Time to catch up on some posting! This year, I went home for Christmas for two glorious weeks. Went to church Christmas Eve, opened presents with the family on Christmas morning, and Christmas afternoon had the most delicious dinner imaginable at my brother`s wife`s parent`s house. It was so nice to talk to some good old-fashioned Okies again. I never really recognized the Oklahoma charm as charm before I left. It`s funny the sort of things you miss. Cats. Big houses. Wide open spaces. Central heating. And French silk pies cooked in the old Southern style.
I don`t have a lot of exciting things to report, so I`ll just post some pictures.
After Christmas Eve service, we drove around the nice houses in Tulsa to look at neighborhood lights. Here`s my favorite:
Here`s my cat Kyra under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. You can see the little model shinkansen bullet train from Japan that I got my father as an early present. He`s always wanted a little model train set to put under the tree:
Here`s my family on Christmas morning, Mom playing with our dog, Holly:
I love my little nephew Hayden, my brother Tony`s son. He just turned one. Just like his daddy used to (and maybe still does), he likes to bang his head against the wall. Not sure why.
A few days later, we went out to dinner at pizza hut with Tony and his wife Emily. It`s funny how silly people can act when they`re trying to get a baby to do something. Of course, I was doing it too!
After that we went over to Tony and Emily`s house. They raise miniature Dachshund puppies to sell:
And here`s Mom and me holding them:
The following week, after eating at the famous Cheese Cake factory, Mom, Dad, and I visited Rima Bible college`s famous light display, or "illumination" as they call it in Japanese. Here`s some pictures:
And some videos of the synchronized lights and music:
In the next video we`re talking about fireworks for some reason. I think DOD (Dear old Dad) was talking about some lights that looked like fireworks. I wasn`t really paying attention.
Last of all, a little Holiday message to my friends in Nabari, Japan:
After that, I got terribly sick with a double hitter: flu and bronchidis. Not fun. I was stuck in the country for an extra three days. Not that I was upset about that. I would much rather be sick in America surrounded by my family instead of in Japan...by myself...miserable. The journey back also proved exhausting, with my plane delayed three times and changing gates three times. Then I made the dumb mistake of confusing Southwest airlines with Skywest airlines, a Delta connection, and when I asked the Southwest ticket people where I should go when the gate changed for the third time, I guess they missed the Delta information on my ticket and directed me to the wrong flight, which happened to be leaving for the exact same place (Seatle) as the flight listed on my ticket, at the same time the announcers said the delayed flight would leave. Thus I learned that inexplicable coincidences are not always pleasant. I almost got on it...only at the last minute they realized their mistake (and mine) and told me to get off, thus making me miss the flight I was actually supposed to be on. Well, now I know. Southwest airlines is not the same as Skywest. It wasn`t so bad; I just had to spend the night in Seatle, at a hotel run by a rather funny Hindi manager who seemed bent on getting me to drink the night away with him like the previous lady JET (Japanese Exchange Teacher) who came through before me. Better luck next time.
Fortunately, the long flight was much more relaxing. I ran into Nate Townsend again, another JET in the Christian fellowship with whom I had also had the surprise of sharing the plane to Japan. He`s crazy. Crazy people make for very interesting conversation partners on long, boring flights overseas. I would rather sit next to a crazy person on a plane than a sane one any day.
Oddly enough, I was not happy to be back in Japan. I found myself alone on the bus, listening to all the babble in Japanese and I wanted nothing more than to go back home to America. On the train, I had to sit next to a really stinky drunk guy with a huge fresh scar on his forehead and face, and he kept grabbing my bag while muttering "gomen, gomen" "sorry, sorry" and trying to talk to me incomprehensibly with his breath that smelled like vomit and beer. I was a bit worried about him and thought maybe I should ask what happened to his head and if he needed help, but he got off the train and seemed to know where he was going, so I left him alone. There was another drunk dude pestering four of my high school students, asking if they were going to Ise shrine. I tried to tell the guy "Kono densha wa chigau des yo" "Look, this is the wrong train." But he just kept smiling at me and saying, "Yasashi gaijinchan desu ne?" (What a cute little foreigner, isn`t she?) My students and I had a good laugh at the drunk duo when they finally stumbled off the train. I showed them pictures of my trip to America and they were impressed by all the lights.
One thing I`m already missing about America is the no public drunkeness and open alcoholic containers laws. Public drunkeness is such a nuisance, not to mention dangerous, and reminded me with avengance that this is not my country. I really want to go home. It`s so cold here. And lonely. I`m still not fully back to health. I can`t shake the cold-like symptoms, the headaches, this exhaustion or the soreness in my joints. But all this will probably ware off in a few days. I DO love Japan, or I wouldn`t have already spent a year and a half here.
I should stop whining about myself. Pastor Toshi just lost his father. That`s why I can`t spend time with them now, since they`re in mourning. And Rev. Shafiq in Pakistan just informed me about the terrible things happening. I`m really worried about the March trip there, though I called three Pakistani embassies and they all said it`s perfectly safe, oh, yes, please come, there won`t be any trouble for you or your Christian group, no trouble at all. One guy even said he was Christian and from that area and promised there would be no problems. So, the best thing to do when you`re worried about something is pray about it.
Prayer Requests: For my health, that I`ll be able to shake these sicknesses for good so I won`t relapse again. For Pastor Toshi and his family as they mourn the loss of his dad but rejoice that he is with the Lord. For Pastor Shafiq and the Christians in Pakistan, along with the upcoming March mission trip there: health and safety and discernment. That I will be able to finish my tenure in Japan with strength, and find a job/agent/publisher when I get back to the poor U.S. economy with nothing but a bachelor`s degree in film studies. That God will bless my writing and my work here in Japan and all over the world.
Until next time, keep praying and keep loving, no matter what the cost,
L. J. Popp