Monday, June 30, 2014

have i played pingpong before?

I don't remember the last time I tried my hand at table tennis. So the convenient answer would be, no, I have not played before. I've probably tried for a few minutes before giving up, would be the accurate response.

I was a little nervous joining my 60+ year old colleague and his coach for a game of table tennis. Here at the forefront are the coach's parents who are probably 70+. I'm sure in their heydays they were at their fittest and best form.

Being the youngest, I really appreciated his patience and guidance. He was generous with his compliment - he commented my serves improved. But truly, I have much to work on. My 60+ year old colleague plays at least 4 sports on an almost-daily basis - badminton, basketball, ping pong and volleyball, not to mention regular visits to the gym!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

grit ain't over but it's okay

For the past few weeks I have been attending Ako-san's house church. They had welcomed me without asking questions, and for that I found refuge.

Due to the incident last month, I was not comfortable attending KBF. It was a really small matter, misunderstood and blown out of proportion. I suspect there is a deeper root from this lady's past which was not resolved, and somehow manifested itself through unmet expectations.

It happened amongst a handful of us, but I became the target of her anger. She started writing negative and hurtful messages on my FB, I was so shocked I had to block her. Later I found out she continued spreading lies, I started to think that everyone else would believe her.

As I prayed about the matter to God, I decided to trust Him that truth would prevail. I didn't defend myself on FB, neither did I attempt to counter-reply her posts. I was comforted when my closest friends heard and understood my side of the story. They agreed that her reaction was more than shocking, and it was not fair of her to accuse me.

I was prompted to return to KBF last weekend. Dragging my feet, I wondered what I would do if I met her at church. My wild imagination imagined the worst!

I did bump into her, but she didn't say anything. I was a bit puzzled, given that my friends told me she had been looking for me past few weeks.

Since I have been away some time, it was really nice to see everyone again. The church is really like a hospital; there are many hurting people inside. No one is perfect, each of us have our baggages from the past. Only He can heal our past hurts, if we would acknowledge and allow Him to.

Yumiko asked me to join her and her friend for dinner. Even though I had spent the entire afternoon with her the day before, I was very comforted by her love and support. She even said she would protect me if I had to speak to that lady.

Last night, she sent me this picture we took at the Vietnamese restaurant we tried out. What she wrote was simple, but meant a lot to me :

Hi Sarah!
Welcome home!
God is goooood!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

port island beach p2

After lunch, I decided to go nearer to the "beach". I still couldn't believe there were coconut trees on this man-made island.

Ako-san was kind enough to tag along and asked if I'd like to take some pictures at the "beach resort". Since I was in the mood, I suggested we do the jumping shot. Or rather, I jump and she shoot.

We tried so many times, and each time I was either about to jump, or had already obeyed the law of gravity. When she finally got the timing right, she accidentally pressed the video button instead.

I'll never forget this day, when I found my oasis in the middle of the desert.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

port island beach p1

I was awed at the "beach" they introduced me last weekend. Since it was lovely weather to be out, they decided to do a picnic at the Kobe Gakuin University grounds. Very sunny but with lots of summer breeze.

Japan is not known for beaches, though its a nation made up of many many islands. Okinawa is an exception, so it's probably the only prefecture I'd like to visit one day.

So when Ako-san brought us to the campus grounds, I was surprised to see such a place existed on Port Island. Facing the port city on mainland, with an excellent view of all the tourist attractions and what Kobe is known for, the only thing missing is real sand. It's almost like Gurney Drive with embankment surrounding the campus grounds.

Even the pictures we took looked like something out of a beach resort. In fact, this was the University's cafeteria patio.

Ako-san who was using my phone camera for the first time accidentally pressed the video button.

I can't stop looking at the pictures we took. Just seeing the coconut trees make me wanna get away on a beach holiday soon.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

lilies and hydrangea

One of the reasons I love living in a four-season country is the variety of flowers they have. More so in Japan where the seasons are pretty distinct, and the blossom of a certain species of flower denote a particular season.

The walks in Port Island have been pleasantly graced by such colourful flowers, particularly near Ako-san's house. Even though Kobe does not have much space for parks like Tokyo, there are little delights to be found in small spaces too.

These lilies and hydrangea are just a few feet from the sakura trees which blossomed early April. Yet the cherry blossoms are now no more, and the tree is all green with leaves. There's always something to look forward to, and quite a reminder of the brevity of life.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

the round papaya in the fridge

These days, my weekends feel richer. For a long time they have been filled with Japanese classes, Bible Study and church - not always all 3, but more or less.

Since I have little me-time on weekdays, I cherish my weekends because it's the only time I get to do house work and do me-stuff. There's also the occasional gatherings, birthday stuff, outings and playing host to friends, but were always planned in advance.

Recently, however, my weekends have been somewhat thrown into a disarray - Even though I have more different/new things crammed into the tiny hours, and I am tired at the end of it, but I kinda like it!

Like last weekend, out of the blue, Akari-san decided to drop by Sunday afternoon as I was making lunch. She brought some surprise goodies - A mango from Thailand, a round papaya from the Philippines, and a Vietnamese-inspired tomyam pho cup noodle. How South East Asian!

I couldn't help but give her a big big hug (from small small me). Words can't describe how loved I felt, knowing she wanted to make me feel better, and took the trouble to make sure I was okay. Everytime I open the fridge and see the ripening papaya, I break into a little smile.

Friday, June 06, 2014

hug me

On days like these, I feel like this fridge magnet.

It's probably a decade old, a gift from ex-roomie Jadey. I should have brought it to Kobe with me.

Or maybe it's time to make another trip to Tokyo and get some furry therapy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

my crude roots

I guess there is hope for China after all. I actually teared up, and felt a little proud of my roots.

I know this is kinda stereotype, but who better to be able to say this without being racist, other than an ethnic Chinese! I can understand why some people label Chinese as rude, crass and lack of manners, because I've personally encountered the obnoxious Chinese, be it in my home country, or any other countries I've been to.

While a part of me cringes at the thought that I'm kinda related to them, another part of me wishes I could be more Chinese. Ironically, even though I've visited Hong Kong and Macau, I have never stepped foot on mainland China.

I told my colleague, who was helping another with his travel to Xi'an, that I wished I didn't have to be subjected the same visa application process as he did. If only there was such thing as a "descendant special pass", I'd gladly hop on a plane and visit the land of my ancestors.

Monday, June 02, 2014

grit for glitters

I hadn't done my nails for the longest time ever. Never had manicure even actually.

So was pretty pleased that Ako who was going through nailist training asked if I'd like to be her nail model. Of course I'd like to. Since she was just starting out, there weren't many colours to choose from. There were the usual neutrals and pastels, but I told her to just be creative since it's for her practice.

Her toe nails had some marine theme on it, though was done by someone else, and had embellishments that made it really exotic. The one that she did for me is a similar but lighter version with more glitter. She was worried how I'd be able to go through work in such fancy nails, but I told her not to worry. In case anyone doesn't realise already, it is after all a traditional Japanese company.

To say that the past few weeks have been harrowing would be a gross understatement. It's amazing how someone you thought was so close to you could just turn around and rear her ugly head. So, having pretty nails was the least of my worries.

A grrl's gotta need some glitter to get through the gritty life.