Monday, September 24, 2012

Autumn and Anniversaries!

It is officially Autumn which means 周年 (shūnen=anniversary) time! This time last year, we were preparing for a weekend full of celebration and a lifetime full of love and companionship. A lot has happened this past year and we've made a lot of wonderful memories (wrote theses, graduated college, adventured west, raised $20,000, and moved to Japan!), and we know the year to come will be just as memorable! Just a few days ago, an American couple arrived at ARI to volunteer for two and a half months. We quickly found out that we shared our anniversary, same day same year!!!

Speaking of anniversaries, September 24 not only marks one year of marriage for us, but also 50 days on the farm! Yes, we have officially been at ARI for 50 days. So we will take this time to tell you about the last 7.

Blueberry Farm cont'd: JAM!

After visiting the blueberry farm last weekend, we made blueberry jam! We definitely aren't experts yet but we feel confident we could make a jar or two of fig jam if we wanted to.

Isn't this jar fitting?!?

Green Beans

The green bean season is coming to a close, which means we have been taking down all the plants. Which also means we've been eating little baby beans while we work! The green beans are just one of many signs that the season is changing here on the farm. We are beginning to sow and transplant our winter crops, as well as prepare for next spring's work.

Community Event

We had our monthly community event this week. If you'll recall, we arrived at ARI just in time for August's community event when we went to the park and participated in various team-building games. The event in August was organized by the participants, and this one we just had was organized by the staff (next month, volunteers will organize the community event!). So after morning gathering on Thursday, we all piled into buses and headed up Nasu Mountain to an assisted living facility for adults with mental and physical disabilities, associated with the Catholic church. The facility is almost fully funded by the government, although residents do pay room and board. When we arrived, we ate lunch, received a tour of the main campus, and then shared fellowship with the residents and staff. This event reminded us very much of our friends and time spent at Robert R. Brown sessions at Camp Mitchell, lots of laughter and joy!

New Koinonia

ARI has been in the process of rebuilding parts of campus since the earthquake in March 2011. As of Saturday, September 22, we have a new Koinonia (dining hall, classroom, chapel). “Koinonia” is greek for “fellowship.” So we celebrated on Saturday with a special dedication service combined with a memorial service for the late Dr. Akira Niwa, former ARI director who died suddenly this past June. It was a bittersweet but overall joyful celebration of the past, present, and future of ARI.

Leo's Cottage

There are many people outside of the immediate ARI community that like to visit and volunteer on the farm. They are called “community volunteers.” A couple of weeks ago, one particular community volunteer, Leo, was working in the sunflower fields with Doug. After talking all afternoon, Leo extended an invitation for us to visit his cottage sometime before winter. So we accepted the invitation and headed off into the mountains after the dedication/memorial service on Saturday. Leo's cottage is on top of a nearby mountain, he tries to spend as much time as possible there in the summer to escape the heat and chaos of Tokyo, where he permanently lives.

For dinner, we cooked traditional Japanese skiyaki (SP?), “yaki” means “food” and “ski” means something along the lines of “how you like it.” So skiyaki is cooked in a skillet at the table, and you can cook your food however you like, lightly, well-done, etc. And you cook a little, eat, add more to the skillet, cook, eat, etc, meanwhile sharing drinks and conversation. Skiyaki is very delicious!!

After dinner, we attempted to visit a neighboring “ghost mansion” (haunted house!), but we only got as far as the steps leading from the road to the house! It was too dark and Jenny was just not going to have any of that. Although we did take a closer look in the morning when it was light.

It has been raining all day today (all week in fact) but that didn't stop us from exploring some nearby natural features. Leo took us to a couple different walking areas where we saw waterfalls, and rivers, and deep canyons. We also spent some time inside one of the visitor centers making a leaf book! After a morning full of rain and walking, we headed back to Leo's cottage for dessert/appetizers before lunch. He let us try two (2!!) traditional Japanese desserts, very oishi (delicious!).

During dinner the night before, Leo asked us what is our favorite Japanese dish, we both answered, “okonomiyaki!” We've had this twice before, once at the fireworks festival, and once a group of visiting university students cooked it for the ARI community. So Leo took us to an okonomiyaki restaurant for lunch, sagoi (SPP) (great!). “Okonomi” means something like do it yourself. So in the restaurant, everyone sits around a grill (like at Japanese steakhouses, only smaller) and you make your own dish! We will definitely go there again and plan on bringing the experience home to Arkansas!

We are back on the farm now, it is still raining! Our weekend assignment is tending the pigs. So here in a bit we will spend some time with our porky friends, feeding and cleaning up after them (and Jenny will gawk at the piglets, soooooo cute!!).

One last update on Wilson. His wife's funeral was held last week. We heard he will be returning to ARI to complete the program, we are all very excited about this!

We hope everyone has a lovely autumn week!

Fellow servants in Christ,

Doug and Jenny

No comments:

Post a Comment