Three years ago, I remember sitting on the beach in San Clemente with my two dear friends Nati and Katelyn, and I told them, "I'd rather be the 26 year old that moved to Japan than the 26 year old that stayed safe at home." And when I spoke those words...26 felt an eternity away. It felt impossible to reach because there was this mountain of time in front of me.
But here I am...and I am 26. And three years has flown by. And God has been gracious to me every step of the way.
I headed to school on Friday and taught three classes. In 4th period the 3A students sang happy birthday to me and gifted me with a bunch of snacks and goodies and then, after school, 2A showed me this awesome chalk board sign they made! I love how they referenced Kyrie, Lebron and Steph Curry HAHA. They know I love basketball so I think they threw any (and all) NBA players they knew on the board.
The students gave me a bunch of candy and the cutest thing was they all wrote their names on whatever they gave me. Two of my favorite are below...
Potato chips with my name and picture of me on it...and even better yet, ONE piece of candy with my students name on it HAHHAA. That one cracked me up. Not a bag, not a few, nope...just one singular piece.
After school my coworkers in the English office surprised me with amazing Costco cheesecake, a happy birthday sash, a lei and a notebook full of letters. AWWWW!!
My coworker Ikeda sensei gave me gloves from him and his wife...and also a VERY special gift handmade by his son, Kai!! Kai is in elementary school and had to knit a scarf in class...and he GAVE ME THE SCARF!!! *tears* That was the sweetest thing in the world.
Here are most of the English teachers I work with. These people are incredible and I love them very much.
After work my coworker and fellow Torrance native, Alison, and I went to dinner. We decided on Hawaiian food and ate a really yummy meal with hawaiian sun in fancy mason jars!! Alison is also the sweetest and got me a pen (to add to my pen keychain collection) from Okinawa and...drumroll...a STICKER BOOK! Yes. A book that holds all types of washi tape and stickers. I know it sounds childish...but for the an avid journaler and schedule writer like me...it was the best gift ever!! We've only known each other for a few months and she already knows me well!
I went home Friday night with a happy heart and a full stomach. God has truly blessed me more than I could have ever imagined. Celebrating my 26th at Ichikashi was a dream!! I slept well Friday night and woke up bright and early to head to...
I met up with my two good friends, Miri and Neath, and we headed to the park right when it opened at 8. As you can probably assume, Disneyland here is SO popular so often time the park gets full and they stop letting people in. So we bought tickets before and went right away to ensure we got in. Miri was kind enough to get me a Happy Bday sticker with my name on it!
Fun note: My friend Neath is from Cambodia so this was her first time at Disneyland! Like, the first time in her whole life!! It added an extra layer of fun to the entire day because she was seeing everything for the first time. That was so cool.
First things first...breakky and coffee yumm. The special set with a chicken pesto Mickey shaped pastry and strawberry muffin was so good! Tokyo Disneyland food forsure dominates Anaheim Disneyland's food. And I laughed at this sign I saw when we walked in "FOR SAFETY PLEASE WALK" so Japan!!
Disneyland goes ALL OUT for Christmas and we enjoyed all the themed stuff such as...the Christmas day parade and the warm apple cider in a cute Christmas cup!
One of my favorite parts of Tokyo Disneyland is seeing the vending machines! Yes, somehow they created these incredibly themed vending machines for all of us to enjoy. Gotta love the creativity of Japan.
I am a sucker for seasonal special deals and themed stuff...so of course I got every themed meal possible! haha. This one was a themed hotdog with green pesto sauce and red veggie sauce to be Christmas colors.
For as many people that visit TDL in one day...it never feels as crowded as Ahaneim Disney does. I think that's because the layout is so different. The roads and various areas feel much wider than the OG Disneyland, and on top of that everyone is so obedient and orderly that lines form properly and people are so polite when walking anywhere. Also, people are crazy fans here and will wait the entire day just to see one parade or show. They bring their little portable chairs, blankets, and bentos and sit all day. I've never seen that kind of commitment in the states!
We stayed at the park until it closed at 10...and had the best day. ahhh. Neath has lived in Japan for a year and said this day at Disneyland was "the best day i've had in Japan so far!" and I was so happy to spend the day with her and Miri! God has blessed me with great friends here in Japan.
As I reflect back on 25... I can say with confidence that it was the most formative year in my life thus far. I learned a lot about Japanese culture, teaching. independence, relationships, heartbreak (yep, it happened), devotion, worship, God's faithfulness and...myself. I journaled more this year than I ever have in my life (I think I went through at least 5 notebooks) and walked through some very deep things with the Lord. All along the way, God spoke clearly and graciously to me, giving me guidance on where to go, how to get there and what to do in the process. I am thankful for God's relentless love, unending faithfulness and undeniable strength, power and wisdom.
A verse that covered my 25th year of life was Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that
leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and
narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
In my 26th year of life my goal is to continue on the narrow road, regardless of what society says, regardless of who joins me, regardless of the difficulty...because it is the road that leads to life, it leads to peace, it leas to freedom and ultimately it leads to Jesus!!