June 18, 2007
Personal Update: Today was Luke's first day of summer school at his new school, Kansai Christian School. He was nervous at first, but really seemed to enjoy the day. Summer school is optional, but highly recommended for incoming first-graders. The purpose seems to be to help them to get into the daily routine of school before the school year starts in September. Including Luke, there are four students in his first grade class.
June 17, 2007
Personal Update: The battery on my iPod Mini has been acting irregularly for the last few months. With my long commute these days, I was thinking about investing in a new iPod Nano. However, I thought that I would first try replacing the battery. I had heard that this was pretty hard to do, but it sure was a lot cheaper than buying a new whole new iPod. Anyway, last week I found www.longlast-battery.com. For less than $40 (that included shipping to Japan!), they sent me a new battery. I followed the simple instructions on their website, and in a matter of minutes, my iPod has been reborn! If your iPod is acting up, I highly recommend trying to change your battery yourself (unless, of course, you are looking for a excuse to upgrade to a newer model!).
June 10, 2007
Personal Update: Happy Birthday! Luke turned 7 years old today. It was Sunday, so we spent the morning and early afternoon at church. After that it was off to Wendy's for lunch with the Shibuya family. Finally, in the evening Luke was able to open his presents. His gifts reflect what Luke is into at the moment: Starwars Legos, Starwars stamps (see right), hot wheels and astronomy books. Luke says that he had a good day.
June 3, 2007
Personal Update: I (Michael) have been commuting to and from SIBC by train for 2 weeks now. From door to door, the trip consists of a 5-minute walk to the station, a 20/25-minute train ride to Osaka, a 6-minute walk between stations, a 10-minute train ride to Sakai and an 8-minute walk to the church. Add in the time I have to wait for trains, and the commune is about 75 minutes each way. Also, because I am going with the flow of traffic, the trains are usually fully (and occasionally packed!) which means I usually have to stand the whole way. I thought that I would really like this time on the train to read, study etc..., but I have found myself really tired from the traveling. People tell me that I will get used to it. I sure hope so.
May 28, 2007
Personal Update: It has been a week since we moved into our new place, and we are happy to say that we are completely unpacked! Now we just have a few things to buy to get the place looking nice. We have also begun exploring the Ikoma/Nara area. It is definitely a lot more rural than Osaka was. This makes life a little less convenient (shopping, etc...) , but the greenery and quietness of the area is well worth it. We took the cable car up to the top of Ikoma mountain and were surprised to find an amusement park (although quite run-down) at the top of the mountain (here is the link in Japanese). There was also a really nice view of Osaka. I've heard that Ikoma mountain is famous for it's "night view" of the city and a popular dating spot. I guess that it is easy to see why.
May 25, 2007
Personal Update: Since we had to change internet service providers when we moved to our new home (which also meant a new e-mail address and new homepage address) today we decided to buy our own domain. In case you didn't notice, this homepage is now located at www.masonsinjapan.com. Pretty cool, huh! We were a little reluctant to go with this name because the letters S-I-N kind of stand out in the middle of the address. Of course, this is supposed to read "Masons In Japan," and NOT "Mason Sin Japan"!!
May 24, 2007
Personal Update:We did it! We got all moved in to our new place and are now busy unpacking. Actually, most of the boxes have been emptied and we are just now trying to get things put away. Once the dust settles, we will upload some pictures for you to look at.
May 11, 2007
Personal Update: We are now busy preparing to make our move to Ikoma. The moving date will be May 21st. We would lappreciate your prayers. Thank you.
April 13, 2007
Homepage Update: We added Issue 48 of our newsletter and some more pictures of our Spring Fun with the DiMeglio family.
April 9, 2007
Personal Update: We took the DiMeglio Family (who came to Japan to serve in the church for 2 weeks) to Himeiji to see the cherry blossoms and visit the castle. First we engaed in the annual Japanese custom of eating lunch under the cherry trees and then we braved the crowds toured the castle grounds. The blue sky and beautiful flowers made from some pretty amazing pictures. To see more pictures of Lou DiMeglio's cooking class at SIBC, go here.
March 31, 2007
Ministry Update: Today we had our annual Children's Easter Party at church. This is an outreach event geared towards sharing the Good News of our Savior's resurrection with our friends and family. The afternoon includes songs, Easter Egg coloring, games, crafts, snacks, and of course, the Easter Story. Over 50 people attended the party, with more than half being from outside fo the church.
March 22, 2007
Personal Update: After 6 years of owning a car in Japan, Chris is FINALLY starting the process to get her driver's license in Japan. Today she passed the written test and on April 23rd she has an appointment to take the driving test. She was told that most people fail the driving test the first time, and we know of some foreigners who have given up on the trying to drive in Japan after failing the test 10 times! Anyway, there are lot's of hills in Ikoma and the public transportation is not so good, so Chris really needs to have her driver's license. Please pray that she will pass the driving test on the first try.
