All Things New

I’m trying something new this month.

I’ve moved to a new site that will, hopefully, better facilitate my blog/help this poor girl format everything without wanting to throw everything I own outside…and then stomp on it.

I will continue to post my Weekend Updates (I 100% totally came up with this completely original title myself. All rights reserved ©.) about Life in Japan, but I’ll be adding a new element on a (semi-) bi-monthly basis (I make no promises on the frequency of this because, you know…I just don’t). It will be more along the lines of a personal essay about my life & the work that Jesus is doing & I will post mid-week.

I am by no means, an expert in Jesus. As Paul says, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus…” in Philippians 3:12. If Paul hadn’t obtained it yet, this chick certainly hasn’t. The writings I will publish have one goal: To encourage you to press on. To obtain it. ‘It’ being our complete rescue by Jesus. The implications of this are infinite. If you have already experienced the initial rescue, the implications will continue to reverberate throughout your life as it becomes more complete. If you haven’t, they haven’t yet begun, but I invite you to “taste & see that the Lord is good.” See it through my writing, my imperfections, my weaknesses, my utter failures. Let them show you, by contrast, the surpassing worth of Him who loves & loves & loves me &, my friend, you too.

*This was originally written in January 2016 so some of the references are long past.

Daily Bread

         So the preacher says, “And to all you young, single girls plagued by body image issues…to all the business men who hesitate to be bold for the gospel…for the young mom feeling tired and left out…” & then he efficiently, skillfully applies this week’s sermon to their lives. Their real lives.

But he doesn’t say, “To all the young, childless couples living abroad for a short season, travelling most weekends so you can see & experience people & places, customs & traditions, religions & rituals you’ve never seen before…this is how this week’s sermon applies to you.” Because, you see, most people aren’t in that category and for the sake of time the man’s got to speak to the most people. So on this Tuesday, I’m wandering through a season of wondering what faithful living looks like here. Now.

Because, I actually am in that category.

I’m in an in-between.

A not-yet.

An almost.

I’m not a young mother…yet. I’m not a young single 20-something…anymore. I’m an army wife living in Japan for less than two years, yearning desperately to DO something; to live out the gospel.

Now, if I’m completely honest, this is a premature rambling. We’ve been here for 6-ish weeks and are still finding our sea legs (I mean, this IS an island). I’m still gasping every time I get a little too close to the left side of the road BECAUSE DRIVING HERE IS TERRIFYINGLY NEW. I understand it’s all a bit early to be dwelling on…but then I’ve never been good with timing. So instead of subduing this feeling of urgency to GET TO IT ALREADY, I am just acknowledging it.

Our lives are not ordinary. They are not typical. Yet they feel quite mundane some days. We’re settling in & getting to know our neighbors, but we’re also going on wild adventures, to places I’ve never even heard of, almost every weekend. We’re trying to build a church community, but we’re missing most Sundays because we’re “travelling” & “seeing the world.”

Do not misunderstand me. THIS IS THE DREAM. I understand that. But it does pose an odd predicament as I strive to grow in my faith. As I read books like:

Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman

& For The Love by Jen Hatmaker

& Carry On, Warrior by Glennon D. Melton,

I’m struck by how outside I feel to these normal-life-doers encouraging other normal-life-doers to continue in the good & normal work before them. Encouraging them to not miss the little moments & the small beginnings & the brave everyday of kids & school & small-town living…& I think to myself, “That couldn’t possibly be further from my reality.” So how in a world of books on normal life, do I glean wisdom for my not-so-normal life?

& then, I just sit back & allow the Lord to direct my memory.

He will, you know, if you let Him.

It’s, like, His favorite thing to do.

We’re just so darn forgetful. You give us five minutes & we’ll be up in arms about the wait in the Starbucks drive-thru right after we just raised our hand to a praise & worship song that “just really resonates with me.”

We. Forget.

We forget the goodness of the Lord.

His faithfulness.

His promises kept.

His lavish love & abundant provision.

We just forget.

& so, He helps me remember.

