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!
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.
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!!!
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
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 :)
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!