Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Just over the weekend, SP used a text from Genesis 29 for his sermon. And it really had me thinking. You see, whenever we mention Jacob's family, at Jacob's level, not the next generation with his kids, we almost always immediately think of Rachel his wife, and then give an afterthought to his first wife, and Rachel's older sister, Leah. Which I'm guessing she got a lot of in her time, since Rachel was the pretty one, while she was the plain one.

And it was really strange, because in most Bible stories, Leah was made out to be the antagonist in the family. But when SP spoke from her viewpoint, it suddenly dawned on me that she had a really sad life. Imagine being compared to your sister all your life as the ugly half. Then you find a guy whom you like, but who wouldn't give you a second look because you're not half as good looking as your sister, who you probably took good care of. Then your father uses you to cheat the boy, to gain free labor from him (and probably to quickly marry you off). And then for your marriage, even though you give him what every man wants, many sons, he still loves your sister more.

I can't convey it here, but I really felt sad for her. I mean, not only for her life, but even after that, people have only seen her as 'that other sister'. And in a way, I felt a sense of solidarity with her, because very often, I feel as if I am an afterthought in people's minds. Not with regard to my brother, of course (or my sister, for that matter), but to others. Doesn't help that I seem to have an inferiority complex that regularly beats me down, though strangely enough, I seem to have enough arrogance for three people. Must be the OCS training.

So I could almost sense her increasing depression as she gave birth to Reuben, then to Simeon, and after that, to Levi. At first, it would seem that God was trying to help her, to make Jacob open his eyes and notice her, because she was providing him with a bloodline. And her thoughts, though each one barely measures half a verse in the Bible, marked her increasing sadness and desperation to gain just a little bit of recognition from her husband.

But finally, I guess she just gave up, and chose instead to honor the One who had given her all her sons. So when she got to her 4th kid, she called him Judah, as a form of praise to God. And then she stopped having kids (for a while).

And now we see what God was really trying to drive at. He wasn't being nice to Leah, allowing her to have sons, so that she could get Jacob to take notice of her. It was really for her benefit, to let her finally realize that she should not be looking to please her husband, but to give praise to God for being there and giving her things to be thankful for.

And while the Bible doesn't quite have as many "happily-ever-after" stories as Disney, in this case, there was a happy ending, as she ended as the honored wife, and after she died, she was interred in the family's plot. And Jacob, when speaking to his sons, told them to bury him next to her.

And as I still felt some solidarity with Leah, it really smacked me in the head a bit too. I mean, I know that I should choose to look at the big picture. To keep my focus on God, instead of on my friends, or my problems, or even myself. But sometimes, knowing it is not nearly enough. I can know all that, but I still end up looking down at my sorry situation, instead of choosing to look up at the heavens (空を見上げる, as I found in some of my songs).

So I tried to stop looking down, and to start looking up, to give all my troubles to God instead of trying to hide it inside me where no one else would see. To not worry about what would happen, but to just give praise up to Him. Which can be really hard at times. But sometimes, it's easier to try and do it just before you sleep. Then you don't need to think so much about it. haha.

And strangely enough, while talking to one of my friends just the other day, I found out that, at least for him, I'm not as much as an afterthought as I thought myself to be. Yes, I know, it's nothing much. In fact, it sounds somewhat off to be happy about such things, but I felt happy, so give me a break.

The Bible mentioned that Leah had weak eyes. I'm glad that she used them well, to find God, and look at Him instead of herself. And in my books, that means she had good eyes.

Here's to using our weak eyes in a good way.


Monday, July 21, 2008


I've never really been very good at memory verse. In fact, I've never really been quite that keen on reading my Bible. Because I'm so music-inclined (not musically-inclined. That's different. Music-inclined means I like music. Musically-inclined means I'm good at music, which I'm not. It's like the difference between 好きand 上手, which I always mix up in LAJ), I prefer to listen/play worship songs, to the almost total neglect of reading the Word.

I mean I do pray, since its relatively easy (sometimes, its not. Surprisingly, it can require quite a large amount of willpower to really sit down and pray), and because both church and VCF have placed an increased emphasis on the importance of prayer. But it takes a lot more for me to really sit down and read my Bible. Which is surprising, considering one of my hobbies is reading.

And this glaring hole in my basics of Christian living has been pointed out to me (by God) many times before, like usually when I prepare for Bible study, I know many Christian concepts and ideals and morals, but I wouldn't know the verse references. And at last year's FOC, GY's station was a memory verse station, where he asked us to tell him as many verses from the four Gospels as we could remember, and then reminded us that in many countries, the Bible is a banned book, and they had to make do with what they can memorize, while here in Singapore, we can have as many Bibles as we have money to purchase them, but many of us don't treasure the Word.

