Saturday, October 30, 2010

'"What does he mean by this 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about."'--John 16.18


I have to admit it has been a little weird this week. Right now in Boston parties are being planned, costumes are being made and candy is being bought. Halloween is my favorite holiday and it is not celebrated in Japan.

That being said, we did celebrate Halloween with the kids in the English classes as an American culture activity. We had a party last week at the Youth Center and today at St. Luke's. Both were very fun with the kids all dressed up in costumes and we played educational games and read stories about Halloween. I was in charge of Trick-or-treating. The kids loved it and while it wasn't even close to how awesome trick-or-treating is, it was a novel thing for them and they really had fun.

For the past few weeks, Nagoya has been hosting an international conference called COP-10. COP-10 is the tenth meeting of the parties on Biodiversity and involved delegates and world leaders from around the planet. I was able to go this past Wednesday as a representative from the Nagoya Center for Philippine Concerns. On the day that I went we got to sit in at the opening of the High Level Session where we heard many very important people speak including the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister of Yeomen and the President of the World Bank. After we stopped by the cafeteria for lunch and walked around the booths and information fair, we sat and watched a working group session as they were approving of some documents to go to vote. It was amazing being in the room with people from around the world discussing how we can be better stewards of creation. The session was conducted in English but everyone received translating headphones so that language was less of a barrier than it could have been. I am so grateful that I had the chance to go to COP-10.

Here is a quotation from yesterday's press release from COP-10 that explains some of what was accomplished:

"Among the targets, it is important to note that Parties:
- Agreed to at least halve and where feasible bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests;
- Established a target of 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas,
- Through conservation and restoration, Governments will restore at least 15 percent of degraded areas; and
- Will make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs.Parties also agreed to a substantial increase in the level of financial resources in support of implementation of the Convention."

It's fascinating stuff. I highly recommend reading the full article found here:

This upcoming week looks like it will be another great one. Sunday we have a baptism/confirmation at St. Stephans and Wednesday is a public holiday and I will be going sightseeing. This plus my normal work and YWCA class means that I will be busy, busy, busy. But I love the work and am so glad to do it!

Here are some pictures from the past few weeks. Enjoy! Happy Halloween!!

I studied Yayoi Kusama's work in school and was so happy to see her sculptures all around the Aici Art Center and the Oasis 21 bus station! 

We went "hiking" in Mitsuba and the kids collected acorns in these cute boxes they made.

Halloween at the Nagoya Student Center.

My Trick-or-treat classroom!

My costume.  I made it up but I think I was a spider queen!

Me as Jack Skellington.  I had to be scary for the older kids.

Jack-o'-lanterns that held the cookies I gave out.

The scariest costume fot the oldest kids!  I look so gross here!

COP-10 High Level Session Opening.  That's the Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan on the screen.

COP-10.  The symbol of the conference was origami animals.

Some of the many information booths at COP-10.

A giant statue at the convention center.

Inside a working session at COP-10.

This is an apple flavored Oreo candy bar.  Seriously.  Not quite as delicious as it sounds.

I took advantage of my unlimited COP-10 subway card and went sightseeing.  This is inside Nagoya Station.

Outside Nagoya Station. 

I found a beautiful river as I was walking.

This is the Hilton Nagoya Hotel.

Downtown Sakae is really beautiful.

In this picture you can see an Outback Steakhouse, a Starbucks and and Emporio Armani.  I think it's funny because there is no way to tell that I took this picture in Japan and not America!

Halloween at St. Luke's.

Cute little scarecrow!

Friday, October 22, 2010

"...and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" Isaiah 11:7

A lesson in Japanese:

Today during lunch all of a sudden one of the four year old boys started yelling frantically at me.  Of course I was concerned because I could not think of anything I had done to provoke him and nothing seemed to be wrong with him.  I pulled another teacher over and he started laughing.  It turns out that he was just pretending to be a lion.  Animal noises are completely different in Japanese and I had no clue that "Gaooo, Gaooo" is the same as "Rawr, Rawr".

Another one that's really different is the noise that a pig makes.  In English it's, "Oink, Oink" and in Japanese it's "Boo, Boo"! 

I was a little embarrassed at first but at the same time really relieved that I wasn't getting yelled at!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Brief Poetic Interlude

Four of my favorites.  Enjoy!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Useless, useless,
the heavy rain
Driving into the sea
-Jack Kerouac
The bottoms of my shoes
are clean
from walking in the rain.
-Jack Kerouac

Glow worm
sleeping on this flower -
your light's on
-Jack Kerouac

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in LOVE". 1 Corinthians 16:13

Welcome to the beginning of fall in Japan! The weather is finally starting to cool down and is actually pretty chilly at night! I apologize for the lack of updates last week. I’m definitely in a routine here now and there really wasn’t anything new to report. I am greatly enjoying my work and the friendships I’m making. The English classes that I teach are challenging because the students are at all different levels of English ability but I’ve found some ways to make my classes interesting and engaging for everyone. Last week I brought a collection of Disney stories to read out loud and it was a big hit! The kids are all familiar with the stories so even though the language is above some of their levels, they are a still able to follow along. I think I might have my older class take turns reading out loud every week.

