Wednesday, November 30, 2016

End of the year update

The view from the Tokyo Dome Hotel

I was writing an email update to a relative and realized I should probably put something up here.  Here's all the news of late:

Life is pretty quiet for us, Rowan is going to school at Faith Academy in the Philippines, we are just living life, and the time seems to fly by.  I'm sure it's crawling for Rowan, but that's a curse of youth.  Rowan will be home in two weeks for Christmas break, so we're looking forward to that.

Kerri's heavily involved with Roller Derby, attending and running multiple practices throughout the week.  Last Friday night we both went up to the Tokyo Dome to attend a 10pm informal scrimmage with men and women's Japan team players.  Since it was so late we booked a room at the hotel there on premises and had a fun day on Saturday just exploring the area.  Kerri's supposed to be joining Team Japan and is on track to play at the world cup next year which is supposed to take place in Scotland.  That'll be a trip!  I've also been roped into derby and am still in training to be a referee, so I have to go to 2 practices a week now too.  There will be another Okinawa tournament next year around March, so we'll be going to that together.

We are both involved with a new church plant that is just getting off the ground.  It will be located downtown Tokyo in Ueno which is quite a trip for us.  Our first church meeting is this coming Sunday actually, though we are not meeting regularly yet.  If it gets off the ground for real we are considering moving closer into Tokyo such that I will have an hour train commute, but we'll at least have a chance of being close enough to other members of the church to have relationships outside of Sunday.  And eventually I'll need to get a job off base, so that may be a good in-between place for us while I look for one.

The job on base is going well enough.  Our current contract expires in January, but it has been extended out now possibly for 2 more years, so that was good news.  Still as the transition between comes up there will be a mad scramble to get all the paperwork done and extend our SOFA status.  Hopefully they get it all done before Rowan goes back to the Philippines otherwise he may have to re-enter Japan as a tourist which might be fraught with its own issues.  We do *not* want another repeat of what happened in the airport in Manila last time!  Briefly, we were told multiple times that even though he was under 15 he did not need anything to fly into the Philippines by himself.  Well, turns out we were told wrong, and they wouldn't let him out of immigration and were going to send him back to Japan the next day.  So Kerri had to fly to Manila and work with the immigration office in town to get the deportation order cancelled so he could come into the country and go back to school.  Amazingly, she was able to get it cancelled, spent the night and flew back to Japan the next day.  It was a tense situation for several days.  Anyway, he'll be 15 from now on, so that shouldn't be an issue again.  Still, we'd like to avoid unnecessary stress at the airport for him in the future if possible.

We are planning on coming back to the US next summer for 2 or 3 weeks, haven't decided exactly how long yet.  I have to renew my drivers license and it's been around 6 years since I've been back.  The reason we are waffling on the length is that while Kerri and I were in Bahrain (for work) a couple of months ago we were finally able to reconnect with our dear friend from Kuwait (Mohammed/Abu Khaled).  He came over to Bahrain and spent several days with us.  I have always told him that some day he should come to the US to see where we were from and meet the family, so I need to ascertain if he is serious about doing it and if so one of those weeks will be to ensure we can take care of him while he's there.  He's a lot older than I originally thought and was having some back issues when we saw him, so I'm not sure if he's up for it.  Once we get a solid read on that we can finalize dates.

So that's the latest going on with us.  Christmas is ahead and we are looking forward to celebrating Christ's birth!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Okinawa Trip

We've had a trip to Okinawa planned for several months and we just got back the other day from a restful and enjoyable vacation there.  We went originally so Kerri could attend and assist an international Roller Derby tournament.  There were some great games played, but the best was the Adelaide vs. Copenhagen bonus game (it wasn't originally scheduled, but everyone wanted to see the two best teams play each other).  Check it out below for some excellent roller derby:

Victory laps!

During this time I made it to Okinawa World, a theme park with some awesome caves and lots of Okinawan culture on display.  Also, they have a Habu museuem and show (habu is a deadly snake in Okinawa, yay!) and Rowan and friend got to hold a python:

And there were giant tortoises:

I got to make a trip to my favorite awamori distillery, Zuisen:

And then it was off to the beach at the Okuma Beach Resort, a Kadena Air Force Base run resort up in the northern part of the island.  It was super nice (and cheap!) and we just lounged about for several days, with one day spent down at the huge aquarium located nearby.  Best of all, the temperatures never got above 20 C and the humidity was nonexistent!  Okinawa in March is wonderful, much nicer than when I last visited for work in July.

Just a stop by road

Okuma Beach (north)

Northern Okinawa

Northern Okinawa

Northern Okinawa

Local weeds...very painful

Okuma Beach (north)

Okuma Beach (north)

Okuma Beach (west)

Okuma Beach (west)

Okuma Beach (west)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Jinmuji/Takatoriyama hike

Kerri and I decided to go on a hike the other day in the hills around where we live.  Rowan and gone to his friends house and I had a US holiday to burn.  We had heard about the Jinmuji trail that leads up past the shrine of the same name and then continues on to Takatoriyama, past that to an old quarry that is used for climbing walls now, and then further on eventually to Keikyu Taura station.  We had a great time, though it was unseasonably warm at first, and then later the temperature plummeted and we were freezing and being rained on by the end of the 3 hour or so hike.  We found a new Chinese restaurant at Taura and ate there before heading home.  Here are some pictures: