Monday, August 23, 2010

Game Night

A common theme I quickly noticed when talking to young people around Karuizawa was that "there is nothing to do at night in this town!"  And so, I created something to do at night, Game Night.

Every Friday night at 7 is Game Night in Nate's apartment.

I started this up in April and it has been going strong since.  We've had attendees from America, Japan, Canada, Germany, Korea, Australia, and probably more.  Attendance ranges from 4 to 12 ppl, which effects what games we can play.  Games like spoons, mafia, pictionary-telephone, risk, catan, uno, are the norm.  Every once in a while we'll have a cook-out along with it.

A couple hours of fun one night a week has been a great blessing for me and I know for others as well.  Whether it be a break from the constant studying for the language student, or an event the overwhelmed missionary can just enjoy without having responsibilities for, or a way for the homeschooler to get away from little siblings for a while, I hope that it's a time of mental refreshment for all.

Friday, August 20, 2010


August came and brought with it summer holiday for the school kids, several church and missions conferences, and lots and lots of tourists to the cool, shady, resort town of Karuizawa.  Every cabin here at KTC was full on July 31st, including the cabins I've been working on the past several months and was able to finish July 30th.  Times were busy and a little stressful in July with the deadline looming ahead in the near future.  But with the help of some good people, we finished in time and I think everyone has enjoyed their time here.

KTC seems like a different place when it's full of people, it's great to see all the missionary kids playing together when they only get to see each other this one time each year.  The missionaries also enjoy the fellowship in English, and English church services.

Because of the influx of tourists in Karuizawa in August, and with KTC being full in August, we don't do any construction work during this month.  So I've been up to other things:

The first week of August was the Union Church Annual Conference where I helped with the Jr/Sr high group.  The second week of August was the TEAM Annual conference.  During the mornings we had a time of worship and messages tailored specifically towards missions work in Japan, and then in the afternoons I helped with the kids program.

During this week and next week I'm getting organized for the next few months by drawing up blueprints for the next cabin, ordering materials, organizing the shop, etc....

While discussing all the work that needs to be done before winter, we have realized the need for more help.  We could really use some painters and some carpenters for a period of 1-3 months this fall before winter hits.  Please be in prayer, and if you are interested, or know one who might be, let me know.

More to come later......

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What do you want to hear about?

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  I've been here almost 4 months now and everything just feels like everyday life instead of a short trip that I want to blog about all the new and exciting things... So help me out... what do you guys want to hear more about???

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


...continued from previous post...

Jim and Donna Larson arrived about two weeks ago from Minnesota.  They snowbird in Arizona in the same area that the Schulz's live and so they've become friends and the Larson's decided to join us for about 4 weeks working at KTC.  Jim and Dale have been working on an addition to 12, as well as doing drywall finishing in 5.  The ladies have been keeping the incinerator burning with leaves and sticks and construction waste, as well as doing some painting for me.

Amos and Emma Cole are missionary kids who where born and raised in Japan.  They came up from Tokyo for a couple of days to do some exterior painting for me and were able to finish 3 of the 4 sides of the language school so that we could tear down the scaffolding and have the place look nice for it's opening dedication last week.

Clemens is a man from Germany who has spent some time working here at KTC last year and has returned to help out again for 2 months this time.  He just arrived last week, understands English pretty well, and is a very willing worker to do anything that is asked.

I lose six of my workers in the next two weeks, but they will have put me in good shape to have things finished up before summer.

More updates to come soon.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fresh Workers

It's been quite some time since I've last updated you all on the construction progress here.  I keep waiting for things to settle down, so I have some time to write, but things never seem to quiet down just enough.  That's life, ain't it?

Well the team from Oregon and Germany was able to finish the roof, get the windows that I ready installed, and start on the siding before they had to head back home.  They're a veteran team that has been here many times and are responsible much of the work done here at KTC over the years.

To prevent me from getting a break, or getting lonely, more workers came before the team even left.  Dale and Vivian Schulz, from Arizona arrived about 3 days before the team left during the last week of April.  They will be with us here until mid-June.  I've had Dale working mostly on a new bath and kitchen addition to cabin #12, with the occasional drywall work on #5 on rainy days.  Vivian has been doing yard cleanup burning leaves, sticks, and construction waste.

