Monday, June 29, 2009


This is JP

He likes Fanta Orange.

He also likes sushi

He really likes sushi.

I mean, he really loves the stuff. (And onigiri too) [This picture is not an accurate representation, as it also includes the plates that Louis and I ate. But it does make it seem like a lot more impactful doesn't it? hahahaha].

So this is really a bit late to write about this, but let me introduce my first ever housemate in Japan. We were housemates about 3 hours after I touched down in Japan, and were staying in the same place (my house) for about a month. Which, of course, is also why it's a bit too late, since he left on the 10th of June.

He's from Brazil, and his full name is Joao Pedro de Carvalho Neto, which you may realize is a bit of a mouthful, so he helps us by telling us to call him JP.

Incidentally, you may have heard of him in some of Uncle Louis' prayer letters. This has been the fourth time he's come to Japan on a short term mission trip, for a month each time. And he does outreach by doing dance.

Yes, that's right. JP's a dance instructor, and he uses his skills to reach out to other dancers, as well as to show his love for God. The music he uses and his dance steps are all meant to reflect God's glory, and he has stated he'll never dance for the express purpose of fame, or money, unless that money is meant to help further God's kingdom here on earth.

JP went to one of his friend's classes for a lesson in a different style. Not sure what it was called, but well, he really exerted himself then.

I would upload a video of him dancing at the studio itself, but I can't seem to be able to upload the thing bother. So here's a video of him dancing while he was in England, I think.

So as I was saying, we became roomates about 3 hours after I reached Tokyo. Which is about the time it took for me to reach Tokorozawa, and to dump my stuff in my apartment. Then he appeared too and dropped his stuff of. And that was it.

He's really been a blessing to me and to those around us, always being so energetic, enthusiastic, and cheerful wherever we go and whatever we do. Among the blessings I've received from him are:
  1. Helping to transit into living in Japan, because I couldn't feel lonely with him around
  2. Meeting some of his friends
  3. Receiving and hearing his prayers
  4. Finding the joy that is Brazilian carrot cake
We also both found out that we can survive on a diet of Fanta and onigiri. Which is really quite cost-effective. If you want to save money on a meal, do that. Here's the rough calculation.

Normal meal (Yoshinoya):
Beef bowl (¥330) + Drink (¥150) = ¥480

Cost-effective meal!:
Fanta Orange (¥150) + 2 Onigiri (¥210) = ¥360

¥480 - ¥360 = ¥120!

Of course we didn't do that. Not all the time at least.

JP also plans to come and serve in Japan long term. After he finishes Bible college, he'll be heading to Singapore (in October) to go for OMF's orientation course, and then he'll head up to Hokkaido for language studies. He is still trying to raise support though, so please pray for him, that money will not be a barrier to him coming to Japan. And if you see him in Singapore, say hi. He's a really nice guy.

Ok, that's all for now. Food later.


Sunday, June 21, 2009


Now that I'm back, and have gotten sufficient rest, I feel I have a responsibility to do a proper update on my blog.

So anyway, this past week, I went up north to Sendai city in Miyagi prefecture, which is one of the larger cities (though not among the 5 largest in Japan), and is famous as the being founded by Date Masamune, one of the more famous warlords from the Warring States period (different from the Warring States period in China. Get your history right. Pfft.), who was well known not just for being a powerful warrior, but also for the massive crescent that decorated his helmet, and for being blind in the right eye.

It was for an OMF conference, but I only went up to take care of kids (yes I know please will you stop with the laughing thank you) who were of the ages 4-10. There were only 6 of them (8 if you count the two who were 3 and 1 who came in every now and then), and they were actually quite well behaved. I mean, naturally, they were rowdy at times, but once again, I found beauty in the way they prayed. Like when Weetheng prayed haha. Additionally, I have also gained the title of 'uncle' from the kids. Hooray for old age.

So anyway, the trip up was certainly something. It was relatively pleasant, like the trip up to Ibaraki, since out of Tokyo, you see a lot more green, and see more hills and fields and stuff. Like this:

Taken from Steve's van. The window can't open, so that's why there be some reflection.

I also got to make friends with several people like room-mates Levi and Choung Sung, Susan, who ran the teens' program, Pat, who was in charge of the kids' program, and Mary, who was not really involved with the kids' program, but was babysitting the afore-mentioned 3- and 1-year-old (who are her neices). Levi does student ministry in Sendai, while Choung Sung's parent's work with a church in Yokohama. Susan is in Sapporo, as is Pat, while Mary works in Aomori prefeccture.Levi was also helping out with the teens' program during the conference.

(L-R): Me, Choung Sung and Levi. Choung Sung just graduated from CAJ. And don't let Levi scare you. He's really a nice guy.

I also got the chance to go to visit Matsushima, which is one of Japan's three most scenic locations. It's just a short distance away from where we were staying.

