Different Cultures are Fascinating

One of the best parts about living in Japan has been all of the amazing cultures that I have been able to experience during my time here.  The Japanese culture itself has been incredible to learn about, but that is just the start.

I have been able to work with people from Japan, England, Australia, New Zealand, and the Phillipines.  On top of that, I have gotten to visist Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Nepal, Indonesia, and Guam.  I realize Guam is part of the US, but it does have its quirks.

This is not an attampt at a humble brag as much as it is an idea of the many different cultures I have gotten to experience.  They all have different foods, languages, religions, historical sites, and the list goes on.  

If I’m being honest there is a decent chance I never would have visited Asia had I not actually lived here, and what a loss to my life that would have been.  It has not all been tulips and rose petals here, in fact it has been quite the opposite, but it has been an eye opening experience.  

Most of us Americans have no idea just how great we have it.  Even those living in poverty in the US have it better than billions of people in Southeast Asia.  Yet many of the people here are very pleasant and welcoming.  

We loud boisterous Americans could learn a lot from the humble demeanor of these cultures.  Many of them are very tied to family.  They all sacrifice so much to take care of each other and to just get through.

Every time I visit one of these developing nations, I am in shock at how far behind the rest of the world is.  They live such basic lives, and most have so little to live for.  But not only do many of them live, they thrive.   

Not usually financially, but in the areas of kindness and openness that they personify, there are few equals in the world, with maybe the exception of the Africans I met in Europe.  They are the kindest, most open minded individuals I have ever know.

There is so much we could learn from each other if we would simply try to understand the other side.  If you consistenyly do that, you will find a peace and joy that cannot be masked, which is why I am grateful for different cultures.

What are you grateful for?

Thai Food

I have loved Thai food since the first time I had it in Seattle about 13 years ago.  It is just so freaking delicious.  

I have been to Thailand a few times now and the food is different than in America as usual but is still incredibly delicious.  It doesn’t even have to be spicy either.

If you haven’t ever had it I highly recommend you do.  Having just been there to enjoy it again, I am super grateful for Thai Food.

What are you grateful for?

Heroes on Hacksaw Ridge

There are so many great people that have lived in this world, and that currently live in this world.  I absolutely love it when I get to meet those heroic people.  

Unfortunately, we are losing more and more of the heroes from WWII everyday which means that many of their stories will be lost forever.  One of those unbelievable stories was recently made into a movie titled Hacksaw Ridge.  

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  The short version of the story is that this heroic man, Desmond Doss, refused to pick up a weapon, but wanted to do his part in the war effort.  So he volunteered as a medic in the Army.

Spoiler alert: he went on to save 75 men by carrying them off the battlefield and lowering them off the side of a hill known by the Americans as Hacksaw Ridge.  He was the first noncombatant to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While I did recently see the movie, which I again highly recommend, my gratitude for this hero was brought on today by visiting the site of the actual Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, Japan.  While much of the area is now covered with buildings and a very large cemetary, it was still awe inspiring to walk somewhere where something so heroic took place.

It was a reminder to me that truly heroic people can come from literally anywhere, and that we must never underestimate the power of a human soul who simply wants to do good and help other people.

I will likely never be asked to do something as difficult as Desmond Doss, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for all of us to be equally heroic.  That’s why today I am grateful for heroes who inspire us to do those heroic things.

What are you grateful for?

Being Productive

Today was one of those good days I have talked about preciously.  Nothing incredible happened, but it was an all around productive day, and I always enjoy that.  With my family gone, it is easy for me to just be totally unproductive and sit around doing nothing.

Fortunately, today I went into work, got a work out in, did some shopping, clean all my bathrooms, did some laundry, packed for a trip I will be taking soon, washed the dishes, read my book, did some writing, and now I am ending the day with a little more reading and writing.

None of these tasks were monumental, and unfortunately, none of them really did any good for anyone else, but it helps when you are going to sleep to know that you got some stuff done. That’s why today I am grateful for being productive.

What are you grateful for?

A God Who Loves Me

Throughout my life my testimony has gone through all different phases.  I have gone through periods of complete faith and others of complete doubt.

I think all of us do this to some extent, and the height of our peaks and depth of our valleys just differs.  There is no use in comparing because it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is finding a way to pick ourselves back up when we are feeling down.  It is equally important to work to maintain the peaks so that we have the “religious capital” known as faith to get us through those harder times.

As I look back on the struggles I have had in my life, as well as the good times, there is one thing that I have never lost any faith in.  That is that I know that God loves me.  Not just in a quaint affectionate way, but as a father loves his child, individually and without end.

There have been times I felt like no one loved me, including myself, and other times when I felt incredibly loved.  I have been worthy of that love at times, and other times not so much.

But, no matter how good or bad my life has been, there has always been that one undeniable truth, and that is why tonight I am grateful for a God that loves me.

What are you grateful for?

The Princess Bride

I know it is an old, somewhat cheesy movie, but it will always be one of my favorites.  Just like the grandpa says, it is full of sports, so what’s not to love?

Sure the acting is not very good, the editing is terrible in some sections, and the writing leaves plenty to be desired, but it is still just wonderful.  

I mean Westley goes from being a farmer to becoming a bad A pirate that can hand over hand a rope all the way up thousand foot cliffs.  He can take poison no problem. He can fight off a giant and a master swordsman.  He can even have 50 years of his life sucked away, and be riding a horse a few hours later.  All for the love of a woman.  Take that Chuck Norris.

I didn’t even mention the classic dialogue.  We all know the rhyming scene well.  Then there are my two favorite lines, “I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake, but in the meantime, rest well, and dream of large women.” and of course, “There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in the world, it would be a pity to damage yours.”

I think the real reason I still latch onto this movie so much is because it is a fond memory of my childhood.  It reminds me of the simple joys in life.  It doesn’t matter if other people like it, because I still enjoy it.

I can always go for a little more humor and adventure in my life, and that’s why tonight I am grateful for The Princess Bride.

What are you thankful for?

The Love of a Child

I miss my kids terribly.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I still get to talk to them essentially every day, and I usually get to see them through video chat.  I’m not sure if this actually makes the whole thing easier or harder, but I enjoy it either way.

On my way to church this morning I called to talk to them as they would be in bed before I got home from church.  I was only really able to talk to my wife and one daughter as the reception was pretty crappy.  

About a half an hour after getting to church my wife messaged me saying that my oldest really wanted to talk to me.  Once they were in better cell coverage she called and I was able to talk to her.

She told me about the fun they had had at Lake Tahoe that day, and the good time she had with a friend the night before at a show for her birthday.  She also told me she missed me and she loved me.

It was a simple conversation that lasted barely five minutes, but I know it meant a lot to both of us.  It is important to connect, even if only briefly, with those we love on a regular basis.

She has such a tender heart and I am always in awe of the love she is able to express to me in so many different ways.  It is totally pure and unfettered by any of the cares of the world.  She has no ulterior motive other than wanting to share some time with someone she loves.

I am not around nearly as much as I would like thanks to work and these long absences, but I am eternally grateful for the love of a child that gets me through these challenging times.

What are you grateful for?