Apologies for the delayed update, lots of new things going on! First, I moved last Saturday! I had been looking on weekends and after work at share houses, furnished apartments, monthly mansions...comparing prices, looking at locations for a place to access three of my regular destinations (church, work, grandma), who lives there (lots of men in share houses)... It was quite a hunt. On Saturday I got up early, looked more, found a place, paid, and moved in by 7pm. What a day. Moving is difficult without a car! It is a small studio apartment furnished with basic stuff, in a concrete building (as opposed to the other option, wooden apartments) with a code to get in and security cameras, equivalent to being a few blocks from Union Square in SF. Since this is public that's all the details I can give! Saturday night was emotionally rough. I had just finished my first week of work plus taking care of my grandma, adjusting to the commute, then at the apartment the heating and hot water didn't work yet and I wasn't confident finding my way around the streets in the dark.
Sunday was much better. I went to church, had lunch with the usual group of Japanese ladies (aged 30-70s, I love it), explored the apartment area while it was still light out, and called the gas, electric, water companies and agency about the heater. At lunch it was fun to find out there are so many people who like food even more than I. That's hard to believe right?? Examples, both in Korea: 1) following a Korean food delivery guy back to his restaurant in an alley with no English or Japanese just to eat Korean miso noodles 2) making animal gestures and (japanese) animal noises to get Korean BBQ "If there is something I want to eat, I have no shame and will do anything it takes to get it." Translated quote by one of the ladies, at least 70 years old. What an inspiration :D
We have a usual lunch place close to church. The lunch menus are very reasonable in Japan, often half the price of dinner. This place has a daily changing menu and a dessert and coffee set. This main dish I chose this past Sunday was swordfish with balsamic reduction and the banana chocolate bread pudding. Banana+chocolate+coffee is my favorite combination of all time so you can imagine my excitement upon hearing about the dessert of the day.
This week included lots of running around Tokyo for work meetings. I think the built up stress and fatigue took a toll on my back and 3 days in a row this week even with the help of Advil I had trouble standing up straight because it hurt too much. I walked a few minutes and sat down to rest like an old lady! Praise God, my healer, who answered my prayer to take the pain away! I had a coworker practice how to properly exchange business cards. Place it on your business card holder, introduce yourself, small bow, exchange it at the same time, try to exchange yours beneath the other person's to show respect, take it with both hands, bow, say something (that doesn't translate to English so i won't bother explaining), look at it, place it on the side of the table neatly until the meeting is over...and that's just business cards, probably the easiest to explain, so you can imagine my mind racing with every interaction. I look forward to my pig mug coffee each morning.
It says I want to fly to where you are. It's a pun because "ton" (=pork) is part of "tondeiku" (=to fly). Punny. Guess who I was thinking of when I bought the mug... :) Two fun work meeting related happenings: 1) The confused response at my Japanese name. "E? Kubo-san?" (You go by last name here, that's my Japanese last name. It is a relatively common last name.)
I don't look even remotely Asian in Japan. People guess that I'm Spanish. Their expressions say, "Why is her name Japanese, and why does she speak Japanese fluently?" It has been...I wouldn't say icebreaker, but at least a shaving off an ice block, to ease some tension. 2) Good tea, coffee and desserts. It's standard to serve tea at any meeting, common to meet at coffee shops before or afterwards to debrief, and customary to include food somewhere in there.
Just one example. Yum. I still think Japanese cakes are the best, they are incredible to see and to taste. The one I picked tasted like creme brûlée with layers of vanilla bean whipped cream, classic sponge, custard, candied walnuts, chocolate mousse, and chocolate sponge. It was all so delicate and barely sweetened so it's not like an overwhelming candy explosion on your palette. In case anyone expects an Italy semester abroad chubbyup once again, not to worry...I walk several miles every day! Well, at least so far my clothes fit fine. But hey you only live on earth once and I could die tomorrow so no I will not pass up the shop by work's seasonal variety of "taiyaki" fish shaped red bean cake on my way to dinner! (Sweet red bean and pumpkin squash)
Or the earl grey melon bread (thin cookie-like crust on fluffy bread, texture of melon not necessarily melon flavored; other names: pineapple bun, rocky bun) at the bakery on my way to work after eating breakfast...
Even besides those sweet perks, I really enjoy my job. It has been an amazing blessing! It is fun to combine design, fashion, business, and advising all in one. As usual I am probably putting more pressure on myself than needed to learn what I don't know quickly...
My mom is visiting this week so it has been a nice break to spend some time with her after work. Finding interesting places and eating out together is exceptionally fun. Her hard work and commitment to taking care of my grandma is challenging to me because I'm not nearly as willing to do it. My actions are more motivated by obligation than by love and joy in serving the Lord by helping someone in need. It is embarrassing to see my selfishness so clearly, and I pray for God to change my heart. I know that His grace is sufficient for all circumstances. The power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same power inside me by the Holy Spirit so he can work miracles in me too.
Romans 8:11 "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." Ephesians 1:16-20 "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,"
I had a great Friday night at the youth/young adult service and Christmas party. This coming week I will meet with the youth pastor to start some art/design related stuff for church. In January I'll do some English to Japanese sermon translation, but all these things are exciting to see how God has enabled me in specific ways that I haven't had the chance to use much in church before. There is so much to say but I will wait until next time because it is past 3am here! In summary, praise God for his provision in work, apartment, church fellowship, and so many things I probably won't realize til later!