Monday, June 27, 2011

Daily Life

Greetings! I decided that I'd like to show you all what an average day of working at CAJ in the School Support Services office looked like, roughly. Our tasks vary widely, so each day looks a bit different—but I can at least give you a general idea.

Welcome to SSS!

Today, our job was organizing the SSS library. This required a lot of shifting, throwing away, sorting and shelving books that had recently been returned. It is a more involved, lengthy job than you might think.

Of course, one can't work on a rainy, gray day without a cup of coffee.

Lunch break! Some very tasty noodles.

And then it is back to work for a few hours.

It ended up being a bigger mess than we thought, so we stayed far later than usual today. With so much bending down, crouching, standing and shifting, I brought back some brand new soreness to enjoy.

Here are the two projects we have completed so far:

Tapes to CD. The SSS library had tons of audio books on cassette tape, but since no one really uses those anymore, they needed to be put onto CD. There were about two hundred of them in all, and I did the last hundred or so.

Then there is the Curriculum Cupboard that looked like this before we started:

Pretty much chaos. After a two day make-over, this is what it looks like now!

Hopefully the library will look that much better soon, as will the supplies and closets we have yet to sort. I hope you enjoyed getting a little look into a general day of my work at the office with Mrs. Epley. Thanks!

~ Mercy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I have not posted very much lately because I have been quite busy. We have been working hard in the office, as well as at home. Guests keep coming in and out, and my hostess gave me a few days off for some sight-seeing. I thought that it would be fun to say a few things about the places I've been to now.

Edo-Tokyo Open-air Architectural Museum, Koganei Park

It is a bit hard to describe this museum that lies in the middle of a large park. Basically, it is many real, full-sized houses preserved and maintained throughout decades of Japanese history. There were houses a hundred years old, or fifty years old. It was a very good history lesson to walk through those houses with much of the original decor and utilities. There were some houses that had belonged to rich men, and a few more middle-classed. My favorite houses to explore were probably the farm houses, though they were the most simple. The thatched roofs were absolutely incredible! In one of these houses, we were invite to sit upon the floor and drink Sakura Tea.
The whole day was a great experience, and I really enjoyed the whole thing. If you are every in Tokyo, you should go there.


When people hear the word Tokyo, what they picture will probably look much more like Ikebukuro than where I am staying in the much slower area of Higashi-Kurume. Ikebukuro is a commercial and entertainment district of Tokyo. It is large, and filled with towering buildings and flashy advertisements. There is more shopping than one human alone could desire, and more restaurants than I thought it possible to cram into just one block. It was a lot of fun to go through the stores and see what they were selling--some of it was very normal, American-type merchandise, and some of it was very much Japanese. Although my feet were very unhappy by the end of the trip, I was quite glad I got to go.


"Harajuku is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan." - Wikipedia
The area is similar to Ikebukuro in that it is filled with shops, cafes and teeming crowds of people. But the style here is different, and quite distinct. Teenagers dressed in all sorts of styles and fashions like to gather on a particular bridge to hang out, and you see plenty of colourful characters up and down the streets. Connected to Harajuku is Meji Shrine, and Yoyogi park. While I enjoyed the craziness of Harajuku, and fighting the thick, massive crowds was fun, I thought that Yoyogi park was my favorite. It is a place where families and friends go to hang out and do things that they enjoy doing on their one day off of the week. The park has trees, grass and gardens with fountains and benches. People get together to practice a shared skill among them, or to play games and instruments. It was very fun to see so much creativity of so many varying kinds. Though I am not sure what the Elvis/old-timey greaser impersonators were doing there besides having fun.

Ghibli Museum, Mitaka

Mitaka is another fairly large, popular section of Tokyo. But we went mostly for the sake of going to the famous Ghibli museum. The museum itself is bordered by a very nice park that is yet another wonderful place to go if you want trees, grass and open air. We had a very enjoyable time wandering across the pathways in the shade. The museum was set up like a very large house creatively and beautifully built. There was stained glass with scenes from Ghibli movies, and rooms that mimicked what rooms in the film studio might look like. It was a very neat place, and it was so much fun to explore. My favorite spot was the garden on top of the roof, with a life-sized replica of a robot from one of the movies. Although the gift shop was over-priced, it was fun to browse through it. If you like Ghibli movies and Miyazaki, it is a worthwhile visit to make while in Tokyo.

