remind myself that if God wants us somewhere, we'll get there. 


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Fun Sights in Tokyo

Susane, Erika and I took advantage of our long wait in Tokyo to explore the area one GORGEOUS spring day. We found it hard to believe 5 inches of snow had fallen in Misawa the night before. We WANTED to be home, but had been told nothing more would happen that day - so we walked and walked.

This sign made all of us smile - Never heard of a French Restaurant named.....

These photos made me remember Darshia and all my other Curves friends. 


And who wouldn't want to get their hair done at shop named....

I just thought this building was interesting. 

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Did It....

Michael and Jared rode bikes home today. They enjoyed the exercise and I enjoyed not having to wait around base until it was time for them to come home! Today was a full day....PWOC Bible studies, a vote for the new local board, and then a retreat team meeting after the study. All good - Semper Gumby!


I spent several hours trying to get a PERSON to talk too about my airline tickets for next week. We've decided I will not be flying to TX for PWOCI Train the Trainers. The situation in Japan is still far to fluid for me to take the chance of being out of the country when I need to be HERE....and I don't want to take the chance of not being able to get back home again once out of the country. Honestly, I'd thought the reactors would be under control or not...and I'd either be evacuated or have 100% confidence that there was no impending evacuation. We just can't tell.  So....I keep trying to reach a person from the online office where I booked my tickets....I have a bad feeling about this. 


Rather late in the day we gave the pressure cooker a try. I wanted Michael home for my first attempt. He had a great time playing nuclear scientist and letting pressure release etc as it cooled down. 



We made a roast...let it warm while I made garlic mashed potatoes in FIVE minutes. I think I'm going to like this little pot. Shoot, I can do squash in 10 min - that's faster than the microwave and no extra radiation. I like it. 

Someone snapped this photo at some point this evening......not much to report...we continue to discuss local news and world news...we continue to wonder what our spring and summer will look like...and we continue that Someone far bigger than us has a plan. 


I have a plan tomorrow to support our local economy....guess what it may be? 
Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Neighbor Sighting


Zander ran in with this and said, "The Japanese lady gave this me and told me thank you for staying!" Wow - now THAT is the sort of pick me up a person needs after dealing with airlines all day trying to get money back....yep...I may never fly again. I'll stay right here in my civil, polite part of the world. ::snort:: 


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Science Gone Wacky

Science....science.....the kids did this thing with an egg inside a plastic egg. It was to show how fragile your brain is and how your brain is protected. They were to take two eggs and put them in the plastic eggs. One with no cushion and one cushioned with honey. 


The first one had no cushion. They dropped it as instructed and were told it would splatter. It didn't. It was fine. 


Feeling rather cocky, they then added the honey to the second egg.  They were told it wouldn't break due to the honey.....




You guessed it!

I think we'll stick to trying to find the seismograph and Geiger counter instead.....real life science that's what we need. ::snort:: 


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Would YOU Do?

If you looked up Sunday a.m. and saw THIS in the pew next to you....

You can't really see it all in the photo. Zander cut his hair before church Sunday a.m. and wore a hat until right before church....yep, uneven front, cut around the ears, hacked at the neck.....

Why? The hair was touching his ear, neck and forehead.  This is what happens with Sensory Issues if Mom doesn't stay engaged. Though I HAD asked him if he wanted me to cut it about a week ago. 

Today, I did my best to even it up - Michael thinks we may need to buzz it - I'm wondering if we can wait it out.  

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Newest Human Video

Part of Misawa's youth human video team, ALIVE, led us into worship yesterday with this....



The big candle has three parts and represents God/Trinity. Arielle is the middle girl. I sure hope this works this time.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

You Know You're Conserving Energy When:


Or so....


11 - A candle light dinner has NOTHING to do with romance

10 - The egg timer tells you your bath is over

9 - Puzzles, games and reading replace wii, movies and cyber surfing

8 - You’re grilling in 6 inches of snow

7 - The kids ask, “Which load of laundry are we on today?”

6 - The honey and butter are solid on your counter

5 - You can see your breath when you step out of the living room

4 - Everyone stands around the stove while you’re cooking dinner

3 – Solar Lanterns become your living room light and glow sticks become your night lights

2 - You can’t resist putting your hands in the oven when you take out the weekly bread baking

And the number one way you know you’re conserving energy?

