Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pottery Visit

I forgot to mention the Pottery trip that some of the parents took.  Tom took some great photos and Bill wanted to share this video.  I tried to post it, but wasn't able to.  Everyone was amazed at this master craftsman and how he was able to create outstanding pieces so quickly.  Mae was able to get a lesson in pottery and she created a traditional tea cup.  The craftsman said he would fire it and give it to Hiro so that he could send it to Mae.

After the pottery experience, several of the parents went to a sushi restaurant, where there was a conveyor belt with many items.  You simply picked what you wanted.

Photos of Pottery Shop And Sushi Bar


Our Last Day

Today was the last day of a wonderful trip.  We took a bus to a ferry, crossed the bay, and then more bus ride into Nagasaki Peace Museum.  It was a long day spent traveling, and eating, and traveling and eating, and seeing, and traveling (you get the picture).

The Peace Museum was inspirational.  There is no hatred or blaming, rather a recognition that what happened here was devastating and should never happen again.  We had the opportunity to listen to a survivor speak of what he went through after the bomb was dropped.  We learned that there are only 40 survivors left that can tell us what they experienced so we are lucky to be able to learn from him.  After his talk we went to the Peace Park and talked about what we felt about what we saw.  Admittedly I was the one that couldn't keep it together without crying.  I was moved by the mission of peace and hope for a better future for all.

After our visit to the park, we ate lunch at a buffet and relaxed.  Then it was off to a shopping district to get some things for ourselves and the many friends and relatives that would like to have been with us.

After the long trip home, the Sanvino families outdid themselves once again with a going away party.  We met at a restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel.  The food was already on the table when we got there.  As usual there was already too much, and then the servers brought out more!!!  At least we were pleased when at the end of the night all the host families got the take-out containers and packed away every last bit of leftovers.  We would have hated to see all that meal go to waste.  There were hugs, and tears and awards.  Coach Yamada did his best at speaking in English (and it was quite good)!  We hated to say goodbye to the many families who made it all possible, but we had to pack up all the gifts and find a way for them to fit in the suitcases!

We are not looking forward to the travel, but we are glad to be coming home to our friends and families (and our own beds and pillows)!  Thank you for all of those back home who have sent us good thoughts. We will be seeing you soon.

Photos of Last Day in Japan

Mitra Speaks

One more day till we are coming home and it feels like we just got here.  I don't want to leave but im happy I'll be able to see my friends and family again.  Yesterday we went to Greenland amusement park and it was amazing.  I went on a standing roller coaster where i screamed bloody murderer before we were even over the first hill.  We would also go on Faye rides.  They were smaller nicer riders that were kinda little kidish but still fun.  For lunch we were suppose to get pizza but Jade mentioned corn dogs and we got corn dogs and had to reorder our pizza.  That night there was a barbecue outside our host families house.  It was fun and the food was really good.  The stars look different in Japan.  The Big Dipper is on the other side of the sky and its lower in the sky then it is in Colorado.  Anyway today we are going to Nagasaki and I have been looking forward to this all trip.  I have done 2 projects on the bombing and its horrible what happened there.  Tonight we have our going away party which will be sad and then tomorrow we have to leave.  I guess we will just have to make the most of how much time we have left here.   Anyway thats really all thats been happening.  I hope everything is great at home and can't wait to see all your guys!  O and Happy Late New Year's daddy I miss you!
Mitra Kermani

Mari Speaks

I am so sad that today is our last day. Right now we are on the bus to Nagasaki and after we are finished at Nagasaki we go to a farewell party, sad right?  Yesterday at Greenland was so much fun! The roller coasters were just as good as Elithes if not better.  My favorite ride was the Milky Way which was a roller coaster where you stood up!  We did this archery thing and I felt like Katniss shooting her bow and arrow(to bad i couldn't hit the target at all.)  At lunch we wanted to order pizza but somehow they thought we wanted corndogs so we ate both!  After lunch we went on a lot of other rides but my favorite was the tea cups. I was the only one spinning our cup and it was going super fast and when the ride ended we did not even notice. After we were done at Greenland we went back to my house and we brought some of my teammates.  We went to a barbecue right outside of our house and the food was delicious!  We played soccer, jump roped, and we even got to play with fireworks! I had so much fun yesterday and for this entire trip and I am very sad that it is almost over, but I am also happy to come home to see my family and friends.
Mari Pacheco

