My first day of language school went wonderfully. I was amazed to see how international my class is – there are 12-13 students in my class from Chile, Canada, Japan, Bulgaria, Iran, Turkey, the US, and even a few other nations. Our teacher looks like a mad professor and loves to crack corny jokes which makes the class really fun. The class is all in German with a few words in English thrown in for fun, and I am glad I am able to keep up and understand almost everything although I am new to the class. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that the lady sitting next to me is Japanese and we are the same age. Hopefully we can have a language exchange so that I don’t forget my Japanese.  Our classes are three hours long, but the first class flew by so quickly I couldn’t believe it! I was able to learn quite a bit, so I am hopeful that after 6-8 months of intensive classes topped with private lessons that I’ll be able to hold a decent conversation in German by this time next year. Thankfully, despite the difficulties I have with pronouncing German, I am enjoying learning this language very much. I also find time to keep up my Japanese studies, although I have no idea if or when we will go back to Japan. I also try to study Spanish here and there, and I had a chance to use my rusty Spanish with my Chilean classmate. Matthias is searching for a job; he has his first job interview on Tuesday so I will have the rare opportunity to see my husband in a suit. We desperately hope he finds employment soon – please pray for us!

Other than that, it is quite rainy here and I don’t like to go out that much. I am keeping busy with language studies, cooking and cleaning, and reading lots of books. I am currently in the middle of six books, and my favorite one is called “Japan at War: An Oral History.” I cannot put this one down: it’s a book about everyday people’s experiences during the war. I am utterly fascinated with every account in this book and find myself reading big chunks of it aloud to Matthias.

Book description: This groundbreaking work of oral history captures for the first time ever the remarkable story of ordinary Japanese people during World War II. In a sweeping panorama, Haruko Taya and Theodore Cook take us from the Japanese attacks on China in the 1930s to the Japanese homefront during the inhuman raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, offering the first glimpses of how this century’s most violent conflict affected the lives of the Japanese population. Japan At War is a monumental work of history–one to which Americans and Japanese will turn for decades to come.

Since I am recommending things, I also recommend a movie called “Innocent Voices (Voces Inocentes),” a Mexican movie about the civil war in El Salvador from a child’s point of view. I will confess that I really ought to know a lot about the civil war in El Salvador. I’ve been to El Salvador twice, read books, own a ton of books on the topic…but this movie helped me to sort out the details of this complicated subject. I have tried over and over in vain to read books on the civil war, but somehow I always manage to get sidetracked (so easily) and never really finish what I read. This was helpful to put in context the bits of pieces of what I have read on the subject and now I feel ready to tackle the 6-7 books on El Salvadoran history that I have left unfinished.

Movie summary: A young boy, in an effort to have a normal childhood in 1980’s El Salvador, is caught up in a dramatic fight for his life as he desperately tries to avoid the war which is raging all around him.

The boy in the move is one of the most beautiful kids I’ve ever seen in my life, but I think I am a bit impartial to cute Salvadoran kids. It is shocking to how see in the film (and in real life) boys as young as ten were being recruited by both the national army and the guerillas. “Innocent Voices” tells his story of escape from the army as well as the experience of war from a child’s perspective – great movie!

I am dying to see “Maria’s Story: A Documentary Portrait Of Love And Survival In El Salvador’s Civil War” (2010) but I can’t find it yet on Netflix. Bummer!