All this still didn't really have an impact on me though. Like probably too lazy, or bo chup. Or both. So I still hadn't really started reading my Bible regularly. Even on the JMT, I didn't really read my Bible, sometimes because of the time spent on doing other things, but also cos I didn't really force myself to sit down and just read the Bible, to see what God is trying to tell me from His Word.

Strangely, I did start reading through a rather 'normal' situation. On the Tuesday of the week I was to leave Japan, I was supposed to meet DL and YM for follow-up Bible Study. And DL told me on the sad Monday morning (TLD) that he was going to go through Psalm 1, and asked me to take a look at it to see if there was anything I could get from it that we could use during the session.

So after moping and sleeping away my Monday, I read Psalm 1 on Tuesday morning, and I wanted to make a decision to continue to read, to live by the Bible, not just live with a Bible. Not sure if it was merely myself talking to me, or if it was God nudging me in this direction, but I asked God to help to continue reading my Bible, and I would start by going through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a day, just as a continuation from that Tuesday.

Now prior to that, all I knew about the Psalms was like you know, Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd), Psalm 1 (Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked...), Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord, praise God in His sanctuary), Psalm 42 ("As the deer pantheth [it's spelt panteth, T!]), Psalm 40 (The miry clay one) and Psalm 119 (which is the longest one and alphabetically arranged so that each verse starts with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet as the chapter heading, but I don't know any verses). Which you must admit, for a book of 150 chapters, is really rather sorry. And I'm not saying I'm better at the rest of the Bible. It's quite similar. Like fractals. Whether you take a micro- or macro-level view, it's the same.

But now that I've started, I've discovered even more nice things from the Psalms. Like Psalm 3:4-6 "To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side." Or like Psalm 13:2, which seems to be like something I feel myself. The reassurance of the promise of Psalm 16. The reminders of what I should do to continue to walk with God in Psalm 18: 20-26. And even today, when I had to read yesterday's reading because I didn't read it, Psalm 19:13-14 is almost like a prayer I was saying this morning so that I wouldn't fall into sin.

Now I'm not saying that I suddenly feel happy to be reading. It still takes quite a bit of pushing on my part so that I would just sit down and read the Bible. Even after reading Psalm 1 and feeling refreshed by it a couple of weeks ago, I still don't feel an urge to read my Bible. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to continue pushing myself on like this to dutifully read my Bible everyday, to the point that it is no longer a duty, but a desire. But I do know that at the very least, up to today, I have been blessed through the words of the Psalms.

I had to force myself to read on the plane the day I left because it's hard to read when you leave home at 5.45 in the morning, and it's also hard to read on the bus when you're sleeping.

So I shall just hope that the Lord can sustain me in continually reading, even after I get a job.

Ok, now back to reading. I still have to read Psalm 20 for today.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Today, when I met J to do up the trip report, I just started wondering what I had been doing exactly a week ago. It seems so strange and far away, when I think about it, because last Wednesday was when I ran all over Tokyo to do my own last minute shopping. It was only last week, yet it seems like a whole world away. Which is somewhat odd, considering how I mentioned in previous posts (I think the depressed one) about how I felt that three weeks seemed really short and easy to remember what had gone on then.

So anyway, here's what I did by myself for the last few days I was in Japan.

On Monday, like I mentioned, I was depressed in the morning. So after I got back from the bus stop, I had to blog about it, hence the sadness in the post. I then managed to fall asleep for a couple of hours (since I had only slept an hour and a half that night) before waking up just in time to catch the train to Kotesashi for E-crew at Waseda Tokorozawa.

So I managed to get on to the Waseda bus on time, even though the way I got on would be reminiscent of the second time the team went for E-crew (read: I was rushing on to the bus) and met SW, sitting in his favorite seat in the last row.

Got down to the canteen there on time, but this time C wasn't there yet. So I took this shot:

This really reminded me of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Remember, I was in a depressed mood, even though I didn't show it. And it only reminded me of the title. I don't think "Now my friends are dead and gone" is accurate.

E-crew felt really different without the team around. A whole lot quieter, everything was toned down a bit. And it didn't help that that particular day was a busy day, so only C, as well as (my look-alike) W were there. But it was nice to meet them both again.

