S0, I figure that if I don't do this now it just won't happen until after the pictures are old and the memory is faded. Without further ado here is a peek at our last week in Japan.
After church our last Sunday I laid the little ones down and Kent went on a trek to another park with the four oldest.
More fun on nifty slides. I guess this one was about a mile long and wound through the forest.
Chasing down a little Japanese girl.
I had to take a picture of what blogger looked like for me in Japan. It took me a while to get used to but after clicking around enough I figured out what everything meant.
A last stop at the zip line park next door
Thursday Kent got off work early and we went to the Kurihama Flower World Park and did some more sliding
Little French bakeries dot the country(at least the parts we saw) of Japan like coffee stands in Washington. We had to make one more stop after our park adventures.
Here are the famous Steve and Deborah Kovach. I forgot to mention that they had there baby almost 4 weeks ago. Oops. Her name is Lilly Elizabeth and she is beautiful. We were so grateful to have them as next door neighbors. And there is no way we would have made it out of Japan without Stephen. He hauled our luggage all over town for us. What a guy.
This goodbye picture was taken at our little house just after everything was loaded.
The next hours are not documented with pictures because they were.....well let's just say.......eventful. Here is the story in brief.
Ahem. After loading luggage into a taxi and Kovach's car we headed off to the Base to catch the free airport bus. The problem ended up being 1. We were 10 minutes late. 2. EVERYONE was trying to get home for the holidays. The bus is boarded on a first come first serve basis. Needless to say there was not enough room for all Eight of us.
No worries we'll figure something else out, right? Steve and Kent made a bolt for the nearest train station with all of the luggage. While the kids and I took a stroll along the boardwalk(the one in the pictures from our first week). Kent bought tickets for the Narita Rapid. We arrived soon after. Creating the luggage train again we said our farewells to Stephen and got on board. Thanks to the help of a few Japanese men who helped chuck luggage(it was a quick stop) I believe by this time it was 1:00 or 1:30. No problem. We got on the "rapid" train. The train ride itself was fine. We all got seats that faced each other together and found a place to stack all of the luggage. It was not crowded. I had packed some snacks and Steve had taken all the kids to the 100 Yen store and bought them each a little treat and toy for the travels. We soon learned though that our train was, well........ not quite so "rapid". Pretty soon we had reached the 3 hour mark and were just reaching the airport. The flight left at 5:30. You do the math. Then came the biggest error of all. Narita airport is HUGE. So big in fact that they have 2 terminals. It is like 2 Sea-Tacs. We got off the train at terminal two but we should have disembarked at terminal one. We did not know our error until after we had dragged all of our luggage up 4 levels of elevators and escalators and had various other adventures. Hmmm....no United counter. We figued out that we were in the domestic travel part of the airport and finding someone that spoke English was very difficult. Finally as we wandered aimlessly looking at signs a British gal must have seen MY distress and asked if she could help. Kent told her we needed United. She informed us that we would have to hop on the shuttle bus which would drive us down to the needed terminal. At this point we new it was probably a lost cause but decided to try. We waited for the appropriate bus. Hauled on all of the luggage and headed down to terminal one. Loaded everything on carts again and headed out to find United. Once again on the 4th floor. More escalators and elevators. Just picture a very bad dream and you get the picture. We huffed it up got to the counter and the lady informed us with sunken face that if we had been 10 minutes earlier she could have stopped the plane. Kent had been the primary luggage carrier. He was DRENCHED with sweat. The kids and I just stood there rather stupified while he figured out(with the greatest lady) what to do next. She didn't paint a pretty picture though. The only way to get home(without buying new tickets) was to fly standby. She however informed us that the 3 flights to the west coast were well over booked.
Our only choice at this point was to reserve a room and pray for tomorrow.
It turned out to be a VERY nice hotel. As you will see in the pictures. They send a free shuttle bus to the airport. Kent and the bus driver loaded the luggage and we were off. They checked us in quickly and we dropped off our luggage. Then we headed down to find some dinner. We had not eaten very regularly that day. They had a lovely buffet style meal downstairs for which we were very grateful. After eating we went up and picked out pajamas, swim trunks and a change of clothes and put all the luggage in storage as it was filling up any open spaces in the room.
After informing family members we collapsed.
We then woke up to a new day.
After a nice breakfast we went swimming. I did not get pictures but I can't imagine a more refreshing thing to have done. We played and relaxed as a family. After our swim we headed up and loaded up our belongings(which at this point I was ready to leave behind). I was tired of hauling all that stuff around. And made our way downstairs.
Before the shuttle left we had plenty of time to go downstairs and enjoy the Japanese garden and feed the Koi fish.
Our ride on the shuttle took about 15 minutes then we found ourself trying round two at the airport.
Zeke was my luggage cart helper
At this point we got the most stunning reminder(I think in my life) that God is in control and that he cares for his children. When we got up to the counter the lady not only knew who we were but informed us that everything was taken care of. How could everything be taken care of?????? We had spent the morning discussing all of the possible scenarios and this was NOT one of them!!!! They had found seats for us and they were in the upgraded section of the plane with 6 extra inches of leg space! Kent and I were stunned to say the least and the kids started jumping all over the airport. God is good. We dropped off our luggage mountain and were free to check out the airport. Hallelujah!
We found the coolest food court that overlooks the runway and watched the airplanes land and take off while we ate some lunch.
After the events of the day before everything went so smoothly. From arrival to boarding we were grateful for how simple even relaxing a day could be. We got on the plane easily and the kids were marvelous. We had several people stop with the same compliment, "Those are the best kids I have ever seen in my life!" They were troopers.
We were grateful to be reunited with family at the airport who carted us to our home which they had decorated beautifully. Nicky and the boys had candles lit and a hot delicious meal waiting for us. One of those days when "Thank You" sounds like a silly word to give people for all of there kindnesses.
Thank you to any of you who prayed for our safe return. God answered your prayers in his own good timing and his own special way.