It was a Thursday morning. We’d been in Japan for 4 weeks. I was invited to a women’s Bible Study group by my neighbor. Just the day before I’d met a wonderful lady, whose husband was a chaplain & she had a daughter at COVENANT COLLEGE. And she was leading a book study by TIM KELLER. & the more we talked the more her eyes said to mine,

“I recognize you. We belong to each other.”

She knew my people, my places. She spoke my language & I came home & GUSHED to Oakie about the gift God had given me in her.

& on that Thursday morning, I met Chieko-san…well two actually. Chieko-san 1 & Chieko-san 2. This is about Chieko-san 2. She introduced herself & we talked & she continued to be floored that I was kind to her because she was

“so old” & I was

“so young” &

“why would you want to spend so much time talking to me?”

& I just smiled and told her that her age brought her wisdom & I’d be a fool to pass her friendship up. & so now we’re Facebook friends and she’s going to teach me the traditional Japanese tea ceremony AT HER HOUSE. (teaser alert: this weekend on the blog!)

But you haven’t even heard the magic yet. Another young Japanese woman I’d been talking to pulled me aside later to make sure I knew that although Chieko-san had been attending this bible study group for some time now, she had never become a Christian. She encouraged me to pursue this friendship with that in mind.

But I forgot. I pondered life here & finished book after book & wondered what was for me? What’s my faithful living look like, God? Where’s my work for the gospel? I’m not working & I’m not a mom & we keep missing church & my neighbor is ALREADY A CHRISTIAN &…&…&…

Be still & know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

 

& He reminded me.

Don’t you see, little one? I am God. I know My plans for you.

I have good works already lined up for you to walk in them.

Don’t you think I desire “faithful living” for you as much as you do?

Be still. I am already at work and you don’t even remember.

All things, child, all things are working for your joy & My glory.

 

So I am resting & resisting the temptation to fret & fear & flounder.

I am embracing the small that comes with not knowing the answers.

I am walking in the small, short, steps He has given me.

 

It is “daily” bread after all, is it not?

 

What are you fretting & fearing & floundering about?

Is there a chance it’s because you’ve forgotten?

Have you taken some time to let Jesus help you remember?

Remember His goodness.

Remember His past provision.

Let that dissolve your fear as it’s overtaken by His big, complete faithfulness.

 

Have you never met Jesus?

Have you never investigated whether or not His claims are true?

Maybe it’s time & reading this was the latest “sign.”

I am, of course, available over the internet to talk about it & if not me, I would encourage you to find someone you know to be a Christian & ask them.

“His arm is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.” -Isaiah 59:1

 

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Valentine’s in Kanazawa!

Well, to be specific Kanazawa & Shirakawa-go & Takayama

I know, these are currently just names of places in Japan that end with an ‘a’, but they’re also incredible tourist destinations with valuable history and places on the UNESCO National Heritage Sites list.

We had the chance to spend our 4-day weekend touring these locations which meant a trip on the famed bullet trains of Japan. We loved those…

 I mean, nothing better than having a reserved seat on the train.
Kanazawa was a beautiful old castle town that we explored extensively; unfortunately it was wet & rainy the whole time & I was a *little* paranoid about my camera getting damaged, so the pictures are minimal. We did get to visit the excellently restored Kanazawa castle that offered free tours in English (which we always take FULL advantage of) and this time we were graced with a guide who loved his job. He studied English in Washington for a few years & told us that he felt he’d never been able to fully express his gratitude for the help the American friends he’d made gave him, so upon his return he started a job as an English tour guide in an effort to indirectly repay the Americans for their gift to him. We were underserving recipients of this gracious action & we couldn’t be more grateful. I was humbled to receive the benefits of this ripple effect. What a wondrous work gratitude does on the heart.

We did a little shopping (at the Gap, but MOSTLY) at the open-air market that featured lots of fresh seafood and a shop where I got to try my first cup of sake
& found the perfect hostess gift for Chieko-san’s tea ceremony (that was amazing, btw, but I’ll blog about it later…gotta have cliff hangers because strategy).

