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December 2008 Archives

December 14, 2008

Relatives, Reminiscing, and Radishes

Sorry for keeping you "stay tuned" for so long!

I have been wanting to report on our visit a few weeks ago to Nagano. Akihiro's uncle, cousin, and his grandparents drove to our house early Sunday morning and we all drove to church. The didn't say much about church, but seemed to enjoy it. After church we had a beautiful drive--about three hours to a mountainous area. On the drive, we could see beautiful fall colors and snow covered mountains on all sides of us. We arrived at our hotel and found that it had snowed a few days before--was so beautiful. We took an onsen and had a nice dinner. It was my first time to eat octopus in this way--we each cooked our own in the little burner at the table. DSCN0238.JPG


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After supper we took a quick look at the traditional Japanese play.
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The next morning we headed for Grandpa's mother's hometown--about 40 minutes away. It was cloudy, but we could still see the beautiful lake--Nojiriko--tucked deep in the beautiful snow covered mountains. Grandpa talked as we drove. He grew up near Tokyo, but when the war started, his mother and the children went back to this area--her hometown. They stayed here until the war was over. Soon Grandpa was called to the war, though. He was only 15
years old when he was trained to fly the zero sen airplane. On a previous post, I told the story of Grandpa's return from the war--please see January 10, 2007 entry. Anyway, this area was where he returned to and landed his airplane. First we stopped to see some of his relatives. One of them led us up a mountain path to where Grandpa's grandmother was buried. Grandpa laid his flowers there and they burnt incense sticks--a Buddhist tradition. He hadn't been back
to this area for over 25 years. Sorry the close up is sideways--I'm too lazy to change it! DSCN0248.JPG


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Then we went back to the relatives' house and ate some delicious homegrown vegetables--daikon radish, carrots, beans, and other vegetables.
DSCN0260.JPG I have never tasted such good Japanese vegetables! The people were so friendly! They spoke of sitting in their home and seeing Grandpa and his plane circling the area waiting for his gas to run out so he could land his plane.

We went on to another relatives' house for more good food and fellowship. This was a cousin who had played with ("fought with") grandpa when they were young. It was fun to see them together. This spunky little lady said it was the first time for her to have a foreigner in her home (me!). She was very kind, though, and even let me help her serve the good bamboo miso soup and other goodies and help with the dishes. It was a very good feeling to all sit
around the little low table and drink tea and have a good time. The table has a heater under it, then a big blanket/quilt is placed over the table and another board is put on top of the quilt. This way your feet and legs are warm and the heat stays in under this quilt.
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These are chrysanthemums that the little lady raised--absolutely huge!

Next we went to see the actual place where Grandpa had landed his plane.
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Now it is a blueberry farm! After that we went to one more relatives house for more good food--at that place the pickled daikon radishes were especially tasty! By the time we left we had received quite a lot of homegrown food--kabocha squash, potatoes, beans, apples, persimons, radishes, pickles, etc. I used some of these goodies to make a traditional Japanese dish--oden--which is lots of different vegetables in a special soup of soy sauce, fish broth, etc. It is really good--even the seaweed! As I ate it, though, I did recall one of my friends commenting while seeing seaweed on a beach, that "I wonder if Akihiro and Carrie are eating that for supper..." Well, I guess the time came--I did eat it and it wasn't all too bad! Here's a picture of our supper!
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Anyway, It was a real blessing to meet these relatives and to feel their love. If Grandpa is still doing well in the summer, we hope to return for a family barbeque. Grandpa, though, was a bit hesitant--as if he sensed he would not be able due to his health. Sure enough, just last week, we got results that his PSA is up and that his cancer is progressing.

We are looking forward to spending time with Ryan and Becky Weiss and their family who are visiting us Saturday through Wednesday. They are staying at the Klaus's, but we look forward to spending time with them! I have also been busy dealing with picking out siding for our house, and other house decisions. I am beginning to see how very much easier it is just to buy a house already built! Oh well, we are trying to have fun and enjoy it!