Also the same week, the Heisswolf family arrived for their Golden Week holiday with their three oldest ready to work.  They caulked the new hardi-plank siding on the language school and meeting room, and put rigid foam insulation underneath the floor of two existing cabins which required a lot of crawling and squirming in tight, dark, dirty, buggy areas.  Obviously, I'm very appreciative of their help for the week and a half they were here.

The Miyake's are still here, working away.  Edwin keeps putting out cabinets for kitchen after kitchen, as I keep feeding him drawings and supplies for more.  It's such a huge help and money saver to have them here.  Whenever I something comes up where I need a good finish carpenter, I turn to Edwin and am always impressed.  The Miyakes are also scheduled to leave mid-June.

As a write, I'm realizing how much has passed since my last construction update.  Much more has happened, but I'm going to stop now and write another post later, because no one wants to read a super long post, but I have 5 more workers to introduce to you....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Samurai Marathon

The church I attend here in Japan starts at 2pm on Sunday afternoons.  This makes Sunday mornings the perfect time for hiking.  So, this morning, I went to one of my usual quiet hiking spots, where I rarely see another person on the trail, but was taken by surprise when I saw what I saw....

Apparently it's called the Samurai Marathon.  Over 500 participants this year dressed up as... more than samurai as you can see.  I watched the first person cross the finish line, then started hiking down the trail they were running up.  Definitely the most interesting hike I've ever been on.  Most are walking and exhausted by the time I saw them... I only hiked the last 3 of the 42km these guys trekked in full costume.  I think I saw most of the 500 runners during the 3 hours I was on the trail.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I mentioned snow in my last post.  On Friday we had a light snow all day that didn't really accumulate into anything, but then Friday night, it really started to come down, by 1am we had about 4 inches, then at 7 there was at least 9 inches, and it was fairly warm, so good packing snow.  I trudged over to camp at around 8 Saturday morning just to look around, not expecting to see anyone out and about, yet, to my suprize, behold, Miyake-san, my 70-something year old finish carpenter from Hawaii is out building a giant igloo all by himself!  So of course I was happy to have a friend to build a snow fort with and just had to help him.  So we built a 7 ft tall kamakura, or igloo.  Eventually others started coming out to join us and build a big snowman, and do a little bit of sledding.  So I had a lot of unexpected fun in the snow Saturday morning... and I hear it's been in the 80's back home?!

The Framing Crew Has Arrived!

Progress has really been flying with my framing crew here.  We started on Monday with nothing but the foundation, and by the end of  Thursday all interior and exterior walls were standing, and the rafters were cut and ready to go up.  
Friday morning we had some snow and decided it wasn't a good day to be building a roof, so I had some drywall that needed hung in cabin 5 that I put the crew on.  Hopefully Monday we'll be able to start back on the roof.
I think we've all been enjoying ourselves and the pictures show our progress better than I can explain it with words.  Don't forget to visit my Picasa Photo Album to see all of the pictures.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Prep for 14

In addition to taking a couple trips to Tokyo to get my visa, cleaning out storage areas here at camp, hauling garbage to the dump, getting projects ready for the finish carpenter who is here, and trying to make friends and settle in, I've been preparing for cabin 14 to be built by a crew who just arrived on Sunday (11th).
It is almost the same group I worked with last fall on the meeting room; a couple from Germany, and two couples from Oregon.  The men will be framing cabin 14, and the women will be decorating the new language school building that was built by Japanese carpenters.
There was a lot of prep work to put into 14 before the crew arrived so that I could keep them busy without delays.  So the old cabin 14, which has only been a skeleton frame for the past few years, needed torn down and cleared off site.  A new concrete pier foundation needed put in, blue-plans for the new cabin needed to be drawn up, and all the materials that would be required to frame, roof, and side the cabin needed to be gathered.  I had just enough time to get it all done the Friday before they arrived.
Things are moving very fast now that the crew is here, so I'll need to make time to write another update soon, but that's all for now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh the paperwork.....

