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November 2006 Archives

November 2, 2006

A new duty for Akihiro, Carrie attends "school"

Akihiro's job continues to go well at the nursing home. Today he told me it was his day of the month to taste the food prior to the resident's lunch! I guess this is a common practice here--perhaps reminiscent of the old days when the servants tasted the food for the royalty. I asked him if he could make suggestions about the food--a little more soy sauce, a little more mirin, etc.--but it doesn't sound like he can use his "gift of tongue" in that manner!

Today we had a special ladies meeting at Tokyo church. Bro. Mark Bahr had a nice Bible Study and the ladies asked lots of good questions which resulted in a blessed conversation. After themeeting, I went to my church friends house for my cooking class and enjoyed it very much. First I learned about grocery shopping--how to get a discount if you bring your own plastic bags (great news for the cheapskate in me!)--helps if you can read the signs! Then 3 year-old Yukako helped us wash oysters and dip them in flour, egg, and bread crumbs to prepare them for frying later. They were good! (Actually I remember someone saying that anything prepared in this manner is good!) We also made an interesting side dish with beans, carrots, seaweed, and some sort of pressed fish patties. It was also quite good! Yukako also provided much entertainment for us. She indicated that she wanted me to play with her in her tatami room and pointed to sit down with her little brother. Then she passed out books to each of us and marched to the front of the room, bowed low, said "good morning" (in Japanese, of course) and started emphatically speaking about many things of which I had no idea. I assume she was imitating her kindergarten teacher and we were playing school! Speaking of kindergarten--I went with Yoko (my friend) to pick her up at the bus stop. She had fallen asleep and had to be carried home, but once home, she takes off her smart little uniform with its cute little beret hat, plaid skirt, and little white shirt and is ready to go! I'll have to take my camera sometime!

November 9, 2006

A trip to the grocery store, etc.

It's another beautiful sunny day here! It was requested that I get more pictures, so the other day I took my camera along to the grocery store. I got some funny looks when I took these pictures, but oh, well--I should get used to it living in a foreign country! (In case I forgot to say this before--you can click on the pictures and they will get larger.)


I am blessed to have several grocery stores nearby, but my favorite one is Ito Yokado--probably some distant Ito relative owns it! I ride my bike about 10 minutes uphill--thankful that it is that way instead of the other way around. I just speed down when my bike basket is full! It has 3 floors and sells clothes and household goods too.

The shopping carts are kinda cute--they are basically wire frames on wheels that hold a basket (the baskets are similar to those we would see in American grocery stores). One basket on top, one on bottom--if you need that much! Most people shop every day or every other day--now I see why! You have to haul it on your bicycle, store it in your small refrigerator, and fit it in your grocery cart! (By the way, even though the shopping carts are smaller, I still manage to run into people--"Sumimasen!" (excuse me!))

Japanese fruits and vegetables are excellent and you pay for that excellence--a large apple can be 150 yen which is about $1.40! There are uniformed workers bustling about calling "Welcome, Welcome" whenever they see a customer. The fish salesman is also proclaiming his bargains loudly. Some days there are sample stations with other callers. I try to figure out the sale items--usually there is a sign that looks different--I guess that is a sale!

Most of the grocery stores have a point card which works up to some money off eventually, but I will have to have Akihiro help with that one! I'm doing good to get the cashier paid! I think we both (the cashier and myself) hope that the other one doesn't say too much because we aren't sure we can understand eachother!

Once I've successfully purchased my goods, the next task is to bag it up--I've learned to use the tape provided to tape my bags closed. When you are gliding down the hill with a full bike basket of groceries, it is not good if your eggs start to slide out of the bag--especially if you try to maneuver around some pedestrians with one hand on the handles and one hand fumbling with the eggs! It has gotten some better since I got some bungee cord straps, but as you can see, my basket is pretty precarious! Today I will buy a rear basket for my bike--hopefully that will help too!

Also pictured is my balcony full of laundry. I do laundry almost every day when we are home. They have these neat hangers that you can clip lots of laundry on--also helps if it starts raining--just grab it and bring it inside! I'm glad for the sunny and dry days that are good for laundry!

November 15, 2006

Going home! Etc.

We leave tomorrow for our first trip "home." Feeling a mixture of emotions, I emailed some of the dear believers who have been in similar shoes as I am. God is amazing--within a few hours I had many encouraging emails and one phone call. I feel like I have three homes here on God's Earth, but I find more and more, that I long for the Heavenly Home where we can be free of trials, saddness, parting, etc. I guess the only emotions we will feel there is love and joy! We will be perfect in His Love! Anyway, we would appreciate prayers for a safe and blessed trip! We have many things to do in the 10 days--find a new house sitter, pack up the rest of our belongings (50 pounds in a suitcase doesn't seem like very much when you are moving!), attend many Thanksgivings and family functions, and host Akihiro's parents who will be joining us for part of the time. It will be great to see my family--how quickly the little ones change!

