#14: Translate a sermon

Last week, we had a mochi-making party after church. I was just about to go home after stuffing myself with mochi (well, I had three pieces. And three onigiri. I was STUFFED), when my pastor asked me if I would translate the sermon next week at 242. Of course, I freaked out, because my Japanese isn’t great yet, but I wanted to try. So he gave me his notes, Minako helped me with the kanji that I didn’t know, and I took it home to translate. That was really interesting! For the past three or so years at church, I hadn’t really been listening to the sermon, except for when someone translated it for me. So the chance to really get to know what the heck Yoji was talking about was nice.

I spent about four hours over the week translating the sermon, and getting ready for translating. It was easy to translate it on paper, but the thought of doing it live at church was scary. Because there were a couple people there who could speak both languages better than me, so they would know when I messed up.

Also, Yoji speaks really fast when he gets excited, and anyway, there are still so many words that I don’t know in Japanese (example: 哲学, which I learned means philosophy). So translating the message from the paper is easy, but I knew Yoji would want to tell another story too.

Before the sermon, we, as usual, had a time of worship. And during the worship, I was praying that God would help me, because I was getting more and more nervous.

I felt that God was really getting ready to use me. This is what I had been preparing for. This is the reason for studying Japanese so much. I should have faith, because whether I mess up or not, God is Good, and He will be glorified. God will get His message across through Yoji, through me, to the people of the nations.

So I got up there. I translated the sermon, and of course Yoji started telling a story about when he was in high school, and it wasn’t so bad. The people who came to the church are much kinder to me than I am. Damn you, perfectionism!!

God is good all the time!

#10 &#17: Make bread by hand & Make jam

On my Christmas vacation, I had a lot of time at home, so I planned to do a lot of cooking. Two of the items on my To Do List include making bread by hand (anyways, I don’t have a bread maker!) and make jam. My mom sent me some certo for my birthday, so I could make the BEST kind of jam ever! (yeah, shameless plug for Certo, I know, but this jam is sooo good!)

I LOVE cheese bread, and I haven’t found a good loaf of it in Japan so far, so I decided to make it myself. At first I thought it was too salty, but I changed my mind after a few slices. The bread was really easy to make. There were only five ingredients: flour (1 kg!), yeast, salt, cheese, and water. Kneading the bread was my favourite part. Mindless work that keeps my hands busy. It was reminiscent of when I worked at Muskoka Heritage Place, and one day I was in the Darling House (where they explain about the process of knitting and laundry) and I was sitting there, oh, maybe for an hour, knitting on a very quiet day. I was so absorbed in what I was doing and my thoughts, it was very intense. I was snapped out of my reverie, however, when someone made a call on the radio.

HOW I WILL ADAPT THE BREAD IN THE FUTURE
This bread easily made two loaves, and that’s a lot of bread for one person, so I can separate it into three or four loaves. Maybe the tops won’t burn then. Also, I can give some away! Also, I want to try chunks of cheese. I grated the cheese into really small pieces, and it’s good, but it’s not quite the same.

And the jam. My grandma used to make this jam. It’s so simple to make: all you need are strawberries, certo, and sugar. And a bit of lemon juice. The only thing is that my jam didn’t set. It hardened a little, but it’s a mixture between kakigori sauce and jam. It’s delicious! But too runny. And I was talking to my mom, she said that happens sometimes (my mom also makes this jam every spring.. or almost every spring ^^ or used to. whatever!), and there’s not much you can do. But it’s bothering me, because I want it to set! And I don’t know how to fix it. Gah!

Eating these two together is SO delicious. I am very happy. ^^

Dream

Dreamt last night that I went back to prov, and everyhing had changed.. They took down the new building, they added a bunch of playgrounds, and it looked more like a summer camp than a college. So I met larisa, SJ, and loreena and we were gonna meet somewhere to go swimming. I didn’t bring my suit, but loreena said it was okay. My suit was in the car. Then we had to walk through the campus: there were jungle gyms and tree houses.. We got to the edge of a forest and had to walk down a path. The swimming pool turned out to be a hole in the forest. So we fell asleep beside the swimming hole and the next morning, we were gonna play baseball against the city team. Yeah, just the four of us. SJ brought our baseball clothes, and prepared a plan. But she made the plan out of something like jello. But it was sturdier and not edible. And the baseball fields weren’t yet ready to be played on.

suicide

It’s weird that I’ve been thinking so much about suicide recently. I am not even close to being suicidal, but the books one reads and the music one listens to really does impact one, no matter what anyone says.

I recently read a book called 13 Reasons Why, about a girl who decides to kill herself. She explains why in thirteen tapes, and sends them to the people who star in her stories.

