Thursday, December 24, 2009


A few days ago, at the Tokorozawa HC, we were having a short discussion about the Nativity. Yoshitaka-san was leading it, and one thing that all of us noticed about the birth of Christ was how sad/pitiful/difficult it was for Mary and Joseph.

Everyone: murmur (about how sad it was)
Yoshitaka: So you all noticed it was quite difficult for Mary and Joseph.
Hideko: Yes, they had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. It was quite far.
Emiko: And by that time, Joseph and Mary had to endure the stigma of her being pregnant before getting married.
Me: And also they had to stay in the stable when they got to Bethlehem.
Yoshitaka: Do you know why all this happened? Do you know why it was so terrible for them that first night?
Yoshiko: Because Joseph didn't make a room reservation in Bethlehem!
Everyone: *stunned*

Yoshitaka's point was that even when Jesus was born, the forces of darkness were already working to cause problems, even though Yoshiko's joke kinda threw us off track for a bit.

My family came up on Monday to go and visit Japan. First time they've been here, and it's been a little bit hard for my Dad because:
  1. Some of the best food is raw.
  2. Some of the best food has mushrooms.
  3. My mom and sis are experts at shopping.
It has been pretty fun going around doing stuff with them (Disneyland, meeting old friends, going shopping), but I think perhaps I have done a bit too much fun, especially since there's more fun (Hakone, Kyoto) coming up, so I have to stay at home and do work tomorrow. Which can be a bit of a bummer, but is actually very much like what most of my Japanese friends have to do, since Christmas isn't a public holiday here. (Though the 23rd of Dec is, since it's the Emperor's birthday).

Anyway, around this time of the year, many people have what is called a Bōnenkai (忘年会), where they would have lots of drinks, and forget the worries and bad stuff of the past year. But the KHCN people decided to have a Christmas party, which instead of a Bōnenkai, would be a Kinenkai (記念会), where we would look back on the year and remember what we can give thanks to God for.

I can thank God for the friends I've made in Japan, for the friends I've met in Japan, for colleagues who are friends, for a church that has supported me, for a family that supports me.

But most of all, I can thank God for being a God who loves me so much that His arm always protects me, even when I'm not a good Christian.

So yeah, that's about it.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm not sure when it started, but I've always had a bit of a fear of heights, or more specifically, a fear of falling. You can just about imagine what happened last time when I had to do rappelling in BB and the army, as well as that High Confidence Course (it was high, but it didn't help very much with my confidence) in Hendon Camp.

Oh yes, I remember that Hendon Camp experience. The one that affected (traumatized) me the most was the one where we had to jump off a platform and grab a trapeze-like bar which was suspended about 5 meters above the water. And then, when the instructor said "Now!", you had to let go.

This of course, explains why:

1) I was terrified while traveling to the top of the Umeda Sky Tower in Osaka,

Consider the trauma I went through for this picture!!!

2) I only did those high jetty jumps at Telunas under tremendous peer pressure,

It was peer pressure! I didn't want to look like a wuss! Even though... even though now I guess everyone know's I'm a wuss.

3) I don't like taking roller coasters.

There's a valid reason why I don't like sitting in that orange thing as it starts dropping.

(Un)fortunately for me, when Teresa came up from Singapore, I agreed to meet her and do some stuff with her. As it turned out, due to her tour's timetable, that 'stuff' was to 'take rides at Disneyland cos her aunt wasn't keen on taking rides'. Yeah, those rides. Not the riverboat or the tour tram. The kind with screaming and high drops.

So when I met Teresa (with her aunt), she said she wanted to take those with the triangle marks next to the names. Obviously, those triangle marks meant "DANGER!!" or something along those lines. It didn't deter her one bit, though I tried to suggest taking something a little more peaceful, somewhat along these lines:

Me: Hmm triangle signs? So I guess those must be the fast ones huh.
T: Yeah!
Me: The kind your aunt doesn't want to take huh.
T: Yeah!
Me: Ahh I see... hmm that paddleboat on the river looks pretty nice...
T: I took it already. It was sooooo boring.
Me: Right.
T: Who knows, maybe you've already conquered your fear of roller coasters!
Me: Or maybe I'll wake up screaming at night because I've been dreaming of falling.

She did give me one piece of advice as the Splash Mountain ride started. She was all calm and stuff. I was trying to act calm.

T: I hope this ride was worth the wait!
Me: You should be grateful that I'm putting myself through this.
T: Oh it's not that bad. What you should do is take a deep breath as you get to the top, and then exhale on the way down.
Me: You mean scream.
T: No, exhale.

And guess what, it worked. Of course there was a rush of adrenaline and stuff (I was still jittery when we got off the ride), but I think I don't mind taking roller coasters quite as much as I did before.

So thanks Teresa, you helped me overcome my fear of small-to-medium-sized roller coasters. I'm just glad you didn't have enough time to go to Korakuen and see the big coaster at Tokyo Dome City.

It'll take a lot more convincing for me to get on that.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Ode to my coat

This morning I took a look outside
And thought "I think it'll be alright,
I'll really rather travel light"
And did not bring my coat.

The morning train was quite a squeeze
But 'cos of that I did not freeze
I really did feel quite at ease
That I didn't bring my coat.

I traveled somewhat further north,
And boldly, outside, ventured forth
And really did not think much of
The absence of my coat.

But then the skies began to frown
And lo, the rain began to pound
The temperature dropped way, way down
I wish I'd brought my coat.

So now I huddle in the train
And though protected from the rain
The thought of cold still brings me pain
I should have brought my coat.

So I went up to Tsuchiura last Thursday, and I'm not kidding, I was wearing only my Puma jacket, which is useful for springtime and church services, but not really for late autumn-early winter times. So even though most of the stuff happened indoors/traveling in car with heater, I still could feel the chill, especially when it started to rain around midday.

The temperature has really dropped, and as I have observed to my friends, growing up in Singapore prepares you for the summers here, but not for the winters at all. Fortunately, I have a kotatsu (from Shu and Ten), an electric blanket (inherited from Louis and Chris), an aircon with a heater (in the house) and an ofuro (which is really useful).

Oh and speaking of Louis and Chris, this happened on a skype conversation, when they were trying to get me to use the electric blanket.

Louis: *random stuff*
Me: *random stuff*
Auntie Chris: (in background) Has Daniel found the electric blanket yet?
L: Eh, Daniel, have you found the electric blanket yet?
Me: Yeah I found it, but I'm leaving it in the living room for Justin (Louis' son, coming to visit soon)
L: Eh you should use it lah, don't you feel cold?
Me: Yeah, a bit, but I use the heater in my room.
L: Eh, you shouldn't do that you know. Heater is expensive ok...
Me: Ohhhh... I see...
C: (in background) Don't tell him that! Later he won't use the heater and then he'll freeze to death.


So anyway, the team from WEFC came up already, and they've already done one kids' event last Saturday. Thank God that
  1. Quite a few kids came, even though it was raining
  2. Two dads came, since usually only moms turn up
  3. The event was stretched for an extra hour, but the team still had stuff up their sleeves to keep with it
  4. The afore-mentioned rain only started after the team had reached the building, since we had to walk from the station (quite far) while carrying all the barang (quite a lot)
  5. One of the dads, Kenji, drove us to the station after the event was over.
I think most of us had a good time then, playing with the kids and getting to know them. Do continue to pray for the team as they will be doing lots of things this whole week, and will have to meet the kids again on Friday.

Ok, so that's about it for now.