Eve’s Baptism

On Sunday Drew performed his first baptism – on Eve!  She was baptized out of the ship’s bell, on the deck of the ship.  We were scared that morning since it was POURING rain that we would all be soaked at the end of it, but God allowed us to have a clear day and the only ones that got wet were the kids getting baptized.  For the family that wants to see, this is a longer video, but it is her whole baptism.  Drew also was able to baptize our best friend’s children on the same day, but I wont post the whole 20 minute service :)  We were able to have a professional photographer there, so hopefully there will be some awesome pictures to come as well!

Why I’m Leaving the Navy

On August 18th I submitted my request for resignation from active-duty service in the Navy Chaplain Corps.  This was the last step in a discernment process that I’ve been battling through for the last eight months, and was a blessed (though somber) conclusion.  I am writing this brief explanation to include you in on my reasons for doing so and request your prayers for my family and me as we seek the Lord’s direction and provision in a new call.

 

1.  Ongoing desire to minister within the local church.

Rather than running from my current call, I see this move as a response to a God-given call to the local church.  Since my days as an intern, I have fallen in love with the local congregation—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  As a Navy chaplain assigned to a warship, I’ve had the incredible privilege of leading Sailors and Marines in worship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  I’ve led Bible studies, shared the gospel on countless occasions, and have been able to minister to souls who would most likely never walk into the average PCA church.  All through this, however, I have had a gnawing within me to minister to a congregation.

On occasion, I have filled the pulpit in the base chapel, which is as close to congregational ministry as a military chaplain gets.  On these occasions, I have sensed an inward call to serve long-term in this context, and the Holy Spirit has consistently used the congregation’s encouragement and affirmation to confirm what I was sensing.  Since both my inward call and the congregation’s outward call are in harmony, and my desire is a good and Scriptural one, I take this as evidence of God’s leading.

 

2.  Frustration with the limitations of chaplain ministry.

First, I want to make it abundantly clear that military chaplain ministry is a good, beautiful, and greatly needed ministry.  I wish more of our men would give serious consideration to whether they might be called to serve as a military chaplain.  My frustration with chaplaincy, however, is closely linked to my love for local church ministry.  Military culture, by design, is incredibly fluid, which means that the people you support are constantly arriving and departing.  While this is a great opportunity to impact many, many, people, I have found it frustrating because of my deep desire for long-term, life-on-life shepherding.  I believe that congregational ministry will afford me (and my family) greater opportunity for long-term discipleship.

The second frustration has to do with the Chaplain Corps in particular.  As a general rule, as chaplains are promoted up through the ranks, they often bear more administrative and supervisory duties and have fewer direct pastoral duties.  Though the local church surely has its fair share of administrative and supervisory duties, the call from the congregation is primarily to preach and teach the Word of God and to shepherd the flock. I want to pour myself out in a ministry that allows me to do what I love on a more “full-time” basis, rather than something I have to intentionally fight for as I rise through the ranks.

 

3.  Finding the right “fit.”

At my core, I’m a nerdy, introverted, bookworm type.  After polling many fellow elders on what they think would be the best context for my ministry, a more white-collar, intellectually inquisitive community was consistently mentioned.  The Navy is largely a blue-collar organization, and I suspect that the particular way our Lord has wired me is perhaps not the best fit for this particular type of ministry.  To be blunt, I think that many of the enlisted Sailors find me to be bookish and academic, while the officers generally track with me pretty well.  If I am to authentically be who I am and be used most effectively in ministry, I think a different community might be a better fit.  A university community is particularly appealing to me.

I remain grateful for the opportunity the Lord has provided to minister to the military over the last two years, and look forward to what He will do during this third and final year of active duty.  I still love the military community, and am investigating the possibility of remaining a chaplain in the Navy Reserves while serving a local church.  I welcome your questions, and request your prayers.

The Birth Story

For all you ladies, since we know that (most) women want to hear the story that went along with the birth.

I was hoping to have Eve early, since as I have said, she would be a completely natural birth and I wanted her to be as small as possible (while still being healthy and full term of course!).  Drew was able to take off a few days to help around the house at the end of July, and my mom was coming in to help with Timothy and Eve at the end of July, arriving late in the evening on the 29th.  I thought the 30th would be the perfect time for Eve to arrive since Mom would be here and Drew would be able to come with me to the hospital.

