Japanese Supermarket… Sunday, Aug 31 2008 

Tamara and I went shopping for fresh produce in a supermarket close to her place.  Very intereseting!  Saw with my own eyes a catalope for close to $15.00…actually more than one and a watermelon for $24.00.  Fresh fruit is very expensive and Tamara bought a couple of pear-apples as she was hungry for them.  We just walked through the aisles to see what people here eat and shop for.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of fish and seafood.  Fresh shrimp and crab very cheap.  Lots of different kinds of mushrooms and Tamara talked about the ones she enjoys the most for cooking.  Lots and lots and lots of Tofu of every kind, color and shape.  Lots of their foods are packaged in small portions, including their bread, which is very expensive, but has only about 6 slices per loaf.  Tamara also loves their yogurt.  It was just so neat to experience the different smells and environment.

We then headed to a clothing and household goods store.  It was fun just strolling through the store observing the people and how they shopped.  Sunday is the only day off in Japan as the work week is 6 days a week including Saturday.  Saw many grandmothers, moms and daughters shopping together…3 generations.  The furniture here is all very low and close to the floor.  Tamara is wanting a rocking chair or comfortable chair for when the baby comes, and we can’t find anything here that isn’t low to the floor.  We will have to keep looking!

We went to a great Indian Restaurant for lunch.  Amazing food!  I am not too keen on sushi and there is lots of that here.

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Cockroach! Sunday, Aug 31 2008 

Had my first little experience with one of the little creatures out here.  Tamara has eyes like a hawk and sees them as soon as they move.  Out comes the can of Raid and the little creature is done here on earth.  They are not preety creatures and this one was a baby…but not too excited of the prospect of seeing more.

Tamara and I have been busy washing baby clothes and setting up the room for baby.  It has been fun and exciting.  Tamara is finding it a little more difficult to get around as she is getting rounder and rounder.  We went to the doctor and Chella is doing well and thinking she will hang out until her due date.

We’ve been swimming in the afternoon at the awesome pool on Base.  This has been a lifesaver for Tamara as it helps her swollen feet and legs.  It is so relaxing sitting at the pool having no worries in the world!!!!  Have been doing some reading and just hanging out with my daughter.  We went downtown again yesterday and just walked around with a stop at Starbucks.  I could sit for hours and watch the people.  Being in another culture is so educational…especially when you can’t understand the language but can just watch the people’s facial expressions.  There is no sense of fashion here and we do alot of laughing.  The smells are so different and I find them hard to get used to.  Tamara doesn’t sense any of them anymore, but they is a whole different scent here.  Lots of it has to do with the food that is being prepared, but their infrastructure isn’t the greatest here either.

Driving here is still something else.  We were driving off the main streets the other day and the streets are so incredibly narrow.  Tamara said the other day a mom stopped her car in the middle of her lane and let her son out to go to the bathroom at the side of the road, with cars being backed up for blocks…that is how it works here.  Hilarious!  There is rhyme or reason to their city planning.  Houses are built everything and on any hill.  Most of the houses are on the edge of the hills and you have to climb a myriad of steps to get to their houses.  Because of the way the houses are built, in order to own a car here you have to first confirm that you have a place to park it.  Parking is at a premium and when you go downtown, you see cars parked double height…the first car parks on a lift and it is raised up and then there is another parking spot underneath.

I wish I was able to describe the breadth of the ship yards here that built new ships.  Everytime I go by it I am totally overwhelmed with the hugeness of the ships they are the building and the huge number of enormous cranes are used to build these big ships.  The employees use bikes to get around the shipping site as it is so huge.  It is absolutely incredible.  I can hardly wait for Jerry to get here and see if we can get a tour of the place.

