Sunday, September 3, 2017

Follow me to church

Currently, I am attending Tokyo Union Church (TUC) in Shibuya.  It generally takes me about an hour to travel from my door to the church's door.  Sometimes the I get there less than an hour and sometimes it's a little over an hour, it depends on the trains I take. During the summer months, TUC has only one 10 am service.  During the rest of the year, they have two services one at 8:30 am and one at 11:00 am.
This morning, I went to the 8:30 am service because I signed up to usher.  I would rather usher at 8:30 am instead of 11:00 am.  It's a bit less intense with fewer people attending the 8:30 am service.  It gives me a chance to build relationships with those who I am ushering.
Down the street in my neighborhood (I apologize for the blurriness, my first picture taken from a moving bicycle.)

Down Keyaki Dori


Coming up to the Kiyose Station

Going down the stairs to the bicycle parking garage.
I caught the 7:14 am train to Shin-Kiba.
Local Train to Shin-Kiba

 I have to switch trains at Kotake-Mukaihara to a train heading to Motomachi-Chukagai.
Me standing at the door in the Motomachi-Chukagai train


Ticket wickets at the Meijijingu-mae Station.

Going up the escalator

Going up the stairs to Omotesando

Big Lantern on Omotesando

It's not busy at 7:50 am on a Sunday morning. 

Our neighbor Louis Vuitton

Our neighbor on the other side, Burberry

Entrance to Tokyo Union Church

My fellow ushers, Chie and Koshi

That's me with Koshi
 The 8:30 am service has communion each week.  Today was the first Sunday of the month and both services have communion.  At TUC, we go up to the front to get our wafer and dip it in the grape juice.  We call that intinction.
Getting ready to serve communion
I did go to Starbucks for a coffee after worship.
This is the street that goes toward Shibuya station

A little busier now at about 11:00 am.

Waiting on the side of the sidewalk to go into Ice Monster
 Sometimes I catch the train at Meijijingu-Mae for my return trip home, but the train that goes on the Fukutoshin and Seibu line only leaves once every 30 minutes and I just missed the train so I went to Harajuku to the Yamanote line to Ikebukuro and then catch the Seibu-Ikebukuro train to Kiyose.
Entrance to the Harajuku station

Waiting on the platform - looking south

Looking North

Many of the train stations have barriers on the platforms

Ikebukuro station



People buying tickets

Going to Platform 3 to catch the Semi-Express to Tokorozawa

 I took some pictures as we were riding to Kiyose.  This part of the ride is above ground.




Getting off the train in Kiyose

Getting ready to get through the ticket wickets

My bicycle in the bicycle parking garage
So there you have it, my trip to church and back.  I hope and pray you had an opportunity to gather with fellow believers and worship today.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

North America Summer 2017

I am blessed to have the opportunity to travel around the world and see so much of the beautiful creation God has given us. This summer I was able to spend time with people I have not seen for a couple of years and some people it has been even longer than that.
I flew from Narita (Tokyo) to Vancouver, British Columbia. My brother, Ben picked me up from the airport and I was able to stay at Ben and Louise's place for the next few nights.
On the Skyliner heading to Narita

Waiting at Gate 45 for my flight
While in Abbotsford, I was able to catch up with a couple of folks. Cindy and I went to Fort Langley,  one of the official parks. Because 2017 is Canada's 150th birthday, all the parks are free this year, so this was a great opportunity to visit Fort Langley, one of the places I haven't visited since I was a youngster. Fort Langley was a Hudson Bay Company fur trading post.
Entrance to the Fort

Cooperage

The Big House where the Fort Managers lived.

View from the Big House
We also went to visit the Museum and looked at the exhibits of those from the Fort Langley area who served in World War I. Afterwards we went out for lunch. As you can tell from the pictures, the weather was great and it was a fun activity.
On Saturday, July 1st, Canada's 150th birthday, I flew from Abbotsford to Edmonton, Alberta.
Can you see some of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains?
My brother John and sister-in-law, Nel were at the Edmonton airport to pick me up. I spent the next couple of days visiting with them. On Saturday evening, I was able to see some more of my Red Deer family. John's house is located in a beautiful setting by a lake.
The view from their patio
Monday, John, Nel and I went to visit Fort Edmonton. I neglected to take any pictures, but it was a great visit. It reminded me of what life would have been like for settlers over 100 years ago in Edmonton. It was my first time there and enjoyed walking through the various buildings. If you are ever in Edmonton, it's a great place to visit.
Next, I flew from Edmonton to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My brother, Nick and sister-in-law Myrna picked me up from the airport. I did feel bad, because at this point my cold had really kicked in. My sinuses were quite sore. Nick and Myrna were busy with the berry farm they purchased earlier this year. It is a U-Pick berry farm. I was able to visit the farm one day and see the strawberries, Saskatoons and raspberries they grow there. It certainly was a busy time while there. They had their opening day with a number of people coming to pick and also had a few orders to fill.
Nick and Myrna were also able to take a few days off to go to their cabin by Jan Lake. They also took three of their grandsons. We spent two days on the lake fishing.  

Yes, I even caught a couple of fish, but we didn't keep any of mine because they weren't Walleye.

