It's been a festive week here at ARI. If you'll remember, last Sunday we started our official Christmas celebration at Nishinasuno Church and the fellowship lunch at the kindergarten school across the street!
On Monday, Katie and I reminisced about our tradition of shopping with our dad every Christmas Eve for our mom's Christmas presents. Ever since we were two, dad would drive us into town, take us out to a nice lunch, and help us shop for mom's gifts. But he had to go out shopping by himself this year. This is neither good nor bad, but just a realization that things can't stay the same forever and it is good to be open to starting new traditions and remembering fondly old ones.
|We wish you a Merry Christmas!|
Christmas Day was ever-so joyful. We "slept-in" ('til 8) and shared breakfast with the ARI community. Then we were able to skype with family and friends and share in the joy of Christmas. We tweaked the ARI Christmas Pageant and then headed to the kitchen to begin preparing the Christmas feast! We had roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes, apple-baked pork, dressing, cheesy potato soup, rolls, salad, friend noodles, and numerous pot-lucked dishes from community members. After enjoying our dinner, we all participated in the pageant (Katie was Mary!) and decorated sugar cookies. And then we commemorated the day by watching the "Christmas Lunch Incident" episode of the Vicar of Dibley!
|Pageant Director Santa Doug|
|*First Look* (featuring Baby Santa as Baby Jesus)|
Wednesday was back to work. We have been really busy preparing for our ARI Holiday, making sure there is enough feed for all the livestock, cleaning their pens, etc. We continued our work Thursday and joined some fellow parishioners for dinner at one of their houses. These kinds of dinner parties always remind me of the holidays back home. Sharing meals inside a warm house when it's bitterly cold outside will probably always make me feel at home.
Friday was our last day of work before our holiday began. In the kitchen, we made sushi! Surprisingly, this was our first sushi since we have been in Japan, and it was awesome!
Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and we are hosting a volunteer get-together at the missionary house. There is no telling whether or not we will all be able to stay up until midnight, it will definitely be the latest we've stayed up since we got here, we usually rock the 8-9pm bedtime.
Since yesterday, we have been on holiday. This means there is no daily work (kitchen work for me, farm work for Doug). However, just like on weekends, there is still work to be done on the farm like tending livestock. For these purposes, we have "holiday assignment." So for each day we are present on campus, we are asked to participate in this work. Since Katie was not here when the schedule was made, she has just been helping out in my assignments. Sometimes, Katie was not very motivated to get out of bed!
But in all honesty, she's been a real trooper these past two weeks. Our daily work is not easy, especially now that workers are few. As Doug's dad would say, "upkeep is tuff!" But Katie has humbly allowed herself to be pooped on by chickens, caked with rice powder in the feed mixing room, and almost get frostbite sleeping in her freezer ;) I am very proud of her.
Katie even made shepherd's pie for the community last night! This is her favorite dish to eat at home, especially on cold days! Of course we had to put a little ARI spin on the recipe, but it was definitely tasty and well received by everyone!
|Pork, carrots, and onions, with mashed potatoes and cheese!|
On January 2, we will begin our travels around Japan. First, we (the three of us plus Kelly!) will take the local train down to Kyoto and meet up with a fellow YASC volunteer who is currently serving in Sendai. After three days in Kyoto, we will travel back up north to Tokyo where we hope to meet up with some old college friends who happen to be traveling in Japan right now. After another three days Katie will board the plane to travel home.
We hope to be able to update the blog at our usual time, but we aren't sure what our schedule will be like, so be on the look out and be patient with us!
We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We feel very blessed to have your support and encouragement, especially this time of year, it really means a lot to us.
See you in 2013!
Your fellow servants in Christ,
Doug and Jenny