Sunday, June 14, 2015


3/30/98 Monday - On Sunday night, my parents and I drove to Tama Lodge on the American military base in Tama. We arrived a day early before the Missionary Field Conference got into full swing. This conference comes only once every two years, so you can bet I was excited to see the other missionary kids (MKs) whose parents also serve as missionaries in various places in Japan.

This day, Mama, Papa, and I hiked around the grounds of the military base. By the afternoon, the Ronan family had arrived. After lunch, I went with the Ronan kids to practice archery. Neither Kristina (age 11) nor I had shot arrows before. I hit the target about four times.

Then I played two games of miniature golf. I beat Kristina both times, but Stephen (age 9) was better than I was. Kristina and Stephen played some games with me at my cabin that evening. Kristina slept in my cabin. It's fun to have sleepovers.

3/31/98 Tuesday - This day, Kristina and I started out by playing another few games. After breakfast, we went to the archery field again. This time, I hit the target 17 times. Big improvement, huh?

I am surprised at how much easier it is to get along with Kristina compared to other times. I'm pretty sure it's because we are in "free territory." Neither she nor I was in the position to boss the other, the way it is when we're at each other's houses.

In the afternoon, I played croquet with Stephen and Kristina. I lost both times. On the third game, Mama walked over with Elisa Mita (age 12). She had a short haircut and looked different to me, even though I saw her last fall. She's taller, too. I'm used to being the tallest one of the girls and ladies, when I'm around Japanese people. I've been taller than my own mother for the past year, and I'm only 14.

Until about 4:30pm, when the missionary families were gathering in the conference room, we played the "get acquainted game" that Mama made up. There were 16 different activities written on a sheet of paper, and the idea was to ask people whether they had done a certain activity, and then get their signature if they had. The question the most people asked me was, "Have you ever ridden a unicycle?" I had - though not well!

I'll try to include some of the funny or interesting things that people said - there were such a lot of them. However, I'm sure I missed a lot of them that were spoken in Japanese. Paul Yoshida (age 15) and Christine Tajima (14) in particular kept up a continuous banter in Japanese. I don't know how many times I asked the other MKs, "What are you guys talking about? Could somebody please translate?" or in Japanese, I would beg, "What? Who? They did what?"

You see, out of all the current MKs at the conference, I am the only one who does not have at least one parent who grew up in Japan. I am also the only one never to have attended a Japanese school full-time. My education is strictly homeschooling in English, studying Japanese as a foreign language, participating in my drama club, and "picking up" what I can of the language. We have been in Japan for the past four years, and I've learned a LOT, but still find it hard to follow rapid-fire Japanese.

In any case, during that first supper, the subject of brothers and sisters came up. Kristina asked Paul (in Japanese) if he would rather have a younger brother or a younger sister (hypothetically).

He said, "A little sister," and I quickly spoke up: "A little brother." (We both answered in Japanese.)

Kristina and Christine looked at me like I was crazy, probably because they both HAVE a younger brother.

I guess I voted "little brother" partly because I felt sorry for Paul's imaginary kid sister, who would be teased endlessly, and partly because I've always been the girl in my family and it would be strange for some other girl to get the same kind of attention from my parents. Another factor could be that I already know what girls are like, whereas a boy would put more spice in the cake.

Thus endeth Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Month of April

4/1/98 Wednesday - This day, the other MKs and I went to Tama Tech amusement park. I think I had the same amount of fun there as I did four years ago. It was just a little harder to fit into the seats. 

In the morning, we split into three groups: Paul, Christine, Elisa, Kristina, and me; Daniel (age 13) and Stephen; and Sarah (age 7), Stephanie (age 3), and the two Japanese kid-watcher ladies from the Bible school (I never did get their names.)

It seemed natural at the time for Paul to come with the girls. But when I think about it, I've never known a boy to choose to do something with a bunch of girls instead of boys. 

There was one ride I had never been on before. It was real scary at first and literally breathtaking. I got shot straight up into the air as high as the Ferris wheel, and when I got to the top, I felt like I was still going up! By the time I figured out I wasn't going up anymore, I started going down! Then I bounced up and down several more times before landing safely on the ground. I wanted to go on that ride again later, but no one would come with me.

I also rode on several different rides where I could drive a little car down the track by myself. All of us banged into each other on those cars, even though we weren't supposed to. It wasn't the same as bumper cars.

After lunch - curry rice for me and ramen for everybody else - we split up a little differently. Kristina went off with Sarah, and the two ladies stayed under the restaurant pavilion with Stephanie. 

It was sprinkling by that time, and when I drove the little cars, I needed windshield wipers for my glasses! Just before we had to leave, the other kids wanted to go on the flume ride again. It was rainy and cold, and I'd already been on it once, so I went with Stephen on the roller coaster instead (even though I was my fourth time). 

On the drive back to the Lodge, I was tired, so I sang quietly to myself. Kristina joined in on The Old Rugged Cross, and from then on, for the rest of the week, all the MKs felt free about singing anything that came to mind.

4/2/98 Thursday - This morning, the weather was cold and rainy, so we MKs stayed inside and watched videos. I cross-stitched at the same time. The kid-watcher ladies think my cross-stitching is neat. I'm nearly finished a project with a picture of an angel with the words: "God is never more than a prayer away" across the top. I'm planning to send it to Grandma for Mother's Day. 

We MKs also played card games. When Elisa and I played Skip-Bo with Christine, she really creamed us. I didn't get to play even one card before she had won! Then Christine left, and Daniel (her brother) took her place. The same thing happened with him! Elisa and I couldn't figure out what made those Tajimas so lucky.

By the afternoon, it had stopped raining, so Stephen, Paul, Christine, Elisa, and I rented a tennis set and went to the court. The best match that I was in was between Stephen and myself. We were as good at being tennis opponents as we were ping-pong opponents at the camp two years ago. I won the match. 

On the other hand, Stephen does an awful job of being a partner. Instead of staying on his side, he insists on hitting the ball EVERY time. He also complains that his partner is in the way, when it's actually the other way around!

After we wore ourselves out playing tennis, we four older girls went to the outdoor jacuzzi to dip our legs in while sitting on the edge. It felt so nice and warm. We compared big toes, and I have the fattest one.

Another thing I did this day was to fix Kristina's hair and Sarah's hair in the same style as mine. It's a style I invented last year. I start with a little hair at the top and add more strands as I go, but I just twist the two pieces around each other, instead of braiding it. 

Right after supper, Elisa and Christine needed to go back to their cabins, because they'd forgotten their Bibles. Paul had the key, and he wouldn't give it to them. (It was the main key to four cabins attached to one big room.)

I marched up to Paul and pulled back his sleeve, revealing his WWJD bracelet. When I asked him, "What would Jesus do?" he thought a little and then said, "He would finish eating." Honestly, how exasperating can you get?

