Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our Joyous Hope

Flash mob at the Flight Museum in Washington D.C in 2013.  So glad our Air Force is celebrating Christ!



Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas in Japan

Jes and Chris at Tokyo Tower.  Photo by Bobbi

It was in December of 2004 that Chris and I flew from Seattle to Los Angeles and from there to Tokyo.  We were fortunate to be able to spend Christmas with our son.  He was living in a small town south of Tokyo and teaching English as a second language.  With frequent flyer miles, and a place to stay, we thought it was a good time to visit.

Everything in Japan is small—especially compared to the U.S.  The land area is small as it is about the size of California and it is about 75 % mountainous.  There are small people, small cars, small capsule hotels, small amounts of food, and small apartments.


Internet photo

Jes’s apartment was big compared to most apartments in Japan.  He had two bedrooms.  Outside was a vending machine where one could purchase hot drinks. The weather was cold and clear and since Jes had only one electric heater to heat his apartment Chris bought several more. Jes’s car was compact but we managed to fit the three of us in it.


Jes's car. Photo by Bobbi

Photo by Bobbi

Jes had the hum of the bullet train to go to sleep to because he lived within walking distance of the train station.  See his list below:

January 31st, 2005
I’ve been in Japan a little over 10 months now. That really isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, but here are some observations that I’ve made. This is one of those trite “you know when…” type things, but here it goes.
You know you’ve been in Japan for awhile when…
1.   you watch movies (of course not English or Japanese movies) and they always seem to be driving on the “wrong” side of the road.
2.   you think nothing of paying 5 dollars for 2 apples (okay you might gripe a little).
3.   the roar of the shinkansen (bullet train) tracks reminds you of the ocean. It soothes you to sleep.
4.   you go shopping and even though you don’t know the words to any of the songs (aside from the song about fish) you instantly hmm the melody.
5.   you aren’t scared of raw fish (well too much anyway).
6.   you enjoy playing “chicken” with other drivers on so-called “2-lane” roads. I guess I should say so-called “roads” as I know of larger sidewalks!
7.   you can critique stores on the various “elevator music” different stores use. I say, Gigas has my vote. Definitely the best use of harmonica in that type of “music".
8.   you tend to bow at everyone and everything. It happens. Sometimes you bow just to make sure.
9.   you do a better recycling job than some of your neighbors.
10.            life starts to seem normal.




Bullet train.  Photo by Bobbi


The town was all paved so it was great for cycling.  Here is a view of the City Hall.  In his town many people were middle class and worked for the big companies. 

City Hall. Photo by Bobbi

Something that American schools should consider is what they do about cleaning the schools. In Japan they have the children and the teachers clean, including scraping the wheels on desk chairs to be sure there is no sticky gum on the them. If children were responsible for cleaning I would think that they would have more respect for property.

Loudspeakers announce important things like elections are coming, or someone has had a baby.   They most likely will choose 6 am for the announcements so everyone is at home, in bed asleep, and won’t miss the announcement!

Jes was privileged to act as the recycling police a few times in his town.  He had to supervise at 7 am on recycling day the division of 14 categories of recycling.

We ate sushi and some fast food.  My favorite restaurant was “Joyful Restaurant.”  It wasn’t crowded and the food was similar to fast food but better. Hand wipes were always furnished. Even in the fast food restaurants we were furnished with pop up variety wet naps.  We enjoyed cooking our own food at one restaurant where you put the filling and condiments on a griddle and cooked at your table.

Photo by Bobbi

For Christmas we attended the Protestant church Jes had been attending.  The sermon was in Japanese.  We were gifted with homemade cookies.  We enjoyed an Italian dinner later.

Japan has adapted the U.S. custom of Christmas shopping and consumerism, but not the reason for the season—the birth of Christ. IRRASHAIMASSE! (Welcome) is what the employees of the store yell at you to make sure you feel welcome. 

 Lights in Tokyo.  Photo by Bobbi

Possible Christian charity.  They had a loudspeaker. Photo by Bobbi

On New Years Eve we joined the town party at the 2 shrines, one Shinto and the other Buddhist.  They were serving hot sake and red beans.  There was a big bonfire.  The principal of the school was there and we talked to him briefly.  I enjoy doing “something” to celebrate on New Year’s Eve because I love the New Year.  Everything is fresh and ready for a new start.  So New Years in Japan was one of the best for me.  The next morning after the celebration everything had been removed.  All that remained was a raked dirt field between the 2 shrines.

 photo by Charlene
Shrine in Koyto.   Photo by Chris

Of course one must see the castles especially Himeji-jo which was carefully restored in the late 50’s using all traditional techniques.  It differs from many of the castles in Japan nowadays as many are made of concrete.


At Nogoya Castle.  Photo by Chris

As a soft American I could never live in Japan, as some places do not have central heating and air conditioning.  My son tells me that most do.  I do like the food including seaweed.  I’m glad I visited as I can relate to others who have lived or traveled there.






Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There Is No Law



There is no law prohibiting the singing of Christmas Carols in public schools in the United States.  One would think that there is.  For the last 2 years we have attended our granddaughter’s “Winter Concert” at her elementary school.  One program was about the different celebrations of   Kwanza, Ramadan, Hanukkah, etc.  No mention was made of Jesus or the Christian celebration.  They did have a quick song about Santa Claus.  The next year the songs were all about the weather—from fluffy snowflakes to the slush as the snow melts.  Sigh….


I will check to find out if there is a Moms in Prayer group for the elementary school.  Then I will give them my prayer request—I would love to hear some Christmas Carols pointing to the miraculous fact that God came to earth as a tiny baby.  He came to die for us so that we may spend eternity with Him.  Maybe even some parents will request that the children sing Christmas Carols.  Anything is possible with God.

PS If Christmas gets too rowdy, like it did in the days of the Puritans, there may have to be a law against it!  See here.  See here to read a blog about why our children need to learn real Christmas Carols.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving-- An American Holiday


 I don’t know how it happened but somehow Thanksgiving began to be called “Turkey Day” in America.  I suspect this occured when children were taught that on the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims thanked the Indians for helping them grow crops.  Yes, Indians were invited to the harvest feast, and I’m sure that the Pilgrims did thank the Indians for helping them, but it was God who they thanked that day, as they did every day.  See here.  I pray that this Thanksgiving in America everyone old, young, rich, poor will know that it is God who provided every good and perfect gift.  I pray that each one will humble himself and thank God for His provision.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sweden

The state church is Lutheran even though the tour guide said they had freedom to worship in any way they choose.  Photo by Chris


The first time we traveled to Sweden it was September of 1992.  We flew into Stockholm and stayed at a hotel over night.  I noticed that the streets and sidewalks were torn up and being repaired just like in the United States.  The engineers were at it again!  But I think they have to do so many repairs because of the long cold winters.  In September it was already feeling like winter to me. 
Hotel Lobby.  Photo by Bobbi

We rented a car and drove from Stockholm to Gothenburg.  The roads had many work projects going on at the time.  We could not read the Swedish language on the signs but we were able to figure them out because everything was signed much the way as it is in the United States. 

When we traveled to Gothenburg in 1995, Jes accompanied us.  We did some sightseeing while we were there.  Here is what we saw:







Boat museum
Skywalk
Spice shop
University  All photo's by Bobbi
As I recall we visited the Royal Palace.  I remember the rooms opening up off of the long hallways.  It was almost as if the rooms were for display and not for living in.  Everything was very ornate.

Next stop was Elos.  We asked for a double room for Chris and me.  Here is what we got. 

Jes had a single and it was even smaller.  He had a black and white TV to watch.  All the TV shows were in English.
Note tables through the door
The buffet in the hotel cafeteria featured Swedish meatballs and rice.

We did some shopping and visited the boat yard where our boat was being built.

We attended the presentation by Jimmy Cornell.  See here.  He spoke in English.  We were the only English speakers, but most people who attended the talk spoke English.  Many spoke German.  The man sitting across from us was Danish and did not speak English so it was difficult for him.

From there we flew home.  I’m glad I was able to visit Sweden.  I can picture how life is for the people who live there.  Some day I will write about my trip to Japan.



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Italy


We flew into the Florence airport.  We hired a cab and were taken to our hotel where we had reservations.  We thought that possibly the cab driver ripped us off and overcharged us but we weren’t sure. 

We were very happy to find a restaurant where we could order what we wanted to eat.  They didn’t force us to order a 7-course meal.  We had pasta, salad, and bread.  When we left the restaurant we were told to take our receipt because the police might ask us to show it to them.  Apparently the police have to keep track of what everybody is doing or something. 

The next day we saw the following:

Bronze doors on the Baptistry of St. John.  Photo by Chris.
Santa Croce--burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo,Machiavedi.  Photo by Chris.
Burial place of Dante.  Photo by Chris.
Florence Cathedral.  Photo by Chris.

Restaurants don’t open until 7 in Florence but fortunately we found a gelato store and were able to have gelato every afternoon at 5 when we were hungry!

Only one gypsy tried to steal Chris’s wallet but we were able to quickly move away from the women who accosted him. 

Next stop was Rome.  The hotel where we stayed had a quant elevator. 
internet photo
We saw the following:
 Coliseum.  Photo by Chris.


Arch of Constantine. Photo by Chris.
Sistine Chapel.  Photo by Chris.
Trevi Fountain.  Photo by Chris.
Took a trip in there somewhere to Pisa.
Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Photo by Chris.

From Rome we flew home.  In the Rome airport were many military police carrying machine guns.  Next time I will write about our trip to Sweden.