Faye Speaks

Yesterday we went to Greenland first i was alittle nervous because i hate rollar coasters. Then we got there and we went on a caris go round that was a lot of fun, I thought. Then Mari, Mitra, Jade Dahlia and Oscar all went on the first rollar coaster, I just watched and took pictures. Then we all went on a lady bug ride.(all of us being everyone but Oscar) Then we walked to the Milkyway rollar coaster it was a rollar coaster where you could stand up or sit down, it was almost like a race. i watched everyone do it it looked like fun. hey tried both the sitting and the standing they said standing was the best. After they were done we went to an Archery place that was so much fun i hit a yellow which was right out side of the bulls eye. Mitra almost hit a bulls eye too. Oscar and Mari had a show down Mari lost. Then we went to go get some ice cream. Then we walked to the ballon ride, but it was closed so we couldn't go on it. so we walked around looking for rides. Most of my group wanted to go on a mummy ride, but it looked kind of stupid. so we walked around a little bit more. Then we came upon a bumper boat race thing. I got paired up with Mari i drove and we kept on spinning in circles hitting other people and getting them wet. we won that race. then we went over to the spin mouse which is like a mini rollar coaster. When we were waiting in line these girls told us that we were cute. they told Jade she looked like a famous singer to them. Jade and Mari closed their eyes on the ride. it was a ton of fun. So then we went on a chair lift to go up the mountain up there, there was a haunted house. i didn't go in that one, but everyone caem out laughing because it was so lame. We got on a witch swing ride . it wasn't extremely fun, but it was still fun. (all of the mini rides or kid rides are called "Faye Rides") Then we rode down the mountain in those little car thing i was the last person to to go and i was holding everyone up because i was so slow. Then we walked around and we wanted to go on one more ride before lunch. So we walked over to the dinosaur ride. I watched that one too, but they said it was a potential "Faye ride."Then we went over to Pengiun Palace. it was below 30 degrees Ferenheit. it had penguins ripped up in the polar bear section it was a little interesting. Then we went to the jungle place that wasn't very Exciting, but I'm happy we went in there. Then we went to lunch we went up there and ordered 6 pizzas, but we got 6 corn dogs i didn't eat one. We think they gave then those to us because Jade looked at the corn dog and was like "OH i want one of those." so we just blamed her. so we went back up there and ordered pizza, just Oscar went this time.  we ate lunch then we went on a "Faye ride." it was a water rollar coaster obviously for little kiddos.  after that we went on a pendulum ride. That was fun, Mitra was freaking on the second swing.  i THought that one was a lot of fun. Then we went on Chaos, it was so scary, but it was still fun we played ninja when we waited in line that was fun. we only had thirty minutes left so we walked from one end of the park to another on the way we stopped at the tea cups. I went with Mari and Mitra, Mari was killing the ride we were going so fast. so then we went to our final ride, the big red one i didn't go on that one because i didn't want my legs to get ripped off. so then Me, Liina, Emiko, Elizabeth, Randi, and Jamie went to the place where we had our picnic. We hung out there for an hour and a half.  We Played basketball, dodgeball and hola hooped. it was a little awkward at first because i didn't have that many friend there. When everyone got there we had a rock paper scissors war. whoever won got a prize. I didn't win any thing. then we had a juggling contest Mari won with 9, show us how bad we are at juggling. I won a towel with japanese on it. Everyone won something. Then we went out side and ate spagetti. That was the best Noodles I've ever had. we just kind of chilled i hung out with Mari the whole time. We just hung out, jumped rope, juggled, played soccer, ate and talked it was very fun. then we went over to Mari's host families house. That house is huge compared to my host families house. Her Family has their own bus it's crazy. we played old maid and we were making weird noises. Dahli and Mari have their own musical thing now. First we played old maid then we played the matching game and finally spoon with chop sticks. This morning our host mom woke us up at 6:06 and we thought we had to be at the hotel by 6:15 so we were freaking out, but we didn't have to be there until 7:00. Now we are on the bus to Nagaski. I can't believe how quickly this week has gone by it feels like yesterday when i went bowling. I'm happy i get to go home and see my family, and to sleep in my own bed and shower in my shower. Other then that i am dreading tomorrow. I'm happy i had to opportunity to come on this trip and experience what i did.

Dahlia Speaks

Lunch. Who new that you could get corn dogs when you order pizza. . . . Mari, Mitra, Faye, Jade, Oscar, and myself went into a little restaurant and were milling around looking at what food to get. When we decide on pizza, Oscar goes up to order the pizza and then corn dogs come out and Jade says something about how she wants one because they look good. So, we sit down and then they bring out four corn dogs with ketchup and mustard on them. The whole time we were eating them, we were wondering why the people gave us these corn dogs. they weren't American corn dogs either. they were like fish corndogs that were just supposed to look like hot dog corndogs. Surprisingly, I liked them much better than American corndogs. Anyway, then we go up to order pizza again(without Jade)and this time we get the right order.

When we get the pizza, it comes with little cute mini pizza cutters. So, everyone is cutting the pizza like a normal pizza, you know,in the usual triangles, ecept Mitra. Mitra cuts the pizza into tiny little squares and then, instead of using the fork, she uses the pizza cutter as her eating utensil(Mitra has trouble with forks). She ended up getting teased for the rest of lunch.