I took my camera with me to Yamanashi this time and took a few pictures. The crisp cool mornings allow for great views of the Japan Alps and even Mt. Fuji at times. The leaves are just starting to get pretty, but I am afraid we will miss most of the beauty as we will be in the States. Lord willing, we will enjoy it next year! Many of the streets are lined with the same kinds of trees--one street has yellow ginko, another red maples, another graceful weeping willows!alps%20compres.JPG

You will see pictures of our second home--the Tokiwa Hotel--where we have been staying 1-3 nights a week. We feel quite at home there, actually. We are making friends with the very friendly staff there. A few of them speak a little English! I told Akihiro the other day that I could get paid for being entertainment in the onsen. Especially the little old ladies like to look at my blond hair when I am drying it. I can tell they don't want to stare, so I try to look away so they can get a good look. Then when I stand up, they can't get over how tall I am. I try to talk a little bit of Japanese to them--"My husband is Japanese...I am American.... I don't speak Japanese well.... Do you speak English?" that's about all I can say. They try a little more Japanese to me, but it doesn't work, so we bow to eachother and say Oyasumi Na Sai (Not sure on that spelling--but "Good night") and go on our way. There is also a picture of the boardwalk lining a small stream that we can walk/jog on each day. They say it will be beautiful in the spring as the trees on each side are cherry trees! I will hopefully get more pictures next time--our room was a mess when I got the camera out and I had a dead battery at breakfast!





Akihiro had his first challenge with Japanese standards of medicine at the nursing home this week. It is amazing to see how much they use the specialist and the family doctor doesn't get a lot of opportunity for treatment. Please pray for him that he would handle these situations wisely! You will see the picture of him in his office and picture of the nursing home.



I've enjoyed spending time with Lois and Willis (when he's not teaching) after I drop Akihiro off at work. We both enjoy working in the yard and garden and have nice visits! Yesterday she went with me to pick up my Rules of the Road book. I need to take my driving test soon--yikes! We also got my Japanese book so I can study on the plane. I will be starting lessons the first week in December-- an hour and a half each Monday. She showed me two grocery stores and I hit the jackpot--bags of nuts, cornmeal, coconut that contain more than a handful! (My store only sells tiny packages of these things!) As Willis says, "I had never seen such a great day in all my born life!" (They both are a great encouragement and example to us!)

Oh no, there's the dreaded doorbell! That most likely means someone who can speak very little English.....
Well, this time it was a man with a map. I can't figure out what he wants, so thankfully I could get Akihiro on his phone and it got all taken care of! Wheww!

November 28, 2006

Back from Tremont!

Thanks to many prayers and God's blessings, we had a safe and blessed trip to the States! Interestingly, the first thing I missed about Japan was the heated toilet seats! I didn't remember them being so cold before! The first few days were filled of a constant comparison--US to Japan. It felt funny to cook and eat American food so much! Amazingly, I actually missed eating rice! (not 3 meals a day, though!). Jana Klaus had warned me that life seems almost "too easy" when going back the the US. She is right! It seemed funny to put all my garbage in one big bag--no sorting, washing of recyclables, taking different items out each day for recycling. Going to the stores and being able to read everything--wow--what a luxury! Going to church with nearly 500 people was a big change too--very overwhelming after going to Shioda with less than 20 in attendance most Sundays! I only drove on the wrong side of the road once--familiar roads help! We made good use of our big oven and fixed casseroles--Akihiro's parents loved them!aki%20and%20dad%20comp.JPG

We enjoyed having Akihiro's parents join us for 5 of the 10 days and his brother and sister-in-law for a few days as well! We don't spend much time with them here in Japan, so it was a wonderful opportunity for them to take part in our devotions, prayers, and just routine life. Hard to know how to describe it but to say that prayers are being answered! It was fun to see America through their eyes--Thanksgiving feasts attended by almost 50 people, shooting rifles, seeing pigs hanging ready for butchering, taking walks in the woods/prairie grass, shopping, learning about deer hunting, spending time with my brother's families, playing with children, holding babies, raking leaves for the first time in their lives, walking down Main Street in Tremont, etc! They were also missing rice and miso soup, so Akihiro took them to the Asian store in Peoria and they got some Japanese food for me to cook! It made us all pretty happy!

We also were very thankful to arrange for a new house sitter for our house since Sharon Koch will be moving to Minnesota after her January wedding. Doug Rocke and Trisha Kellenberger will be married in March and will be moving in.
Our 12 hour flight from Minneapolis went fairly well and our little home looked very good when we walked there from the station Tuesday night. The yellow ginko tree leaves have started falling and made a golden path for us to follow home! Waiting in our mailbox was "Flat Stanley," a rather cute little guy from my nephew Logan who is supposed to learn about Japan over the next month! We look forward to taking him around and maybe I can share some pictures of his adventures! Today is a bright sunny day, so it will be a joy to ride to the grocery store to stock up my bare refrigerator!

Upon leaving the US, we commented that we felt so very blessed in many ways. We know, though, that with these blessings come responsibility. We pray we will have the wisdom and grace to use our blessings in a way that would be pleasing to God.

A knock at the door....my most frequent visitor, the delivery man (like Fed Ex in US). He's delivering our four 50 pound suitcases! With the crowded trains last night, we are glad we didn't have to take them by train! I've got to get to work unpacking more moving goods!

About November 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Welcome to ITO NEWS in November 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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