Tuesday, 25 December 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Tohoku!

Me as Santa-san!
We have had several Christmas activities over the past few weeks. But my favorite one was last week. On Friday two of my coworkers and I got into the car to give presents to various kids that we have been working with. Since most of these kids don't know me very well, I had the great pleasure of dressing up as Santa. It was a first for me but it was a blast. We visited seven families that day. I would ring the bell my coworkers would hide around the corner as I sang We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The kids would either hide behind their parents or stare at me very confused. One even freaked out saying "Santa-san is here, Santa-san is here!" Overall it was a success.

After four Christmas services and three Christmas parties in 48 hours, I am officially pooped. As one of my friends put it "we have truly celebrated Jesus' Birthday this year." I hope that you all had and continue to have a very Merry Christmas. Eat some delicious pie for me.

Love,
Katie

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Cars, Emails, & Presence



Volunteers for a Christmas Party
in temporary housing
Last Friday three of us went to Ishinomiyaki to deliver some information about the upcoming General Consultation. We planned to go to four different people’s houses. But after spending two and a half hours at one women’s house we soon realized that it was not going to happen as we planned.

We frequently visit people in the various cities around the Tohoku region so that we can give them information about upcoming events. It seems that every week we are going somewhere else. Sometimes I dread getting in the car. I think "well we could just save money and time if we sent the information by email or mail." When we arrive we go to someone’s house, or meet them in a coffee shop, or a church. We small talk for a little and I wonder why we don’t just get to the point, drop of the information and head back to Sendai maybe even arrive at a decent hour. I know I am heartless.

But Friday as we sat at Maria’s house the true purpose of our meeting came to light. She told us hilarious stories of her kids, why she came to Japan, problems that she has had, and ideas that she has for the future.  We are there not only to inform but to listen and share. We talk about the triumph and struggles that we have had. We laugh with each other until I think we are going to burst. That Friday I realized that the purpose of our trips is about relationship; it is about sharing something of ourselves’ with one another; it is about being present with that person at that time. The name of this project is “Let Us Walk Together.” We are not here to just give things and leave. We are here to walk with each other in the recovery process and more importantly in the journey of life. 

 
Shota is taught how to make yakisoba
like a professional.
Add caption
English class students singing to
Christmas Carols in temporary housing.

Thanks for tuning in,
Katie

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Earthquakes, Snowball fights, & Humility


This past Friday, while we were preparing for the following days stress management program, there was an earthquake. We were on the 6th floor of the building so the quake was a lot scarier than it would have been on the ground floor. Besides being shaken up a bit we were alright.Thank you for your concerns.


Marian, a study abroad student from the Philippines, and I were in charge of the children’s program. We played dozens of games, made Christmas cards, Marian taught Tagalog (national language of the Philippines), and of course we played in the snowed that accumulated over the 48 hours.

I have learned never to start a snow ball fight with kids that actually get snow in the winter. Playing in the snow with these kids was slightly terrifying. I was also reminded about how humbling kids can be. Any time I spoke poor Japanese the kids were on the floor laughing at me. Maybe I should hangout with 7 and 8 year olds more often. They don't cut me any slack. Beside the occasional joke in my direction the kids were wonderful. 


One of the best things about the people I work with is that they love to share what they know about the world. There are also four nationalities represented in the office. So I get to learn about all the cultures and countries they come from. I learn about the problems that arise in those countries. For example why people leave their homes and go to a place where they don't know the culture, the language, or anyone there.


When I first came to japan I was under the impression that foreigners come here for work but that is not always the case. Many of the women we have encountered through this work originally came to Japan as mail-ordered brides. They chose that route in life because they had very few other choices. They came to Japan in hopes to have a better future, hopefully after marrying get a job to help support their family back in their countries. Once they get here they soon realize that it is harder than they expected. The husbands need a wife to take care of their ailing parents, or to bear their children or to take care of their households. There are also many cases of domestic abuse in these relationships. Sometimes they live in the country so they are completely isolated from people and are unable to leave the bad situations they are in.

Before the program  many of these foreign women did not know that there were others from their country living near by. They lacked support and community where they really needed it. That is part of the reason we have these stress management programs. Its not only to help them recover emotionally from the disaster but also for them to build a support system.  The more I am around these the more I am amazed their strength. 




Please keep these women and their families in your prayers. 

Thank you for tuning in,
Katie 


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Reunions, Workshops, & Tests



Well hello there!

I am trying this new thing where I post a blog once a week. Its revolutionary, I know. All that to say please tune in every week. 

The weekend of Thanksgiving I was able to visit an old friend of mine from Camp Quarterman (my church camp back home) who is currently stationed outside of Tokyo. I haven’t seen my friend, Andrew, in 5 years. Needless to say we had loads to catch up on. Andrew and his wonderful wife were perfect hosts. We spent the weekend eating American food (that I don’t normally get to eat), watching movies, decorating their apartment for Christmas, and touring Tokyo. It was a nice to have a little bit of home here in Japan. 

English Development workshop
I started the English Teachers Developments training this past month. We had two of the planned 5 sessions so far. During the workshop we focused on classroom management, mainly how to get the kids attention and keeping them on task. Starting in January I will have regular English lessons with these women. Living in Japan they don’t get many opportunities to speak in English so that have lost a lot of what they learned before. I will try my best not to give them a Texas accent but I cannot guarantee it. 

