Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

Hello all,

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but we have not been doing anything interesting. We have pretty much stayed at home for the past three weeks since I have been trying to get over a lingering cold. We had a Thanksgiving dinner party with some friends in Tsuruga on Saturday, November 21st. Jonathan made delicious pumpkin pie from scratch from Japanese kabocha, which is like American pumpkin but different. Kabocha is smaller and denser than pumpkin, and the skin is dark green. We got a package from home this week, which always brightens our day. Work is going well for both of us and we are getting excited to come home in a few short weeks. For those of you who are interested, I will put up our address in Japan at the end of this post since we have been getting a lot of requests for information recently. I believe Jonathan will be flying back to Indianapolis on December 17th, and I will be headed back on December 23rd. We both return to Japan early January, I think the 2nd and 4th. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, and we look forward to meeting up with some of you soon!

Laura (and Jonathan)

Laura Allen and Jonathan McKenzie
Kyouikuinjuutaku 201
46-21-1 Okata Oi Town,
Fukui Prefecture 919-2116

or in Japanese:
教育員住宅 201
アレン ローラ様, マッケンジー ジョナサン様

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Laura and Jonathan's first slideshow movie!

So I made the video bigger so it is easier to see the pictures. But, now the pictures are a little blurry and you can't read anything in the sidebar so I had to move it down. :( Oh well, try to enjoy it anyway!



Here's a little video made by me! Enjoy! It has pictures from high school, college, and life after school.

Laura (and Jonathan)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Live from Japan, it's 14 hours in the future!

Hello everyone, and happy November!

I know we have been rather remiss about updating our blog about married life and our adventures in Japan, so I decided to work on catching everyone up all at once! Jonathan and I were married June 20th, 2009 in New Plymouth, Ohio. We had a wonderful small wedding, and we will post pictures once we receive the high resolution photos in December. Most of this post probably sounds like a listing of facts instead of a traditional blog post, but too much has gone on to recap in an interesting but concise way. I have always been a woman of many words, but instead of breaking up the events of our life together in to chapters I'm writing the semi-abridged version in one post.

Our honeymoon was a blast. We decided to take a camping road trip honeymoon around the western parts of the United States for 3 weeks in late June and early July. We Ravenwood Castle, Ohio on June 22nd and got back to Indianapolis on July 14th. One week after a lovely wedding open house at the Allen family home on July 18th, I left for Japan on July 25th. I had a week of orientation in Tokyo and Fukui City, and then my supervisor picked me up and drove me to our new home in Oi Town, a small town of 9,000 people in central Japan, 5 minutes from the Sea of Japan coast. Mr. Taniguchi, my supervisor, speaks no English, and although he is a kind and hard-working individual, he is not very capable when it comes to setting up utilities, recommending car companies, purchasing a cell phone, or any other activities that are taken care of by his wife. My first night in our apartment, July 31st, was hot, humid, and lonely. Jonathan was still in America and I did not have a phone, internet, or a car. The nearest pay phone was a 35 minute walk away, at the train station. The nearest convenience store takes about 40 minutes to walk to and the two grocery stores in our town, A Co-op and Mama Store take about 30 minutes to walk to. Luckily Mr. Taniguchi took us to the grocery store that day so we could buy dinner, breakfast, soap and toilet paper. For the next four weeks I did not have a car and I had to walk through the hot humid rice fields to bring home groceries or get to the train station if we needed to go anywhere. I did not have internet for three weeks, and I did not get a phone for 1 or 2 weeks. I did, however, have 12 TV channels, so I watched a lot of Japanese music videos, game shows, and some dramas.

Jonathan arrived in Oi on a Wednesday morning, even though I was expecting him on Tuesday evening. Since I had no phone or internet, he had no way of telling me he missed his train, so I waited at the train station for him by myself at 10:00 at night until the last train came through and then I walked home alone, pretty dejected. I thought of calling my parents to see if he had checked in, but I did not want to make Mom worry about him in case he didn't call. Sorry, mom, but I know you are a worrier, and Jonathan doesn't usually call to let anyone know where he is other than me. It turns out he did call my mom and left a message for me with her. The next few months were crazy, lots of adjusting and figuring out where to go and what to do about all of the little problems that come up in life. We bought a car and car insurance all in Japanese, Jonathan found a part-time job tutoring English the next town over (more on that later), and I settled in to my work schedule traveling to 6 different schools per week all over Oi Town. I teach all grades kindergarten through middle school (which ends at 9th grade in Japan). I love all of my schools, and I am enjoying singing and playing with my students. I plan out my own lessons at the majority of my schools, and I follow a prepared curriculum at others. On Tuesday evenings I teach two additional English classes, a children's class and an adult's conversation class. There is another English teacher in town, he lives in the apartment directly below us, but he is very busy with work and so we do not have much opportunity to hang out. We have had beautiful weather overall, but there was a typhoon at the beginning of the month and a few other bad storms. We bought a clothes dryer last week, and it is amazing to have clean, dry, fluffy towels after months of line drying them and having to wait for the rain to let up enough to do another load of laundry. We are both very happy and healthy and excited about our life together in Japan. We had lovely birthdays and we are looking forward to coming home for the holidays in December. Jonathan will be home for two and a half weeks, and I will be home for about 10 days.

Hugs and Kisses,
Laura (and Jonathan)