Day Fourteen and Fifteen: June 24, 2006 and June 25, 2006   

Life is full of choices.  You have the choice of filling each moment with happiness or not.  You
have the choice of trying new things or not.  You have the choice of meeting new people or not.  
I found myself faces many things over the weekend with my host family.  I am so thankful that I
seized the moment and tried new things, met new people and decided to face my fears with a
smile on my face.  WOW, what an adventure the past two days have been.  

I have been with a family who speak practically no English and yet I know many things about
them. My host family treated me with complete respect the entire weekend.  I enjoyed every
moment of the adventure.  The few moments of being uncomfortable were out weighed greatly by
the moments of generosity and kindness.  Yet again, God placed a compassionate person in my
life. I wonder how many times God will answer my prayers on this journey.  How many times will
I second-guess my life choices to find that God has taken care of everything for me?  “Let go,
and let God” This came to mind over and over during the weekend.

My host family had the entire weekend planned out, moment-by-moment they took me along for
a wonderful ride.  It did not take long to realize that I did not have the wealthy families like my
other colleagues on this trip. My friends were staying in fine hotels, weekend retreats and
summer cottages.  I faced the adventure with a hard working average family.  The young girl that
volunteered, Akimi, is a recently divorced single mother.  She along with her daughter, mother
and grandmother hosted my stay in Mutsu.  We were told before leaving that we should pay for
our own meals, tickets to things, etc.. Akimi and her mother refused to let me pay for even water
on the trip.  They truly wanted to treat me the entire weekend.  

We started by visiting the cliffs on the western tip of the Aomori prefecture.  We drove and drove
before seeing the beautiful sites of the cliffs.  It was worth every minute of driving once we got
there.  We rode on boat along the shoreline and took many pictures of the cliffs.  We
communicated by the use of a Japanese/English dictionary.  It was fun trying to understand
each other.  Believe it or not, I found myself understanding certain things they said even if I did
not know the words, simply by hand and face jesters.  

Akimi and her family live in Yokohoma.  This town is located between Mutsu and Aomori city.  
We first went to her parents’ house.  They had made a welcome sign and strung paper chains
throughout the foyer.  I realized when we got there that her parents had a small sushi bar.  I
knew what was coming at that point!  We played games with the kids and then it was time for
supper.  They wanted me to try many types of foods, so I did.  I did not like anything, but ate it
anyway.  They prepared a huge meal and I did not want to hurt their feelings by not trying to
eat.  After we ate, we shot fireworks.  This was so much fun seeing the look on the kids’ faces.  
Their faces were no different than my own kids’ faces when they see fireworks.  We then went
to Akimi’s house to sleep.  She kept apologizing for her house being small and very old.  She had
a traditional Japanese bathroom.  Nothing like American bathrooms!  There was one bedroom
and we all shared the bed together.  There are so many things in America that I take for
granted.  This family had very little, but yet wanted to give me as much as they could.  We
exchanged gifts and went to bed.  Akimi gave me a set of chopsticks, five for my whole family.  
She also gave me a pack of origami paper and showed me how to make a crane.  So sweet and
giving! Mida loved her bag and filled it immediately with things around the house.  

The next day we were up earlier for another day full of adventure.  This time we headed south
and visited a different area.  Each year in August, Japan celebrates the Nebuta festival.  In
Aomori, the floats that are used for the festival are stored.  We visited this place today.  It was
cool seeing the floats up close.  We also saw a large drum that is used during the festival and a
float being made.  We had a wonderful time, took many pictures and her family kept buying little
things and giving them to me along the way.  I played with Mida and took in the first days of
sunshine on the trip.  Even though it is the rainy season, we have not had rain. Instead of rain,
there have been many cloudy days with no sun.  Not this weekend though, the sun was out in
full force.  I enjoyed feeling it against my skin.  A cool breeze kept the temperature from
bothering us.

Before we knew it, the time had passed and we began driving north to Mutsu.  The feeling of
sadness overwhelmed me during the drive and a block from the hotel, I realized that I did not
want to say goodbye.  Mida cried and would not look at me.  Tears rolled down my face and I
gave each of them a hug bye. (It is not customary in Japan to hug.)  I thanked them over and
over for all that they had done for me.  Akimi gave me a card that she bought at the festival and
told me to read it later.  I am not sure when she had the time to write it. However, this is what it
said.

“Dear Melody, Thank you very much for your kindness.  I had a very good time two days.  Mida
think so.  Let’s keep in touch we will miss you very much.  I went to your home someday.” By
Akimi Sugiyama.

Her words were wonderful and even though they were not grammatically correct, they were well
spoken and will never be forgotten. Thank you God for another experience that will never be
forgotten.
My Journal Entry from my Host Family Visit.