So now we're on the road to Nagoya. We didn't arrive even close to the time we wanted to but at least we did arrive. I had been trying to get the girls to sleep in the car since they usually have a nap in the afternoon but the more I tried, the more they resisted so they all ended up falling asleep about 20 minutes before we arrived. Classic! It was 4:30 when we arrived and they were all cranky from being woken up.
Our friends were waiting for us, Yuu & Sayaka, Yoshimi & Midori and their two children and Yoshimi's older brother Mitsuru. Chikara has been friend with these guys since he was very little and Yuu and Yoshimi went to the same college as him so I've known them for awhile too. Yoshimi & Midori have a 2-year-old daughter named Yumi and a 5-month-old son named Yuma. Last time we met, both of us were pregnant and we commented on how nice it was NOT to be pregnant!!
Yoshimi & Mitsuru's parents were also there and it seems like they helped prepare the dinner and snacks. All of us (9 adults, 6 kids) fellowshipped for a bit and then ate dinner. By this point in the week, my girls were so mellowed out. They ate everything I placed before them without complaint and when they were done eating, they just sat in their chair until I said they could go play. Everyone kept commenting on how well behaved they were and I felt bad taking compliments because really they were just too tired to misbehave! Has to be a first for them. We stick to our schedule pretty good when we're at home so usually they get enough sleep to misbehave just like all children do!
After dinner, Yoshimi's parents took all the kids upstairs to watch a video so that left all of us to hang out and fellowship. Yuu had brought his Japanese version of Settlers of Cataan so we opened that up and taught those who hadn't played before the rules and played through one game. If you haven't played Settlers before it takes at least one game to figure it out but as we played we all talked and joked around and everyone behaved just as they always do and therefore we had a wonderful time.
The first few years we lived in Japan, we didn't really get together with Chikara's childhood friends very much. We were all busy and I was having babies so it was hard to make the time. I think Kenji was the one we saw the most and that was probably once every 6 months. I always wondered why but I think God was preparing me and my Japanese so that I could become friends on my own with the wives of Chikara's friends. It's just in the last two years that we've been able to meet every so often and my Japanese has been good enough to hold my own and enjoy the time we spend together instead of being stuck to Chikara's side so he can translate for me.
Around 10:30pm, we realized that we should be going since we still had to make it to Yokkaichi. We brought all the kids down and took a picture together. Again, we had such a great time and the time went so quick that we really didn't want to leave. We all hugged and made our good-byes. Yoshimi's daughter Yumi asked Emi & Misaki, "haggu wa?" (where's my hug) so even our girls got in on the hugging. Thank you to the Takahashi family for your hospitality!
Back in the car again! The girls were all asleep within five minutes. We made it to Yokkaichi in about an hour. Our friends, Andrew & Yuri, helped us get everything in the house. Yuri's dad was also visiting to help build a deck for them. They just finished building a new house right before Christmas and haven't finished the landscaping so her dad came up for Golden Week to help out. He is also the father of four daughters so each time we've met him, he's been so sweet with the girls.
Emi, Misaki & Sakura were out as soon as we put them in their beds. Natsuki was stubborn for about 10 minutes and then she conked out, too. As soon as I was sure she was asleep, I relaxed and I was out within minutes. It was very dark in the room (which I like) so we slept soundly until morning.
I had planned for this day to be one of our "down" days. I really wanted to fellowship with Yuri, since it had been awhile since I'd seen her, and hear about her house and their life. After breakfast, Chikara decided he wanted to help Andrew and his father-in-law build the deck so he got ready and went outside. Yuri's two daughters, Emily & Ailie, are about the same age as Emi & Misaki so they paired up and played really well for the entire day. Sakura tagged along but when they went outside, I kept her inside because I didn't want her to disturb the building of the deck. She was totally content to be inside since Emily & Ailie have an abundance of girlie toys. She especially enjoy dressing up as a princess as you can see from the picture.
Natsuki was amazing. I wasn't sure if she'd fall asleep for her naps since it was an unfamiliar place and there were a lot of unfamiliar noises but both times I put her down for a nap, she didn't make a peep and was out (I checked many times!). This gave me the break I needed and I went through our suitcases and organized them a bit since I hadn't really done that even once during the whole trip.
Yuri and I talked for the majority of the time. She showed me lots of magazines that they looked through when building their house. The information she shared with me was invaluable and I had been looking through the Internet at the stuff she showed me ever since I got back. We are really hoping to build a house in the near future so I'm gathering information and advice so I can be prepared once we get to that point.
The girls had such a lovely day. They played inside and outside. They "assisted" the guys with the building the deck, played in the dirt, colored pictures, played with the toys, etc. They kept going all day and I almost felt bad when it was finally time for us to go and they had to leave their friends. Yuri had prepared yakiniku to say thank you to the guys. After the dinner, Chikara hopped into the shower and once he was ready, we packed up all the stuff into the car, said good-bye again, fastened the girls into their seatbelts and, once again, we were in our car and driving away.
We were home around 11, and without much ceremony, we put all the girls to bed, brought our stuff into the house and dropped into bed ourselves. It was such a lovely moment when we were finally laying down (even though the futon is still uncomfortable). We both said thank you to each other for making the vacation such a wonderful time and promptly fell asleep.
We has such a fabulous vacation and I wish that I had the right words to say thank you to all of our friends who welcomed us, fed us and encouraged us in different ways. I hope that all of you could tell how much we were blessed by your hospitality. Thank You!
Here are some pictures of the girls riding in the car.
We did a couple more things in Osaka for Golden Week so I'll write about those tomorrow but this is end of our tour of Japan! Thanks for reading to the end.