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I arrived back in Japan on Friday night! It was extremely difficult and painful for me to say goodbye to my parents but God helped me to get on the plane for the long 14+ hour journey back to Ishinomaki. After landing in Narita Airport, I had a lovely visit with friends in Shinjuku (Tokyo) and we had tons of fun catching up. At nighttime, there was a spectacular view of downtown Tokyo from their balcony which took my breath away. Somehow, views of skylines move me far more than natural beauty  – go figure!

(Image from internet of Tokyo)

On Saturday afternoon, after a 7-hour bus ride from Shinjuku to Ishinomaki I was picked by my husband and there was lots of snow! The first thing we did was go to the supermarket, and I was greeted at the food court by our teammates, Lorna and Andy, who brought me a bouquet of flowers. After catching up with them, it was delightful shopping for food because I love to cook Japanese food so much more than American food. In fact, I had such a hard time tolerating “American food” that I actually lost weight.

I wound up making a nabe, or hot pot, full of steaming hot vegetables served over rice with a side dish of miso soup.

Whenever I come back to Japan, I get nervous about whether I’ll have culture shock (which can be stressful). This time around I had almost no culture shock whatsoever, only the positive kind. It was like slipping into a familiar outfit. I loved being able to hear and speak Japanese constantly and see all the signs in Japanese (which used to intimidate me). I appreciated how helpful and friendly the customer service was at the airport and I was very grateful for takkyubin service, also known as black cat (kuroneko). Takkyubin is a delivery service which allows you to send your suitcase(s) directly to your house for a reasonable price. Not only will the suitcases arrive the next day, but you can actually choose the time of day you’d like for them to arrive – super!

At the moment I hardly have any jet lag and I feel pretty good overall, not too sleepy. There is only one thing I don’t like; I am struggling just a bit to adjust to life without any sort of central heating. It’s a bit of a shock to come home and see my own breath inside the apartment. I’d forgotten how frigid winters are in this part of Japan. We use kerosene heaters, but it takes a while for the apartment to heat up. I enjoy using a small kotatsu, which is table with an electric heated lamp underneath to warm up your legs and feet.

(Image from internet of a kotatsu)

I’m looking forward to seeing friends here and catching up, but I’m going to jump back into things slowly. Yesterday I got to see a lot of people at a big meeting for Christian workers and it was really awesome to see everyone again and receive loads of big hugs.

One last thing: at the supermarket I freaked out because strawberry daifuku were on sale – one of my favorite snacks!

Daifuku: rice cake stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans…stuffed with a strawberry!

I am so thankful to be back. I am so thankful for the community of people here from all over the globe! Even though it’s cold and I miss my dear parents like crazy, there’s no place like home. 🙂