Sunday, July 25, 2010

Almost done =(

We had a camp in Oita a few days ago, and it was some of the most draining days I’ve had in Japan so far. We got up at 5:00 a.m. to travel there, and the campers arrived about half an hour later. The kids were absolutely wonderful, but I can’t honestly say the same thing about the food. It was basically like playing Survivor…or if you were smart, finding a garbage can. “Hey Nick, you want my fish? Hey Sojurou, you want my squid?” I’ve had enough rice to last me eternity and a half. But Mom, thanks for buying me those cliff bars, because those things got me through the weekend.

We were constantly running, and it was one of those weekends when the heat wave hits with some fierce power, you know? And to make things worse, Daniel was out sick with a fever, Kris had a cough the whole time, and Jessica and Alex were also under the weather. But I was so incredibly proud of my team—they supported each other, brought the energy, and gave the kids an incredible camp (the evidence was seen in the massive amounts of tear-stained faces on the last day).

The second day was one of the hardest days here in Japan, because that morning I gave my mom a call to check in on her, and I found out that her cancer had reappeared. She was so strong, though…so strong. Here my mom is on the phone, telling me that she has cancer but that she is so sorry to have to stress me out on my trip! I’m thinking, “Really, Mom? You are apologizing to ME that you have cancer again? I’m so sorry for YOU!” What a strong woman.

But I thank God for my amazing friends here. Denise, one of the most incredible people I’ve met in my entire life, was walking down the stairs right after I heard the news, and a movie scene kind of just unfolded. I called out, “Denise!” She turned around, saw the look on my face, and immediately came running. She has my back, and I love her for it. She and Alex, another dear friend, brought me to Sean, our leader, and basically said that I needed to take the morning off. So I helped with the kids for a bit, but I just took time to think, pray, and nap. It was wonderful, and I’m glad that my team was so understanding.

When I woke up, I found the most wonderful note and present on my bed. Denise left me a note telling me that Sean had had his campers write my name in calligraphy for me during the activity that I had to miss; that meant so much to me! The rest of that day, and the whole camp itself, went so well. I had amazing kids; this is Makoto, pretty much the funniest, most adorable kid I've ever met.

I’m just so thankful for wonderful kids and for great teammates.

That night when we got back to our home base (a crazy beautiful place called Global Arena), our sponsor was kind enough to treat us to an all-you-can-eat buffet/meat grill-out/SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM! *laughs* It was so wonderful to dress up and to just feel beautiful for a night, you know? I think that we were all tired of just being sweaty and gross and wanted to remind ourselves that we could still be lovely (all the girls at least…the guys were just excited to get drunk =P *laughs*) This is Denise, my best friend on the trip =)

It was such a wonderful night, and I loved it.

I had an interesting last few days, to say in the least. What an incredible trip! Ultimate Frisbee cripple style (aka limping around, but having an amazing time), discovering Ethan is an amazing swing dancer, and taking care of my poor Denise.

On Tuesday, we had an off day, and we went into Fukuoaka to go to the beach and go shopping. It was so much fun! I went with a group of 9 other people shopping first, and Anna, our Japanese translator who is absolutely in love with pink, would drag us around to her favorite stores. Because it was her, it was bearable ;) After that, we went out to lunch, and I had Gyoza, thinly-wrapped dumplings stuffed with green onion, pork, and ginger. After that, the 10 of us split the biggest ice cream sundae I’ve seen in my life! It cost $36 (3.60 a piece), but it was a work of art.

After shopping for a bit more, we went to the beach, which was beautiful. The water warm, and it was such a relaxing way to spend a late afternoon. I quite enjoyed that day. That night, I got to talk to Ethan, Sean, and Stephanie for awhile, and it was so cool just to be able to sit down and get to really know people, to dig a bit underneath the surface and see what their passions are, what motivates them, what sets them off, etc. I love discovering the multiple facets to peoples’ personalities, so that was a wonderful night.

However, the next day, Denise, caught something that one of the boys had, and the poor girl was in bed for a solid 2 ½ days. She was shaking so badly that I had to open her water bottle cap for her, and she couldn’t eat anything but bread and scones =( But let me tell you, Denise on drugs is more than slightly entertaining ;) She was such a trooper, and I absolutely love her.

Our last camp at Global Arena was something called “American Village,” and it was different than the camps that I’ve worked at in the past. Our team split up into three groups, and we worked with three different schools at the same time. Most activities were separated, but we would do certain things, such as campfire, meals, and dance parties together. Also, instead of eating with the campers for all of the meals, we served them for the majority of them. The whole goal of American village was to display the culture of the US, so when they got off the bus, they received a passport and money. That money they would use for meals, and they would tip us servers after they finished our meals. We also provided the entertainment for the meals; Ethan and I choreographed a swing dance, and the kids (And the head of the Guy Healy Program!) loved it. It was so refreshing to just dance again =) And serve…I’ve really missed that as well.

I was on a team of 6 girls that ran camp for a small all-girls school; there were 24 junior high/high school students and one teacher. Initially, it was ridiculously difficult to get these girls into any of the activities, because most were either quite shy, reserved, or had poor English skills. However, by the third day, the girls were laughing, dancing, and having a great time, and it was wonderful to see the progression. I was really concerned about my group; they seemed very aloof and disinterested. But these girls liked me more than I thought; they made me an adorable letter and origami creatures to say thank you at the end of camp! *smiles* Here are my girls!

After the campers left, we chilled, packed, and had our Team 1 mini-graduation \ceremony. Our team AD, Sean, Nhuy, and Alex were adorable and made us all awards! Mine was “Biggest Trooper/Most Stubborn” and had a picture of an ice pack on it for my knees =P They know me well. Sean bought us ice cream, and we just chilled the rest of the night, because we were leaving some of our team back at Global Arena. It was hard to leave them, let me tell you.

We left this morning for Nagoya, and we will be doing our final camp there. I’m currently on a bullet train as I’m writing this. After that, I’m headed home =) I wasn’t ready two days ago, but now I’m definitely ready.

Oh, side note...beautiful bug I killed =)

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