 We wandered quite a bit here & got to visit a Noh Theatre Museum where I got to dress up like a Noh actor#timelapsesforthewin

After two nights in Kanazawa, we took a bus to the remote, mountain village of Shirakawa-go, famous for its thatch-roofed farmhouses, some of which are almost 300 hundred years old. That’s older than our COUNTRY, by the way. #respect.  We got to see it in the snow and I was enchanted. 
Fortunately for us, The Last Samurai was on the Japanese-content-version of Netflix in our hotel & we watched it the night before visiting. It was very moving & will instill in you a new, fresh respect (& maybe love?) for Japanese culture. That was my experience, but I…you know…live here. 
Either way, I recommend it. 
Tom Cruise. 
So…enough said. 

 Our first glimpse…
 Magical, isn’t it?

 I COULDN’T BELIEVE THIS SNOW-FORT WAS 300 YEARS OLD!!!
 (please tell me you knew I was kidding…)

 ughhhhhhhhh. Doesn’t this look just like the yard of your dreams? #curbappeal
 Village view from the mountain.
 Inside one of the farmhouses.
This is on the second floor.
 Did I mention that all of these were built WITHOUT NAILS?!
ok, so now you can be REALLY impressed…

 *swoon* I think I have a house-crush…you know, the feeling you get every time you watch Fixer Upper?

This crane is my attempt at “wildlife photography.”
I think I’m ready to break into the industry.

 I mean, have you even ever SEEN enough snow to make footprints without hitting the grass beneath?
(if you’re from above the Mason-Dixon line, 
please refrain from answering this rhetorical question silently at your computer/handheld device)

 We took the time to build this little guy at the top of the mountain.
I think we named him Parson Frederick Brown.
Oakie’s convinced it was something Japanese.
(which one of us sounds more credible??)
(HINT: ME.)

   Either way, we loved him.
 OOOOO, can you find me??


Oakie took this photo of our quintessential Japanese lunch of udon noodles.
#whatapro

Next up was Takayama, another remote, mountain town where we saw a lot of the mountain. 
Meaning, we hiked.
A lot.
It was awesome.
  I have quadriceps like tree trunks now…

 & we ran into one of THESE beauties, otherwise known as the Japanese serow

As I was thinking about how I would google it so I could describe it in my blog,

 I thought, “It sorta looked like a goat deer…”
Turns out that’s EXACTLY how the Japanese describe it too…

I am, like, SUCH a native.
 & Oakie is, like, SUCH a goat-deer whisperer…He fed it our snack nuts.

& then posed in this hero position fitting for someone of his woodsy stature…
I’d follow this woodsman anywhere…

We also got to see a classic Japanese rickshaw in action!
I”m linking you to this site because who better to tell us about rickshaws then Seinfeld?
(Side note, we recently exhausted the Camp Zama library’s supply of Seinfeld DVDs 
& THEY DON’T HAVE THE 9TH SEASON! We are now accepting donations…)
Overall, this was a fantastic trip that we will remember for years to come.
Oh my gosh, I sound like I’m 85…

In other random news:
Here are some odds & ends in our life…

A piece of art I got to make with my women’s bible study group…
T, look what I found in Japanese!!!!
Katie!!! Doesn’t this just make you happy? #taylorswift
Until next time,
love from Japan

China Town, Chieko-san & Skiing

I’ve all but given up on clever “post titles” so I came up with this great idea to just call them what I’m going to talk about in that post. Feel free to use this titling tidbit in your everyday life. You’re welcome.

China Town (chinatown?):
Whether it’s one word or two, it was basically like a visit to Mulan’s village…if she lived near a bunch of Hello Kitty stores. We made our way here with some friends we made on an MWR trip (seriously, these trips are our LIFE). Lindsey & Kevin are optometry students doing residency rotations here in Japan & Edgar was a friend coming to visit the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time. 