December 21, 2008

Train trials

On Thursday morning I left Akihiro’s parents’ house early to take the train to the ladies’ meeting at Tokyo church. This was rush hour time, so I knew the train would be packed. I have watched people’s technique of smashing themselves on a train before and actually practiced my technique once in Detroit airport—much to the chagrin of another rider of the tram. This technique goes something like this --pushing one hip in first—against the wall of bodies, then once you’ve made a place for your feet to stand, you use your arms to push against the inside of the train above the door to push your body into the train. Well, sure enough, the train pulled up and people were smashed against the windows on their doors, contorting their faces. I took a brave step forward, hoping that an awful lot of people would be getting off at this stop. Well, a few of them burst out of the train door when it opened—almost like a balloon that popped. But, there were probably equal as many people who wanted to get on the train and I was the last in line. Those in front found their places and I bravely stepped up. I got my feet spot and reached my hands up, but then I chickened out—or maybe I was just trying to keep my Springerli from getting crushed (I guess I could have put them on my head as that was the only space!—perhaps some entrepreneur can invent some sort of bag that sits on your head for these situations!) Well, as I stepped back onto the platform with a red face, I looked up and down the long train and noted that there were various body parts, coats, purses, bags still hanging out of the doors. I just unashamedly watched—as probably many of the smooshed people were watching the poor foreigner. The doors indeed started to shut and it was as if everyone took a deep breath in and off they went! Well, I thought, it is a good thing I am early. Now I am the first in line for the next packed train. Sure enough—4 minutes later, it came and wasn’t quite so crowded. I was able to board fairly easy, and was congratulating myself on that fact when I noticed ( a bit too late) that the girl next to me had fallen asleep while standing up and had her head hanging out the door. Well, she got woke up soon—the door smacked her in the head! She just kinda moaned and leaned against my Springerli bag to continue her nap. So here I am smooshed on this train and what is my luck—there is a stop in the middle of the subway—something about a person on the train in front of us needing help. So we are stopped for about 5 minutes. I did manage to get my book out and hold it about 2 inches in front of my face to read. Thankfully we arrived at Shinjuku pretty soon and most people got off—ahh, space! I am so thankful that I don’t have to battle this too often!

December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas from the beautiful snowland of Hokkaido

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Today we traveled to Hokkaido--Hakodate city--for the end of the year party for Akihiro's parent's company. I was terribly excited to see the snow when we landed at the airport. (We haven't gotten any snow yet in Tokyo and I have been extremely jealous of all the snowy reports I get from Illinois!) Somehow it was as if God knew I needed this extra blessing to make this Christmas special! How good He is in things big and small! We found an outdoor skating rink and enjoyed an hour and a half of skating. Here on the north island, I don't think they see many foreigners--I was really getting "looks" and "hello's" from some of the more bold children. It is always kinda fun when they say hello rather than just staring at the blue eyes that can't seem to be hidden under my red cap. The cool air and the big fluffy snow flakes falling as it turned dark really made it seem like Christmas even though, sadly, most of these beautiful black-haired (snow-frosted) people don't know the real meaning for Christmas.

After that exhilerating experience, we headed for the hotel and an onsen. It was so peaceful in the roof-top outdoor onsen with snow falling on my back and looking out over the quiet (compared to Tokyo) town of Hakodate. I sat and pondered many things--one of which was the email I got from an encourager. It was so helpful to me and perhaps there are some readers to whom it would be helpful to as well.
When one can't be home for Christmas, it seems like the memories of past Christmases and family traditions are amplified more than ever and one's heart aches to be with loved ones.

However, as we consider the Christmas story we can see that "I'll be home for Christmas." is not a part of the Christmas story at all.
Christ had left His glorious home in heaven.
Joseph, as the head of his home, had to leave his home and all that was familiar to him and try to provide for his wife and the Christ child under very bleak conditions.
Mary, left her home and family and willingly followed Joseph to bear the Christ child in a dark and lonely stable.
The shepherds had left their home to worship the Christ.
The wise men had left their home to follow the star and for over a year searched for the Christ child.
None of them were home, yet all of them were exactly where God wanted them. In John 15, Christ repeatedly tells us to abide in Him and he will abide in us. If we are abiding in Christ, we are truly making our abode (our home) in Him. May you find comfort and peace in knowing that even though you may not be physically home for Christmas, you are truly home when you are abiding in Him.

We had a delicious supper with the fattest crab leg I have ever eaten and admired the hotel's Japanese garden in the snow. Soon it will be time to out this weary, but very thankful body to bed.
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December 27, 2008

Updates on Mom and Dad

Updates on Mom and Dad

Perhaps you have heard the news already that my mother had a stroke and is in serious condition. There is a caring bridge site that can be accessed for more information. www.caringbridge.org and enter “miriamsauder” She looks so peaceful and for that I am so thankful.

Earlier this month Dad had a PET scan that revealed recurrence of the cancer. Lord-willing he will have another round of chemotherapy in January. We are taking one day at a time, though, and know that God’s grace is sufficient.

I arrived safely here at the hospital where mom is around 2:30 AM and later will write about the dear angels who helped me. Akihiro is in the air now. We covet your prayers for both Mom and Dad and for all of our family. I have already felt so much strength from the prayers—thank you. I feel very peaceful despite everything. This feeling can only be possible through the God’s faithful and comforting Spirit.

About December 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Welcome to ITO NEWS in December 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

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