Yatta Koto Nai! (“I’ve never done this before!”)

This was our favorite quote from our lodge-camping weekend away.   It was said at the end of our time.  Our family went with three other families from our neighborhood on a long-planned excursion.  We had rain all weekend (as expected), and so we had changed at the last minute from all four families camping in tents to renting one large lodge in the woods.

We ended our time at lunch with pre-made Japanese curry that we ate in an open pavilion with the rain blowing in. The kids ate quickly, then went to wait for us in the cars, a bit tired and wet (We had already turned in the cabin key before lunch).  While us 4 ladies were getting out the adult curries, Eric went over to the long sink troughs and began washing up some of the dishes.  His friend Masao followed suit.  The third dad looked at both of them, and then walked over and picked up a sponge and a plate, and with a surprised look on his face said the above phrase:  “I’ve never done this before!”  His wife tried not to look shocked, but she clearly was as she watched her husband nervously wash dishes for the first time.

So, this was a camping trip with a number of things some of us have never done before.   Here are a few others:

2. We loved the unloading system the campground had.  It felt like we went back a hundred years or so but it was very useful!

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3.  This was a standing-up barbeque!  From the time we started grilling (out in the rain) around 5 pm…

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to serving the kids hotdog dinners under the tarp…

IMG_2600to the eight adults cooking, eating, coking, and eating some more…

IMG_2631It was a 3 hour standing up barbeque!

4.  One of the dads, Mr. Asa., had said for weeks how excited he was to experience American camping.  Thanks for the many ideas that came our way through Facebook!  Of course we ended the dinner with s’mores — which were a hit — but we also made our own Japanese version of doughboys.  They were a treat I had made in girl scouts when I was young, and so we gave them a try.  And got REALLY creative.  We made dough in a bread machine and took it with us… rolled it on a stick and put it over the coals, then dipped them in butter, cinnamon and sugar.  Yum!  They were a hit.

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5. I got pranked!!  I had made some preparation to do a prank or two in keeping with the hopes of American camping Takamoto-style.  But during dinner, I thought it might be a little bit soon to sew Mr. Asa’s underwear shut… I was planning to wait for the next camping opportunity.

As the evening progressed, the kids had a great time playing indoors in the large room– badmitton, Blockus, DS, dress-up…

IMG_2632IMG_2641Around midnight (boy, did the three families let their kids stay up late!), Mr. Asa went outside for a while, and asked if I would be his assistant when he gave a small magic show.  I said sure.  He came into the room and everyone erupted in laughter at his costume.

IMG_2636He proceeded to do several fun tricks with handkerchiefs and hidden fishing line that delighted the children.  Then he asked me and Eric to come up.  He carefully placed a rolled-up handerchief inside the top of my t-shirt, and he asked Eric to take hold of one end and pull it out.  As he did, a bra tied to the handkerchief came out too!  The children were astounded;  the adults died laughing.  He got me GOOD.  I am ready for our next camping trip!

6.  Being away for 24 hours + in the same room with 3 families gives a great chance to deepen relationships as well as see more into their family life.  We were saddened by the great amount of alcohol consumed by several of the men, and how acceptable it was to drink like this in front of their children.  The next morning, one of the wives talked to me about her husband’s drinking problem, and how much she hates it.  It was the first time she has shared with me a real and personal challenge in their lives.  Through our four years of friendship, we have shared a lot but there has never been an area where she has so openly allowed me into her place of pain.  It was a special time of listening and sharing.  We often find that when people let us into these places they begin to recognize their need for a Savior.  Pray with us for my dear friend N. and her husband that they will see their need.

When we got back home, there was a flood of text messages among the 4 moms about how much fun we had, how tired our children were, and, finally, the discovery of the quarantine that was upcoming.  All of us have been talking about the next camping trip — hopefully in tents with better weather.  Dough boys, pranks, maybe Japanese dads washing dishes even! – will no longer be new– they are now our par for the course…

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