Yokohama and Chiba college outreach teams arose with the sun Wednesday morning. They headed north - by van or by train - to Nagano prefecture for a three day snow camp. I entrusted my life – what choice did I have? - to Nagata's ancient Toyota mini-van for the four hour trip. In my car were Yuko, Hajime, Nagata, and myself. None of them spoke fluent English, so I thrust my beginner Japanese on the lot of them.
Me: Where are we going?
Nagata: We are going to Nagano.
Me: What are we going to do?
Yuko: We are going to ski.
Me: Is that so? How many children do you have? (etc, etc)
The Japanese countryside was very beautiful, even through a dirty van window. It's interesting how a few places in Japan, like Tokyo and Nagoya, can be so crowded, while vast stretches of green in other parts of the country only boast a few houses and farms. Location, location, location.
I get carsick in Japanese vans, I'm not sure why.
Snow Camp was a very memorable experience. I was the only person there who spoke fluent English. This proved initially frustrating, but by the end I felt exhilarated because of all the Japanese I had learned. The ski resort didn't have snowboard boots in my size (they stopped about 7 cm shorter) so I tried skis for the first time. By the end of the day I was poling my way around with relative ease, although I wished I had learned more Japanese curse words when I attempted a mogul run.
Here is a picture of Shinya leading worship in the evening. Next is a snapshot of the group before we went our separate ways. I made a lot of friends that week, had many interesting conversations with people even with my limited vocabulary.