Japanese Santa in a
shopping center.
Last Sunday we took our Japanese Proficiency test that we have been dreading for months. I think that most of my fellow classmates did well but we all agreed that it was difficult. Thankfully it is over. Next week we are having a meeting on how we will continue the class. Now that the test is over we can study Japanese at a slower pace. yippee!!!!

This weekend we have another stress management program. I am in charge of the program for the kids. There will be 19 kids coming this weekend. Luckily one of the study abroad studies who volunteers with us from time to time is helping out as well. The kids are all half Japanese and half Filipino. Which means that most of them speak only Japanese, some maybe speak Tagalog, and a few might know a few words in English. It should be interesting…

That is all that I have to report for now. I hope that you are all having a wonderful start to Advent!

My wonderful tour guides and I in
Tokyo. And yes Tokyo does have a
mini-version of the Statue of liberty.



God's Peace,

Katie

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Refresh, Hike, & Give Thanks


Over the past three weeks we have had two Stress Management programs for foreigners in the Tohoku region. They were able to talk about their lives leading up to the 2011 disaster and how it has changed since then. All of the women that attended were so thankful for their time away from their homes and their time to decompress a bit. They never have the opportunity to do such things. For some it was also an opportunity to meet other foreigners living in their area.

While the workshop was going on some volunteers and I were in charge of the children. At one of the workshops, I spent an hour teaching the kids English. One of the activities was learning the song “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.” In the short time we worked on it maybe only half of the words were remembered. When we had cultural presentations the next day the kids showed off their new song to their mothers. It has entertaining to say the least. It is amazing how fast the kids get quiet when they have to perform in front of people. But the day before, we had problems keeping them at a tolerable volume for the other hotel guests.

The Adorable Daichi who I watched
during one of the refresh programs.
Before the performance we took the kids on a hike. I love being outdoors with children. They always see the things you miss. They point out the rocks that have interesting coloring or shape; noticing the steam from the natural hot springs within the cracks of the mountain. They are fearless when exploring. Although I will admit, I panicked every time they started climbing among the lose rocks. But kids, being resilient and light on their feet, they had very little real accidents. We managed to only have two kids that slipped a bit into the river. I considered it a success!

Temporary housing
We also had our last Japanese class this past week for foreigners, which mean that we have to take the big scary test in two weeks…eek! Not excited. I will also miss seeing these lovely ladies twice a week. There is talk of continuing the class into the New Year. Hopefully that happens. It would not only be nice to see them but improving their language skills will give them the opportunity to have better jobs.




My new friends making an incredibly long sushi roll.

An awesome band!

My new favorite Japanese man BN!



This year I am again away from my family and all the wonderful food that is stuffed into our mouths on Thanksgiving. But I don’t want this month to pass without giving thanks. I am thankful for all of you reading this blog, for my various church families both in Japan and in Texas, for my friends and finally for my family. Without all of your support and presence in my life I would not be the person I am today. Thank you! I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with great people. I hope that your meal was full of delicious food and enlightening conversations. 

Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless!
Katie Young

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Japanese, English, & Yarn


This post is long overdue…I am sorry that I have been so slow to write you all.
I first want to thank everyone I had the pleasure of hanging out with for five wonderful weeks at home. Also I want to thank St. Paul’s On the Plains, St. Mark’s, and Heavenly Rest for allowing me to speak. It was great to see all of the familiar faces.
 
For three weeks, I have been in Sendai working with the Let Us Walk Together Project (go to http://www.nskk.org/walk/old/en/newsletter_14_en.pdf to read this month’s English newsletter).  They have been very busy weeks but I love it. Currently I am taking a Japanese class that the project is offering to foreigners in Sendai. Even though most of the students (all women) have been in Japan for at least 10 years, their Japanese is not where it should be to find good jobs. The women are eager to learn. They are a lively group. Class is always full of laughter.

Next month I will start teaching an English Teachers Development workshop. In the workshop we will work on pronunciation and class room management. I feel inadequate to teach these things but through friends, family, and the resources of the web I am figuring it out. If anyone you have tips please send me an email at katie0706@gmail.com. I have also started working with some of my friends in the office on English pronunciation while they help me with my Japanese. It works pretty well.  Just the little experience I've had, has been an immense help.

A year ago the project had a Japanese class for Filipinas who were victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Once the class was finished they wanted to continue gathering together. So once a month volunteers meet with the women to teach various crafts. This past Saturday a group of us from the office and a couple volunteers went to Minami Sanriku noh Shizugawa. Right now they are crocheting slippers and bags. It was a great day full of yarn and laughter. Below are some of the pictures from Saturday.

One last thing, I am still raising support for my mission work here in Japan. I want to incvte you to support to continue to support me through prayers and donations. I truly can not do this work without your support. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate please send a check with “Katie’s mission work” in the memo line to:

Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church
602 Meander
Abilene, TX 79602


Thank you for tuning in!
Katie

Hkaru learning how to use scissors

Yutaka-san teaching Hikaru how to crochet

The crocheters!