Kofu, Shioda, Hachioji and back home again

Starting the day with Hiroko before heading to Kofu

A picture of Hiroko's parents

She accompanied me all the way to Shinjuku to make sure I found the right train. What a good friend! (Fun fact: Shinjuku train station is the busiest train station in the world.)

The Azusa train views from Shinjuku out to the mountainous beauty around Kofu

Toru-san met me at the train station and took me out to lunch with Junco-san to a local french cafe owned by one of her friends, Amemiya-san

Toru and Junco remodeled their home in the last year and I was blessed to see all their hard work, including a fun project their daughter created on the refrigerator. What a fun idea!

me and Junco-san (Akito's sister)

Toru-san and me

Their Christmas tree :)

Junco, Toru, and Ayako (Akito's daughter)

Ayako and I had a night cap near the train station while she shared her testimony of her journey with Jesus Christ. It was one of the several times I've been convicted by hearing the perseverance and faith in others' lives.

Ayako and me

Now this requires some back story: This is Wakako, a friend I met off of Facebook. So, back in middle school my family had the opportunity of hosting an assistance Japanese teacher (Wakako Tsuchiya) for a few months. Once I started getting back into Japanese, I tried looking her up on Facebook and found many, many people with that name. None of the pictures looked right but it had been several years so I friended a few of them but she never turned up. This girl friended me back and since then always likes and comments on my posts. She noticed I was in Japan and asked if we could meet up. I've never met anyone like that before so I was a tad nervous and had some friends pray that our meeting could go well. 
So we met for a coffee and I realized she took a bus from 2.5 hours away to come see me. I invited along to a lake for boating that was already planned for later that day. And I had to brush up on my Japanese quite a bit since she didn't know English, which was such wonderful practice. She is not a Christian but seemed to respect our conversation and thoughts. Having Akihiro, Carrie, Hannah, and Rachel along for boating was great since they could speak much more Japanese than me. I'm hoping to keep up our relationship and continue praying for her, her 3 children, and husband living in Chiba. 

It was a beautiful day with smooth water

Our chats in the boat were quite interesting because of my Japanese level. Thankfully I had my dictionary with me on my phone or else I would've been super lost. 

And Hannah brought Queenie and Yume along; Queenie even jumped in at one point, crazy dog

Hannah & Yume, Rachel & Queenie

It was fun feeling like a local sending someone off by train. じゃまたね!

can you find mount fuji?

On our way to Shioda church on Sunday morning, it was such a clear day we stopped to take some pictures of Mount Fuji

I hit the perfect moment in fall to see the beautiful autumn leaves

Our new Shioda Church!!!

This is still the sign from the old church, they're planning on getting a new one soon with updated information to match the church

the beautiful view of the mountains from the church parking lot

one unique aspect from our american churches :) everyone here gets to wear slippers!

They kept the same pews and pulpit from the old church and just had them sanded and restained

the dining area and kitchen

a typical lunch in Shioda: green tea or water, white bread, cheese, bagels, persimmons (or in-season fruit), jam or goma paste, and sometimes a sweet dessert like nut mochi or sweet bean paste filled treats
Biren-san (Kotaro's mother) made chocolate mint cookies for us this Sunday which were phenomenal

The morning service is a typical sermon from Brother Akihiro or Akito on occasion, then lunch, then the afternoon is usually a bible study led by one of the three brothers in the church, this week Kotaro gave the study. Afterwards, Toru-san was about to leave and Kenji-kun wanted to give him a handshake. I thought it was so adorable!

After church I listened to brother Kotaro and sister Reiko's testimonies with the help of Brother Akihiro who translated for me. We then had some supper and they took me to the train station so I could get back to Hachioji station to meet my friends I babysat for last year. 

Toshio-san and Ayako-san were a couple a met last year. They have a boy Zentaro (below picture) who I babysat last year and Ayako just had another boy this year, Rinnosuke (above picture) We had a lot of fun catching up again!

Rin-kun and me

Zen-kun and Toshio-san

What a beautiful family picture :) Reminds me of the Christmas cards for my own family I need to think about

The next morning I said my goodbye's to the Ito's and got my last picture of the Takao area before heading over to Makoto and Anna's to hang out with Anna before my bus to the airport.

Anna took me out for a fun meal in a new restaurant before I had to leave. After perusing the menu to find words we could understand we finally just picked something and had about 10 minutes to eat it up before we rushed to the bus stop.

Thanks Anna, Ayana, (& Makoto) for all your time and hospitality!

I was excited to get some Aji (Horse mackerel) sushi at the airport before leaving Narita. I've never been able to find it at the sushi restaurants in America so it will be a great parting memory.

Singapore Airlines was nice but without getting any sleep  by 10 hours later I was so glad to land in LAX

Two layovers, four time zones, and 45 minutes of sleep later...I finally saw Indianapolis...such a blessed sight knowing my parents were waiting in the cell phone lot, even though it was 1am. Thanks mom and dad!

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