So, you’re thinking, “Ok, cool. Chinatown. I’ve been to one of those. You eat some dumplings and see more asian people than normal…” NO. Well…I mean, YES. But there’s MORE. It was Chinese New Year when we visited. The Year Of The Monkey (which you can see LOTS OF PICTURES of here.) And there was a massive celebration going on. Think “The Festival Scene In Mulan.” So yes, there were dragon puppets and loud drums and fireworks. It was everything I wanted Chinatown to be. I almost don’t want to go back until there’s another reason for dragon puppets to be everywhere so that I can believe Chinatown is ALWAYS like that.

At each storefront, the dragon would stop if they had a paper charm hanging from the door way. 
The dragon would dance around & enter the store to bless it in the new year.
Then it would jump up and take the paper in its mouth (pretty impressive).
Chieko-san
She is one of my dearest new friends in Japan & she has taken me under her wing to show me her country. So far we’ve been to an antique market in Tokyo:

 This lady’s face says it all as she leads the school band. 
#thatsideeyethough
 & the school band…
 & the school t-shirts…
WAIT A MINUTE.
That’s a US school.
Yes, there was a whole booth dedicated to USA t-shirts which were really just piles of old drama program t-shirts.
 These incredible pieces of art are actually home-shrines.
Made of wood, they looked like doll houses to me!

& This is the back of Chieko-san’s head as she shops for a tea tray. 
I know, I know.
We need a picture.
I’LL GET ONE, OK?

& these were my favourite things I saw there that day:
beautiful knobs for drawers, etc. 
#heartemoji

She recently took me & another friend, Ms. Judy, to a Hina Doll Exhibition in Tokyo.
It was fascinating to see the tradition passed down for three or four or seven HUNDRED years.
Hina dolls are bought or passed down as gifts for newborn baby girls.
They usually come in a set that includes an emperor, an empress, warriors, musicians, an old couple and occasionally some miniature household goods.
You can add any number of characters to this set if you have enough money…
They’re literally little dolls, but unfortunately, they’re not toys. 
They’re like good luck charms with each doll representing something the family hopes will come true for their daughter:
warriors- safety
musicians- joy
old couple- long marriage
We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the exhibition rooms, but the hotel it was housed in is quite famous in its own right because it has a “million dollar bathroom.”
That’s right. A bathroom renovation of $1,000,000.
So OF COURSE we visited it.

And I did snag one of this great display!
Those are all hand sewn dolls!

 That’s Ms. Judy in the red above.
(I swear, I’ll get a picture of all three of us)
& THERE WAS A BRIDGE OVER A CREEK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BATHROOM.
 & #noshame I took a million dollar bathroom selfie…
 But then I found this one in my pictures from when we first moved here & I realised I can’t totally blame the bathroom selfie on the million dollar draw…
Sometimes, you just coordinate so well that you HAVE TO…
& next Chieko-san is having me & Ms. Judy over for a traditional tea ceremony TODAY.
I promise I will have a picture of the three of us (& all the tea ceremony things).
Skiiing
Oakie & I are what you call, people-who-ski/snowboard. NOT skiiers/snowboarders. There IS a difference.
However, there’s not a difference in how much fun you can have. We are PROFESSIONAL FUN-HAVERS.

I have an iMovie about it that I made myself…sooooooo…
To change it up, the pictures are in that! 

Enjoy!

I am exorbitantly proud of this video.
Hats off to all the people who do this for a living/a hobby that they think is fun.
whoa.

until next time,
love from japan

Strawberries, Sumo, & Castles in the Snow

Plus: otters, selfies, and funny texts from my friends.
BOY ARE YOU IN FOR A TREAT.
This is another photo-driven post, because they’re worth a thousand words & y’all would HATE MEEEEEE if I wrote all those words instead of just showing you the darn pictures.
So, for that, you are welcome.

