Well my time in Japan is winding down. It's hard to believe it's only been two years when it seems like I've been here forever. For that same reason it's difficult imagining what life will be like when I no longer live here. While I'm excited to see family, friends, and excited about planning the next stage of my life with Rob I'm also very intent on enjoying my last few months with students, teachers and church folk.
I'll begin the update with a bit of really sad news. Our soccer team which was one of the top 8 high school teams in the nation last year lost a qualifying game a couple of weeks ago. The wound is still fresh for me and it's difficult for me to even write about it without wanting to cry. I really hoped we'd go all the way this year, but this is the way of high school teams. The news came while I was attending our high school's music concert. I struggled to give my full attention to students who played, sang and generally performed like professionals. Eventually the sting of the loss wore off and I was able to listen with joy and pride for my students (while wishing I was up on that stage performing with them)
I'm not sure if I mentioned in my summer post that Rob and I would be traveling during the month of August. We went to Tokyo and Sapporo. In Tokyo we met up with friends including my former Japanese teacher and visited my former church in Ichigaya. Going to Ichigaya was probably the most fulfilling event of the summer. After being away for a year and a half they were impressed with how much my Japanese had improved and greeted me with warm smiles and hugs--they all still remembered me. I was a little sad that we could not spend more time with them, but we had a date with a volcano.
We rose early on Monday, August 9 to climb Mount Fuji--Japan's highest peak. We'd planned to take the first bus out because we were going to try to complete the 8 hour climb and 4 hour descent in one day. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the bus station the first two buses--leaving only once an hour--were canceled. So we waited nearly two hours and arrived at the mountain at noon. When we got there it was raining. We new it could rain during our climb so we packed rain gear. After eating a tasteless lunch we put on our rain gear and set off. 6 hours later we began our descent soaking wet, cold and exhausted. I was so exhausted I cried as I took a hot bath that night. Thankfully the hard part of our vacation was over. We spent the next five days relaxing in Sapporo--on the northernmost island of Japan.
Sapporo was great in every way, but I was especially happy about two things. First, the weather in the northern part of Japan is cooler than in Kumamoto. This summer was the hottest summer in all of Japan with temperatures as high as 98.6 degrees and 80+ percent humidity it often felt like we were living in a 113 degree sauna. In Sapporo however, our hottest day was 84.2 degrees with not much more than 50% humidity (if that). Needless to say it was a welcome change in temperature. The second reason Sapporo was great is that I got to see some friends from college that I had not seen in about 7 years. Seeing these friends has been my greatest desire since coming to Japan. Now, I feel like I can go home without regret.
I do have 4 months left in Japan. I am happy to say that after returning from summer vacation my overall motivation and enjoyment of work has increased. Unfortunately, now that winter break is approaching I am beginning to feel exhausted again. Please pray for me in these next four months. Pray that God would increase my motivation and enjoyment of work. Pray that I would also continue to enjoy building relationships with co-workers, students and church members. Pray especially for my work at church that I would give all that I can without overwhelming myself and in the end feel good about the work I have done there. Finally, pray that God would increase my love for Japan and Japanese culture even in these last few months. This request is especially important as I sometimes get frustrated with the culture and this frustration causes me to withdraw from church activities. Feel free, of course to pray for Rob and I as we prepare for and make decisions concerning our future.