Brian and I had such an amazing opportunity to go to EFY. I love living in Okinawa, Japan- what an adventure it has been! This was the first EVER EFY in Japan. It has been years in the works. How amazing to be a part of this with youth from all over Japan!! We boarded our plane in Naha for Tokyo. It was an early morning 4:45 AM, and tough to leave the kids. Brian and I just said a little prayer that all would go well, and that Kennedy and Nate would be safe, healthy, and happy. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease broke out in the our branch’s nursery. That was the last thing that I needed. I am happy to say our prayers were answered. I am so grateful for such wonderful friends, and an amazing church family! Brian and I were in charge of making sure that all 38 American youth made it to Tokyo. Luckily we hooked up with an addition 29 Japanese youth at the Airport, that helped us to get on the right bus. What a relief! I was afraid that we were going to be trying to keep that gaggle together through several train stations!
Once we arrived at the Olympic Village Venue, we got the kids registered and handed them over to their youth counselors. Then we headed off to learn about our job as Health Counselors. Brian and I got a good laugh out of the fact that the Japanese referred to us as the “healthy” counselors. Basically I was in charge of the American’s health, and Brian was the BEST assistant ever. We decided that we will have SO much fun serving missions together. Youth from otherAmerican military bases in Japan were also there. I think there was probably a total of ~100 American youth there. It was a little tricky because all the meds were in Japanese! However, we did have wonderful translators for the most part. Eventually we figured out who knew “enough” english to get by. Brian and I got our room assignments which were across the hall from each other. Brother Hilton told us we could communicate by knocking on the walls. Nothing like making us feel young again! Food was a little interesting at first. It felt a little like fat camp. The food was just very different from what we are accustom to. I tried raw octopus for the first time. Just plain chewy, fishy octopus. It was an interesting experience. Not really a fan! 🙂
How many of you can say you went to EFY with your hubby? I think I’m pretty lucky!
During the week Brian and I attended devotionals, talks, classes, dances, and scripture study with the youth. We traveled around to each group and shared a short message with them. It was pretty awesome meeting and rubbing shoulders with all the Seventy and Area Seventy for Japan. Basically it was who’s who of Asian Church leadership. Amazing!
August 24th Brian and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. It was definitely an unique one, and one we won’t forget! It was game night and chocolate night! The church leadership and other Japanese medical people found out it was our anniversary, so they got us some Japanese treats and gifts. Too sweet! We made such wonderful friends in our week there. After game night, we all gathered for chocolate fondue, and they sang “Happy Anniversary” to us. Seriously, what a way to celebrate! We were in Tokyo with all these amazing people, and 800 plus youth chanting, “Kiss her! Kiss…Kiss…Kiss..EFY!” It was so fun to get to know the youth. It was wonderful to see the Japanese and Americans intermingling and building friendships.
Some of our favorite “Healthy Counselors”! What a fun team! Brian and I were the only Americans on the medical staff.
The week at EFY flew by, and on the last night we had the opportunity to do a service project for victims of the 8.9 earthquake that shook Tokyo, and the tsunami that crashed over Fukushima and Sendai City near Tokyo. It’s located on the East coast edge. The destruction is unimaginable. So many people lost everything including their lives. Mothers dead bodies lay protecting their children. It was heart wrenching to watch. If they survived, they lost their home, loved ones, and all their basic needs. We learned how to make origami cranes to hang in the homes as they were rebuilt. These colorful paper chains are thought to ease pain and sadness and bring hope to who ever is the recipient. Cranes are the symbol of long life and good fortune.
After the service project, we had a closing fireside by the Isa’s who were the directors of EFY. Sister Isa and I became great friends by the weeks ends. She is truly amazing! I just love her. We watched an amazing slideshow, which we even made it in! 🙂 There were a lot of tears. I think this was a life-changing week for many youth! It’s impossible to be at EFY for an entire week and not want to be better! I was so impressed with them all. They were literally bursting to share their testimonies. It was a constant stream of testimonies.
The morning we were heading home, my glasses broke and I was freaking out a little because I am so blind. I finally had the impression that I should break my stretchy watch and use the band to tie my glasses together. It worked. It was truly a tender mercy. They held up just fine, and we were able to take the youth to the Tokyo temple before heading back to the airport to catch our plane. I always love being in the temple. The spirit is so strong and I always feel so close to my Savior. When I am there, I can just feel how much my Heavenly Father and Savior love me! It was so nice to have a week that was so full of spiritual nourishment, and the temple was the perfect icing on the cake!
Of course we were so excited to get home and be with our kiddos again, but reality was a little tough. We immediately turned around and prepared for Brian to leave for basically the next few months. It was a busy week. We got back late Saturday night, and school started on Monday. However, that’s a post of it’s own! Now for some pictures of Tokyo and EFY. Brian and I made it out one night for an evening walk, but other than that, the kids and our responsibilities kept us pretty busy. We did get to see some amazing things on our bus rides though, so we will definitely be going back to Tokyo before our time here is up!
This is the Docomo Yoyogi Building, and it’s the tallest clock tower in the World!
Seriously, who wouldn’t miss these two??!