Friday, 26 June 2009

Full Speed Ahead

Things aren't really that hectic yet. We have decided to tackle one thing at once, when it comes to wedding planning. This week has been more about family and telling people about our engagement than anything else. Next week we will probably organise things that need to be done asap, such as booking a photographer and finding out about wedding clothes.

As far as school is concerned, I have been building up my resources. Some of the A4 sheets I have laminated need to be redone, because I didn't back them properly. I can use what I have for each of those topics but by the end of Summer I should have replaced them all as well as built up some new sets.

I have also been making bingo cards, and spent some time laminating and cutting out some bingo tokens that I made to go with them. I got some stickers on the weekend that I can give out to kids. Apparently I should expect tears at some point once I start introducing stickers to my classes. Awesome!

In the last two weeks I have been late for school. And not just a few minutes late, either. I'm talking missing entire periods. And both times I have no excuse save that the schedule was different than usual and I failed to read the differences. It was simply misreading what I should have double checked.

And so on Monday I have to meet with Supreme Commander White-hair in Kubokawa (that would be the section chief "head honcho" of the Shimanto Board of Education). I guess I will get something along the lines of a lecture on punctuality and ensuring that I understand my shougakkou schedules and how important it is to abide by my contract, etc etc.

Not that I would ever excuse negligence. But this could have happened to anyone who had curve balls thrown at them when they weren't expecting them.

Let's look at what went wrong:
Ok, so my shougakkou schedules consist of a cover sheet that has periods 1-6 with the periods I will be teaching in containing summarised information regarding those lessons. Then there are individual sheets for each period with more detailed information regarding what I will be teaching.

The first time I missed a period at a school I was supposed to be at, they had omitted period 6 from the summary sheet and scheduled me to teach in periods 4 (before lunch) and 5 (after lunch). Since I failed to notice that they had anomalised the summary sheet, my brain registered the schedule as being periods 5 and 6 -- the last two periods.

Firstly, I wasn't expecting them to split classes with lunch-time. Secondly, this was the only time that the summary sheet had ever been reduced to 5 periods rather than 6; regardless of when classes are. So from that I learned to be more vigilant in double checking exactly which periods I should be teaching in at school.

The second time I was late, I didn't even realise it until the end of the lesson -- which came just 20-odd minutes after I arrived. It took me by surprise, because until that point I thought that I had somehow managed to be a couple of minutes late and the teacher had gone ahead and started without me. Not the case.

My afternoon classes always start at either 2pm or 2.05pm. This is when period 5 starts at every shougakkou. Except on Wednesday. They decided that they would begin at 1.35pm. It was written on my summary sheet, so I have no excuse for coming to school halfway through a period I was supposed to be teaching in. I once again simply failed to see the changes from the norm.

As I said: this could easily have happened to anyone. I have now learned to read and re-read my schedules before the day, on the day and before school. Any anomalies or divergence from the normal flow of events and I need to know about it -- and prepare accordingly.

But I still have to face the music on Monday morning. So be it.

Last night was intense. Mika and I met Michael's twin brothers and his auntie who are here in Japan for a holiday and currently staying with him. We also had planned to go and see Mika's parents together, for the first time. Our food took too long to come (we were at Yamagoya) and so we had to leave. But then, Mika's dad was late anyway, so we sort of rushed for nothing.

I talked to her parents about where we stand in terms of getting married. We survived; that's all I can say. And today, Mika is in a much better mood. It is as if a burden was lifted from her shoulders. Like I said: we are doing one thing at a time. And going to see her parents was the biggest hurdle so far, and I know it was weighing her down a lot. Having got that out of the way -- for now -- we are free to move onto the next step of our journey.

Still, I will definitely continue to pray for her parents, both in terms of acceptance -- that they will be assured that our getting married is very good for us and for Eddi -- and for their eventual salvation. In time they will both get to know who I am -- language barrier aside -- and will see the strength that Mika and I possess in our relationship.