Everything worked out a little bit differently of course.  I woke up the morning of the 29th at 5am with contractions.  They were about 15 minutes apart though, and I had contractions throughout this pregnancy so I was not sure it was labor yet.  I did think that if I was in labor, my mom would want to kill me since she had just gotten on her international flight.  I went to sleep for awhile, but my early riser Timothy came in the room a little bit later, awake for the day.  He got in bed with us and we had some sweet time talking and cuddling quietly since I was wondering if it would be his last day as an only child.

By 7am Drew was up and I let him know that contractions were much closer together, more like 6 minutes, but not consistently – sometimes it would be 9 minutes apart, and they were not always 60 seconds long.  The clinic had asked us to call when the contractions were 10 minutes apart, but I really did not want to go sit in a bed in pain all day with no hope of pain medication.  So we stayed home, finished packing, emailed and skyped family.  At 11 I had been feeling fine and although contractions hurt, I did not feel that it was time to go to the hospital, and even told a friend that we would bring Timothy over after his nap.  At 12 all that changed, and my contractions went up to 90 seconds long.  I figured it was time to go to the hospital then, so Drew called ahead, then took Timothy to our friend’s house.  The car ride was terrible of course but only took 15 minutes.  We arrived at the clinic and checked in.  There are no wheelchairs to the labor room here, we walked.  I had not gotten to see the labor room on my tour of the hospital since someone was in labor, I only knew that there was one room with a partition in the middle in case there are 2 women in labor at a time.  Luckily, it was just me in labor on this day.

A few very helpful things about having a baby at this clinic – there is a midwife that is with you the entire time, as well as the nurses that are in and out of the room, and the doctor that comes in at the end.  The midwife helped me get into their laboring gown, which was a 60s style pink and white polka dot gown, which apparently buttons in the front.  I tried to put it on with the buttons in the back, American hospital style, and the ladies laughed.  I got it on the correct way, and noticed that there was a TV screen above me.  Later, I made Drew take a picture:
So the dolphins played and the lights changed from blue to green while I was in pain.  I didnt really watch them obviously:
By this time they told me I was dilated 5-6cm,  and if I were in the states, I would have been asking for my epidural!  The pain was tolerable, but I had to work very hard to relax during the contractions and not tense up, making the pain worse.  A bit later my water broke, and I was beginning to want to push, but the midwife said I was not fully dilated yet.   During contractions, the midwife came over and massaged my lower back, which was helpful.  It must have been around 1:45 when they told me it was time to push.  By this time I had my eyes closed to block everything out, and moaned (ok, maybe yelled) through the contractions.  I pushed 4 or 5 times I think, but this time I was not keeping track of that, I just wanted her out.  As I ooohed/yelled through these, the doctor told me that it might help if I were quiet while pushing.  I laughed at her in my head, but was not in the mood to laugh for real or tell her that I would not be quiet.  No matter though, Eve was here a few minutes after that  at 2:10pm and I got to lay back and hold her!  Drew was disappointed because the ladies did not ask him to cut her cord, but everything else went well.  While she was taken away to get cleaned up and tested, I was able to watch her on the TV above my bed!  She was right in the next room so I could hear her and see her.
 Here they are writing our names on Eve’s leg so they know who she belongs to.  However, I think it was pretty obvious which child was the gaijin’s (foreigners) since she lacked the full head of black hair that all Japanese infants seemed to have.  :)We got to bond for awhile in the labor room, then we moved down to the room where usually women stay 5 days.  I had asked if we could leave on the third day if everything went ok.  There was a wheelchair for the trip down this time, which I was thankful for.  The nurse gave us a small box before we left the labor room, and when we looked inside, we found… a piece of Eve’s umbilical cord.  Drew was completely grossed out.  Apparently it used to be tradition that you keep it until the child marries, then exchange it with the other mother, I think as a symbol of your in law being your own child.

My mom got in later that night, with no idea that I had been in labor until one of my friends showed up at the airport to get her instead of Drew.  She called me and told me that I never listen to her.  It worked out well though, since she was able to spend as much time as possible with Eve and we weren’t sitting around waiting for me to go into labor.