I also downloaded a beautiful yet terrifying song by rihanna called Russian Roulette. The song tells of a woman who is playing the game Russian Roulette with a man. She’s terrified yet can’t back down. At one point she says “it’s too late to get back the value of her life.”

It’s so hard for me to imagine how deep a person has to go to think their life has no value. Doesn’t every life have value? Whether it’s a family member, a friend, an aquaintence or just someone who’s seen you a work and doesn’t have the balls to talk to you, someone cares.

Actually, I’ve almost been there. When the kids at school stopped being my friends, when my dad died and my family almost fell apart, I thought about it. When I got my driver’s license and drove on the highways, I thought about crashing “accidentally on purpose”.

But there was something was keeping away from actually doing it, whether it was a sense of duty towards my family, some purpose God has for my life, or something else, I can’t be sure.

And I got out of that alright. My family turned out alright, and God has blessed me abundantly.

There is always a way out. Never think you are alone or that there is no way out. If you are brave enough, you can make it through.

#8: Go on an Epic Bike Trip

September 19, 2010 9:20 am: Carolyn and I head off on an adventure. Bikes packed (borrowed in my case!), helmets snuggly fit around our heads, sunscreen applied, we head off.

The Plan: Bike to Amakusa. Although we took the ferry from Kumamoto to Shimabara (in Nagasaki-ken), biked down the east side of the peninsula, and took another ferry from Nagasaki to the north part of Amakusa, we biked over 100 kilometers in two days.

Honestly, the biking part was pretty unadventurous. We saw some interesting statues… the goddess of freedom, some crude statues. After passing one statue of a frog next to a giant penis, I almost crashed into some pylons. They’re cemented onto the road, but luckily they are flexible, and nothing was hurt. On the way home, Carolyn also had a little spill, but she’s all right. It was really fun to actually be able to go fast on a bike. My regular bike is tiny, so I felt like I was riding a horse when I mounted Rob’s bike.

After we got off the ferry, we started the long haul down Shimabara. The first half of the trip was very hilly. But there was only one hill that I walked my bike up. And I biked up half. Yeah, what’s up. There were some beautiful beaches along the way, although I dont think any Japanese person would swim there. Maybe. There are sharks and jellyfish around, and Japanese people generally like to follow the rules, and swim in marked beaches. Proper beaches. In total, it took us about four hours to bike down Shimabara, after which the going was easy. When we got to Amakusa, I realized I had forgotten to bring the information about the camp grounds, so we asked the ferry terminal staff where to go. It turns out the camping “grounds” was only a kilometer or so away from the port. But the whole area wasnt bigger than a gymnasium in a school! It was pretty, though. So we parked our tent in between two other groups (there was probably only enough room for eight tents. Maybe.) and went out to find some food.

We asked the woman in a shop where to go, but she said there wasnt much. Maybe some ryokans (Japanese style hotels, where we also could have taken a shower) near the port. So we biked that way, but couldnt find anything. Being tired and hungry, we stopped to ask some fishermen if there were any restaurants around. Not many, but there was a ramen shop a couple kilometers down the way we had come from. So we bike, and bike, and bike some more, but nothing. Finally we see a convenience store and a yakitori (chicken) stand and stop there to eat. Good chicken, and the couple that we working there were really nice. We were talking, the usual, where are you from, are you travelling, no we work in Kumamoto, talking about Japanese culture, etc. And then the old owner of the convenience store stopped by and started talking with us. He couldnt keep his eyes off Carolyn, it was kind of cute.

The yakitori couple ended up inviting us to stay at their house, which over much deliberating we decided to do. We both wanted to stay in the tent, but there was the lure of a shower, and we were really stinky and sweaty. It was nasty. (Even though it’s the end of September, the temperature today was still in the 30s. This week the temperature is apparently going to be in the high 20s (!!), but it’s so hot still. Summer never ends in Kumamoto!!) And there were some other reasons involved (I did want to stay in a real Japanese house. There arent many opportunities to do so, but camping opportunities abound!)

By this time it was dark, and taking down a tent in the dark is no picnic. I put on my bike light, and the moon was bright, so it wasnt impossible. But we got it, and rode back to the yakitori stand. Now there was a group of middle-aged men eating yakitori and drinking beer (tea for me, please.) And we joined them until the yakitori couple took down their stand and were ready to go home. These yakitori stands are great. So compact. Of course, Carolyn and I helped a little in bringing it down, but we couldnt do that much. ^^ Anyway, their house was only another couple kilometers away, so we went with them (biking behind the truck), had a shower, and sat down for dinner. I wasnt really hungry, but Carolyn insisted that I had to try everything. I think I did. I even ate some of the pigs feet that was set before me. Gross. I didnt eat any of the figs though. I dont think anybody did. Around this time we learned each others names. Ahh, Japanese hospitality. Legend. Anyway, it was good food, and I was stuffed and almost falling asleep at the table before we went to bed.

