First, let's pick up where we left off with the last blog. Abigail and kindergarten. We are pleased to announced that Abigail (Abi-chan is her Japanese nickname) is now a student at a Japanese Kindergarten! It all happened so quickly, doors opened for us and we walked through!
In Japan, kindergarten is 3 years (or grades). They start at age 4, and end at age 6. Public elementary school officially starts at 1st grade when kids are 7. Most kindergartens in Japan are private and optional, but they are a huge part of the community. Parents will choose a kindergarten and these are children and families that create a bond. Many kids in kindergarten together will go right to the same elementary school. So kindergarten is an opportunity to form community with other families.
We were so blessed to have one of our new Japanese Christian friends (thanks Yu-chan!) map out kindergartens in our neighborhood and give us her top 3 choices. Her first choice was a Japanese "Christian" kindergarten (out of over 50 families that have kids there, our family makes the total number of Christian families at the school now 6) that was about a 25 minute bike ride from us. We met with the principal, toured the school and loved it!
As with Hannah's situation, they were very welcoming and invited us to be a part of their school! And as with Hannah's situation, everything is done in Japanese. We laugh about this in regards to Abigail, because Abigail will have everyone learn English before she learns Japanese! She is so extroverted and speaks to people as if they should know what she is saying.
So Abigail started school this week! She is a 2nd year kindergarten student! There have been a lot of things to learn, and I mean A LOT. In Japan, every detail matters, and not paying attention to them is not an option. Every school supply is important and has to be purchased from the right place. Forms have to be filled out, medical histories given, and all in Japanese. It has been tough. But a really cool thing has happened through all of this...
We have been able to connect in small ways with our community. There are a couple of moms that have helped Katharine SO much. Honestly, they have gone out of their way to help so much. Katharine rides her bike to Abigial's school with another mom in our apartment complex every morning. Katharine is going to another mom's home this week for a play date...and it is not common for foreigners to be invited into a Japanese home. We are starting to feel a little of that connection that is made between families in the community!
In Hannah's situation, we have gotten to know what feels like every 1st grade kid in our apartment complex. They come over to our apartment on a regular basis. If we don't lock our door, they walk right in. If we do lock our door, they bang on it loudly until we answer. Hannah plays every afternoon with kids in our neighborhood.
The girls have LOVED school so far. It's like the fact that everything is done in Japanese doesn't matter to them. Hannah has already learned to say a lot in Japanese her first week!
A few other things to update. I (Matt) will start full time language school in October at Trident University and Katharine will begin private tutoring around that time too. We are so excited to study Japanese!! Also, we have appliances now, that is huge because we can cook our own food! Our furniture arrives next week so we can finally stop sleeping, eating, and sitting on the floor!
Please continue to pray for Japan. We are overwhelmed by the spiritual need here coupled with the millions of people that live in our city. Pray that God would continue to open up doors for us to meet people and build relationships in our neighborhood. Pray that our family would continue to love and enjoy being here. That is huge. Pray that our love for Japan would overflow from our love of Jesus. That his name might be exalted in this nation!
Thank you for holding the ropes for us. You bless us so much. We are eager to continue this journey with you! Now for the pictures!!
Abigail in her fancy new school hat. Each grade in school is marked by a different hat!
Abigail is the only girl in her class of 17 boys!! She was quite nervous about this at first but she has come to love "all her boys"!
Katharine's new bike! This is how Abigail gets to school every morning. 25 minutes one way 4 times a day means lots of exercise for Katharine---they kids are loving the bike! It's quite the adventure!
Matt's manly new bike!
Please continue to pray for the city of Nagoya, Japan!