Going to Nara near the end of September to see Michi and his family was quite refreshing. In a culture which. to me, can at times seem void of much substance, it was reviving to visit Michi and his family; a family full of substance. I actually didn't know Michi well, but everything I had heard from my family about Michi has been so good, I knew I should make the trek south to visit him.
When we first met up in Nara on Friday night after about 6 hours of trains and bullet trains and a taxi, it made me laugh when the first thing he asked was, "Now, have we actually met before??" What caused me to laugh was not his faulty memory but the possibility he was correct in his assertion. I always looked up to him and his best friend, my youngest Uncle John (who I still believe is 28). Since I've been in Japan, and specifically the last 6 months, there a have been a handful of people, God had put on my heart to get to know and to get to know well. I knew traveling down to Nara was something I had to do.
It was great to meet his family: his wife Aako, and his two daughters Hana (7) and Mai (5). I'm envious because Michi is perfectly bilingual. And I don't just mean one language is his native language and the other is really good. He speaks both languages like a native. When his father became a Christian and wanted to become a minister, Michi's family moved to Oregon from Japan when he was 7, apparently without being able to speak any English. He stayed in Oregon until 4 years ago, when his company needed someone to work all over Japan. So he moved 2 minutes away from Aako's parents to be disciples to them.
His daughters speak only Japanese. It kind of felt like I was going home for the weekend with my kids I teach at school. Hana was inviting to the American stranger, I probably confused her a lot but she would just laugh it off. Mai on the other hand was "a harder nut to crack" as Michi put it, and equally as cute.
Talking to Michi about anything and everything was great. If there is one thing I really miss living in Japan, it's probably the abundance of wise men 10 or more years older than me in America. It's one thing I can say I am truly excited for as I get older; having the chance to be in a mentor role for those younger than me.
It was great to see the town of Nara. It is a historic town in Japan with many temples. I would not have circled it as one of the places I had to visit. Concerning sports, Granddaddy Hinds always said, "seen one, seen'em all" (not true), personally, I do feel it can apply to temples. For the Japanese, the temples are ritualistic, very loosely tied to the culture and seem to have little true meaning to the daily life of the Japanese. I did have the best pancake I've had so far in Japan, I ended up going to that place (Baby Face was the name of it) again the next day.
Going to church with Michi and his family on Sunday morning was a good experience. The entire service was in Japanese (although the choir did sing a song in English) so it made me really appreciate going to a bilingual church in Mito. Michi said about 90 percent of the things they did at the church he would change but being able to support and truly encourage the people is the most important thing to him and his family (he is an ordained pastor himself). It was so evident that Michi and his family were a great encouragement to anyone they were engaged with.
Michi and his family were so generous to me in every way. Being blessed by them just makes me want to bless others around me.
Notes: At school and living here in general I run into some pretty interesting situations. Occasionally I think about posting them on facebook, then decide against it and forget about posting it by the time I get to writing here (I assume if you are taking up your precious time to read this blog you tend to care more than the friend who sees a random facebook post).
Recently, there have been a couple memorable stories at school: the first one definitely fits into one of the Japanese stereotypes. One of my favorite 6th grade boys was feeling really sick. He needed to go home, but when he called his mom, they both understood, in his 6 year elementary school career, he had never missed a day of school. His mom was not going to pick him up early that afternoon if it would be counted against his perfect attendance record. Once he was told he would still be eligible for his iron man award, his mom agreed to pick him up.
In the another notable story, at lunch I was eating with a class of 4th graders. I was asking the kids if they had siblings. One said yes and pointed across the classroom to her twin brother. Then one of her friends named another boy in the other 4th grade class while making the hand motion of a new born being born and said "3". Apparently I have triplets in my 4th grade. I always thought two of them looked similar and wondered why one of them looks as small as a first grader. Considering, I've been at this school of only about 250 kids for a year and a half, it is quite embarrassing. There's definitely a lot I don't know.
This past week, Rich Little came to Mito, Japan and I'm really excited to write about his visit as soon as possible. Hopefully this weekend, definitely not three weeks from now :)
Okay onto the pictures:
|Ran into a Samurai ceremony in Nara|
|I was able to read this book to 5, 6 and 7 year olds at my local library. David has a rough childhood but all's well that end's well...|
|I slept over at Keiko and Kazu's place last month as well. Such great people.|
love you all,
thanks for reading!
Going out for a run, have a great weekend!