We have been back in Japan just over a week– Annie and Owen are back at school; busy fall schedules have started up. We are so thankful that Annie’s eyes seem fine — she no longer complains of double-vision and they look great. We will take her to a Japanese specialist in about a month to just make sure that everything is in line.
I wanted to share some special memories from our two weeks in New Jersey. It was really an amazing time for spending time with special people. As you probably know, the hardest part of missionary life for me is being far away from loved ones; so Annie’s surgery gave both of us an unexpected opportunity to see at least some of those so dear to us. It is also interesting that of our three children, it is Annie who talks most about missing the U.S. and people there. So despite the challenges of the surgery, overall it was a great visit for her, as well.
I have to say being with my niece Isabella was a huge highlight for both of us! Annie enjoyed not having to share her with Owen and Olivia this time….
Staying at our family home resplendent with amazing gardens and abundant Jersey vegetables and fruit was a great treat!
My immediate family hasn’t quite taken to Jersey lima beans as much as my sisters and Dad, but we’re working on it!
I brought my Dad and his wife, Mickey, a special gift from a small town called Obama, Japan. They weren’t quite sure what to do with this cake! (The paper wrapper has a sketch of Obama and says, I love Obama)
We happened to be home at the right time to celebrate our friend Laura’s 16th birthday… And we decided to surprise her by all wearing vintage bridesmaid dresses! (Probably more embarrassing for us than for her, but nonetheless a lot of fun.) I got the award for the most foo-foo dress; Annie wore a holly Hobby dress that my mom had made me as a child…
My Dad and sister Beth drove us to Lancaster, PA for a day of shopping and visiting with my special friends Lauren and Jill. Annie had a great time playing with Lauren’s kids and dressing up!
We were able to make a very brief visit to Washington D.C. and participate in Fourth’s worship service and get to see a few friends, as well…
One special God-ordained event was that we were able to visit with our special friends the Ryus on our last day. Claire and Bobby had served with us in Japan for three years, and now Bobby is studying in England. We hadn’t had a chance to meet their baby, Samuel, yet – so it was such a great treat when they flew into Philadelphia for a family reunion and to spend time with us.
For Annie, this was really special, too, because she helped to name him! Last fall when we found out via email that Bobby and Claire were having a baby boy, I asked the kids what name they thought might be good. Annie immediately said, “Samuel.” When I asked why, she said, “Because Samuel listened to God.” We emailed this story, and that, with other factors, led to his given name.
Tongue-in-cheek we advertised among our Asian Access community that we would be having a big BBQ on the east coast (there recently had been a very large gathering on the west coast)… Here is a photo of the turnout:
The real BBQ was a special meal prepared by my sisters Allison and Beth that gave me a wonderful last dinner with my family and our special friends the Ryus.
The whole trip was capped off with one last special visit. Every day since we left New Jersey and Annie’s Kindergarten in February, Annie has said at some point, “I miss Miss Thomas.” Tanicqua was Annie’s amazing teacher for five months and left a huge impression on her life. On our last night in the U.S., we stayed in a hotel near the Philadephia airport, and Tanicqua flew in from Texas, where she now lives, to spend a short amount of time with us before we had to fly out the next morning.
The Lord was so good in ordering our steps; giving us family and friends who sacrificed and hosted and cared for us; and in giving Eric and Owen and Olivia special friends in Sanda to help them, as well. I came back to Sanda with a full heart, ready to plunge again into this ministry and life that God has called us to.