januaryupdate

Greetings from the icy cold of Michigan, or as my Holland readers call it, “next door.”

It’s getting dangerously close to six weeks since our last post, so it seems like a good time for an update. A good friend of mine and ex-roommate prefaces his newsletter updates with a nice table of contents. So I’ll take a take page out of Megill’s proverbial book and do the same:

Table of Contents

  1. Regent University
  2. Gaijin LLC
  3. Free Time
  4. YMCA
  5. Upcoming Trip to CA
    – Mari’s Wedding
    – David & Berkeley
    – Nate & Redding
  6. Ending

Regent University

As some of you may know, Emi felt the prompting to go back to school again. With a special loathing for social media management and some dissatisfaction with the humble earnings of an otherwise rewarding career in Japanese language education—two of her many entrepreneurial exploits—Emi has decided to turn her nearly completely unemployable bachelor’s degree in psychology into a significantly more employable master’s degree in professional counseling.

I know my father-in-law is exceedingly proud to see his daughter follow in his footsteps and equally eager to hire her as soon as we’re able to move to Japan.

After a long search and more than a few phone calls with overeager recruiters from other schools, Emi settled on Regent University – a solid school with a great history, strong Christian roots, and one of the few schools in the states to offer a legitimate and reputable graduate program in Emi’s field.

So there’s that, and naturally, our new need for a literal financial miracle to pay for it. God will provide, I’m sure, or I’ll have to sell my Keurig machine.

Gaijin LLC

I’m going to talk about me for a while now. So Emi fans will need to be patient, or abandon this post altogether, which according to Google Analytics, is statistically much more likely.

With a little bit of sadness and no small degree of excitement, I’ve finally waved goodbye to my salaried full-time employment with Boileau Communications Management. My dad and brother are sad to see me move on, but since I still spend 25 hours a week in the office, they’re not too sad. It’s been a great year and a half with Boileau, and my time there really shaped my skills as a businessman and developer.

I’ve officially started my own company, Gaijin LLC – a web design and freelance development shop. This move should help me better prepare for the bigger transition to live in Japan in the second half of this year.

Shameless plug: if you’re interested in my work, check it out at gaijinwebdesign.com.

“Gaijin,” since I know you’re dying to find out, means “foreigner” in Japanese. I named my company this despite its sometimes impolite and/or “otaku” (the Japanese term for obsessive fanaticism with anime or manga) connotations for two reasons:

  1. I am literally a foreigner—both to Japan but also as an ambassador of Christ to the world.
  2. It sounds really cool when you say it. Try it out. It’s pronounced like “guy” and “gin.”

Running my own business has been good for me. I operated as a freelancer for about three years while I lived in Morocco, and I’ve found being on my own motivates me to work harder, focus on prioritization and manage resources more effectively—all skillsets any businessman or future church leader is going to need.

I get to set my own hours, but with every hour of work so closely connected to putting bread on the table, I find even my shortened office hours to be doubly as productive.

Starting a new business also presents its own practical challenges—developing a brand, networking with contacts, developing new business, invoicing and headaches of accounting—but it’s a welcome variety from salary-type work.

Free Time

Even with the new business I’ve found myself having heaps more free time throughout the day, which enables me to exercise, study the bible more seriously, prioritize relationship and ministry, and focus more on my Japanese language studies.

The downside of all this—and I warn this is truly a first-world problem—is that I often find myself bored by 7:30pm. The social and business commitments I can now meet during the day, which means that by the time dinner is finished, Emi would rather dive into her studies than spend time with me, and I stare at the wall.

Wall staring by all accounts can be a worthwhile pursuit if you have the type of creative mind that animates and innovates without much focus, but for me it’s simply a feeling of being lost. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t do this for hours on end, and I certainly don’t lack any number of alternatives, but I’ll need to learn how to refocus this time so it’s not lost as it has been for the past two weeks.

So please hit me up for coffee or a phone call any time folks.

YMCA & Visa-ness

So, what else? Emi and I are also trying to get this whole visa thing worked out, and would welcome advice for anyone who knows how trailing spouse of college student visas work in Japan.

I’m applying to a dedicated language school in Japan called the YMCA. Yes, it was part of the same YMCA as we have here in the states. And no, it is not a fitness club, and I don’t know if this one has a pool.

Unlike the YMCA in America, I am told that the “Y” in Japan is a full-fledged academic institution with high schools and universities and dozens of locations. The specific YMCA I’m applying to is one in Osaka that has was seems to be a strong course in “practical Japanese.”

Anyways, this school is also really expensive (something like eight grand a year), and I’m almost certain I’ll have to sell my Keurig or otherwise drop my coffee habit altogether, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Trip to CA

For those of you waiting to hear more about Emi and her family, this is it.

Emi and I are making plans to head out to California at the end of February and early March. We’ve got a few stops on our journey.

Emi’s sister is getting married!

We’re so happy to be able to be a part of Mari and Hajime’s wedding. This is the main purpose for the trip, and we know it’s going to be fantastic. Emi will be a beautiful bridesmaid, naturally, and I will be the awkwardly-tall white guy standing in the corner by himself in a room with 100 people speaking Japanese. This will be a fun test for me to try out some of my hot new Japanese phrases from the most recent chapters of my sincerely relevant Genki 2 textbook, including:

  1. 死のう。Shinou.
    Translated: “Let’s die together.”
  2. ホテルを予約しておきます。Hoteru wo yoyaku shite okimasu.
    Translated: I’ll make the hotel reservations in advance.
  3. 私の母は猫を三匹も飼っていますよ。Watashi no haha wa neko wo san hiki mo katteimasu.
    Translated: My mother owns three, count them, three cats!

Berkeley Trip

Recovering from an all-nighter of unlimited sushi and sake, Emi and I are going to fly up to Berkeley and the bay area to visit our good friend David, who never disappoints with his native-like knowledge of the town’s best food and dining. David has promised to take us on a bike-ride through town and over the historic Golden Gate. Also on my to-do list is visiting Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and anything else touristy I can do in a day there.

Redding, CA Reunions

Lastly, our trip will culminate with a day-maybe-two trip up to Redding to visit Nate at Bethel. Nate is my only groomsman who can boast he spent literally every last penny of savings to make it to my wedding. We were so honored to have him as a groomsmen, and we’re elated to visit him in California.

I’m also excited to have a look around my old stomping grounds and show Emi part of Bethel’s… unique (?) culture.

Ending

So it’s late now, and Emi’s nearly done studying, so I’ll release you from your obligation to read.

May blessings and honor take your household by force, and may God always receive the reward for his one and only son, Jesus Christ. Amen.