Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Planes, Memories, & New beginnings

In about 4 hours I will be boarding a plane US bound. I can hardly believe that this time has come. While I am very excited to go home I am also ridiculously sad to leave this community. I have met so many wonderful people and have so many great stories to share. The past month has been filled with goodbyes. I always feel that goodbyes should be easier to say after so many times but it’s not. Luckily for this community it is not a goodbye forever. For those of you that don’t know I will be coming back to Japan for another year but in a different place and different position.

Starting in October I will be working in Sendai with the Anglican Church of Japan’s project to help victims of last year’s tsunami and earthquake, “Let’s Walk Together.” Back in March I visited this project and it was an incredible experience. An opportunity came up to work with this project over the next coming year. I went back and forth on the subject weighing all of my options. In the end I decided that it is something I want to do. My main job will be with the project’s program that helps foreigners. These foreigners originally came to Japan to provide for their families. Most have lost their jobs along with their houses in the tsunami. They are searching for the next step in their lives. What is best for them and their families? The project’s focus is now on providing for their future through job trainings such as English teachers and care givers. They also provide counseling in their native language. They give tutoring for children whose parents cannot help due to language barriers. These are just a few of the things the project is involved in. Please view their website ( to see all that they do. This project is something that I truly believe in and cannot wait to work with it.

So here I am about to board a plane home bound. I will be in the states for about 5 fun filled weeks of weddings, reunions and updating at churches. At the beginning of October I will come back to Japan but to Sendai, where I will continue to work under the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corp. I am nervous and excited about what this next year will hold.  

With all of that being said I want to again ask for your help. I cannot do this job without your prayers and financial support. I want to ask you to come along with me in my mission work any way you can. Soon I will post more information about how to help. Thank you for all the support you have given me this year. It has been a great experience and I can’t wait to share all that I have learned. I can’t wait to tell you, in person, about the wonderful children and amazing people I have had the privilege to work with. For now I will leave you with some pictures.

Again thank you for everything,
Katie Young  

Monday, 20 August 2012

Camps, Fireworks, & Olympics

A few weeks ago we had Long day camp. It was probably my favorite thing that I have done at the center.  Kids from all over the Nagoya come to it. Most of the volunteers are people that help at the various children’s events we have all year.

Some of the wonderful camp leaders!
We were split into two fairly big groups. My group’s name was “Super 8.” Every morning, after singing the morning song, we would play a massive game of Jaka Jaka Junken (a.k.a. Rock Paper Scissors set to music). After several rounds miraculously there is a real winner. The winner’s group went first for every activity throughout the day. During the four day camp we went to the river, one day we cooked an amazing lunch, we made tie-dye Japanese towels, and we went on a treasure hunt. On the third night we had a bonfire. We played games and sang incredibly silly songs. I know I say this a lot but it was a BLAST! Some of the older kids stayed the night. That night they got to play with fireworks and roast marsh mellows. I tried to convince one of the leaders that eating a burnt marshmallow is actually ok. But for some reason he didn't believe me. i guess you need chocolate and graham crackers to truly appreciate burnt marshmallows.To end the night we had an epic tournament of Ping Pong using kitchen utensils and various other items instead of ping pong paddles. Needless to say it was ridiculously amusing. 

The lovely teachers I have worked
with all year.
A week later we had the English summer program. Every day there were three different groups that would come for 2 hours at a time. The groups were split between the various ages we had. So each session was a bit different according to the age group. The first day’s theme was the Olympics. We had trivia, crafts, and games all in English and all surrounding the Olympics. The second day was Italy day. We made Minestrone soup and learned a little about Italy. This was leading up to the last day when an Italian came to talk to the kids about Italy. She was great! We played Italian games and “toured” Italy through pictures. We danced to an Italian children’s song. In one part the kids were supposed to kiss the person they liked on the cheek. But being children they freaked out when she told them. It was hilarious! In the older class the boys literally ran to hide in the curtains. Overall the English program was a success.

Both of the camps were great. It was the perfect way to end this year. I am really going to miss those smiling faces so much. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Wedding, Road trips, & Line dancing

Here is a little synopsis of what has happened over the past month. 
St. Stephen's Church

I went to another wedding in Japan. It was a church friend of mine. Being the small and very family like church congregation that we are, everyone pitched in to make the festivities wonderful. Most of the church members showed up early to prepare food for the reception. There were so many people in the kitchen it was ridiculous. Food was made, jokes were told, and I think there was some singing as well. The wedding went on without a problem and the reception was perfect.  So happy for them!

Mochi! It might not look appealing here
but it is DELICIOUS!
The next weekend St. Stephen’s church went on a trip. It took us five hours to get to our destination. After several stops along the way I realized that the end destination didn’t matter. As all great trips the journey getting there was just as important. For lunch we stopped in Kiyosato which happens to be one of my favorite places in Japan. It has some of the best ice cream I have ever had and the food isn’t too bad either. Once we finally arrived, we had dinner with the priest and his family. Everyone helped make the delicious meal. It is always a joy sharing meals with this group. There is never a dull moment.  The next morning we went to church, did some shopping, and drove along way up the mountain to have some incredibly delicious mochi. After lunch we meandered our way home. Church is a place where community is not just an idea it is a reality. I have been very fortunate in that every church I have been a part of, community has been the reality. This church is no exception. Everyone knows everyone they are always there to lend a hand, to share a meal, to comfort you when you are down, and to share God’s love. It is going to be hard to leave this church. They mean more to me than I could ever say. 

My friends at Gujo Hachimon
This past weekend I went on a trip with some of my farmer friends. We went to Gujo Hachimon. There we did what I can only describe as Japanese line dancing. I was told to bring my yukata (it’s like a kimono but not as formal). When we parked the car my friends met a woman that would help me put it on. So this woman took us to the yukata dressing area. At one point there were two tiny Japanese women tugging at me. It was quite an experience. After I was dressed we walked around the town and had dinner. They had a lot of cool little shops.  At one of the shops we played hide and seek with some kids. They were adorable. Once the dancing finally started we joined the crowds. I was not made for Japanese dancing but I had a blast trying to keep up. The next day I helped my friends on their farm. We harvested cucumbers and okra. Then we pulled weeds from their paddy fields. I don’t know if I could be a farmer as a profession but I really enjoy working on my friend’s farms. There is something honest and peaceful about the work. 

A couple of weeks ago we had the last English classes. Luckily I get to teach the kids one more time at the Summer English program. I am looking forward to seeing all of their faces again. Last week we had Long Day Camp at the center. I promise to post a blog about it soon.

July has been an incredibly busy month. I can’t believe its already August. This summer is going by in a blur! I have so many more stories to share with you but I will save them for another day. In the meantime I hope that you all are staying cool in this very hot summer.

My yukata Sensei

I met this kid in a park. He was trying to catch crawdads.