Friday, June 22, 2007


I finally have time to sit down and write about the last few weeks. I am trying to make plans for the upcoming summer break and I don’t know yet what I will do. I would like to see more of the countryside since I have been in the city for the entire time I have been here. I may hop a train and ride until I find some place I like and stop there for awhile.

Today I went on a tour around the school grounds at recess with some professional safari guides. They were in first grade and we talked about trees and ants and acorns and a very fuzzy caterpillar that they killed very, very slowly. I asked all kinds of questions about the wildlife and foliage and got varied returns (from the usual head cocked to the side quizzical stare, to the excited chatter that I couldn’t understand). I like to pretend that they are agreeing with me. It helps my ego.

Most of my conversations at school go like this, “Hello, how are you?” the immediate return “How are you?” “No, no you can’t answer a question with a question.” (I usually resort to pretending like my fingers are talking to one another in different voices (right index finger) “Hello, how are you?’ (left index finger) “I’m fine.”) It works but makes me look a little crazy. On that note I am wondering if my hair is getting too long. I have a good moptop going on and it is usually pretty wild after being stuffed in a helmet for the ride to school. I bought some clippers the other day and for convenience sake I will probably just cut my own hair. Sounds dangerous and it is. I might lose a limb or two. How would I explain that at school?

It is the rainy season right now but it is not raining much. It feels like the hot and humid season (it reminds me of East Texas).

I had a welcome party last Friday. I didn’t know about it until the Tuesday after. A new teacher came a couple of weeks ago and he and I were to be guests of honor at the welcome party. I think maybe they announced it during a faculty meeting but it was in Japanese so all I heard was ------ wade sensei ----- . I remember looking up from my desk half asleep. Here is a play by play of my thought process. I heard my name I know I did. I hope they didn’t find out about that red light I ran this morning or yesterday morning or last Tuesday or last weekend. Or maybe I got a bad report from the parents during the parent observations. Or maybe my clothes were too casual … or maybe too formal. I just don’t know. I wonder what we are having for lunch tomorrow…

Turns out it was none of the above, they were just inviting me to a welcome party.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. I have been taking about 6 hours of Japanese class for the last 2 weeks. I have been trying to use my free time wisely. The preacher here spoke about fulfilling your purpose on Sunday and I thought about how having too many things to focus on can hold one back from fulfilling ones purpose. If the path to heaven is narrow then I think it is safe to say that the path to ones heart has to be narrow as well.

I am starting to feel more comfortable around school and in general. I must say that I am starting to miss some American foods (mexican food mainly). Feel free to send me a few grilled steak burritos and some refried beans. Sorry this is so short but things are starting to get routine.

Monday, June 4, 2007


I have been very busy at school lately and in turn very lazy away from it. Last week was the teacher observation day by the local and state board of education for Ibaraki. My teachers were stressed and asked me to help out on some materials for the 2 classes that I would be involved in. After the observations (the bigwigs stayed for 5 minutes both times) we had a meeting which apparently I needed to be at. One of the ladies came and got me and we went to the science room. I was sitting in this meeting, my eyelids drooping and my head starting to nod. I was almost gone when I heard someone speaking English. Hey what’s going on they should be speaking Japanese. I got a shot of adrenaline when I caught the end of a sentence “… please introduce yourself.” Everyone was looking at me. My heart starting beating very quickly. I stood up and slowly said my name. I told them I was the AET at Sakado (a fact that ALL of them already knew). I then sat down very quickly. I almost started laughing when I realized that if I spoke fast enough I could probably tell them anything and they wouldn’t understand. Next time I will probably quote a few lines from Dr. Suess. After the meeting the teachers kind of stood around socializing. I was stuck in the mush pot and didn’t know what to do. I am not comfortable nor skilled at socializing in English much less Japanese, so I resigned myself to play the part of a young boy a junior high dance who just stands there looking awkward not knowing what to do. It was uncomfortable then but as I type this it is really pretty funny.

Last night I met a man who studied in Lubbock at SIBI. He was Irish and he invited me to go to his church at Shirasato. It is a much smaller church than the one I am attending and I am really interested in seeing what it is all about. I also was able to talk to a girl who is thinking about attending SIBI. What a small world. Even in Japan people are trying to find a way to get to Lubbock. They should change their name to “Hub City of the World”.

I just finished a teaching a 2nd grade class in front of 22 of their parents and the principal and vice principal. I must admit that I was intimidated. When I get nervous I get sweaty. In Japan most schools do not have air conditioners. 1+1=. Thankfully on of my teachers opened a window and I turned the fans on. It helped a little. Here I was pretending like I was a rocket getting ready to blast off (the topic was counting) and I was thinking about how ridiculous I looked. Again as I look back it is pretty funny. After class I called the principal over. I told him quite frankly that I am much more effective without people looking over my back. Not really.

I was eating lunch with the first graders and I noticed that we had seaweed sheets (dry paper thin seaweed used for making sushi). I try to make lunch as enjoyable as possible. I try to be a good sport but at the same time my Mom is not here to tell me “Wade, eat your seaweed and you can go play”. I can just “go play” if I want. So I decided that today I would revel in that freedom. I would not eat my seaweed. Now to the hard part, how to get rid of the package of seaweed on my tray without the 5 1st graders (who were watching my every move) noticing. Here’s how it went down. I slyly dropped the package on the floor and then “scratched” my ankle and slid the package into my shoe. VICTORY!!! I beam with pride at deceiving 6 year olds. About 5 minutes later the kids notice that I am not eating my rice with the seaweed. They will think one of two things: A. “He never got any seaweed. Poor guy, I bet he loves seaweed, I will go get him some more. (to have such a great triumph undermined by such coincidence would crush my spirits and I would probably leave Japan in defeat and go back to working for Hardees in Fayetteville) B. “Where did his seaweed go? I thought I saw it on his tray. Why is he scratching his ankle so much? My mind was racing and cycling through my options. Create a subtle diversion and throw off the gears that were grinding in their little heads? Fake choking and risk the Heimlich maneuver from 35 1st graders? Resort to physical violence and pick a fight over Pokemon? Thankfully the crisis ended without blood shed or faking injury. I grabbed a wrapper off the nearest kids tray and we played your favorite game and mine, the “What Hand is It In?” game. We soon attracted attention and we had students crossing lunch group borders to play. In a few hours you will probably see a news feed from CNN about the new craze sweeping across the island of Japan. It might even make it to Korea and distract them from there nuclear agenda. Just look at me!! I saved the world from nuclear disaster. (I am pretty sure they had played before but that would kill my story if I told you that). Now I had to make my escape from the classroom and get rid of the seaweed before it smelled up my shoes. I crept into the empty (thankfully) teachers room and removed the seaweed carefully. A sigh of relief that had been building rushed out as soon as I put the package in the pocket of my jacket and zipped it securely. If you compare it to a situation in America, it would be like a foreigner stuffing French Fries in his shoes. I am already planning an escape from any scenario that involves an octopus tentacle.

God has really brought many things to my attention about my faith and the things that I believe. He is breaking down my pride and self reliance. He is showing me things that are uncomfortable to find out about myself. I am growing through these things and I am very thankful for that. Patience is not my strong point and I am working on that. I am learning about how many limitations I put on God and his ability to work. I have put God in a box and that should not be. I am thankful for the people that God is using to show me how wrong I have been.