January 27, 2008

Intensive Study-- Intensified Experience

A few months ago I started formal Japanese studies-- a textbook, teacher and weekly classes-- after three years in Japan. This was a mistake-- not the studies, but the wait. The best way is to jump into learning a language as soon as you arrive-- as I did with Spanish and Chinese-- but I failed to do with Hindi-- during the five years I was in India-- and now, Japanese.

Trying to make up for my lack with a big push, I'm now past chapter three in my thirty-chapter Japanese textbook. I recently started carrying all my Japanese books with me everywhere to build up my muscles... well, not actually. The truth is that it's to help me to be less embarrassed when I have to face my teacher each week.

Besides avoiding humiliation, I've discovered that when I'm studying, people who would usually not speak to me, often do. On three successive train trips I've sat across from young persons on the train who asked how my studies were going and were glad to help as I struggled to read and pronounce my Japanese assignments.

An older couple joined one conversation-- first the wife, commenting in a mixture of English and Japanese-- and then her husband began making comments to her in Japanese like, 'How many of those 'ABC' things do they have in English?' 'Twenty-six', she told him. 'So few!' he responded, 'It must be difficult for them to learn ours.'

And it is! Forty-six phonetic characters duplicated in two sets-- one principal set and a second set mostly for foreign words and emphasis--like italics. There is also a third set which uses our 'ABC's to approximate the sounds of Japanese.

Besides these, there are thousands of ideographs, each one representing a word-- object, action etc. At the top of this post, the first two ideographs mean Japan, and the third, language.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_writing_system

And the grammar!-- If it wasn't for learning Chinese tones, I'd say for certain that Japanese was the more difficult of the two languages... but back to my conversations.

I gave the first person I met my email address on the back of a small flyer called, 'Professionals'. She seemed especially interested-- saying that she was studying to be an occupational therapist, and adding that her sister is handicapped.

I suggested that life's difficulties can help us to become kinder and more unselfish. I pointed her to the tract, which says that we all want to excel in whatever we do-- be professionals-- and, importantly, that with God's help, we can all be 'love professionals'.

I further explained, 'Kamisawa aidesu [God is Love]' and 'Anatao aiteshiteimasu [He loves you]'. I invited her to repeat a prayer, accepting God's love, forgiveness, His gift of eternal life-- and His power to be a 'love professional'-- which she did.

She then asked for my notebook and pen and wrote a few lines saying how glad she was to have met and had our conversation, and asked me to write her every day-- in Japanese-- so back to my studies! I'll keep you updated on my adventures in Japan and in Japanese-- Mata! [Later!]

January 09, 2008

Happy New Year!

Thank you-- each one who has had a part in contributing to the wonderful year we've just had. Family and friends--we are glad to have shared another year with you-- even if we're far apart, our hearts and prayers never are.

Each New Year is a tender thing, let's handle it with care.

Greet the year with praise and sing; commit our all in prayer.

Carefully seek His very best, put all our armor on.

Be prepared for every test, by seeking Him each dawn.

Set the pattern, get it right; it’s His plan to free us.

We’ll end the year with armor bright, by yielding self to Jesus.

(c) tipserve.com 1994

January 01, 2008

Hope and Prayer for New Year 2008

New Year Candlelight Ceremony (part 3 of 3)

It's difficult to write about my hopes for the New Year. The past is, well, past-- known. However the future is unknown-- even fearsome...

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'”

--Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957

Why fear then?-- Perhaps I fear failure-- Failure to reach my goals or change as I would like-- failing myself, or others... which leads to what is, perhaps my greatest hope-- for faith and strength to trust along my path...

"So if by some still small voice, He calls me to paths I do not know,
I'll answer with my hand in His, 'I'll go where You want me to go!'" -- unknown

And my prayer?-- For faithfulness-- especially as I learn to depend more on prayer-- and simplicity and a yielded heart--leaving success or failure up to the Lord-- that I might hear...

Well done, thou good and faithful servant... enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Matthew 25:21

And the year ahead?

I want to continue writing-- for this blog and for a second that I feel will develop out of the basic classes that I teach on the Bible. I also want to continue to add to my posted photos and to graduate from my cellphone camera to a 'real' camera.

A big desire is for our long-delayed family reunions-- for Sharon's five daughters-- who haven't been all together since they were wee little ones—and, if possible, for my scattered tribe of children and grandchildren-- and other family members, most of whom I haven't seen for eight or more years.

Finally, I'm hoping for major progress in studying Japanese and for all our work here in Japan.

Lord, Give us a good year, whatever comes-- lived to the fullest for You. Guide us and give us strength to help others find the freedom and joy that we have through knowing You. In Jesus' name, amen.

And thank you for your help-- and especially your faithful love and prayers!

Have a wonderful New Year!

Here's an interesting article called-- Climbing the New Year-- by Curtis Peter Van Gorder