がんばる (gambaru): v. hold out, work hard; (popular translation) fight (to win).
Luther High School and Junior High have been officially on summer vacation for one week now. However, most students have not had a break from school and many will not stop taking classes this summer. No, our honors/ college-prep students will take 5, 80 minute classes 4-6 days each week for the duration of the summer. For people in the States this might sound crazy, but the extra classes do help these students get into top universities.
がんばれ (gambare/gambale): what one says when one is cheering for others who are working hard; this form of gambaru is more of a plea for another person/team to hold out or keep going.
Our college-minded students are not the only ones working hard this summer. For our athletes, summer means game time. Our high school swim, baseball, what we translate as "Soft-baseball"--different from softball, and soccer teams all start tournaments this summer in hopes of winning the prefectural title (like state championship) and moving on to the national competition in their respective sport. For these students summer is an exciting time. Our baseball team has already advanced to the second round in their tournament of six rounds.
がんばってください (gambatte kudasai): used for encouraging others to do their best--work hard please; do your best; fight!
In addition to encouraging our atheletes to do their best this summer, Luther also sent students to study abroad and to work in country. This summer one student will work in Miyazaki helping bring aid to people suffering because of a recent epidemic that has caused the government of Miyazaki prefecture (just south east of Kumamoto) to slaughter all of its cows. In August, about 23 students will spend two weeks in Australia for sightseeing and English language study. At the end of August we are sending one student to study in North Dakota for a year. We are all very proud of and excited for what these students have decided to do and the ways they will grow because of it.
がんばった (gambatta): past tense short form of gambaru (gambarimashita--obviously the long form).
The beginning part of the year has been fun, exciting, and trying all at once--but isn't that life? I have often enjoyed getting to know the students. Watching them grow and/ or be interested in English has been exciting. Yet, I have also experienced the disappointment of seeing students who started off on the right foot make drastic turns in the other direction. I have made really meaningful connections with both new students and former students. These are the connections I have to remind myself of when I feel like I am failing to connect with or gain the respect of other students.
がんばります (gambarimasu): I will fight!
Rob and I are planning to two trips away from Kumamoto this summer. Both are in country, but we are hoping that these trips will be restful and refreshing. We planned these trips to escape the 70-80% average humidity of Kumamoto. I'm excited about these times away because more and more I realize I've been feeling a bit (or more) run down. I'm heading up two curriculums this year and have already given 3 messages in Japanese at church over the past 4 months. My emotional energy is waning. Please pray for me this summer that God will use the shorter work days and times away to restore my love for this country, its people, my job, and my co-workers. I haven't yet lost all my love for the categories above, but every little bit helps! Thanks so much.
P.S. Over the past couple of weeks I've felt pleased with my improvement in Japanese...がんばります!