Other than the language barrier and a few misunderstandings due to this, our hospital stay was very nice.  The food was awesome (they had asked ahead of time what kind of food you would not like, so I had Japanese meals without fish – which was great for me.) and my last meal before discharge was two TRAYfuls of food.  Amazing chicken with eggplant, steak, soup, lots of bread, salad, and an entire plate of mini desserts.  I did not lose much weight in the hospital obviously, but it was so worth it.

I don’t know if I will be able to do the natural child birth thing in the states – with the option of the epidural I am pretty sure I would give in and get it.  I can say though that the pain was not as bad as I thought it would be, and I would consider (although probably not follow through with) natural child birth again.  Thank you thank you thank you for all the prayers, they were so helpful – and I even got my 6 pound girl!  The Bradley method book and Ina May’s guide were also helpful to read, so thanks for the recommendations!

Pregnant in Japan

We have done a lot since the last time I posted, had our first family visitors, went to Kyoto… but I know what you want to know about most is being pregnant in Japan ;) 

I am 32 weeks along now, and have been going to an OBGYN out in town since 20 weeks.  As we do not have a Navy hospital in Sasebo, all the pregnant ladies are referred out to a local clinic.  Here in Japan, you only give birth in a regular hospital if you have complications or are high risk in some manner.  The experience has been much different than in the states so far.  My appointments for Timothy were about 15 minutes long, and were only every 4 weeks until 28ish weeks.  Here I have gone to the doctor every 2 weeks since 20 weeks, which gets old after awhile!  Especially when the appointments are at least an hour long because of the wait and because of everything we have to do. 

When I go in for an appointment, I bring my own medical record, which I keep at home in the meantime.  The doctors in the states would never trust people with their own medical information!  We aren’t a very responsible culture, we would lose our records and have to rewrite them all the time.  The medical record is nice to have though, it has a space for every visit, how much I weigh, measure around, etc.  Then the book goes on to have space for well child appointments and growth charts until age 7.  I do wish I had something like that for Timothy, it would have been neat to compare everything.  I also bring a kick count chart, a credit card type thing that I think holds more medical records, and a DVD of all the ultrasounds I have had.
I come in to my appointment, and I am responsible for going to a blood pressure machine (like in Walmart or CVS) and getting a printout of my blood pressure.  Then I go and weigh myself, in kilograms of course.  Finally, I get to pee in a cup at every visit.  My abdomen gets measured by the nurse, and hopefully they give me a piece of paper in English saying what they want to accomplish at the visit.  The doctor speaks English very well, and there is a nurse that speaks English as well, but it is nice to know what they want to do at each visit, since they do not always explain that.  Then it’s back out to the waiting room until they call ‘Jones-san’.  Instead of hearing the heartbeat at every visit, I see the heartbeat at every visit at either one or two different ultrasounds.  Im not sure why, but sometimes I see a nurse first who does an in depth ultrasound and tracks the heartbeat, etc.  Twice we have seen Eve in 4D(3D?) this way.  She usually has her hands over her face, and at the 20 week appointment, she had her legs crossed tight.  I dont think we confirmed that she was a girl until 28 weeks, but with all these ultrasounds, I knew we would find out eventually!  After the ultrasound with the nurse, I return to the waiting room and then am called again to see the doctor.  They ask a few questions, then do another ultrasound.  They measure the head circumfrence, abdomen circumference, and femur length every time.  Every time they estimate the baby’s due date by her measurements, and she always measures a week earlier than my due date.  For awhile they told me I was having an average sized baby, on a japanese scale🙂.  Last visit however they told me that I was ‘a little overweight’ since a Japanese woman only gains 7-10 kilograms (that would be 15-22 pounds for those of you keeping track).  I was a good girl and bit my tongue and did not tell them that American women gain 25-35 pounds (15kg) and I would be gaining the full amount by the end. 

If there is an internal exam, I go to another room, where you sit in a chair, not on a table with stir-ups.  You are in a room that is divided with a curtain.  When you are ready, the chair lifts you up, turns you toward the doctor, and opens your legs for you.  You are on the other side of the curtain from the doctor, which was odd to me and I opened the curtain up, so I could see the doctor.  Then when everything is done the chair puts you down and you are stunned at the technology of Japan. 

