Monday, June 23, 2008

Always a Kid at Heart

Although my major at Franklin College was journalism, people sometimes guessed that I was going to be an elementary teacher.

In fact, my R.A. freshman year told me that I'm the "most wanna-be el. ed. major" she had ever seen. And she even said that before she saw me around kids!

I guess it's because I have an upbeat personality and "teacher handwriting" that I have an elementary education reputation. (ooh, that rhymes!) Besides, I absolutely love being around kids. (for the most part, anyway. I'm not a big fan of screaming and whining.)

As much as I like kids and teaching, I didn't major in education because I don't see that being a career for me for the rest of my life. I'd like to have children of my own one day, and I don't know that I'd enjoy being around my own kids as much if I dealt with other kids all day long, every day. I've thought that I could just be a Sunday School teacher instead. Or...maybe teach for a couple of years in another country to satisfy the el. ed. major within.

So I'm excited about being a teacher for elementary students in Japan for a little while. I've had a lot of experience with kids -- and even a little experience teaching kids in other countries. (Another reason why maybe I have a "most wanna-be el. ed. major" reputation.)

Maybe it's because I am a big kid that I like being around kids so much! I love their energy, imagination and the funny, off-the-wall things that they say.

This week I'm volunteering at Vacation Bible School at church. Yesterday, I was the story-teller, and although it was kind of chaotic at times, at least the kids understood English, which makes it so much easier!
Tonight at VBS, a five-year-old named Gary was asked to pray. He said (as fast as possible), "DearGod,thankyoufor thisday. Ahhh! Ok, I'm done!" It made me smile.

I have so many good "kid stories." I look forward to having even more fun stories to share soon about the cute Japanese children I'll teach. I hope that I never lose my inner child, and I wish that for everyone.

Four of my favorite VBS kids displaying their bugs.

Surrounded by five-year-olds!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

8,036 days old today and feeling great!

Arms are for hugging! Lauren and me on my b-day in our new twin shirts. :)

I didn't feel old until I found out how many days are in 22 years! haha

It has truly been a fantastic birthday! It started out well with Devon making me a delicious breakfast, and then it just kept being a fabulous day. I went to the city market with my grandma, who bought me a peach so my day could be just peachy. I went out for a BBQ lunch with my Dad and brother Derek, and the whole restaurant watched as I was sung to and presented with a piece of lemon cake. I went on a tour of the new Colt's stadium, where Derek works. Three of my closest friends surprised me by coming to my house for dinner, bringing an ice cream cake with them!

I realize that four of these five highlights I mentioned involve food! This is not surprising to those who know me. It was a wonderful day of eating a lot of my favorite things, and I enjoyed every minute (and bite) of it!

But the scrumptious food is not what really made this day special. (Although it did help, haha) What made it awesome was all of the love that was shown. I have some amazing people in my life. I thank God for my wonderful family and friends who are so good to me! THANK YOU for making not only this day, but several days and moments, so memorable and fun!

I had some fantastically fun moments at camp last week, where I was a cabin leader for 5th/6th grade girls. One of my passions in life is meeting new people, and I met some great folks last week and enjoyed getting to know them. I also enjoyed my alone times with God, when I talked to Him about all kinds of things, including my upcoming move to Japan.

I'm really not nervous about it. In fact, I have a peace about the move. First, I know that God is with me and will take care of me no matter where I am. Second, I heard from Liz Bassler, the other girl from Franklin who is living in Kuji with me. She has been living in Japan for a little over a week now and says that she is adjusting just fine to the new environment and has no culture shock. This is so encouraging to know! I prayed for her a lot while I was a camp because I knew she was traveling and making the transition to Japanese life.

I'm at peace and content about life in general. It's been a great summer so far, and I'm looking forward to more good times to come!

Me with my girls in front of our cabin at camp!

Lynette (the other cabin leader) and me

Monday, June 2, 2008

Actions May Speak Louder than Words. However...

Words are pretty important!

Although I don't intentionally hide the fact that I'm a Christian from my non-Christian friends, I feel like I don't talk about my faith as much as I should.

I've always liked the quote by St. Francis, "Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary." So I've taken this to heart. I'll wear my cross necklace, have a good attitude and try to be as Christ-like as possible, and then hope that people make the connection.

But it's important to also tell people about Jesus. After all, what a great guy -- the perfect guy, actually. He loved everyone, regardless of what sins they struggled with. (To quote Hannah Montana, haha, "Nobody's perfect." We all sin.)

On top of being a perfect human, Jesus was also fully divine, as the son of God. Here's the most amazing part: He gave his life so that all people who believe and follow him will live in heaven FOREVER. (paraphrase of John 3:16)

For some reason, it's easier for me to write about J.C. than it is to talk to my non-Christian friends about him. It's frustrating because I talk about lots of different things! I once had a conversation in a store with a woman I didn't know about the shoes she was going to buy. But I would have felt uncomfortable asking her about her beliefs and sharing mine. Jesus is more important than shoes, for crying out loud!

I've been thinking about this a lot, especially at Cedar Campus two weeks ago because I was in the group that discussed witnessing to people -- in other words, telling poeple the good news about Jesus being the answer in our broken, sinful world.

I told my group that I'd have plenty of opportunities to share Jesus to people in Japan since the country is only one pecent Christian. (Not that I don't have plenty of opportunities now.)

Of course that intimidates me. Goodness sakes, it's intimidating to verbally witness in America, where I'm surrounded by Christian support, let alone in a country where Shinto is the main religion.

It's helpful and encouraging that there's a Baptist church in Kuji. (This is due to the Baptist missionaries from Franklin who founded the church.) From what I know, it's a small place, and the sermons are in Japanese with an English translator. But it will be good to be have Christian community, and I plan to get involved with the church and treat my experience in Japan as a missions opportunity.

No matter what, I'll be "rep'n Jesus" in Japan -- in both actions and words.

Cedar Campus photo :)