Wednesday, August 21, 2013
For some reason, when I uploaded the pictures onto the blog post regarding our Dutch friends, it re-posted our pictures from the party boat. Although that was fun, we had a fabulous pizza party the night before they left at our place, and these are the pictures I wanted up. Forgive me, dear Dutch friends reading this post. I had to put the right ones in for my family scrapbook.
Our neighbors upstairs finally moved back to Sapporo last week. Goodness, as you can see, we have had lots of goodbyes lately. But this is life, right, especially in a transient international city like Tokyo. For the past year we have been playing at their house every Tuesday afternoon with a couple of other families. As we said goodbye last week, the mother said to me "I believe we will see each other again." My husband hopes that is the case in February as he wants to go to Hokkaido to ski and stop in Sapporo to visit them. Their friendship provided me with community in our building, which after the earthquake in March of 2011, I really wanted. I am so grateful I have had the chance to share my life with this family and that the Tuesday play group will continue. Life is about relationships, being in community with others, and sharing life with others. I am learning this more and more each day living here. AS you can see from the pictures, we have a lot of fun memories with this family as well. And I too, believe we will see them again!
In October of 2009, we spent one month in Tokyo testing the waters before we moved here to see what we thought of life in Tokyo. We emailed our missions organization at home to see what kind of PCA churches they had in Tokyo. Turns out, a church plant from Redeemer Presbyterian out of NYC was getting ready to start and by God's great design we met our Dutch friends that October. From the very beginning, we loved them, and knew if we moved to Tokyo, we wanted to live near them. For the past 3.5 years they have been a 10 minute walk from our place. We have shared laughs, pizza, tea, cookies, Christmas meals, tears, prayers, stories...well, life together. We have gone on church retreats together, received meals from them when we had the K Man and when we first moved into our apartment, enjoyed Disneyland with them, party boats, gyoza parties and more. Life...as missionaries here, they shared their lives. Hanging out with us did not feel like "work" - we felt their love for us, for our family. We received pastoral care from them in many ways. They loved us well. So, when they told us in May that God was calling them back to the Netherlands for a bit, we grieved. And to be honest, we are still grieving. I keep looking at their building as I write this post and think they will be coming back to Tokyo from home assignment in a few weeks. But that is not the case this year. I do know we ended our time with them well...with lots of fun, lots of laughs, lots of tears and lots of hugs. I also firmly believe we will see them again...these are lifelong friends and I know whether it is in Europe, Japan or the US we will see them again. They mean so much to us that we will pay lots of money to fly to see them again! Geert and Eline and to all of your precious kiddos - we miss you, we love you and we will continue to pray for you. Until we make more memories together, I will continue to look at these pictures and cherish our time in Tokyo together.
The weekend we had to say goodbye to our Dutch friends turned into the best weekend of summer due to all the fun we had with them before they moved. On Friday night we kicked it off with a monjayaki party boat experience. We have seen these boats for 3.5 years on the Tokyo bay and watched them from our apartment but have never been on one before until recently. The husband has done them before for work purposes, but this was our first time as a family. It was crazy with the kids and trying to cook on hot tables on the ground with little hands and feet everywhere, but it was fun to kick off the goodbye parties with the party boat experience. We love our Dutch friends...so sad they are gone.
So, we did make it to the States this summer...just not the mainland. For our short summer vacation we flew to Guam for four nights and five days, relaxing at the Westin. From our pictures you can see we did not do much. Our days consisted of eating breakfast, swimming, eating lunch, resting, swimming, bathing, eating dinner, watch a movie on the Ipad, and head to bed with the kids. We debated on several different places to go this summer for vacation as we really want to try to see more of Asia, especially Southeast Asia, while we live in Japan. However, after a large trip to the mainland over Christmas, even 8 months later, I did not have the desire to go very far with the small kids. Even Thailand seemed too far. And I really did not want to go anywhere with jet lag with the kids, so that ruled out Hawaii which is a 8 hour flight. We decided the best option for our family this year was Guam. Even though it is only a 3.5 hour flight, it is still an eight hour travel day for us by the time you take a taxi from the apartment to Tokyo station, take the train from Tokyo station to the airport, go through ticketing and customs, board, fly and do the same thing once you get to your destination. All of that to say, Guam was the best choice for us. We rented a car because the husband just needed to drive. :) And it offered us a lot of flexibility. We ate at American restaurants like Outback, Wendy's and some local Mexican place. I find it funny because I can count on one hand how many times we have eaten at Outback and TGI Friday's in Tokyo, but in Guam it just seemed like the thing to do. The water was beautiful. It reminded me a lot of the Caribbean...that blue/green water that is so clear you can see your toes at the bottom. And it was super calm, like a lake, so the kids could enjoy the ocean as well. The white fluffy sand was like snow powder and easily brushed off your clothes. One day we drove around the island and stopped along the way to take pictures. As we were driving the 1.5 hour route, the husband said, "Well, you do not get to see this in Florida." It was breathtaking. We also enjoyed K Mart. We joked that it is probably the most moneymaking K Mart in all of the US. The night before we left we went in for cough medicine and it was as if all of Japan was in K Mart...every Japanese tourist was stocking up before heading back to Japan. I could have spent 8 hours in the store...seriously. I forgot about all of the board games out there for kids. My husband reminded me if I forgot about them, we probably do not need them, but we still bought Hungry Hippo and the farm Uno game for kids. Plus, I got some good birthday ideas for Miss M in November. The one negative thing we noticed is the service. Within 48 hours of being there, twice my husband did not receive his food. We were okay with that because the kids never ate the HUGE portions from the kids menu and we were on vacation and relaxed. But as we experienced it, we were trying to remember if this has ever happened to us in Tokyo after living here 3.5 years. No! We do our fair share of eating out, trying at least once every six weeks to go out on a date and try a new place, and also having lunch with friends occasionally, and not one time have we ever had to complain about not getting food or lack of service. The service in Japan stands heads above the rest. It truly is something you have to experience to believe me, but in a city of millions of people, you still get fabulous service. Whenever God chooses to move us somewhere else, I know this will be one of the many things we will miss about Tokyo. As you can see from the pictures, the kids had a great time in Guam as well. We just enjoyed our family, and got lots of rest, going to bed with the kiddos in the hotel room and staying away from the internet for a few days. If you live in the area, I highly recommend it for a vacation with young kids. It was perfect.