Went back after that, and was contemplating going out to do some of the shopping, but I felt so sleepy that I ended up sleeping most of the time, and ate dinner from what I could find in the house, which for Monday night, consisted of half a can of Pringles, two packets of Pocky, and two fried fish that M had left in the fridge from the morning. Decided not to go to sleep in the room, so I slept on the sofa, like how I had been doing all day. It would prove to be a continual sleeping spot for me for the rest of my stay in Japan.

Took this shot in the evening of Monday. I wasn't quite so depressed as before, but this sort of sad shot sort of catches the mood. It was an Orange Time.

Tuesday woke up as per normal, did some QT, then proceeded to wash the rest of the bed sheets and stuff, and cleared out the tatami room, and cleaned up the place a bit. While clearing out the tatami room, I noticed a charger stuck to the wall socket. Now initially, I thought it was the Au charger, since I didn't know where that charger had been since first week, so we hadn't used that phone. On closer examination, however, I realized that charging jack was like no phone charger I had ever seen. And on even closer examination, I saw the "Nintendo" on it. And so I knew that it had to be that someone (who's name starts with W) had left it behind.

Went out to Mr. Donut to meet DL and Y for Bible study again at 3. Then after Y left, DL and me chilled out for a bit at the Mr. Donut (no donuts, only coffee. Strangely enough, I think the last time I ate donuts on that particular trip was when we went to Costco and everyone bought Lil' Donuts), then I bought my bus ticket. And when DL heard what I ate for dinner the night before, he and J invited me over for dinner at their place, as they had gone to Costco (wow. What's with the Costco connection) and had just come into ownership of food, so they could afford to have me over for dinner. Spent the evening watching Brave Story (not too bad a show) and chatting with them.

Wednesday, as mentioned, was when I did all my shopping. Morning was QT again, then I left at about 1130 to go out. First stop was the Christian bookstore at Shinjuku where I managed to spend quite a bit. Didn't go by Yamanote, took the Seibu-Shinjuku instead, and walked from Seibu-Shinjuku station over to Shinjuku. Not too bad.

After that I took the Yamanote all the way out to Ueno. Because it was at such an odd time, the train was really quite empty.

So empty I could've gotten a seat if I wanted to.

Bought some stuff at the anime shop again, then walked up and down Ameyayokocho trying to find a particular t-shirt for brother, but I just couldn't find it. Such a bother. Then was preparing to go to Ikebukuro, when I realized that Akihabara was just a stop away. One of my friends said she found a certain pair of ear pieces very nice, and I didn't know where else to go, so I took a short hop out to Akihabara, bought the earphones, and then went to Ikebukuro, where I did even more shopping in Sunshine City and Loft. Went back to Tokorozawa after that, met C for a bit, then ate dinner (a proper one at Matsuya) before toddling off to D&J's house to pass them some stuff and to chat a bit more.

Thursday morning was more cleaning. And packing. I started to feel worried that I wouldn't have been able to pack all my stuff into my bags, cos there was really quite a bit of stuff. But up till that point in time, I was able to stuff most of it in, so yeah. But I knew I had to stop buying stuff soon. Went to Shin-Sayama to help HJ do some furniture moving for her counselling place. It was like some dude's house, and it's really cool. It's a two-storey building, but with two separate houses inside. The bottom floor is where his mum lives. He lives with his family on the top. And there's no real master bedroom. He has a loft. Like I would have taken a picture, just that it's not nice to take pictures of people's rooms like that. I want to have a loft in my own house next time. As if. HDB flats aren't exactly very accommodating when it comes to wanting to have a loft.

The weather was like Singapore weather then. Warm, just not quite so humid. But yes. It was starting to get hot.

Went back home for a while first, then went to Takadanobaba to meet AM for dinner. Met him long ago in church, but only really got to know him from the 2006 JMT, and he's at Waseda Uni on exchange. Had quite a good time just talking and eating around Ikebukuro.

Got home around 10, hoping D&J would be able to make it for supper like they said they would, but they were both feeling out of sorts that day, so D called to say they couldn't come over. A bit sad, since I wouldn't see them again there. Did all my last minute packing, and managed to stuff everything into my luggage. It still weighed a ton though. Caught one and a half hours of sleep (just like on Monday), then ran to catch the Seibu bus.

It seems that everytime some member of the team leaves Tokorozawa, it's drizzling. Makes it so much sadder. When R left, it was drizzling. When the team left, it was drizzling. And when I left, it was drizzling too.

