Winter Break
Christmas in Japan came and went. Here's a brief synopsis of the events of my first Christmas in Japan: Saturday (the 23rd) there was a special service at my church, including Christmas carols (in Japanese, of course), a short message, candle lighting, and Christmas cake (a Japanese Christmas tradition, possibly borrowed from European tradition). There I was surprised to receive a gift from one of my students-- a beautiful necklace that is just my style! I said to her, "Wow, my student gave me a gift!" She responded, "No, I'm not just your student. You are my sister, because we are both in God's family." Sunday there was the normal church service, in which we sang "Happy Birthday Jesus," then a potluck lunch, then a Christmas "party" of sorts: there was a puppet show of the Christmas story and many musical numbers, including the Hallelujah Chorus, which I conducted!! Christmas day I went to another church to help prepare an American/Australian style Christmas dinner (my friend Katie from Australia was the "director/head chef" for the event, so we used her recipes. Some of Australia's food traditions are a little different from America's, as you can imagine). Then that evening the American teachers from my high school and its affiliated college got together for a small party/gift exchange. We all did a little talent and brought something to eat. My talent was singing (surprise surprise) and I made macaroni and cheese to share with the group (I thought something distinctly American would be appreciated, and it was).

This Christmas was not only my first in Japan, but my first away from my family. The homesickness was more acute than usual, but I am so fortunate to have many friends here to spend the holidays with. They are my new "family away from family," not replacing anyone, mind you, just another family to add to my collection. With the end of Christmas comes the beginning of my first school break. I have two weeks to bum around Shimonoseki with the other "losers" who aren't traveling during the break. Two of my friends and I plan to go to nearby Yamaguchi City to a Mexican restaurant (how strange does that sound!) and to Fukuoka to go shopping and see the sights. I also plan to borrow a lot of DVDs from my neighbors and thoroughly clean my apartment.

I continue to change and add to my apartment. Its funny how long it has taken me to "settle in," as far as decorating and accumulating necessary furniture is concerned. But the new sumo wrestler calendar I acquired is hanging prominently in my living room. A few friends and I went to a special restaurant that sumo wrestlers eat at, and the owner came out to talk to us after our meal and gave all of us these 2007 wall calendars. As you can imagine, each page features enormous men battling each other in giant thongs. I love it.

On the faith front: I'm still a skeptic, but I hold on to the tiny bit of hope I have that God is who he says he is and that he will reveal himself in due time. I am waiting on him to grow my faith and I'm trying to "help" it along by doing some reading. This week's book is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, a fellow skeptic and former atheist. I welcome and appreciate your prayers and advice and encouragement, as this struggle is certainly more difficult for me being miles away from the people who usually encourage me in this area.


written by Ruthie @ 8:20 PM   0 comments
I woke up this morning at 8:30 to my alarm, as always. I rolled over to shut it off, and checked the temperature (my awesome Japanese alarm clock has a temperature gauge built in, as well as a calendar). It was a balmy 49 degrees farenheit in my apartment. That may not seem too cold to Iowans, since the outside temperature in my hometown right now is supposedly around 30 degrees, but this is INSIDE MY HOUSE. Inside its not supposed to be this cold. I try to keep my apartment at around 65-70 degrees farenheit, but this is quite a challenge, since the Japanese apparently don't believe in insulation of any kind. So I wear 2-3 layers on every part of my body at all times and sit at my couch with an electric blanket on my lap and a cup of hot coffee or tea at my side. Suffice it to say: I am always freezing here, inside or outside.
written by Ruthie @ 8:15 PM   0 comments
Sumo Nabe

Last weekend I went with Rachel, Joe, Lucie, and Nakamura-sensei to eat nabe at a chanka nabe restaurant. Chanka nabe is a special kind of hot pot that sumo wrestlers eat. I don't know why sumo wrestlers eat it, but I enjoyed it. After we finished eating the owner of the restaurant (at least, I assume he was the owner) came out and said hello to us and gave us all a huge 2007 calendar with pictures of sumo wrestlers on each page. I am so excited about this calendar. It will be hung in a place of great prominence in my apartment.
written by Ruthie @ 7:46 PM   2 comments
Ruthie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

I woke up at 4AM but my alarm wasn’t supposed to go off until 6:30AM but I was wide awake and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

I couldn’t sleep for an hour and the thermostat on my clock said it was fifty degrees in my apartment and that is COLD. I fell back asleep at 5AM and woke up again at 6:30AM but I turned my alarm off so I fell asleep again and didn’t wake up until ten minutes before I had to leave so I had no time for a shower or breakfast, and I knew it was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

The bus was crowded, but only because people were standing in the aisle instead of sitting in the open seats and I didn’t understand WHY no one was sitting in the open seats so I stood also, staring at the comfortable, warm open seats that no one was sitting in. I didn’t want to sit down because maybe the seats were special, like for the elderly, and what if I sat down and broke some unwritten rule or looked stupid or something, and once again I thought it was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. Probably even for the bus driver. He sounded depressed.

At school I made some instant coffee because I like coffee and this morning I really needed it, what with waking up at 4AM and all, but I accidentally poured too much hot water into my cup, so I had to quickly drink some of it, but I burnt my tongue and the roof of my mouth and they STILL hurt now. It was the start of a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

Chapel was confusing today and I hate being confused. There was a long cleaning period today and the students were extra noisy and I hate extra noise. I didn’t have time to make a lunch this morning so at lunch time I’ll have to walk to the sandwich shop and if the sandwich lady doesn’t have yakisoba, I’ll have to buy sandwiches and there’s always an egg salad sandwich and I hate egg salad. If the sandwich lady doesn’t have yakisoba I’ll know for SURE that it’s DEFINITELY a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. But I guess everyone has them. Even in Japan.

written by Ruthie @ 7:24 PM   1 comments
Mad Lib
One day, Ringo was walking down Sausage Avenue, when suddenly he ran into a flying reindeer named Lobot. The reindeer's nose was blinking like a purple lightbulb on a ringo tree. It was at that moment that Ringo said, " his sister pam works in a shop she never stops she's a go getter."

The End
written by Ruthie @ 7:52 AM   1 comments

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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