"No, he wouldn't. He would give them the key," I retorted. Then, turning to the girls, I said, "Well, I'm going up to the conference room. I'll see you later - if you ever get there."

They did get there, with their Bibles, in the nick of time for the devotions. And Paul, after finishing his supper (and somebody else's too) proceeded to charm everyone with his violin playing. Paul's jokes sometimes cross the line from funny to aggravating, but never go so far as mean.

4/3/98 Friday - In the morning, I played more tennis, croquet, and golf. I did better on croquet - first, then second, then third place. 

At lunchtime, our family paid for everybody, using Mimi's money. Then all the missionaries wrote Mimi a thank-you note on one of the placemats.

Then it was time to go home. I was sad. My parents and I headed to the Yoshidas' home to spend the night. I went with the Yoshidas to a noodle shop for supper. I didn't especially care for the sauce that came with the noodles, but I surprised myself by eating an eggplant tempura without gagging. I didn't know that it would taste almost totally like tempura batter, and not like eggplant.

While we were waiting for our food, Mr. Yoshida asked me about my homeschooling. I talked about how I divvy up each chapter according to how many pages I have to read per day, and how I write in the lesson plan book the work I've done AFTER I have finished it, instead of beforehand.

Mr. Yoshida told Paul to get some hints from what I was saying, but Paul wasn't even paying attention. Paul is going to start homeschooling this year, since he just graduated from his Japanese junior high at the closing of ninth grade in March.

4/4/98 Saturday - This day, I sat in while Mama helped Paul set up a schedule for his schoolwork. I think that was Mrs. Yoshida's idea. It gave me a chance to look at some A Beka English textbooks, and think about how I wish Bob Jones had some spelling books for high schoolers.

In a way, I was glad to get to be around Paul without Christine sticking to him like glue. It's not that I envied them for enjoying each other's company, or resented the way they unintentionally left me out by speaking in Japanese. It's just that Paul is the only teenage boy I know whom I can talk to. Christine can talk to any boys she wants to.

When Elisa and Kristina commented that Christine Tajima "likes" Paul, I told them that everybody likes Paul. It's true - he's a very likeable person. But to tell the truth, I felt very glad that all the romantic notions were aimed at Christine and Paul, rather than at me and Paul.

When I returned home from Tama, I composed this poem:

The Common Bond of Missionary Kids

MKs eat together, compete together - six days in a year.
MKs walk together, talk together, full of friendly cheer.
MKs pray together, play together - kinship we can claim.
MKs laugh together, act together - silliness our aim.
MKs need each other, tease each other - make ourselves at home.
MKs love each other, hug each other, though apart we roam.
MKs tolerate each other when we cannot get along. 
MKs give each other courage, always read with a song.
MKs never are so different that we can't communicate.
MKs have a common bond that just does not disintegrate.

4/11/98 Saturday – This evening, Mama and I went with Mr. & Mrs. S. to the gymnasium at a community gym. We rented rackets and played bound tennis. It’s a lot like tennis, except the racket handles are short, the ball is softer, the net is lower, and the court is smaller. 
We played doubles with some other ladies. Instead of hitting the ball when it comes to your side, you hit it once, and then wait for your partner to hit it, alternating turns. You have to run back and forth a lot that way. I think we got more exercise playing bound tennis than we would playing tennis.

4/12/98 Sunday – This day was Easter Sunday. We got up early in the morning – before 6:00, and went down to the beach for a sunrise service. Actually, soon after we got there, I went back in the car and slept through the whole thing! About eight people came, and they sang hymns and ate fish and soup.
At Sunday school at Satogaoka Baptist Church, the kids hunted for eggs. I took some photos of them. I didn’t look for the eggs myself, because I was the one who had hidden them. I also had a hand in dying them on Friday. I came up with some pretty good hiding places on the second floor of the church, such as inside a tissue box, between the sofa pillows, and on the foot pedal of the organ. We also handed out jelly beans and marshmallow chicks.

In the afternoon, the Piccolo Drama Club girls put on a show at the Satogaoka Community Center. There was only a small audience – mainly parents, siblings, and a few friends of the girls. We sang two songs with motions. The first was about a Swiss shepherd. We did a lot of skipping in it. Then in the next song, I had to sing a few lines by myself, and I’d hardly had time to catch my breath!
I was pretending to be a waiter in a restaurant, and the others were supposed to guess who I was. There were also a fish seller, a vegetable seller, and a teacher. That was a fun song.

Following the two songs, we did our puppet show. When Mrs. T. gave the credits, we each had to tell what was hard for us. I said hiding behind the table was hard! (The puppets stood on top of the table.)

4/15/98 Wednesday – This day had a boring morning, but an exciting afternoon and evening. In the morning, Papa and I drove to the Hudsons’ in Atsugi. I’d been looking forward to it for months!

When I saw Mary, it felt like we had just seen each other a month ago, instead of six months ago. Mary now has two dogs, three hamsters, and three fish. The names of two of the hamsters are Him and Her, and since Her is pregnant, there will soon be a bunch of “Thems.” I knew about Mary’s dog Precious, whom she got for Christmas, but I didn’t know about Bit of Joy. Joy is a little pug puppy that Mary and her mom got from the Roberts’ when they visited them. Joy is real cute and squirmy. Precious is cute too, but she’s bigger. Precious is part shiba inu, but she’s a lighter color, less stocky, and her tail is less curly.

We ate supper with the Hudsons. The strawberry pie for dessert was scrumptious! The bottom part was cheesecake, and the top part was strawberry pudding.

Afterwards, we went to prayer meeting, and Papa gave a sermon about God’s love.

Mary & I got a lot of chatter in this night. I told about all the fun stuff that happened at Tama.

4/16/98 Thursday
– This morning, Papa, Mary, and I drove back to Iwaki, my hometown. Most of the time, Mary & I cross-stitched, but we did play a pretty long checkers game too. We were pretty evenly matched, because I thought the beginning was easy, and Mary thought the end was easy.

When we got home, it was close to the time for Piccolo Drama Club. Mrs. T. had us girls do the two songs we performed on Sunday, so Mary could watch it. We also read The House that Jack Built. Mary & I would read a part of it in English and race a girl who we reading it in Japanese. Of course, the English was always faster. 
Mary & I also learned a hand-clapping game to the tune of Yankee Doodle. The funny thing was the Japanese words are about the Alps!

4/17/98 Friday
– This morning, Mary & I tried to do an extra lot of schoolwork so we could go to Hawaiians Spa Resort in the afternoon. Mama and Mary & I had a very fun time there. We did nearly every single thing. 
Before we got wet, though, Mary & I took two sticker pictures of ourselves. One was in a cheeseburger, and one made us into clowns. They were both pretty goofy!

On the ride home, Mary & I started talking B English. (I can’t believe we invented it nearly four years ago!) When we got home, I sang, “We’re here!” but it sounded like, “Beer, beer, beer, beer!”