There you have it! Those are the main, big places I've been to. Each place was unique and fun, and I wish I had more time here to explore more of them. I will hopefully be posting more pictures soon, so look forward to seeing them on Facebook. Now that my friend Anna (who got to go with me to the last two places) is gone, our work at the office will resume full blast. I enjoyed all the sights and sounds of Tokyo, but I also look forward to settling back into the usual schedule.

In Him,

(Picture update!
Sorry about those sloppy links. Not sure how to make them look nicer)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Yesterday was Father's Day, as hopefully most of you remembered. I am hundreds of miles away from my father, but I did get to speak to him on the phone which was very nice.

At church here in Japan they made sure to recognize the holiday. All the small children in Sunday school put together little packets to present to all the fathers in the church. Every father went to the front of the church, and the eager little kids presented them each with a little gift.

It was adorable, and I couldn't stop myself from smiling at all those tiny hands placing something in the larger, more experienced ones of their daddies.

But then it struck me that the world was lacking one father that we had celebrated for the past eighty-two years. My Opa was not here on earth with us to celebrate the holiday for the first time in my life. Honestly, tears filled my eyes at the remembrance.

Something really struck me about the tiny hands and their gifts. I think that Opa looked a little like those children when he first arrived Home. I think that perhaps he felt like a small child, giving his life and his faith to his Father in Heaven. And those hands that made him, and were pierced for him, accepted the gift with love that cannot be imagined.

Opa is with the Father of all for this Father's Day. It seemed, to me, to be a very beautiful thought. Fathers are very important, and I know that personally my father has been very influential in my life. I cannot wait to go Home and meet my earthly fathers, but most of all, the Heavenly one who calls us Home to Him.

We miss you, Opa, but are rejoicing that you are safely in God's arms after a life well-lived.

(Sorry, this really had nothing to do with Japan)

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I have just recently observed a pretty neat sequence of events in my time here, so I thought that I would relate it.

Many of you heard that one day last week my computer suddenly shut off and wouldn't turn back on again. I discovered that it was quite over-heated. It would turn back on again eventually, but I would have to get a fan if I wanted to keep using it. It would heat up very, very fast which endangers the computer and the files quite a bit.


I am very fond of my computer, and it really has been quite useful while I have been here. I did not foresee this need, so I was hesitant about going and buying a fan board which I knew wouldn't be cheap.

Next event...
In what may seem an unrelated note, the other night I ended up volunteering to work as a baby-sitter during the CAJ staff banquet. It was a good night, though tiring. And to my surprise we were paid afterwards for our help.

Mrs. Epley and I ventured to the electronics store last night and found exactly what I needed. But the really neat part was that I could pay for it with exactly the amount I'd been unexpectedly paid for the other night.

Despite this unexpected need, it was filled almost right away. Financial bothers can be very large bothers. But God is good at ordering our lives far more perfectly than we can.

I now have a fan, a happy computer and a very grateful heart. I thought this little tale would bring a little glory to the God who takes care of the small and big things.

In Him,

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I decided that it would be fun to give you all five facts that you may not know about Japan. So here it goes!

1. Driving in Japan is a lot different. Only the main roads have street names, so most of the navigation has to be done by memory. Also, Japanese always back into parking spaces rather than pulling into them. They consider it safer to do it this way.

2. If you are eating with chopsticks, it is very rude to stick them into the bowl straight up. This is only done at funerals. Instead, just lay them on top of the bowl.

3. If someone offers you a gift or a favor, you should politely refuse it. When they offer it again, refuse it again. If it is offered a third time, then you may take it.

4. The number 4 is the cause of fear and suspicion in Japan. Quite often, stores won't even build a fourth floor or sell things in fours.

5. At 5:30 (unless it is in the Winter when it becomes 4:30), every elementary school plays a tune that can be heard across the whole area that alerts all kids, wherever they are, that they need to go home now. So instead of the parents giving the kids a time to return, the tune that plays loudly from their schools tell them whether or not they are at the school.

