Saturday, November 10, 2007

Visiting with Family and Friends in Georgia

AnnaLea choreographed a wonderful show with many of the cousins. It was so fun!
ANT NEESIE was gracious enough to allow Cloe to have two of her sisterhood friends over to spend the night during our visit. This is Abbie, Sarah and Cloe.
Kelli cutting into her fabulous cheese cake!! One of her many delicious concoctions.
Tara and Tawni....who do you think is more excited about the princesses???
The traditional sequence tourney....if only I had gotten a pic of when they had two games going on this table. If you got a picture of it, I would love to have one!! Here is Rob and Aaron....the absolute LEAST competitive of the bunch...

Thanksgiving in Georgia

It may look like Christmas, but Santa came to see us in GA on Thanksgiving!! In fact Grandpa Gagnon is one of Santa's helpers this year!! He is also knowns as Santa Bob!! Here he is with the grandkids!
The sister in laws could not resist a photo op with Santa too!!
Tara and River...hanging out at Denise's--our annual day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. It was so fun!
One of our family gatherings was at the Higginbothams....Janessa (my cousin) got her mission call to Madrid, Spain. It was so cool that we were all able to be there when she opened her letter to see where in the world she would go...she will report to the Misson Training Center in early 2008.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


In November Grandad died. We found out on Thursday and hopped on a plane headed for Atlanta on Friday. I miss him. Eric did such a fantastic job with the eulogy. I laughed, cried and just generally loved the whole thing. It was so great!! Grandad has left us each with such a legacy of missionary work, family first, the undeniable value of relationships, service to others...and so much more. If you have a favorite memory to share or want to post one of Grandad's personal cliche's, just leave a comment here. DON'T FORGET!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Disney BUST

In October the kids had a few days off. We had been told that these days were not a Japanese holidays so they would be good days to go to Disney World. OH MY!! Was that ever the wrong info...It was a total BUST!! We waited a bit to buy tickets...not too uncommon right??!!When we got inside....ugh! There were lines to get into the lines....The Characters were there with lines to say hello to them. Jacob really likes Smee from Peter Pan. We followed him around (not too popular of a character so he should not be too difficult, right??). He was totally ignoring us. Everytime we got close he would pose with someone else and turn his back to us. We gave up and told Jacob just to pose in the area of Smee and this is the best we could come up with.... The people you see in the photo above beside Smee are not actually park employees. It was Halloween and so I think everyone felt obligated to dress up too....
Look at the numbers of people. There was a wait for about 2 hours and 20 minutes for Pirates of the Carribean. We did not ride one ride...BUST!!!!!!!!!!At least we left early enough that we were able to go out to lunch and enjoy the rest of the day at home relaxing.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Feeding the Tokyo Homeless

I am the room mom for Preston's 5th grade class. Every year they do what they call the ASIJ Rice Project. Each grade takes a turn making rice balls with pickled plums in the center of them, sounds tastey, huh?!! They are called onigiri. On this Friday, Preston's class mates took turns coming into the faculty lounge and making the onigiri. They made hundreds of them. On the following Saturday we had the opportunity to go and help distribute the onigiri beside another organization that feeds the homeless each Saturday. I am told that the government claims there is no homeless problem in Tokyo so the churches and other charity minded organizations offer help and relief as they can.

On Saturday, we were not prepare for what we saw. There were hundreds and hundreds of homeless men. I don't know why there were no women, but there weren't... Aaron took Cloe and Tara Grace to Cloe's soccer game. So Preston, Jacob and I took about 125 onigiri on the train to get to Ueno Park. I had two big brown bags each of the boys had one. After a while the bags got really heavy, as you can imagine. We had to change trains a couple of times and then walk quite a ways to get to the park. I had to "ask" this older Japanese woman "Ueno Park?" The Japanese people are really so nice and willing to help...we could not really communicate in words, but we both got the idea and she walked us almost the entire way...When we got there all of our arms were tired and aching. The boys were able to pass out the rice balls with some of the other ASIJ students. It was very organized..the men were all in very straight lines and very polite. Many of the men were clean and well groomed, many were not so. The picture above is outside the park (we were asked in respect for the homeless not to take photos of them). The rolling carts with tarps are their belongings. They just push them around. After distributing all the onigiri and being relieved of the heavy bags, Jacob, Preston and I had our own parable come to life...serving others literally lightened our burdens!! On our way home we felt lighter in more than one way.......

Tokyo - out and about a little bit

This is what we call a SQUATER...for reason that you can...well see...this is the typical public stuff!!I guess we see these 30-40 percent of the time. I think the Japanese like the "western" toilets better too. There are also the very high tech toilets too. Japanese are really facinated with toilets. It is crazy to walk in a large public bathroom. You quite likely will find stalls with toilets like these here, as well as "western toilet stalls, they will have urinals tucked away in a corner for the mothers that may bring their young sons in the bathroom with them...I guess this is to make them feel more comfortable in the ladies' bathroom...I haven't figured it all out yet...but bathrooms too are a whole new culture in Japan....
Many...I may even venture to say MOST of the young hip Japanese men carry what we refer to as a MAN BAG...I keep trying to get Aaron to get one whenever he hands me his "stuff" to put into my woman bag.....he has not jumped on board yet....I will keep you posted on that...
DRIVING....OH MY!! What an adventure...As I drive on the left/wrong side of the road...something happens to my brain...It is just weird...I don't know the difference between the blinker and the windshield wipers ( I am constantly turning one on for the other...they are on opposite sides). There is tons of traffic, but not only other cars...we deal with hundreds of pedestrians on the route to the pre- school or church. There are moped, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and of coarse taxis ---they are a breed of drivers all by themselves....The signs are in "English"-- sort of and Japanese. Thank goodness Aaron sprung for a navigation...I don't think I would go ANYWHERE here without it!!! The highway is about 10 stories high through the city. So as you travel along the highway you are looking at buildings several stories high and it has a very limited access. It is like a bit like being on a very long bridge with few opportunities to get off the bridge. There are then the surface streets. Of coarse there are also the underground roads. These road go over or under the surface streets to avoid the traffic lights and intersections. SOOO as you go down the road there are exits on your left and right, going up and down. ...The navigation will sometimes say "take the 2ND right". It does not mean take the second road on your means as you are in the intersection and there are more than one way to turn is just nuts!!

There poles in the tarmac...not on the sidewalk or off the road but right there in what seems to be the driving path..go figure!! On any given street the left lane seems to be for "parking". When the blue collar workers, taxi drives, delivery people, etc need a nap sometime during their work day, they pull their car, van, taxi, delivery truck over in the left driving lane and PARK there ....It really feels a bit like the game FROGGER.?? ANYWAY.......THEN.....You get lights like the one you see here above...OH MY...what in the world am I supposed to do here!!??? Driving is crazy...The first couple of times out by myself, I came home and had to lie down on the couch and rest my eyes for a few minutes.....Driving is a new culture of its own....