Felisa Speaks

We are in our last full day in Japan.  The trip has been wildly successful and has exceeded most of our expectations. Each day the Sanvino host families outdid the warmth and generosity of the day before. Words fail to convey the welcome that we have received.  The best that I can do to explain is to say that many of the girls don't want to leave Japan and the host families don't want them to go.  We are exceptionally lucky to have become involved with Sanvino Club. We look forward to continuing the relationship for many years to come.
The joy of being immersed in a culture shows itself in unexpected ways.  First, I witnessed the community culture that begins at a very young age.  We have seen, for example, how soccer teams are responsible for the upkeep of their fields.  After playing a game (as in Nishiki) or a tournament (like Greenland Cup), the home team rakes out the field (like a baseball infield).  They store all the gear. There is no need to tell them; it is understood.  I imagine it is the same for all sports clubs.  I was surprised and pleased to hear the girls asking if they should help, too!
In the home, too, I saw an allocation of duties that, for me, demonstrated a strong commitment to and love for family.  Whether big or small, each family lives communally.  Households can include grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and children.  Households run seamlessly and in a way we could not fathom.  I, for one, have had my share of difficulties when living with extended family.  But here, the individual gives up part of his or her "self" in service of the whole.  Although roles, from a Western perspective, may seem restrictive, it is the air they breathe.  I could not detect any hint of angst.
Another example of this love of family is seen in the exchange itself.  The Sanvino (and Trebol) families have chosen to be involved in a huge undertaking in order to help their children grow.  Sanvino Club began planning this exchange over 6 months ago.  And they have coninued to work (and work) For the entire week.  Like in Colorado, these families come from all ranges of the socioeconomic spectrum.  They are professionals and working class, they work outside the home and are homemakers.  Soccer has been the bridge within Japan and, with these exchanges, it has become the bridge to the larger world.  All parents hope this exchange will benefit their children for life.
Today we visited Nagasaki Peace Museum and had a presentation from Mr. Yamawaki, a survivor of the bombing.  For me, this difficult visit was another route to creating a better future for our children and for all of humanity.  The museum and Mr. Yamawaki are dedicated to nuclear non-proliferation.  Between the museum and the survior we got a full and harrowing account of the effects of war and, in particular, nuclear war.  All the players and siblings came away with a deeper understanding of the human toll.  The visit "made real" things that they had only seen in books.  As Amy said, now that she has met Japanese families and children she was very sad to think of all that had died.  It is my hope that these players will remember the human face of the host families, the survivor, and all the people of the world as they grow into adulthood.  Creating empathy is another milestone in their development.
Lastly, I have seen the girls easily coalesce into a great team with the help of the Sanvino and Nishiki Clubs.  The girls have become more confident in their soccer and, I think, in themselves.  They have come to a foreign country, been faced with sometimes strange and certainly different experiences, and have come out gracefully.  All the young ladies were open to the experience, whether it be types of food, manner of eating/sleeping/grooming, formality of culture or speed of soccer play.  They handled the difficulty in communication with good humor as well.  They have come out winners in so many ways.  I hope they are proud of themselves.
For me, the exchange felt like a continuation of the last exchange.  Many first exchange families were involved in this second exchange.  Yet there were new and wonderful new families as well.  I was thrilled to see how much the Sanvino kids have grown in the last few years.  I cannot wait for the next visit.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BBQ With Sanvino Families

Tonight we had a casual dinner outside.  The Families have once again gone out of their way to show us their hospitality.  We all met at a local senior center.  There was a lot of space for the kids to play, to sit and eat, and socialize.  The families brought out several dishes that were prepared including rice and several different varieties of curry.  Then there was the prepared noodles, grilled meats and vegetables.  The kids ate and then played soccer - in the dark.  Later it was time for sparklers for the kids.  The US delegates showed the Japanese how to roast marshmallows.  Sheri was exceptionally good at it since she likes roasting but not eating.  The men who were grilling were surprised to see what she was doing.  She offered them one and they all laughed about how it was gooey.  Then they started following the same practice and roasting their own as well.  Another great night with good food and new lifelong friends.

BBQ Photos

Jade Speaks

Today the kids went to the amusement park while some of the parents went to some pottery places.  Some of the parents went with the kids.
      I went around the amusement park with Mari, Mitra, Faye, and Oscar.  We didn't plan it that way it just ended up like that.  Our goal was to ride every single ride in the park but there were so many rides we couldn't do it even though we spent 7 hours at the park.  We went on a lot of rollar coasters, some funny little kid rides and even went in a haunted house.  My favorite ride was this really big red rollar coaster that is like the mind eraser wich is at Elitch Gardens.
      We went into this place that everyone was talking about called the penguin palace.  It was basically a room that you walked through that was freezing cold and had a ton of fake penguins.  It was really ridiculous.   So was the haunted house.  It was more funny than scary.  A bunch of people around us thought it was really scary though.
      We went down some alpine slides and Mari went really slow so we all caught up to her and were all going really slow right behind her.
      For lunch we tried to order some 6 pizzas, one for each of us.  Some how there was a mix-up though and we ended up with 6 sushi corn-dogs.  So we ate those and then all got our pizzas.  The pizzas were really different.  The cheese was so gooey it was almost a liquid and the crust was really doughy.
      All of us except Faye went on a rollar coaster where you stand up.  It was really fun because when you went down a hill you felt like you were really falling.  After we rode that rollar coaster we did archery because Faye wanted to.  We all thought it was going to be really ridiculous and it was but it also turned out to be really fun.
      In the end we all had a lot of fun.  It was a perfect day to be at the park because it was warm but not extremly hot.  Sadly it wasnt hot enough for any of the water rides to be open but we still had a lot of fun going on all of the other rides.
      Some of the parents went a pottery shop while we were at the amusement park and they said that it was really cool.  A lot of the parents who went bought some pottery.  My dad bought a tea pot and some cups to go with it.
     We miss everyone at home and cant wait to see when we come home although it will be sad to leave Japan.  W are leaving now to go to a barbaque.  Goodbye!

Greenland Park

Dinner at Sakamoto

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photos of the Day

Here are some of the pictures of the day...

Dolphin Trip

Hannah Speaks

Hey guys!!!!

