Sarah Joy Albrecht

12/30/08

Dec
30

Nothing super-exciting happened today, unless one factors in that, like it or not, just being in Japan makes everything super-exciting.

Today, Thomas and Tabitha played RockBand2 on XBoxLive with Andrew, Peter and Joe. It’s hilarious to me that my 1st and 2nd grader are perfectly playing and belting out words to songs before their time like, “Shooting Star” and “Eye of the Tiger”. XBoxLive certainly adds to the depth of enjoyability – to be able to play with your friends and family on the other side of the world!

After responding to some various loose-ends in PA, we bundled up and set out for the two-hour mountainous trip to Misawa AFB. Most of the roads were decent, but on the more remote curves through the forest areas the sun doesn’t reach the pavement enough to completely melt through the ice. By nightfall, it was particularly slick and we did see a one-car accident being cleared off of a section of road with a dropoff — thankfully, this section had a guardrail (they don’t always around here!) and the car had stopped upon impact.

Because the weather here can be so treacherous, some of the roads between here and Misawa actually close. Tonight, we stocked our pantry and new freezer to the tune of $356.00.

I tried tongue tonight at dinner. I think it was cow’s tongue, but I’m not exactly sure. It was sliced very thin, and we cooked it on our grill at our table. Leah’s highchair was unfortunately right in front of the gas knob – so as she would “bump into it” with her foot, the fire would flare up or wither accordingly. Tom grilled and ate skewered tiny octupi – whereas the octupus I ate was battered and fried in one of my new favorite snacks, takoyaki. They are little fried dumplings of octupus and chive goodness, drizzled with mayonnaise and a hoisin-type sauce, topped with more chives and wafer thin bonito fish flakes that twitch from the heat of the takoyaki as if they were alive. Some places only lightly fry the takoyaki, and so the uncooked dough oozes out as you attempt to pop it whole into your mouth. However, I prefer that they are a little “overcooked”, so that they stay intact and my mouth doesn’t get scorched with scalding but not yet breadlike batter.

Throughout dinner, Leah became increasingly squirmy. Time revealed that her princess-pullups weren’t so beautiful, and neither were her leggings. I changed her using packs of disposable oshibori from our table to clean up the mess. I confess, I was the one that left the stinky diaper in the restaurant’s trash. Sorry! There was no way it was going to sit in the car for two hours and induce a vomiting reaction x 7!

I find myself enjoying listening to the audiobook rendition of Harry Potter during our cartrips. We’re about 1/4 of the way through book three, Prisoner of Azkaban. One thing I appreciate about Rowling’s writing is her character development. As she described Professor Lupine, she described him as unusually sleepy during the daytime. It’s not till nearly the end of the book does the reader find out what he turns into at night. When character’s identities or plots are revealed, it always seems to fit together beautifully and I look forward to each cluelike morsel.

Well, it’s off to bed. Today we learned that the driving class is tomorrow at 10am at Misawa. Tom is required to take this class, essentially a crash (lets hope not!) course in Japanese driving etiquette and street signs, in order to purchase a car in Japan, as a foreigner. The only difference is that we have to leave the house by 7:30am to be there on time.

I’m off to bed. I’m reheating the bathwater from last night for a warm-me-up soak before bed. There is a little switch in my living room connected to the hot water system in the bathroom. I can see that the water temp is at 42 Celsius by the indicator light :)

In My Shoes, Japan Comments Off on 12/30/08

Landlord

Dec
29

Our landlord is, I am guessing, in his 70s. He is so hardworking, especially for an older man. A few weeks ago, in between the snow storms, I watched him go out to his field and examine some plants that needed to be covered for the winter. He went into his garage and then brought out a big roll of burlap. He then rolled it out on the driveway and cut the burlap. Next, he sat down on the concrete wall along the driveway and _hand sewed_ ten long pouches in about an hour. Then, he went back out to the field and put them over the plants. They fit perfectly.

Today, I was out shoveling the ice away from the garage and he brought me a bag of each : potatoes and apples. Since we moved in, he has brought us food from his garden about twice a week. He has given us apples, huge cabbages, potatoes and persimmons – an sweet orange fruit that is hard to find in the US. When I get my kitchen items, I hope to cook some goodies and take them over. (I have about a bushel of potatoes now from him – anyone have any good stovetop potato recipes?)

The landlord is just a little taller than me. He wears coveralls and rain galoshes every day. He has short, white hair. He is always smiling, and is kind to the children.

I just wish I could understand what he’s saying!

Leah and Tabitha Eat Kimchi

Dec
26

Japanese Bed Warmers (Hot Water Bottles)

Dec
25

Transition

Dec
21

As we drove home to Goshogawara from Misawa last night, a two hours trip in pouring rain on dark mountain roads, I looked over at Tom, who was at the wheel of our rented silver Honda minivan, and felt overwhelmed by happiness and love for him. It is so wonderful to finally be together as a family!

