Early December OBC staff did a ministry trip to Sendai City in Miyagi ken. We organized an advent presentation sharing the reason why Christians celebrate Christmas. Those serving in the East Tohoku have a very special opportunity to share the love Christ with the people displaced since the tsunami. It was a joy to serve at the temporary housing facilities and it was encouraging to see what has been rebuilt since the last time I was there in July 2011.
In mid-December I attended the Christmas concert at Tachikawa Station Front Church. One of the volunteers from Adult English Camp last summer invited former campers to attend. It was fun to see so many, we all enjoyed a good time of visiting, reconnecting and supper together afterwards.
Just before New Year’s I had the opportunity to go to Disney Tokyo; I really enjoy Disneyland. I even got to see the Captain Eo movie, with Michel Jackson, which I saw at the Anaheim Disneyland 20 years ago. Although it was great fun to see something in Japan I remember enjoying as a child, it wasn’t as good as I remember it...maybe I had bad taste as a child.
At the beginning of the month I picked up my primary vehicle, a 250cc Suzuki Volty. It’s a little smaller than the motorbike I had in Canada but much newer and rode it until
the snow came. Now I’m waiting for the snow to melt and roads clear.
With the help of Angela May, the SEND language coordinator, I have a language tutor that I have been connecting with on a weekly basis. I was also introduced to a new community run Japanese class which is run very well. I find it a little frustrating at times; I am more advanced than a beginner but not advanced enough to formulate sentences without long pauses.
I've even found a group of people to play squash with. This was a sport I enjoyed before I came to Japan; it is fun and I don't need any language skills to play. I'm definitely not the best player there but I think the players find me entertaining because I am faster than they expect and there is only one other left-hand player at the club that I have met. Squash is also fun way to connect with people outside of camp and the church.
This was the month for snow; it actually snowed twice here in Tokyo. The first snowfall broke a 45-year old record with over a foot of snow. The second snowfall broke a 120-year old record; here in the Tama Valley this meant all means of transportation was on lock down. Even if I could have gotten the car out of the driveway I couldn’t have gone anywhere except to maybe the grocery store which is only a 10 minute walk from my house. Two-lane highways were reduced to single lanes and the streets by my house were reduced to not much more than single lane traffic so driving wasn’t much of an option. The trains didn’t run up the valley for a whole week after the second snowfall because of downed trees and 7 meters of snow blocking the entrance to one of the tunnels. It may have been pretty but I was stuck at home for 4 days.
This month is the time when things starts up again at OBC. We still have snow piles on the property but the ume (green plum) trees are blooming and the cherry trees should only be a few weeks behind. On the 22nd we will have our first OBC sponsored camp, an International Soccer Camp, following this is the Japanese soccer camp and spring break Bible camp.
There is a staff change happening at OBC this year which will mean something new for me. Chris Milby our English camps coordinator is retiring so I have been asked to take on this position. The soccer camps will the first camp running after I start this job. It is my responsibility to communicate with the directors of our English speaking camps. I expect the learning curve to be a little steep but I have plenty of support people to back me up here in the OBC office.
And, with Chris retiring from the mission field, I’ll also be teaching her two English classes on Monday afternoons. Besides playing squash, this will be another opportunity where I will enjoy getting to know more new people here in Japan.
Your Brother in Christ,