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Again it’s been too long since I’ve written. I’m finally feeling like my brain has a chance to think about something other than work or making sure traveling plans are not going to fall apart. Praise God for the blessing of great times with my students, but praise Him again for some rest!

The camp season has just finished for my kiddos, and the relationships that I was able to build on grew beyond my expectations. I feel so much closer to many of my students, and I think that most of them can feel to some degree the sincere care and appreciation I have for each kid. They are all unique and precious, and I loved seeing them interact with each other and with me on our trips. They gave me lots of laughter and only a little bit of stress. :-) I am beyond blessed to be their teacher. Can I keep them?

In just over a week I’m headed down to Mt Fuji with the goal to climb to the top of it and back down. And live. I’ll be packing my inhaler for sure. After that I’ll fly to Australia to visit my dear friend, Ashley, and scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. Yesterday I googled how to beat up a shark (just in case). How blessed am I to get to live out my dreams of travelling! I definitely don’t take it for granted. After all that, it’s back to work for the second trimester and only 7 months left in this school year. Time is flying!

I’m happy to say that I had a thought worth writing about (in my head it seemed worth it, at least) the other day. I’ve been listening to Air1 on my phone lately and there was a song that came on that got me thinking. I didn’t really like the song, just not my style, but the lyrics struck something in me and I started thinking… (And now I like the song a lot.)

Album: Into the Light

The story behind it:

Here’s something strange about me: I can never hold a grudge; I can never stay mad at someone for a significant amount of time;  I can never treat someone differently after they hurt me. It’s just not possible. Now, you may think I must be really good at forgiveness.


I’m really really good at forgetting. I don’t know if I intentionally try to forget when I’m wronged, but I for sure can’t recall something like that much later. And I don’t think I’ve often treated someone differently after it happened either. I don’t know where I picked up this trait, but I’m a pro at forgetting when I’ve been hurt by something.

The fact that I can treat people as if nothing has happened I think is ok in itself. However, the lack of a forgiving heart behind it weakens, if not negates, the spirit of love in my actions.


If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  1 Cor. 13:1


If I can’t really forgive things which are obviously small and insignificant since I can forget about them, though hurtful anyway, how will I be able to forgive something that is so significant that it could never be forgotten? When someone does something as small as talking badly to me or about me, I can forget it. But what about something so huge that it’s unthinkable? Can I simply forget that, as well?

If I turn the situation around just a little, I put my forgetfulness on God. And I’m the one wronging Him. God forgets and He forgets if He’s like me. But maybe one day something in His memory is recollected, and there is still an unspoken conflict between us. Or maybe one day, I mess up so ginormously that there is no way it can just simply be forgotten. Either way, I lose.

The only way to truly forget is to first forgive. Even if you do remember again, it’s already been let go. There’s no conflict inside; only love.

Conclusion: I must consciously practice forgiveness in every small thing, and when, God forbid, a big storm comes, I have the most loving and godly reaction: forgiveness. This is what God does for us daily.


Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1


Tsunami Part 3

Volunteering at Shichigahama is building related manual labor. That’s something I haven’t done in a long time, though I’ve definitely gotten some good workouts helping the ol’ dad with stuff like that. (Don’t tell him I actually enjoy it…)

The project is termed “mud-out” and it means what it sounds like. Get the mud out of the house. But it’s not as simple as finding some scattered mud and carrying it out. Once things inside the house are taken out, there’s room to tear down the drywall and insulation. Inside the walls, under the floors, and, in some cases, on top of the ceilings there is a layer of dried mud. The thickest I saw was about 2-3 inches. At first I didn’t even realize what it was…I just thought it was wall junk that was supposed to be there. But it was the watered and dried up dirt left by the tsunami. Someone I talked to said that they were in a home where the mud was around 6 inches thick…in the ceiling. To get the mud out from under the floor, I think they make holes in the floor, which can be fixed later, making it a little tricky to walk around. Then they grab the shovels and fill bags and bags and bags of mud.

Our day consisted of us tearing down drywall and pulling out insulation. It was muscle work, but so much fun. I learned the most efficient way to get drywall down without a huge crumbly mess, and I got to do it by swinging a crowbar like a baseball bat as hard as I wanted. I couldn’t help but think of some frustrations I’ve had as I took it out on that helpless drywall. It was a release for me, and I earned every bruise and sore muscle I had the next few days.

Once the drywall was down, it was either carried out (if you were skilled enough to get it down in big chunks…and I must say the two ladies I worked with kicked the men’s butts in this area) or put into bags and taken out. The pile of debri was surprising. Our team of maybe 20 people were able to do so much work!

We also cut out the insulation and started pulling out nails and screws that were sticking out of the wood frame that we were whittling the bottom floor down to.

Toward the beginning of the day we were told that this particular house was extra special. And it was.

This house was going to be a church one day. In Japan, that’s quite a surprise.

