Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A special weekend

Stan and I flew from Japan to the States on Friday for a trip that spans a few weeks. We are here to celebrate the end of our second daughter's college career.  She was performing in her university's theater production, the Pajama Game, as "Poopsie".  It has been hard for us to have missed most of her college productions, and we promised her we'd be back for her senior musical.  We went to three of the last four performances.  

The same day we flew in, her sister flew in from England. We met her at the airport an hour and a half before the show, and met back stage for our four-some rendezvous and photo with A in costume before the show began.

We had been able to get a ticket for for our oldest to come from the UK using miles, and so she is here to also celebrate these milestones, as well as go through things she had stored here.

After a full weekend of Pajama Game, A had her Senior Performance Project.  The theme was "Transitions" and featured both drama and song. She showed us  her talents--dramatic and comedic--and did a great job.

We were joined by my sister who lives in the area.

We leave for a trip to the east coast tomorrow, while the girls stay here, one to start going through storage, the other to complete another week and a half of school.  

God is good, and we thank Him for allowing us to be here together for this special weekend! We appreciate your continued prayers for our boys in Japan staying with various families while we travel.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A time for everything

I started a new Bible reading plan today, and the first passage was from Ecclesiastes 3.  You know the passage--

There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
But tonight I am contemplating why God rarely seems to provide until "just in time."  We are heading to the States in a few days to begin a fairly long visit to celebrate daughter #2's final college theatre performances, and her graduation. Most of the plans are set for this trip, except for one (or two?) critical needs -- homestays here in Japan for the two who shouldn't miss that much school.  I expected this to have been settled several weeks ago, but here we are down to days and I confess that I'm having trouble trusting.

Its not just us, though. We have coworkers who have moved to temporary housing in Ishinomaki--and the home they are in currently was arranged just in time for them to start their children in the Japanese school system...but they need to find another place by the end of May.  And plans they had started for permanent housing just fell through.

A few nights ago, I was so stressed about our situation that I couldn't even think of any Scriptures to bring solace.  Finally I was reminded of "my favorite verse" (one of the two choices when people ask me what my favorite verse is--funny, they both have to do with trust/belief).

Trust in the LORD with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5&6)
I don't understand this one.  But I'm anticipating looking backwards some day and seeing how the Lord took care of this need.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Exploring the City Culture Festival

Saturday was a beautiful spring day, and so Stan and I decided to take a walk to the large park on the other side of our train station to see the cherry blossoms of the blooming Sakura trees.  Little did we know that there was a City Culture Festival going on this past weekend. So our visit took on some additional flavors, both literally and figuratively! 

 We started at the "odango" stand--sweet rice pounded, made into balls and roasted with soy sauce.  A favorite of ours (though these particular ones didn't make the top 10 for flavor or consistency.)

 As we stopped to watch the drummers, we were amused by this sign, warning people to keep their dogs on a leash at the park. The wooden dog aptly illustrated the message.

Then we watched a local group of Taiko drummers perform.  There is a dance feel as they attack these drums--its hard to capture in stills, but I leave the next two photos without a caption in between so you can see how physically they put themselves into this.

At one point, the woman on the left actually did a pirouette between drum strikes. Quite impressive. 

 Then we strolled on over to our special spot where the trees were in full bloom.

 You can see groups of people sitting under the trees for picnics and drinking parties. This is a Japanese tradition called hanami (flower viewing) and is found wherever the cherry blossoms are full.

 I remember when I first saw the blossoms how disappointed I was by the paleness of their color.  But I have grown to enjoy and look forward to them each year.

Moving along we encountered this juggler. He was quite a self-promoter, even asking for applause.

And then there were the local guilds that featured their work.  This was at a roof tile manufacturer's booth. Even after living in this country for 28 years, I still am amazed that people would want these on their roofs...or use masks of these characters to gleefully scare little children on certain festival days.

As we headed back to the station where we stopped for lunch, we heard some jazz being played at this stage. Getting closer we realized it was a fusion of  jazz guitar with the Japanese Koto.  They made some very pleasant music. (Our video of it isn't good enough to publish.)

We remarked after the walk through our City festival that we didn't see anyone we knew. We almost always run into someone who is an acquaintance from one era or another of our 18 years in this city.