Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Amazing News!

Jill Carroll, the reporter who was taken hostage in January, has also just been released! Wahoooo!


No Words Needed

 Posted by Picasa

I Saw the Sign!

Well, whichever way you go, don't go tossing your cigarettes any which way. The mean man of the mountain will GET you! Posted by Picasa



Which way do you think that we should go??  Posted by Picasa

A Cedar-Lined Path

Our adventures this weekend took place in a beautiful cedar forest in Inuyama. Mike is blazing the trail ahead! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dear Markyyyyy!

Today' is little Marky's twenty-fourth birthday - wowsers! Did that little kid ever grow up! Happy birthday, Mark, and absolutely positively the best wishes for an awesome year! Mark's in his last year of school for physical therapy and is currently in New Mexico working at a hospital on an Indian reservation. Sounds pretty cool! He'll be headed off to Chicago then, then Houston, then Chicago, then Minnesota (if I remember those destinations correctly!) before graduating in December. A very eventful year! I hope it's a great one, Mark! Posted by Picasa


We Interrupt This Broadcast...

That's not the end of camping! But I just ran across this article about the Christian peacemakers who were freed by the military on David Koyzis' website. I'm quite familiar with the Christian Peacemaker Teams. They gave us a tour around Hebron, an extremely violent area of the West Bank in Israel-Palestine, when we took a trip there during my semester in Egypt in college. I was so impressed with them that I attended a peacemaking conference at a Mennonite farm in Indiana after I returned. Their dedication to the cause of peace is amazing - they literally put their lives on the line "fighting" for it. The CPT website has more information, statements, and stories from both the freed hostages and the one who was killed.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One more!

Finally, there's this little guy. It's possible that these two are guardians of the kami in the waterfall; I think we may have seen something like that at a Shinto temple somewhere. I could be wrong about that, though. Most of us in North America are quite accustomed to the idea of a God, or great spirit, or whatever we think of it as. This is a completely foreign idea here in Japan, and this sheds a very different light on the instructions that Yahweh God gave Moses about not serving other gods or worshipping carved images. In North America, we usually read that as a metaphor when we apply it to ourselves - that we must be careful not to prize things (money, career, even loved ones) above our God. That's all well and good, I suppose, but I think it's also good to realize that this is not a moot point all over the world. Posted by Picasa

And that's not all!

Mike drew my attention to another kami in the rock facing the waterfall. You'll notice the jars of water and coins that have been left as gifts or offerings. Notice, too, the light gray rock near the bottom left of the picture... Posted by Picasa

And in the falls...

There was a kami! A kami is a Shinto spirit of some kind. Shinto is a collection of traditional Japanese beliefs which basically revolve around the existence of many spirits - in nature (rocks, mountains, waterfalls such as this one), as deceased persons (ancestors), and what we more traditionally think of as "gods." It's not exactly a "religion" as we in the West tend to understand it, and yet it is. Very curious indeed. At any rate, this kami is probably a representation of the spirit of the waterfall. And while Shinto is no longer central to most Japanese lives, it is still honored. As we sat on a nearby bench and took a break, two men approached the waterfall and prayed in the traditional Shinto way: bow, bow, clap, clap, pray, bow, bow. Posted by Picasa


And now, the two of us! You wouldn't believe how Mike scrambled to make it into this picture... Posted by Picasa


Mike took this picture of me admiring a waterfall while I was unawares. It was the tallest waterfall we saw on our hike. Beautiful! Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 27, 2006


Mike took this cool picture of me just after we'd gone over the true peak. Posted by Picasa

The View

Here's a view from the almost-peak. It's hard to see in this picture, but you can see at least one more row of mountains in the background before some snow-covered peaks. Click on this picture and you should be able to see a bigger version! Posted by Picasa

The "Peak"

Here we are with a little lonely cedar at what we thought was the peak - a great look-out! As we continued on the trail, however, it kept going up... and we discovered that the peak was actually a little further on. Posted by Picasa

The First Hike

We arrived on Saturday, and went for our first hike after setting up camp that afternoon. We spent a couple of hours hiking through a rocky cedar forest and to the top of a 250-some meter mountain. Ahhhh... nature! We'd almost forgotten what that meant. Posted by Picasa

Another View...

of our campsite! You'll notice that we're about the only ones crazy enough to camp so early in the season. :) Posted by Picasa

Interesting Fires!

Mike's starting the grill! A couple of interesting things to note: First, you need to put water inside the grill, underneath the place where you put the charcoal. Why? We don't know. But that's what the picture shows! Second, you'll notice that the charcoal looks a lot different than what we have in the States - it's actually charred wood! It takes quite a while to get going, but once it does it is unstoppable! Finally, the tube that Mike is holding is a little piece of magic - gel fire-starter! Stick a dab of that on anything you want and it will burn with a blue flame for longer than you'd belive! Posted by Picasa


We had a great time camping this weekend! Here's a shot of our campsite - Mike's busy making a fire to keep us toasty warm. And we needed the fire! We decided to hold off for a month or so before camping again. :) This was the first time we'd used our tent, and we discovered/realized that it's really a summer tent - the two side walls are mesh! Right, so they didn't hold in the heat so well. We also learned a couple other lessons: 1. Lanterns are good! Bring them along even if it means making an extra trip to the store because you forgot to get batteries. 2. Do not rely on a hyaku-yen (dollar store) flashlight - especially if you didn't bring the lantern! Yes, indeed - we learned that when God said, "Let there be light!" he knew exactly what he was talking about. :) Nonetheless, we had a great time! Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

We're Going Camping!

