Ok, so now that the depression's out of the way, let's continue with the recap of the trip.
But before we start, I must write of one thing that happened during the Celebration @ Ichikawa, as mentioned two posts down. It isn't very significant, except to me, maybe, since it wasn't as if there were any far-reaching consequences to other people through the thing that happened.
See what happened, was that I was kinda feeling out of sorts that day. I don't know why. I can't remember what caused it, but I know I wasn't feeling as happy as I should have felt, even though it was a celebration.
So anyway, at one point in the proceedings, I think it was SW who was leading, we were supposed to break up into small groups, or to go and pray by ourselves. As I was feeling out of sorts, I wasn't really in the mood for praying with a group, and wanted to go and pray by myself, as well as to acquire some stuff for one of the team members who wasn't feeling so good that day (physically, not you know, emotionally like me). So I told HJ that I wanted to go out for a bit, and asked her if she knew if there was a コンビニ anywhere nearby, since I thought I could get some medication there. Turns out that in Japan, 7-11s don't stock the same stuff as in Singapore, so if you ever go to Japan, and need to get medication, you can't go to a convenience store. You have to go to a store that has a big 薬 sign outside.
So anyway, I walked out of the hall, and went skedaddling about. First one way, then the other. The weather on that day was pretty good, sunny, but not hot, and the breeze was really quite nice. And I guess that's kinda why I sort of lost track of time. So there I was, walking up and then down the main road near the OMF building, praying, but at the same time looking out for a place to pick up some pills. (haha sounds like I was looking for s drug pusher or something). Eventually, a kind counter lady behind one of the combini counters told me that the nearest 薬 place was near Ichikawa station. Which wasn't really that far, so I toddled over and found the shop, bought the med, and walked back to OMF...
...where I promptly got scolded by one of my team members for making her, and just about everyone else, worried that I had gone missing. And she probably would have gone off into a mega tirade about not informing people and stuff, when I gave her the medicine. So she suddenly had nothing to say. Haha.
And though I didn't show it then, I was really touched that my team would get so worried over my absence. Not that I did it on purpose. But yes, it made me feel all warm and snuggly inside. haha.
Ok, so on to the next week. It went by really fast, because there wasn't much on the schedule for us. Especially since the missionaries all had to go for a conference, so we were left pretty much to our own devices, though D&J and HJ had set up some stuff for us to do.
Monday we went down to Waseda's Tokorozawa campus for E-crew. Previously, I had been the only one there cos the last Monday, the team was still flying in from Singapore, but it was still a great time of fellowship there. Not just with C and T from the previous week, but also cos C introduced some more of his friends to us. C's a really great guy. Really friendly, always checking out for us, and he's become a real friend to team, in a way that I never expected to happen.
So we spent quite a bit of time at the campus to talk with the students, before we headed back up to Kawagoe to continue doing the anketo. We split ourselves into two groups, and L, D and R went back up to the Furumachi to do a bit more research while J, W and me did some Street E and anketo-ish stuff. Must say J and W did a really good job going out to talk to the people, and at the very least, made some friends and contacts. After that, we bummed around at Kawagoe for a bit before meeting AA for dinner at Otoya. The food there was really great, and the prices were very decent. I can show you what I ate for dinner:
My saba set. Dad says saba's a really difficult fish to eat cos of all the bones, but trust me, it's worth the effort.
On Tuesday, we had an off day. Plans hadn't really been finalized, but L had asked her friend W (who had been around the past couple of weeks having fun in Tokyo) to guide us around wherever we wanted to go. So he nicely brought us first to Akihabara, where R and W acquired their Nintendo DS, then he showed us to Harajuku, and we finished off the day at Shibuya. Dude, if you're reading this, I'm really grateful for you taking time out to be our guide, and for planning everything out for us.
Wednesday, we went over to Waseda's Takadanobaba campus to meet M, where he introduced us to two of his friends, Te and Ta. We went out for lunch at the Saizeriya near the school, which is really huge, then he brought us to a karaoke kan nearby, where we all got the chance to sing songs and laugh at each other being wild. M's also a really great guy. He loves Singapore more than many Singaporeans, and can speak multiple languages. And Te studies Geology. I mean like how cool is that? They have Geology as a major in Waseda. What's up with NUS? They don't have any cool majors.
Oh and I forgot, so I had to write this in later, on Wednesday night, we had some friends over for dinner/supper. Started because we asked AA if he wanted to come over and chill out with us one of the days when the missionaries were at the OMF conference, so he said most any day was fine, so we kinda settled on Wednesday. Then on Monday, when we met C, we asked if he wanted to come over as well, cos he stays near Tokorozawa anyway.
So on Wednesday, at about 6-ish, AA came over. He actually wanted to help us to cook, but we had finished doing most of it already. W had made claypot rice without the claypot, and I had done curry again, just that I had learnt from my previous experience, so I made sure the pot wasn't too hot before I threw in the curry paste (the previous time, I had foolishly thrown it onto a very hot pot, and all the spices went up in a major puff of smoke, so there was a cloud of spice in the kitchen, and the three guys were coughing their lungs out).
The dinner/supper was pretty ok. C came a bit later cos he had gone to Disney Sea, and he brought along his friend from Osaka, M. And they enjoyed the food, though the curry was hotter than what they were used to. And the day ended with them playing DS together on some network or something.
Thursday was another off day for us, cos we had moved the Kawagoe work to Monday, so we went out again, this time, we headed over to Nippori, cos friend K mentioned there was some decent shopping there for the girls. The place was quite nice, though as mentioned, most of the shopping was done by the girls. Ate takoyaki for the first time in Japan (ever) there, near the station. And then I had to buy a tiramisu from a cafe since W wanted to go use the toilet. haha. Then we walked down the street along the train line. I really enjoyed just walking along the road. I don't know why. The place just sort of reminded me of an older Singapore.