So this trip has been super duper fun!!!! Its also been really really tiring. BUt thats ok!! Right now we are going to Amakusa, a port town that sits in the southern half of Kyuushyuu, which is the island we have been staying on. We are riding in a karaoke bus but thankfully have not turned on the actual karaoke. WE ARE GOING TO WATCH DOLPHINS!! ON A BOAT!! As you can tell, im psyched to go! It has been super cold while we are here yet I havent gotten this sunburned in a very long time!! This trip has been the most amazing trip of my life! It has also been a great time of making more friendships, both with the Japanese and my friends on the team. We have taken boatloads of hilarious pitures and videos. We have done so many different things and done to so many different places!!! The landscape here is crazy!!!! There are mountains and oceans and masive rivers. We went to Kumamoto Castle yesterday. It was so beautiful with its towering towers and 20 acre grounds. We took two tours of two different buildings that were part of the castle. Hiro, the organizer of the trip, explained all kinds of different things about the buildings and is really helpful all the time!!! Also Hiro's two sons, Marcus and Daniel, are our main translators. Marcus is a little sassy pants and Daniel is a little angel. They are complete opposites but are brothers. Anyway im tired and am on a long bus ride to Amakusa and want to sleep so ill pass the cumputor on to Emiko.

Love you all,


Emiko Speaks

Hello everyone!!!

This trip has been so much fun and it is going by really fast :( Atleast I have gotten used to the time zone because everyone was getting really loopy. I'm also starting to become pretty home sick but I really don't want to leave in 3 days. Yesterday we got to play 2 soccer games against the Kumamoto soccer team. The final score was 5-5! Without Maye (Faye's sister), Mayu, Kumi, and Nagisa (The girls on Sanvino) it probably would of been 5-0. Mayu scored 3, Nagisa and Maye scored once. The girls on the other team were really nice and amazing at soccer. They would all try to speak English to us. One ask Faye and me if we had boyfriends!!! The Kumamoto bear, Kumamon, came and took pictures with us and he got to play on the field for a little bit! It was a lot of fun. Today we are going to see dolphins at Amakusa island!! Hopefully the waves don't get large because I get motion sick really easily. In fact writing this blog on the bus is making me really sick. We got to stop at a little store by the sea and we saw a lot of jelly fish!! I felt like I was in Finding Nemo! Right now we are sitting next to our little translator Daniel!! He is probably the sweetest thing!! Then there is his brother, Sassy Marcus!! He has really smelly feet. We were talking if he dreamed in English, Japanese, or Norweigan. He didn't know, but at home their family speaks English and he thinks in English. Oscar sleeps a lot!! Right now he is just dead on his chair along with Jade and Mari. But I for one cannot say anything because I have been sleeping a lot also. I better go before I puke on the Synder's computer!!

-Emiko <3
P.S. Tell Midori that I cannot find any facewash but I'm stacking up on Chocolate Macadamian Nuts!!! Love and miss you all!!!

Elizabeth Speaks

Hello everyone!
Yesterday we traveled an hour to Kumomota for a soccer game against a girls team. The first game we played was againt the All-star team, which was a collection of all of the best girls in the area. They were all sooo good!! And so nice! The second game we played was against a club team. The score for the first game was 5-5. Mayu, one of the girls on Sanvino, who is amazing, scored three goals, and Mae (Faye's sister) scored two. Mayu, Kumi, and Nagisa all played on our team. They are all so fast.. no one could keep up with them, at least no one on our team! Nagasi is a scoring machine!! One of her goals was a bicycle into the back corner! SO BEAUTIFUL!!! The second game we mixed up the teams, and played a friendly game, the score was 3-2, which the A team won. Before the games started, we gave the other team a keychain, which had beads on it or a soccer ball. Then we got to know eachother, and introduced ourselves. After that, we lined up on the field, and a giant bear came out! They tought us a dance that was really weird/fun. I have never danced like that before.. and hopefully won't have to again! Apparently some of the parents got it on video or have picture of it, so I'm sure you guys will be able to see it all! Although it was really weird, it was really fun and we all ended up laughing!! The bear was the mascot of Kumomota, so the dance had different aspects of it that represented important parts of Kumomota. In the second game, some of the younger siblings came and joined the team, along with the giant bear. We all had so much fun together, and we all made some new friends. The other girls all gave us handwritten notes that were personalized. After the games, we ate lunch on the lawn with all of the players, and then headed onto the bus again. Some of the girls, when we started to drive away, ran with the bus, and kept waving at us good bye. So after the soccer games, we then drove another forty-five minutes to the Kumomota Castle. The castle was really pretty, and full of cherry blossoms. We got to go up into the top tower, and look out over all of Kumomota.But no pictures for me :(, I forgot my camera at the host family house that day. The view was really pretty, and we even got to see some smoke from the volcano. We all got ice cream afterwards, which tasted like frozen cool whip, but it was really good! We then got onto the bus again, and drove to dinner. We sat at really low tables, on the floor. The food was all amazing, as have all the meals have been. Today, we had to be at the hotel at 6:45 AM, so we could head to Amakusa. We are going dolphin watching today!!!! We are going onto a boat, which should be really fun!  We are one the bus right now, and are right beside the ocean!!! I haven't seen that in a while!! We stopped about 20 minutes ago at a little shop by the ocean, where there was a bunch of jelly fish and other little fishies!! It's really nice outside which is good because its been super cold and windy since we got here! This whole trip has been amazing! Well, everything is going great in Japan!! Only three more days here :( Love and miss you all!!
Love, Elizabeth

P.S. One of the best things so far that i think we all will remeber will be one of the little boys that was hanging around with us at our tents during the tournament. HE could dance like Michael Jackson!!! He would always walk around and do the moon walk and stuff for us!! SOOO CUTE!! We gave him and his friend pop rocks, and they freaked out!! They didn't know what was going on! It was soo funny!

