Monday, July 9, 2012

June Update

Hello Everyone,

Hope that this update finds each and every one of you doing well. I am not too sure as to how many of you still read this anymore so if it would be nice to know how many people are reading this to determine whether or not I should keep up with it.

Well lots of things have been happening since I last wrote you. In Japan, the school year is still going unlike the states. School in Japan normally lasts until the end of July and summer vacation only lasts about a month opposed to the 2 or 3 months students have in the summer in America. Japanese students go to school about 240 days a year while we go about 180 in America if not lower. The other day, I also wrote down a few things that differ between American and Japanese schools that you might find interesting.

1. You can find that almost in any school you go to in Japan that the students will be wearing uniforms
2. In American junior highs, we change from classroom to classroom, in Japan, students stay in the same classroom all day more than they don’t and they get a lot longer of break in between classes.
3. In America we buy our books whereas the Japanese students buy their own school books.
4. In America, we have lockers in the hall, Japanese students have a cubby in the classroom.
5. In America, we have a cafeteria where we can select from a variety of food and Japanese all eat the same thing in their own classroom together instead of a cafeteria.
6. Most schools in Japan don’t use an air conditioner like we would in America if they have one.
7. In most schools in America these days, you can find a white board or smart board in almost any classroom. Japan still sticks with the traditional blackboard.
8. In America, we are given the chance to take elective classes as part of our curriculum. There are no electives in Japan.
9. In America, each teacher gets to have his or her own classroom. In Japan, the classroom is for the students and all the teachers share one big room together with their desks.
10. In America, we take a bus to school or ride with our parents. Japanese students ride a bike or walk to school.
11. In America, we can wear the same shoes inside and outside the school, in Japan they have inside shoes for different classrooms.
12. It’s rare to hear that anybody goes to the school on a Saturday or Sunday in America. In Japan this is common.
13. In America, students are not required to clean the school, however, in Japan there is a time set aside every day to clean.
14. Most students in Japan join a club after school whereas in America students sometimes will join an extracurricular activity if they want too.
15. In America we take spanish as a foreign language, Japanese take English. 

These are just a few differences that I have discovered between the way schools in Japan and America are. There is nothing bad about the way Japanese do school. In fact, I find it to be quite interesting and awesome. I wish American schools were a lot more like Japanese actually. 

Overall, work stays the same pretty much every week. I teach junior high students on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, kindergarten students on Tuesdays, and elementary students on Thursdays. I am able to make contact with the other 37 AET’s every other week through training meetings that we have during school. I have also been preparing for this Thursday for a junior high English contest for the middle school students known as Interactive Forum. The students sit in a circle and try holding a conversation for 5 minutes and the best speaker advances. I have been busy trying to prepare my students for that when I am not teaching classes. Things have also been busy with the observations I have had from the Board of Education and parents coming to watch me teach for the past month at least once or twice a week. We have also had quite a few assemblies and even a magic show at the elementary school last week. On a lighter note, I have also had the opportunity to go to dinner with a couple teachers from my junior high in the past month and also all of my teachers from the elementary school last week. I was even able to take Cassie and show her off. Well that's some of the major highlights that have been occurring in my teaching career for the last month.

Teaching Elementary Students

                     Teaching Junior High

    Back of a shirt at an assembly at the junior high

                 Elementary Magic Show

While things have been busy with school, they have also been busy with ministry. Since my last post, I led worship twice (in Japanese), and preached 3 times. I preached 2 times in Tomobe and one time at the biggest church in Japan in Tokyo. In my first two sermons, I talked about how I am a foreigner and how much I stand out because I am not Japanese and I am from America and related that to how we are to be as Christians. This world is not our home and we should stand out from the others we surround ourselves with daily. The time in Tokyo also allowed Cassie and I to go on a mini one-day vacation and get away from Ibaraki for a while and just enjoy one another in Tokyo. We even went on a date to TGI Fridays, which turned out to be quite expensive since it was in Japan. Overall we had a really good time and enjoyed great food.

              Preaching in Tokyo

                    Touring in Tokyo

                In front of T.G.I. Fridays in Tokyo

Also on the ministry front Cassie and I spend the second Monday of every month going to a church camp meeting in Hitachi. We work on the staff at the camp when we can and aren’t in school.  Since my last post, we have gone to a couple of these meetings.  We will be going to the camp next week to do some work while we have some free holidays. I have also had the chance to do some small things around the church like mowing and fixing the flat tire on the k-truck.

                Fixing the K Truck Tire
On Tuesday’s I have also been teaching a free English Bible class voluntarily at Tomobe Church. This also makes Tuesdays pretty hectic because I go straight from school to my Japanese class and then when that is finished, I go to Tomobe to teach my English Bible class. Please pray that the man I am working with will be touched and that I can say the right words to him. His wife is African and a Christian and he seems to be interested and what his life should be about. In the past month, I have been unable to see Saki because she has been busy with school. I hope that I can see her soon and study the Bible again with her soon.

A few weeks ago we also had a goodbye party for Toru because he got enough funds to go to OC for this year. Please pray that the funds will continue to come in so that he can finish his education there. He is dearly missed in Tomobe and we look forward to him finishing school so that he and Yasuki can be the next leaders at the church.

                    Toru's Goodbye Party

As for friends, Cassie and I haven’t been able to do much hanging out. We are either worn out or just too busy. She normally works on Saturday which also makes it kind of hard. We have also been very busy trying to prepare for our wedding to as we will be coming home soon to be doing some planning for a couple of weeks. We were able to have some dinner with some old exchange students from OC about a month ago (Kanami, Ayami, Anna, and Cam). and some other exchange students a couple of weeks ago (Takuto and Yuu). In fact they will be coming over again tomorrow to have dinner with us and watch a movie. We have also even been able to see a couple of good friends who came to Japan from America for short visits (The Chancey's and Rick). It was very encouraging to be able to see them. Cassie and I also got to go see The Proposal in a theater. Great stuff.

          Kanami, Cassie, Cam, Ayami and Anna

                     Takuto and Yuu

              With the Chancey's

                Restaurant in Mito

               With Rick

            Seeing The Vow with Cassie

Well I think I am going to go ahead and wrap this up so that it doesn’t get any longer. Cassie and I are looking forward to coming home and seeing you all soon. Things have not been easy here for us lately because of the passing of my grandpa and the passing of Cassie’s great grandma or as they called her, greatma. We have also missed the 4th of July which made it hard along with a lot of other things.It has been about a year since I was last home an almost 8 months for her. The longest either of us have ever been away from home. We are looking forward to seeing you all soon. Please pray that God will give us energy and strength a little bit longer before we come home for our visit. Love you guys and may God bless you all. 

                Cassie's Great Grandma

          Me and Grandpa and Grandma and Bekah