After the ultrasound and/or doctor visit, I am told that everything is ‘OK’ and I can come back in 2 weeks.   When I go into labor, I will go to this same place and the second floor is a labor room.  The Japanese do not seem to think highly of pain medication, so many clinics do not do epidurals.  At another clinic in town, the doctor learned how to do epidurals specifically for the American women that come to his clinic.  We have not discussed labor at my appointments yet, but from my understanding so far, I get a completely natural birth.  I have been researching the Bradley method for this, but most days Im still in denial about the birth and just hopeful that I can relax more than I did with Timothy, since I wanted the epidural at home and definitely got it as soon as I arrived at the hospital. 

So if you are friends or family or just in the praying mood, you can pray these things with me for labor (I need all the help I can get)

  • That I would be able to relax through contractions to lesson the pain
  • That labor would be relatively fast (Timothy was 12 hours from first contraction to birth)
  • That the baby would be not so big… Im hoping for a cute 6lb baby girl!
  • That the nurses would be helpful and there wouldnt be too many language barriers
  • That everyone would end up healthy and happy!

Finally, the most recent picture of Eve – and the best 4D picture we have gotten.  The last one just looked like Gollum. 
The nurse tried to wake her up for the photo so maybe she would move her hand away from her face, but it did not work.  Every time we have seen her she has had her hands up near her face. 

Hina Matsuri

Hina Matsuri is Girl’s Day, or March 3, in Japan.  I was lucky enough to go to two different Girl’s Day events, one the day of, then one the Monday after.   I only had my phone at the first event, so the pictures are a bit blurry.  We were able to see some of the traditional decorations for Girl’s Day, which often include dolls made to represent the emperor and empress, and one woman shared her large Girl’s Day set, which is a seven tier display, of which the emperor and empress are only one tier. 

 I hope I can get all this right, and the picture does not really do the display justice – it was beautiful.  The top tier with two dolls has the Imperial dolls, or the Emperor and Empress.  The next tier down is the three court ladies.  The third tier is the five musicians, and four hold instruments with the singer holding a fan.  The fourth tier is two ministers, and the fifth tier has three samuri, to protect the Emperor.  The sixth and seventh tier are both full of furniture for the Emperor and Empress, the sixth for use while at the palace and the seventh while away. 

It sounds like some of the doll sets are inherited, like we might inherit china from our grandparents.  Apparently they can be expensive like china.  The sets with just an emperor and empress were fun too, and all different and seemingly unique.  While at one of the events, the Japanese ladies taught us how to play a traditional Girl’s Day game with special cards that either had a bald Lord, a Lord with a head full of hair, or a Lady on them.  The bald man caused you to lose your cards, and the lady would gain all the cards in the middle back.  Somehow I won the game, and I really wanted to win the cards because they were so pretty!  Instead I received a handmade hina doll (girls day doll) and bean bags that they had made as well.  Im not sure if the bean bags had anything to do with Girl’s Day or not… but Timothy loves them. 

 The ladies had also displayed girl’s kimonos.  If I could find these for my nieces, I would buy them in a second, how cute are they?  I was told they are pretty expensive first hand though.  The smallest one at the bottom is apparently used for a baby, at 50 days old (or maybe anytime in the first 50 days) when they are taken to a shrine for a blessing. 

 We also ate traditional Girl’s Day food, and while I cannot tell you everything that I ate, I did have pink colored noodles, which were fun, and green/white/and pink mochi.  Im not the biggest fan of mochi, I think it has the consistency of a gummy fruit snack, but without the strong flavor. 

Today a ladies club in Sasebo was kind enough to invite us out and they cooked for us!  They had a huge table of food prepared, then told us about another Girl’s Day decoration, this mobile.  This one was between 3 and 4 feet long.  Im not as sure about all the meanings on this one, but each strand has 7 items on it, with 7 strands total along the outside.  They are traditionally made from scraps of kimono material.  She mentioned that 49 is not a good number, so they add the items in the middle to make the total number of items go up.  If i had sewing skills (and Japanese reading skills) I would make one – on a smaller scale.  We found kits in a craft shop after the luncheon, but I am going to have to hunt one down ready made.  Especially if this baby is a girl, which if everything goes right, we may be finding out this Friday.  So be looking for an announcement!  Or me complaining about an uncooperative baby. 

