Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reviews and Reflections

Greetings, friends!

It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon here at ARI and autumn seems to be in full swing. The mornings are chilly, the days sunny and mostly warm, and the evenings are cool and crisp. We have even begun to close our screen door at night! And our participant friends from warmer/tropical climates are bundling up!

Because of HTC and our substitute “weekend,” it has been a short work week. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday came and went without much ado. But Saturday, well Saturday was very special. ARI hosted a charity concert event...

Charity Concert Event

Leonard Elschenbroich is a German cello player who currently lives in London. His mother, Donata, has been at ARI for 3 weeks now volunteering. You can see her here serving food at HTC. Leonard has been touring around Japan playing concerts and agreed to perform at ARI! His repertoire included:

Suite for Cello Solo No. 2 in D Minor, Johann Sebastian Bach
Suite for Cello Solo Op. 25, Paul Hindemith (Leonard's grandfather was one of Hindemith's student!)
Four Serious Songs Op. 121, Johannes Brahms

and last but certainly not least, for the encore:

Vocalise Op. 34 No. 14, Sergei Rachmaninoff

Vocalise is one of my (Jenny's) all-time favorite pieces. I am not as well-versed in classical music as one can be, but it is one of those pieces that is beautiful and lovely in every way. We were not allowed to take photo or video during the performance, so please enjoy this youtube-sourced rendition of Vocalise. Oh, I did sneak a photo at the beginning and end. Oopsies. :)

Knight Field

Doug and I finally secured ourselves a plot on campus for our personal field! Many community members at ARI, in addition to maintaining group fields, also manage their own personal field where they can grow whatever crops and vegetables they like. Knight Field was established Saturday, October 20, 2012, we have yet to break ground, but the sign is up and the plot roped off! We hope to keep you updated on the adventures of Knight Field as they unfold...

Rice Update

Remember our big community rice harvest day? Well we are now beginning to take down the rice and process it for eating! My foodlife work Saturday morning was going out to Group 4 field and taking down the rice to feed to the machine. I'm not sure what the machine is called, but you feed the stalks through with the rice on them and it spits them back out with no rice. There were five of us taking down rice and one of us feeding into the machine, we accomplished a lot in 30 minutes...

Sakura hidden behind rice!
Emma, from Uganda (bundled up!), biking back to campus

ARI Sunday

Wilson doing his thing
About once a month, the local United Church of Christ in Japan, Nishinasuno, hosts “ARI Sunday.” You might recall us posting about this before. Well it came around again today so many of us bused/biked/walked to church to support our friend Wilson who was giving the sermon. Wilson shared his story with everyone and talked about the importance of not only believing in God, but trusting God also. After the service, we all shared in quite a feast to celebrate the ministry of ARI and Nishinasuno Church. Our friend, Kathy (an american on staff at ARI in “graduate admissions”), had guided us to church on bikes so that afterwards she could continue to show us around the town.


Bike Tour

The first stop we made was at a liquor store/international foods store. It was here that we bought peanut butter. Kathy's cousin, Ralph, visited for HTC and brought with him a jar of Peter Pan creamy peanut butter especially for Doug. Needless to say, after one week, there isn't a whole lot left. So we restocked.

On our way to the hardware store, Doug caught site of a familiar-looking raccoon figure. “Okonomiyaki?” we thought, perhaps! So I fished out the Okonomiyaki points card given to us by Leo, and lo and behold! OKONOMIYAKI! In case you haven't heard yet, this is our favorite Japanese food (so far) and we were under the impression we could only get okonomiyaki at the next train stop down from Nishinasuno (train=money) so to find it in town is most certainly a dream come true. We plan on taking full advantage of this discovery in the coming week, as we will have a “substitute day-off” for working the charity concert.

Kathy showed us various other points of interest (she used to be a tour-bus guide!) so now Doug and I feel much more aware of our surroundings.

Some Reflections

With HTC behind us, we've been able to slow down and reflect on our time here at ARI so far. Even after only two and half months, this place has changed our lives in many ways. We are getting to know people from all over the world and hearing their stories of joy and struggle. We are working every day, rain or shine, to ensure we have food to eat, and not just any food, but healthy, organic, and loved food.

We know that when the time comes for us to leave this place, we will not return to the states and resume life per usual. Those communities we hear about in the news whose governments can't be trusted, who don't have access to clean and healthy water, who don't have the political pull to fight against industry, who are severely misunderstood and stereotyped, those communities won't just be news stories, they will be the homes of our friends. And we'll take more time to listen to those stories and provide what help and comfort we can. 

And when we return home, we won't continue to overlook the chemicals and additives that are used in the production of our food. Ideally, we'd like to see a systematic change in food production in the U.S., but all we can plan and hope for ourselves is an improvement in our own food intake quality. Doug and I are discussing every-day ways in which we can improve our own health, as well as the health of the environment around us, all the while enjoying this gift of life. 

So there's just a peak at a few of the things we've been thinking about. There's of course a lot more to be said about our experience so far and what is still to come, but we thought you might enjoy a little reflection. 

We hope everyone enjoys the week ahead! We'd like to give a special shout-out to Katie (my sister) for the Cadbury's SCREME EGGS, they were a nice (trick-or) treat and got us in the Halloween spirit (which doesn't so much exist here). But anywho, good luck with the costume hunting and don't look under the bed!!

Fellow servants in Christ,

Doug and Jenny

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