On October 3rd was the annual St. Stephans’ Bazaar to raise money for different ministries and programs that St. Stephans' supports. I was thrilled to be on coffee duty and was able to introduce chocolate brownies to the menu! The bazaar was very similar to the All Saints’ Christmas Fair that I grew up going to at All Saints’. There were crafts sold, a second hand shop and games for the children. It was a lot of work but also a ton of fun. While I don’t have final numbers, I’m pretty sure that the event was a success!

Last Sunday a group of us from St. Stephans’ went to Gifu prefecture to attend a Diocesan learning event. The program was an introduction to the work that the Kani Mission Center for Filipino Migrants is doing in Kani City. The program was in Japanese but I will be getting notes in English about the history of Kani Mission and the work that they are doing. Afterwards we had a delicious dinner and there was a fun raffle.

My language training is going really well. Every day I can understand a little bit more. I won’t be even close to fluent by the time I leave, but I am slowly working up to having basic-basic conversations!

In the next couple of weeks a few things are coming up. First are two Halloween parties. One is at St. Lukes’ and one is at the Youth Center. Halloween is not very popular here and the parties are a great way to introduce Halloween to the kids in the community. We’ve been learning about Halloween in all of the English classes this month. I love it because Halloween is by far my favorite holiday! The second is that COP-10 has come to Nagoya.  I'm still learning about what it means, but from what I've gathered it's an international meeting that this year has the topic of biodiversity.  Two weeks from now I will be going to a COP-10 event that's open to the public. It should be really interesting and I'm looking forward to it.

Sorry that this entry is so diary-like. I do hope to write more about my thoughts and emotions about things here soon. One thing I can say is that I’ve had a couple of dreams over the past few weeks where in my dreams I “wake up” and realize that I still haven’t left for Japan and the past three months have all been a dream. It’s really a disorienting way to start my mornings and combined with the fact that time feels like it's constantly running inconsistently, I’m beginning to feel a little like Alice in Wonderland! I hope everyone is having a fabulous fall. I hear it is beautiful in Boston right now and that the leaves are changing in Groton. I’ve been told that they change color here too but sometime in mid- November.

Peace, Christen

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Return to your home, and declare how much God had done for you". Luke 8:39

It’s time to get personal! Here is my story:

During training one of the many things we did was to decide very clearly for ourselves why we were going abroad for the year. These goals had to be specific and important to us. We were told not to even bother going if we didn’t have a specific goal. We were told that when things get tough, which they most certainly will, that without specific meaningful goals it is easy to lose sight of why you are there and lose hope and faith that God is sending you there for a reason.

I get asked here all the time, ‘why are you in Japan’, or ‘why did you chose Japan’. In fact, I didn’t choose Japan. It was a decision made for me, though it was a decision that I was more than happy to comply with! I am a postulant in the Diocese of Massachusetts and as part of my formation process the Commission on Ministry in the Diocese along with the Bishops recommended to me that I do missionary work or volunteer work for 1 year. Here’s the kicker…I could go anywhere in the WORLD. After I was told that, I have to admit that I was overwhelmed with options. As someone who has lists of future travel plans PAGES long in my journal, I was amazed that I couldn’t choose. The temptation was high to knock one of the countries of my list or to return to a country that I was already familiar with. As I attempted to choose a location for my year of service, I had the distinct feeling that there was something going on in my planning that was bigger than me. Honestly, that feeling overwhelmed me much more than picking a location ever did! I decided to turn it over to God and applied with the Young Adult Service Corps. During my interview, three different locations came up and I knew that the choice was not mine to make. I told Douglas and David that I’d be fine with any of the three placements and returned back to Boston. Even as I was waiting for the news of where I would be living next year, I knew that I’d be going to Japan. I kept getting a feeling that I called an “Asia vibe” and it was no surprise when David called to tell me I’d be going to Nagoya, Japan for the year.

So, why am I in Japan? I am in Japan to develop skills for my future career in ministry. This is the goal I set for myself in training and it still holds true today. Everything about me being here is going to help me be a better priest and a better person. The concrete things are perhaps the most obvious: I’m teaching, I’m working with children, I’m volunteering with homeless men and women, I’m learning a new language and I’m away from home for the longest I’ve ever been before. But it is the abstract aspects of my being in Japan that I’m beginning to recognize as being just as important as the concrete. For example, for the first time in my life, I am a racial minority. I get stared at on trains, giggled at when I order coffee and sometimes, though very rarely, people won’t sit next to me on trains or benches. It’s an experience that is uncomfortable at times, but I recognize it as one that is essential for me to have. Also, female Anglican priests are still a rarity in Japan. I’ve on more than one occasion had to answer questions about me as a female hoping to be ordained that had never come up for me in the states. As challenging as they are, I am incredibly grateful for these opportunities. I know for me that in order to be the kind of priest that I want to be…that I’m being called to be….I need to have these experiences and get out of my comfort zone once and a while.

I love the work I’m doing here in Japan. I especially like teaching more than I ever thought I would. I’m getting an incredible variety of ministry experience and am meeting many amazing people! Two months in I still have the feeling that this is bigger than me and part of God’s plan which is an awesome (in all possible meanings of the word) feeling! Two months down and ten to go. I can’t wait to see what happens!