P.P.S. Mom i got your email! Thanks! Love and miss you!! Say hi to Oaklee and Toby for me, and the rest of the family! See you soon!

Jade Speaks

Hey everybody!
Right now we are driving to Amakusa to go out on a boat and do some dolphin watching which is going to be awesome!  This whole trip has been awesome!  I have met so many new friendly people on this trip.  My host family is really nice.  There is a 15 year old girl in my host family named Seika who can speak english wich is really helpful.  In the soccer tournament i met a TON of little boys all of whom were extremly cute.  A couple of them were hanging around our tent and were really funny.  I gave a really shy one my t-shirt and it was so cute seeing how happy he got.  Yesterday we got to play against girls our own age.  We also got to have three extremly good soccer players on our team.  Their names were Kumi, Mayue, and Nagisa. (I probably spelled their names wrong) They were all amzing players and they were also really nice.  After we played the girls yesterday we ate lunch with them and had a lot of fun.  They were really nice and even a little funny.  When we left they chased our bus and one told me she loved me when I was getting on the bus!  We have some amazing interpreters with us.  There is a man named Hiro who has organized everything and his son Marcus.  They both speak english and Japanese.  So does a little boy named Daniel (Hiro's younger son) who we all love!  He loves interpeting for us and is extremly nice and friendly.  These are just a few of the people we have met but everyone we have met has been really kind to us.  We are all having a lot of fun doing crazy and awesome things.  We have gone bowling, played soccer, gone to the mall, visted a castle, and made lots of new friends.  There is also a lot more to come.  We get to go dolphin watching, vist an amusment park, and go to the Nagasaki peace museum.  We all mis everyone at home and cant wait until we get back and get to see you.  We will definatly always remember this trip and will be really sad when we have to leave.

Jamie Speaks

Hey everyone!
It has been an amazing trip so far! I got here earlier than everyone else so I went to the temple of the samurai god, it was pretty spiffy! The first days were really busy and Amy and I met or host families and the mom is really nice. The third day Amy and i played outside with Maya and Shinnoka(the kids in our family) and we really got to know each other because before that they were really quiet and shy but now they are much more outgoing. Here we all seem famous, Trebol was at a party for the Sanvino(the club the exchange was with) U12 player's graduation, so they can move on to play for their junior high soccer team. It was a very nice ceremony and dinner. Everyone wanted to take pictures with us because we are blonde and it was really funny. People would follow us around and stare at us, it was pretty awkward! Yesterday we went to play a soccer game against the allstar team made up of all the best players in the prefecture. They were very happy to see us. Before the game we gave them these keychains that either had beads or a soccer ball on them. They loved them so much! We tied 5-5, Mayu(a japanese girl who is amazing at soccer) scored 3 of the goals. The next game we mixed up everyone so there was an A team and a B team. It was so hard to play with them because you do not know how to communicate you just make some sort of noise that gets their attention. Afterward we had lunch all together and ate out of the bento boxes which are really good. They laughed at us because of our mad chop-stick skills... which we dont have. Then we went to the Kumamota Castle, it was really beautiful! I got some really pretty pictures. Everyday has been really long day. Right now we are on the bus to go dolphin watching and i am so excited!!! We have played 13 soccer games in the last 3 days... it is crazyness. MATTA NE!!!!!!!

Love you all,
  Jamie Turcotte

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mitra Speaks

Japan is the most amazing place I have ever been.  Everyone keeps talking to us and trying to find us like we are famous.  Anyway today started out like pretty much every other day I have been here.  WE woke up at 6am and got ready to go to the soccer tournament.  For breakfast we had pizza, ham, and peach bread that they only make in Arao.  Next we watched the weirdest TV show.  It was almost a mix in between Family Guy and Pokemon.  Then it was time to go to the soccer tournament.  The host family Mari and I ware staying with have a big camper as a car.  It's more than twice as big as the camper I have at home.  Any way we got the soccer tournament.  The temperature outside this morning was extremely cold so I put on a big red coat on that made me look like an Eskimo.  Then begin the weirdo I am I sat alone and read by book Catching Fire.  Soon enough we had to warm u for our first soccer game.  Our first game I didn't think I did that well and we lost 2-0.  The Japanese players are like little speed Demon munchkins.  Except for a lot of them are taller than me.... Anyway next we sat in the tent to wait for our next game.  Soon we had to warm up and I was not in the mood for a game.  I was tired and just wanted to go to bed.  So we started warming up and one of the goalies playing on the field ran into a post and got knocked out.  He got a cut on his forehead and ambulance had to come get him. 

