Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fireworks, Waterworks, Food Works

We are coming to the end of our second full week here at ARI. At one of the morning gatherings last week, Uncle Timo (a former graduate of ARI, from Ghana, now working as staff) talked about leaving mountaintops and walking through the valley (getting out of your comfort zone). He talked about how the valley is a challenging place to be, but in that challenge there is much you can learn from the trials you go through. He said to also remember that there are those who have traveled before you and walk beside you.

Jenny and I are very much in the valley. We are trying to fit into a very work-intensive lifestyle in a community of cultural complexity and close cooperation. We are encouraged by all the participants around us that have been here for four months now, far away from their home countries. In this journey we are growing like seedlings in rich, rich soil. 

We have been busy settling into the work flow here so we have only taken pictures on special outings. So over the next couple of weeks we’ll try really hard to give you all a proper tour of the ARI facility and a few snap shots of the work we have been doing so far. But until then, we’ll share with you some events that we have really enjoyed.


One night after dinner we loaded up the bus and headed to a nearby festival, the Kurobane Matsuri (Festival at Kurobane). Jenny and some others dressed in traditional Japanese ukata. I tried a festival food favorite called okonomiyaki. Also, Katie Young, a fellow YASCer who served in a different part of Japan last year, met up with us. She will be staying in Japan for another YASC year.

Megan Copley, Katie Young, Doug Knight, Juliao, Joe


Noodle River

This Saturday was a wet one. Jenny and I rode our bikes to our favorite super market, Trial, to pick up some essentials: chocolate and an alarm clock. When we left the store it was pouring so we got soaked. Back at the farm it wasn’t raining so much but the water-works were about to begin. For lunch, a local volunteer had prepared a Nagashi Somen (flowing noodles). Basically it is a bamboo trough with a water hose at one end. Cooked noodles are placed at the top. It is like a water park for your food! We gathered with chopsticks and a cup of special sauce (soy sauce, ginger root, and green onions) and started nabbing the noodles as they flowed by. It brightened up the Saturday and filled us up with deliciousness!

Cookies for Church

Later in the day, Jenny and I helped make oatmeal raisin cookies to take to church on Sunday. It was ARI Sunday at Nishinasuno United Church of Christ in Japan. A bus-load of us from the farm went to the church to share food, fellowship, and to hear one of the participants from our community give the sermon. The Rev. Sang Bik Cem (he goes by Abik on the farm) reflected on Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” He spoke of how being obedient to God is often (almost always) a great burden, but the “yoke” of a gentle spirit and humble heart will help you bear the load. He used the example of the good Samaritan who stopped to help the man who had been robbed and beaten. It was a burden on the Samaritan to do the will of God, but through a humble spirit that was truly Christ-like, he was able to serve well and willingly.

After the service we enjoyed food and fellowship with the church; we would have taken more pictures but we were busy chomping down on the cookies that we made and the snacks and coffee provided by the congregation. Koohii wa oishi des. “The coffee is delicious!”

To finish the weekend off, we ate lunch on our porch with treasures from Trial Mart!

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