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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #7

Japan: Part 1

My trip to Japan was actually before my trip to Australia.  I’m glad, for the most part, but the awesomeness of Japan definitely outshone Australia as a result.  I think if I went to Australia first, I might not have been so disappointed with it.  Who knows.

So, I left for Japan in August of 2000.  I was only there for three and a half months, but those were some amazingly full months!

I wrote a newsletter about my experiences there, which I sent to a few people.  One of those people is my Mom… I rather hope she has copies of what I wrote.  I need to ask her.  However, I’m going to initially, at least, write my story of Japan as I would be left to tell it… from my memory now.  Since my children, especially Ria, ask me regularly to tell about my time in Japan, this really is the best way to do it.

Perhaps I should start before the trip with a few details.  First, it is important to know that my Dad’s limited time in Japan as a result of a Navy cruise definitely influenced my decision of destination to Japan as a foreign exchange student.  However, if I had not been taking Japanese with Ishibashi-sensei, I may not have seriously considered Japan when I started to think about doing exchange trips.

Ishibashi-sensei is such a spunky, smart, amazing lady that I wanted to be in her presence as much as possible.  So, I decided to add Japanese to the Education minor, which was necessary for me to become a teacher.  As a result of this choice, Ishibashi-sensei convinced me to go to Japan to complete the majority of the course requirements for my Japanese minor.  She conveyed how much more amazing and wonderful it would be to learn about Japanese religions and be able to visit shrines and temples IN Japan.  Because I was seriously planning to go SOMEwhere as an Exchange Student anyway and my Dad had such a great experience there, I was an easy sell on going to Japan.

As a result of getting all of my information submitted first, I won a travel scholarship.  That’s how my plane fare was paid.  What a huge blessing that was to me!

I worked full-time during that summer break and saved up somewhere around $1000.  Thankfully, at the time I went to Japan, the exchange rate was quite in US currency’s favor.  So, my $1000 US became a little bit more in Yen.

I honestly do not remember where I ran into them, but somewhere and somewhen I was out and about I happened to see and speak with some LDS Missionaries.  To be completely honest, I do not remember the meeting at all.  I only know it happened because I retained the business card of one of the missionaries I met.  His name was Elder Triplett.  As an interesting connection, these many years later, I am currently (2012) in DeLand 2 Ward with a brother of Elder Triplett.  Amazing, right?  Regardless, I know that this “chance” meeting that I don’t even remember was orchestrated by our loving Heavenly Father.  It was one of His Love notes to me.  He was showing me in a very real and concrete way that He knew where I was and that He was mindful of me… and wanted me to know that ministers of His Church would touch my life wherever I went (remember me meeting Elders in Sydney and then Perth, Australia!?).  This is a precious gift to my heart now, though I didn’t get it then.

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