Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Certain in my heart

Life goes on...

I hate and love those words. Yet, I find that my smiles are more often and my tears are only filled with joy. I know this is how it should be... yet, I can't help but hate that this is becoming only a memory.

That seems so unfair and yet,

life goes on...

I find that I am falling more in love with Jesus and less in love with this world. You taught me that this world is fading, falling, changing... but He is constant.

Tonight with tears I announced what was already certain in my heart, He is everything He says He is. He has proved himself, though I am ashamed to say that he has had to. Yet, he has proved himself to me a hundred no, an infinity times over. Little by little, day by day but all the hope I put in Him I am finding He is satisfying.

He is everything we have been waiting for and...

Life goes on...

and we are called to be faithful with what precious time has been given us. This world will end, this time will change, you will come into my life and you will go...

but one thing is certain and that is His face.

I cling to it and the hope that is in it as

life goes on...

Is it possible to both love and hate healing? I am so thankful to be moving on yet, a part of me is broken that I am leaving this room and preparing to open another door. I feel that it is my duty to remain in this room... yet, You are leaving this room and I want to be where You are.

Oh, please don't leave this room... I know you say it's time but I long for just one last look,

last touch,

last memory.

It's not that I think this is better. Oh, I know where You go only grows in beauty and amazement. Yet, this time was so tender and so precious to me.

I know I can carry it in my heart but I long to just remain but a second.

Oh, God! Life goes on...

I rush around this room, desperate to remember how it felt to be loved, to be friends, to laugh, and to grieve...

but You are going on

with one last look, I take this room with me in my heart but no longer on my shoulders and God, if you go on... then I embrace that, too

my life goes on...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Homeless Camping

From August 21-25th four of us friends set off on a wild and crazy adventure to southern Japan. It was a lot different than I expected but it was a ton of fun. Below is the story told in pictures.

"Jo, what do you call camping with no tents?"
"I think it's still called camping..."
"Isn't it like homeless camping?"

We started off at 5:10AM Monday morning. And we spent a total of 16 hours the first day on the train. I definitely saw the sun rise... and set while on the train.
Overall we were on the train around 35 or more hours traveling from place to place... so needless to say we got pretty crazy/tired/goofy...
Keigo is watching for the train staff before trying to put his feet up like Mamo.

ya know how you find some part of nature you really like? My sister-in-law Becca really loves lighthouses... well, after this trip I've realized quite a lot about myself and one thing I learned is that I am a "bridge girl". I love looking at bridges over streams or mountains, etc. So here is a picture of a bridge around Shizuoka prefecture.
We didn't always follow the "keep your feet in front of you" and "keep your personal space to yourself" rules to much during the night hours of our traveling. Well, not during our daytime travels either. You just get to a point where you say, "hey, i've been on this beast for the past 5-10 hours, I'm going to get comfortable."
We played lots of games and one of our games was "2 Truths and a Lie" but while Mitsuru was thinking of his he fell asleep. NO LIE. He was thinking and then, BAM, just like that he was out. So here is a funny picture of me and how I truly felt that he fell asleep on our game.
Just kidding!

Our first stop was HIROSHIMA. We were so excited to get off the train and away from a station that we all counted to three and jumped off the train. We got to Hiroshima around 11PM.
First things first, let's eat real food. We found 180 yen ramen. No way! 180 yen?Then we slept in a playground (pictures later) and when we woke up we decided to do some traveling (yeah for trains) before going to Hiroshima. So we took a ferry to Miyajima Island which is famous for their shrines and festivals. They have a festival for "old kitchen knives" (no joke). This festival is when all old kitchen knives are celebrated and maybe thrown away? or discarded in a proper way. Talk about fun and crazy! Mind you, we slept outside so we got going every day around 7AM. (sun rises around 4 or 4:30 in case you wondered) So we had to find things that were open early enough to go.
Miyajima view from the ferry!
We visited this shrine which overlooks the bay. And Keigo decided to jump across. It's kind of far but luckily...
he made it... Jeremiah, our whole group looked at this photo and said, "Ohhh you look like Jeremiah!" ha ha! So this one's for you!
Well, I'm not one to back down from a challenge... so with all my luggage on I decided to jump as well....whew, good thing Michi was there. ha ha!!
The view from the shrine. They had these beautiful laterns and whooo whaddya know? A BRIDGE!!!
Our group, Mamo, Keigo, Mitsuru (Michi) Megumi and me!
After this it was off to Hiroshima!

