Saturday, November 8, 2008

OIWC Culture Group October Gathering

I have the great honor of being part of a fabulous organization called the Okinawa International Women's Club or OIWC. I was a member of this same organization during our first tour in Okinawa back in 1998 and was so excited to get plugged in again once we returned. I am so excited to share this organization with you and my fun, new, Japanese friends! OIWC has been around for 55 years. Our club is made up of women from all over the world who gather at monthly events to promote friendship and cultural exchange while at the same time raising funds and awareness for different charities all over the Pacific realm.

My favorite part of OIWC is the smaller extensions of the main membership that we call Culture Groups. This small group provides a personal setting for learning about and sharing the many cultures that are on Okinawa. We hosted our first Culture Group gathering at my home in October and we wanted to share our culture's tradition of Halloween. We started with carving pumpkins and had a blast.

Candice is a Navy wife who is one of the members of our culture group on the American side. She lives near me in the Courtney area and we actually met on-line through a great blog for people who live on Okinawa. Her pride and joy comes in the package of a 2 year old bundle of pink energy named Jordan.

Candice jumped right in to help our guests start the carving process. We thought it would be best to carve our works of pumpkin art out on one of our balconies for easier clean-up and for the great breeze that cooled us down during our activity.

Mikako really got into the artsy part of our activity. She was very precise in her drawing and carving and the end result was great!! The pictures do not do her pumpkin justice. She is a mom to teenagers and is a member on the Japanese side.

Before we got started we thought enough in advance to wardrobe
each of our guests with one of many aprons. We knew they would dress nicely for our gathering and they thought we were very thougthful to take in account the mess we would create. I love how the pictures show how cute they each look in our various aprons. And yes, for you skeptics who know me well, I actually donated 4 aprons. You don't have to use them to own them!!! I also thought it would be a good idea to have some pumpkin seeds already baked so they could sample them. They loved the idea and each lady went home with a baggie of their own seeds to bake!!!

I was busy cleaning up seeds, pumpkin guts and keeping an eye on the lunch we were preparing but I did make time to get a little slimy and carve some of the insides out!!!!

Kyoko seemed to really enjoy the carving process and did a great job of copying the example we had for them to see. Bill had carved a sample pumpkin and I forgot to take a picture of it. We also learned the lesson of how important timing is when carving a pumpkin on a tropical island. He carved said pumpkin on Wednesday night and it started to rot on Friday morning. My happy pumpkin turned angry and put off a yucky smell. We won't forget that little piece of info for next year!!!

Our Japanese guests really got into their projects and insisted we take pictures together. Candice actually helped two of our ladies since I was running around like a pumpkin without a lid!!! She is pictured with Setsuko who is a very proud grandmother and speaks great English. We are so blessed that they speak far better English than we speak Japanese!

Jennifer is a friend of mine that I met in 29 Palms a few years ago through our husbands who worked together!! Her family, Steve and their two sons, moved to Okinawa a couple of months after us. Jenn assisted Eriko with her pumpkin. Eriko is the youngest Japanese member and has only been married 4 years. She spent 7 years in Ohio so now we affectionately refer to her as Miss Ohio. She is very humble in regards to her ability to speak English and is very excited to be speaking more English now that she is a member of OIWC.

This group photo only has 6 of the 8 members on the Japanese side and I love how great they look in our aprons. Their pumpkins turned out great and they seemed to have had a good time.

From Left to right: Mustuko, Mikako, Kimie, Setsuko, Kyoko and Eriko.

We worked up a huge appetite so we moved our festivities inside to eat lunch. I got my hands on a yummy recipe that is easy to prepare and feeds a lot of people. Lara White shared her Chicken & Sausage Chili recipe with me a few years ago and it has been a hit!!!! Of course, no American lunch is complete without the perfect dessert. Jenn brought the Scary Dessert for us all to share. You create this graveyard ensemble with chocolate or vanilla pudding and crumbled cookies. Then you decorate the cookie tombs with your favorite names and add the gummy worms for effect. Needless to say, it was a hit!!! We also had a wonderful strawberry cake that Candice made but I forgot to take a picture of that, too!!! What was I busy doing??

