Hello to one and all,
As I write you now, I am in the midst of my official last week living
in Tokyo. To start off with the big news, we were officially given
our placements in February and I have been placed in Kumamoto, Japan.
I will be working at Kyushu Luteru (Lutheran) Gaukin. I will be
teaching English classes to both junior high and high school students.
Jenifer Brown, fellow J3, will also be joining me on this new
adventure! Our other parter in crime, Matthew Linden, has been placed
at Hongo Gakusei Senta (Hongo Student Center) and will stay here in
Sunday, March 15th was my last official day attending Sei Pauro (St.
Paul) church in Tokyo. It was a hard day for me as I fought backtears a couple times throughout the services.
The church members have continued to be very hospitable, welcoming and warm throughout my 6
months with them. 6 months! Do you believe it? Orientation somehow
flew by. Like all beginnings and endings, it is bittersweet. In
Japanese, (Kumamoto de tanoshimi desu, demo sabishi
desu.) I am looking forward to going to Kumamoto, but am also sad. I
will miss Tokyo. I will especially miss all the people and support I
have gained and gotten to know throughout these 6 months. I have
already done some goodbyes, and will do more as the week goes on.One
nice thing, is that when I do come back to Tokyo to visit, I will have
lots of places to crash!
I have recently been feeling really at home living in Japan, and hope
that I can carry this feeling of comfort with me as I move down to
Kumamoto. Although I am still clearly a foreigner, and struggle with
any sort of advanced Japanese conversation, I have grown accustomed to
living here. It is strange sometimes to think back about living in
America, as I have missed much of the excitement and struggles our
country is dealing with. I am not continuously bombarded with news of
the economic state, but do keep up. NPR and CNN have been my main
connections to world and U.S. happenings. Thank goodness for the
I have done alot since I last wrote, and therefore don't think I will
be able to go into great detail about all of it. I know many of you
have been curious about sumo wrestling though. Back in January I went
to two sumo matches!! How exciting! Truly an experience unlike any I
have been to. Although clearly a sporting event, it is seeping in old
traditional Japanese culture.The spectators at the sumo match are
unlike spectators at any other sporting event, and not just in
comparison to American sporting events, but in Japan as well. There
aren't the loud group chants and a band playing throughout the event
as it is at a baseball game. (Which, by the way, I also went to a
Korea versus Japan game for the World Baseball Classic at Tokyo Dome!)
There is much old culture seen even before the wrestlers make
contact; salt is thrown around the ring for purifying it as a sacred
place, amongst other things.
Essentially, there are two main houses of sumo wrestlers, the East and
the West. Within the East and West there are then smaller groups that
train and live together, in various places throughout Japan. The sumo
bouts (matches) begin at 8:40 am every morning, starting with sumo
trainees that haven't received any ranking yet. Throughout the day,
the bouts get better as higher ranking sumo wrestling compete The
main events that people really come forstart at about 3:30, and then
are done by 6pm. Although not a rowdy bunch of fans, there is still
calling out names for your favorite sumo. At the end, the beer cans
and snacks that are perfectly fine to bring in on your own, are all
cleaned up and politely placed in small bags and brought to the
garbage can. Not only are outside drinks allowed, but encouraged.
Could you imagine all this in America?
I am looking forward to my time Kumamoto. Jen and I will be living in
an apartment complex owned by JELAr J3s that will be starting their second
year of teaching.I am sure they will be great source of support in
teaching and new friendships!
All in all, I am so grateful for the time that I have had in Tokyo.
On so many occasions and levels I have been humbled, raised up,
overcome with joy and cried myself to sleep. Outside of learning
basic Japanese language skills, I have had the time to get to know
myself better, and explore the concept of myself as a missionary. I
thank each of you for your continued support. Sometimes all I really
need is to know someone else is out there, connected back to America.
Thank you. I look forward to continue sharing my experiences with you
as my life in Japan takes a drastic change in the next month.
Please continue to keep myself and fellow missionaries in your
thoughts and prayers. Know that you are in mine.
Lastly, below is my new address:
In love and peace,