There is a lot we could say/debate about Hiroshima but I'm not interested in that. What I do want to tell you is this: I felt that the museum/monuments were 100% unbiased. I felt that the people of Hiroshima were stating facts and not just giving one side to their experience. Whatever you think about war, Hiroshima, the atomic bomb... just leave it be for now. I had to "struggle" with this myself because there were people protesting the war in the Middle East and my friends in Japan are all peace-loving so they signed a petition for peace in the middle east. So I asked myself, "Whose side am I on?" And I thought about Jesus and what he would say and how he would respond to these monuments. And I felt that Jesus is on the side for healing and restoration and unity and love. I felt that Jesus takes "no sides" but the Fathers. So I decided I wasn't on anyone's side but just on my heavenly Father's as well. With this in mind, I could thoroughly enjoy Hiroshima and have my heart break for people all over the world.

This is a the "Children's Peace Monument" which was dedicated to a little girl named Sadoko. Sadoko was two years old when she was caught in the atomic bomb but had no initial reaction to the bombing. However, when she was ten she found she had a-bomb related luekemia. While in the hospital she folded a thousand origami cranes to keep up her courage, but eight months later she died. Her school wanted to do something so they came up with this monument which is of a girl on top, holding a paper crane. People from all over the world send a thousand paper cranes to this monument to be displayed. It was amazing. Inside the arch shape there is a bell you can ring for peace. There must have been millions and millions of cranes.

We went through the museum and it was eye-opening for me. There are stories and stories telling different perspectives of what happened in Hiroshima during August 6th. Most of the casualities were junior high students who had been assigned to work outdoors clearing roads and buildings for the war effort (not too sure about what they were doing, I was a little confused). Anyway, many of them were on their way to class when the bomb exploded (8:15AM). The heat was so intense that people within a certain radius just melted/evaporated along with their bones. I can't even begin to comprehend that. Towards the outer ring of "effect" people were badly burned and further out people just received the atomic rays. I don't know exactly how it all works scientifically so sorry if I got that wrong. Along with the effects that took place immediatly were the effects that took place for all their lives. Many people survived the inital bombing but died from cancer or other diseases later on. There was a range from August-December of many atomic bomb related deaths. People lost their hair, their gums bled, they grew tumor like bumps over their body. However, even after December many lived in fear of getting cancer or having something else happen to them. Like the little girl Sadoko.

People walked around pretty dazed and confused for many days because they had NO idea what an atomic bomb was or what had happened. A rumor circulated that nothing would grow in that area for 75 years. Yet, that fall a small plant grew which gave many people hope for restoration and healing.
Among the things in the museum were two of the most heart wrenching stories (for me)... but I don't want to be too graphic so I'll just tell you that the first was a little boy's tricycle and the second was a stone step that had been cut from in front of a bank. When the bomb went off, a woman who had been sitting there (waiting for the bank to open) "cast her shadow" on the step from the intense heat. It is still there to this day.
This building is the only building kept in it's complete state from after the bombing. This was directly underneath the bomb so it remained somewhat intact with its roof and walls but everything else was leveled.

The museum was not to horrify people or to say, "look at what happened to us" it was entirely for the purpose of teaching and sharing, "Look what happened, let's prevent others from going through this." The museum was not so much about the war (whose right/wrong) but all about what happened and how it affected them and how we can prevent this from happening again.

After Hiroshima we did a little more traveling (yay for trains) and ate at a conbini. Then we crashed underneath a train station, the next day (Wednesday) day we went to Himeji Castle. A famous and beautiful castle... for all of you Tom Cruise fans (which there may not be a lot left) part of "THE LAST SAMURAI" was shot in this castle. A lot of the leader's house shots were here. Thank Goodness they didn't set up the tour around that movie. There was nothing inside the castle about the movie.

Like I said, riding trains and lack of sleep made us a little crazy so Keigo and I decided it would be fun to ride down the rails in Himeji Jo(castle). Probably not the best idea but fun pictures were taken....
Later that day... was this all that day? Oh no wait, we went to Himeji the next day~ Wednesday! Hiroshima was Tuesday and Wednesday we went to Himeji and Osaka. I got to see my friend Maren cause she lives and goes to school there. Yay!! There was this weird statue of a whale in the station so we took our picture like whales... I guess that's what we look like.