So anyway, we walked all the way from Nippori to the next station, which was Uguisudani, if I'm not wrong. Then we decided to go to Ueno to see if there was any shopping worth having. Good thing we went. There was this anime shop there where we bought some stuff. Even I bought some stuff there. Then we walked about Ameyayokocho again, for a bit, found dinner, then had to go back, cos it was late, and D&J wanted to meet us after 4 days of leaving us to ourselves.
There's an interesting story about D&J's laptop. See, they went for the conference, and they saved a lot of data and pictures on their comp. Then just before they left the conference, the hard drive died. Which naturally, frustrated them a great deal, and made them upset, since they were like helping lots of people hold onto data or something like that. But God showed his mercy, when strangely enough, their laptop came back to life for a short while. Not sure how it happened, but it did. D managed to power it up, and then he quickly saved all the stuff on to his external hard drive. And just after he finished doing that, the laptop died again. I mean, that's like "woah!". I really believe it was divine intervention.
Friday was a bit of an interesting event. The team split up early in the morning, and the guys went to Kawagoe to meet up with this dude that HJ was meeting up with. He's a hikikomori, so he doesn't really like going out and interacting with people. But he was ok with going out with his pastor to meet up with some gaijin. And at HJ's place, we played some Wii. He won most of the time. We ate lunch at Saizeriya, then the pastor wanted to just chill out for a bit (HJ had left to meet the girls by then). So we walked around Crea Mall (the shopping area between Hon-Kawagoe and Kawagoe stations), and the dude was trashing a computer at Tekken 6, and then R bought a ukelele for himself, then we ended by chilling out at Starbucks.
The girls themselves had a fun time. They too got to meet a hikikomori lady, and they came back gushing about how nice she was and how they managed to make friends with her. I mean, I wasn't there, but it sounded like they had a good time of bonding and sharing even though they were new friends.
After all that, we went to the onsen. The team calls it a cultural exposure and immersion, since you get both exposed and immersed at the onsen. Same as always, not everyone was keen on going, but after sitting in the warm water for about an hour, everyone wanted to stay inside. We ate dinner at this slightly more atas place called Tonden or Donten or something like that, cos R was going to fly back to Singapore the next morning.
R was really happy with his food. Bye R!
He was supposed to take the 6.10 bus the next morning. Fortunately for him, he woke up on time, and got on the bus. Eventually, he would reach Singapore safely at about 10 in the evening.
That Saturday, we had another event near Hanakoganei. It was a sort of kids' club thing, but only a few families came, since it wasn't a full-fledged kids' club thing. We were all scampering around frantically in the morning trying to cook everything for the event. Thankfully, by the mercy of God, we managed to settle everything.
The event itself went well. The missionaries were hoping some of the fathers of the families would come, since the kids' club thing was only mums and kids. And they were pleasantly surprised to see that 3 of the dads came along for the party. Everyone had a good time playing games and eating, and SW and D&J were really happy the way things turned out.
After that, we went to the HC @ Ikebukuro. Had some sharing, then we stayed around and sang karaoke again. Quite fun lah, even though I must admit I'm not a real fan of karaoke. Went for dinner at First Kitchen. Food was decent for a fast food joint, but the portions were a little small. We then took the train back, where W discovered the scandalous shot D took of her. Here's her reaction:
Step 1: Surprise Step 2: Erm, joy? Step 3: Embarrassment
M came in that night. Her luggage kinda got stuck at the airport, so she wanted to take the Skyliner down from Narita to Nippori. However, just before she thought she had to leave her luggage behind and go over to Tokorozawa first, the baggage handler told her that the luggage was ready to be collected. So she ran back in, grabbed her luggage, and ran down to the train platform, where she saw that there was a last train about to leave. So she scrambled into it, and the train left the station, whereupon she realized that it was not the Skyliner. So she reached Tokorozawa later than expected. And had to pay more than necessary.
Sunday, we went to HC in the morning. SW led the BS this time round, and then we did some discussion about the BS. Went for lunch at Manshu (the gyoza place), then we went to the Rojin home.
Being at the Rojin home was a great, and slightly sad experience for us. I mean, the missionaries had the chance to go there once a month I think, to have some events for the old folks. This time, TS did a traditional Japanese dance, M from the HC did some enka, and then we did a couple of songs, W did her testimony, and we also did a skit. Once again, God provided for us, since we had not really practiced the acting, except for the night before. So the three of us who were acting (D, J and me) didn't do enough rehearsals. And J was worried that she would laugh if she saw me, L was worried that I wasn't able to act properly, and D just didn't seem to be able to extend his hands in a graceful manner as if to invite people.
All of that didn't matter at that point of time because of the gravity of the situation, and of the skit itself. No one laughed, no one goofed up, and everyone appreciated the skit. And I think it was cos God pulled us through it.
After that, we did some origami with the old folks. Some of them really know how to do origami. Not the half-baked kind that I do sometimes for fun. And we got to know some of the folks, and to talk to them a bit, despite the language barrier. And it really affected some of the girls when we left, to know that we might not get the chance to see any of them again. I'm hoping that's not true, but I'll just have to leave it up to God. They were really nice old folks, very friendly and engaging. And at the very least, I'm glad that for those few hours, we were able to make them feel happy. I won't be able to describe the emotions that went through the team. It's something I just can't put down in words. Or I can attempt to try, but it wouldn't do any justice. But well.
Will continue the last week soon.
P.S. I know usually the titles are single Latin words, or Japanese, but I'm really too lazy and tired to think of one right now. So there.