Friday, December 30, 2005

Highlights of "Christmas Week"

December 24th - Hosting our Holiday Dinner with roast leg of lamb and all the trimmings

December 25th - Church, potluck and gift exchange, seeing the
Christmas lights in Hitachi

December 26th - A lazy day at home

December 27th - Trip to Costco to buy my pans (Thanks, Mom and Dad for the Christmas money!) and stock up on American food, dinner at the Outback Steakhouse

December 28th - Opening stockings and presents at home, watching all 7 hours of "The Flame Trees of Thika" (a miniseries set in Kenya)

December 29th - Another trip to the doctor (It's official -- we're having a BOY!), a trip to the new mall in Mito, going to see "Harry Potter 4"

Enjoy the photo collage below!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Meri Kurisumasu!

That's "Merry Christmas" in Japanese. We hope you had a happy holiday. This Christmas was a bit different for us, as it was the first time we have spent Christmas without either of our families since we have been married.

On Christmas Eve, we had seven friends come to our house for a holiday dinner. I roasted my first leg of lamb, which turned out absolutely delectable, if I do say so myself. We had a mountain of other food as well, from green bean casserole to pumpkin pie. A true feast. After stuffing ourselves to bursting, we played games, chatted, and watched movies into the evening. A good time was had by all, and being busy with dinner preparations kept me from feeling too lonely and homesick.

Christmas Day being a Sunday, we went to church in the morning. We were privileged to witness the baptism of Chihiro, a young woman who has been studying the Bible for some time now, after the morning service. After church, we had a potluck, followed by a gift exchange. Then, Rusty and I took the train to central Hitachi to do some gift shopping for each other and to see the Christmas lights.

We still have not opened our presents yet, mostly because, with all of the craziness of the last few weeks, neither of us have had time to shop for each other. The pile of gifts under the tree is steadily growing, though, thanks to the packages that keep arriving from home. I guess we will be having "Christmas week," in honor of Rusty's mom, who invariably forgets to wrap and put out presents that she buys months before Christmas and stashes away under her bed. Love ya, Mama Mary!

In the words of one of my favorite Christmas poems, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Baby, It's Cold Outside (and Inside Too)

When I got to the school on Monday at about 12:30 p.m., the thermostat on the heater registered a frigid 4 degrees. Celcius, that is. Just barely above freezing. The first thing I did when I got in the door was turn on the two kerosene-powered heaters that warm the room during the winter months. I didn't even take off my gloves or my coat until about 20 minutes later when things had warmed up slightly.

One of the little-known idosyncrecies of Japan is that very few homes and apartment buildings have central heat and air. They are not well insulated, either. Which means that we swelter in the summer and get frostbite in the winter. I don't know -- in a country that has about a three-year jump on America as far as technology is concerned, this seems a little strange to me. But then again, this is also a country where it is common to see elementary school boys walking back and forth to school in shorts year-round, and where high school girls continue to hike their skirts up well past their knees, even in the dead of winter. From a very young age, Japanese children are taught to "gambare," a Japanese word which basically means, "Suck it up, you pansy!" They learn early on not to complain about such minor things as extreme heat and cold -- it is a sign of weakness. As adults, this translates into a mentality which places less value on one's "personal physical comfort."

It strikes me that we Americans could stand to learn a lesson or two from the Japanese. Now, I am not advocating bare-legged winter walks to school or getting rid of central heating. I love central heating. It's great to come home to a warm house, to not have to bother with refilling the kerosene heater every 2-3 days (one of Rusty's LEAST favorite chores), to not have to smell those nasty fumes when it kicks on and off. What I AM suggesting is that many of us could stand to de-emphasize the importance of being comfortable. When we determine, "I could never do [insert task here]," because it takes us too far out of our comfort-zone, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, it is my belief that we have set up an idol to "comfort" and begun to worship it.

In some small way, I feel that my unpleasant experiences with Japanese winters have helped me learn an important truth: God calls us to be faithful, not comfortable.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas Partied Out!

I am officially Christmas partied out! And it is not even December 15th yet -- is that sad or what? This last weekend, I had no less than FIVE Christmas parties to go to. On Friday, I went to a homemade ornament exchange party with 10 friends. Each person who attended made 10 ornaments, and at the party we swapped. I came home with 10 new, extremely cute ornaments for my tree. And the best part is that each one will remind me of that friend in the years to come when I decorate the Christmas tree.