Matt and Jesika called us yesterday morning from their new home in Davis, California.  They arrived with no mishaps and were happy as ttwo little kids in their new home.  Skype is something else.  We could see them and talk to them, and Matt gave us a tour of their new place.  They now are looking to furnish it as they pretty well took nothing with them except their mattress.  Apparently the long weekend in September is the weekend that everyone moves and garage sales are everywhere, so they were hoping to get whatever they needed that way.  They were having a hotspell in Davis and it was over 100 degrees outside and poor Niko was sprawled out in the shade totally wasted from the heat.  Matt says it cools down in the evening,  so hopefully they will adjust to the new environment and weather.

We are going out for lunch with  Tamara’s friend Tina today.  Her husband is on the same ship as Benny.  Benny will be home this week and Jerry will be here on the 9th of September, that will be your September 8th.  It is funny for me to be talking to Jerry the day before…I have already finished living that day, but he is still in the day before.  It seems easier for me to think ahead…Tamara being 15 hours ahead of us in Saskatchewan.

Another couple of days in Japan!  Feeling a little bit more settled in Tamara’s home, finding out where everything is.  Not sure about getting around the City and not sure about communicating with the people…that kind of freaks me out.  I let Tamara do all of that stuff…I just watch.

Still hot and humid and it will probably stay like that for a few weeks yet.  Hot and sunny today!

Two days experienced in Japan! Friday, Aug 29 2008 

The second night of sleeping in Sasebo did not go too well.  My old body was not wanting to adjust to the time diffeernce of sleeping rather than being awake.  My day yesterday was something of a drag physically, but Tamara kept me going for the whole day and I did get a 11 hour sleep last night.  Was in bed by 9:30 pm which must be a record for me.

Hot and humid is the norm here.  We had another cloudy day yesterday which was wonderful.  Tamara and I headed out to the covered downtown section of Sasebo so have a Starbucks.  That was great as I knew what I wanted and didn’t have to worry that I couldn’t read the menu.  The Japanese people are so polite and friendly.  Very different from my experience in Asia.  We also went to the Dollar Store here, which is Tamara’s favorite, to get the things we need to set up the baby’s room.  Very excited!  We think we are pretty well finished with that, but now just have to put it together.  It is just the two of us hanging out as Benny is still gone and won’t be back until next week.  Then Jerry comes on September 8th.  It will be fun to have him here.

Sasebo is a harbour City and the Japanese navy is here as well with their big ships in the harbour.  We are going to go and watch Benny’s huge aircraft carrier come into the harbour next week.  There is also one of the biggest ship builders on the harbour.  Absolutely phenomenal to see the huge cranes that they use to build these huge ships.  Tamara said she watched one being built from start to finish.  I am hoping we can get a tour of how they do that.  Looks very interesting.

It is quite funny being on Base with Tamara.  There everything can be paid for in American dollars and we went out for supper to the Mongoli Grill last night and I ate too much.   It was amazing.  Once Jerry and Benny are here, Tamara says we will go out to some of the restaurants they enjoy.  We had to stop the car and listen to the “taps” as they took down the American flag last night.  Tamara was driving fast so we outdrive it, but all of a sudden she put on her brakes, put on her hazards, and we sat and listened.  Everyone removes their hats/caps and stands at attention.  Quite interesting!

The streets and roads are something else here.  Very narrow and aall the cars are small.  I don’t know what you do if your car ever gets into trouble and you have to stop as there is no wear to pull off the road.   They build their roads through the hills using tunnels, and they build their roads above the City on big raised roads.  They are building one right now over Sasebo and it is something to see how it is being built.  Not alot of landmass, so they go under and above.

People are very friendly and are willing to help you with anything.  For me, it would be a big adjustment to live in another culture.  Watching Tamara and how she loves this kind of life is so interesting.  She loves Japan as it is super organized and clean.

It is fun being with Tamara.  I do feel far from home!  It seems like I have been gone a long time!  Probably as the time passes, when it is time to go home, I won’t be able to believe it has gone this fast.  I can hardly wait to hold that little baby.  She is an active little person, and Tamara keeps talking to her and telling her to have a nap!  She gets hic-ups as well, and it is too funny!  She reminds me of my friend Brooke, in the last days of her pregnancy, swollen feet and finding it a little harder to move about each day.

