I’m taking advantage of the 19-hour ferry cruise between Osaka, Japan and Busan, South Korea and catching up on blogging.
Last Saturday was the day we left the hostel in Chiba and headed to Nagoya and Gamagori. Traveling in Japan is awesome. They have these great rest stops where the bathrooms are so big you need a map. They also have food courts and supermarkets. Lately I spend a lot of the time on the bus sleeping. Sometimes we watch some movies or video clips from our performances, or we just hang out and talk.
We spent a week in a church in Gamagori. It was probably my favorite place we stayed. It had A/C and Wi-Fi, a hot shower, an awesome massage chair, super cozy 5-person rooms with lofts and tons of matts and blankets to sleep on, and a beautiful view of the bay and a Ferris wheel. It was really pretty at night. Down the hill, there was a mall and a water park called LagunAsia. The guy who hosted us in Gamagori was a little crazy, he had so many performances planned for us and when he said it would take half an hour to get somewhere, it usually took two hours. Even that first night we showed up at a train station to just hand out some fliers, and he wanted us to do our whole show!
|They have a thing for ferris wheels in Japan|
I still had a pretty bad cold the first few days, and I took a rest day on Sunday. It was nice to just lay there and relax and Skype my family. We still had a team/small group meeting in the afternoon, and even though I was falling asleep, that was great pick-me-up. I felt really refreshed afterwards.
On Monday there were some opportunities for smaller groups to go do some performances, as well as have a meal and spend the night with Japanese families from the church. I was one of the 10ish people that stayed at the church, so I got an extra day off. Even though we missed everyone who had left, it was kind of a nice break from being in such a big group. Some of the girls walked to the mall. We got some ice cream for a Coldstone-ish place. It was really hard to order because they didn’t speak any English. I bought a pair of shoes and some accessories. I’m trying not to spend too much money or take up too much room in my suitcase, but I’m really looking forward to the super-cheap shopping in Korea though.
That night we had a crazy awesome interpretive dance party. We also had props, like yoga mats, umbrellas, chairs, capes made from piano covers, and flashlights. It was so fun, probably the most fun thing that’s happened on DTS. It made me miss home, and how my siblings and I have dance parties all the time
Tuesday was also a day off for everyone. We spent some more time at the mall and just hanging out. We never made it to the water park. The church put on a dinner and games for us in the evening. Everywhere we go they love to feed us. I think we’re finally past the noodle-eating phase. This week I ate so much food.
|Giant sea creatures!|
I think Wednesday was when we got busy. And I mean BUSY. We had a shortened show at a junior high in the morning, and then we went straight to a high school a couple hours away. It was up in the mountains and it was sort of an alternative school. Not so much for kids who got kicked out, but kids that didn’t fit in or were feeling rejected. served us curry and salad for dinner. We did our whole show in the gym. I think they were quite moved. No one has ever done a performance for them before. Kevin, one of the guys on our team who was kicked out of school and in a lot of trouble in the past, preached afterwards and he was on fire.
We had a lot of really late nights and really early mornings this week. I think I only got 3-6 hours every night. I definitely learned how to sleep in the bus. Or the van; some days it was just my small group in a van. Not my favorite; I miss the whole group.
I definitely have had times when I feel kind of down since we’ve been on outreach; like things just don’t feel that exciting and fun sometimes. Even when I have more prayer and worship and small group time. There’s a part of me that wants to just go home. Part of it is exhaustion, frustration, stress and having been sick for half the time. I think the other part was feeling like I’m not really doing what I’m here to do. The mall and food just wasn’t satisfying me. Other people have had more profound experiences with praying for people having generators start when they prayed for them. I've had my doubts about even coming. But the last few days have been better.
On Thursday, we drove to downtown Osaka and performed in a park/train station. The show went pretty well. I actually had some good conversations afterwards. I prayed for a few people. Bri Anne and I talked to one lady who liked how tall we were, and said she knew the story of Christ. She spoke pretty good English. There was also a Christian girl who was inspired to start dancing in her church.