On Saturday, Rusty and I helped host our school Christmas parties. We had two parties during the day -- one in the morning for the younger children and one in the afternoon for the older children. The parties were a lot of fun. The kids made reindeer out of clothespins, played Christmas Bingo, had a "snowball fight" with wadded up newspaper, and had a gift exchange.

On Saturday evening, we also attended a party for the adult students of World English Center. The party was at the "50's Diner" in Taga, one of Rusty's recent finds. The chef is a young woman who studied culinary arts in California for 2 years. She makes the best onion rings and apple pie we have ever tasted -- both were featured on the menu that evening.

On Sunday evening, we hosted the LKT (Let's Keep Talking) Christmas party at our house. LKT is the weekly follow-up program to LST (Let's Start Talking), a 6-week summer program that offers free English lessons using the Bible as a text. Rusty and I have been involved with the LKT Sunday night classes this fall; there are also other classes that go on during the week. I made chili and cornbread -- I guess it was a big hit, judging from the way the pot was practically scraped clean. We played games, sang a few Christmas carols, and had a gift exchange. It was good to get to know some of the students outside of the "class" setting.

Friends Reunited

Rusty and Laura Campbell. Mark and Charity Chan. Steve and Wendy Gist. Lj and Kari Littlejohn. We four couples taught English together in Mito, Japan four years ago. On Saturday, December 3rd, we had a mini-reunion at our house -- the first time we have all been together again since the Gists returned to America in 2001. The pictures below show how our families have grown and changed in four years. Three of us now have children, and Rusty and I will be joining the "Baby Club" in not too much longer! God is good and has blessed us richly with special friends such as these. It is my hope and prayer that we will continue to be friends through the years, no matter what different paths He may lead us down.

Daddy-to-be, Mark & Freedom, Lj & Stone, Steve & Matthew
Mama-to-be, Charity & Freedom, Kari & Stone, Wendy & Matthew

Friday, December 02, 2005

Daddy Practice

There have been a lot of pictures of me and my pregnant belly on the blog lately, but not so many of Rusty (well, I'm not counting the picture of him wearing that obnoxious Beast mask). So, I thought I would share this one of Rusty and Matthew, Steve and Wendy Gist's little boy, having a good time at our house.

This picture makes me smile every time I see it. Rusty is going to be such a great dad! I am so looking forward to sharing the adventures of parenting with him as we begin a new chapter in our lives.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

We are Thankful

For family in Jesus.
For friends.
For food,

Fun, and

For the miracle of new life,
Both physical,
and spiritual.

For God's grace,
guidance, and
constant presence.

For forgiveness,
and hope.

For Jesus.

So much to be thankful for!

(Pictures taken at the annual Thanksgiving Fellowship Meal at the Taga Church of Christ, Saturday, November 26th, 2005.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pottery on the Wall

Sometimes, do you ever feel like you're just stuck on the wall? Laura and I were privileged to take the OC Pac Rim faculty sponsors to Nikko for a short getaway several weeks ago. It was good to just get out of town for the weekend and spend time getting to know them. On the way up to Nikko we stopped by a little pottery town called Mashiko. You can get all kinds of pottery in all shapes and sizes and prices. In the main parking area for the pottery shops was this fountain decorated with various kinds of pottery. Even though it's pretty cool, they aren't excactly serving the purpose in which they were intended for. It reminded me a little of being in Africa and seeing broken glass and pottery cemented on the very tops of the walls to discourage theives from climbing over the tops. These different uses of pottery got me thinking about this passage in the Bible: "But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." (IS. 64:8)

In our own lives, do we just want to sit there and look pretty with all the beauty that God has blessed us with or do we just put up broken fragments of who we are because we're to afraid to let people get close to us? Either way, like these beautiful plates, bowls, and vases or the broken shards of pottery in Africa, how often are we being used by the potter for the purpose for which He created us?

I know this is a heavy topic, but lately I've felt like a I'm a spectacle that's on display, and at the same time I also feel broken. Broken, not in the sense that I'm shattered and trying to keep people away. But, broken because God has a plan and a purpose for me and I've been stuck on a wall trying to keep Him out of my heart. I've been trying to do things that, even though they are useful and effective, are not what the Potter originally intended for me to do. God has a plan and a purpose for all of us even though we often don't realize it until we're stuck on the wall someplace doing something that we weren't created for. Always follow your destiny.