Why does it always rain on me

The trip to the airport was uneventful. Wanted to see if I could take any nice pictures, but I just sorta fell asleep (it's due to lack of sleep) and woke up at Narita. Did quite a bit of shopping there, especially for some chocolate biscuit that brother (and later I found out, V) really liked and wanted.

The plane ride back was pretty ok too. First meal, from Tokyo to HK, was decent. It was some sort of pasta with meatballs. But the best part was that I got this for dessert:

It's a mochi! It's really nice to eat. Sorry to hear that you didn't get any on your flight J!

The other meal, from HK to Singapore, wasn't that great. I didn't want to eat pasta again, and since J wasn't around, I thought I could eat pork. Tasted pretty bad though. Really salty. Good thing there was other food there to help get rid of the taste.

Got back to Singapore at about 8pm local time. Was really surprised (and touched) when I got through the gate and saw my team and V, along with my parents. Wasn't expecting it, since there was JPM on that night, and I had told them to go for the prayer meeting. Still, it was nice to see them at the airport. Was torn between going with them for dinner and going home, but went home in the end because parents wanted to go home, and V had to go meet her mum and so we gave her a lift.

Final installment for the JMT was as mentioned, today, where I met J at Ang Mo Kio Hub for lunch and then wrote out the report. Going through the itinerary, remembering all that we did, and typing it out, as well as remembering all that we did, and not typing it out cos it's within the team only, was quite a nice experience. But that's about it for JMT 2008. Maybe have to do a presentation, but if not, this is officially the end of JMT 08.


P.S. J, if you can guess the title of the CD I bought today, I'll, er, give you a melon candy. haha

Sunday, July 06, 2008

3rd Week

Monday of the 3rd week started off quite quietly. It was like a final run up for us, since well, it was the last week. We headed down to Waseda's Tokorozawa campus for E-crew again, and it was kinda like the last time for most of us, since the following Monday was when the team was leaving for Singapore.

Interesting thing happened there though. See, most of the E-crew people were university seniors, meaning they were gonna graduate at the end of the semester. So they, as well as SW, were hoping that perhaps a younger person could come and join in to take over. So I was sitting on the left side of the table, talking to SW and one of the E-crew people, T, who was C's friend. J was sitting just in front of me, and she wasn't really in the conversation, think she was talking to another of C's friends, but after the friend left, she started praying that there would be another new person who had the potential to continue E-crew.

Right at that moment, there was this dude who was like walking back and forth near the table who seemed as if he wanted to join in. SW noticed him, and asked him if he wanted to sit in and take part in the conversation. Turns out that the dude, WM, had sort of just returned to Japan from London, and he wanted to continue to brush up his English, and so when he heard us talking in English, he wanted to join in too. He didn't know C at all, which makes it pretty cool, since most of the people that join in are C's friends, and he brings them along, but this guy just walked past and felt like joining in, which is quite uncommon in Japan.

What's even cooler is that he's a freshman. Perhaps he's the person that would help to continue E-crew after C leaves.

The rest of Monday was spent preparing for the Hanakoganei Kids' Club (on Friday), the Singapore Night for the Ikebukuro HC (on Saturday), and just about any other thing we had to prepare for.

Tuesday was our fun day again. This time, we went to one of the nicest places in Tokyo: Odaiba.

Just one of the many iconic icons of Odaiba: The Rainbow Bridge. More later.

We started out late as usual, since we had morning devotion and all, and we were naturally slowpokes when coming to do things which we don't really need to rush for. For me, it was like going back to a place I liked, so I was mildly happy. But the rest hadn't been there before, and it like totally blew them away.

Took the New Transit Yurikamome, which is like a much better version of the LRT in Singapore, and went to Aqua City for lunch (at Otoya again), and then for some shopping. Now I think if I'm not wrong, I mentioned earlier that I was extremely disappointed that the Cinnabon in Sunshine City Ikebukuro wasn't there anymore. Well, one popped up right here:

The best cinnamon rolls in the world. The team agrees with me.

We then ran around the place taking photos and doing rather weird things, like D with his Calpis:

"Give me Calpis, or give me... er... just give me the Calpis!"

Also took the giant Ferris Wheel at Tokyo Bay. Couple of the team members were freaking out over the height cos they were apprehensive about heights, but everyone went, and it was pretty cool inside the gondola. Decent scenic shots as well.

Not too bad, considering it was taken from behind a rather grubby window

Ate dinner there then went back, a bit late, but it was a fun day. Had a short briefing from D&J before we could go to sleep.