Tomorrow: K-city and wedding rings?



Monday, 22 June 2009

The Rules of Engagement

And boy, was it a life-changing week!

As mentioned in my last entry -- all that time ago -- Michael and I went out shooting. We travelled around a lot, as far afield as Nakamura and beyond, and finally settled on a random soccer field in a small town in the middle of nowhere, to take pot shots at cans.

That night -- Saturday -- we watched a movie at my place.

The Sunday was totally uneventful. I missed Mika because she and Eddi were in Osaka, if you remember. Little did I know that our lives were about to change.

Last Monday, I had both Iejigawa and Tokawa shougakkou. We didn't go for a run that evening, as Mika had to come home late. They were tired from their Osaka trip anyway, so we didn't really do much that evening.

I got paid on Tuesday, which was a relief. I had a bit of a cough last week and needed to get some throat lozenges. I also got my car insured, which was great because it meant I could finally drive it!

Had my usual prayer and Bible study group that night, but it was just me and the leader, as everyone else was away. Still, nice time of prayer. I went to see Mika afterwards to spend time with her. ;)

Did more resource preparation in the office on Wednesday and had school that afternoon. We managed to go for a run as we had a really nice spell of fine weather last week; quite odd for rainy season, but good for us. Didn't do any Japanese study that evening, though.

Showed the kids at Shouwa chuugakkou my car on Thursday. Went to see the dentist after work. Talked to dad on Skype at my place after dinner. We were meant to talk to mum but she wasn't there, so we decided to meet again on Friday night.

Friday itself was a normal day -- office and school. I spent time in the office preparing for Mei's lesson that night.

We did a short run, had dinner, tutored Mei and put Eddi to bed. After that, we connected to my family on Skype. Mika and I had decided that we want to get married, but she had no idea mum was going to suggest that I propose right then and there. Which I did! So now Mika and I are engaged! And we did it in front of my parents, which was a very special time. ^^

After some serious talking and prayer, I went home. What a night!

Mika went to see her parents on Saturday morning. I went on Facebook, cleaned and prayed for her while she was there. We just chilled at my place for the rest of the afternoon while Eddi stayed with her grandparents. We were both very tired. All in all it was actually a very stressful week for Mika, and she needed to just rest.

I watched a movie on Satuday night, So I Married an Axe Murderer. >.>

We talked to our pastor after church on Sunday and settled on a wedding date: Saturday, 25th of July. Very soon, I know, but it will work best. It is better to move quickly than wait and press fate, right? We also decided on three pre-marital counselling sessions with him.

After lunch and some shopping in K-town, we came home and talked to Nick on Skype. After which, we took a walk down to the river, where Eddi went swimming. We saw a lone duck swimming around down there.

Eddi and the duck

He was a friendly chap

And the water was more tepid than we thought. It is very hot at the moment, and has been quite muggy these past two days. So no wonder the river is very inviting! I also skimmed a stone across the water that did 15 skips. My record :)

Last night I made scones and soup for dinner for us. After Eddi went to bed, Mika and I talked to her spiritual parents -- Eddi's American grandparents -- through video on MSN Messenger. It was my first meeting with them and we had a nice chat. They are very happy for the both of us and for Eddi.

Now it is Monday again and I have been in the office all day. I really must get some Japanese study done. I really haven't made much progress at all in my 10 months here. I'm just really bad at languages and have trouble remembering things. I hope that with enough repitition I will be able to recall the vocabulary -- but it is so much more than that, and that is where I have problems. Being able to put things together just isn't making any sense to me. It seems that I will never be able to communicate in Japanese, but I know that that isn't true. With enough time and study I will eventually be able to do more than say hello to people. ;)



Saturday, 13 June 2009

SiR-T and Last Week

Time goes so fast. We're already almost halfway through the year. It's hard to keep up with everything. But I am finally writing this overdue blog entry.