We head to the doctor today, so hopefully we will find out if the baby has dropped and maybe get some idea if she will come early or not.

Life is all about learning!  For me experiential learning is the hardest and that is what I am learning right now!  Good way to start retirement…on a steep learning curve!

Japan… Wednesday, Aug 27 2008 

I have arrived.  After a very, very, very, very long day of waiting and sitting on planes and buses, I finally arrived in Fukuako where I hugged my very pregnant daughter and have the first opportunity to feel that little person kick up a storm!  It brought the whole grandma experience into real life.

I started my trip on Monday morning with the alarm going off at 5:00 am, which probably shouldn’t be all bad, but I had only crawled into bed around 2:00 am.  Jerry took me to the airport where everything went smoothly and we even had time for a Tim’s while we waited for me to board.

I arrived in Vancouver around 9:00 am and my flight to Osaka was to leave at 1:05 pm.  I saw Starbucks and decided I needed breakfast so purchased a Mocha and a Yogurt Parfait!  Enjoyed the yogurt, but after a couple of sips on my Mocha, I promptly dumped it on my Cream Jacket and beige skirt…great way to start the trip looking cool and professional.  I threw out the Mocha, as I was very exasperated, and headed to the washroom to do some washing.  I finally got my jacket fairly clean and my skirt…I took off my jacket but washed my skirt while wearing it!!!!  I then spent the next hour drying my jacket under the hand dryer and also my skirt without removing it!!!  What a wonderful way to start my trip!  I go to Gate 54 from which my plane is to depart.  I check the Departure Monitor and see it is delayed to 3:25 pm.  Hurrah…just what I wanted, a few more hours in the Vancouver Airport Terminal!  It ended up my flight didn’t leave until 6:00 pm, which was going to make it very tight to catch my connecting flight in Osaka.  Had a great window seat in the exit aisle, but did have to take a lesson on how to open the exit door if the plane crashes.  Believe it or not, we had great service from Air Canada…free pillow, blanket, 2 hot meals, cookies, snacks…it was amazing.  Got a little sleep on the flight, but was very worried about my connecting flight as I also had to go through customs and immigration, pick up my checked luggage, and get it over to the other airline to catch my flight to Fukuako.  The flight attendant said there would be people waiting right outside the aircraft to help me.  Well she was right!  I couldn’t believe the service I received from the flight people.  I went to talk to one of the agents and she had my name, connecting flight, how much luggage I had, and the running began.  She connected me with another agent who then told me how to get through customs and immigration.  It usually takes a long time, up to a couple of hours, but I was through in less than 15 minutes.  When I came through the doors from customs, there was my agent again, and both my checked bags were standing ready for me.  She said follow me, and then the race began, she pulled one of my suitcases, and I ran carrying the other two.  I had promised my friend Lesley Ayerst that I would take some stuff for her sister who lives close to Osaka, as I would have lots of time between flights to meet her.  I figured there was no way I would even see her, but as I am running across the lobby of the terminal, I hear my name called, and there is Bobby.  I didn’t have much time, so the stuff I had for Bobby I emptied on to the floor, she gave me a couple of packages, and then I kept running, including a flight of stairs.  We get to the Gate and the agent says, do you have your boarding pass…I said I think you have it…however, when I checked my passport there was my boarding pass.  I went through security and was ushered to a bus that was supposed to get me to the plane on time.  The bus left the terminal at 7:40 and our flight leaves at 7 :45 pm.  In the end I made it, exhausted and stressed, but I was on the plane.

Tamara was waiting for me in Fukuoka and it was awesome to hug my very pregnant daughter, who said it would be best to leave the picture taking for the next day, as I looked a little worse for wear!!!  We had to wait for the bus to leave at 10:30 pm.  I sat in the front, but most of the time, my head was bouncing around as I kept falling asleep.  We got into Sasebo at 12:15 am and we drove home in Tamara’s blue Civic.  I went to bed aat 12:45 am…slept until 8:00 am…got up with a headache so took some Extra Strength Tylenol, Gravol, Granola bar, crawled back into bed and slept until Noon.