Wednesday morning was taken up doing prep for the events again. We were doing different things lah, like D was doing up the Kawagoe powerpoints, and J and me were doing the lion and mouse masks for Kids' Club while watching Lost 3. W and M were also doing masks, but they weren't watching. And here's proof that girls can multi-task better than guys:

Score for the masks cutting while watching Lost 3:
J: 18
Me: 4

After that, the team went to Rikkyo to see if there were people who might be willing to talk to us, so that we could then invite them over to HC on Saturday. It was ok. The team did a pretty good job just striking up conversations with people, even though I goofed up on that; just couldn't psyche myself up enough to go and talk to the random students there. Was working with L, and she managed to talk to this lady for quite a while about random stuff, but yeah. Wasn't too bad. Here's a picture we took there:

Team inside the campus

After that, we went to Takadanobaba to meet M the dude from Waseda Uni. He brought Te along with him, as well as another friend K. We all went to this Thai eatery he recommended called Kao Thai near the station. The food was really good. Unfortunately, they didn't have 1) Mango Sticky Rice, 2) Duck noodles, and 3) they ran out of Chayan. But it was nice being able to meet M one more time before we left, and so we talked a bit there before leaving back for home, where J and me tried to practice the Kids' Club skit without disturbing too many people.

Thursday morning was kinda like Wednesday morning. Think if I'm not wrong, J and me had to continue to practice for our skit for the Kids' Club, before we went out for eats. L was kinda sick so we went out to eat lunch and da-bao some stuff back for her to eat. The team also got her some medicine while I was running around looking for stuff that sick people could eat without becoming sicker. Then D and me went to Mr. Donut to meet DL and Y for follow-up Bible study. Pretty interesting, since it was done in Japanese. And I ended up kinda being a semi-translator for D

The girls went over to Kiyose to meet their friend MS who as mentioned in the previous post, is averse to society in general. They had a good meal over there again, and good fellowship with both HJ and the girl. And they were sad to leave, since this was like the closure for most of the stuff they were doing.

Friday was Kids' Club. The kids started out quite rowdy as usual, but they quietened down, and then we had the songs and the games. And then we did the skit. It went pretty well, according to the rest of the team (J and me were too nervous to notice their reactions). I did managed to scare a whole bunch of small kids (and J too) when I suddenly jumped up and roared (I was acting as a lion for the skit) at J.

Crafts was ok, food was ok, and D and me were prepared to have to run ourselves into the ground with the kids again, but they were surprisingly tame this time. I ended up doing very little, except at the end when I entertained this small kid in the sand box.

The kid was trying to take my glasses.

The girls went over to Ikebukuro after that to meet this student from Rikkyo that JL had made contact with. Heard from them that it went pretty well, they managed to talk to the people, and made friends with them. The guys just kinda chilled out at home, then went to an Okonomiyaki place to eat dinner.

Saturday morning we prepared what we had left to prepare for the Singapore Night at Ikebukuro, then we left earlier to go to the Christian book shop near Shinjuku station. A bit expensive, but it was ok, since there was quite a lot of stuff there. After that, we went over to Seibu at Ikebukuro, since the team wanted to go the Loft there, which is like really quite big, covering three floors and all that. I think there's one more like that at Omiya, but we didn't go there. So the people all did some of their last minute shopping, then we headed over to the West side to the HC.

(Interesting note about Ikebukuro station is that Seibu, who's kanji is written as 西武, is actually on Ikebukuro's East exit (東口), while Tobu, another major shopping center who's kanji is (東武) is on Ikebukuro's West exit (西口). Just thought it was interesting).

The Singapore Night was a bit disappointing, in that no one we invited came. It wasn't too bad, because some of the people did reply to say they were unable to make it (for missions work in Japan, if they reply, no matter what the reply is, it's a good sign), but yes, it wasn't quite the turnout we expected.

Still we went on with our program. Most of the people took part enthusiastically, even though the entire group consisted mostly of Singaporeans and Malaysians, with only one Japanese (AA). The team then sang a couple of Singaporean songs (read: National Day songs). I was disappointed they didn't want to do "Home" by Kit Chan, but well, everyone had fun singing "Around Singapore Town" and "There was a time". Kinda strange, but well, we were quite homesick then.

AA and Al from the HC also sang a Chinese song, that AA had translated into Japanese. I heard the song before in Chinese service, it's called 这一生最美的祝福, and it's a really nice song, and AA sang the Japanese version of it. I should go and get a copy of the lyrics from M soon.