4/19/98 Sunday – On this day, Kanako came to church and met Mary. I was very glad about both things she did. She even stayed for children’s church and lunch. Afterwards, we three girls walked to my house. We played Skip-Bo and at chocolate while watching Beethoven 2 (with Japanese subtitles).
In the evening, after Kanako had gone home, I helped Mary arrange her photos in an album. She has more pictures of animals than anything else.

I also showed Mary a whole bunch of my photos. She got so sick of them that she wouldn’t look at another photo the rest of the week!

4/20/98 Monday – This morning, Mary & I went to the church and made pizza with Mari-san, my Sunday school teacher, and with Manami-chan, who grew up in our church. Mary & I made ours without peppers and onions. It turned out really tasty.

In the afternoon, Mary & I finished dissecting a crayfish for Biology class. The worst part was when I pulled out its intestines. It was gross, and I am not looking forward to doing the frog and worm later.

During and after supper, we watched The Prince and the Pauper. When we were done eating, Mary & I made postcards and bookmarks by using rubber stamps. Mary made a Mother’s Day card for her mom. I made a Christmas card and an animal bookmark.

4/21/98 Tuesday – This morning, Mary & I packed a picnic lunch and rode bikes to Iwaki Park. We traded bikes (mine and Mama’s) going and coming. Mama really needs a new bike. It “kicks” every five or six revolutions, and the front tire is leaky. However, it still operates well enough.

While we were sitting on a blanket eating, a couple came up and asked for a favor. They wanted to take a picture of their little boy with Mary and me! We agreed, but I asked them to take a picture of us on Mary’s camera in return.

When we were done eating, we walked around the park a little and played. I leaped over a row of posts and hung upside-down from a swinging bar – two things I hadn’t done in ages. After all, I am 14.

We wanted to walk across the bridge from the park to Nagasaki store, so we could buy double-dip ice cream cones there. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, because of my piano lesson with Mrs. T. and 2:00. Maybe it will work out some other time.

One more thing we did this day was to make friendship bracelets for each other. We picked four colors each. Mary’s colors: blue, green, black, red. My colors: pink, purple, blue, white. Then we created our bracelets while we watched A Little Princess. It was the movie that Mama and I saw twice in Japanese first. It followed the book so carefully, and I liked it so much that I just had to see it in English. I ended up getting two copies for Christmas.

4/22/98 Wednesday
– This morning, Papa took Mary and me bowling. We were the only ones there. We played two games, and Mary beat me both times. My score on the first game was higher than her score on the second game, though.
We also played some computer games this day: Cannon Fodder, Shanghai, and Makigame.

4/23/98 Thursday
– Even though we knew we had to get up by 3:30 this morning, Mary & I talked for a long time the night before. Most of the nights Mary was at my house, we talked late and got up early. But on Monday and Tuesday nights, we conked out fast and slept late.

Well, as I was saying, we got up in what seemed like the middle of the night and heaved our bags into the car to go to Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ). I slept most of the way there. We arrived around 9am. The next day would be Thrift Shop, but we had to drop off the things we wanted to sell. Mama wouldn’t let Mary and me help tag the items for sale – she said we had to do schoolwork. We did give that nasty book-learning an effort, but neither of us accomplished much. We were too excited.

Finally, at 2pm, Mary & I got to do some shopping at the Spring Thrift Shop. The rule is that those who do volunteer work for four hours on Thursday can have their pick of all the junk before anyone else gets a chance. Mary & I weren’t volunteers, but Mama was. Therefore, we looked through the dresses, shirts, skirts, and sweaters. When we each got a handful, we tried them on in the restroom. We asked for each other’s opinions ONLY about the FIT of the clothes, because our tastes in color and pattern are very different.

At 4:30, Papa, Mama, Mary, and I drove off to the Mitas’. They live about two hours away from CAJ. Papa gave his testimony at prayer meeting this night. 

When he was finished, Mr. Mita gave a little talk about faith. To illustrate his point, he had Papa lean back and fall into Mr. Mita’s arms. Unfortunately, Papa’s faith was misplaced. Mr. Mita couldn’t hold him up, and they both fell over, knocking down three stacks of tracts on a shelf! It was really funny.

4/24/98 Friday
– This was Spring Thrift Shop Day. Elisa Mita (age 11) came along this time, which she never does, so she could pick out some books to buy. I recommended some to her. After she picked out the books, she wandered around by herself, and I hardly saw her. 

Mary & I hung around with Hannah (age 16) and Megan (age 14) Roberts. This Thrift Shop Day was a major improvement on the last one. The main factor was that Mary, who is the link between the Roberts girls and me, had seen all of us within the month, rather than over a year ago.

It really turned out well that Mary & I had done our shopping for clothes the day before. Since Mrs. Roberts does that for her girls, we all could spend our time looking at books, games, 
puzzles, and other miscellaneous junk. 

At one point, I found a bag of magnets with dog pictures on three of them. The three dog-lovers divided the cost and I received the rest of the magnets in the bag.

Mary’s mom had brought Joy the pug puppy with her. Mary actually received Bit of Joy from the Roberts family, since they breed dogs as a sideline along with their missions work. When we carried Joy around outside, she attracted a number of admirers chorusing, “She’s so cute!” “How old is she?” “Whose dog is it?”

At 1:00, Mama, Papa, and I went to a School Support Services (SSS) Speech Meet. Actually, no one gave speeches. The majority of the kids recited poems. Some told stories, and some recited Bible verses. There were about 30 pieces: some long, some short, some touching, and most funny. I was last, and I recited the poem I wrote entitled The Common Bond of Missionary Kids. Not many of the kids used motions, but I did, and I think it was improved. Joyce Oshiro, who works with the Mita family, and Mrs. Knox (both grown-up missionary kids (MKs) both liked my poem and said it was true.

This was the day that Mary & I said goodbye.
 Our hope is that I can visit Mary in June or July. We had such a great week together, and we didn’t even put on a show, or play with my paper dolls or dollhouse, or put on oogle costumes, or spend a lot of time with hamsters. Those are things we’ve often done in the past, and they’ll probably remain in the past.

I came home from the Thrift Shop having devoured a hot dog, a lemon donut, a chocolate chip cookie, and five donut holes. I also carried with me approximately eight articles of clothing, 15 books, and one game.

4/30/98 Thursday
– This evening at Piccolo, we had a goodbye party for Ayane-chan, the girl who played Becky in A Little Princess. She can’t come to practice anymore, because she has to practice ballet on Thursday evenings. She gave everybody a Snoopy notebook. We all ate snacks. I let the other girls eat my share of seaweed-sprinkled potato chips.

Month of May

5/3/98 Sunday – This morning, no kids came for children’s church, so I sat in on Papa’s sermon at Satogaoka Baptist Church. His sermon was about tithing. I tried to take notes, and I actually translated 16 sentences! I wrote them down in English – I probably would have forgotten how the sentence went if I’d tried to write it in Japanese.