March 22, 2007
Personal Update: Yesterday we took advantage of the national holiday to go apartment/house hunting in Ikoma. We found a house that we liked, so last night we submitted an application to rent the property, and today we found out that our application was accepted! We still need to complete all of the paperwork, but we are excited that it looks like this is going to work out. Praise the Lord! The house is a bit unusual in that it sits on top of a parking lot (we'll show pictures later). Because of this unusal set-up, the house was much cheaper than a typical house this size. Anyway, in Japan this would would be called a "5LDK." This means it has 5 rooms, plus a Living room, Dining room and Kitchen. By comparison, our current apartment is a 3LDK. Below is a picture of the house as well as the floor-plan. If possible, we hope to move near the end of May.
March 18, 2007
Personal Update: After almost a month of looking, we FINALLY saw the Big Dipper. Luke was SOOO excited. We are considering buying a telescope once we move to Ikoma.
March 17, 2007
Personal Update: Today Luke graduated from Hamadera Bible Kindergarten. We were surprised how big (and formal!) the event was, considering all of the kids were just 6 years old. However, it was a lot of fun and it was a good way to bring closure to Luke's Japanese school career. All of Luke's friends will start Japanese elementary school in April, while Luke will have to wait until September to begin first grade at his international school. Below are pictures of Luke with his diploma as well as Luke in front of the sign that reads "Graduation Ceremony." More pictures of the day's activities can be seen here. In the evening we celebrated the special occassion by going out for sushi (Luke's favorite) and ice cream. Congratulations Luke!
March 9-10, 2007
Personal Update: Chris and her friend from church, Renee Shibuya, got away and spent the night at a hot spring in Shirahama, Wakayama. This place is famous in Japan for actually importing the white sand on it's beach from
Australia! Only in Japan.
February 25, 2007
Personal Update: Luke has recently taken an interest in the stars and planets, and is starting to learn some of the constellations. Every night he looks out his window and sees Venus and Orion's Belt, but beyond that we can't see too many stars from here in the city. He is really anxious to see the Big Dipper for the first time (as it is just over Osaka City and a little low on the horizon, it is really hard to see from our apartment), and can't wait until we move to Ikoma City. It is a much smaller town and we should be able to see the stars much better out there.
February 5, 2007
Personal Update: Today Luke finished the kindergarten level of the "Hooked on Phonics" reading program. Way to go, Luke! Chris tries to work with him 3-4 days a week, and though he says that he doesn't like to study so much, he is gradually getting the hang of it. Interestingly, he is struggling with the same English sounds that most Japanese have problems with: "TH," R vs. L, and V vs. B. He watches nothing but English tv/movies and we only speak English at home,so it seems like this should be too hard for him, but all of those hours at Japanese kindergarten must be giving him "Japanese ears." Either way, we are proud of our son.
February 2, 2007
Personal Update: In Genesis 22:14, Abraham calls the Lord, The Lord Will Provide. Once again we have found this to be true! Today our washing machine broke down. In Japan it is almost unheard of to have an appliance repaired. The answer to any problem is to replace whatever is broken. So, we thought that we were going to have to buy a new one. However, that very same ay, we heard from a missionary friend who had an extra washing machine that they were looking to give away. It is both bigger and newer than the one we have now. Praise the Lord, and thank you Eric and Sue Takamoto!
January 28, 2007
Personal Update: Here are some pictures of Luke dressed up in a kimono. A friend at church let us borrow this kimono for boys. At first Luke didn't want to put it on, but he finally did. Isn't he cute!
January 28, 2007
Church Update: We took our annual group photo at church today. Here it is!
January 21, 2007
Church Update: SIBC celebrated it's 20th anniversary this afternoon. We should have celebrated last September, but because of the building situation, we decided to wait until we got settled in our new place. About 50 people attended the ceremony, include a number of people from our sister church in Kitahama who used to attend SIBC over 10 years ago. The highlights were a message by SIBC founding pastor, Teiichiro Kuroda, and a 20-minute video covering the 20 years of SIBC. We are truly thankful to the Lord for His faithfulness to the church over these last two decades. You can see pictures on the SIBC home page here.
January 19, 2007
Personal Update: Today we found out that Luke was accepted into the 1st Grade at Kansai Christian School. KCS is a small, international in Ikoma City, Nara Prefecture. This means that we will have to move to Ikoma, some time before mid-June (that's when summer school stars for in-coming first-graders). Ikoma is about an hour from Sakai by train, which will mean a bit of a commute for Michael. However, the cheaper housing prices will allow us to either get into the same size apartment for less money OR find a larger place for the same price that we are paying now. It might also be possible to get into a house (rental of course.)
For more updates, see...