Took this from a tower in the town. It's quite a pretty place, especially when the sun comes out, which it did for a short while at that point in time.

Took this from the same tower in the town.

The tower in question

Arty picture!

Anyway, Pat went with the theme of being a peacemaker for the kids' program. And it was a three stage thing. The first stage was about doing things that avoided conflict. The second was on having peace in your heart, by knowing that Jesus is there for you. And this would lead to the third stage, where you let others know that they can find such peace too.

For me, I guess it was a sort of reminder too, that I'm not really meant to be here in Japan to just live. I'm supposed to be sharing about His love. And sometimes, it seems so obvious, the things I should do to talk about Jesus, but just as often, I just allow it to breeze by, and just live 'normally'. It's a bit hard to explain, but you probably understand what I'm talking about. Being here in Japan is not just about 'living a Christian life', but also actually telling people about Christ.

So anyway, that was the lesson I got from the sessions, and I really need it to stay with me.

The trip back down was a little more painful, mainly cos I was packed under my bag, and we forgot to turn on the aircon for the rear part of the van, but it was pretty much uneventful. Managed to get back, drop my stuff, shower, and get to Ikebukuro to meet Mavis (who was in Tokyo on biz trip) for dinner, before I returned and sort of collapsed into bed.


P.S. I really will do a post on food and the first room-mate and stuff soon. Promise!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going north

I had intended to blog on Friday (as a few of you know) about the moving experience. No, it wasn't emotionally powerful, just physically draining.

Essentially, what happened on Friday was that Louis, Jeremy and I, along with the guy from the transport company, moved Louis' stuff out of his apartment in the morning. Auntie Chris and her mum had already done all the packing stuff, so they didn't have to do any work then.

So after shifting most of Louis' stuff down to load up to the truck, we were pretty bushed. And that's when Steve's stuff came. So we (along with Steve, Kathi and the Fresno team) brought his stuff up. After that, we were really quite tired.

Unfortunately for us, that was not all that Steve had to bring over. So some of us went back to his place, packed up what he had left, and brought it over again. Naturally, by the end of the day, we were somewhat exhausted, to put it mildly.

And yes, I know that I'm supposed to talk about some of the other things that have happened (a lot has!), but well, I'm supposed to be heading north to Sendai for the OMF conf (as a childcare helper!), and I'm not packed yet.

So, if the place in Sendai does have free internet, then I'll try to write more. If not, I'll probably do it when I get back.

Oh, and I also met the GCube team (Phoebe, Isaac, Yijun and Hulin) from VCF. Nice people, they've been here for two weeks already, and they'll be leaving on Friday. Please keep them in prayer too!


Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today, I went up north to Ibaraki prefecture with Louis, as well as two new people I met, Kodaira-san and Takahashi-san. I didn't realize quite how long it would take to get up to Ibaraki, but as a general guideline, Ibarakai is not even bordering the Tokyo Administrative region. It does border Saitama on the southwest, so it's not like traveling to Kyoto, but it did take almost three hours to get there by car.

Ibaraki is a very beautiful place. Compared to the urban landscape that is the Greater Tokyo Area (which is pretty too), Ibaraki is composed of a lot of farmland, and it is also where Japan's second-largest lake is. Unfortunately, I was too caught up in watching the scenery whizz past the car windows to take any pictures. And I seriously doubt my photos would have done justice to how nice the place was.

Strangely enough though, the first thought I had after setting foot in Ibaraki (read: got out of the car) that stuck with me was when I was in a toilet in a convenience store, and it was about how the toilet smelt like an airplane. There's always a certain smell that I always associate with the interior of an airplane, and that's what I smelt (or thought I smelt) when I was in the washroom.

Anyway, we got to Inashiki city around 11, I think, and we met Mrs Okubo, who we did a spot of Bible study with. We then went to visit her Uncle and Aunt (the Iijimas), who run a farm. We did the same Bible reading and discussion, which was Romans 12:9-21. Here's a picture of all of them at the session today:

(L-R): Mrs Iijima, Shirai-san, Takahashi-san, Mr Iijima, Louis, and Kodaira-san

As mentioned, the Iijimas run a farm (if you look past them, you'll see part of the garden. The farm is behind that). However, due to the very fact that they run a farm in the middle of many farms, they don't really have a church to go to. So Louis tries to go out to meet them to try and do some kind of Bible study/fellowship/follow-up once a month. But still, it's not easy, so please keep them in your prayers.

They also have a rather nice house. It was built quite a while ago methinks, so it's built like the house in Totoro, with the tatami rooms, the sliding doors and the corridor along one side of the house. I almost expected to see one of the little black dust balls to appear there. I would show you a picture of what I'm talking about, except I don't have a picture. But go and watch Totoro, and when you see the house, that's sort of what it looks like.