I would like to take time now to share with you our sleeping arrangments. It was interesting... but basically we went "homeless camping" or finding a good/well-lit spot to camp at. The first night was in a playground so around 6AM I woke up to two little boys staring at me. And apparently the neighborhood gathers at 6:30AM to do morning exercises together. I thought we should leave and not interrupt this time, however, my boys thought it would be fun to do the morning exercises.
The second night we slept underneath the train staion... next to the tracks meaning the frieght train went by every hour or so, which meant I did not get a lot of sleep, meaning I was on the verge of cranky the next day. A lot of cause and effect going on here...
The third night we slept in a park on cardboard (yay for Manganji and the Fungalo) and the fourth night we slept underneath a bridge. I was woken up by pigeons that morning... yeah, I'm like a homeless person. Except we kept justifying our homelessness by the fact that we showered EVERY day. No joke. We found onsens every day (public bathhouses) to clean up and charge our cell phones. So we were semi clean every day.

Thusday found us in a small and countryside place called GERO. (like ghetto) It's famous for it's onsens and natural hot springs. So it is very beautiful and we got to do some hiking which was awesome. Yay for more bridges.
We bought a little wooden "ticket" which meant you could onsen in three places for a single price of 1200 yen. This is good, considering we found thee best hotels in Gero and the best onsens and then we used our tickets there. ha ha!!
While we were hiking the boys played "junken" and the loser had to carry the girls bags. Mamo looks AWFUL in this picture but he was somewhat joking. ha ha!! It was so hot these four days but luckily we didn't have any rain until this day but we were onsening when it happened so no worries.
Keigo the adventurous one. We waded in a stream in hopes of cooling off and Keigo climbed this but I was more content to just wade.
Some random stautes, Megumi and I with our new friend...
A crazy picture of me with the view of Gero in the background. (Hey, Jane~ like my hat?) From where else but a crazy high bridge.
We did some hiking around these old houses... they had straw-thatch roofs.

And then we found a playground to release some energy stored from our train rides. We seriously were crazy this whole time. Like when people come out of their houses after a long winter or something...
After our hike and playing around we chilled in the onsen town. We traveled around the town making friends with restaurant owners, onsen owners and people visiting like we were. We became famous with our huge bags and walking around town. One guy said he had heard of us and was hoping we would come to his onsen. Isn't that crazy nuts?

After a LONG ride home, there was a lightening storm so we were stop and go for about an hour or two.... and then Keigo forgot his bag (not his big bag but his smaller bag) and so we had to backtrack a little. Which was no problem... but after that, I got home on August 25th at about 10PM or so. It was a great trip and a lot of fun!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Now hiring

Today was an interesting train day... and needless to say, I had the heaviest stupid bag ever. And not just one heavy bag but three... I'm ridiculous. ha ha! So as I was dragging my ridiculous bag down the sidewalk I was thinking of all the ways this could be better.
And I came up with a big strong man... but not just a man but a bodyguard.
So... I am now in the "market" for hiring a bodyguard.

These are all the things my bodyguard will do:
carry my heavy luggage
beat up scary people near ATMs (all I have to say is I was giving myself one heck of a pep talk)
fix/make things with tools (i have two screws sticking out of my wall, don't ask)
create a space with his big muscles around me on crowded trains
laugh at all my jokes
go running with me in the morning
know the Japan train system
do the whole "everybody move!!" from Princess Bride
watch ELF, GRINCH, and WHITE CHRISTMAS during all seasons
...but mostly just carry my luggage...
I've been realizing what I'm "missing" without good friends around since the SETers left me. And because I can't ask THEM to come back just to carry my heavy luggage I've invented the next best thing~ a bodyguard.
Enjoy the random pictures. I have to pack for my backpacking trip to Nagoya and Hiroshima. The train leaves MO eki at 5:10AM. Oh yeah, you heard me right.the boys from TOKYO BEST! Don't mess with the BEST (check out the bottom left)
the cool couple I stayed with in Utsu. Ryan and Angie "too cool for Catan" Foster
that is a man, sleeping on Mark. He was tired... so they snuggled.
my favorite picture of Masashi. Masashi is my little brother, he's hilarious!
The ladies in their yukatas.
Joni, Ojen, Jo, and Nachan saying goodbye to Oshima Island.
Duking it out with Masashi... see? Little brother material for sure!
Jerry had the best cliff jumps. Here is "superman"

A cutey snail I found, this was my artistic approach at "if I were a snail"

Mark and Jo take a cliff jump approach...

Hey, Ryan, do you remember slamming Keigo's finger in the car door? ...yeah, so does he. ha ha!

Chilling with some of the Utsu BEST students... camping was SO much fun!

John and Jerry on their way to Norio's house.

And because I'm worries that my mother is worried I never laugh anymore... enjoying Nikko.