In addition to sending our guests home with their carved pumpkins and seeds, we wanted them to have a little candy goodie, too!!! They seemed to like the homemade
tag more than what was inside!!!! It's fun to watch their faces as we presented each one with a gift!!!!

It is very traditional for the Japanese to bring a gift for the hostess. I received this beautiful pottery set from their group. It was explained to me that you can use it for sake or as a vase for a small flower. There is a small ball inside that makes it sound somewhat like a bell but the explanation for that got lost in translation. I think the tiny cups are perfect and I'm excited to have another great item that will always remind me of Okinawa!!!

I think it's safe to say "fun was had by all"!!!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God bless America

As I read a friend’s blog today I was listening to her playlist. A familiar song came on by one of my favorite Christian singers, Nichole Nordeman. The song is titled “I am” and she is singing to God at different stages in her life. The chorus is “When I was weak, unable to speak, still I could call you by name.” As a child, she called Him Elbow-healer, Superhero. As a teenager she called Him Heartache- healer and Secret-keeper. As a newlywed she called him Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker. And at the end of the song she calls Him Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer; Comforter and my Redeemer!!!! It’s a great song– please check it out and listen closely.

My point is that I have always found comfort in this song and today it especially holds great truth for me as our new President-elect was announced. I did not vote for Obama and yet I’m reminded, by Nichole’s words, that God is our Superhero, Savior, Comforter and Redeemer and no matter who sits in the "office" we stand on the knowledge that only God sits on the throne!!! I've been quoting my friend, Kristen, all day, to many of my friends because they are devastated!!! I don’t want to be devastated, I want to move from "What happened?" to "What do we do now?" I believe now we pray for our new leaders, trust God, focus on the TRUTH and not our circumstances and praise His name!!!! I want to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Reading blogs has been filling a lot of my time these past few months and I have several friends who have great and encouraging blogs. My friend, Kathryn, has a very inspiring blog and I copied some of what she had to say this morning, before all the votes were tallied. I pray you will find comfort in her words. To see her entire post check out

Beloved, I am unwavering in my belief of God's Truth. I firmly believe that "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD ..." (Psalm 33:12). I also am sure of Isaiah 60:12: " ... the nation that will not serve You will perish; it will be utterly ruined.

"Much rhetoric is flying, as always during an election year. Much is being said. Much is being promised. Much change is forecast. Words fly according to the way the political winds blow. Foundations sway. Sands shift beneath the surface of well-polished and carefully crafted appearances.

There is only one thing that is sure. There is only One person in whom Truth, Light, and Life are absolute (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). There is only one way that I can vote today, and that is according to the principles and commands of God's Holy Word. I resolve to honor the sanctity of His created life. I resolve to uphold marriage as He designed it. I resolve to support His people, Israel.No human leader will perfectly fulfill all the duties and responsibilities, but, to effectively govern with Divine justice and righteousness, one must have the Lord Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of the administration. I resolve to cast my vote for the person who best represents God's heart and best meets His criteria. As a Christian, I must be so resolved, for one day, I will stand before my Judge, Who will hold me accountable for choices made within my knowledge of Him.

I cannot presume to assume what will transpire in the days, weeks, and months ahead, but I do know this:God is sovereign.God is just.God is righteous.And, one day soon, Jesus Christ will return to visibly rule His kingdom.Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Precious Father, thank You for the gift of this day! Thank You for the blessing and privilege of serving as salt and light in a bland and blind world. Thank You for Your promise in Isaiah 11; how I long for its fulfillment! May Your will be done today, oh Holy God, on earth as it is in heaven (see Matthew 6:9-13). I pray in the name of Jesus Christ--Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Amen.

I want to be unwavering and not devastated. Another truth that gives me hope is that I was born in a free country where I am able to freely say what I want, vote the way I want and praise God’s Holy Name because of that freedom. That has not changed! Praise God for the men and women who sacrifice so much for those freedoms!