It's about time for another decent length blog post. Ready for a long read?
It's almost end of school year here in Japan. Japanese school year begins April and ends mid-March. English classes in the Primary school have finished, but still have English School classes. Gives me a slightly lighter work load for a few weeks until mid-April. The weather is warming up and all the graduation, end-of-year, good-bye things are happening now.
Last month the middle grade from the kindergarten I teach at performed a small concert. I played the piano and they kids sung in English. It was a bit of fun. See some of the songs on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAmKt-hB9xM
Each grade from the primary school performed a song or act for a Grade 6 Farewell concert last Friday. Tomorrow, I'll be playing the piano for the grade 2 kids as they sing at the parents meeting. Should be good!
Yesterday at church was another pleasant Sabbath. Greeted some of the kids as they came to school around 8am. Sung and prayed in Sabbath School in the church. Sadly, one of the church members had passed away. It was quite sad. I did not know the person, but they were only in their 40's.
I lead out in English Sabbath School. We usually sing, pray and then George or I share a short 15 or 20 minute Bible study. I took it on having a relationship with God. If you don't spend time with Him, you can't expect a relationship to grow. In the Bible, you can find the keys to eternal life. And, if you search for God with all your heart, you will find Him.
We later worshiped in church. I really enjoy worshipping together with the kids, parents, teachers, friends and church members... all together, honouring and praising God. About 7 of the grade 6 students gave short testimonies (stories) of their belief in God. One of the ladies from chruch translated so I could understand, and their stories really encouraged me.
Said hello and good bye to a number of people after church before heading up stairs to the 3rd floor to eat some soba noodles. Chatted over dinner and then spent some more time talking with some of the school kids parents. It was a very relaxing time.
Last Thursday, some new people came to the free English classes that our school (Hiroshima SDA English School) offers. We use the Bible (stories etc) to teach English. This is the first time some new students have come since I arrived here 6 months ago. I'm quite glad! They enjoyed the class and will probably come next week too.
Most people I asked did not feel the small earthquake we had. Most were asleep. It didn't make it on the news. It wasn't big at all.
Ate out with friends from work this afternoon. Had a nice time. It was Asian buffet, but I had a later breakfast and wasn't so hungry, so I just ordered some Vietnamese noodles. Checked out a few shops, bought some groceries on the way home, and had some dinner.
The last few weeks my Japanese has become a bit more intense. Meeting with a few different people each week. Studying kanji. Have completed first grade kanji (about 80 characters) and hope to start grade 2 soon. I want to finish grade 3 kanji by the end of the year, and complete the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) level 3 or 4 (run by Japan Govt). Slowly picking up more and more each day. It's fun!
So, skiing was a lot of fun! That was quite a few weeks back. First time I'd ever gone skiing. By the end of the day, I got a bit of the hang of it. Had one little accident when I hit someone, but they seemed ok after a minute. Sorry. But, the day was great fun! Photos.
We had a few inches of snow one morning a few weeks back. I had not classes, so I headed off to Shukkeien Garden for the first time. It's the best Japanese Garden in Hiroshima. And, the few inches of snow, with the sun coming out during the fresh hours of mid-morning, made it really nice. Photos.
We had a few more days of snow scattered here and there. The temperature didn't really get below zero much over winter. We had afew days of maximum temperatures around 3 or 4 degrees. They were quite cold. Minimum of zero and maximum of 6 degrees was quite common. There were quite a few sunny days during winter time.
But, now it seems that the weather is warming up. We've had up to 15 degrees now, which feels quite warm. Even 10 degrees feels warm, after the long winter. The peach and plum blossoms have already come out, but weather here is cold, but you can feel the promise of warm weather just around the corner.
This time of year brings something very famous in Japan... Cherry Blossom! It's a very important, cultural and popular thing to do for Japanese people. Enjoy a picnic under the blooming flowers! It's my first, and I look forward to it. The Japan Meterological Agency predicts when the blooms will start. See the chart: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/en/News/sakura.html
Also this time of year, the dust gets blown across Japan from the rest of Asia. The JMA also predicts this: http://www.jma.go.jp/en/kosa/
English School concert in two weeks. It's the story of Jesus resurrection! I'm looking forward to the kids singing :-) Next week is busy too: kindy grad on Sunday, primary school grad and grade 6 dinner on Monday, teachers dinner at chuch Wednesday, teachers dinner at restaurant on Friday, Easter program at church on Sabbath. Also, tabletennis next Saturday night. All the usual English school classes as well, plus Japanese lessons I have.
I have to say I'm enjoying my time here. Three things I can think of as important things for me to do while I'm here: mission (share God & faith); language (learn as much Japanese as I can); travel (see as much of Japan and it's culture while I'm here).
I thank God I can serve Him here in Hiroshima, Japan.