Monday, January 31, 2011

Aaaaand I made it.

Good morning from Tokyo, everyone. 
Limo bus ride from the airport through Tokyo

Yes, I am safe and in Japan. I hope no one's missing me too much, yet (otherwise, it might be a long three months). Currently, I'm sitting on my uncle Paul's couch staring at some very familiar objects;  a TV, a bookshelf full of movies, a cup of coffee, a kitchen table, a piano, a Lilo and Stitch Kleenex box. It's as if I just went over to my aunt and uncle's place to hang out. Oh, and by the way, their house is 17 hours away from my house (via plane; add 34 days via kayak) on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

It's only when I look outside that things get weird. Two-story townhouses packed together in odd clusters, interspersed with tiny, meandering streets and precisely placed trees cloud my vision. It feels like I'm in Asian Boston. 

Asian Boston
Stepping off the plane into the airport, I expected to be overwhelmed and terrified. But Tokyo Airport, although large, didn't feel like it was nearly so foreign as I thought it would be. In fact, even stepping outside into the fierce urban jungle with my aunt, I didn't feel like I had just flown 6800 miles and landed in the largest city in the world. The only thing that really tipped me off was the face masks, which made me feel like I was clearly on another planet.

That's right, face masks. Just about 20 percent of people here walk around in broad daylight wearing what can only be described as white, hospital grade, nose and mouth covering masks to protect from germs, pathogens, and allergies. Everyone wears them, whether they're working in the supermarket or walking down the street. It's a cultural thing. Every time I start thinking I'm in the middle of a major pandemic I have to remind myself that this is actually cool and normal (trendy?) here. It's purely precautionary.. and MEGA creepy.

Lastly, I'm excited to say that I have already tried sushi (we went to the grocery store last night), and it was delightful, though the options were a little bit more diverse than Nebraska sushi.

(top) egg, eel, octopus, fish egg, salmon, (bottom) shrimp, shellfish, more salmon, and squid.

Let me just say it; eating octopus is like eating wet rubber. The eel was actually good. The shellfish was.. semi-crunchy. Oh, and fish eggs are more of an activity than a food.

Well, it comes time for me to wind this up and be a part of my Japan family. Japanfam. Japamily. Jamily. I just want to send a lot of love to you all back in the states and let you know that I've had a full eleven hours of sleep and am feeling great. Carpe Diem!

Michael Out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Japanmas Eve

In about 7 hours I'll be getting on a plane to go to Japan. 17 hours later I'll actually be there. Sounds like waiting in line at the DMV. I feel like I'm about to step into a surreal world, wherein every comfort I know will be gone and I'll be in a foreign dimension where I have the vocabulary of a 2-year-old. I've worked really hard to get to level 2, guys, really, don't take this away from me.

All the work is done. All my dues are paid. My bags are packed and I'm ready to go. Sayoonara!

The departure process has been really positive. Seeing friends this week was edifying. To those of you who've showed your support in various ways, thank you. I obviously wouldn't even be to this point without you. Did I feel the love when you wished me well? SO many times, yes! I pray that in the next three months you will see the fruits of our labor.

Oh, and by the way, we have now raised well over $3000 toward my internship, which means I won't be returning emaciated anymore. If $3000 came in this soon, $6000 should be a cakewalk. Good job you guys!! Give yourselves a huge pat on the back. Treat yourself to an ice cream cone this week... I know I would. I have too many people to thank to do it here. You'll all have to wait until (what will probably be) next year when I slowly and laboriously write thank you cards (I'm hoping Dec. 2012 comes first.. muahhaha). Nonetheless, seriously, I am REALLY grateful.

The truth is, nothing is left to be said. I'm happy. I'm nervous. I'm excited. You all have done more than could ever be asked of you, and have proven that I have the greatest friends. And to Paul, Nancy, and Naomi, I must say I cannot wait to get to know you like I will.

Well kids.. see you in a few months. I'll try not to post too many pictures of REAL, FRESH SUSHI for you to look at, but no promises (you know how I get).. To my new family, nice to meet you!

Michael out.

=) <3 =)

P.S. I hope I don't fall in love with (and marry) a body pillow while I'm over there.
(See 30 Rock, Season 3, Ep. 9)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Jitters

"Sometimes you have to depend on others to find what you need."
-Old man in a yellow poncho, Bicycle

I leave for Tokyo, Japan in ten days.

I could not possibly feel weirder.

There are so many things for which I feel unprepared. Japanese. Dollars to Yen. Toilets. Speed trains. Tokyo airport. The list goes on. Thankfully, I'm not terrible with chopsticks.

I bought my ticket on January 10, ten days ago. I normally don't feel apprehensive about traveling, but this is a little bit outside the bounds of my experience. I'm getting excited. Keenly excited. Jittery. It's as if I'm not here anymore, already. There's so much to do, and so little time left in which to accomplish it. I think it makes even small tasks daunting knowing that I'll be leaving soon.

But everything has already been accomplished. I feel confident of that. The things I've been working toward in faith-partnership with those around me are coming to fruition, and it is mind-blowing.

A small update is that on Tuesday we hosted another screening of Bicycle and raised $250. I'm sitting right around $1900 right now, and I believe this to be excellent footing by which to set forth. I do not fear not being able to raise enough money. There is still time for many to contribute and I've been so blessed already by friends and loved ones. This has been a truly moving experience of faith.

The great thing is that if you missed your chance to contribute financially so far, you can still do so even as I'm in Japan.

For those of you who've partnered with me, thank you. I cannot wait to share this experience with you, and one of the key ways I'll be doing that is sending out bi-monthly email updates, as well as blogging. The 21st century has given this "partnership" a whole new dimension, to the point where we can all share actively in what God is doing in real time with email, blogs, twitter, and facebook. Hang on to your hats, kids. I'm going to be UPDATING you. That's right. And it will be fierce.

Please pray for me as this week transpires and I prepare for my 7 am flight on Sunday, Jan 30. Pray that God will prepare everything according to His purposes.

I love you all. Michael out.