Another relaxing and quiet week here in Machida. On Thursday I met up with Richard again and we enjoyed talking for about an hour and a half. He handed off some things from my parents: snacks, camera accessories, and Christmas presents. It was so encouraging to see him again.
After parting ways I went to school to drop some things off and then to Citibank to finally set up a bank account. The man who helped me was Japanese but he understood most of what I was saying. The whole process of setting up the account took about 45 minutes and I was told that my ATM card would take about a week to arrive at the apartment.
On Saturday the church was having a Christmas program. I arrived at 6 and found to my surprise that the main sanctuary was filled up. They showed me to the overflow room where speakers and a monitor were set up. I sat next to Kaiju (I’m probably spelling his name wrong) a really nice, older Japanese man who I’ve talked to just about every Sunday and Wednesday night. The whole program was in Japanese except for a few Christmas carols that they sang in English. Kaiju tried to translate as much as he could which I really appreciated. After the program everyone headed downstairs to the kitchen/dining room area. In the middle of the room were a few tables that had been pushed together and covered with plates of food, they even had a chocolate fountain (which of course was immensely popular). The room is pretty tiny so with all the people it was really chaotic. But I had fun socializing with all the people I’d met before.
On Sunday I left at about 1 to go back to the Fukuoka’s. I arrived at about 3:10 and before I even made it to the house I saw Yui and Ayumi. From a distance I couldn’t tell it was them but Yui started running towards me and I knew then it was her. The two of us walked back to the house and out in front Mai and Masayuki were playing badminton. When Mai saw me she started yelling my name and running towards me. We hugged and then went inside. Yui and Mai excitedly pulled me around the living room showing me all the decorations they had put up since I was there. It was so wonderful being there.
It is the Japanese tradition to have KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) for Christmas dinner because apparently they believe it has a “Christmas taste.” When Masayuki went to pick up dinner he found he would have had to wait two hours before getting anything at KFC. So he went instead to the LIFE grocery store and got chicken from there. The food was so delicious and we enjoyed each other’s company. After dinner Mai and I played a bunch of random games. She’s really imaginative and we’re always playing games she makes up on the spot. When we grew tired of that I showed her the Paint program on my computer and she stared drawing pictures on it. Yui saw what we were doing and wanted to try too. The two of them played around with the program for a while and I even taught Mai how to type her name out. She ended up furiously typing away for about 10 minutes. So cute! They finally headed off to bed at about 10 because Ayumi let them stay up late since I was there.
The next morning, Christmas day, I went downstairs to find that Santa had left Mai and Yui just what they had asked for. Mai had wanted a fake cell phone and Yui wanted a Gameboy DS and a Mario video game. Both were quite expensive but those were the only gifts that came from Ayumi and Masayuki. All the other gifts left under the tree were from Ayumi’s friends and parents. She told me that they weren’t patient enough to wait until the 25th to open the gifts so most were already unwrapped. They did wait to open my gifts though. Mai and Yui got their scarves and immediately wrapped them around themselves (not just their necks but around their waists too). When Ayumi opened her gift and looked through the pages we both almost started crying. She told me since I’m not her age she was never sure if I enjoyed the things we did together but after looking through the album, she realized that I really did have a wonderful time with her family. That was the best gift she could have given me. But I also received a pair of very nice socks from them and Ayumi made me a card and necklace. She told me that she knew one of my favorite colors was blue and that I liked simple jewelry. So even when someone told her that she should make the necklace fancier, she kept it simple.
At noon we headed to her friend’s house where the kids wrapped sushi and I got to meet the first homestay student of the area. She now lives here in Japan and is participating in the JET program (Japan Exchange and Teaching program) for a year. She was really sweet and after we played with the kids the two of us answered a bunch of questions one of the women had about the difference between Japanese culture and American culture. Nikki was able to answer the questions in Japanese and Ayumi translated the questions so that I could answer too. It was so much fun being with those women and comparing our cultures. We finally left at 5 and when we got back to the house Ayumi invited me to stay another night. Of course I accepted.
The next morning Masayuki stayed home from work and since it rained all day we stayed inside and enjoyed playing with one of their Christmas presents, a really nice game set. It’s two different boxes that together make up more than 10 games including bowling, basketball, billiards and a bunch of board games. After lunch Ayumi and I talked for a while and I found out that her new homestay student is coming on the 4th. She’s 20 and has studied Japanese for 6 years but beyond that Ayumi doesn’t know anything about her. I know it’ll probably be odd meeting some who is basically replacing me but I’m also looking forward to meeting her. At 4:30 they drove me to the station and we said goodbye. It was sad but not too much since I will definitely see them again. In January there is a flea market for recycled kimonos. If I can I’m going to meet Ayumi and her friend there and in February Ayumi is having a party that she’s invited me to. I also asked her to let me know about any of Yui or Mai’s school events I could attend.
When I arrived at Machida station it was still raining really hard. Ayumi had given me an old umbrella of hers and I used that when I had to. Unfortunately I had a rolling backpack and while I was walking it got completely soaked. Nothing inside got wet fortunately (especially since my laptop was inside). I pulled everything out as soon as I got back to the apartment and put the backpack in the drier/shower and by the time I went to sleep it was almost all dry. The storm outside was absolutely breathtaking. Through my window I could see the lighting as it flashed and both hear and feel the thunder. It was amazing and I was able to capture a small video of the lighting and thunder. At one point the thunder sounded like a magnified gunshot.
Last night (Wednesday) I went to Jeremiah and Geigy’s house for taco soup and the Bible study. It was wonderful just being able to talk with everyone. I ended up being the last one to leave. Jeremiah took a few people to the station and I stayed and talked with Geigy. When Jeremiah came back the three of us talked and I didn’t leave until after midnight. Enjoy your New Year!