Saturday, March 30, 2013

Still Waiting!

Some of you read Lissa's brief rant on Facebook, stating that our shipment did NOT arrive on March 17th as we had hoped.  Instead, it got a late start at sea, and is headed on a detour to China.  We don't expect to see our household goods until mid- to late-April.  To quote an ancient philosopher-king, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" and that's exactly how we've felt recently.  We are heart-sick, depressed, angry and wishing we could speed time forward to the day that a moving truck appears in front of our house, delivering beds with mattresses, pillows, spring-weather clothing, kitchen implements, stereo systems, computer software, Xbox, and other comforts of home.

It will get here.  We know it will.  And between now and then, we've got some living to do.

Jenna and Heather have been on spring break this past week, which also coincided with "O-Hana-Mi", Sakura (cherry blossom) Viewing season.  For one precious week, trees all over Tokyo exploded in full bloom with pale pink blossoms.  We made a point to get out of our empty house and enjoy the outdoor scenery, and God graced our week with pleasant spring weather and mild temperatures.

Enjoy the photos, and pray for us to persevere during this wait that seems never-ending.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daylight is Coming

Ten weeks in country.  Admittedly, it seems like it's been much longer than 10 weeks, but we are beginning to see daylight.  We are gradually completing all of the tasks that weigh our minds down in the midst of these early days.  Both Stew and Lissa earned their driver's licenses.  After two months of waiting around, we have reliable internet at home.  We are emerging from winter's cold into a lovely spring season.  

Signs of Spring:  Plum blossoms

All that remains on our get-settled-in-Japan list is "The Shipment" -- our furnishings that are in transit from the U.S.   Awhile back, we were told that our container would hit the port of Yokohama on March 17th.  We've heard nary an update in the meantime, and although we are afraid to get our hopes up...we can't help but hope that by this time next week, we will be swapping out rent-a-futons for wooden-frame beds with brand new mattresses.

To our great relief, Lissa passed the driving test on her second try.  Stew (!) drove her there that day and waited around while she tested.  Twenty people tested that morning and in the end, only two passed, yielding a pass rate of 10%.  Stew grew anxious as he saw one driver after another return to the waiting hall, headed straight for the "Reschedule Test" window instead of the "Convert International License to Japan License" window.   It was a happy day when Lissa found herself in the Ten Percent category, earning her driver's license!  There is something about gaining Internet and drivers' licenses that boosts your morale in a way nothing else can.

From previous experience we know that one of the best ways to ward off the deadly combination of culture-shock and newcomer's blues, is to "get out" and become involved in the community.   Several opportunities presented themselves in these recent weeks, and with our relatively uncluttered schedule, we've taken advantage.

Heather shows off her project.
Jenna fixes her display board at home.
Stew and Lissa served as judges for the middle school's Science Expo at CAJ.  Jenna and Heather each carried out their own science investigations, compiling research reports and constructing display boards.  We toured the Science Fair in our white lab coats, interviewing students and evaluating their projects.   Jenna created her own lava lamp, while Heather magically floated paper clips atop the water's surface.  The girls got started on their projects about a month later than their classmates, and we weren't stocked with all of the supplies we'd normally have at home.  In spite of the less-than-ideal circumstances, the girls did an admirable job with what they had available, and we were proud of their hard work.

Science Fair Judges -- We had a blast!

Stew walks alongside the city councilman

Another opportunity came through a last-minute request from a co-worker.  We attended an afternoon art workshop at a community center, offered to families of Japanese children who suffer Down's syndrome.  This was orchestrated by a city alderman, a fairly new Christian who himself is disabled from cerebral palsy.  He is burdened by the lack of resources and support for families of Down's children, so he organized this event to draw parents and children together for some recreation and encouragement.  

This sweet girl painted at least a dozen pictures!

It's like we've never been separated.

We have also enjoyed several visits with good friends this month.  One was with the Kimura family.  The wife, Kazuyo, comes from our former city in China and was the first friend that Lissa made there in 2004.  We enjoyed a joyful reunion over sushi one night and have stayed in contact ever since, mainly through cell-phone texting.

Heather was only 5 the last time she saw her buddy.

A friend from our Texas days, Randy, came through Tokyo after a brief stay on Okinawa for business.  We took the train to Tokyo's Ginza section to meet up with him one evening, and we visited over coffee.  Most recently, we hosted Bill and Pam Truax, parents of Leslie's fiance, Josiah.  They live on Okinawa, and when Bill got sent to Tokyo for military-diplomatic business, he flew his wife up to Tokyo for a weekend "date."  We are grateful to have friends come through town and call on us!

Our Texas friend, world traveler Randy Walker

Bill and Pam Truax, visiting from Okinawa