Thursday, July 9, 2009

The End of Project

this is probably mostly for my own benefit (i need closure...), but if you're reading, enjoy- as it will probably be my last post about Tokyo A Summer Project 2009.

when we arrived in Hakone, we took a bus to our hotel/B&B. walked to the Family Mart to buy dinner and some snacks. saturday we took gondolas over the mountains to a lake, where we took a pirate ship across to a cute little town with a big shrine. we grabbed some lunch and ate it next to the water (very peaceful except for when josh squirted ketchup all over andrew and he had to wash his shirt in the water). then andrew, kylan and i took a swan paddle boat over to the shrine gate, then came back and hiked a path up to the actual shrine. there were some other tourists, but there were a lot of people doing ritualistic things as well which was heartbreaking to watch.

after we all met up again as a team, we just chilled by the water, sunbathed, played cards, etc. until dinnertime- we went to a place called The Madhatter that had some awesome kabob sandwiches, then we waited 45 minutes for the next bus home.

sunday we woke up early and went to Yunisun, a huge water park of different baths- for example, they had a chocolate bath, a honey bath, a dead sea bath, a strawberry bath, coffee bath, green tea bath, wine bath, sake bath, and others. basically the entire day was walking around and soaking in different baths. it was amazing. they also had a water slide we went on a few times. we had lunch at the park where they had a massive buffet set up, then after lunch we went to one "bath" where basically you dangle your legs in a pool of little tiny fish that come and nibble away the dead skin off your feet- i would not recommend this if you're ticklish. they tickled so badly! my feet were all soft afterward though... that night we went to dinner at an italian restaurant, then had one last Bible study as a team, then played cards for awhile until midnight when everyone surprised me for my 21st birthday with a little birthday tirimasu cake and some little presents and a card- it was really cute.

monday morning we left at 7:15 am for the bus station- we had a bit of a hike with all our luggage but we made it. took the bus to the train station, took the train to Shinjuku, changed trains to the Narita Express which took us to the airport. we had plenty of time to kill at the airport, so we bought some lunch (last sushi in Japan...) and some souvenirs (and in commemoration of my 21st birthday, i bought a Japan shot glass that i'm currently keeping all my Japanese coins in- it's very handy). then after a few card games it was time to board the plane. we ended up being really spread out on the plane, but it was cool because i sat next to a Taiwanese college girl and we got into a conversation and i was able to share the gospel with her over dinner :) i've decided plane rides are wonderful times to share the gospel- you have a captive audience!

our flight left June 29 about 5:30 pm (Tokyo time). we landed in LA June 29 about 11 am (LA time). we arrived back at Vanguard University for debriefing about 1 pm, got some real american pizza for lunch, then relaxed until dinner and evening meeting. it was 2 other girls' birthday as well, so at the end of meeting they made us stand up and everyone sang happy birthday to us. after meeting the team presented me with 2 more birthday cards, one that had "21 Things We Love About Kimi" which was really cute. then a few of us went to the store and got a couple angel food cakes, whipped cream and strawberries and came back and had another little celebration. then we played cards and hung out in the guys' suite until bedtime.

tuesday i wasn't feeling well (i'd started feeling a bit feverish on the plane) so i slept for most of the day until team meeting in the afternoon. we got to write on a white board all our memories and recall stories which was fun. then we had free time until dinner and evening meeting, then that night we had one last "clearing the air time" with our team. it was good closure. wednesday we had breakfast, morning meeting, and team time, where we spent 5 minutes encouraging/thanking each person on our team which was really cool. then we had some free time until dinner and the last evening meeting that was sort of a "decommissioning" but also a "recommissioning" to go out and make wherever we are our mission and our ministry. and it reminded me that whatever i'm doing, if i'm doing it to the glory of God and to show others his light, then it is my mission. whatever job i have, i can make it my ministry. i can share Christ's love with every person i meet, whether i'm in Japan or Los Angeles or Texas. Jesus didn't descriminate- he didn't just share God's love with certain cities, he made every city, every town, every road he traveled his ministry, and so should we if our desire is to live like Christ. wednesday night our team went to huntington beach and gen and heather washed our feet, and then we all went to Ruby's for milkshakes.

thursday was a sad day, because it was a day of goodbyes. the michiganders and matt left first, then most of the team went to disneyland and jeremy and i stayed behind to wait for gen and heather, then they left for disneyland and trina and paul took me to the airport. man, airport people in America are SO different than the ones in Japan....i miss Japan. i arrived back in Dallas thursday night, spent the next 5 days with family and friends, and then headed back to LA to spend the rest of the summer.

and that's where i am now, back in LA, missing home, missing Japan, and missing my team and the Japanese students like crazy, but i know God has a purpose in this, and while i do not know his plans for me, He does, and they will be more wonderful than i can ever imagine. someday i hope to return to Japan, but until then, i will continue to grow in what i began to learn this summer, and continue to pray and keep up with the students i met in Japan. my request for anyone reading this is that you would continue (or begin) to pray for the country of Japan, that the hope of love of Christ would spread like wildfire in that nation, that the students of that country would become a new generation of believers and would rise up and build a new nation founded on God's Word, and that God would send even more laborers over there to share the good news of him.

