Raising a Magpie

Magpies are not well known for their endearing qualities. They can be so aggressive that Sydney has warning signs against surprise magpie attacks. But where Australia has deadly and fearsome animals, New Zealand is perfectly safe. In my experience, that goes for magpies, too. My hosts at the castle were raising a stray magpie chick…

Eutopia Cafe

Kaiwaka is a little town that people pass through on their way from Aukland to the North Shore. It’s a nice halfway point for longhaul buses to give passengers a snack and toilet break. One man dreamt of making it more than that. He built a restaurant marked by domed ceilings, fairies, and dwarves called…

The Farside – a Kiwi Castle

While in Otamatea Eco-Village, I stayed in the Castle on the Farside. It was born by the union of creativity and hard work. I was amazed by all of the skill and time spent over the smallest of details. All of the joinery (trimming) was handmade, mosaic patterns decorated the floor, pillars, and rooftop, and…

kiwis, Kiwis, and Kiwi Fruit

The name for a person from New Zealand is Kiwi. When I first heard this name, the fruit came to mind. “They must produce a lot of kiwis to export,” I assumed, and asked a Kiwi about it. He was very quick to correct me and explain that kiwis are a bird unique to New Zealand. “We…

Otamatea Eco-Village

My first stop in New Zealand was the Otamatea Eco-Village, just two hours north of Auckland. They define themselves as “a community using organic principles to meet our needs and care for the native eco-system.” It’s a group of 15 families living on a river peninsula leading out to the Tasman Sea. Each family is…

Guangzhou: Reshaping my Perspective on China (1 of 2)

On January 2nd, 2017, I flew from Osaka to Auckland with China Southern Airlines. It was my first flight with a Chinese airline. The flight attendants traveled the aisles in bright fuchsia uniforms speaking Chinese, English, and Japanese. They were polite and helpful, but not as smiley as I had seen on other airlines. I…

Guangzhou: Reshaping my Perspective on China (1 of 2)

Many countries have a general disposition toward other countries. For example, how does your country feel about Canada? Or Mexico? Russia? Rwanda? France? Whether or not you agree with your countrymen’s general opinions on each of these, it’s easy to see how history and culture influence the way we think about people from other places….

Cooking in Someone Else’s Kitchen

Everyone has a different approach to their kitchen. There are so many variables, such as what’s kept in there, where it’s kept, and what the space is used for. You can get a very good sense of a person’s eating habits by poking around the kitchen. What condiments are in easy reach? What kind of…

Cursed? Story of a Japanese Doll

Imagine being a girl fresh out of college and moving to a new country. You got your dream job as an English teacher! You get an apartment in Japan! It’s already furnished, so half the hassle of moving is already done. You arrive at your new school and start meeting the teachers. They seem really…

More Experiences in Tokushima

I could go on for a very long time about Tokushima and the people I’ve met there. But, for the sake of chronicling the rest of my adventures, I will sum up some of the highlights in this post. Naruto Whirlpools Some friends from church took me out for the day to Naruto. This is…

Christmas in Japan

I didn’t get to spend the 2016 Christmas with my nuclear family, but I was surrounded by my spiritual family. It was a busy time! The festivities kicked off with an annual Christmas play put on by Hachiman Church. They’ve been doing it faithfully year after year to present the Christmas story to the community…

More Than a Building

A church is defined by the people, not the building. But that doesn’t mean a church building can’t be useful. Hachiman Church moved in 2013 from a rented business space to a house in a neighborhood. The living room holds the congregation on Sundays, and the kitchen is perfect for preparing Sunday lunches. During the…