Sunday, 2 August 2015

Closing Time

Yo said bye before the BBQ
Ayaka and I at the beach bbq!
Wow! Time has flown by and this is really it. Tomorrow is my last day at work, but I have to leave for part of it to close down my bank account, the new ALT has arrived to so I am also showing her the ropes. My is a strange feeling. My bags are packed,  and I just have cleaning left to do. By Tuesday night I will be in Beijing eating something weird on a stick in unbearable heat. I am pretty excited!! 
I have had so many goodbyes and received more gifts than I knew was possible. Last weekend some students from my favorite class, 3-6, threw me a beach bbq. It was a sweltering 37 degrees and while sweat dripped down our backs we ate squid yaki soba and enjoyed some shabu shabu. Yo-san couldn't be there herself, even though she planned it and her parents organized it, but she had even created a fun questions game for us all to play. She wrote adorable questions in Japanese and English so we could all understand. It was so heartwarming, and it was my last time at Higashihama beach, one of the most beautiful places.
Some of 3-6 and younger siblings too, a fantastic memory of my time.

That week I made three speeches in Japanese and two in English and burst into tears in  one. I had dinner at my old supervisor's house and chilled out with his son Sousuke, running around with cars and balls and anpanman :) 
Hamahashi Sensei was the first teacher to meet me in Tottori.
 He took me for udon. I'll miss him!
 A friend from church made me maki sushi and we fellowshipped together with another church couple. 
Yohei, Etsuko and Anon enjoying dinner at Yoshida's     

My 2nd grade students took me out to LaBar for a coffee date and gave me some cool gifts that included a owl shaped wind chime!! I met up with Ayumi, a graduate of Nishi and an old member of English club. I also had a final coffee date with Ayaka san at Daura, the awesome tea shop literally on Nishi's property.
Ayaka at Daura, she is like my little sis.

The 2nd Graders were the best!!
Ayumi, a Nishi graduate
 I went to the going away English teachers party (which is where I cried) and the sweet thing was that at the moment I was crying I was looking down and when I looked up and caught my breathe all of the teachers (except my lame supervisor) had tears in their eyes too. It was pretty touching.
English Teachers! (sans men, plus tears)
Baseball boys who always made me laugh!!
 I went to the summer teachers enkai where I was given a cash gift (woot $50) and the principal came and told me I was the best ALT he had ever worked with. Yesterday I met up with Hannah and Sarah and we reminisced over mochi waffles for a few hours at Source and then ambled down the main street taking in the summer festival. Everywhere I turned I saw students, and one of my favorites, Endo kun, shook my hand and said thanks. I will never forget the joy I had with some the Nishi kids. This morning I had coffee with my other friend, Ayaka, a young teacher at a different school. Then Ayaka and I headed to church together and after the service I made a short thank you speech and took photos with literally the whole congregation it seemed like.
Endo kun! I love him
My church family, including Pastor Yoshida (L) and my blind friend, Mr. Onishi (R)
The goodbyes have really begun to blur together. The amount of gifts, the amount of hugs and promised emails. In the end it is the memories that I will never forget. The genuine kindness I felt is a beautiful thing. When I left Canada I was fearful and excited, a mix of emotions at the unknown. I am leaving Tottori as a 27 year old. I have a new perspective on Asian education (which was one of my goals), I literally travelled the world, and I survived in a completely foreign culture. In some ways I even thrived. I went for a run the other night and started crying looking at the house around me. I will really miss my life here. In some ways it is so simple and perfect. I have a wonderful job, a disposable income and the freedom to travel on a regular basis. However one of the hardest things in Japan is the lack of spirituality. The culture here is more worried about being polite and making money than it is in the spiritual aspect of life. It is so much more than bowing quickly at a shrine or seeing your family at Obon. For me it is an everyday, tangible, and ever changing relationship with God. I have struggled with it a lot here, but through it all I have seen how God has carried me. He never let me go. God is every faithful and never changing.
 I am looking forward to a fresh start at home, and to go to a church with drums and guitars again. :)

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