Pre-tsunami, this home was being used as a house church, too. The owners, whom I hadn’t seen and was genuinely concerned if they had made it through last March or not, were Christians. Praise God! And they were going to see the place turned back into what it was before. What a blessing it is to say that the home I worked on in Japan is a church!

Eventually, the owners did come. Thank you, Jesus. And they were so grateful for the help, and served us even as we were serving. They made sure we were fed and they helped us with our work, too. At one point we were told we were moving to another house to work because the wind was so terrible (drywall and foundation in the eyeballs…ow). And I really just needed to hug the wife. I don’t think I can explain it, but I needed her to know that I cared and just working hard didn’t feel like enough. And I don’t speak Japanese. But I think hugs are understood in both Japanese and English. I hope that it said what I couldn’t.

The home is still not finished, and I don’t even know when it will be. But when it is, the building will be used as a church building and Samaritan’s Purse may even use it sometimes. But eventually, people will move back into the Shichigahama area, and there will be plenty of people around ready to be invited to this little house church and so so ready to hear about Jesus.

At the beginning of the day, the sun was out. It seemed like it was going to be one of the first warm days. But the Japanese weather did its thing as usual, and the temperature cooled down, snowing two different times. And the wind was insane; There were very few structures to block it. In the end the sun came out again as it was getting closer to sunset. The whole team felt exhausted and full in our hearts and joyful and bonded even if we couldn’t all communicate. We had given ourselves to something significant together and that definitely meant something to us. I love our “Team picture.” And, oh my goodness, I loved that day.

Only one more part left.


This is the larger pile of stuff we were able to get out of the home.


Tsunami Part 1

This post already feels like it’s going to be immensely long, so….that was your warning. And I promise this post isn’t all about me complaining. So there’s that to look forward to. I think I will have to make this a two or three parter. It really is a lot of stuff, and I need to make sure I say it all.

I hope this blog is serving as a genuine and transparent testimony to all the grace He gives me, all the struggles I have, and how He is always pulling me back into Himself. I just wanted to say that, too…

This week is my “Spring Break 2012.” Even after college, I get one of those. And while most of my coworkers jetted off to exotic places like Singapore or Australia or America, I chose to spend my first break in my own city. I wanted to get to know it, and I wanted to be used by God. For me, that meant spending lots of time in Shichigahama, an area that is being rebuilt after the March 2011 tsunami. Now, this trip was EXTREMELY important to me. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how much I wanted to work in this area. I wanted to work for four days, and spend one day at Matsushima Bay, which is famous and near Shichigahama. I had this semi-elaborate plan in my head, and I even got others in on it because I thought it was the perfect thing to do over break. I knew God would finally give me some blue skies if I would just be giving enough and selfless enough. And I knew God would speak to me while I was working and while I was seeing His creation at Matsushima. I knew and practically told God what He would do. Surely you already see some problems, right? … but I’m not to that part of the story yet.

My plan was to go out Saturday, work all day; use the free day, Sunday, to visit Matsushima Bay-a famous Japanese site near Shichgahama; work Monday through Wednesday spending the night in SP’s places. We’d be uncomfortable and I was even excited about that. I thought it’d help me focus on important things and make me forget some unhappy things. I knew God would talk to me while I was working hard in the homes. I knew God would talk to me while I was in nature at Matsushima. Surely I’d get some deep revelations!

Thursday we found out that Saturday was a no go, and that spending the night there was out of the question period. Too many volunteers already there. I envied those people for a second…and then I realized how ridiculous it is to envy people who are just having good hearts. Good grief, what’s wrong with me? Anyway, needless to say I was devastated. Why on earth would God take my perfectly holy plan and let it fall apart, get stepped on, and then burned up?

On Sunday, I went along with my original dream plan under different circumstances and got myself to Matsushima. I couldn’t take a picture to do it justice, and the day consisted of me just being quiet, looking at things, and contemplating. I didn’t get insanely promising revelations from God that day, and thankfully the initial disappointments related to the Shichigahama trip trimmed down my expectations of a day at Matsushima anyway. I wasn’t upset about it. I think I finally understood that it was silly for me to show God where and when He would speak to me and expecting it to happen that way. Thankfully He is so far above my own plans.

Monday, we got to go volunteer. And what an incredible blessing it was. I promise to write about that, too. At the end of Monday, though, we got the email saying that the rest of the week was now out for us. So my four days of volunteering turned into one day. And again, I wasn’t as upset as I initially was. I understood that sometimes God doesn’t need us to do what we think we ought to do. He has something better, something perfect for us, even if we can’t see it. Even if I still don’t see it. But He has me in mind and He is taking care of me.

From now on, I’m making plans timidly, understanding that they may change, that my idea for what’s best may or may not be best, and that God may just let me be disappointed just so He can grow me more… I won’t “boast about tomorrow,” to steal something from the Bible.