-- Rusty

Monday, November 14, 2005

Meet My Midwife

This is the midwife who will be helping me with Baby Campbell's birth. Her name is Ms. Kudo. Rusty and I have decided not to have a hospital birth (unless it becomes medically necessary, of course). Instead, I will be delivering at Ms. Kudo's clinic, which is in her home. This is also where I go each month for my prenatal check-ups. The midwife can do all the things that are done in a doctor's office -- urine test, check my weight and other measurements, even listen to the baby's heartbeat.

She also does some things that are normally NOT done in a doctor's office -- like prenatal massage! At every visit, I receive a wonderful, warming massage with incense (as shown in the picture). We also have tea and spend the better part of an hour just talking. Ms. Kudo speaks great English since she spent time studying midwifery in England. She is a very comforting person to be around. I feel that both Baby Campbell and I are in good hands and will receive the very best of care from her.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Refrigerator

For every home we have lived in since we have been married, I have covered the refrigerator with pictures. Pictures of family. Pictures of friends. Pictures of people we see often. Pictures of people we don't. Our picture-covered refrigerator is one of the things that makes a house seem like "home" to me.

With Rusty out of town this week (attending a church-planting conference), I decided to tackle some cleaning projects as well as a few of the boxes still waiting to be unpacked. I can't tell you how excited I was to dig into one box and stumble across the envelope full of pictures I had taken down from our refrigerator before we left Mississippi in June. I spent the better part of the next hour carefully arranging them on our fridge. I can't help but smile now when I look at it and see dear and familiar faces smiling back at me:

Michaela - my beautiful and infinitely precious neice
Robbie and Johnny - what a pair of nephews these two are!
Sarah, Amanda, Jaime - former college roommates, still my friends even after living with me!
Tim and Chalon; Robert and Jenny - friends from Portland
Lj and Kari; Kelsey and Lisa; Jason and Nicole - friends from our Mito days and beyond
The Cash family - missionary friends in Uganda
Jesse, Mackenzie, Sadie - precious children of friends from church in Mississippi

And there are many others. And always room for more! If you would like to be included on our refrigerator, just send us a picture. I'll find a spot for you, I promise.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"An Egg with Legs"

That is what Rusty told me I was beginning to look like the other day. Leave it to a man to come up with such an elegant and poetic description of the pregnant form!

Anyway, this picture is for all those of you who have been begging for a picture of me from the side. As you can see, Baby Campbell is getting bigger, and so am I for that matter. I am at 22 weeks as of this photo and feeling great, although I have been noticing that it is getting more and more difficult to tie my shoes!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tale as Old as Time. . .

I have to say that I think Rusty and I had rockin' costumes for Halloween this year!!! I, of course, loved being Belle, since "Beauty and the Beast" is my absolute favorite Disney movie of all time. I borrowed the costume from an AET friend in Mito. But, Rusty was definitely the star of the show as the Beast. Isn't the mask wonderfully realistic? It was made by the mother of one of our students for a play that she and some other parents put on at her son's kindergarten. The mask is made completely out of foam pieces that were cut and glued together and then painted. Also with the costume came the dinner jacket and purple cape. There were gloves and slippers for paws, but they didn't fit my beastly baby!

We wore these costumes for our school's Autumn Festival this past Saturday. All the kids come in costume, and all the teachers too. We had a costume contest (for the kids), a pinata, face-painting, a craft, and games like Bean Bag Toss and Pumpkin Seed Spitting. Rusty and I also introduced the folks here to "Trunk or Treat," the wonderful new twist on trick-or-treating that we discovered while living in Memphis. Everybody had a great time, including Beauty and the Beast!

Friday, September 16, 2005

First Week Teaching Nightmares

So, even though we have been teaching now for about 6 weeks, I thought I would share a couple of funny stories about our first week of classes. As most of you know, we are here in Japan as English teachers. We work for a small, private eikaiwa or English conversation school. Most of of our students are younger elementary, although we also teach some junior high and adult classes. Kids will be kids, no matter where in the world you are, and -- let's be honest -- sometimes they are gross! So far, we have witnessed nose-picking, scab-picking, gas expelling, and other not-so-sanitary kid behaviors, all during an English lesson.

However, the grossest (is that a word?) thing of all happened to me on my third day of teaching. I had a student puke all over the floor at the end of one of my classes. And guess who had the privilege of cleaning it up? So, I'm down on my hands and knees, mopping up puke, and trying not to throw up myself, and all the time I'm thinking "I never had to do this when I worked at Highland." Church secretaries (or, to be P.C., administrative assistants) do a lot of things, but cleaning up puke is generally not in the job description. It was a real low point for me.