We went to an Okonomiyaki place for dinner after that, since the girls heard us espousing the wonders of eating okonomiyaki. We all had a pretty good time over there, just chilling out and eating and talking with the people, since as mentioned earlier, it was a sort of closure.

Me and my assistant leader. She's a really encouraging person.

I think I must have made her angry somewhere during the trip though. haha

Sunday was a rather relaxed day for us, since the Singapore Night was supposed to be our last major event. So we went to church at Amuzing Grace. That week was a thanksgiving weekend though, so instead of having a full service with worship, sermon, and Bible study, we had worship, then people who wanted to share things could come up and share stuff. J and W from the team shared about some of their experiences on the trip, and a couple of the church people also shared some stuff they were thankful for.

After that, D did the Kawagoe presentation to let the HC people know about the place, as most of them hadn't actually been there. Then we left for lunch at Coco's.

The new HC poster, as drawn by M.

The rest of the day was pretty slack. We all went to Propedori to do some more last minute shopping, then the team went over to D&J's house to visit, where we got to see some of their wedding photos and eat JL's cheesecake, which all the team members agree is really good. Then we went for onsen again (for M's sake), and ate major amounts of sushi for dinner, and where once again, the guys showed they could eat more than the girls, even though DL ate sparingly.

Score for sushi dinner
Girls (5): 31 plates
Guys (4): 32 plates

We then went back for the trip debrief at home, and shared some of our experiences on the trip. The sharing actually got a whole lot deeper than just the trip itself, but it was a really good time, getting to know each other even more, and just spending time together as a team. I guess it would have been a lot nicer if we could have gotten to know each other before the trip started, but I'm glad we were able to have such intimate moments as a team. The rest of the night was spent packing.

So the next morning, the team left on the 6.10 Seibu bus to Narita and then on to Singapore, while I stayed behind. For the immediate aftermath of their departure, please click here.

Will probably finish off whatever I did in the last week that I was there some other time. Biggest difference, of course, is that the whole tone of being there was much much quieter. Not just like you know, at home, but overall, everything started to tone down.

Ok. Cheerio

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

2nd Week

Ok, so now that the depression's out of the way, let's continue with the recap of the trip.

But before we start, I must write of one thing that happened during the Celebration @ Ichikawa, as mentioned two posts down. It isn't very significant, except to me, maybe, since it wasn't as if there were any far-reaching consequences to other people through the thing that happened.

See what happened, was that I was kinda feeling out of sorts that day. I don't know why. I can't remember what caused it, but I know I wasn't feeling as happy as I should have felt, even though it was a celebration.

So anyway, at one point in the proceedings, I think it was SW who was leading, we were supposed to break up into small groups, or to go and pray by ourselves. As I was feeling out of sorts, I wasn't really in the mood for praying with a group, and wanted to go and pray by myself, as well as to acquire some stuff for one of the team members who wasn't feeling so good that day (physically, not you know, emotionally like me). So I told HJ that I wanted to go out for a bit, and asked her if she knew if there was a コンビニ anywhere nearby, since I thought I could get some medication there. Turns out that in Japan, 7-11s don't stock the same stuff as in Singapore, so if you ever go to Japan, and need to get medication, you can't go to a convenience store. You have to go to a store that has a big 薬 sign outside.

So anyway, I walked out of the hall, and went skedaddling about. First one way, then the other. The weather on that day was pretty good, sunny, but not hot, and the breeze was really quite nice. And I guess that's kinda why I sort of lost track of time. So there I was, walking up and then down the main road near the OMF building, praying, but at the same time looking out for a place to pick up some pills. (haha sounds like I was looking for s drug pusher or something). Eventually, a kind counter lady behind one of the combini counters told me that the nearest 薬 place was near Ichikawa station. Which wasn't really that far, so I toddled over and found the shop, bought the med, and walked back to OMF...

...where I promptly got scolded by one of my team members for making her, and just about everyone else, worried that I had gone missing. And she probably would have gone off into a mega tirade about not informing people and stuff, when I gave her the medicine. So she suddenly had nothing to say. Haha.

And though I didn't show it then, I was really touched that my team would get so worried over my absence. Not that I did it on purpose. But yes, it made me feel all warm and snuggly inside. haha.

Ok, so on to the next week. It went by really fast, because there wasn't much on the schedule for us. Especially since the missionaries all had to go for a conference, so we were left pretty much to our own devices, though D&J and HJ had set up some stuff for us to do.

