SA YO NA RA.

This past week was full of a lot of wonderful sayonara (farewell) parties with a bunch of people who have become my family here in Kashiwa. God has blessed me richly with these relationships! 

 

First up...

1. VOLLEYBALL.

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Once a year, a lot of PE teachers in the area gather at one school for a fun teachers volleyball tournament. I look forward to this day every year because it's a rare chance for me to put on some bball shorts, pin my hair back, and get a good work out in! I'm lucky because, even though i'm not a PE teacher, my coworkers know I love sports so they always invite me to these things. After our fun tournament, everyone met back up later that night in Kashiwa for dinner and drinks. At the dinner, Mori sensei (who planned the event) thanked me for working for three years with everyone...and it was so sweet of him.

 

Next...

2. KIRA

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Last Saturday, the Kashiwa International Relations Association (KIRA) class that I teach once (sometimes twice) a month threw me a goodbye party at a suuuuuper amazing Japanese restaurant in town. This group is really special to me because although I was their "teacher" they were all really like aunties and uncle to me here in Kashiwa taking care of me, making sure I knew about local events and news, and giving me life advice. When I gave a speech, I got really emotional because of how kind they all are!!! And...bonus was that Tanbata san performed the story of MOMOTARO on cards he hand drew...and Okayasu san played the Ukulele and sang 4 songs!!! 

 

3. CHURCH

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On Sunday last week...Ikeda sensei, steph and I went to Fujimoto senseis church for the first time!! Last year, I learned that Fujimoto sensei (my coworker at Ichikashi) was a Christian!! We bonded over our common faith, and he invited me to his church and finally we were able to go! It was really encouraging to worship with a small house church of faithful Japanese Christians. After service, we had coffee and talked about the Bible, doubt, other religions, etc. It was a blessed afternoon. Then, for dinner, Ikeda sensei, his wife Mari, their son Kai, Steph and I all went to eat Shabu-shabu!!! I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

 

4. WORK LUNCH

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Once or twice a year, during finals when our work days are a little bit shorter, the English office likes to go out for lunch at a nearby golf course that has the BEST $15 lunch buffet!!! The reason why it's the best (in my opinion) is because it has an AMAZING OCHAZUKE BAR!!!! (btw ochazuke is green tea + rice) MY FAVORITE!!!! It was my last lunch here as a teacher...which made me kind of sad thinking about. These people are the ones I work with every single day and they are a huge blessing in my life. I really thank the good Lord for them and all the times we were able to share a meal together :) 

 

Lastly...

5. JOSHIKAI

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A common event in Japan is a "Joshikai" (ladies party)! At work...we have a Joshikai once a year or so...and this one happened to be our end of the first term party + my farewell. The ladies presented me with a beautiful silver cross bracelet (because they know I am a Christian!!!) and so many sweet letters. I gave a little speech and thanked them for really being an incredibly beautiful, smart, kind group of women. 

 

WOW...and that's just the beginning!! More farewells and goodbyes coming up this week. So many emotions...and I am so thankful to have the good Lord as my rock and strength through it all. I am so sad to leave these people, but I know God has good things in store for my future. He is good, all the time! 

WISDOM.

One Saturday a month, for the past three years, I have met with this group of 15 students to study English. Last weekend, I had my last class with them and I thought i'd ask them to write down their favorite quote (in English or Japanese). Their answers were simple and wise. Although I was their "English Teacher", this group has taught me more over the last three years than I could have ever taught them.

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"Disaster will come to us when we forget."

"One who is kind to others is sure to be rewarded."

"People don't really care about others as much as you think."

"You may complain that your husband doesn't help you with childcare. But you may be bad at managing him. When was the last time you said thank you to him? Me are quite simple and they can do anything when getting a "thank you" from their wife." **this one made me laugh!!**

"Just be yourself."

"腹八分目” (Hara-hachi-bun-me) "Daily diet, eat 80%" **this one also made me laugh...apparently if you eat until you're only 80% full, it's the best diet haha!

足るを知る" (taru-wo-shiru) "To know one has enough."

"柳緑花紅” "Green willows, and red blossoms" **willows are naturally green and red blossoms are naturally red...so, live naturally."

"一期一会" (ichigo-ichie) "once in a lifetime opportunity." 

"Positive thinking."

"I hope our paths will cross again."

"Tomorrow is another day."

THAT'S A WRAP, FOLKS...

Well...yesterday (7/4) I officially taught my last class ever at ICHIKASHI. 

WHAT???

Yep.

After three years, my time at this wonderful school has come to an end and I won't have any more classes with these kids. Next week, they take final exams. The week after that, teachers pass back tests, prep for summer, have a big cleaning day...and then the last official day of this term will be July 20th, which will also be my last day at school. 

This week has been awesome. In every class I taught, students wrote me incredibly cute letters and we all took a celebratory picture at the end! 

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These two pics are from my very last class...today with our elective kids. They gave me the cutest sakura card and one girl even HAND MADE ME THIS BRACELET!!!!! I almost cried. It was so thoughtful and sweet. WOW.

and here are a bunch of pics with these awesome students...

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Yep...and just like that folks...

Hard to believe it's been three years since I first stepped foot on campus and began learning all the ins and outs of a Japanese high school. When someone says "wow, three years!" my first thought it always...YEAH, HOW HAS IT BEEN THREE YEARS??? But then...when I start to really think back on all that happened, on all the students i've had the privilege of teaching, on all the school events I've attended, on all the teachers i've worked with, on all the memories i've made here...3 years seems like a LIFETIME full of goodness. 

So what's next for me? Well, I gotta move out of my apartment and pack up my desk at work. Once I finish work on the 20th, i'm going to be spending time cruising around Japan for a while before flying home in August. Life is good and God is gracious.

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Also, yesterday happened to be the 4th of July here in Japan! Which, of course, is just a regular day here haha...but I decided to celebrate my eating dinner at none other than...MCDONALDS. Btw...in Japan people call McDonalds "MAC" but pronounced like "MAAA-KUU" which I think sounds so cute! Anyway, a few students asked me, "so, do Americans eat McDonalds on independence day?" which I thought was so funny haha!! But it gave me the idea to celebrate ending my job and also the birth of my home nation with none other than a deliciously-unhealthy bacon cheeseburger, coke and fries. NOMZZZZZ.

 

And lastly...

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Throwback to 2016...the first graduating class I knew at Ichikashi! These kids were RAD. They were so gracious to me despite it being my first time teaching high schoolers...and I'll always be grateful to them for that. They're now in the latter half of their college years and i'm sure they're all thriving! ahhh...懐かしい!