When teaching children, you tend to do a lot of moving around -- singing, dancing, playing games, etc. Rusty, being the big, loveable, energetic guy that he is, probably does more moving around than most. So, he is teaching his very first class, on his very first day, to a group of toddlers, and he sits down crossed legged, and his pants split wide open (WIDE OPEN), right up the crotch (all the way to the upper peninsula). To make matters worse, the toddlers' mothers were all in the class with their children, sitting on the floor (in full veiw of old glory). Needless to say, Rusty was embarassed (only as much as any other guy would be). He had to run out during his break between classes to buy some new pants. Luckily, he was able to find some that were big enough for his American-size posterior! (well, almost)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

14 Weeks and Counting

We are now taking bets on whether Baby Campbell is a boy or a girl. Click on "Post a Comment" and leave your guesses there. We went to the doctor again today and had another ultrasound and got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. That was totally cool. The baby was moving around quite a bit. We could see its face and its little hand waving in the air.

In this picture, the baby is curled on its side with its back to the camera. The head is on the right, and you can see a tiny hand peeking out at the top.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Great Expectation

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, we'll let you figure this one out! Yes, we are going to be parents. Baby Campbell is expected to arrive sometime at the beginning of March. I was at 9 weeks as of this ultrasound. Unfortunately, the picture is not all that great, but according to the doctor, the baby's head is on the bottom. It is too early to hear the heartbeat, but we could see it on the screen. The doctor told us we have a very genki (energetic/happy) baby. We had planned on starting a family after we returned to Japan, but we had it in mind to wait at least a year or two to give ourselves time to get settled. But it seems God had other ideas! We were surprised, but also very excited to learn that we are soon to be parents.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We're On the Move!

After three years of living in the Memphis area, we are once again on the move. At the end of June, we began a long trek across the United States, from Senatobia, Mississippi to Portland, Oregon. I'm sure that some people thought we were crazy to hitch a U-Haul trailer to the back of our truck and then drive over 2,000 miles, but we arrived safely at our destination on Friday, July 1st. Thanks to all those who prayed for us while we were on the road.

Actually, Portland is only a "stop-over" on our journey, because our final destination lies across the Pacific Ocean. Yes, for those who haven't heard, we are going back to Japan. We hope to be there by the end of July. (We don't know the exact date as of yet, because we are still waiting on our visas before we purchase our plane tickets.) We will be working for World English School in the city of Hitachi. Hitachi is about an hour away from Mito, where we lived for three years before we came to Memphis.

Until we have an address in Japan, you can reach us at the following address in Portland:

% Mary Campbell
131 NE 89th Avenue
Portland, OR 97220

Cell phone - (901)647-1020
Email address -

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Purple Graduate

Well, here we are with my "baby" brother, Matt on his high school graduation day, June 9, 2005. It was ten years ago, almost to the day, that I was the one wearing the robe and funny cap and walking across the stage to receive my diploma. Time has such a habit of flying by when I'm not looking. Then suddenly, I turn around, and my baby brother is taller than me and my little sister has a baby of her own! It's truly amazing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Star Wars Junkie

I confess. I am a "Star Wars" junkie. Episode 3 "Revenge of the Sith" has been in theaters not even a week, and already I have seen it no less than four times (my junkie husband has seen it five). We were at the theater opening night for the 12:01 showing, and it was an awesome experience! I never go to movies on opening night because I hate standing in line and the mad rush for all the best seats. But, I figured if ever there was a time to make an exception to this rule, it was for the final installment of the "Star Wars" saga. It is the end of an era for me. Episode 4 came out in 1977, the year I was born. My parents went to see it, and they liked it so well that they went back the next night and saw it again! What can I say? I was raised by a junkie. At least I come by it honestly.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Proud Auntie

Meet my beautiful new neice! Michaela Grace Marcum made her entrance into the world about a week early. She was born on April 30, 2005 and weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces. Proud parents are Josh and Julie Marcum (my sister). I think she is the most beautiful baby ever, but I'll admit I am probably biased! I am amazed at the extraordinary love I feel for this tiny person who doesn't even know me yet. I love being an "auntie," and I only wish I was going to be around to watch this little one grow up.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Hi and welcome to the Campbell Chronicles! This little blog was created so that we could share something of our lives with family members and friends in other parts of the world. We can share our stories and even post pictures. Best of all -- it's free! We are new to this "blogging" thing, so I guess we will be learning as we go.