This is The End

Aaaaand we’re back. Two feet on solid ground.

I promised I would post once more, but I ended up delaying a bit. The past two weeks have been a flurry of emotion and events and everything in between. Japan seems like an eternity away…was I really there just two weeks ago?

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Blast from the Past – Reunited!!

My last week was a blur, but it was clear that God was at the wheel. Wednesday, my final full day in Tama started out looking disastrous. It seemed like every appointment was conflicting. There had been some mistakes in scheduling and we found ourselves accidentally double-booked half the day. I was so stressed – and then somehow the times all changed and everything fell into place perfectly. About half way through the day, I turned to my companion and said, “I’m not even stressed anymore. I know Heavenly Father will make sure we are exactly where we need to be, when we need to be there.” And that’s exactly how things went. The wonderful women of Tama had a luncheon and gave me cards and made my favorite washoku, and two good friends we hadn’t seen in a month were able to meet. It was amazing. We had family home evening with the Relief Society president and the children attacked Elder Poulsen, something I chose to capture on camera rather than helping. She handed me some bitter shiso leaves and a huge raw fish and a knife and I got to make my own sashimi and sushi. I was in heaven.

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GETTIM! HE’S DIFFERENT

On Thursday I had lunch with a friend and then jumped on a train, alone. I felt like I was just transferring to the honbu. I talked to a young mother and a florist on the train while trying to come to grips with the fact that my time in Japan was quickly coming to a close. That afternoon we had some “Future Life Trainings: How to not freak out and die once you step off the plane,” or something like that, and then we had an amazing dinner of Sukiya. The meal lasted well over two and a half hours and after the hour mark I would periodically check my watch, feeling guilty for spending so long socializing and feeling like I should do something useful. We had a testimony meeting and then suddenly it was nighttime and once again I panicked at the time a little and felt the urge to hope on the next train back to Tama and be home by curfew.

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From this..To that.

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Like the awkward family photos you never want to reach the public…oops.

The next day we ran to the park in the freezing cold, and just like my first ever morning in Japan, I ended the journey with some good old Radio Taisou, surrounded by people older than my grandparents. The morning was spent packing and downloading photos – I even found a ukulele in one back room and got to mess around with it for a bit until it was time to leave. We walked to the bus station…and suddenly I was on a bus taking me away from the experience that had singlehandedly changed my entire life forever. 

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Don’t ask how the creepy doll ended up in my arms.

At the airport I had the chance to talk in Japanese with a woman and her halfy-children, and to some businessmen from Utah we kept running into. My seat mate was a Filipino from California who I had the chance to talk to. He had an adorable little girl he showed me pictures of. He didn’t accept a Book of Mormon, but said he could see how important it was to me, and I gave him chopsticks and a Christmas card, for kicks. Merry Christmas Stranger.

The walk off the plane…well it happened. Just before leaving the gate I had to stop and take a deep breath. I could do this. I only cried once on the plane and my Filipino seat mate told me unsympathetically, “Oh, you’ll be fine.” And I was. I couldn’t speak English. Life was a blur. People were hugging me and talking to me and I was severely sleep deprived and heartbroken and so so happy.

Some of my best friends came, and one came home with me and we both promptly fell asleep on my bed after I was reunited with Cloudy. My boots, having lasted as long as they did, fell apart as soon as I stepped into the house, as if satisfied they had done their duty and not willing to do a minute more. That evening we went to pick up my sister (she got a ride home from BYU) and she saw me and burst into tears. I thought she was kidding for a second, and when I realized she wasn’t I enveloped her in a bear hug and got to tell HER “welcome home.”

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Since then…I’ve scared my parents by crying out in alarm the first few days when they turned into the right lane. I apologized too much, and I still bow…well always.

I’ve been united with my skis and my Central Oregon snow and it’s been bliss.

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My siblings are too big, too old, and I didn’t even know them anymore, but we have sibling dates organized, a glorified version of speed dating.

I spoke in two different wards, attended Christmas parties, had Finnish Christmas on the 24th and Christmas with my step-mom’s family on the 25th. I took a trip to Portland and to the temple with my Mother, and met up with my college roommate!

I’ve had chances to be a member missionary and get out and serve in the community and have come to grips with one fact: this is my life now, and I am in control. I determine my happiness and my future. And there’s no turning back.

I had better make the most of it.

*                               *                                 *

I’m so grateful to all who have followed my journey with me this long. A year and a half was so packed with excitement and trials and learning, and it just flew by.

Wish me luck.

XOXO, Smiley 姉妹

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