How fun that time was at the lake. A good time to relax and take it easy.
On Sunday, we drove back to Hague. Nick and Myrna had arranged a dinner where most of the family was able to come. It was great to see them all and spend time with them.
The blue in the front is flax and the yellow in the background is canola.
Saskatchewan is a flat province, but you can see beauty here as well.
The following day, Tuesday, I flew to Maryland. I rented a car there, which makes it easier to visit people and do various tasks. I was privileged to be able to experience the Bratt's hospitality and was able to stay at their house while I was in Maryland.
Judy and I were able to go visit The National Harbor. I was there many years ago, but haven't been there since. It has developed a lot! One of the attractions at the National Harbor is the ferris wheel. It gives you a great opportunity to see the area.
Ferris Wheel, we were able to go around about five times.
Looking south, that's Virginia on the other side.


Looking west.  That big white building is the MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino.

Looking north.  Some of the development.  
It was a fun day hanging out there and spending the day with Judy as well as later on with Ken when we had dinner, together.
One of the things I don't do while I live in Japan is golfing. Jean and I went to the driving range to go hit a bucket of balls. It has been two years since I hit any golf balls. It took a bit, but the swing started to come back.
I was able to connect with a few folks. On Sunday, August 16th, I had the privilege of sharing about the work I am doing at Christian Academy in Japan, with those at Silver Spring Christian Reformed Church, both during the worship service and afterwards in more detail. I am blessed to be a part of this group of people who are busy ministering those who live in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Monday, August 17th brought me back to Vancouver. Graciously, Ben picked me up again! I stayed a few days at Ben and Louise's house. I was able to catch up with some more friends as well as work on some things I needed to do while in North America. I love it that I have friends who do not want me to forget where I was born. One of my Abbotsford friends, Yolanda, gave me this cup.

Thursday, August 29th, another friend, Joyce and I took a road trip to a little place called Nicholson.  Nicholson is just south of Golden, BC.
Look at this little fellow I found at a rest area along the Coquihalla Highway.

Revelstoke, BC where we had lunch, by the Columbia River.

A train crossing the Columbia River.


We had booked an AirBnB, which was an one bedroom trailer. The living-room had a sofa bed. There was also a full bathroom and kitchen.

This was the view out the living-room window, with Ozzy, the dog that came along.
It was nice to have a place to go to after a day of activity. It had a BBQ, so we had to give it a try.
BBQing potatoes and steak


This was our dinner.  Okay, I finished eating before I took a picture. 
First day we went on a hiking trail called Canyon Creek. It's listed as a moderate hike along Canyon Creek. There were warnings of mountain goats, but we didn't see any. It is also a bicycle trail and we met a few bicyclists along the way.



We also went to Golden and spent some time wandering a trail that followed the Kicking Horse River.
A pedestrian bridge of the Kicking Horse River. 

A view of the surrounding mountains.
The second day, we drove over to Field, and went to Emerald Lake. We began by following the path around Emerald Lake and then hooked up on the Yoho Pass trail for a while. We ascended quite ways and were able to look back at the view. We had some lunch and headed back down, connected with the Emerald Lake circuit and back to the car.
Emerald Lake

Looking up the Emerald Basin

Emerald Lake further down the Emerald Lake trail

Heading on the Yoho Pass trail which starts pretty level
Close up


Waterfall of a creek that eventually flowed into Emerald Lake

Looking back at Emerald Lake

Waterfall as we trekked higher

Ozzy as we headed back.  

Ozzy was getting tired, so I carried him in my backpack for a bit.


A loon on Emerald Lake
 We really wanted to see Takakkaw Falls which wasn't too far away. We had read that it is quite impressive.



I also made a little video of the waterfall.

On our last day there, we took it easy. We drove south some and explored a few General stores and north again, ending up at Reflection Lake near Golden.  
There are a number of different animals there. 
Sunday evening, we had quite the storm. The winds were fairly strong and I saw a tree fall in a neighbor's yard. The electricity went out at about 19:30 and never did come back on. We decided to leave once we got up Monday morning, because we were unable to use anything including any water. When we stopped in Golden, we found out they were also without power. We stopped in Revelstoke for breakfast. The rest of the drive went smoothly. I arrived at Ben and Louise's house by late afternoon. 
On the property in the complex where Ben and Louise live.

The view on the deck by Ben and Louise.  Isn't it beautiful! 
 Tuesday, Anne, my sister-in-law, picked me up and I went to Case and Anne's house for the night. I was able to spend some time with some of Case and Anne's grandchildren as well as see a couple of nieces.
Wednesday, Case brought me to the airport so I could catch my flight back to Tokyo.
On the Skyliner heading back home. 
I was glad to go and pick Hana up from the Potter's. I think she was happy to see me too, but I could tell she missed all the activity the Potter's provided.

It was warm and rained while I was gone and the grass grew. It took a while to get this under control again.
Tall grass
After it was all said and done, it was a great visit to North America. I was blessed to be able to talk to and meet a number of family, friends and supporters. I wish I was able to meet up with many more of you. Maybe the next visit to North America will allow me more time and energy to catch up with many more of you.  
God instituted six days of work and one day of rest. I am always grateful for Sundays as days of rest. I am also very grateful for the month in the summer that I can focus on other areas of life, besides school. I know teachers can be teased about working only ten months of the year, but I do find that the summers are times where my body is able to rest and be ready for another school year. Really though, I don't think teachers ever fully shut their brain off from education. Thankfully I am starting to feel rested and ready to begin a new school year beginning in a little over a week. I ask for prayers as we begin a new school year. Please pray for the new students, parents and teachers who will be starting Christian Academy in Japan this August. Please pray for the rest of us as we help these new students, families and teachers become a part of CAJ.  
I pray you all may have a good rest of the summer as you can hopefully take time away from your work to enjoy God's creation.