     Well, I've successfully acquired my visa, so I can legally stay in Japan for one year now.  It was really quite the process to get it though.  I had to fill out some forms back in the US in February and mailed them to the TEAM office in Tokyo.  They hand delivered them to the immigration office, and then we waited for the certificate of eligibility, saying that I was eligible for a visa.  That came in the middle of March after I was already in Karuizawa.  So I had to travel back to Tokyo, go to the immigration office, fill out a bunch more forms, and then they said, we'll mail you something in a few weeks when your visa is ready to pick up.  So back to Karuizawa I went, only to return to Tokyo this Monday to go to immigration fill out some more paperwork, and finally get the visa.
     Now, I'm working on getting my alien registration card here in Karuizawa, and once I get that, then I can open an account at the post office.... oh the work to move to another country.
     But thank the Lord that I was able to get my visa while already here in Japan.  In past years, one would have to get the visa before coming, or would have to leave the country, pick it up, and then return.  So being able to get it while already here was easier, faster, and cheaper.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Let's get started

Well, I've spent this past week settling in and getting busy in Karuizawa.  Things have come along nicely at the camp since I left in December.  Two young men from Canada have continued the renovations on Cabin #5 for the past couple of months, and boy has it improved.  All the existing walls and floor were re-framed and the cabin has been wired, insulated, and is ready for drywall. When finished, it will be a beautiful cabin.

The two young men are Josh and Florian.  They have been working here at the camp since mid January and just left on Friday to start their journey back home.  I enjoyed working with and hanging out with them this past week.  Despite working all day during the week, we found the time to do some hiking, visit the onsen a few times, share some meals, and even make a record setting, enormous birthday card for Marg Scott, who has done a wonderful job cooking for us.

My priority for now is to make preparations for cabin 14 to be framed by the same team I worked with last fall on the meeting room.  They will be here in mid-April so I've been busy clearing the site, starting on the concrete foundation, and getting all the materials gathered so that we can start framing as soon as they arrive.  The picture to the right is what is left of the old cabin 14.  It has been sitting exposed like this for a few years and so the frame is now rotted and no good, so I'm tearing it down and starting from scratch.  

To see more pictures, check out my web album.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Week Number One

Well, it's been one week now since I got here.  I spent the first few days in Tokyo recovering from a little jet lag and doing some orientation and then went to a prayer conference Sunday night and Monday along with many other TEAM Japan'ers.  Finally made it up to Karuizawa on Tuesday and spent a couple of days getting settled in to my wonderful new apartment and preparing for the next big project at the camp.  Found out that my Certificate of Eligibility for my visa has been approved, so now I'm back in Tokyo and will try to get that tomorrow.  I may have to be off of Japanese soil to get the actual visa, which means a nice little trip to Guam, but there is a possibility I'll be able to get it here.  We'll find out tomorrow I guess. 

Still working out some glitches with the internet in my apartment in Karuizawa, so be patient with email responses and blog updates.  I'll hopefully be able to catch a bus to take me back up there tomorrow night after I get my CoE.

It feels good to be back in Japan, and I'm ready to get to work.

These are a few pictures I took on a walk through the park in Tokyo.  Spring is coming!  I just started a web album that I'll continue to upload more pictures to here.

bird watchers at the park

I'm Baaaack

I guess you could say I've caught the itch, I've become and addict.  I just can't pass up on an opportunity to serve the Lord through building.  Whether that mean giving up Saturday mornings to work with Habitat for Humanity in Bloomington, skipping school to do hurricane relief work on the Gulf Coast, spending spring break building homes for Habitat in Georgia, or moving to a foreign country for a year to renovate a Christian camp, it doesn't matter, I just can't bring myself to pass any opportunity up.

Some would look at all the time and effort that I've put into these kinds of trips or this type of volunteer work, and view it as a major sacrifice.  I don't view it that way at all, in fact, it's just the opposite from my point of view.  I view it as a privilege, and almost even feel selfish for doing it.  No, I don't do this kind of work out of selfish motives, my own personal agenda is not my purpose.  But I do find time and time again that nothing brings me more fulfillment, more meaning, more of a sense of purpose, or more joy as when I am able to use the gifts God has given me to serve Him. 

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it"  Matthew 10:39    What may look like a sacrifice, or a giving up of one's life, is actually a means of finding a life you never could have found otherwise. 

That is why I feel so blessed to be able to spend this next year in Japan renovating a missionary camp.  As most of you know, I spent 3 months last fall doing carpentry at the TEAM missionary camp in Karuizawa, and was then asked to return to fill in a position that had opened up.  I've accepted and I'm starting, well, right now.  I'm in Tokyo right now as I write this letter and will head up to the camp tomorrow morning.  I'll be here in Japan for one year and by the end will hopefully have finished all the major renovation projects.