Anyway our next game started and I was very nervous.  In the first half I had an amazing save where I ran at the person and it deflected off my arm but sadly they got another shot off and we were down 1-0.  In the second half we were playing great.  We had an amazing through ball and Peyten got a goal.  1-1.  We kept making shots but none of them would go in.  Plus the goalie kept drbbling the ball to the half and going out of the goal which messed up our focus.  In the last thirty seconds of the half Emiko had an amazing shot that almost went in.  We were still tied.  1-1  that means a shoot out.  The shoot out was so stressful.  The first two shooters whose name I don't want to mention missed their shots.  To make it worse both of the Japanese kids had made their shots on me.  Then the Japanese kid that was shooting for the win missed!  After that the shots started to go our way.  Everyone made their shot. I made one save and we were tied.  Then Petyen made an amazing shot.  All I had to do was save the last shot.  There is a moment where you have to choose as a goalie which way to dive, to jump, to stand.  In the moment I decided the shooter was going to the right.  He kicked the ball I dived to the right.  My hand stretched out and hit the ball.  I save the shot!  Then I just stood there.  I couldn't understand any of the refs so I didn't know if we won but just then the ref blew his whistle three times!  We had won the game!  Screaming I ran to to my team so excited.  We had a giant group hum and almost fell over.  I got a 10 minute break from Oscar and Joseph teasing me as a prize for my amazing save.  I had won a shoot out in Japan and that is something no one can ever take away from me.

Amy Speaks

So Japan is now my new favorite country! It's beautiful here and everyone is super nice! I wish people in America were as nice as the people here. I wave to everybody i see and they all enjoy it! I feel like a superstar here. Yet, I'm still getting use to everybody staring at us wherever we go! Last night, we went to a celebration dinner for the end of the tournament and for the U12 boys on Sanvino who are graduating to junior high. The dinner was awesome and we played Bingo and got gifts from their Coach. My host family is awesome and super sweet! The kids are hilarious. A few days ago Jamie and I played baseball and dodge ball with our family and their friends out in the front lawn. I have made many friends so far! One is Hiro's son Daniel who is our translator and is like a mini Oscar!(They have matching sweatpants!) Daniel is easiest to talk to since he speaks English.
Today we drove to Kumamoto to play their girls team! They were super sweet and funny! We first played them and then we mixed up the teams and scrimmaged each other! They are all incrediabley fast and very skilled with their feet! During our opening ceremony a mascot charachter for the town came out and we all had to do a dance. We were in lines of 4 with our teams. According to Hiro's other son, Marcus, I looked really stupid. Being front and center and trying to follow a giant bear person, I'm not surprised! I think it's really cool to see how other countries play soccer. The Japan kids are so skilled with their feet that there is no need to shove or push. I only saw 2 fouls in the entire tournament. As I said before everyone is super nice! Oh! Before I forget, we had to do a shootout yesterday and I made my shot! Twice actually, because I accidentally went too early the first time. We ended up winning the shootout with Mitra making an awesome save!
Well currently we are on the bus to the castel in Kumamoto. It is quite a crazy scene back here in the back of the bus! The food is delicious and weather is windy but other wise beautiful in Japan! Well, i have taken over 300 pictures in 3 days! Hi Mom! Love you! Well, we are at the castel now so i have got to go!


Today we took the bus to Kumamoto to play against two girls soccer teams.  The complex was beautiful. Not grass, but turf - we'll take it!  The day was gorgeous and the wind finally died down.

When we got to the complex, the girls began to get loose and warm up while the coaches and town officials spoke.  The Japanese teams had decided to put together one all-star team and one team from the host city.  We play two full games.  The first game - we played the all-stars in the first half.  The score was 1-4 in that time.  In the second half we played the city team and the score was 3-0.

For the second game the coaches decided to mix things up and play half Japanese and USA against another half Japanese and USA.  The girls had an absolutely great time and got to know each other's styles and their senses of humor started to emerge as well.

There was a visit from Kumomon.  He is similar to Mickey Mouse in popularity here in Japan.  Kumumon led the entire team in some pre-warm up calisthenics - also known as dancing!.  Kumomon taught the girls to dance and it was funny to watch them try to follow along.  Everyone was laughing and I've got the video to prove it!  I'll see what I can do to get it posted for everyone.

After the games, the Japanese girls showed us how much pride they take in their facility.  They cleaned everything up - without any help or direction from adults.  They carried the goals off the field, put all benches and covers away, and even swept out the changing rooms!  They did all this before our girls had even finished packing up their own individual bags.  Then we had another great bento box lunch.  We sat out in the park area in the complex and the Japanese girls team sat with us.  We shared some snacks and laughter.

Then another bus ride and we were able to do some site-seeing at the Kumumoto Castle.  It was breathtaking to see.  We learned about how the castle was built, how it was destroyed and then rebuilt.  We were able to walk up to the top of one of the reconstructed buildings to see the view of the city.  Then we regrouped for a snack at the gift shop - pre made ice cream cones.  They are everywhere, and a big hit with the team.

We had dinner at a restaurant.  We ordered early this morning so that everything could be called ahead. We were able to walk in and start getting our food within 10 minutes.  The girls got their second wind and were goofy, and excited and telling jokes to each other as well as to their new Japanese friends.

I am trying to make sure that every girls put up something on the blog.  If you don't see your daughter's post yet, I'm on it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Soccer Tournament Day 2

Wow!!!  What an exhausting day we all had yesterday.  While the sun came out, the temperature didn't increase, and the wind seemed to pick up.  It was draining to all of us.  Hard to keep the sand off of everything you owned and out of your eyes, yet we are all in good spirits - some of us even downright giddy and having a great time.