This afternoon, Papa, Mama, and I drove to Spring Bible Camp. We’re in charge of teaching the elementary school kids again. Papa and Mama decided to do an overview of the book of Joshua.

5/4/98 Monday
– After breakfast (which was yucky) I played ping-pong with Papa. We didn’t keep score.

At 10:00 was a Bible lesson. Papa read about Joshua, and the kids filled in the blanks on their worksheet. I wrote the answers up on a little chalkboard. I much preferred to help in that class, rather than to sit with the older kids and listen to a sermon. At least, with the younger kids, I could understand what Papa said.

In the afternoon, I had fun playing shuffleboard, badminton, and more ping-pong.

The evening Bible lesson was about the Christian soldier’s armor, as described in Ephesians chapter 6. The kids cut out strips of paper saying, “Truth,” or “Righteousness,” and they pasted the strips on the picture of a soldier.

Last year, when I was struggling with doubts about the truth of the Bible, I cut out pictures of the armor, labeling them, and superimposed the armor on a picture of myself. This focus on the armor of God helped me keep my faith strong – not the faith of a child, but rather a childlike faith.

The children in our class also learned about what happened at different Canaanite cities that the Israelites conquered. Mama set up boxes on the floor to represent the cities, with blue yarn for the Jordan River and the Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee. The kids had to toss a ball into one of the boxes and say what happened at that city.

When I was talking with some of the ladies this day, Mrs. U. said my Japanese is better than it used to be. I’m glad of that, but I’m afraid of forgetting it when we go to the USA.

5/9/98 Saturday
– This day we prepared for a Mother’s Day Concert on Sunday. Three girls from the Koriyama Church came: Christine (age 14), Micchan (age13), and Hiromi Asano (age 19). Also, Mrs. Yoshida and her son Paul (age 15) came by train.

We all had lunch at the church, and then we practiced the music. The other kids were from our church, and their names were: Wakana (age 14), her sister Urara (age 11), Keiichiro (age 10), Hitoshi (age 11), and Yuki (age 14).

Everyone sang, and some played the piano or violin. After the first rehearsal, we went to the beach and had yakisoba barbecue for upper. The food got a little sandy, but it was fun anyway. The part I liked best about this day was eating a cup of cookies n cream ice cream after the hot springs bathing.

5/10/98 Sunday – The Mother’s Day Concert went very well. Although there were a few blunders, nobody started giggling when they were supposed to be singing. We all sang the same verse to the same song at the same time! My own piano solo was the best I had ever done in public. I decided that Jesus Is All the World to Me (the song I played), and I would trust him to guide my fingers. And of course, He did!

It also helps me to think of Papa who had listened to me practice every day, and he knows I can play the song perfectly now. I usually get stage fright when playing the piano, but this day, it helped me to be facing the wall instead of the audience.

A lot of people attended the concert, and it was really a blessing.
We had chili for lunch, over rice, of course. I took a lot of corn, and Micchan thought my plate was the serving dish. She was going to take some for herself!
I wasn’t too tired after the concert, but listening to Christine’s rapid-fire Japanese all during lunch wore me out more than anything. Christine is a definite people person, and she loves to talk. (I am the exact opposite.)

On a second observation, I’ve decided that Christine doesn’t “like” Paul in the sense that she has a crush on him. However, she is so opposite to shy of him that it gives that impression. It’s also true that she’s the target for the majority of Paul’s tricks! When I think about it, that’s a good arrangement, because any other girl would get annoyed sooner or later. But Christine just laughs and jokes back, and so peace is preserved, and the show goes on.

Honestly, it’s like watching a comedy act to see those two and listen to them jabber. They remind me of Jo and Laurie in Little Women – you know, Miss Tomboy and Mr. Tease.

I sure do wish we all spoke the same language, though. I can hardly understand Paul’s Japanese. I can’t ask him to repeat every sentence in English just for me. He’s my interpreter often enough as it is. Also, if I say something in English, then the Japanese kids are left out, so it’s not easy to socialize.

In spite of the communication problem, I was sorry to see them all leave this afternoon. I nearly had a loneliness attack. Fortunately, Papa and I still had presents to give to Mama, and that kept me cheerful.

We got her three new pairs of slippers for company and a set of juice glasses. I had made a small cross-stitch for her, too. It says, “Life is fragile . . . Handle with prayer.”

Oh! Here are some funny things about the concert that I forgot. I can’t leave them out.

Mama was upstairs watching the little kids during the concert. She said that when we all sang, the voices she heard loudest were Paul’s and mine. We were the farthest from the microphone!

Secondly, Mrs. Yoshida told her testimony about her son Paul’s brain tumor and subsequent surgery. She spoke in English, and Paul repeated it in Japanese. At the end, she was going on and on thanking people for their prayers and asking them to continue praying.

Paul got this silly grin on his face that seemed to say, “Hey, there’s no way I’m going to be able to translate all that in one shot.”
Some of the audience started smiling when he asked her to say it over, and there was a universal chuckle when all he came up with was, “Um, from here on out, uh, please pray.”

My English-speaking friend Kanako (age 15) attended the concert, and afterwards, I walked her home, just up the road from our church.
When I returned, Paul came up to me with a carnation in his hand, and said, “There are extras. All the mothers got theirs already. Here you go.” I was touched.

5/11/98 Monday
– This day, we rode down to Nihonmatsu for meetings. Of course, I did schoolwork and cross-stitched. On the way back, we from aloud from a Christian book called Why You Act the Way You Do. It’s about the four temperaments: sanguine choleric, melancholy, and phlegmatic. 

One thing the book brought to my mind was how, just the other day, some of us kids were looking at the signatures in Christine’s Bible, and we laughed at the contrast between two of them. Paul’s was sprawling and expressive, while my signature, directly below his, was small and tidy. As I discovered later, according to the book, our handwriting is completely in line with our respective temperaments. Paul is, as Mama says, “So sanguine it’s scary.” I, on the other hand, am undeniably phlegmatic.  

Another surprising fact in accordance with my temperament is my two favorite Patch the Pirate songs. A phlegmatic’s temperament include the weaknesses of fear and selfishness. The songs that I find helpful are: How Can I Fear? and Servant of All.

5/13/98 Wednesday
– This day, I started sewing a blouse. There’s some material that Mama and I bought over a year ago for that purpose, but we never got around to it. The blouse is a very simple style – no buttons or anything, just a ribbon drawstring at the neck. Mama calls it a “peasant blouse.” Mama said I should practice before I use the red-striped fabric that we bought, so I’m making a brown gingham top first.

5/15/98 Friday
– Last night, something ironic happened. (I’m studying irony in Literature.) I stayed awake till midnight writing a lullaby! I just started singing to myself in bed, basing the words on Psalm 4:8. “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou Lord only makest me to dwell in safety.” The song turned out so nicely, that I had to get up and jot down the words. Then, just when I was satisfied with the lyrics, I realized that I hadn’t used the word /peace/ in the song! So, of course, I had to write another verse. 