First, the strawberries. 
There were at least 4 varieties in this massive green house, so even though it was cold outside, it was like a springtime strawberry field in that large plastic house. #somuchyum Also, it was all-you-can-eat NOT all-you-can-pick-and-take-home so there’s that small disappointment for the day…but also joy in the challenge to have a personal best in The Most Strawberries Eaten In One Sitting…which we did…duh.
 And, yes, I posed his hands like that… 

 This green house was super hipster with all their upcylced seating arranged around a pot belly stove. 
That seat he’s on? Pulled out of a bus. 
#whatastud
 Why is he wearing different clothes you ask?
Well, it’s definitely not because we signed up for TWO ENTIRELY SEPARATE STRAWBERRY PICKING TRIPS BECAUSE WE ARE CRAAAAAZY ABOUT STRAWBERRIES.
So just don’t even ask that. 
JUST STOP WITH ALL THE QUESTIONS.
 As you can see, my hand is in this picture…and those strawberries are as long as my pointer finger. wut.
This is like one of those game pictures: 
Can you find the strawberry in this picture?
Oh Oakie is pointing at it?
ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
He’s SUCH a cheater at games.
This adorable fluffy strawberry pin was a gift from a storekeeper who saw us wandering the streets looking for coffee (with me, this is a regular occurance…#allthecoffee). 
He had it pinned to his vest and now it’s hanging from our rearview mirror.
Like I said, WE ARE NOT STRAWBERRY FANATICS.

Next, the Sumo.
Here’s the thing about Sumo wrestling. Pictures DO NOT do it justice…like AT ALL. 
So there are videos too.
We watched about 60 matches and kept tabs of who chose the winning rakishi (wrestler) each time. 
I beat Oakie by 15 matches. I tell you, I am just FULL of the Holy Spirit.
Oh, and David & Hallie? These guys had NOTHIN’ on you two. #familydanceoff

This first video is an announcement of the players.
Get to know them because you will have NO IDEA WHO IS WHO once everything gets going.

                                                                //www.youtube.com/get_player

This next one is a good example of a quick fight.
Most of them were less than 10 seconds.
And this last one is my favourite.
Oakie totally called that it would be one worth video-ing & it was the only one where somebody got flipped so…kudos to Oakie.
It’s a bit longer, but gives a rough idea of the ritual they went through before each fight (a.k.a. throwing salt into the ring; the higher the toss, the stronger the challenge)
#kitchentips
This was by far some of the best, just plain fun we’ve had here.
Nothing like watching guys in thongs for a few hours to relax into your weekend.

And then the castles in the snow.
Because when you go tour the oldest standing castle in Japan, Matsomoto, it’s incredible; but when you go in the snow…its SNOW incredible. #georgiagirl 
(writing tip: any time you’re dealing with snow, just write about it using “snow” instead of “so” every time. People love that stuff.)

 OOOOH OOOOH here’s another game picture!
Can you spot me??
STOP SAYING, “HER GAMES ARE TOO EASY” IN YOUR MIND.
 BONUS: Ice sculptures.

Also, my husband is like SO dreamy…& photogenic…& generally eye-candy.

This man…I CANNOT EVEN.
I have a very slim file of “Acceptable Pictures To Use If We Need Couple Pictures.”
please pray for us.

And now a segment I call:
All The Stuff I Left Out Of My Other Blog Posts

like this video of a monkey riding another monkey from our day with the snow monkeys.
Or the fact that we went to an aquarium after strawberry picking one day & I got to see otters (no pictures waaahhhh), but my TICKET had an otter on it & I felt like I won a small lottery.
 And we saw a dolphin show with the Pacific Ocean in the background.
 And there was a seal riding a dolphin.
SO MANY ANIMALS PIGGY BACKING ON OTHER ANIMALS.
 GUYS. THEY’RE KISSING. dead.
 And a silhouette of a dolphing jumping that is 
EVERY SILHOUETTE OF A DOLPHIN JUMPING.
 And a school of fish that I just sat & watched for 30 minutes.
(why is it so fascinating?)