We're going camping this weekend, so we will be incommunicado! We'll be sure to give you the full report when we return!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My Installation Service

On Sunday, March 5, I was officially "installed" (sworn in) as Meito Christ International Church's interim lay minister. Interim means that I'm just doing this until we get new minister in September; lay means that I'm not officially ordained by any denomination. f Mike took this photo while we were practicing the text of the service. From the left: Pastor Suetake (it looks like Mike surprised him!), me, Pastor Dave Person, and Byron Peterson. Posted by Picasa

Text of my Installation Service

SERVICE FOR THE INSTALLATION OF MEIKA WEISS Presentation of the Candidate Byron, to Pastor Suetake: After prayerful deliberation, we of Meito Lutheran Church certify that Meika Weiss has been appointed to serve as ­­­­interim lay minister. (Byron presents Meika to Pastor Suetake.) Pastor Suetake, to Meika: Our Lord, who came among us as a servant, calls us to faith and a life of loving service to our neighbor. You stand among us as one called to render a particular service, a gift from God to inspire us to love and good works. Reading of the Word: I Peter 4:8-11 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. Pastor Suetake questions Meika: Pastor Suetake: Will you assume this ministry in the confidence that it comes from God? Meika: I will, and I ask God to help me. Pastor Suetake: Will you carry out this ministry in accordance with the teachings and practice of this church? Meika: I will, and I ask God to help me. Pastor Suetake: Will you be diligent in your study of the Holy Scriptures and faithful in your use of the means of grace and in prayer? Meika: I will, and I ask God to help me. Pastor Suetake: Will you trust in God’s care, seek to grow in love for those you serve, strive for excellence in your skills, and adorn the Gospel of God with a godly life? Meika: I will, and I ask God to help me. Pastor Suetake: Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them. Congregation: Amen. Pastor Suetake: Let us pray. Gracious God, as you have called workers to varied tasks in the world and in your Church, so you have called this your servant to this ministry. Grant her joy and a spirit of bold trust, that her work may stir up a life of fruitful service in the people of this congregation; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Blessing Pastor Suetake: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, guide, bless, and keep you, that you may be faithful in the ministry to which you have been called. Congregation: Amen.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kirei Dining Room!

I learned something interesting in Japanese this week. I've just begun studying adjectives, and I learned that in Japanese, there is one word used for both "beautiful" and "clean:" kirei! Pretty cool, huh? So here is a picture of our kirei dining room, taken a couple weeks ago. You can see the beautiful birthday flowers that Chuck and Fraya sent on the table. I wish I had an old picture of my dorm room or apartment or something to post next to it, for anyone who doesn't recognize the vast improvement! :) By the way, it looks almost the same right now, several weeks later. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


See! The winter is past; The rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; The season of singing has come, The cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; The blossoming vines spread their fragrance. -Bible, Song of Songs 2:11-13 Posted by Picasa

The Happy Couple

Awwww... aren't we cute? Mike perched the camera in a tree for this one - clever! Incidentally, today is our ten-month anniversary - it's so hard to believe that almost a year has passed, so quickly and so happily! Posted by Picasa

Pretty Little Bud

I love my camera! I really enjoyed playing with the macro setting in taking pictures of the blossoms. This photo was actually cut from a much larger one, which is what impresses me so much. It's still so clear! I was fascinated by the little bud that was just beginning to open on the left-hand side of the photo. Posted by Picasa

Flower Beds

Mike took a nice picture of me, too. The formal flower garden is behind me in this photo. I love it! Posted by Picasa

Nice Mike, Nice Day

This past Saturday, Mike took a day off from band practice and we went to the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The zoo is just wretched - but the gardens are awesome! Though Mother Nature has seemingly been honoring White Day for the past two days with unseasonable cold and snow flurries, Saturday was absolutely beautiful and we walked around without our coats most of the day. Mike got really tired of me taking his picture (Hey! I just got a new camera!), but I did get a few good ones. Here he is looking cute. :) Posted by Picasa

White Day

Today is White Day! In Japan, women buy men chocolates on Valentine's Day; men then repay the favor by buying gifts for women on White Day. Curious! Mike's (female) co-workers told him that "accessories" are considered the proper gifts for White Day - jewelry, handbags, etc. Perhaps I should thank them - I think I'll be getting the better end of this deal! Actually, we've no plan to celebrate White Day - Mike's work schedule has him in Tokyo until later tonight and on the phone as soon as he gets home (somewhat reminiscent of Valentine's Day, actually...), and besides, we celebrated Valentine's Day in typically American fashion. Maybe next year!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Do you suppose...

Do you suppose that they meant to say, "Only one salon"? :) Posted by Picasa