Author: Jen Costanzo

Sabbath and Japan

This is such a controversial issue among Christians today.  I don’t want to get embroiled  in the controversy, but I can’t help but talk about some of the areas of contemplation my brain has stumbled across after living in Japan for a year. I think there’s a stereotype of Japanese as being “work-a-holics.”  Maybe this is for good reason.  It’s pretty well documented that the hours a salary man keeps here are insane.  The upstairs neighbor in our apartment building last year was a great example.  Every morning we’d hear him leave at 6:15am.  Every night, we’d hear him arrive home about 10:30pm.  7 days a week. Then there’s the experience I’ve had getting to know one of my co-workers at the juku where I work.  I try to make friendly conversation by asking how she’ll spend her weekend, or what she did over the previous weekend.  Most of the time, her answer is “Oh, I’m actually going to be working this Saturday and Sunday.”  Mind you, this is a young woman who comes into work on week-days well before I do in the morning, and leaves long after I do at night. These examples came to mind all too readily when I read this passage recently by Peter Scazzero from his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.  His words describe the nation of Israel enslaved in Egypt: They were “doing” machines.  They worked seven days a week all year long.  Imagine how deeply ingrained activism and overwork must...

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Thoughts on Weight Loss from Jen

“Have you lost weight recently?”  I’ve been asked this question by about 10 different people over the past couple of months.  And yes.  I have!  Starting this summer, I began some lifestyle changes that have resulted in me losing about 6 kilograms — Yay! Mike’s mom sometimes sends us some magazines from the States, and one of our “care packages” had a couple issues of Prevention.  I’ve never read this mag before, but I stumbled across a really helpful article entitled “8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim” in one of the issues. I’ve made the article title into a hyper-link which takes you to a copy of the article online, if you’d like to take a look. The tips listed in the article were really common-sense, but revolutionary for me.  Things like the fact that feeling hungry is not an emergency.  A hunger pang is not a problem that I immediately have to solve by cramming down a snack.  I can wait until a mealtime.  It’s going to be okay.  Also the idea that you eat until you feel satisfied (not until you feel stuffed).  I started to try and “tune in” to how I was feeling hunger-wise throughout a meal, and found that I really only needed to eat 1/2 (sometimes even 1/3) of what I had been eating before.   Crazy! I also came across another article in the mags from Mike’s mom that referenced...

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Of New Fruit & Heaven

Yesterday, I discovered a new piece of fruit at the grocery store.  It has a beautiful periwinkle, lavender smooth skin.  It has no smell.  It tastes a little like watermelon — full of little seeds.  But rather than being crisp and juicy, it’s slightly sweet and mushy.  Discovering a new fruit re-awakened in me a childlike joy.  It also reminded me that there are so many more secrets, surprises, and mysteries that God has in store.  The physical things that God created here on earth are a shadow of things to come.  After becoming jaded by the unexciting existance of apples and bananas, it’s utterly refreshing to be jolted into the reality that there’s more — It leaves me excited. I’ve done a little mental gathering in my mind.  I’ve had this awakening before.  Let me use this blog to gather some glimpses of the the mysteries yet to be unfolded.  I’ll not explain further.  Read and digest as you like. From Perelandra  by C.S. Lewis: Now he had come to a part of the wood where great globes of yellow fruit hung from the trees — clustered as toy-balloons are clustered on the back of a balloon-man and about the same size. He picked one of them and turned it over and over. The rind was smooth and firm and seemed impossible to tear open. Then by accident one of his...

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To Tokyo & Back

We’re back from our whirlwind trip to Tokyo!  It was a very full trip, and a lot of fun! We tried something new this time around and bought a special seasonal train pass called the “Seishun Jyuhachi Kippu.”  It gave us 5 full-day passes to travel anywhere we wanted in Japan.  The one catch is that it’s only good for regular-speed trains (not the Shinkansen bullet-trains).  So, we brought our language study materials and settled down for a 5 hour train trip.  Long, but cheap!  By the end of the trip, I had mastered 60 kanji, so I think it was time well-spent! Our Hosts We stayed with some new friends, Joe and Noney who live near Tokyo.  They gave us fun travel tips, and we had some great conversations.  It turns out the Joe is a real video-editing fiend (just like Mike), and Noney was able to give me some really cool cooking tips (including teaching me how to make yogurt from scratch!)  We also visited their church on Sunday, and Mike was asked to give a testimony of how he came to know Jesus Christ during the church service.  Mike gave the testimony entirely in Japanese.  (I’ve been asked to give a testimony in Japanese next time we come to visit too — I guess I’ll have some practicing to do!) Ueno Highlights We spent our first day touring...

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The Sweltering Days of Summer

So just how have we been spending our summer vacation?  Allow us to take you on a little tour of our summer break! Umi no hi (Marine Day) On Umi no hi (a National holiday in mid-July), we took off on a day-trip with the principal of one of the local elementary schools.  We joined Kocho-sensei and his daughter on a tour of the Noguchi Hideo History Museum, got to experience our most intense earthquake here in Japan so far, toured through  Tsurugajo (a famous old castle), went out for a row-boat excursion on Goshikinuma (The Five-Colored Lake), and then finished up the day with a cup of coffee at the “World Glass Building” (a museum of insanely expensive glassware). Upwards Basketball Outreach in Chiba Next, we took a whirlwind weekend trip to Chiba to see the mission team from our home-church (CPC).  They were just finishing up a short-term missions trip which involved sponsoring Bible-based basketball camps for kids.  We got to attend the closing ceremony, meet some of the kids, and then go out for a yummy dinner of yaki-niku (grilled meat) with the team.  The next day (a Sunday) we attended two different bilingual chiurch services.  One was a mission work of the team in Chiba called “Oyumino Alive” , and the next was a church in Tokyo called “New Hope.”   Both churches were a joy to attend,...

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