Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nagasaki, Japanese Boys, and an Amazing Family!

How are you all doing? I heard there was a crazy storm in the Twin Cities! I’m pretty jealous that I missed it. There’s a lot of rain here, but I’ve only heard thunder twice. By a lot of rain I mean that there have been three or four days when it hasn’t rained for the majority of the day. But it doesn’t really upset me; it seems very natural, like it simply belongs here.

My homestay family is wonderful! Last Sunday the mom, Isoji, and her best friend took me around Nagasaki. Isoji and her friend speak very little English, so we communicated throughout the day with random English words, gestures, and pulling out the English-Japanese dictionary and pointing at different words to make our point. Nevertheless, it was so much fun! We went to Dejima in the morning, which is a remodeled city of the old Dutch town in Nagasaki. It was essentially the only contact with Japan that the entire Western world had for a few hundred years, so it was pretty important. This is a model of what the town used to look like:

We also went out to lunch on a pier overlooking the bay and the mountains. It was absolutely gorgeous and reminded me of a scene from Greece…relaxing music in the background, a slight breeze…mmm it made me very happy. Although I never would have expected to hear Spanish music playing in a Chinese restaurant in Japan

Monday was an adventure. As we got on a bus on Sunday about a mile from my house, my host dad informed me that I should pay attention to where we were, because I was to take this bus into Nagasaki tomorrow to meet my friends and hang out for the day. Haha I wish I had known that as we were walking to the bus stop…I would have paid a lot more attention =P I was pretty nervous for it, but the whole family was going to be gone all day, so I was up for it.

My bus was to leave at 9:18 a.m. My family left before me, and so I went to my bus stop by myself. Not a big deal, right? I thought I knew where it was and walked to that place to wait. And I waited…and waited…checked my watch…at 9:22 I knew I had gone to the wrong station (In fact, looking back on it, I realized I was standing by a speed limit road sign, not a bus stop road sign! Idiot…). By then I was thinking, “Oh, great. How do I explain this to my family? How do I call the people I’m meeting and tell them that I suck at life and missed the bus?” So I started home, kicking myself for being so inattentive. I stopped for a second, and I saw a woman hurrying farther down the street, urging her little boy to follow quickly. I thought, “Hmm…that looks like an ‘I’m late for a bus’ kind of scene! What the heck, I’ll follow them.” I had nothing to lose, right? So I took off at a fast walk after them and followed for about 3 blocks. Suddenly, the hallelujah chorus began to sing as I spotted the bus stop! *laughs* I made it just in time. I got onto it, not knowing where this one was headed, but I figured that it would probably stop in Nagasaki city sometime…and sure enough, I made it just in time to meet my friends. Praise God!

And what a fun day in the city it was. Let me tell you, I have never been so excited to eat McDonalds in my life. The Japanese food is actually quite delicious, but I was ready for some ice cream and a good ol’ cheeseburger. In all honesty, it’s even better than the American McDonalds !

By Tuesday, I was ready to go back for another camp. We headed back to our facility and prepped for camp for most of the day. After that, we just hung out…I taught some of the guys some swing dancing moves, which was so much fun. It reminded me of home, and it was wonderful. I also taught them how to do the assisted front flip, which might not have been the best idea for my knees, but they held up, and it made my night.

Camp 2 was the other half of the kids from the Sosekan School, and I worked with all boys again. I love boys! However, my groups this time were less cooperative, and it was much more taxing mentally. It really was a blast, though. Here’s a sample of what I did each day:

6:00 am~ Up early for prayer with Amanda and Mikiah

6:50~ Team meeting

7:30~ Campers and ACs (American counselors) assemble


9:00~ 1 minute drills (as many enlgish phrases in 1 minute as possible)

10:30~group discussion (like pulling teeth! Oh my goodness…)


1:20~Orienteering (The campers get a map and lead us to different checkpoints. Let me tell you, it goes a lot smoother when your kids hold the map rightside up instead of upside down.)

3:00~Camp skit prep


6:00~More camp skit prep

7:30~Campfire! (lots of songs, smores, and craziness…wonderful, though!)

9:00~Bathtime for campers, meeting for us ACs

9:30~Our bathtime!

Usually in bed by 11…but a long day lol.

This camp was slightly more…interesting (frustrating is a better word I think) in the sense that for some reason, many of the boys liked me. “Katie cute …I love you Katie…Do you have boyfriend?” Incessantly…and for knowing so little English, these boys are DIRTY! *shakes head* Thankfully, I have great teammates who will smack them for me =D And for my camp skit, my boys decided to do Dragonball and insisted on fighting over me. At the end of the skit, they yelled, “I…love…KATIE!!!” Oh my favorite…they wrote that on the board, but they spelled my name wrong. Picture!

So if anyone wants to pick up a 16 year old Japanese boy, I can help ya out. But if you want to teach me how to get an American one my age, that’d be great =P

Some of my amazing boys:

Now I’m back at my homestay until early on the 7th, a quick camp till late on the 8th, and then I’ll leave again on the 12th for good. I miss you all!

Aunt Michelle~I don’t like sushi. But I tried it. =)

Next day update:

4th of July! I’m sad that I can’t be at home, barbequing, eating s’mores, and watching our neighbors blow thousands of dollars on fireworks. But Haruka, my host sister, made up for it! She took me to see the 26 Saints Memorial, which was incredible. Quick history lesson: St. Xavier, a Portuguese Catholic priest, brought Christianity to Japan in the 1500’s. It grew rapidly—so rapidly, in fact, that the authorities became increasingly afraid of its effects and sought to suppress it. So they took 6 foreign missionaries and 20 japanese Christians (or some split like that) and suspended them on crosses, making a public spectacle out of them before spearing them. However, St. Paulo Miki gave his last sermon from his cross, and it was beautiful. He told the 4,000 onlookers that he forgave the man who placed him on the cross, which was completely counter-cultural; the norm when one was killed unjustly was to ask his children to avenge his death. He proclaimed his death for Christ a blessing and urged others to follow him. Consequently, many others came to Christ. However, they had to live in hiding, for the church was badly persecuted from the 1600s to the late 1800s.

After that, Haruka and I went to a restaurant where we got to grill our own food! She told me what it was called, but I forgot; all I know was that it was incredible, and we ate it all =P

We also took pictures in the picture booth (a big Japanese thing I guess! Way much fun though) and then proceeded to stuff ourselves with crepes! AMAZING! Tiramisu crepes are incredible. *happy sigh* Haruka with hers =)

When we arrived back at her house, four of her friends and their moms were there, so we had yet more food, and the girls practiced their English with me.

A tiring day, but it was wonderful.

Please eat a s’more for me, enjoy family, friends, and fireworks, and send me an email or facebook message (or even mail! =D Lol) if you have time.

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