Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Journey Home

Friday morning, at the lovely hour of 5:30 a.m., the six of us returning missionaries said adieu to the mission home for the last time. The Japanese missionaries and American missionaries had flights at different times, but we all headed to Sapporo’s Chitose airport at the same time with the mission president and his wife, and then the Assistants to the President. It was kind of funny because with the time change, I departed from the Chitose airport at 7:50 a.m. on Friday morning, and then arrived in Portland at 8:20 a.m. … on the same Friday!

Here are some pictures of the in-between:



One of my favorite people just happened to have a flight the same day! It was way fun to meet once more at the airport.



The trip was actually pretty funny because we seemed to keep gaining people as we progressed – first we ran into a man working on the construction of the Sapporo Temple. Then we found Collins Shimai (pictured above), one of our MTC roommates on her way home from the Japan Sendai mission, at the baggage check counter. Next, while we were waiting at the gate we were joined by a huge group of missionaries coming home from the Philippines who had a layover in Tokyo. Not to mention meeting other members who were traveling from all over places, like a cute family living in China going home to Utah for a vacation. It was a party!


We were in the Tokyo airport for five hours, so we made friends with a rolly-cart, looked at the shops and ate a nice lunch outside while watching planes take off. It was really weird for all of us to have so much time to kill! That’s not something that happens during mission life, so we may have compulsively looked at our watches most of the time. But it was super nice to slow down a bit and just relax.


Northrop Shimai and I got to fly into the same airport since she is from Vancouver, Wash., so that was fun too. (The gate says “Portland” in Japanese)


And faster than you could imagine, we were home!

(But don’t worry, more catch-up Japan posts coming soon. Stay tuned!)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Start of the Lost Mission Posts

So now that I have had a few days to rest (aka sit on the couch and catch-up on watching a lot of tv and movies), I figure it is finally time for me to make up for some of the lost posts from my mission! Towards the end I didn’t have time to really send a lot of pictures, but there are some great ones so I am sure that their stories need to be shared.

Today we will start with: The Last Day. I think I will do these posts in reverse chronological order, just because I can. It should be fun!


Before we left our apartment in Odori for the last time Thursday morning, our roommates gave us awesome presents! We felt really loved (Ignore last minute packing mess, please…)



After winning a fight with our luggage and getting it all together, we headed to the “transfer spot” at the Sapporo train station, where all of the missionaries who are moving to new areas meet and change companions before the start of a new transfer. Since it was our last one, Kise Shimai was awesome and made everyone take a picture. We may have blocked foot traffic just a little bit… but it was worth it!


On my last day I officially became a missionary grandmother! Lundstrom  Shimai, my bean (meaning I was her first companion in Japan), just became a trainer on her third transfer (things are moving fast now with so many new sister missionaries coming!), making the sister on the far left my granddaughter. We only got to talk for a few minutes before they had to head up to Asahikawa, but I am already certain she is awesome.


We also got to take a reunion pic of everyone who came on the plane to Japan together – the only person who wasn’t there was Elder Stilson, who didn’t have a transfer. We might have to photoshop him in… All of the Elders will still be in Japan for at least another 6 months. So I send them lots of luck!







After everyone returned to their areas, they gave those of us returning home free time until our interviews with President Evans starting from three. So the four returning sisters (Kise Shimai, Northrop Shimai, Ochiai Shimai and I) decided to wander to famous sites in the city and eat delicious Hokkaido food! I’ve actually been companions with all of them, either in the field or MTC, so it was a ton of fun to go around with them. (It was the last day for Elders Inumaki and Olsen as well, but they opted for a hike)


After the interviews we met back at the mission home for the “saigo no bansan,” or “last dinner.”I’ll have to admit, that the whole time we were having the dinner I really didn’t feel like it was the end, just an especially delicious and fun dinner (sukiyaki prepared by President Evans and two of the Elders).



It was during the testimony meeting at the end while President Evans was talking, and then when we joined in on the tradition of signing our names on the banner in the mission home (it translates to Trust in the Lord, which is the Evans’ family’s theme), that it finally occurred to me that I would be going home, and that I wouldn’t be able to see all of these people that had become a second family to me in the coming weeks. That realization was sad, but because of the magic of the internet we’ll still be able to stay in touch, so I am excited! It will be fun to see what we all end up doing as well. I’ll keep you posted from my end!


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