 And what about these high-fashion jellyfish?
#trendsetters
 See? 
I TOLD you he was photogenic.
#onlywhenheisnotlooking
And last, but not least:
Funny Texts From My Friends
Living in Japan has forced me to rely on text conversations for the majority of my keeping-in-touch. It’s not always the easiest to communicate, but it sure does get the job done. This rise in text frequency has resulted in a lot of laughter that it seemed only fair to share. iKatie is my sister, even though it ironically sounds like a robot name. Meghan is one of my best friends whom we lived next door to in Columbus. #100footjourney

P.S. I ONLY SAY OBVS IN TEXTS IRONICALLY.
so you can stop judging me now.
obvs.
Life in Japan is good.
Adventure is at the door and we NEVER turn away a guest.
If she comes for a visit, may I warn you she doesn’t always knock,
but she ALWAYS brings a hostess gift.

Snow. Monkeys.


Need I say more? 

What’s that you say?
This is a blog where I literally have to say more or it’s all over?
Well, in THAT case:

Y’all. We went to see snow monkeys. Macaques to be exactsssss… (oh, you would’ve made a better joke?? *cough* whatever *cough*…)

I could talk a lot about how cute they were or how they made me consider kidnapping the babies; about how doleful their little faces were (except for Mean Mug…you’ll meet him later); about how it was like a zoo except someone left the gate open and you snuck into the enclosure; about how Oakie TOUCHED TWO OF THEM AND I WAS SCARED FOR MY HIS LIFE; about how walking in the snow made me feel like a winter princess (which I’ve now decided should be called a Wintress because magic); about how I considered joining this tribe of primates whose whole life is eating & chilling in onsens (hot springs) & I strategised ways that they would accept me as one of their own; but I won’t spend an entire paragraph on all of that……………

I’l show you the pictures instead. 
First of all: This is what my house looked like a couple weeks back. 
I’ve NEVER lived anywhere with this much snow. 
#blessed
#takethatwhicheverwayyouwant
 Second of all: Here are all my artsy snow pictures.
humor me.

 Third of all: This is the walk we took to the monkeys. 
See what I mean about the Wintress thing??

I half expected to meet Mr. Tumnus while we were out & about.
It seemed just his sort of place…

 Also, don’t you kinda just wish you lived in this little place in the Japanese snow?
I know I sure do.
I daydreamed about it for a solid ten minutes.

OH. You’re just here for the snow monkeys so would I please just get to the point & leave you be in your monkey-lovin’ life?
Oh…oh yeah. Sure. 
My apologies for keeping you waiting.

And my personal favourite picture of the day: 
This completely unintentional action shot that I discovered when going through my pictures after the fact.
Aw guys, staaaahhhp. 
National Geographic is WAY out of my league.
 Doesn’t this just look like the most relaxing thing?
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah….

 GUYS. THEY’RE KISSING. dead.

 I watched this little guy for quite a while as he groomed an older monkey.
He was so diligent & hardworking andohmygoshthatspikyhairrrrrrr.

 And monkey feet. 
If this picture doesn’t just make you happy…

 This was the one I would’ve kidnapped…
Look at that crooked little smirk.
#allthehearts

 And monkey butts are funny, I don’t care WHO you are…

 They were WERKIN’ that camera.
That guy got the footage of a lifetime.

 These are Oakie’s feet.
THAT’S HOW CLOSE THESE MONKEYS WERE TO US.

And if that doesn’t seem scary to you, check out ol’ Mean Mug.
But then you see these babies & you totally forget how scared Mean Mug made you…
 Don’t you want to wear your mom as a coat sometimes??

 And my final shot of the day, this handsome guy.
So pensive. 
So snow-freckled.

 And then there’s this picture in the guest house, because OF COURSE the monkeys aren’t playing with iPhones when YOU’RE taking pictures.
UGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH.
But also, awwwwwwwwww.

Meet me back here next week for a glimpse at the outta-this-world Japanese strawberries we got to pick & a summary of our first Sumo wrestling experience (that I’m personally calling Our Launch Into a Lifelong Love of Sumo Wrestling/New Hobby Day).

all the love from me & the monkeys.


