Jenny's Morning Gathering
For those of you keeping up with us, you know that last week, Doug lead his first morning gathering, so this week, it was my turn! I decided to share with the community about my "home." This began with a simple introduction of Arkansas, my family (mom, dad, Katie, Max [dog], Doug, and "everybody else"). I then shared a few similarities between home back in Arkansas, and home here at ARI. So three things:
1) Serving through cooking: Back in college, Doug, Katie, and I (along with other friends) cooked a dinner once a week for college students through the college ministry program at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Conway. We would get together for about 4 hours to shop, cook, serve, and clean up after a dinner where anywhere between 40-70 college students would share in meal and fellowship together. Here at ARI, I also cook for the community. I work with 4 other women in the kitchen to cook lunch every weekday. We serve anywhere from 12-90 people.
|Olivia, Katie, Doug, Jenny|
|Sena, Jenny, Nishi, Veny, Megumi|
2) Fellowship with God's people: Every summer, Doug and I like to work at the Robert R. Brown sessions at Camp Mitchell. This camp is specially designed for adults with mental and physical disabilities. We spend all week singing songs, playing games, dancing, and celebrating each other. The campers look forward to this week of camp all year long, as do the people who work at these camps! So Doug and I were very excited for the opportunity to share fellowship with both children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. On two occasions since we have been here in Japan, we have sang, played games, danced, and celebrated with people.
|Our friend, Brooks Cato, dancing with happy campers|
|Doug dancing with adults at an assisted living facility in Japan|
3) Johnny Appleseed prayer: Many of us who have spent any time at Camp Mitchell know the Johnny Apple seed prayer, it goes like this:
When we arrived at ARI, we saw that this prayer is one of 10 that we use before eating here. However, the "Amen! Dig in! Yeehaw!" from Arkansas becomes a more modest and calm "Amen. Amen, Amen, Amen. AMEN" in Japan :)
I shared these similarities with the community to first explain that Doug and I feel at home in ARI, and second to show that home is where you make it (please google "home is where you make it, Joe Dirt" and watch clip, hehe). Doug read Psalm 139: 7-12 and I shared an Emily Dickinson quote: "Where Thou art, that is home." God is everywhere, in the light and in the dark, and in all and both of those places, where God is, we are home. To end my morning gathering, I shared one last quote from Billy Sunday: "Home is the place [where] we love best and grumble the most." Being here for 2 months, we have experienced and witnessed the positives and negatives of intentional community living. Emotions can run high and it's hard to be polite and pleasant all the time. But we are family here, at home, and if we can't grumble here, where can we grumble? All in all, I wanted to share that we can make home anywhere because God is in our midst, and by his grace we can love and forgive each other.
Otawara Chili Festival
On Saturday, Doug visited the Otawara Chili Pepper Festival with a few other ARI community members. Besides all the booths with chilies and sauces, there was a spicy taco eating contest to see who could eat one taco the fastest. With the offer of a free spicy taco on the table, most of the ARI attendees joined in the contest. And who won the contest, mine truly, Douglas "spicy taco eater" Knight! He won a free bottle of chili sauce. :)
So this week we have been mentally preparing ourselves for HTC and HTC preparation. Starting tomorrow (Monday), instead of our regular morning and afternoon activities, we will be working on HTC preparation. For the food group (Jenny's group), that means harvesting crops and vegetables, shopping, peeling onions, making signboards for menus, etc. And for the worship and logistics group (Doug's group), that means making signboards, handling parking, setting up tents, and planning two worship services. We are also practicing for the cultural performances we are involved in: 1) Line Dance: America, 2) Batak Dance: Indonesia, and 3) American/Japanese poetry reading.
Basically, organized chaos will ensue beginning tomorrow and come Friday night, many of us will stay up into the wee hours of the morning making sure all is well for Saturday. The weekend will be non-stop show-time and finally, come Monday afternoon, we rest (which in all likelihood means we will not post next week's blog 'til Tuesday).
We'll see you on the other side...
Jenny and Doug