In other child related news, I have to brag on Timothy for a minute, because sometimes I dont do that enough.  He has decided that big boy underwear is what he wants to wear, and has gone through barely any diapers while home the past few days!  And that has not meant that I clean up messes every 15 minutes either.  He has gone to the potty on his own!  I am so proud of him, and excited that there is a slight chance of a diaper break between him being potty trained, and having another one in diapers for years.

Stay tuned for cherry blossom season pictures!  I am seeing the beginnings of it now, but I am hoping that it will hold off until the end of April for when our visitors come from the states.  Starbucks says it is here, and they are serving their ‘sakura’ or cherry blossom flavored drinks now.  I finally got to have one today, and it was very good, but not at all what I expected.  I had a sakura frappacino, and it tasted like a spicy cinnamon-y chai type drink, that was milk based.   But cold and pink!  I want another one already.  Drew, if you can get to this amidst the lack of Internet that you have, I call starbucks for date night.

Thailand

Last week, Timothy and I, along with our neighbor and her two year old son, left for Thailand to meet the ships, see our husbands, and have a tropical vacation.  Other than the 14 hours it takes to get there and back, (door to door, not the flight) it was a great trip!  It was so nice to leave the 40 degree weather behind and wear shorts in the 90 degree humidity.  Even the humidity is welcome in the middle of winter🙂.   We only got to see our menfolk for 3ish days, but it was a nice way to break up the deployment, and with our new baby on the way, I think this will be the only port visit I get to do.  Other places Drew has seen on deployment include Hong Kong, the Phillipines, and Singapore, and he will most likely see South Korea and a few more before we leave.  So it was nice to be included on this port visit, especially since Thailand is relatively cheap! 

We stayed in a house in Pattaya, Thailand.  Pattaya, unfortunately, is not known as a family vacation spot, but that is where the ships were going, so that is where we went.  It has a pretty seedy nightlife if you are downtown after dark, but our house was far away from that, and we have little boys who make our curfew about 7:30pm each night.  We spent a lot of our time enjoying the weather and our own private pool (and waterfall!).

The boys loved jumping in the water, and Timothy was doing very well by the end of the week, swimming around the pool with water wings on, but without me!  I am still fielding daily questions about the ‘other house’ and when we can go back to it, while our neighbor’s child asks to go to the pool every day. 

 

When the guys got off the ship, they took a bus to the Hard Rock Cafe to be dropped off in town.  I already wanted to go to Hard Rock since I have a thing about wanting to go to the overseas locations when possible (we also have one 2 hours away from us in Japan, in Fukuoka.)  Since we don’t get American food in Japan unless it is on base,  it was SO nice to go and spend the evening there.  Timothy ended up flirting with the girl hostesses and dancing to the rock music in his high chair.  So now we know what it takes to keep him calm at a restaurant: really loud Foo Fighters songs.  We were so proud.  And we were surprised at what nice memorabilia the Hard Rock in Pattaya had!  There was a Madonna outfit, an Elvis outfit, many many guitars, and Drew’s favorite, a whole Sting wall.

and a cute picture of the boys while we were there:

The most exciting thing we did while we were there was definitely Elephant Village.  We have been talking with Timothy for months about how he was going to ride an elephant.  We figured that is all we would do there, but they made an interesting half day out of it.  We got to take a ox-pulled cart ride through the countryside, which Timothy has told me many times that we ‘rode’ the ‘horses.’ 

Then we met their pet gibbon (like a monkey but no tail) and Timothy tried so hard to feed it a banana but it was a monkey focused on one thing.  Junk food. 

That is orange Fanta Mr. Tony (the animal) is drinking.  Then we trekked through the jungle, which was definitely not fun considering the mosquitos and red ants, and we came out at the place to get on the elephants.  I realized at the last minute that elephants are really tall!  That meant I had to step off the platform, over nothingness and onto the rickety looking chair on top of the elephant.  Not sure why I went first for this, but I did and I did not fall with my pregnant self, so that was an accomplishment.  After a few minutes I was used to the height, and the ride was much more enjoyable after that.  Although I did decide that if the baby was late, I would just have to find an elephant and ride for awhile, and that should shake the baby loose.  Shouldnt be too hard in Japan, right?

