Japanese people take life transitions, including saying goodbye, very seriously. So for the last 2 weeks of March, we seemed to be hopping from one party or social event to the next in order to properly say goodbye to all our important people.
We've mentioned before that our church lost a lot of members recently--the Kimuras went to pastor Nanae church in Hakodate area, Susan finished language school and went to serve at Omagari church, the Widmer-Kuniokas went on home assignment to Switzerland, and of course we went back to Vancouver. Before the mass exodus began, we took a church picture. There was a proper goodbye party later in the month, but I neglected to take any pictures, since we were all busy crying. I think we can blame Ayuki-chan and Ayae-chan for that--9-year-old best friends tearfully saying goodbye...
We hung out with some of our American friends and had a Southern food potluck. It was delicious! We compared notes on what Southern foods work well using ingredients we can find in Japan... and some with expensive imported ingredients. Incidentally, I had no idea the term "southern" has such a disputed meaning... Afterwards I was really feeling all the cream, meat, and cheese, since we don't eat too much heavy food like that in Japan! But it was so delicious...
We had fried okra, black eyed peas, potato gratin, and jello... my contributions were slow cooked pork chops, green bean casserole (with homemade cream of mushroom soup using delicious Japanese mushrooms), and sourdough bread. There was peanut cake for dessert.
The very next night, we had an impromptu dinner party with our housemates (there were many at that point) and some friends from church--you might recognize Osaka-san, the father of the family, since we have posted pictures from our visits to his sushi shop! They came with a plate of sushi and sashimi, including fugu... never thought I would be eating fugu in my own living room! We also had some delicious miso soup, salad, and curry rice.
Keith felt right at home, since 5 children (2 girls and 3 boys) were present for the evening.
After dinner, we had a quick lesson on making makizushi.
2 days later, on Tuesday, we had a goodbye party with the University student group. We have to admit, the party wouldn't have been nearly so lively if Alaric, our boss, hadn't also been leaving. He went back to England for home assignment.
Then on Thursday, we met with our prayer group for a Seder meal, since it was Maundy Thursday. Never thought I'd do that in Japan... I contributed hummus, roast veggies, and matzo ball soup, and we also helped out with the lamb.
On Saturday, we went with a group of friends to a baseball game, where we watched Sapporo's team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, beat the Saitama Lions.
The Saitama Lions had their own away-game fan club. We watched the fans more than the game...
Easter was a bigger than usual celebration at our church, since it was also our church's 10th anniversary! Keith and I helped with the music--and we had not one but TWO cellists! That's right, I was not the only cellist-missionary in Sapporo! We had a big potluck after the service.
Every week we sing a prayer before we eat lunch.
Yuugo-kun, who usually can't come to church because of his health, got a lot of love from the big girls.
Worn out from all the playing...
We had Easter dinner with Mikiko-san and her family. Our tradition for the last 4 years has been to eat lamb for Easter, and so we did... although this time we had Hokkaido style lamb--a special dish called Jingis Khan. It's marinated, stir-fried Hokkaido lamb with vegetables. We also had onigiri, and I provided the deviled eggs.
I went home with a special kimono cover for cooking.