Across the street from where we perofmred was a super high end mall, containing such shops as Swarovski, Coach, Chanel, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton. After rehearsal, Bri and I managed to find 20 minutes to walk through a few stores. It was pretty fun. I was afraid we might get in trouble for taking pictures.
The next day was an early morning with a lot of packing, cleaning and cooking. It was kind of stressful because they didn’t announce the plan until I had gone to bed the night before, so I wasn’t expecting to spend my whole morning working and hardly have time to get ready.
We performed at a church. That was a good show. Afterwards we got to pray and hang out with a bunch of adorable little kids. There were these super chubby baby twin boys with spiky hair. They made me miss my baby cousin and his little fat rolls. I prayed for one sleeping toddler in her mother’s arms, and then one of the translators told me that the woman was also pregnant, and I prayed for the baby. That was one of my favorite experiences.
The next morning we packed and left the church, and drove to City Hall in Osaka. We got to perform in the most beautiful theatre. I was in love. That was when my spirits really lifted. I just wanted to lay there and hug that stage. There were even dressing rooms. God has blessed us so much on this trip. It was a great place for our final full show in Japan. The people loved it and wanted to pray with us and take pictures with us and
hang out with us. From there we had to drive to a hotel in Kobe.
|We even had a real dressing room|
It was like 8:30 by the time we got there. It turned out to be like a 4-5 star hotel, and we got to stay there for free. It was so nice. There was a ginormous buffet. My favorite thing was the tempura shrimp and vegetables.
We had hoped to go see the new Harry Potter that evening, but it was too late. But they were playing one of the older ones on TV in Japanese and we watched some of it. It was so entertaining. That night I had the harebrained scheme to do laundry. My costumes were getting really stinky and I really wanted them washed. There wasn’t a place for it, so we used the bathtub, but it was so hard to wring everything out, and my arms got tired, so it was still dripping wet in the morning.
So we spent most of the morning packing and trying to blow-dry our costumes. The breakfast buffet was pretty awesome too. I even had ice cream. We performed at some kind of event at the hotel. There were a ton of performance groups. We had a lot of waiting around time. We had some small group and used the Wi-Fi.
I’m trying to work on being really friendly to people; my small group leader told me that sometimes he has a hard time reading me and thinks I don’t like him, which is totally untrue. When I mentioned it to another girl, she said she felt that way when she first met me too. So I’m trying to figure out if there are ways I can come off more friendly and open. I really don’t have a lot of experience making close friendships. I think that’s something I’ve learned a ton about while I’ve been on DTS and I want to keep working on it.
It was, of course, much later than we planned by the time we left, and there was a ton of traffic, so we made it to a church at like 8:30. The van ride was fun: I was with a bunch of girl’s and we had some great girl bonding and prayer time. They gave us dinner at the church and the hip-hoppers did a really quick performance. It was fun. The church had fun decorations and it felt just like home because they had the same chairs we had in our classroom in Kona.
We spent the night at YWAM Osaka, which is empty right now. It was another late night and early morning. I tried unsuccessfully to get my clothes drier. We also had to repack because we were told that we had a 50lb suitcase limit on the ferry to Korea. We drove to the port this morning. Hauling our luggage was quite a hassle. I had like 5 little heavy bags, plus my suitcase and one microphone case that I’m responsible for when we travel. It turned out our rooms were big enough we could just take everything and they didn’t care about weight.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for almost three weeks already and we've already left Japan. Korea’s going to be great. One of the hardest things in Japan was the language barrier, but since about half of our team is Korean, that will be so much easier in Korea. We’re all enjoying some rest and relaxation on the cruise ship now. It’s about time for me to go for dinner, and then I’m planning on some time on the deck, in the free sauna and then some sleep! Good night from somewhere in between Japan and Korea!