Timothy was excited to ride the elephant and see everyone else riding theirs.  We went through open terrain, let the elephants eat – they eat so much a day they must have to eat every hour, and went through water on the way back.

So if you go to Thailand, I fully recommend riding an elephant.  I’ll post the rest of our pictures on facebook later this week, and get ready, there are a lot!

And one last picture for family who would like to see the baby progress –

Nagasaki Lantern Festival

We have done a lot in the past few months!  Drew, Timothy and I got to go home to the states for a few weeks in the fall to see family, which was so nice.  Timothy loved getting to know all of his family again, and now, despite the 3 plane rides it would take to see anyone, he often asks to go to their houses.  I try to remind him how he told me on our first flight home out of Huntsville that he was ‘done with the plane’ but he has already forgotten this.  He just wants to see his grandparents!  They all have plans to come see us now, which is nice, and encouraging for him when he wants to see them. 

Better than all the places we got to eat at and shop at in the states, and all the other fun things we brought back, we also came back with baby #2!  Which explains a lot of the ‘jet lag’ symptoms of dehydration and tiredness after we got home :)  I’m 14 weeks along, despite what the picture says, and I got to see the baby’s jaw line and spine, as well as s/he sucking their thumb in this past ultrasound.  I only had 2 ultrasounds the entire pregnancy last time, but apparently the Navy base and then the Japanese clinic that I will end up at do an ultrsound at every visit.  We will have plenty of chances to find out the sex – and if I thought I could wait to find out, I think all these ultrasounds would take away my determination.  Good thing Drew will get to be at the next appointment, otherwise I would be trying to figure out the sex on my own even if I did tell the doctor not to tell me yet!

One funny thing that Timothy has done since Drew has been gone was to pick up a play cell phone and say into it “Chaplain Jones here” numerous times.  I really dont think that Drew got that many work calls at home, but apparently Timothy was listening, because he has answered the phone that way and referred to himself that way as well. 

This past week (Feb 3) was Chinese New Year, and it is celebrated in Nagasaki’s Chinatown with a huge display of paper lanterns.  I was not brave enough to go last year on my own, since Drew was deployed then too.  Luckily, this year I had a friend to act as a tour guide!  So 4 adults took 7 children to the festival.  It went remarkably well, although our stroller brigade and blonde children were stared at quite a bit.  The Japanese tend to wear their babies instead of pushing them around – probably because of the lack of space.  I definitely have to use my umbrella stroller going anywhere out in town, regular strollers are just too big. 

I had seen pictures of the amount of lanterns
 

but I didn’t realize the size of some of the lanterns, and that they would be in all kinds of shapes!  They were wire forms with fabric stretched over them, a bit like the deer and other creations we put out at Christmas. 

 

Last year was the year of the Tiger in Chinese zodiac, and this year is the year of the rabbit.  I think I must have missed the rabbit lanterns, because surely they were around somewhere.  There were quite a few animals on display at a park we went to.

 

And even two that the kids could sit on!  A horse, and a camel.
 We also took a picture with a panda, but Timothy moves so much every single picture of mine turned out blurry.  I tried to get him to look at the camera at every animal, and he doesn’t.  Then, I go to get a meat filled dumpling (mmm) and he tells one of the other ladies ‘cheese!  cheese!’ like he is waiting to get his picture taken.  And then my camera battery died right as the sun was setting and the lanterns looked their prettiest.  So that was our adventure to the lantern festival!  On the way home, we stopped at KFC.  That’s Kentucky Fried Chicken!  Complete with Colonel Sanders statue out front.  The chicken strips I had tasted a lot like fried fish, but Timothy’s chicken nuggets were good.  I did not see a single bucket of fried chicken though, I think it was all pieces of chicken or sandwiches.  Or snack wrap type things that I was afraid would have wasabi in them.  There were definitely pieces of seaweed, or nori sprinkled on one of them, but that is pretty common here. 

Drew missed the festival, which was sad, because it seemed like it would be a very fun place to go walking at night with your husband.  And maybe without kids ;)  But we will be seeing him in an exotic location in just a few weeks, so Timothy and I are very excited!  I’m also very excited that it will be warm weather, and thankful for my sister in laws summer maternity clothes that I will already be needing!