It was so hot that night, the aircon didnt really work, and they gave us thick winter blankets, so I was terribly hot and sweaty when I woke up. We went downstairs, had some breakfast (leftovers from last night), the couple (Hiro-something and H-something.. I forget! @_@) took off early to drive to Kumamoto (they joked about driving us back, but that defeats the purpose of an epic bike trip), we stayed around for a few more minutes, talked with their daughter, Hitomi, and took off. Biked to the ferry, where it started raining, go figure. We didnt have any rain gear, and only Carolyn had rainproof bike packs. Mine weren’t, so I buried my cell and wallet in the middle of my bag, with my toiletries, and we gamanshita-ed. We stopped at the first combini to buy raincoats, but they had only one, and prayed to God to let it stop raining. It stopped soon after that (thanks God!!), Carolyn put her rain gear away and we went swimming in the “beaches” we saw on the way down. We took our bikes down a narrow staircase, parked among some litter, and made sure the water was passable before we went. It was just okay, but whatever, let’s go! Just a quick dip, then we went back to our bikes, and changed. Right there. On the beach. There were plenty of cars passing, but there was no way they could have seen us. And no one else on the beach. When I hoisted my bike back up the stairs, a big truck was passing, and the driver was motioning at me. I barely managed to see a thumbs up when he zoomed past me. Yeah, I’m awesome!! ^^

Too bad this time the easy bit was first. Or I guess that was good, got me in the zone for the hills. Oh, I lied, I walked up another hill on the way back. Oh, I was so tired. Of course, the trip back seemed much shorter, and it seemed in no time we were back at the ferry, and back in Kumamoto, on the last stretch home. We also managed to sing 99 Bottle of Beer on the Wall from start to finish throughout this trip.

For my next epic bike trip, I must go at least 150 kilometers. ^^ Large and in Charge.

baking espanola

This year, well, since I turned 24, I have decided to try at least one new recipe every month. Last month was pumpkin bread, and this month was delicious cinnamon bun sugar cookies. The minute I saw the recipe on the internet, I knew I just had to try to make these! And they worked out really well! Although, as usual, I get confused with the American recipe and Japanese measurements, but all was well! Check it out:

cinnamon bun sugar cookies!

This picture doesn’t display the full glory of seven dozen, or the heavenly aroma wafting through my apartment, but you’ll have you let your imagination do that part. 頑張って!^^

dreams

For the last two nights, I’ve had dreams about one particular topic, and now I wonder if there’s more to it than my dreams.

On Friday night, I dreamed that my older sister had some snacks (something small, like potato chips) and said that our little sister could have some, but I couldn’t, for no particular reason. But I had some anyway, because I thought her rule was unreasonable. And, I wanted some. ^^

On Saturday night, I dreamt that one of my Kumamoto church friends was getting married to my elementary school church friend. I used to date him, we had even gotten engaged (in my dream!), but had broken up. But I still felt that he should still be my boyfriend. So when everyone in church (there were lots of Kumamoto church friends there) was upstairs, I took my friend’s ring from her bag and started wearing it. After one day, I felt really weird about it, so I talked to another KHC friend, and she was very sympathetic. She told me that I just wanted some jewelery and would buy me some. I decided to put the ring back, because I didnt want the real couple to see what I was doing. My other friend was really proud of me.
Then, a Gospel choir was coming to do a special concert, and I met a really fat guy from Canada. He didnt understand why I was so excited to meet someone from Canada.
Then, I was getting on a plane to go to Japan. It was the second trip in six months, because this time, my boss had paid for me to go. It was even a first class ticket!! But I found myself in economy, anyway (and me and my seat mates had made friends with the flight attendant, who looked a lot like Sarah Jessica Parker…). So on the plane they had a booth with a wide open space — no seats there — with a podium for the flight attendants. I went up to there, as the airplane was taking off, and told them of the mistake. They asked to see my ticket, so I showed them the e-ticket I had printed off. It said economy, and I thought, “What, this cant be right! I really should be in first class!” And then I noticed the date on the e-ticket, which said 3/19. Oh, this was the e-ticket from my last trip to Japan. The bald flight attendant was surprised that I was going to Japan again so soon! But they were going to fix the problem and move me to first class.

So, that’s three dreams (two in one night!) about at first not getting what is rightfully mine, or what I deserve. Although I am generally of the opinion that sinful man deserves nothing, and what I have is also my brothers’, a part of me does still adhere to the idea of deserving something. And I’m really curious if these dreams mean something. God, show me!