The first game we lost 0-2.  The first goal was constant pressure in the box and the second was a break away one on one.  The girls had opportunities, including a break away by Randi and Hannah bent a corner kick in just right - but smaller fields have smaller goals and the ball hit the top of the crossbar! The second game was 1-1 in regular playing time and a shootout at the end.  Mitra stopped a kick and we ended up with a 3-2 victory.  The third game was against the winners of the competition.  These boys were taller than the rest, quick and moved constantly.  We played tough, stepped up our speed a bit, and had opportunities but the scored ended up 0-2.  The girls played well and were tired after 6 games in two days.  We gathered for the final ceremony.  All the teams stood and patiently waited while medals were given out.  The parents were amazed at how the teams stood there in the cold for quite a while, but they did not leave, or create a ruckus, they just stood there and waited.  Even the applause for the winning team was surprising - no cheers, just polite golf claps.

In the final ceremony the girls received a cup for playing in the tournament and Mitra received an MVP award for her punch of a ball that avoided giving a win up in a tie game.  The girls took many pictures, celebrated with Daniel (our organizer's son and translater) and headed back to the host families and hotel to get cleaned up for the celebration dinner.

Celebration Dinner

After the tournament it was time to celebrate with the Sanvino Soccer Club.  The parents and families have been very generous and supportive (bringing us chairs to sit in, drinks and food, and hot water for coffee and hot cocoa) and they invited us to spend time with them for their graduation of the sixth grade players.

We met a a banquet hotel room.  The food was ready on large tables with a giant lazy susan so we could spin it around to get the items we wanted.  They continued to bring out more food, light a burner with a steam basket full of food, and every parent was rewarded with at least one bottle of beer (most had many more set down without asking).  The festivities began with a round of BINGO.  The funny thing is, this BINGO went on and on until each and every person got a BINGO.  In the end I think there were only about 3 numbers that didn't get called!  We were all given a necklace of sorts with wrapped snacks and candies.  Then it was  time for Coach (we call him Boss) to hand out gifts.  They gave everyone in the room a number and then he woud call one and you would come and select your gift.  All the Trebol parents received a very cool jersey that had both Japan and USA on it.  The girls got Trebol USA jerseys, and the Sanvino parents received the same jerseys as the US parents.  It was great fun.

The night lasted while the Sanvino graduating players were honored with slide shows of their games, awards and speeches.  Then the Sanvino parents were also honored for their hard work and support of the team.  It was very touching as coaches and families shed tears and laughter.

It was after 10 before we left for the night.  Everyone was tired (too tired to blog) and we came back and crashed.  Today we will meet at 8am to take an hour bus ride to play against girls teams.  GIRLS!! YEAH!!!  It will be another long day, filled with fabulous memories that we can only barely begin to describe here.

The girls have been writing and I'll be putting more of their notes on the blog when we get back this afternoon.  They love and miss you all and thank you for your comments so far.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Soccer Tournament - Day One

Today we went to the soccer fields.  It was cold this morning but at least it stopped raining (it rained the entire first day we were here).  We set out to the fields at about 8am for the opening ceremony.  All the players from all the teams lined up.  We laughed since our girls are the tallest of all the teams - by a long shot.  They put our team right in the middle and it was quite a site.  Two japanese players spoke and then Dahlia did.  She spoke in Japanese and did a wonderful job.  There was no rain today, but the wind was cold and biting.  It wasn't too bad for the players, but I think the parents put on every single layer we brought.  Don't worry, Brad was still in shorts!

The Sanvino team parents set up a tent for us, brought over chairs and made sure we felt at home.  All the parents thought we were going to lose weight in Japan by eating so healthy, but the host families keep brining us so much food to try it feels like all we've been doing is eating and eating!  They brought us breads for breakfast.  One was a special bread made here in Arao that is made with Mango.  It is sweet, but not sticky or sugary.  We all really enjoyed it.  Then there was a basket of cookies, crackers, and candies.  To drink they made sure we had hot water for tea and apple milk.  You read that correctly, apple milk.  It is a juice box with half milk and half apple juice.  The girls loved it!  For lunch, they brought us bento boxes.  Trays of food with, rice, fish, chicken, and some cabbage or veggies.

The girls were scheduled to play three soccer games today.  The first game they played the other team scored in the first minute!  We thought, wow this is going to be a long weekend.  However, our girls got  their heads in the game and the final score remained 1-0.  The parents dubbed that first a goal "Welcome to Japan".  The second game had to be cancelled because the other team was sick and forfeited so the girls decided to include the players from Japan and decided to split in half and scrimmage themselves.  They had a lot of fun and the score was 1-0 with Mari getting one in.  The third game was tough.  By that I mean the other team looked about 8 years old and the goal keeper was definately smaller than 9 year olds Bailey and Cameron.  Our girls scored a goal and then started passing the ball to each other making sure everyone touched it.  The final score was 3-0 and our girls felt badly about it - like they were beating up on them.  The other team was gracious and glad that they got to play us.  That concluded all the games for the day, but we weren't done yet!  The Sanvino team is not in our bracket and so we will not play them.  But after the days games were done, we decided to play each other. We even mixed up the teams so they were each half Trebol and half Sanvino.  All the kids had a great time.  Such a great time that the coaches decided to join in!  They proposed another game of kids against coaches and siblings.  Then the laughs began and the coaches realized their teams weren't as winded as they had hoped!