Japan How-To

From the sound of the title this might be a fun instruction manual on how to get around Japan once you’re here, but that is actually not the case.
This is an object lesson on how to get to Japan so we can hang out.
If you’re reading this blog, rest assured, I want you to come visit meeeeeeeee. Yes, even you who just thought to yourself, “She doesn’t even know I read her blog because I NEVER like it or comment…I’m GHOSTING her blog for pete’s sake!”
Oh, but I do.
Even you, ghosty friend.
Come. Visit. Meeeeeee.
Now, we’ve probably all been on Facebook in the last, oh I don’t know, 5 minutes, so we’ve all seen something like this:
This is Caroline.
Caroline notices that it’s raining outside.
Caroline doesn’t post on Facebook about it because Caroline knows her friends have eyes.
Caroline is smart.
Be like Caroline.
May I submit to you that there is a WAY better, truer version of this that ALL Y’ALL need to listen to? It goes like this:
This is Karen.
Karen was in Tokyo, Japan for a show she was in.
Karen knew Caroline was also in Japan so she set up a date to see her.
Karen is awesome & kind.
Be like Karen.
This is a true story that I want all of you to take very seriously.
You could be thinking, “Yeah, but I don’t have a job that takes me to Japan…”
My suggestion? Buy a plane ticket to Japan and then name that plane “job”. You now have a “job” that takes you to Japan. BOOM. Thought you had me stumped, eh?
But for real, when we first got to Japan (I’m talking, still-living-in-the-hotel) my friend Karen Estrada messaged me on Facebook letting me know that she was touring Japan with a Disney show based in Tokyo–you may have heard of it…Beauty & The Beast?
Anyway, Karen & I have known each other since I was about…nine. So about 17 years. She was a teacher of mine in the beginning & then I had the pleasure of being her right-hand-gal for the summer she was the Director of the Springer Theatre Academy. You could say, “We go waaaaaaaay back” which I’ve always wanted to say in real life so…let’s say that.
She offered us tickets to her show and we set up a time to meet for breakfast. This happened to be Christmas morning since we were both away from family for Christmas for the first time ever.  She took us to a western styled eatery & I had a waffle with a MOUNTAIN of whipped cream on it. I could’ve hiked that thing. She got to meet Oakie & we chatted about life & Japan & life in Japan & it was the loveliest way to spend my first Christmas here.
The next day we got to see her “play an anthropomorphic tea pot” (her words) a.k.a. Mrs. Potts in the coolest stage version of Beauty & the Beast I’ve ever seen. There were 7 of them decked out in gorgeous evening wear backed by the Tokyo Symphony as they sang & danced through the classic Disney tale. And then we got backstage passes & I felt like a big winner on a radio contest.  It was their final performance & the love & devotion was evident onstage & off. It was one of my favourite performances I’ve had the privilege to be in the audience for.
And this is actually the 2nd time I’ve happened to meet someone on the other side of the world. When traveling in Italy back in 2012, a friend, Christi, was planning to be in Rome for a mission trip the same weekend my study abroad group was visiting, so we met up for lunch. 
We had pizza in a piazza in Rome. 
It was literal magic. 
I think there was glitter present.
These stories have served two purposes:
1. They warmed my heart & made me happy.
2. You now have 2 perfect examples of how to happen to be on the same “other side of the world” as me.
So do that thing.
But don’t wait till you happen to be in Japan. Just wait till you happen to have enough pennies to buy that plane ticket & name that plane. We’ve got a guest room ready. And if you bring friends, we also have a pull-out couch that I’ve slept on (for testing purposes only & definitely not because we fell asleep watching Seinfeld DVDs…). While driving, I recently found myself thinking about something OTHER than not crashing my car, so I can now say that I can confidently drive you around on the left side of the road. And have you tried sushi & liked it? Good news: They have that here. Plus also, I’ve cooked, like, three amazing meals in the past week so WE DEFINITELY HAVE THE FOOD THING COVERED. And the mountains are gorgeous & the strawberries are in season this time of year & you can see Mt. Fuji in person & JUST LIKE COME ON ALREADY.
Now do me a favour & interpret that in a totally cool, invitational, non-needy kind of way. K great.
Karen & Christi are smart.

Be like Karen & Christi.