It’s been a pretty relaxed week.  I just wish I never had to go back to school…

On Wednesday morning Shigeko and I went to the ward office (city hall) to update my address on my alien registration card and my health insurance.  After getting that taken care of, she invited me to go with her to meet her daughter at an outlet mall.  Since I had nothing planned I accepted her offer and got to meet Junko, her 17-year-old daughter who is very sweet but also very shy (at least when it comes to speaking English).  Shigeko invited me to have dinner with them before we went to the Wednesday night Bible study at church.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner and after the Bible study she drove me home.

When I arrived home I found that a package from my parents had been brought to the apartment, but since I wasn’t home they couldn’t leave it.  The slip they left was in Japanese and obviously I couldn’t read it.  I e-mailed Shigeko asking her what I should do and she told me she’d come to my house the next morning.  She came and we drove to the main post office.  It turns out the delivery man still had the package in his truck so I picked a time frame for him to come back to deliver it.  At 3:30 he returned and I was finally able to use my hanko (a seal with my name written in kanji).  My parents, wonderful people that they are, sent me candy and a book I had wanted to read for a while.  And one of my favorite families, the Campbell’s, sent me two pairs of warm, fuzzy socks.

Friday night was the Ladies Elegant Christmas dinner.  I walked the 10 minutes to church wearing my dress, knee high socks and tennis shoes.  It was really cold and there was no way I was going to climb the stairs wearing my high-heeled shoes.  I must have looked pretty funny to people but I didn’t care because I was warm and comfortable.  When I arrived at church, Larry was collecting our jackets and hanging them up, then he directed us to the elevator and told us to enjoy our night.  Earlier that day I had gone to the church to help prepare the food.  The transformation that took place over the few hours that I had been gone was amazing.  The only light sources were the candles on each of the six tables and the Christmas lights strung along the walls and on the tree (as well as some light that came from the kitchen).  The women were playing interactive Bingo.  Each person had to find someone who had “been in a car accident” or “owns a pet” or “liked the same t.v. show as you” etc.  Eventually 5 women won and we sat down for dinner.  Shigeko and Junko were there and during the meal (which was delicious by the way).  Jeremiah, who was our photographer for the night, took a picture of the three of us in front of the tree.  At the end of the night he printed them out and distributed them as we left.

After another game and dessert we went upstairs to the sanctuary.  We enjoyed a beautiful piano piece performed by one of the women who had attended Juilliard School of Music, a few songs sung by another woman, and sang some carols after hearing a talk by a woman who lead a Bible study at one of the military bases.  All in the all the night was a success.  I’m very glad I was able to attend and meet more people from the church.

The Japanese have a tradition where they do major clean up before the New Year.  So on Sunday I helped the church do their clean up.  Before arriving I had assumed that Jeremiah and Geigy would be there but quickly found that only the members of the Japanese service were there.  I eventually ended up in the kitchen/dining room area.  At first I cleaned the inside and outside of the windows.  While I was doing that one of the women introduced herself to me, telling me in English that her name was Nagomi.  After I finished cleaning the windows I asked her what I should do and she had me help to guys put the light fixtures back in the ceiling.  When all the cleaning was done, they started preparing lunch.  While we waited, Nagomi talked to me and tried finding other people who could speak English better then her.  Eventually she found someone and we stood in a circle of about 6 trying to communicate with each other.  A woman that I had met before (but forgot that I had) reintroduced herself to me in almost perfect English.  After we got our lunch we sat together and talked.  I was so glad that I had decided to help them, getting to connect with even more people.  I hope that eventually I’ll be able to attend the Japanese service and actually understand the message; the people are so loving and friendly.

At 3 I attended the English service and afterward Eileen, a really nice 20-something girl from Georgia, invited me to join her and a group for dinner.  They eventually decided where they wanted to go and we walked to the restaurant.  It was really great laughing and talking with all of them.  Afterward a few of us walked back to the church to pick up bikes (or in my case, just walk home since the church was on the way) and they invited me to go with them somewhere for the countdown New Years Eve.  Apparently where we’re going is romantic and a place where couples go but we’re just going as a group of friends.  Should be fun, I’m really looking forward to that.

Yesterday (Monday) I spent all day at the Jeremiah and Geigy’s.  At 10 I arrived to watch Justus (who is four and very cute) so Jeremiah and Geigy could go on a date.  After they left Justus and I headed to a “park” nearby and played with a football for a while.  He was my first official guest at the apartment because I wanted to upload some videos he had taken to clear up space on my camera.  He enjoyed climbing up to the loft and after about 20 minutes we headed back to his house for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch.  After eating we went upstairs and watched The Polar Express.  I had never seen it and was really impressed by the animation and the story.  I recommend it to everyone who hasn’t already seen it.

Cali (9) and Jazz (5) eventually came home from school and after Jeremiah and Geigy returned, the kids and I went outside to help Jeremiah set up Christmas lights.  It took a while setting it all up and was a bit difficult because the houses here don’t have an outlet on the outside.  We eventually finished and then shared a delicious dinner together.  I finally got back home around 9.

The church has a school where they teach children English.  Tomorrow I’m going to help so today I met the kids.  I headed over to the church at 12, met the kids and talked with Jeremiah to figure out exactly what I am doing tomorrow.  That should be fun and I’m glad I can get involved in the school somewhat (after this week they are on their holiday break).

So again, this week has been relatively relaxing which I’m abundantly grateful for.  Next semester is going to be hectic with me taking 16 units and going to school everyday.  But I’m very thankful that Steph and I will be rooming together and that we were able to find this apartment.  The church has been a real blessing too.

Thanks for reading.


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