Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter from the Land of the Rising Son

Lots of news to report on this Holy Day:

First on the agenda--the Lord is risen. We woke up this morning to greet the risen Son with the rising sun. The bad news: So three days have passed since we've seen the sun. You would think that on this third day, it would rise and reveal itself to the world as per scripture but it has not. It has remained hidden in thick cloud caves. But the Good News is that the Son has risen, risen indeed. Kikoten!

That's right, we greeted this cloudy Easter day at sunrise with the rest of the ARI community. Which brings me to the next item on the agenda--the participants are here! This is actually the first item in sequential order, so let's go there.

Welcome Committee!
Two rounds of participants arrived on Monday! And on Tuesday, I (Jenny) actually drove to the airport with Hiromi (staff) to pick up another round! This experience was really unique for two main reasons: 1) I drove outside of my semi-comfortable comfort zone that is Nishinasuno, Japan, reaching speeds upwards of 80kmph (~50mph). Ok, so that doesn't sound very fast. But on Japan's narrow windy roads, it's super kowai. 2) I held a sign at the arrival terminal, waiting on people I had never met before. For the first arrival, my heart was beating so fast and heavy I thought I could see my pullover collar quake with every beat. Wow, I wonder how the participant felt. Patricia (Uganda) seemed calm enough when she walked my way. We both looked at each other and thought, is this the right person? And then we both smiled and knew we were right to find each other. We are about 1 year apart in age, she noted that I am her "sister." :)

We made our way to the next terminal to greet three other participants, all from Malawi. We had an interesting time meeting up with each other, and when we finally did, we were all happy to be able to get to the warm car and continue our journey home. Luckily, Hiromi took the late shift and the rest of us drifted from introductions and comparisons to car-ride dreaming. You know, the kind where you never know how long you were actually asleep and you constantly wake up from your head nodding too far down or from hitting a bumpity-bump or something. Yeah, we did that for four hours and finally drove up the familiar hill to the ARI campus. I felt really proud to pick up some of the participants, like picking up distant relatives who you know are family but that doesn't mean you actually know them, but you realize you love them anyway within 5 minutes of meeting them. Participants continued to trickle in throughout the week. By Thursday evening, 30 of the 31 had arrived.

Much of the Lenten season has passed without much ado here at ARI. Especially the beginning with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, this was rather disappointing. Our ARI community was small and we were deep in preparations for the participants' arrival and the exchanging of staff and volunteers. And I think many of the Christian denominations represented here don't place as much emphasis on the Lenten experience as the Episcopal tradition that we are used to. So besides eating Girl Scout cookies, we haven't been so in tune with the season. But Holy Week and Easter have certainly been unique and exciting.

Doug and I volunteered to organize a Maundy Thursday foot-washing service. Because this is my favorite (also my sister's favorite) worship service of the whole year, we decided to use the Maundy Thursday liturgy from our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) to make it feel more like home. For many people, this was the first time to ever participate in a foot-washing, and we had a lot of great feed-back from people. This was also the first night that we were together (minus 1 Japanese participant who arrived Saturday) so it was really special to engage in such an intimate act of servitude and love. Here are a few pictures from Fuji (ARI staff member).

Cembel from Myanmar sharing her reflection

Friday night we had a Good Friday service. Kelly and Ban-san organized an experience of Jesus' 7 last words in which we walked around outside to different stations where a participant had prepared a short reflection. Afterwards, there was time to sit in quiet reflection, write out a prayer or concern, and nail it to a big cross. We didn't know it at the time, but this morning at the sunrise service, we had the opportunity to take down our prayer/concern and burn it in a fire. And so of course, we celebrated Easter this morning with everyone. Many of the pastors/priests/ministers were able to participate in these services and I think all of us as a whole are really grateful to have spent this Holy Week and Easter celebrations together. It was all good timing.

We had Easter eggs for breakfast that Sang Ah (new kitchen volunteer from Korea), Hatabo-san, and I made. Afterwards, we attended Nishinasuno Church with many other community members (this is where we celebrated Christmas as well). Here is an Easter photo of us for moms and dads. (Yeah, it's still cold!) 

Already lost my sun-kissed Thailand glow :( Ready for the warm Spring!
Here are a few more photos of participants from this week. 

Altogether there are 31 participants from: Brazil (1), Cameroon (1), Ecuador (1), India (3), Indonesia (3), Japan (3), Kenya (1), Malawi (3), Myanmar (4), Nepal (3), Philippines (2), Sri Lanka (1), Tanzania (2), Thailand (1), Uganda (1), and Zambia (1). 

And the last thing we want to share about this week, item 3:

Takashi and Jenny
On Saturday, we traveled with Takashi, manager of guests and visitors at ARI, to a place that is very special to him. Takashi leads a humble yet extravagant life. His strong-willed wife forced him to quit his job selling cars for Nissan (because he hated it). She believes that money is not so big an issue and we should follow our dreams. So Takashi applied to work here at ARI, and his wife has just recently opened her own natural yeast bakery. They have two kids and are currently building a simple cottage to live in. Other extravagancies in his character include his hipster hats, mad guitar skills, and ability to dance with fire.

One place that inspired Takashi to live open and free is a non-electric institute started by a Dr. Fujimura. Dr. Fujimura used to work in a lab that tested construction equipment. When his son became seriously ill due to his allergy to air-born pollutants, Dr. Fujimura decided to stop the work he was doing and seek another path. He now works to develop appropriate (low power and nearly natural) technologies for self-built homes.

Takashi gave us a tour of the campus, which displays many models of simple homes built with low energy input.

Dr. Fujimura beginning the seminar.

We also got to help build a soil-block home. This was made basically by packing soil into bags, hammering them into a solid brick shape, and stacking them to make a wall. The wall will be re-enforced with a bit of rebar and a wire mesh, but essentially it is built with the soil that was displaced to make a level ground for it on the hillside. The bottom two layers are concrete, for stability.

We had lots of fun and were inspired with many fresh ideas for the farm house we will one day build.
Starting Foundation
We weren't the only ones helping out!

There were several supervisors.

We set the first six layers and set the door frame.

Well, that's all for this Holy Week! We will continue to get to know our new community members and prepare the land for the growing season ahead. Many thanks and blessings to you all!


Doug and Jenny

1 comment:

  1. It's been a treat to follow your journey -thanks for the posts! :) I hope you two have a wonderful weekend.

    In Christ,