Monday we went down to Waseda's Tokorozawa campus for E-crew. Previously, I had been the only one there cos the last Monday, the team was still flying in from Singapore, but it was still a great time of fellowship there. Not just with C and T from the previous week, but also cos C introduced some more of his friends to us. C's a really great guy. Really friendly, always checking out for us, and he's become a real friend to team, in a way that I never expected to happen.

So we spent quite a bit of time at the campus to talk with the students, before we headed back up to Kawagoe to continue doing the anketo. We split ourselves into two groups, and L, D and R went back up to the Furumachi to do a bit more research while J, W and me did some Street E and anketo-ish stuff. Must say J and W did a really good job going out to talk to the people, and at the very least, made some friends and contacts. After that, we bummed around at Kawagoe for a bit before meeting AA for dinner at Otoya. The food there was really great, and the prices were very decent. I can show you what I ate for dinner:

My saba set. Dad says saba's a really difficult fish to eat cos of all the bones, but trust me, it's worth the effort.

On Tuesday, we had an off day. Plans hadn't really been finalized, but L had asked her friend W (who had been around the past couple of weeks having fun in Tokyo) to guide us around wherever we wanted to go. So he nicely brought us first to Akihabara, where R and W acquired their Nintendo DS, then he showed us to Harajuku, and we finished off the day at Shibuya. Dude, if you're reading this, I'm really grateful for you taking time out to be our guide, and for planning everything out for us.

Wednesday, we went over to Waseda's Takadanobaba campus to meet M, where he introduced us to two of his friends, Te and Ta. We went out for lunch at the Saizeriya near the school, which is really huge, then he brought us to a karaoke kan nearby, where we all got the chance to sing songs and laugh at each other being wild. M's also a really great guy. He loves Singapore more than many Singaporeans, and can speak multiple languages. And Te studies Geology. I mean like how cool is that? They have Geology as a major in Waseda. What's up with NUS? They don't have any cool majors.

Oh and I forgot, so I had to write this in later, on Wednesday night, we had some friends over for dinner/supper. Started because we asked AA if he wanted to come over and chill out with us one of the days when the missionaries were at the OMF conference, so he said most any day was fine, so we kinda settled on Wednesday. Then on Monday, when we met C, we asked if he wanted to come over as well, cos he stays near Tokorozawa anyway.

So on Wednesday, at about 6-ish, AA came over. He actually wanted to help us to cook, but we had finished doing most of it already. W had made claypot rice without the claypot, and I had done curry again, just that I had learnt from my previous experience, so I made sure the pot wasn't too hot before I threw in the curry paste (the previous time, I had foolishly thrown it onto a very hot pot, and all the spices went up in a major puff of smoke, so there was a cloud of spice in the kitchen, and the three guys were coughing their lungs out).

The dinner/supper was pretty ok. C came a bit later cos he had gone to Disney Sea, and he brought along his friend from Osaka, M. And they enjoyed the food, though the curry was hotter than what they were used to. And the day ended with them playing DS together on some network or something.

Thursday was another off day for us, cos we had moved the Kawagoe work to Monday, so we went out again, this time, we headed over to Nippori, cos friend K mentioned there was some decent shopping there for the girls. The place was quite nice, though as mentioned, most of the shopping was done by the girls. Ate takoyaki for the first time in Japan (ever) there, near the station. And then I had to buy a tiramisu from a cafe since W wanted to go use the toilet. haha. Then we walked down the street along the train line. I really enjoyed just walking along the road. I don't know why. The place just sort of reminded me of an older Singapore.

So anyway, we walked all the way from Nippori to the next station, which was Uguisudani, if I'm not wrong. Then we decided to go to Ueno to see if there was any shopping worth having. Good thing we went. There was this anime shop there where we bought some stuff. Even I bought some stuff there. Then we walked about Ameyayokocho again, for a bit, found dinner, then had to go back, cos it was late, and D&J wanted to meet us after 4 days of leaving us to ourselves.

Famous landmark

There's an interesting story about D&J's laptop. See, they went for the conference, and they saved a lot of data and pictures on their comp. Then just before they left the conference, the hard drive died. Which naturally, frustrated them a great deal, and made them upset, since they were like helping lots of people hold onto data or something like that. But God showed his mercy, when strangely enough, their laptop came back to life for a short while. Not sure how it happened, but it did. D managed to power it up, and then he quickly saved all the stuff on to his external hard drive. And just after he finished doing that, the laptop died again. I mean, that's like "woah!". I really believe it was divine intervention.

