So it's been a month.

So, It's been a while since my first post. Almost a month exactly. It's actually pretty crazy to me that I've been here in Japan for only a month. It honestly feels longer than that. Regardless, this month has been very eventful.

In my last post, I didn't really explain much about my placement, or what I'm doing here in Japan. So I'll be glad to enlighten you.

During my year here, I'm going to be volunteering at the Asian Rural Institute in Tochigi, Japan. In a nutshell, the ARI is a vocational school that trains grassroots leaders from rural communities on sustainable farming, servant leadership, and community development. The overall goal is for the grassroots leaders to become more effective in the work that they do in their communities Each year, about 30 participants from countries in Asia and Africa are invited to participate in the 9 month program, which starts in April and ends in December. The training here is community-based, so we (the participants, staff, and volunteers) all work together to produce and share our own food. This means a lot of farm work, like planting crops, harvesting, tending to animals, and so much more. Along with the farm work, there's also many administrative duties that need to be taken care of (just like any other school) in order to keep the ARI running.

So, what do I do here? Well, as a volunteer, my duties are split between office work and farm work. Essentially I have two jobs. My office job is in Ecumenical Relations. This means that I'm responsible for maintaining relationships with ARI's supporters in the United States and also helping to build the fundraising program. So far, my main tasks have been emailing previous volunteers, updating our database of overseas partners, and writing articles for our newsletter "Take My Hand".

My farm work here is slightly more interesting. The work that we have to do around the ARI is called "Foodlife" work, which emphasizes the interdependence between food and life. The idea behind it is that God created us to sustain life by making food, and humans cannot survive without food, so we are working to sustain life. Foodlife work involves working with crops, tending to livestock, or preparing meals, and those jobs change each month. Currently, my foodlife work is dealing with chickens. This involves feeding the chickens, changing out their water, and retrieving and cleaning the eggs they lay.

To say that working with chickens is interesting would be an understatement. So far, I've seen a chicken laying eggs (I felt really bad for the chicken),  been pecked (several times, actually), and witnessed chickens mating (not as majestic as one would think).

Actually, today I ended up having to chase a rooster that got out of the hen. This morning when I was feeding the chickens, I left the door open behind me, and one of the roosters got out. Luckily for me, with the way the chicken house was set up, the rooster was only in a small hallway of the house and not completely outside. However, I still had to get it back into its pen. So I put on my thinking cap and tried several ideas. First, I tried chasing it, bare handed. The rooster ran into a corner, and when I came up to it, started flapping frantically. I, being a huge wimp, immediately backed off, thinking it was going to peck me. Next, I tried the old “leave a trail of breadcrumbs” trick, except in this case the breadcrumbs were chicken feed. I grabbed some chicken feed, and threw some on the ground, making a trail from the rooster to the door of the pen. It DID NOT work. The rooster looked at the feed, then back at me, as if to say “Really?”, and then continued about its business pecking around the hallway. I felt so dumb. At this point I was completely pissed off and determined to get that rooster back in the pen. No matter what. So I looked around the hallway and I saw a crate on the ground. I grabbed it, took a deep breath, and made a mad dash for the rooster. It started flapping wildly, and running around the hallway. After about a minute of chasing the bird, I lunged for it with the crate, and trapped it underneath. Then I, triumphantly, slid the crate to the pen door and lifted up the crate, letting the rooster rush into its pen. I learned two lessons from this situation. 1. Never do anything you see in cartoons. You’ll end up looking stupid. 2. Always close the door behind you when dealing with chickens. 

Sorry this post was a little long, but hopefully it gave you all a better idea about what I’m doing here. I know that I didn’t really talk about what’s been going on this past month, so I’m going to make another post talking about it. But so far, I’ve been learning a lot here about truly living in a community. The thing I love about it is that we all work together to keep the ARI running, and everyone looks out for each other. We all have something to give, and no matter how big or small that thing is, it is valid. I think that’s something everyone should remember.

Thank you again for your prayers and support, and I hope you all are well.
God Bless.

P.S.: Here's a recent pic of me with some friends at a Christmas light display. It was a really fun time.


  1. I love your blogs, keep them coming. This is an experience you will never forget. Thanks for your service to mankind.

  2. You work sounds really interesting! Looking foward to more chicken stories.

  3. I second Jourdan's chicken story request! What kind of parallels to Scripture can be reflected on from the Chicken Coop?! Time will tell. Peace and many blessings to you from Jerusalem.


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