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Hiroshima Hilarity

Hello to all! We just returned from a 5 day trip to Hiroshima, which is the "bottom" part of Japan for those of you (like me) who do not know the geography. We gathered at an Island called Etajima for the Asian Access Church Planters' retreat.

Asian Access Church Planting Missionaries
Asian Access Church Planting Missionaries
(photo by Craig Chapin)


There were 56 of us there, including over 20 children! For me personally, it was a wonderful time of fellowship with my fellow missionary friends, and I came home feeling blessed and honored to be a part of this awesome group of servants who are sold out for Jesus, and who deeply love the Japanese people. We also received an intensive coaching course where we learned to ask some really good questions. Our favorite was, "What question should I be asking you now??" and, "What else??"

But the thing I want to share with you is regarding the facility where we stayed. I affectionately referred to it as "Bizzaro World"...

...but was scolded by Jeff for not being a nice missionary about it:) You have to understand that this was NOT a hotel, but rather a youth facility run by the government. It is usually a place where groups of kids from school or sports clubs come for training, or to have wilderness activities, etc. Why did Asian Access choose this place? To save money, of course!!

I had a hard time keeping a straight face and behaving myself through the whole experience, because we were told to strictly go by their rules, and to abide by whatever they require. I smile as I write this, because i'm imagining my California small group friends staying at a place like this, and wondering how they would have done!

Okay, so the announcement comes on at 6:40 in the morning with annoying music and the sound of birds chirping. The lady says in English, "Good morning, it is now time to wake up. Please get ready for the morning assembry..." Yes, the morning assembry. It requires everyone staying at the facility, including all the kids and babies, to gather at the flagpole at 7:15 am, and stand in 2 very straight lines, and be very quiet. Then there is the flag raising ceremony. Then there is the morning exercise. Yes, the morning exercise. The music comes on, and you copy the leader in stretching, jumping, and reaching. It took all my will power to not bust out the Macarena just to be different.

Getting ready for exercises
Getting ready for the flag raising ceremony and morning exercises
Stretch to the Sky
Stretch to the Sky
Morning Calisthenics
Morning Calisthenics


Then comes the room clean-up time. Fortunately, there were no daily inspections (because I used the time to do my hair and makeup), but at the end of our stay, we had to not only sweep, wipe, dust, and fold our bedding properly, but we also had to mop and clean the large bathrooms (thanks, Sue, for getting on your hands and knees and mopping the bathroom floor by hand!!). I was a bit nervous when the inspector came since we had heard that last year's guy was really strict (like pointing out the fact that the coat hanger was turned the wrong way in the closet), but we passed with frying corors this year.

Then came the PUBLIC BATH TIME! Yup. Oh, not to worry...the men and women are separate. However, you do have to read the signs at the entrance carefully because they change the "Men's Bath" and "Women's Bath" signs almost daily! So when you enter, there are cubbies where you take off your shoes. Then you go into another room to strip down and place all your clothes in cubbies. Then you enter into the bath area where you get your plastic chair, bowl, and soap. Then you go and sit in front of a mirror where they have little showers, and that's where you wash. After you're all clean, then you go into the big tub (the size of a small pool) and soak. Yes, you're doing all this with your friends, as well as many strangers who are staying at the facility. Ellie had never seen so many naked bodies in her life! But after just a few minutes, she ended up loving it, and the bath time quickly became her favorite thing. For Zack, let's just say that he was a trooper about it, and got through it. We are very proud of both of them.

We end the day with the same annoying lady coming on the speaker at 10 pm, letting us know that it's almost bedtime. And then at 10:30 pm, she comes on with even louder music that plays for a full minute, telling us that it's lights out, and to not disturb those who are sleeping! Go figure. She wakes up the sleeping babies each time. And then we crawl into our futons on the floor, making sure that the sheets are folded over the futon as to not get it dirty with our sweaty neck as shown in the "How to Sleep in the Futon Picture Diagram" (yes there really was a diagram).

Instructions for Futon Proper Setup
Detailed instructions for proper futon set-up


Anyway, it really was a great cultural experience for the Johnston family. The other families were all used to it since they had stayed there before, but it was all new to us! I had a blast being the ignorant Japanese girl. Thanks for reading the long blog today!


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