Last weekend, we went into Kochi city, together with Michael. We went to see Terminator Salvation at the movies after eating lunch at Aeon mall. Afterwards, Mika got her hair cut and Michael and I walked around for a bit. We met up with Katsu and family, who had had Eddi for the day, and we all ate together at a restaurant.

Sunday was pretty normal. We had a picnic lunch at the park after church and came back to make some pizza for dinner.

The week went by pretty quickly with school, sending in my car documentation, preparing resources in the office and making and sharing a huge carrot cake, complete with cream cheese lemon frosting, which we baked early in the week. :o

I went to Kochi city on Wednesday afternoon by train. I picked up my car and drove it home through the heavy rain. I'm really happy to finally have my car. I am unable to get it insured until Tuesday next week, so until then I am not going to drive it. I did, however, take Mika and Eddi out for a drive when I got home that day.

There she is

Gonna chrome cap the mufflers eventually

Side-angle + wheels

From the front

Now it is Saturday. Mika and Eddi went to Osaka with their family to see the newest member: Mika's younger brother's baby boy, who must be over a month old by now. Michael and I are planning on taking our guns out today to do a bit of target practice in Nakamura. We will probably watch a movie tonight.

Next week is next week.



Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Driving Me Wild

I have a car! Well, not exactly. But I bought a car. There is still some paperwork to get back from the police station and then send off to the car dealer from whom I purchased it. Change of ownership and all that. Then there will be the matter of insurance, which I will take care of when I pick it up from Kochi station in about a week.

Honda Torneo Sir-T 2.0L. Colour: white. Year: 1999. Distance: ~76,000 Km. Total cost: ¥410000 (NZ$6,514). Yes, I got a good deal. I pray that it runs well!

We went to Takamatsu on Saturday. Mika's brother Katsu and his family came over as well. He and I both test drove the car (funfun) and I decided then and there that I would buy it. As an answer to prayer, I paid exactly what I had brought with me. In the morning, I had withdrawn 400,000 and was carrying 10,000 already in my wallet. I told Mika that God would sort out the rest. And he did! It's fun to do things like that, where you listen to the voice of God and he works everything out. Because as it says in Romans 8:28: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." This includes, but is not limited to, listening to God's wee nudges and obeying them. Goodgood.

After forking over my entire bank account's contents, we tracked down an udon place for lunch. Kagawa prefecture is supposedly known for its variety and regular consumption of udon. We ate late because of all the car paperwork.

The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping at an Aeon mall outside of the city, in a nearby town. We travelled back to Kochi and did a little grocery shopping before stopping in at Katsu's place to eat. Then, back to Taisho, where we arrived pretty late. But all in all, it was a good Saturday. I bought a car!

Aaanyway, we had a lunch on Sunday after church. Mika made Mexican food and I made a lolly cake. I ate way too much and was unable to eat dinner that night. We baked brownies in the afternoon with Mikey and he came around again for dinner -- which I couldn't eat.

It has been raining a bit. I guess we are getting into rainy season. At least it was fine on Monday. I had taught at Tokawa shougakkou. That and Shouwa are my regular places to teach. Guess I shou up there a lot. >.>

Yesterday was a normal day for me at Tokawa chuu. I was exhausted though, and went to bed after getting home. I couldn't even get up to eat later, and missed my usual Bible study. I'm not sure if it's because I stayed late at Mika's the night before or if my body just needed extra sleep.

Today, I had to get up early and head to Maruyama shougakkou. It is about 10 mins past K-town. Yet another small school. It was my first time there and I guess it went well enough. Nothing really exciting, but it wasn't bad or anything.

So now I wait to see when I will be getting my car. There is a lot I want to do to it, but there are more important things to spend my money on. For now, I'm broke. So I just have to bear with it until pay day, and do my best to conserve money for those important things.

Movies I want to watch:
Star Trek
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Transformers 2
Terminator Salvation