 1 -  It takes nerves of steel to sit your bum on the toilet seat


Please - add to the list. LOL 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Then and Now

The last time I'd gone to our beach was when we took Carol out looking for sea glass. That was a fun day. I loved sharing our special beach with Carol, a special friend. Fun to connect a past assignment with a current assignment. 



On our way home for church today, Mike pulled in to Kaihohen (Momoishi Beach area)...there is yellow tape up so you can no longer park in the parking lot....I'll post a photo here so the kids can see what things look like now...

The area has a somber feel to it now. Several other Japanese families were out, doing what we were doing I think....visiting a favorite spot, considering the events of the past week, sort of stunned and struck at all that has happened. I wanted to simply kneel down and spend some time in prayer.....but it wasn't the time...yet. 

Here's the gatehouse we always told the kids would be closed to stop storms and tsunamis from going up the "river" and destroying homes....

We've walked along this wall often..... 


It's just a small piece of the bigger picture...but it's our picture.....


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Energy Saving Appliances

After 27 years of marriage, I finally did it. In an effort to conserve energy, I bought a pressure cooker. I have no clue what to really do with it, in the end features didn't matter, the BX had one left.....I own it. 



It promises I can do our roast in 45 minutes and that is doable even for an energy conscious family like ours. ::grin:: 

Do send your favorite recipes for pressure cookers....maybe we can broaden our meal choices.

Tanya tells me I can bake bread in the microwave.....

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thoughts and Prayer Requests

{Here is a piece I've written for PWOCI, I thought I'd post it here too as it shares my thoughts and feelings during this week.}





Pray for Japan

De’Etta Goecker (Asia Region President)

My daughters and I had planned a PWOC Adventure to Korea, but God had other adventures for us in March.  Many of you heard I was driving from Misawa to Tokyo for the Tokyo Area Retreat when the earthquake hit. We left Sendai 40 to 60 minutes ahead of the earthquake.  It took eight days for me to get home to my family. It was 20 hours before I heard from my family. Our children were alone during the earthquake. It is not a time I want to relive, yet I wouldn’t trade the lessons I learned during the week of March 11th for the world. Someday, I’ll share.

It is no accident that Asia Region was formed 1 ½ years ago. As we’ve focused on this year’s theme, “Shine in the Light of His Glory,” and as we’ve prayed for revival in Asia, I believe God has been preparing us for this season. Light shines brightest in darkness.  We are poised to SHINE in Asia (both to frightened military spouses and to a beloved land which has lost so much).  I’m eagerly anticipating the kingdom business God will do when we all meet together in Tokyo for the First Annual Asia Region Conference in November 2011.  God has been setting things in motion for revival in Japan. I know this.

We so appreciate the outpouring of love, prayers and offers of assistance from across PWOC. You’ve often moved me to tears.

Please continue to pray for the nation of Japan, the rebuilding process which will take years, the HOPE of JESUS to be seen and embraced in Japan, and for your fellow PWOC sisters in Japan.  You’ve heard about the voluntary departures, the shortages, and the continued worries.  I’m sure as you place yourself in our shoes (crocs), the Holy Spirit will guide your prayers.  There are challenges for both those who chose to leave and those who chose to stay.

Japan has been called “The Graveyard of Missions.”  While I don’t believe God caused the earthquake, I DO believe He can bring great good from terrible disasters. Our God is in the business of redemptive restoration.  As I prayed about this in the days after the earthquake, I believe God directed my prayers in a clear direction. Please join me in praying for the cultural narrative in Japan to change. Previously, it was considered dishonorable to accept a gift which you could not repay in kind.  I believe as Japan begins to understand there is no dishonor in accepting a free gift you cannot repay, it will create a new bridge for the gospel of Jesus to speak into this culture.  Pray for missionaries and Christians who will invest their lives in crossing that cultural bridge to bring the Hope of Jesus to Japan.  We dare not miss this opportunity.

 I continue to choose joy in Misawa, Japan!



Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Spring/Winter - Sprinter Walk

Mini-me begged to bake brownies (below) and go for a walk today. It seems she gets cabin fever. ::snort:: No one else wanted to walk, but the snow had melted so we set out.


First off we noticed we are the only family which chose to stay in our two block subdivision. We did find a few children in the subdivision over and will see if more show up on the weekend.

These guys were really happy to see us. I forgot treats and they kept getting into my pockets in a search for carrots or apples. 



Stacia enjoyed "fishing" in the pond. I enjoyed sitting on a stump and soaking in the peace. Nature has a way of centering me.  It was incredibly peaceful and quiet here today. We'll be back here. (Local folks, yes, I know it says KEEP OUT, but the farmer has told us we can fish in the pond). 



Signs of springs! This was really encouraging after the snow which greeted us this a.m. 

Jared went to base for soccer "practice" - they aren't allowed to have formal practice but the kids can get together and practice on their own and maybe they'll still be able to play a game or two this season. 

Michael is at work. 

I have worked on some PWOC tidbits.  I've also started to try to figure out what to do about my house. Everything which was on shelves is stacked around the floorboards...not sure how much longer this should last.....no real big aftershocks today....maybe it is time to put things back up. 

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

No Bake Brownies (Kristin)

Stacia begged to bake brownies today. I was clearing my desk and found this recipe. 


Assemble ingredients:
3/4 C Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar (Rapadura)
1 tsp Vanilla
3 C Quick Oats (I used rolled oats)
1 C Chocolate Chips
1/2 C Peanut Butter

Have our assistant melt bugger over medium heat:

Once melted add sugar, vanilla and oats. Stir until it's a sticky mess!

While she's occupied combine peanut butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt. 

In a greased 8x8 pan layer 1/2 of the oat mixture (press down firmly), the chocolate mixture (reserve some to drizzle on the top), top with remaining oat mixture (lightly press down), drizzle chocolate on top. 

Put in fridge for 3 hours...or until you can't wait any longer ;-) The kids love this one. I'm not tempted - this sugar fast seems to be working.  Not sure if the rolled oats "work" but I have children who will eat raw oats.....seems more fudgey than brownie like....but Stacia was happy with the results. 

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Comment Moderation

Due to so many comments all mentioning one website in the past 12 hours.....comments are moderated again. I haven't had time to check out the site. May be fine - but 50 comments by different names all leading to the same website is not very up and up in my book. 


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Green Smoothies

I've heard of these for years, but usually in the context of someone sharing how much they loved their Vitamix...somewhere along the line I assumed a "regular" blender wouldn't be able to make green smoothies. ::snort:: Windy shared how much they LOVED their smoothies. This surprised me as they were not previously veggie lovers. I shared that I wasn't going to buy a Vitamix to eat veggies. She shared tips to make them in my blender - and it worked. 


I heard not to use the same greens every day - so today we used a variety of lettuce. I think we like the spinach better...... But here you go. 


Put 1 C of water in blender, add 2 - 3 C of greens of your choice and blend for several minutes to make a smooth puree (I used less greens the first day so the kids would like the fruity taste) 

Assemble and add fruit - I used an orange, small pineapple, Greek yogurt, strawberries, 2 small bananas and frozen blueberries, flax seed, splash of vanilla and/or almond

I simply quarter oranges, peel them and throw them in 

Blend and stir for a few minutes until you like the consistency - you'll see this makes a purplish/brown shake as I added red and blue fruits....

She loves them and is getting a variety of greens in her diet. 

If you like it sweeter you could add dates or honey. You can leave out the yogurt, I like to add it so there is protein to balance the high carbs in a smoothie. I try to have sliced, frozen bananas on hand for smoothies as they make very smooth and creamy smoothies. I don't use ice, choosing to use frozen fruit instead. 


Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Musings from Northern Japan

Meanwhile, back at home, the kids and I continue to conserve energy, enjoy non-electronic activities and experiment with new eating options (new recipe coming). LOL 



It snowed again today....



We were able to sit and visit with a Japanese friend tonight. We compared quake stories. She was glad I'd made it home from Tokyo. I was glad to hear her family was all safe. We showed her "Nuclear Boy".  We talked about shortages, natural resources and such. 