I hope that has been at least vaguely interesting for you all! If you would like to hear more random facts, let me know.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


A very short update to let you guys know that a few of the pictures are up on Facebook. Here is a link to the album:!/media/set/?set=a.1940415643815.107203.1645150250

Part 2:

=) Mercy

Friday, June 3, 2011


I decided that I like short titles, just so everyone knows.

Yesterday was a very busy day in which I was on my feet almost the whole time. Mrs. Epley and I walked to the school, which is probably a mile and a half away.
On our way to the school, we passed this little old man who said to us as we went by, "You are so tall!"
It made us laugh. I had never considered myself tall before coming here.
I spent the morning in the office shelving books in the library and trying to organize it all. It was a fun job and good practice for my future job as a librarian. We ate lunch at a very tasty Chinese place, I guess.

After that I got to go help out in the Kindergarten room. It was very loud, very fun chaos. So many cute, mischievous little children, most of whom spoke English as a second language.

This one little boy ran up to me and said, "Wow, you are really really tall! How old are you?" When I told him, he replied, "Wow! You are taller than my dad and he's thirty-four!"

So apparently I am considered tall here.

~ ~ ~

This morning there was nothing we had to do, so Mrs. Epley took me on a nice long walk to explore a beautiful bamboo grove. It was so lovely--all shaded and carpeted with the leaves. The shoots were thicker than my arm, and towered above and made a mosaic out of the sky.

I don't mean to tell another story in a trite manner, trying to be all cute and relevant. But there was this older gentleman at the grove who really amazed me.

He might have had a stroke, for it appeared that one half of his body didn't work. His leg was stiff and in a brace, and his arm unable to move. But with his cane and so much determination, that old man was slowly going up and down the steep, uneven steps and across muddy, uneven ground. How amazing it is when we see someone who defies limits and strives to break expectations. I hope that I can follow his example--again, not trying to be cute and spiritual. But really, the simple things in my life are the ones that are often most amazing. And it is by no means a simple thing for a human being to overcome so many odds.

The rest of day will be slow like the rest of it, which is fine with me after the hustle and bustle of yesterday. I got to eat my first rice ball, as well as a chocopan (a pastry). I am so glad not to be a picky eater.

Blessings to you all!

In Him,

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I figured that it was time for a better update on what I have actually been doing, so here it goes.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I go to the school (Christian Academy Japan, grades K-12) with Mrs. Epley to work with her in the School Support Services office. I have been doing lots of odd jobs that are time consuming for the very busy workers there to do, so in that way I hope I can take a bit a small load off of their shoulders.

On Tuesday I helped Mrs. Epley tutor some young boys in English. I worked with the ten year old, while she worked with the twelve year old. In that way we were able to maximize the time that the kids were here. I enjoyed working with them very, very much. They reminded me of my own younger siblings, and I always enjoy helping people to learn when I am able to.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are much slower here, but today I did help with some cleaning around the house. I was able to visit a bit with a friend of Mrs. Epley's who was a very sweet Japanese lady. It has been a rainy, chilly day which I find to be quite enjoyable and a welcome change from Texas weather.

I think that my favorite little event of this trip so far happened this afternoon. I was on a walk alone in the rain getting really wet. I hadn't realized the rain was that hard, even though I don't mind the wetness too much. I was walking down a very narrow street when a car stopped beside me, and an older lady held out an umbrella to me through the window.

"For you," she said.

I was stunned for a moment, but took the umbrella and thanked her politely in Japanese. She drove away saying, "Take care."

That act of kindness struck me as so beautiful in its simplicity. I used that umbrella proudly all the way home, and I will always truly treasure it.

Even though it has not been very long since I got here, I have already felt the slight difficulty of being a stranger in a foreign land. People sometimes look at me funny for my obviously American appearance/manners, and I feel kind of awkward and intimidated. But that lady who gave me the umbrella made me suddenly feel a lot more welcome here, and it really warmed my heart, as cliche as it is to say so. I am going to bring that umbrella home and cherish the memories attached to it.

Well, there is not a whole lot to say besides that I ate a delicious meal of yakisoba tonight--with chopsticks and everything. I am taking plenty of pictures and hoping to post some of them soon.

Thank you all for your kindness and support toward me and this trip! It is all much appreciated.

In Him,