Monday, 21 December 2009

A Decade in Review

Now is the time of year when people reflect on the last twelve months and look forward to what the next year will bring. But this is a special year. It signifies the end of one era and the beginning of the next. I am, of course, talking about the fact that next year we enter into a new decade. Many changes hover on the horizon.

But before I wax nostalgic or delve into my predictions and desires for next year or even the next ten years, let me bring my readers up to speed with life here in Japan.

Presents sit under the tree in our lounge, and my presents to New Zealand arrived safely. My dad has the final details for his flight to Osaka this coming Sunday, and we will be bussing him down here to Kochi the following day.

Last night, we had a shard Christmas dinner at church, which was very nice. They called it a candle party, but we only lit candles for the ten minutes or so that it took our pastor to read something from the Bible and play a song.

And as Japanese are very big on bingo, we played a bingo game using characters from the Bible. Eddi and I were the last two people to get bingo. Go my family. >.<

That about sums up where things are at. I didn't have school at all today because Tokawa chuugakkou had some parent meeting regarding high school entrance, or something.

As this is Christmas week, the few times that I do have class -- including three classes on Christmas morning -- I will make the lessons as Christmasey as I can. This is a great opportunity to tell the Christmas story. I borrowed some large flashcards, a book and a video from church last night. Let's see what I can do with them!

Well, 2009 is almost over. I'm not sure that I will write another entry between now and 2010, although it would be nice to give one final update before this decade hums to an unpreventable close and becomes yet another part of history.

I'd like to just talk a little bit about my last ten years and then what I'm looking forward to or what I expect for next year. And now, to take this blog away from Japan briefly and down a more personal track.

A brief look at the last ten years:

2000 The millennium crept up on us very suddenly. No fear of Y2K was going to prevent me from enjoying a great historical moment. It was a rather uneventful year, however, as I simply gave up on the degree I was studying for and moved back home to live with my parents, play games and work at Burger King.

2001 I continued working at Burger King and attending our local church, not really doing much else aside from the occasional youth focused event, watching DVD movies, going to the cinema and playing computer and video games. Of course, it was September of that year that the terrorist bombing of the twin towers happened, but it didn't really affect me much beyond seeing muslims as a greater threat than I already perceived.

2002 This year changed my life. After battling with a decision, I chose to attend Faith Bible College. It turned out to be a very good decision, as I grew a lot spiritually and saw myself mature as a Christian. It was a fundamental year for me and can't really be summed up in a few words.

2003 I spent half the year in South Korea, after an opportunity came up to work for a small organisation that took in students to teach English through Bible input. It was my first time overseas and far from my last. There were times in South Korea when I felt very isolated and alone, but also great times of friendship and fun. And my three-week trip to Canada during the summer was a great experience, too. I also got my full driver license before moving back home.

2004 An opportunity came up for me to work for my church for a year. It was an awesome year for me as I did small jobs around the church and was highly involved with a project that saw hundreds, if not thousands of copies of the Jesus movie put into homes throughout New Zealand. I also joined our church music team as a drummer, which continued right through until I left New Zealand in 2008.

2005 I went on a missions trip to India and Sri Lanka with my pastor, celebrating my 25th birthday in Singapore. It was a good start to the year and a good way to finish up my stint with the church. I moved into full-time work again, landing a job with an electronics retailer. Despite the stresses involved, I enjoyed my work environment; especially my colleagues. We all got along well with each other and it was a good experience overall. My brother and I also started playing World of Warcraft that year, about six months after its release. Later in the year we moved out of our sister's place and went flatting together.

2006 Continued working in retail full time until the second half of the year, when I switched to part-time to finally start on a Bachelor's degree that I could stick with and see through to the end. So the second half of the year was juggling work and study. I moved back in with my sister and my brother moved up north.