This morning, I sat down at the piano, and started writing down the music. It’s a quiet, flowing tune, not too similar to any other tune that I know. I even figured out a part for the left hand to complement the melody.

I sang the song for Mama when she came back from Ladies’ meeting, and she was thrilled. This is how my new song goes:
Help Me Sleep
I will lay myself in bed,
Draw my pillow to my head,
For I’m in the dwelling place
’Neath my Father’s holy face.
Help me sleep, fall asleep.
Lord, shelter me, protect me.
Help me sleep, fall asleep.
Lord Jesus, keep me safely.
Shepherd, fill my heart with peace.
Make my worries all to cease.
Lead me to the pastures green.
My poor, troubled soul redeem!
Help me sleep, fall asleep.
Lord, shelter me, protect me.
Help me sleep, fall asleep.
Lord Jesus, keep me safely.

5/19/98 Tuesday – This afternoon, after my piano lesson, I did a little teaching myself. Gerald Buchanan (age 6) came over for half an hour, and I helped him with reading. I had him recite the alphabet and the sounds letters make and point to the pictures when we sang the song that goes, “Hear the /b/ sound in the /B/ words, /b/ in buzzing bumblebee.”

Later on, we’ll use the Bob Jones 1
st grade Reading book. Gerald has to learn some of the words before he can read the story. The word that was easiest for him to guess was /blue/. (I hinted that is was a color.)

5/20/98 Wednesday
– This day, Papa and I went on an hour-long bike ride. We just wandered around until we ended up at the playground in the new development area of Satogaoka. We played there a little while, and then rode home.

When we got back, there was some mail waiting for me. Mama had told her friend Hanna about my interest in editing. As it turned out, Hanna is writing a book of true stories about non-Japanese ladies who married Japanese men. She sent me a chapter to revise.

Because German is her first language, her manuscript in English has a lot of mistakes. I had to fix 20 things on the first page alone, which is all I read today. I can see it’s going to take some work, but it comes much more naturally to me to rewrite paragraphs of English than to solve one geometry problem.

5/23/98 Saturday
– This morning, Mari-san picked me up to drive down to Bible camp. There was a meeting this day about what activities the teens would like for summer camp. However, when we got there, Grandma Bishop (the camp director’s wife) told us that the meeting was at Nihonmatsu – another city altogether! That’s where Papa had said it was, looking at the announcement, but Mari-san got mixed up!

When we finally got to the right place, we were an hour late, but there was enough time for me to tell a couple of ideas that Mama had come up with. There were a bunch of girls from the T.s’ church and Takahashis’ church. Daniel T. was the only boy there. Everybody came up with some pretty fun plans, on the whole – like having a bonfire and wading in a river and setting off fireworks. 

We all ate lunch together and talked a little. Then Mari-san and I set off again for home. On the way, we stopped at a favorite ice cream joint between Iwaki and the camp. They sell homemade hand-dipped ice cream cones. I got walnut flavor.

5/24/98 Sunday
– This morning, Papa had me participate in his children’s object lesson during church. He called Mama and me up to the front, and then asked Ai and Maki Tanaka (who were the only kids there) which one of my parents I looked the most like. 

Ai-chan (age 5), after carefully examining our faces, said, “Your dad.”

Maki-chan (age 3) said I didn’t look like either of them. When Papa got the grown-ups’ opinions, Mr. Takenaka said I looked like Mama, and two ladies said I looked like both of them. The illustration was that as children of God, we’re supposed to become like our Father.

I was glad when Ai-chan said I looked like Papa, because so many other people have told me I look like my mother. I don’t agree with them. My eyes and mouth are similar to Papa’s, but none of my face is like Mama’s. It must just be our hair and glasses that throw them off.

5/26/98 Tuesday
– This day, I fixed up a bag for myself. It’s got bright stripes on it, and I stitched on a little picture of a mushroom that I had embroidered. I also attached a big navy blue button on each side, with a ribbon to button the top sides together. I’m going to use it as a pocketbook.

Mama gave me a pocketbook in March (which was supposed to be a Christmas gift, and she forgot it), but I couldn’t fig my cross-stitch project in it easily. Besides, that pocketbook looked too sophisticated for someone who wears culottes six days a week. I’ll save it for when I’m older. 

With this new bag, I can even fit my Bibles (English and Japanese) into it, and take the whole shebang to church.

5/29/98 Friday
– This evening, I drew a picture of a big white Teddy bear that I got for Christmas. His name is Wee Willie Winkie, because he’s wearing a nightcap. I started painting the pencil drawing. I’ll finish tomorrow.

Month of June

6/1/98 Monday – This day, I finally got back to art class at the local Japanese middle school. I started carving a picture frame back in December, but I got sick, and other things came up. . . . Anyway, I finished carving it today. Now I just have to sand and varnish it. It’s square with a circle-shaped hole to put the picture in. I carved a butterfly at the top, a pansy at the bottom, and flowers and leaves up the sides.

6/5/98 Friday
– This day, I finished sewing a vest for myself. The material is blue white Teddy bears and bows outlined in white. I found some letter-shaped buttons, and picked out my initials: SRE.

6/7/98 Sunday
– This day, Mr. & Mrs. D. visited out church. They are here from the States for an annual Bible Conference at Grace Baptist Bible School (from which Mari-san had graduated). Mr. & Mrs. D. came to our church in Satogaoka first. 

Mr. D. brought some curios from Africa, where they had been missionaries. He also told us stories, while Papa translated into Japanese.

Mrs. D. sang Trust in the Lord and played an electronic instrument called an omnichord. This evening, we all rode to Tama for the Bible Conference.

6/9/98 Tuesday
– At the church in Tama, my family has been taking Mr. D.’s classes on Cultural Anthropology. It’s a little slow, with the Japanese translation in between, but the subject matter is intriguing.

The Bible Conference began this evening. We sang in Japanese and English, and then heard a message by Mr. G. Mr. & Mrs. G. are also visitors from America. I enjoy hearing sermons in both English and Japanese. As long as I hear the English first, I can understand the Japanese pretty well.

I started asking for signatures in my Bible this evening. Later, I’ll look up the favorite verse references that people added to their autographs.

6/11/98 Thursday
– I’m so happy because Mary (age 14) is here at Tama with me! Her dad brought her yesterday to stay at the hotel with us. On Friday, I get to ride back to Mary’s house when Mr. Ron, her dad, comes to pick us up. 

I feel excited to think that God has given me a great friend, and He lets us get together even though we live far apart. I foresee a fabulous week ahead.

This afternoon, after two messages at Grace Baptist Church, Mary & I had some fun around Tama Lodge. We walked around the grounds and bought some goodies from the Country Store. Then we did some archery. I did about as well as I did last time. Mary hit the bull’s-eye once. We also played miniature golf, but neither of us did very well at it.

