Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Last Aomori

This is it- Our Last Aomori. For those of you who read this blog or talk to us often, you know that we have kept a paper-chain-link counting down our last year in Japan. Today we took down our final link. Today is our last day in Japan. As you can see in the picture below that at one time the chain-link covered 3 walls in our bedroom.

Here Angie holds the first link starting at day 356.

And today she holds the last and final link. How the time has flown by!

To start our final day, of course we had to do some cleaning and packing and paid off our final gas bill. Later on we decided to head outside to do some last minute errands, and after walking to the corner of our street we realized, because it was such a beautiful day (this last week has been cold and snowy, but today the sun came out for us!), we should probably take one last ride on Big Red & Silver Bullet! So, we quickly ran back to our apartment, hopped on the bikes, and took off!

Also, our other wish for our last day came true- we could see the majestic beauty of our mountain, Iwaki-san! So we decided to head to the best look-out point in town to take our last pictures of our beloved mountain!

And of course, our final day in Japan wouldn't be complete without some Japanese purikura, just the 2 of us!

And, now as we sit in an empty apartment, anxiously waiting for 2:30pm to roll around, so we can head to the bus terminal for the first leg of our long journey home ,we can't help but think about our time spent here. . .

It's hard to believe we are on our final day, writing our final blog of our time in Japan. It has been a difficult yet wonderful three years here. It's been a roller coaster of ups and downs, and just like a roller coaster, it seems like it has finished too soon! This place has become our home, and we will miss it dearly. We have grown so very close to many of our students and friends here and are sad to leave them, but we know that God will continue the good work He has started here, even without our presence. We will never forget our time spent in our little corner of Aomori (our state), in Hirosaki. We will never forget the friends we've made. We will never forget this place. We hope to return someday, but now it is time to say good-bye as we enjoy "Our Last Aomori."

1 More Day!

With butterflies in our stomaches we entered into our last 48 hours of Hirosaki, and we lived it up! After having our fill of packing and cleaning in the morning, we went out for some Mr. Donut with one of our former students who has become a close friend. We enjoyed chatting about life events and reminiscing about school activities. After finishing our donuts we went out for some "purikura" otherwise known photo-booth pictures in English! We didn't have our fill of purikura, so we went out again with another very close friend of ours later in the afternoon after some more crazy cleaning and packing. Purikura will be a great loss when we return to the States. There is just nothing like looking extra cute and getting your eyes enlarged like an alien!! In the evening we attended our last ever English Fellowship. This church has been such a great support to us. We know that the Lord has blessed us and many others through it and that our life in Japan would have been much more difficult without it. We praise the Lord Jesus Christ upon every remembrance of it and those who supported us in Japan! After the Fellowship we went for a traditional outing to Mr. Donut. The workers at this Mr. Donut have become sort-of-friends to us, so we HAD to say goodbye to them. And then a last minute decision was made--KARAOKE!! We just couldn't resist having one more chance to sing our hearts out at the top of our lungs. So we headed to the Queen with our dearest friend and all-time karaoke partner, Kevin. We sang till past midnight and came out more satisfied than ever.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time Flies.....

Besides packing, cleaning, and freaking out over our change in flight schedule, we have made time for our dear friends in Hirosaki. These are people that we may never see again in person, so it is extremely difficult to say goodbye. Only the thought of our family and friends awaiting us in the States keeps us moving our feet forward. Here is a short outline of the major events that occurred during the past week:

One of our English Club students spent a day with us hanging out. We all enjoy karaoke so we went out to our favorite, Melodie Queen. After putting our time in at the Queen we had a good night of games and food. The next morning we witnessed her first ever McDonald's breakfast, as she is from a smaller town outside of Hirosaki without McDonald's. We were sooo happy to spend some extra time with her and establish a long-lasting friendship that we hope to continue in the States or Japan but of course on Skype!!!

The next day one of our best friends came over to spend the night. We did a Bible study and played games with a bunch of friends until late into the night. The next morning she invited us over to her house where we ate the wonderfully delicious Japanese food her mother kept putting in front of us!! We sat and talked for some time and finally had to tear away so we could go home to work on more packing and cleaning.

The next day one of our close students and her friends came over to eat lunch. Although their English is not the best, we had no problem having fun talking, playing games, doing magic tricks, and watching the national spring high school baseball tournament. We prepared an American style lunch for them consisting of cheese/broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. But they insisted on making us some fried rice that was fantastic as well! We will really miss our students and wish we could have spent more time with students like these outgoing girls.

Just tonight, we had our final karaoke gathering at the Queen. This is a night of karaoke that will go down in the books or at least in our minds. A complete 6 hour marathon was hardly enough to quench our thirst for karaoke. We had a full schmorgasborg of food to enjoy including cupcakes, muffins, chocolates, potato chips, popcorn, and sweets galore. The greatest hits from three years of practice were put on the list and hearts laid out for all to sing. Vocal chords were shredded, headaches created, and heat exhaustion forced us to near collapse, but we left content and satisfied with our last ever visit to Melodie Queen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More and More Goodbyes!

With seven days left, our time is very limited here in Japan. There are many people we love and will dearly miss. Also, the town of Hirosaki has become our foriegn home. The streets and pathways of this city will forever be etched on our hearts. There are many places in the city of Hirosaki that we will come to miss during our next years in America. Here is a taste:

The DAISO. Enough said...maybe not, but this is the greatest dollar store chain to exist in existance. The question you ask yourself when entering this vast store is, "What can't I find!" And truth be told, everything can be found, maybe not in the quality you would imagine, but the quality is the price you pay--$1.00 (actually more like 80 cents!). This is the 100 yen shop that has provided us with all essentials as well as even more non-essentials: writting paper, soap, candy, California Cola, plates, tupperware, locks, cleaning supplies, pens, pencils, decorations, cds, clothing, toys, games, yarn, folders, tissues, and much more beyond your wildest imaginations. What would have life been without you, Daiso.

Next on the list is the greatest thrift store of all time. If you know us, you know we love cheap stuff. There's something wonderful about finding that great deal at 90% the actual cost that drives us to extreme levels of saving. Although the prices at this particular thrift store are not what you would find in America, the quality is much higher. There are two theories for the high quality. Either Japanese people take better care of their clothes, or Japanese people run through their clothes as fast as fashions change. Whatever the theory, we reap the benefits!! Here's to you and your annoying theme song OFF HOUSE!!

SAKURANO, the mid range dept. store. How many times did we enter and NOT see our students--never! This dept. store is not any old ordinary dept. store. It is a city in itself. NO, not no mega-mall, but non-the-less you can spend a day easily within the doors of this fine dept. store. It is complete with a cinema, bowling, pachinko, hot spring, supermarket, 2 game centers, tourist information and souvenirs, McDonald's, a 100 yen store, and more shopping stores that have the same clothes than are needed.

MT. IWAKI, this scene defines our city. Without this scenic view our city would be any other city. The shear size cannot be captured on camera. Sometimes she can hide behind the clouds and fog, and when she comes out-BAM-there she is!! We have conquered her 3 times yet still she beckons us. Life will not be the same without her near to us, just a glance away!

But of course, our friends will be missed even more greatly. Good times have been had with all these wonderful people. Our great friends threw a party in our honor to say farewell. God has created some great relationships that we know will continue in this life as well as the much more exciting life to come in Heaven. Thank you to you all for your support, kindness, and love. We can't say it enough! We thank God when we remember you all!!!