Japan has no natural energy sources. If they want electricity to power their modern culture, they must build nuclear plants. Many are now shut down. She has a friend who is one of the workers at Fukushima.  Anyway, this power shortage is going to go on until they can reopen other sites and build new ones. In America we have MANY natural options for energy - we choose not to use them. Another story, another day....but in Japan this is it.  Things ARE going to be short for now and some time to come. Locally, pachinko parlors are closed or running with 1/2 power, convenience stores are closed, other businesses are closing early, and theaters etc are not up.  Japanese understand and accept this. Americans not so much. 

I've heard a lot in the past week about how families should go home to conserve Japan's resources. These comments have come from families who have chosen to take advantage of the State Department's Voluntary Departure option.  It is not my intent to criticize those who have left...frankly there are MANY valid factors which led some to decide to leave, it's not my place to have an opinion on other's decisions....medical issues, ages of children, personal fear levels of family members...all contributed to some leave. However, the wide spread comments and complaints make me sad...from those who have left and those who have stayed. This is something I do have an opinion on. ::snort::

I decided to ask my Japanese friend what SHE thought, does she and her friends (30 year olds) think that Americans should go home to conserve  Japan's resources? My question opened an unexpected flood gate of comments. I share some of the thoughts here as I think it is good for us to consider how we appear to others. We've been spoiled here. Americans don't have to sort their garbage (the company does it for them, Japanese do this on their own), the city supplies electricity for a very nice standard of living on base, we've been welcomed by most Japanese with open arms, they make allowances for our lack of cultural awareness.  She and a friend had been at one of the town hall meetings. They were sad, angered, perplexed by the questions and comments so freely shared.... Of course the boisterous give and take of an American discussion is a bit out of the Japanese communication mode too. 

 "Why do we have to sort our garbage?" 

"When will you open the THEATER?" 

"Why do we have to light only two rooms?"

"When you will pick up bulk garbage again?"

"When will the bowling ally and library open?" 

"When will Burger King, Popeyes etc be open?"

"When will the gym open?" (I can understand this as many have PT tests upcoming and so I guess could be worried as results affect careers.)

Honestly, none of these are LIFE THREATENING inconveniences. Consider all Japan has been through and all they are struggling to overcome. I would bet there is not a person in Japan who has not been affected by events on the 11th. At the very least the whole country has lost a  percentage of it's electricity.  It's a time when Japan is looking to get  ESSENTIAL things up and running.....and we're complaining  our garbage pick up will be once a week, we have to sort our own garbage and  don't have a theater and bowling ally? Really? 

She shared of teachers caught in the Sendai quake and tsunami....who didn't like the evacuation center and came up north. Then talked to the foreign press and complained about "no walls, only rice balls to eat, no heat or privacy" and said, "They don't understand our culture. They should go home."  Privacy is simply not an issue in Japan. Community rules.  Rice balls are actually a staple. All pull together to endure.....these teachers, well-meaning and some of them considering themselves to be missionaries, lost credibility with their comments to the press. Note this is her perspective and the teachers may have feared for their safety and not simply been unhappy with Japanese evacuation centers...but again...THIS is the perception. 

She told us with sadness, "When we have it to offer, we will gladly do it. If we could supply all the families want, we would. We can't. They should go home." What she was saying is, if you can't adapt, if you can't accept the inconveniences of the situation, if you want to be a guest only when all your needs are being met, it is best to leave.  Japan considers it an honor to take care of guests....and I sensed hearing the complaints and knowing they were not meeting the expectations of Americans was painful. 

My heart has been begging for CHRISTIANS (Americans and others) to SHINE in the LIGHT OF HIS GLORY....many Japanese equate American with Christian....and we've left a bad impression with our petty complaints and lack of willingness to pull together.  It breaks my heart. 