I keep teasing Mary about how a baby reacted to her last night. We were both grinning at a tiny girl, when Mary made a fast move in the baby’s face. The baby looked rather intrigued, so Mary punched the air a few more times. The baby just stared at us and then suddenly began to cry. Now I know what to do if I ever want a baby to cry. I won’t even have to touch her!

This evening, a banquet was held in the restaurant at Tama Lodge, on the US base. Everybody got all dressed up, and we had prime rib for supper. I could only eat six large bites of my prime rib, but Mary devoured that whole huge hunk of meat. She said, “I just have to be able to tell my brother Ronnie that I ate a whole prime rib meal.”

6/14/98 Sunday – I’ve been at the Hudsons’ since last Friday. Saturday was a quiet day, with visitation in the morning, browsing in a 100-yen store (the Japanese variation on a dollar store), washing the dogs in the bathtub, watching a movie, and then supper with two families from church.

This morning in Sunday school, we had a most delicious object lesson! We made teams of three girls, three boys, and the teacher Mr. Jack by himself. We had to “unite” some odd-shaped pieces of cake into one piece, using a container of chocolate frosting.

The cake and frosting were meant to symbolize families, made up of different people, sticking together to serve the Lord. Mary & I had to laugh, because the girls’ cake really looked like one whole piece of cake with frosting on it, but the boys’ cake was crumbling apart!

This evening, I sang the song I wrote: Lord, Help Me Sleep. Mary is tremendously proud of me for having written a song! I sang it at church, and Mr. Ron (the pastor and Mary's dad) had me sing it before the sermon, though I tried to warn him. I could see the ladies’ eyelids drooping and the kids snuggling against their parents as I sang. 

After the sermon, one little boy sidled up to me and said, “Your song worked on me!” He had slept through the rest of the service.

6/15/98 Monday – I forgot to mention that Mary & I don’t have to do any schoolwork this week! Isn’t that just super-cali-frag-listic-expi-ali-docious? (Yes, I know how to spell it.)

This morning, Mary & I rode our bikes to department store. We dropped off some film from my camera, so I can show the photos to Mary before I leave. Then we walked all around and up and down the escalator, looking at the merchandise. We got a little bored, so we mischievously tried on some articles of clothing which we had no intention of buying. We put them right back, of course.

Following that diversion, we walked to the McDonald’s across from Daiei for a typical fast food lunch. To top it off, we licked an ice cream cone apiece, and then pedaled back home again.

We were pretty hot from our ride, so we put on our swimsuits and rinsed off in some cool water from the shower.

After that, we sat on towels in Ronnie’s room. Ronnie is Mary’s older brother, and I ignore him. Ronnie has been gone all week, which I consider to be another good thing about my visit. 

Mary & I worked on a 3-D puzzle. It’s a puzzle of a Victorian mansion that Mary got at Thrift Shop. While we worked on it, we listened to Patch the Pirate’s Evolution Revolution cassette tape.

6/17/98 Wednesday
– This day, Mary dug away the grass from a little spot in front of their house where she wants to plant sunflowers and beans and tomatoes. I half-heartedly helped, but – lazybones that I am – I only cleared about an eight of the plot of land. The earthworms that I dug up didn’t help matters either. It’s strange that, while Mary gets along with frogs and earthworms, she can’t stand bugs. I, who think spiders and insects are curious and beautiful, do not in the least appreciate slimy animals. More evidence of irony!

6/18/98 Thursday
– This morning, Mary & I rode our bikes to Daiei again to pick up my photos. We sat right outside the store and looked at the pictures. They were mainly of Spring Camp and the Bible Conference. However, the photo of Hannah & Megan Roberts & Mary & me evoked this remark from me: “We look dorky.”

Mary defended us by asserting that we had every reason to look dorky. We’d gotten up early and been running around all day. That’s certainly true, but knowing that doesn’t improve the picture. Oh, well.

This week, Mary & I have been painting and stenciling on little blocks of wood. One of mine has on it an apple and two daisies. I’m going to give it to Papa for Father’s Day. The other one I made matches my bedroom because there’s a Teddy bear in the middle with a border of pink flowers on a light green background. Mary’s paintings feature dark green and blue backgrounds and sunflowers.

This afternoon, we finally decided on names for the hambabies. I didn’t mention them before, did I? Well, Him and Her Hamster now have four descendents: Martin, Matthias, Mattimeo, and Mariel. We named them after the mouse heroes in the Redwall book series. Both Mary & I love the Redwall stories. The baby hamsters are unbearably cute. We could see them getting bigger every day, but they’re still so small that I can hold all four of them in my hands.

Another event of this afternoon was the car wash / water fight. Miss Sherry (Mary’s mom) wanted Mary & me to wash her car, so we did. We didn’t do that great of a job, because we couldn’t get off the bits of mown grass that stuck to the car. 

Anyway, it was fun, and after the good-enough car wash, we had a water fight. We were each allotted a bucket of water and a sponge as weapons, and the battlefield was the gravel parking lot in front of the Hudsons’ house. Our buckets were placed 10 paces apart from each other and beyond each girl’s bucket was her safety zone, into which her enemy could not enter.

It was funny! We’d each dip a sponge in our own bucket and charge at each other, alternately hurling the sponges or squeezing them onto our opponent. After two bucketfuls of water each, we were ready to sign a peace treaty. 

When we finally got dry again, we made supper for ourselves. Mr. & Mrs. Hudson had gone out to eat. Mary & I fixed salmon, broccoli, tomatoes, and rice.

6/21/98 Sunday
– I’m back home again. Mary & I said a sad farewell yesterday. In the morning, we got to eat donuts together. We went to Mister Donut and split five donuts between us.

This morning in Sunday school, we went outside to the playground next to our church and played some Bible games that my mom had invented. The games had to do with the patriarchs of Israel, since it’s Father’s Day this day. There were only about six kids this week, but there were just as many adults participating, so the relay races went well.

6/24/98 Wednesday
– This evening, Mama and I went to a piano concert. There was just one fellow playing one song after another, and all by memory. He sure looking funny, bouncing every time a note was accented. It made me think, “If that guy were wearing a wig, it would have fallen off a long time ago.” During a particularly energetic passage, I thought for sure he was going to pop off the piano bench and shoot through the ceiling like a rocket!

6/26/98 Friday
– I guess I’d better explain first about the Bishops being in Iwaki. Paul Bishop (who grew up as a missionary kid in Japan) was the pastor of Satogaoka Baptist Church when my dad joined him as assistant pastor. Now the Lord has led the Bishops to return to America for good, leaving my dad to become the next pastor.

This time, the Bishops are in Japan for just a few weeks, to pack up their belongings in the parsonage and send them back to America. I first saw them on Monday this week, and they’ve been frequenting our house every day (and sometimes night) since then. Miss Susan had been pawning off on us all kinds of things that she doesn’t want anymore. Looking at some of them, I think, “Oh, neat!” and others, “What in the world are we going to do with that?”