We did some touring today.  It is an absolutely beautiful, awe inspiring, location.  Built around, up and down, on hills, that are lush and green, with water everywhere.  Canals running through the City.  Small City by Japan’s standards, but very beautiful.  It was overcast today and the temperature was beautiful.  Very humid, from my perspective, Tamara said it was good today, but moisture covered most of my body today.

Hard to believe that I am on the other side of the world.  Tamara and Benny’s house is very Japanese, with all the doorways being less than 6 feet.  When  Jerry gets here he will have to be perpetually ducking to save himself from hitting his head.  They have a beautiful Japanese garden around their house.  Lots of spiders outside, and we had a funny “something” on our kitchen ceiling tonight,  but so far so good!

Officially moved out… Monday, Aug 25 2008 

I have officially moved out of my office at Lakeview and from my perspective official retirement has begun.  The office looks pretty bare and lonely, but the task is done.  Just a couple of things to be returned to the Barbour residence.  I have bequeathed my bookshelves to Jeb and hopefully he will put them to good use.  I am heading to Japan early tomorrow morning beginning my trek across the world to spend time with our daughter, her husband, and our coming grandchild.  It is exciting but also I have to admit I am a little nervous.  But life is all about learning new things and stretching ourselves out of our comfort zone.  It will be awesome to spend time with Tamara and just hang out for a few days before our little “Chella”  makes her official appearance.

We celebrated my sister Doris’ and her husband Lorne’s 40th wedding anniversary this weekend in Waskesiu.  It was a great time and a fun time looking back over the years they have been together.  Jerry and I will be married for 40 years on June 28, 2009, so we are not far behind them.  We have spend many, many occasions together with Lorne and Doris and their family.  We have had so many fun times and we have shared lots of laughter together.  We have also walked some hard roads together as well.  Life isn’t always a barrel of laughs…there are tears along the way as well.  We have shed our share of tears as well.  Overall, we have had some great years and we are grateful.

Our son Matt and his wife Jesika are heading out to Davis, California this week as Matt starts his years of study at the University of California.  They are pulling a trailer of their belongings behind their Subaru which will hopefully get them across the mountains and into Davis safely.  They have been busy selling off some of their stuff to be able to get just what they need into the trailer.  Should be an interesting trek for them!  We are hoping that the brakes hold through the mountains and the motor keeps chugging into California.

Well, here’s to life in a new direction.  Not sure what lies ahead, but I do know that it will be interesting and in many ways new.  I also know that God is amazing and He will never abandon me and will always be above me, beside me, beneath me, around me, within me, guiding and directing as we walk life together.  That is what gives me strength and confidence in the future, knowing that God is in everything and is everywhere, and that He is especially in the ordinary walk of life.  I am so grateful as well for family and friends who are so encouraging and loving.  We surely do need each other!

Retirement… Thursday, Aug 21 2008 

I have a little over a week to go and I will be officially retired from Lakeview Church.  I will have completed exactly 12 years of employment there.  I came into Lakeview the beginning of September 1996.  I came on staff as the Ministry Facilitator, responsible for administration and ministry facilitation, under the new pastorship of Dean Angell.  There is no doubt my life has seen some radical change, slowly, over these years.  I am so grateful for the opportunities I had to learn and grow through the many situations that came into my life.  I am hoping to chronicle my journey of retirement.  I am starting out my retirement by heading to Japan on Monday, August 25th, to spend time with our daughter, Tamara and her husband Benny, who are expecting our first grandchild in September.  I will be traveling alone as Jerry is coming later in September.  Great way to start retirement…move out of my comfort zone by experiencing traveling across the world by myself.  I am not sure what is ahead, but I am excited about the future and the opportunities awaiting.  Who knows?  I might enter politics!