Friday was a bit of an interesting event. The team split up early in the morning, and the guys went to Kawagoe to meet up with this dude that HJ was meeting up with. He's a hikikomori, so he doesn't really like going out and interacting with people. But he was ok with going out with his pastor to meet up with some gaijin. And at HJ's place, we played some Wii. He won most of the time. We ate lunch at Saizeriya, then the pastor wanted to just chill out for a bit (HJ had left to meet the girls by then). So we walked around Crea Mall (the shopping area between Hon-Kawagoe and Kawagoe stations), and the dude was trashing a computer at Tekken 6, and then R bought a ukelele for himself, then we ended by chilling out at Starbucks.

The girls themselves had a fun time. They too got to meet a hikikomori lady, and they came back gushing about how nice she was and how they managed to make friends with her. I mean, I wasn't there, but it sounded like they had a good time of bonding and sharing even though they were new friends.

After all that, we went to the onsen. The team calls it a cultural exposure and immersion, since you get both exposed and immersed at the onsen. Same as always, not everyone was keen on going, but after sitting in the warm water for about an hour, everyone wanted to stay inside. We ate dinner at this slightly more atas place called Tonden or Donten or something like that, cos R was going to fly back to Singapore the next morning.

R was really happy with his food. Bye R!

He was supposed to take the 6.10 bus the next morning. Fortunately for him, he woke up on time, and got on the bus. Eventually, he would reach Singapore safely at about 10 in the evening.

That Saturday, we had another event near Hanakoganei. It was a sort of kids' club thing, but only a few families came, since it wasn't a full-fledged kids' club thing. We were all scampering around frantically in the morning trying to cook everything for the event. Thankfully, by the mercy of God, we managed to settle everything.

The event itself went well. The missionaries were hoping some of the fathers of the families would come, since the kids' club thing was only mums and kids. And they were pleasantly surprised to see that 3 of the dads came along for the party. Everyone had a good time playing games and eating, and SW and D&J were really happy the way things turned out.

After that, we went to the HC @ Ikebukuro. Had some sharing, then we stayed around and sang karaoke again. Quite fun lah, even though I must admit I'm not a real fan of karaoke. Went for dinner at First Kitchen. Food was decent for a fast food joint, but the portions were a little small. We then took the train back, where W discovered the scandalous shot D took of her. Here's her reaction:

Step 1: Surprise

Step 2: Erm, joy?

Step 3: Embarrassment

M came in that night. Her luggage kinda got stuck at the airport, so she wanted to take the Skyliner down from Narita to Nippori. However, just before she thought she had to leave her luggage behind and go over to Tokorozawa first, the baggage handler told her that the luggage was ready to be collected. So she ran back in, grabbed her luggage, and ran down to the train platform, where she saw that there was a last train about to leave. So she scrambled into it, and the train left the station, whereupon she realized that it was not the Skyliner. So she reached Tokorozawa later than expected. And had to pay more than necessary.

Sunday, we went to HC in the morning. SW led the BS this time round, and then we did some discussion about the BS. Went for lunch at Manshu (the gyoza place), then we went to the Rojin home.

Being at the Rojin home was a great, and slightly sad experience for us. I mean, the missionaries had the chance to go there once a month I think, to have some events for the old folks. This time, TS did a traditional Japanese dance, M from the HC did some enka, and then we did a couple of songs, W did her testimony, and we also did a skit. Once again, God provided for us, since we had not really practiced the acting, except for the night before. So the three of us who were acting (D, J and me) didn't do enough rehearsals. And J was worried that she would laugh if she saw me, L was worried that I wasn't able to act properly, and D just didn't seem to be able to extend his hands in a graceful manner as if to invite people.

All of that didn't matter at that point of time because of the gravity of the situation, and of the skit itself. No one laughed, no one goofed up, and everyone appreciated the skit. And I think it was cos God pulled us through it.

After that, we did some origami with the old folks. Some of them really know how to do origami. Not the half-baked kind that I do sometimes for fun. And we got to know some of the folks, and to talk to them a bit, despite the language barrier. And it really affected some of the girls when we left, to know that we might not get the chance to see any of them again. I'm hoping that's not true, but I'll just have to leave it up to God. They were really nice old folks, very friendly and engaging. And at the very least, I'm glad that for those few hours, we were able to make them feel happy. I won't be able to describe the emotions that went through the team. It's something I just can't put down in words. Or I can attempt to try, but it wouldn't do any justice. But well.

Will continue the last week soon.


P.S. I know usually the titles are single Latin words, or Japanese, but I'm really too lazy and tired to think of one right now. So there.