Sunday, 21 April 2013

Groverden & Young Invasion part 1

Celebrating Mike's Birthday
During the first two weeks of April, I spent friends with my brother Mike, his wife Natalie, and our two Australian friends Melody & Grover. Traveling with five people in Japan is definitely an adventure. We spent four days on two different farms. Our wonderful farming friends took us to some sightseeing places around their homes. They don’t get many days off and once summer starts they have to work non-stop. Therefor they welcomed this vacation with us with open arms.  It was nice to see Mike reunited with his friends. We played yatzee, went to onsens, ate delicious food, saw cherry blossoms, celebrated Mike's Birthday, made gyoza and just enjoyed one anothers presence. It was wonderful.

After four days with them we went to Hiroshima. While there, we went to the Peace Museum.
Atomic bomb dome...only building still
standing from the bomb being dropped
During my trip to Hirsoshima last year we were on a time limit so this time was a little different experience. There is so much to read in the museum that you could spend all day in there. We spent at least half of our day soaking up all the information. The rest of the day we spent processing and discussing all of the things we had read. It made for some very intense conversations about war, peace, and the consequences of our actions. In the museum we were learned that no one explained to the people of Hiroshima what the atomic bomb was, until 7 years after it was dropped. They were left in the dark for 7 years. Can you imagine? What would it be like if within a second your whole life changed? You saw a flash and then your friends and family members were dead. No one explained why you are experiencing the side effects of radiation (which of course they didn’t know that it was radiation at the time); no one told them why their skin was hanging off their bones. Or why a girl 6 years after the bombing was then getting the side effects of the radiation and therefore dying of cancer. No one explained these things to them until 7 years later. Of course since this was the first time such a thing was done no one knew all that the consequences of the bomb. For that matter people still don’t know what to expect, which makes the situation In Fukushima right now very scary.

The next day we had a slow morning and saw the Australians off to Kyoto. Mike, Natalie, and I then explored Hiroshima a bit more. We went to the castle ruins and a large Japanese garden. Even though it was a rainy day, we managed to enjoy the outdoors to the max.
Miyajima's gate with rainbow
That night we stayed in Miyajima. Miyjima is a very small island that is famous for its floating gate in the ocean and its many shrines. A long time ago the island was considered so sacred that the only way you were allowed on the island was if you passed through the gate by boat first.

Since we arrived on the island at sunset and it had been raining all day, there were very few people around. Mike, Natalie, and I were able to explore the island like no bodies business. We hiked up some slopes, visited a couple of lit up temples and watched the tide lower. It was a perfect end to a great day. The next day we woke up super early to hike to the top of the mountains on the island. On our way to the island there was a rainbow. Seeing it frame the tori gate made up for waking up at 6am. It was a steep climb up to the top but again completely worth it.

At one point in the hike Mike said its so great that Japan has shrines everywhere to remind you that God is present in everything. I would like to say that I think about God’s presence in my life all the time, or that I recognize God is everything I see and everyone I meet but that isn’t the case. After Mike said this I was suddenly put in my place. I realized he was right. Seeing the shrine as a dwelling place for God among all this beauty, made me realize God’s presence in a real way. Here I am hiking up a mountain in Japan with Mike and Natalie, the trees are beautiful, the air is clean, the water flowing down the path is peaceful and yet I have not once recognized that God was apart of every bit of it. God was in the trees, the river, the waterfall, and especially in the conversations we were having. God is who we have to thank for the things that we so often take for granted in this world.

Thanks be to God!

Visiting Mrs. Karube and family

This is a monument to the battle of the
Alamo and the battle of Nagashino in 1575.
Apparently there are a lot of similarities
between the two. A plaque of the Alamo in Japan! 

the crew!



  1. I am glad you are enjoying Japan! Thank you for letting me ready this! Amazing!

  2. Hi Katie,

    My name is Seth Raymond, I'm a priest in Milwaukee and former YASCer (I was in Taiwan the year Mike was at ARI). My middle school Sunday school class wrote letters to YASCers and would love to send you one. Please send your snail mail address to

    Blessings on your work!


  3. Katie- Christine and I sat and read your post last night. She said to tell you she loves you. We are so glad you were born.
    Love MoM

  4. And there is a statue at the Alamo from Japan!