Tokyo A Summer Project 2009: always remember the laughter, the fun, the silly moments, the hardships, the trials and struggles, but most importantly the love.

not the end. only the beginning...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Catching Up: Last Week in Tokyo

first off, i apologize for getting behind on blogging. we're back in the country now at debriefing in Costa Mesa (Orange County area), CA. we arrived in the States yesterday about 11 am, safe and sound. now we're all currently chilling in the boys' suite common area waiting for emily, matt and joe to bring us In N' Out. but more about that later.

the last monday of project (june 22) was our last day at Gakugei. we had one last Joyful Cafe lunch, and then afterward Jess and i hung out with Heidi and Ran in the JCCC club room, ate koala cookies and just talked about random things, in which i tried to insert something about God/the gospel of Jesus whenever possible. didn't see Ran come to Christ, but i know she is close. we are going to keep in touch on facebook. monday after we got back from campus a lot of the team went to Harajuku for last minute souvenier shopping at the Oriental Bazaar and Kiddie Land, in which i spent way too much money but that's ok. then jess, kyle and i got amazing crepes, then headed home for a last date night with Jesus.

tuesday was our last day at Tsuda. we had one last English Lunch, which was fun but was mostly just friendly conversation so i felt kind of "unproductive." but after lunch, Shi Wen (JCCC staff) and i went sharing and she told me to pick who i wanted to sit with and i saw a girl in a yellow shirt immediately but decided to go to the other side of the cafeteria first, then didn't see anyone that looked like they'd want to talk, so i went back to the girl with the yellow shirt and turned out she knew english really well and wanted to talk so that was awesome, and one thing led to another and we were able to share the entire gospel with her and gave her a new testament because she seemed interested- she said she wanted to keep studying and learn more :) her name is Aya, so please pray that the the Lord opens her heart and mind to understanding and faith. tuesday night was our last girls' night, so we all went to Kichijyoji for gelato and Bible study, in which we read through all of Song of Solomon and talked about how beautiful God sees us, and what it means to be a godly woman.

wednesday morning we had breakfast at Room 201 and it was amazing. then after breakfast we (the girls) gave the boys little katanas and notes that said "To a Strong Warrior of God...." and then we performed "I Say a Little Prayer for You" but changed the words a bit to fit. i think they liked it. then we went to our last English Lunch at Hitotsubashi. it was a bit disappointing b/c like no one was showing up so jess and i left to go find people to talk to (turns out Ngoc came late and we missed her but it's ok b/c we got to see her thursday). we found a really sweet girl who was pretty interested in spiritual things so we shared the gospel with her but unfortunately she thought that Jesus was first a man who became a god instead of Jesus being both man and God, so it was hard to explain but then Fumi (JCCC staff) found us and began sharing with her so it was awesome. wednesday night was our American Theme/ Goodbye Party at the JCCC Mitaka Center, so as soon as we got back from campus we changed, grabbed all of the food and decorations and headed to Mitaka to set up. i was on Outreach Team and the party was our responsibility so i was kind of stressed/ on edge for awhile, but eventually got to relax and really enjoyed the party- i think the japanese students did too. i was a bit disappointed that a couple girls didn't come but that's ok. we had a whipped cream eating contest, a costume contest, and a dance contest, and at the very end we (the americans) performed a shortened version of Thriller for them. they thought it was hilarious. so that's good. then after everything was all cleaned up we went back to Koenji and did "Secret Santa" presents for each other as a last Family Night activity.

thursday was our last day on campus and we were only at Hitotsubashi from 12-2 pm, but jess and i were still able to meet up with Noriko (the first girl we met on the very first day) and introduce her to Yukiko and Anita (JCCC Staff) and then Ngoc came and found us and we got to share the gospel with her in Vietnamese (her native language) b/c Yukiko had found it online and printed it out- it was so cool to see her understanding and questioning, and she is going to continue to meet with Yukiko. i cannot wait to see how God uses her. we all reconvened at 2 pm and watched Kylan (our campus team leader) swim across the disgusting murky waters of a fountain/pool thing in the middle of campus (apparently it's tradition for exchange students to do it on their last day of classes and he didn't last year...) after campus we came back to the apartments and made lists of all our contacts for the JCCC staff, then ate dinner and got ready for a surprise outing Gen and Heather had planned. we took taxis to the Hyatt Hotel and went to the top floor's restaurant and had amazingly ridiculous dessert (and $12 coffee for me....wish i'd known that before i ordered...oh well, how often do you get to go to a ritzy restaurant in one of the fanciest hotels in Tokyo?). thursday night was packing night, because friday we left for a mysterious retreat location that turned out to be Hakone, just outside Tokyo and famous for its hot springs :) this has been a long post so i'll finish later. and it's 1:45 am and i need sleep. goodnight!