Our church, though this particular plant is still fledgling in nature, is filled with people who love the Lord. The pastor and his wife, Martin and Ruth Ghent, are gentle, humble, and kind. They visibly make the most of every opportunity to share the gospel with those around them, and have several outreach events going on over the course of any given day of the week. The Ghents are clear in teaching God’s word. A number of non-Believers regularly attend various church and outreach events – something not too common in the States. The Ghents are not merely teachers of the word, but “doers” of the word, as seen in James 1.

December 2nd marked the six week anniversary of my myomectomy surgery. I am feeling stronger than I have in a long time. I am very thankful to have relief of the unpleasant symptoms of the grapefruit sized uterine tumor! I no longer feel 13 weeks pregnant all the time, for one! Thank you to all of those who prayed, made meals, helped with childcare, and encouraged our family while I was healing!

Although I do not know the details of Tom’s job, he seems to be happy and satisfied with work when he comes home each day.

On Sunday mornings, two ladies and I have been meeting for Bible study at a local coffee shop. We are studying the book of John using Pastor Piper’s sermons as a guide. (If you’re reading this and are interested in participating, please feel free to listen along with us and let me know your thoughts!)

Our new house is quite large – nearly three times the size of our house in PA – and we’re excited to use it for God’s glory. The plan is to have church here next Sunday night!!

The answer to the question “how are you guys doing?” is very, very well. Our hearts are happy and we very content!

Those things being said, Japan, especially this more rural area (unlike in semi-westernized Tokyo), is very different.

Here are a few of the changes we are getting used to:

-Driving on the left side of the road.
-Driving on roads that are neither ploughed nor salted, despite inclement weather (ever road is covered in black ice this time of year, as they do not salt the roads – possibly due to damage the run-off salt does the to rice fields). Oftentimes, there are 50ft. drops on either sides of the narrow roads, with no guardrails!
-Seven trash categories to be sorted and picked up on particular days of the week – at a collection stop down the road
-Houses do not have built in heating systems (ours has the exception of heated floor in three of the rooms – kitchen, living room, and a little dressing area outside of the bathroom). Rooms are heated with kerosene space heaters, most of which have to be turned off at night due to fumes. Those rooms that are not heated with a space heater are VERY cold. At night, when it is especially cold, I can see my breath in the hallways and bathrooms.
-As a result of the heating situation, those children not sharing futons with other children have stove-warmed metal hot water bottles, covered in fabric pouches, to help keep their toes warm at night.
-We have futons on the floor instead of beds. Tom and I have separate, single futons, pushed next to each other, but always seeming to scoot apart. We’re used to snuggling, so I feel so far away from him and I don’t rest as peacefully!
-Sliding paper doors that easily tear
-Fish, fish and more fish! Put it this way, the prizes for some of the video games here are snack-packs of whole, dried fish!
-No shower – just a little faucet to wash with – before getting in the tub, which is only for soaking
-No clothes dryer. Clothing only dries in the room with the larger heater, the living room
-No shoes in the house
-Tatami mat floors – soft on the feet, but tricky to clean!!
-Peanut butter, bread and sour cream are in short supply
-Shopping carts that are only big enough for the little plastic baskets – you push baskets around in the cart, then lift the basket out at checkout
-Tinier fruits and veggies. Think bell peppers the size of kiwis!
-Time difference of 14 hours ahead of Pennsylvania time
-Outgoing mail must be taken to the post office – the mailman only comes if something is to be delivered.
-Quail eggs
-Two burner gas stove with 6″ x 10″ fish broiler – no oven
-“Squatting toilets”, which give some of our children such anxiety that one of them has had two BM accidents within two days!!

…and do have to mention the language barrier??

The arrival of or belongings from the states has been delayed – something about the ship itself – and we are awaiting information. We are still living out of suitcases, with no furniture, with the exception of futon mattresses, to boot.

The point is that, while we are quite happy, there are many changes to get used to – and all at once!

Please know that we are well. Rejoice with us that we are together as a family and have much love for one another, and have our physical needs and spiritual needs met. Keep us in prayer as we go through these adjustments, and as we seek to be a light to those around us.

Two particular physical need to pray over:
1. Our car situation. Our rental car is due back tomorrow, but leasing a car has proven to be more complicated than originally thought, and may take another few weeks. Please pray that our transportation needs will be met in the mean time! Carpooling always provides for interesting conversation and a captive audience :)
2. Shipment of household goods. Although it’s just “stuff” – it would be super-cool to have the children’s toys, snow suits and winter gear, and our kitchen items!