Anyway, this day, we got two shelves, two file drawers, and a china cabinet from them. We wanted to put their cabinet in the place of one we already have – between the kitchen and living room. However, the men first put the new cabinet in the middle room, until we could clean it. 

So Mama and I scrubbed the new cabinet, and then removed all the dishes from the old cabinet. I was about to wash the old cabinet, when Papa and Mr. Paul came to switch the positions of the two cabinets. Papa said to me, “Go ahead and keep cleaning the cabinet. We’ll move the other one in here.”

I started cleaning the top of the cabinet, but I couldn’t reach it well. So I pulled a chair over and stepped up on it. Just then, Papa came through the doorway, hauling the top half of our new cabinet.

“Hey! Sharon Rose! Put that chair back!” Papa hollered.

“Oh, OK,” I said, puzzled, but dragging the chair back.

“No, put it more to the side, where it was.”

“Where was it?” I asked.

Papa was getting pretty frustrated by that time. I finally got the chair in the right spot, and the men set the cabinet’s upper half on that chair and another chair spaced just the right distance apart.

Our new cabinet looks really nice, and we put a lot of dishes in it already. It’s bigger than the old cabinet, too.

6/28/98 Sunday
– Over 30 people came to church this day to see the Bishops and say good-bye to them.

In children’s church, we had a few Japanese children, as well as the Bishops’ three kids: Joel (age 7), Kayla (age 4), and Jeremy (age 2). So the plan was for Mama to tell the Bible story in English, and then I would translate into Japanese. We started out that way, but Mama kept forgetting and saying it in Japanese. Then I had to translate into English! By the time the story ended, I was telling it in Japanese, while Mama repeated in English what I had said.

When the story was over, I went down to the nursery with little Jeremy Bishop. He’d been getting a little antsy upstairs in children’s church. In the nursery, Jeremy played a game which consisted of his hiding behind a futon, telling me in a loud voice to “Hide! Down!” and then popping up from behind the futon and looking pleased with himself.

After the worship service, everyone stayed for lunch. Indeed, even more people came at lunchtime. I went around snapping pictures left and right. I used up nearly a whole roll of film!

This day was also time for the ladies’ group to present Miss Susan and Kayla their matching handmade smocked dresses. I don’t know how it happened, but I’d had no hand in making those dresses, though I knew how to smock. Anyway, I took a good picture of Kayla wearing her dress and playing on the swing.

6/30/98 Tuesday
– This day, I had another reading lesson with Gerald Buchanan. I’m trying to get him to always associate the right sound with each letter. One helpful item from Miss Susan was a set of alphabet flashcards. Each card has four easy words on the back, so I would read a word and tell Gerald to point to the word I’d said. That way, he can practice recognizing words until he can read them himself.

Month of July

7/3/98 Friday – This day, I went to Hanna’s house to help revise more of her book. She asked me to correct her errors right in the computer, instead of on paper. I went through one whole chapter and part of another – 32 pages – in four hours. She gave me 3,000 yen (about $30) in payment.

Hanna made some lunch for me while I was there. I had remarked in the car on the way that I don’t care for Japanese food. (Technically, in any given meal of Japanese food, there is something that I really like, and something I find really disgusting.) So Hanna fixed something more to North American tastes – salad. Now, unfortunately, as it happens, I don’t like lettuce or salad dressing either! 

I’m a dreadfully picky eater. Once, a lady at Bible camp observed me turning down seaweed, tofu, radishes, and miso soup, asked wonderingly, “What DOES she eat?”

I felt rather offended and quite sorry for the lady, whom I supposed never to have tasted mashed potatoes, applesauce, or peanut butter. Not included, however, in what I consider “delectable dishes” is the crisp, wholesome vegetable, lettuce. For this one long-nurtured distaste, I have at least a slight excuse, which is as follows:
One bright autumn day, my conscientious mother took her lively little daughter Sharon Rose for a walk through the fallen leaves. She brought to my attention the brilliant colors, the crackling underfoot, the points and curves of the thrilling and wonderful leaves.

Determined to plant in my impressionable young mind just one final bit of information, she told me in an excited tone these fatal words: “And do you know what? We EAT leaves too! Lettuce is a leaf!” 
From that day forward, I have shunned lettuce almost entirely.

Getting back to the present . . . I did eat Hanna’s salad politely. It’s really not half so bad as seaweed. It’s just that I’m not used to the flavor. I think that when we’re visiting people in the States, I’ll try to eat a small portion of salad when it is offered. In that way, hopefully, I’ll overcome my aversion to that horrid leaf known as lettuce.

7/4/98 Saturday
– This afternoon, Kanako came over to my house. We made boards covered with cloth and with ribbons criss-crossing them to hang photos on. It’s Mama’s latest craft idea. I made mine with pink fabric, with red and purple flowers spread evenly across its checks.

I explained to Kanako how to be saved using my gospel bracelet. Actually, I had copied out a verse in both English and Japanese to correspond with each colored bead. I told Kanako the meaning of each color and showed her the verse that went with it. I could have just recited most of the verse, but I didn’t trust my memory, and I’m sure Kanako could understand it better by seeing the kanji (written words that convey meaning). 

Kanako said that she would think about what I told her, and that she thought she should learn more about Jesus before believing in Him. I really hope she will become a Christian soon. It’s extremely seldom that I have a chance to give the gospel to someone who will understand me, and who hasn’t already heard it from grown-ups.

I knew that Kanako would listen to me, as a friend her own age (most likely her only friend who knows the gospel), even though she isn’t coming to church. I’m so grateful to God for His giving me the opportunity to tell the wonderful story of His love, although I would have been infinitely more glad if she had accepted His love right away. I do with the Japanese would be quicker about getting saved once they know how.

Kanako stayed for dinner – cheese steak sandwiches – and then she and Mama and I played some games. We taught Kanako how to play Dutch Blitz, and she did really well at it, staying only one or two cards behind me in most of the rounds. We also played Guesstures, which is always fun when you have more than two people to play. It was good practice for Kanako’s English.

7/8/98 Wednesday
– This afternoon, I drew my face, looking in a small mirror as I drew. The art teacher at the local Japanese middle school suggested it to me, but I didn’t have time to finish while I was there on Monday. Though it’s only in pencil, the picture looks quite a lot like me. There’s a braid coming over my shoulder, and my head is tilted to the side and slightly down, so that my eyebrows can be seen above my glasses. 

When I compared this recent drawing to one of Mama that I drew a year and a half ago, I think that my drawing has improved. That seems odd, because I’ve hardly drawn at all in that year and a half.

7/12/98 Sunday
– I guess I haven’t written anything yet about the new operetta we’re preparing in Piccolo Drama Club. It’s going to be Jack and the Beanstalk. This afternoon, I went to a rehearsal at the Satogaoka Community Hall. We’ve gotten so everybody knows their lines pretty well for Part One. Now we have to work on the gestures more.  