Continuing with the Miyazaki theme, some of the houses, with the farmland, also looks like it could have been in Totoro (even though Totoro is based around where I live in Tokorozawa). The clouds looked like they would have been in Castle in the Sky, and one place where we went under a bridge reminded me of Spirited Away. All we really needed after that would be to see a walking house, a red seaplane, and a talking fish to make the show complete.

We also stopped by a shop along the way that apparently is famous for manjyuu. So we got some.

Mmmm... manjyuu...

One thing I'm really thankful to God for is the that for the past couple of weeks we have been blessed by having Steve's team from his home church in Fresno, CA, come down to help Steve. They are enthusiastic, willing, and great to be with. Here's their picture so you'll get to know who they are too. (Sort of)

(L-R): Phillip, Jill, Dave, Ashley, Steve, Matt and Dan.

They arrived last Tuesday. And the next day, they were out and about doing ministry with Steve. They've gone to Waseda, helped run Bible Studies, visited the Shinagawa HC, given testimonies, and done several other things.

So anyway, we'll all be helping Steve move his stuff into Louis' apartment tmr, and move Louis' stuff to a storage area. And I'm getting zoned out again. So I shall stop here.


Monday, June 08, 2009

So I got distracted...

Ok, so much for a *long* post the previous time... that was actually rather short, considering some others like the one on the trip to Phuket.

As I was saying before I was distracted by Extremis Sleepitis, Louis had a week's worth of celebration, and got three cakes from his housechurch friends.

Anyway, Nelson also dropped by from Singapore. He was going through Tokyo on a short personal holiday, but took some of his precious time to join us in some ministry and stuff. I first met him at Shinjuku station where he was visiting Intercross (Shinjuku/Ikebukuro Housechurch), and he joined in. We were both classmates in Japanese language class in NUS, and we were apparently primary and JC schoolmates, though we didn't know at that point in time.

After Intercross, Karen (who co-leads Intercross), brought us to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (I think that's what it's called), which offers a nice view of Shinjuku area from the observatory. This is one shot I got:

Nelson had a bigger camera, so I think he got something similar, just nicer.

Nelson also joined us on Sunday for housechurch at Amuzing Grace. Although it was his first time in the area, he managed to find his way to the place rather easily (because I drew a very nice map for him).

JP, the 50-yr old guy, Auntie Chris, Mrs. Shiraishi, and Nelson.

We went to Akihabara after that to meet some friends, and there, we also met this guy:

Let's play guess the name of the Sengoku Jidai Daimyo! Winner gets a packet of natto.

Basically, I have more or less settled into a routine here in Japan. Weekends are ministry days, and so usually we take Monday off. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I go to Waseda Uni, and on Wednesday night, I go to Shinagawa HC, which is headed by Shion. Strangely enough, I don't have a picture of the Shinagawa HC people, who are really quite a nice bunch of people. So here's a cool picture of a building in Shinagawa I took instead:

Looks so ominous that it's cool... and it bears a slight resemblance to the mother ship from Homeworld.

Thursdays and Fridays were supposed to be my language days, but Thursday is currently Self-Study Day, because the class I was supposed to go to has new rules that make me ineligible for that class. Every other Saturday is Intercross, and Sunday is Tokorozawa HC.

So that's about it. Will put up some more stuff soon, like my house, my phone, my housemate, and the first time I tried to cook something. But I'm running out of words right now.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Now that I have internet...

... I really should try to find some way to update regularly so that people back home know that I'm still alive and stuff, and hadn't overdosed on instant ramen or anything.

Well, it has been two weeks or thereabouts since I last put up a post, and so this one may be a little long, but I shall start with the thing that has allowed me to blog from my own apartment, instead of from Uncle Louis'.

I got my internet on Tuesday. Naturally, I was rather happy, since I am now connected to the rest of the world, particularly Singapore. And with MSN and Skype, I can have relatively cheap conversations with the people in Singapore, rather than use my Singapore phone, which was probably costing me somewhere around $30 a minute or something.

So here it is, my internet provider:

This little box gives me access to internet, which allows me to communicate with people, find out where to buy ramen, and watch the scores of the NBA finals.

Like I mentioned, I was rather happy and excited, which would explain the state of my bed at that point in time:

Oh what joy!

Louis turned a half-century a couple of weeks ago. It was such a big event that he got three cakes from his friends. Once on the 17th, once on the 22nd, and once on the 24th. Due to time constraints, I shall only post up one of the pictures:

The characters on the cake say "Louis-san". I'm sure some people are more interested in the sushi that's in the background though.

I really want to post more stuff up on the blog, but I just went for kids' club today at 花小金井 and even though there were only four kids, I'm pretty zoned. Plus JP decided to teach us some dance moves then, but we didn't warm up, and I may wake up screaming in the middle of the night because I get leg cramps. But yeah, perhaps I shall get more stuff up next time.