I questioned further, for a family like ours, one who is willing to stay, accept the shortages and help - should we go home? Are we using valuable Japanese resources? Would they be happier if we left?  She said our shopping helps the economy. The base employs many people. She also shared that Japanese culture doesn't "just act" - but "Americans just go volunteer...like Jared san at the pig farm....we need your help."  I'm at peace...it is good for some to leave...but as a whole Japan doesn't wish all Americans would leave to conserve resources. They are very grateful for all the help we've "just volunteered" to do.  Will Japan eventually need to cut back the number of dependents on bases? I hope not.  Will the situation be better in a month - maybe slightly - but honestly the conservation will go on for a long time...and really.....we should have probably been more aware of our energy consumption...isn't that true of most people in most countries? 

I'm discouraged some Americans have left a bad impression on the Japanese people. I'm encouraged other Americans have endeared themselves to the Japanese with their "Can do, let's get it done, NOW" attitude.  I will be very careful not to complain about inconveniences, it's not the Japanese way.  I've been personally motivated to "buck up".  I think it is important for all of us to think of how our reactions are perceived...for His glory. 

I continue to believe God can and will use this for good...in His time and in His way. 

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Buta Hama 2 to Momoishi (Pig Farm & Beach)

Does Jared know how to find the fun or what???? He spent another long day with the work teams (btw all but one of these photos were taken on an earlier drive to base). We are proud of him. He's proud that most assume he's active duty, he's pulling his weight.

Today they went back to the Buta Hama for a bit of time. Then they drove up to Momoishi Beach. This is the spot we've photographed often as our "hiding spot," the spot I most often go to find sea glass and pray. This is the spot we took Carol when she was here.  This is the spot where Jared and Jamin like to go run.  It is just over a mile from our home.




 Today the team  helped a fisherman get his nets and floats out of TREES.  They also worked more at picking up rubbish - other teams have been here. There were 60 volunteers today! I think as the "voluntary departures" are over and more have time to focus on the local area we will see bigger teams of volunteers in the community.

 This sea wall is usually covered with concrete blocks and asphalt....I naively thought a tsunami would stop at this seawall and not come over into the parking lot, forests and homes on the other side of it. 


This boat is over the sea wall, over the parking lot and in the trees.

 I think the kids and I can go to places like this with garbage bags and do our own "clean up" efforts even if they're too young for the hard core clean up and recovery work. 

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Buta Hama - Pig Farm

Michael, Jared and I signed up to be on one of the clean up/relief teams today. Two teams leave the base daily. As we discussed our plan for the day it became obvious Arielle was not comfortable being left home with the children all day so soon after the quake. I think her uneasiness was helped along by the many aftershocks we had last night. 


Bright and early Jared and Michael drove into the base. They discovered their mission today was to help clear wreckage from a local pig farmer.  As they drove towards the sight they realized it is less than 2 miles from our home. Wow...this brings home anew how close that wave actually came.  


THIS will make for Father/Son bonding (say ham sandwich)

This man had had 2,000 pigs before 11 March. He is lucky to have 400 left. 

To the left is his one standing building. He'll rebuild. (See that pretty house in the right corner? It's one of my local favorites and we drive by it often. I KNOW just where this is.)

Jared had the notoriety of finding the largest dead pig today.  Michael found, among other things, a Cannon EOS with a 70/210 lens....obviously it had seen better days.  We were told this was the hardest trip yet...it was smelly and hard work. They also had icy winds, rain, sun and snow - all in one day's work. They were met back at the base by a doctor and mental health. 

Below is the team! Go Team Misawa!

We've not been able to get out and about as we've been asked NOT to be American Tourists....so it was a bit of a shock to realize how close to our home the destruction had come. The ground rises and we are across the highway. BTW  I heard HWY 338 mentioned on news coverage. Mom, this is the hwy and we are about a mile UP the road (to the right).....Here's a photo I found on the Internet.....


One last discovery of the day. Sometimes the air around our subdivision is so rank we've often thought it was worse that baby diapers....mega diapers...now we know....when the wind hits just right we had the stench of 2,000 pigs blowing across our yard.  A friend is taking Jared out tomorrow. All thought he was active duty - but since he is only 17, he has to have an adult with him.  We appreciate all the friends that have volunteered to "watch Jared" so that he can get out and help. Red Cross insists a parent or guardian be with 16 - 18 yo...and since they are dealing with all sorts of waste and destruction it makes sense.

(If Michael or Jared have some thoughts to share, they'll update this later).

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...