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!

LATELY.

A few snapshots of my life lately.

When i'm sentimental, I tend to make all my photos black and white. I feel like it encapsulates their timeless-ness and freezes the moment in my mind a little more securely. 

Life lately has been so sweet. This is my last month working at my school and the last month I'll be living in my apartment. A lot of big changes are ahead of me and I thank God for His grace in helping lead me every step of the way. 

LIFE

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Life. What a beautiful thing, isn't it?

As a kid, most of us imagine that the most beautiful moments in life are the happy ones. The birthdays, the new puppies, the Christmas mornings, the graduations, the Disneyland trips, the championships, the weddings, the new babies, the vacations. And true, those are all incredible moments in life full of joy and celebrations, but recently, i've started to realize something about life. And it is this : The most beautiful moments in life are not the happy ones, but the real ones.

Real? What is real.

To me, real moments in life are the ones you don't plan. The ones you can't control. The one's you don't always ask for, nor wish for, nor ever dream up in your head. The random new friends, the loss of a loved one, the job transfers, the failed tests, the broken bones, the divine encounters, the tear filled nights, the kind gestures by strangers, the unexpected laughter in darkness. In all these moments, the same thing happens. Your vision becomes crystal clear, the clouds part in the sky, the water settles...and you are alive. 

That, my friends, is beautiful. 

Two weeks back,June 15th, 2018 was one of those days for me. Those...life is so hard but so beautiful kind of days. Back home in the states, my family was preparing for my grandmothers funeral that was to be held at 10am. Meanwhile, I was in my apartment... a bit of an emotional wreck. This emotional-wreckage was coming from two places in my life...one being the deep feeling of homesickness in the pit of my stomach and wishing I could be there in the physical to honor grandmas life. And two...something I only have myself to blame for- the aftermath of a night out with coworkers and too much alcohol consumed. The worst case of drinking regret i've had in my 26 years on earth.

So there I was. Sulking because my body ached from the lack of control I exhibited the night before, and my heart ached from the distance I felt from all that was happening back home.

This is not your classic happiness moment in life- by far. But then, somewhere in the afternoon I picked myself off my futon and went outside. I walked to 7-11 near my house and grabbed a hot coffee. I came back inside, sat in my living room chair, started out the window and realized something...that all that pain I was feeling in my body and in my heart was creating this indescribable beauty. Isn't that weird? As a human, I felt so isolated. So full of mistakes. So weak. So tired. But in all of that ugliness and sadness, God was right there. And I was alive. And I was okay. And grandma was in heaven. And Jesus was still (and will forever be) King. Wow.

It was not a moment I had planned. It was not a day, nor night, I ever wished for. It was not orchestrated by my mere human hands...but it was real life. Real, unedited, raw, lay-on-your-futon-for-5-hours-no-appetite-LIFE

So today, I thank God for the grace He exhibited to me...that same grace He has been pouring out on me my whole life. With that grace, I honor my grandmother, Jean Komae, in the glorious life she lived here on earth. She was a gem of all gems...wise, talented, faithful, steady, strong, graceful, patient, and loving. She is a woman I will always treasure, a lady I will always admire, a person I will always adore. 

 One of my favorite shots of me and my grandparents, Jean and Ryo. This was taken on their back patio just a few weeks before I moved to Japan in 2015. 

One of my favorite shots of me and my grandparents, Jean and Ryo. This was taken on their back patio just a few weeks before I moved to Japan in 2015. 

God is good. All the time. And to end with a Psalm my sister sent me. How beautiful it is to praise God and His creation!! 

Psalm 65

What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple.

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.

You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations.Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;  even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain.

They all shout and sing for joy!

I LEFT MY HEART IN SEOUL **THE FORGOTTEN POST**

My mind must be elsewhere haha...because I totally finished off my SEOUL series of photos III/III and TOTALLY FORGOT AN ENTIRE SET OF PHOTOS haha.

These pictures were from the second part of Saturday and I must have got caught up in all the pics and forgot to post this set!! so anywhere...here we are for my last official SEOUL POST! 

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Ok so these photos are from the second half of the day Saturday. We went to the Village in the morning, then had BIBIMBAP...and after that we went to the KAKAO friends store to check out the Korean goods (KAKAO is the Korea SNS app, similar to LINE in Japan)

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Then we went to go check out HONGDAE, which is where all the cool kids hang out! This place reminded me of 3rd street in Santa Monica, or Venice, mixed with Shibuya in Tokyo. The hip place to be.

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HONGDAE is a famous spot for street performers, mostly young men and women doing pretty legit dance covers of famous Kpop songs. They have crowds of people around them that look like actual fans!

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In Korea, the guys ALL HAVE perfect hair. And you'll see these salons all over advertising haircuts that the Kpop idols have.

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speaking of hair...I was trying to take a photo of the dancer in the middle of this circle but accidently snapped this shot...which ended up being a good thing because I believe this accurately depicts how perfect the Korean guy's haircuts were!!! BEAUTIFUL HAIR!!

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We stumbled upon this crazy cool soap store called DAY AFTER DAY aka...DAD!!! hahaha sooooo weird and random and amazingly colorful and fun.

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A room full of squatty pottys full of flowers and kleenex boxes covering the walls?? who thinks of these things!!

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Attached to DAY AFTER DAY is the store I was originally looking for, ADER ERROR. This is an up and coming KOREAN brand that I found out about on Instagram and knew I had to check out!

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SUPER DOPE AND EXPENSIVE CLOTHES!! 

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We cruised to some more shops and I saw these cute sandals that I almost bought just because they said sEOUL on them :) 

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More backstreets of HONGDAE where you can find hip coffee shops and cool graffiti walls!

 

Welp, after a shopping afternoon, we met up with Miri's friend again to have dinner by the river. 

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Ladies and gents, welcome to a summer night at HAN RIVER!!! The vibe here was sooooo amazing. A bunch of young people hanging out, grubbing on food, sitting in tents, watching street performers....wow. 

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literally, such legit tent action.

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So apparently the thing to do is call in food to be delivered to wherever you're at by the river. This was something new to me, and such a cool local experience. Thanks to Miri's friend, Jeong, we could order dinner and eat it right at the river! 

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BEAUTIFUL JAJANGMYEON!!!! I had seen this dish on a few Korean dramas I've watched...and every time I see them eat it my mouth waters! I really wanted to try these noodles covered in thick black bean sauce, and they did not dissapoint. 

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OMGOMGOMGOMG

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We ate noodles, drank beer, watched the sunset...HEAVEN!!!!

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OKAY cutest date everrrr! 

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There were a grip of people out and about...a true sign of summer nights in the city. 

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More stylish Korean men in loafers, birks, skinny pants, and clean hair cuts.

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To cap off the night, we ordered fried chicken - a Korean classic!!! Jeong was so awesome and brought us gloves to wear since eating these is pretty difficult. This chicken was so crispy, flavorful, tender and DELICIOUS!!!!

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aaaaaand beer in a soda bottle. That's new! 

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After the sun set, we walked around the night market right down the street. At this point, it was 10pm or so and it seemed as if everyone was just getting their night started! Partyyyyy!

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OK YES BULGOGI CHEESE FRIES.

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AAAANNNDDDD THAT'S A WRAP FOLKS.

FOREAL THIS TIME. My last post from my short trip to Korea. Man, I wish I could just travel the world like this a blog about it all :) 

SEOUL, I'LL BE BACK FOR YA