I have the part of a dairy farmer who lives next door to Jack’s family. He invites Jack’s mother to come work on his farm, but she won’t. The farmer’s wife brags about all the cows that they have and rubs it in that Jack’s family has only one cow that has stopped giving milk. (At least, that’s my impression of the dialogue, but I haven’t yet looked up the words I don’t know on the script.) Yuki (age 15) plays the cow. She’s really funny dancing around and singing, “Moo~~~~~!”

We also practiced two songs with dancing motions that are separate from the play. The songs are: Michael, Row the Boat Ashore and Let’s Get in a Circle and Dance. The second song is longer, but there’s a lot of “Oh~~~~~ la, la, la, la, la,” so it wasn’t too hard to memorize all of it.

This time, we’re using striped tubes from Saran-Wrap containers to add interest to the motions. Mrs. T. got everybody to wrap shiny tape around their tubes in three different colors. Let’s Get in a Circle and Dance is hard, because we really do dance in a circle, holding onto the tube of the girl on our left, which is not easy to coordinate when we’re also singing.

7/15/98 Wednesday
– The only halfway interesting thing today was when I sorted and put in albums three months’ worth of photos. We got this outdoor-only disposable camera from the States, and its pictures spread from April to June, because we mostly took picture INSIDE, with other cameras. How annoying. I kept wanting to put away all these great pictures, but first we had to finish up the roll on the stupid little no-flash camera.

7/20/98 Monday
– Last night, Christine T. came over to stay with us for four days. The reason is for her to practice English with us. She understands a lot, because her mom mostly talks to her in English, but she’s not so good at speaking. (I experience the same situation, with the languages reversed.) Christine is planning to go to high school in the States, so it’s essential for her to improve her English skills.

This day, Mama and I got out the rope from the shed and taught Christine to hop Double Dutch style. It’s pretty fun, and she catches on quickly. Mama likes Double Dutch so much that she’s taught it to at least seven people in Japan already – including me!

Mama also suggested that if Christine and I washed the windows of our house, she would pay towards the Bible camp’s chapel fund, 200 yen per window pair, and 100 yen for taking down and putting up curtains to be washed. So we tackled the job, cleaning most of the downstairs windows this evening. If we can finish the rest of the windows later this week, we’ll earn 2000 yen for the camp. The work was more pleasant for me than work is apt to be because: I had a friend to do it with, I would get money from it to give to a good cause, and I could tell the windows were dirty and truly needed cleaning.

This evening, we girls sat in the living room, playing cards and watching TV. Mama suddenly got the urge to watch Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, because she’d heard Christine practicing Tale as Old as Time on the piano. While we were watching the movie, Mama kept laughing at jokes that she hadn’t caught before.

7/21/98 Tuesday
– This morning, Christine and I made a picnic lunch of egg salad sandwiches. Then we all drove out to the Marine Tower in Iwaki. Papa, Christine, and I threw a Nerf football back and forth on the grassy area around the tower. Christine and I took off our shoes and socks in order to better feel the spiky-soft grass.

We climbed up a hill and down again, across a little twisting bridge over a ditch which contained more weeds than water. Then we all settled at a picnic table to eat. After all this, when we strolled up to the Marine Tower, we were disappointed to find that it was closed. Out of all the days in the month, we had to choose the third Tuesday!

We did go to a shorter platform not far away, and from it viewed the ocean. It was an orange, oval structure, from the top of which we gazed straight down at the white foaming waves, churning and slapping against pock-marked boulders which crouched below the surface. And from the steep cliff above the water, pine trees outstretched their porcupine branches, as though bestowing a blessing on fin and feather which passed below.

7/22/98 Wednesday
– This day, Mama took Christine and me to Hawaiians Spa Resort. It was so crowded! The Japanese finally are having their short summer vacation, and business is booming for resorts. 

Christine likes the big outdoor hot springs bath. It was just built within the past year. Actually, I don’t think it’s all that big, but it’s supposed to be the biggest one in Japan. It’s very relaxing, with wooden dipper buckets to pour hot water over yourself, a narrow waterfall to sit under, and a dimly lit cedar steam room. Small, gently swaying trees and a wooden rowboat with no oars add to the atmosphere.

7/25/98 Saturday
– Since Thursday, we’ve had Vacation Bible School at church. Our special guest is Mr. Sam, an old friend from Karuizawa (where my parents went to language school). He came to tell stories from the Bible. The theme is: “Jesus Christ Is All.”

This day, the largest number of kids came – five, including myself. We memorized a verse about Jesus being the Bread of Life. We saw a slideshow and sang a few songs. Then we had a “mini worship service” The children got up, one at a time, and read from a script. One would pray, one would lead a song, and one would give a message. I thought that was a neat idea.

We also made a craft, which was a bird mobile with Jesus’ various names taped onto yarn hanging down. 

The funniest part of VBS this day was the donut-eating contest. The donuts were tied with string and hung at mouth level of the contestants. They had to bite and swallow the dangling donuts as fast as possible. I don’t think this game was Mama’s idea!

7/28/98 Tuesday
– This day, we departed for elementary school camp, but we had an unexpected delay. Mari-san had a slight accident by her car bumping into a boy on a bicycle. Papa drove me over to the scene of the “crime,” to support poor unnerved Mari-san. 

I don’t think I was much comfort, because I just kept grinning and snickering at the two policemen as they investigated. They looked exactly alike in their blue uniforms and white helmets, except that one wore glasses. 

They kept asking questions of the young man, who had only a long scratch on his arm. Then they questioned Mari-san, who felt dreadful about it, even though it hadn’t been her fault. 

The policemen made chalk marks on the blacktop when their questions were answered, and then measured distances with a little black barrel on the end of a long stick. 

Finally, it was over, and we got on the road toward Bible camp.

7/29/98 Wednesday
– Elementary school camp is underway. Mama & Papa are once again directing crafts and games. The craft is the same photo board that Kanako and I made a few weeks ago. I made myself available to help prepare for the craft session and also to supervise. When everything seemed under control and progressing smoothly, I went into the kitchen and was put to work opening packages of noodles.

I think the relay race that the kids like best was: “Wash sin out of your heart.” We had played it at VBS too. It went like this: Each kid had to get a dipper labeled “God’s Word,” full of water, run to a bucket labeled “Heart,” and dump the water in until all the plastic balls in the bucket floated or were washed out. The colored balls were labeled with all kinds of sins, and so, through the game, the kids learned that God’s Word is what cleanses our hearts from sin. They did that game three times, and it was pretty funny to watch them.

Well, Christine and I did wash enough windows to earn 2,000 yen (about $20) for Bible camp.

Also, I taught five reading lessons with Gerald before we both got busy with summer activities. So I won’t get to teach him any letter combination phonics. I figured out that’s what he need to learn before he can read straight from a book.