2007 I quit my job in December of 2006 because they wouldn't give me time off over Christmas. It wasn't a sudden leave, either -- I gave two months notice. I had a wonderful holiday with my family in Northland, where mum and dad were teaching. The rest of the year saw me studying full time and playing World of Warcraft during most of my free time. I also regularly attended church events, including our cell group and my worship team involvement. I didn't however, grow very much spiritually, as my time since Bible College was too much about me, despite my ability to keep myself occupied with church-related activities.

Took a holiday in the Gold Coast with my sister and her family in September. It was a great getaway and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. The theme parks were all fun and it was good to just get away from life and study for a time.

2008 I had applied for the JET programme, knowing full well that I would finish my degree in time. I also started this blog the previous year at the beginning of the application process in the hopes that I could carry it through into my experiences here in Japan. I finished my degree, with the last semester keeping me very busy, and came over here in July. And as mentioned back then, I was able to spend some time with my parents before heading over here. My first few months in Japan were difficult, as documented in earlier posts; but my immersion into my life here wasn't really all that bad.

2009 A huge year for me. I met my wife and we got married within three months of dating (actually, on our three month anniversary). Now, we are expecting a baby in February, our daughter Eddi starts school next year, and the last few months have just flown by before we can blink.

So, here's to 2010, a great year full of promise. I will be 30 years old next year and will experience the birthing of my first child. I will sign up for a third year on JET and continue teaching at primary and junior high schools, keeping myself occupied with this and that both in teaching and with our church.

I am excited about this next decade. I may get a few grey hairs by the end of it, but there are just so many things to look forward to! A new baby, a new job at some point, paying off my student loan, furthering my studies, developing a closer relationship with both my wife and present daughter. And that just scratches the surface of this wonderful gem called life.

Praise God he has blessed us with so much to look forward to in the decade to come!



Tuesday, 15 December 2009

On the Second Day of Christmas

I read an interesting article today:

It's about changes in the Japanese language because of modern times and the way that English has somewhat taken over.

I've been getting a lot of headaches recently. It could be because of the cold weather, but whatever the cause, it makes it hard to get through the day whenever I do have a throbbing head.

The preschool had a Christmas presentation last week. The kids put in a lot of effort to perform songs and plays.

On the weekend, we were quite busy. I went to Nakamura to do some Christmas shopping while Mika dressed Eddi up in a kimono and had her hair styled. She had some photos taken, which I will try and put up on Facebook to show people.

On Sunday, we all went into Kochi city to do more shopping. I have finished getting all the Christmas presents I need to for people. I posted off my family's presents last week, after having bought them all the weekend before last.

I have been trying to do Christmas themed lessons but haven't really done anything exciting. Hopefully I will be able to do some nice Christmas stuff with the kids at school tomorrow.



Thursday, 3 December 2009


Did I mention Thanksgiving? You know, that American holiday that happens near the end of November every year? I guess not.

We had a Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night. There was turkey and gravy, stuffing and pie -- both pumpkin and custard creme. We invited Mikey, Candice, Brittany and our Friday night student, Mei-chan. All in all, it was a really nice time.

This week has been pretty slow. On Monday there was a very boring meeting at a school. A workshop of sorts, but it was all in Japanese. The only thing I got out of it was a big headache. Japanese meetings are just so lifeless.

On Tuesday there was no school. I think there were too many cases of influenza, or something.

Yesterday, I only had a single class at shougakkou. I'm not entirely sure why, but it may have been related to the flu as well.

Today, I didn't have any classes, but I did spend the entire morning at school. We planned the questions for next week's interview tests with the students, and I did some Japanese study.

Speaking of which, I am still working through my textbook and trying to use Japanese both in emails to my wife and when we talk at home. It's still very slow going and I struggle to remember anything, but with continued practice, I know that I will improve. I may even actually be ready for the level 3 JLPT when it rolls around next year. Or at least sit it, regardless.

This coming weekend we plan on doing some Christmas shopping in Kochi city. We need to get some decorations so that we can set up our Xmas tree. That will be fun. ^^