Sheri and Mae made it today and they got to the field in time to see the final game and the fun ones.  We are all now back at the hotel to rest for a couple of hours before we go to dinner at the host families homes.  It has been great and tomorrow the weather is supposed to get even better.  If it warms up, the cherry blossoms will bloom and we may have a party to celebrate!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Faye Speaks

Today was so much fun.  First, I woke and I had breakfast.  It was a little weird because the eggs and sausage were different.  I had rice and sushi.  I didn't know how to eat it with chop sticks, but I tried.  The oldest girl taught me how to eat the seaweed and rice together.  It was a little challenging, but she said it was ok to use my fingers.  After breakfast everyone came over to my family's house (Mari, Mitra, Jade, Hannah, Jamie, Amy and some of the Japanese friends).  We all played spoons, but with Dahlia's coins.  It was so hard to explain to the Japanese how to play but we did it successfully.  It got extremely competitive and it was hard to keep up with.  Later we went to the bowling.  I lost miserably to Dalia, my sister, and her best friend.  The second game I was goofing off with Mari.  First we did a granny shot then we did backwards granny shot, then I got a spare on my tebowing shot.  That part was one of my favorites.  Then I got a spare after my tebow shot.  Out last one was a switcharoo.  I was in my lane, Mari was in hers' and we spinned in to each others lanes.  I did horribly Mari got me a spare, she's going to hold that against me.  Mitra tried to Tebow while bowling that was so funny it was in the gitter and didn't even make it to the pins. I got second place in that round, surprisingly.

Then we went to the arcade and I tried to be DJ Beds - I got 98% poor.  The arcade was amazing.  I loved it, but it smelled like smoke.  Then we walked to the hotel where we at the most amazing food in the world.  I could have eaten to my death.  The toilets here are amazing, just saying.  They are amazing because the seats are heated, and they have these random buttons that wash your butt and dry your butt.  Liina, Jade and Mari all barfed something up.  I had one of the best sodas in my life at that restaurant.  Then we went to the mall where we took so many pictures.  Some of the shirts I don't even think they know what they said.  One shirt said Kitts, Raze, Quirk, Jokes!  We took a picture with her just because of her shirt.  I broke my camera when we were taking so many pictures, though.  We went to another arcade.  There's a thing at the arcade that makes you look perfect (Emiko, Peyton Elizabeth, Jamie, Randi and someone else took a picture there they looked stunning!  There was one store just for Hello Kitty.  There was one totally hippy store.  I bought Daniel, my little brother, something there.  Then we went to a souvenir store and I got my friends stuff there.  I got them a big box of Fanta flavored candy.  (Mari show me an amazing song) we went to Sports Authority, of course.  Liina and Mitra played golf there.  Liina was super good and Mitra was a little challenged.  The guy that helped us spoke very good English.  I was very impressed.  There was only one shirt in Japanese.  The rest was in English - aren't we in Japan?  I got Daniel some silverware with chop sticks.  I'm not even close to being done shopping, but this will do for today.

The bus ride back was fun.  Bradley was being Bradley and making fun of Mari and her boyfriend.  When we went back to to the hotel we mest some little Japanese boys who I think we confused a little.  He saw Bradley wearing a basketball shirt and thought we were a basketball team, but Oscar tried to explain to him that we played soccer.  Then they kept on asking us if we played basketball.  then we said Mari played basketball, but I think they though Mari wasn't on our team.  Then they little boys came over to me later while I was typing this.  They came over and just looked at me.  Then I introduced my self, one of them introduced themselves to me the other didn't.  Oscar told them I played defense and then they just ran away. I hope I didn't scare them.  The day went by sooo fast.  I can't believe it's already 6:30.  That a sign of a good day.

Peyton Speaks

Hajimemashte!  Watashino nameawa Peyton Des!

I can't believe we are really here!  First thing we did here was shop and I got Cambria, mom and makayla presents.  Then we got on the bust and went to the hotel.  We waited there for hours until the host families showed up for a welcoming ceremony.  I was so happy!  Elizabeth and I were stoked and ready to meet the family.  It turns outs there is two boys in our family.  One is 15 (wink, wink j.k)  But I love the parents.  I am so happy and will type more later!

Mari Speaks

Today was a really good day so far.  We woke up and had toast and eggs for breakfast.  The toast was so yummy.  We went bowling and it was really fun!  Faye and I were doing moves and when we tebowed we both got spares!  We went to a buffet for lunch and it was delicious, I love all the food so far!  The mall was really fun and different.  I am learning a lot about the culture of Japan and I am really excited to play soccer tomorrow!  Also we were in the paper today form when we visited the mayor and I gave a speech!  For giving the speech Oscar gave me a lightning McQueen car!  Anyways I am having a great time and miss and love you all!

Hannah Speaks

So my first couple of days have been crazy!!  I haven't showered since I got here and I'm pretty sure I'm deterring the natives.  My host family is super sweet and I love them a lot.  They make me really good food and let me sleep in their house which is just super sweet of them.  I have bought stuff at the mall even though it was like $100 a shirt.  I had probably angered a significant amount of the population with my bad Japanese and personality.  Oh well.  Anyway, I'm so tired I could pass out, hungry and I need to shower so I don't make someone pass out because of my smell.  So yes, that is all I'm entering for today.  I love my family sooooo much and I wish they were here with me.

Liina Speaks

So far we have had so much fun!  A bit of troubles with me and my host family (they are smokers and we are working something out) but overall a nice community.  When I met the host family there were nice and giving, for example my host mom gave me her cardigan when I couldn't find my jacket.  The kids were all excited and posing for every picture.  I'm kind of obsessive over the pictures and have taken way too many.  It is incredible how different the culture is and how everybody is treated.  The first night I was at the host family they made me chocolate cake.  Since I'm staying by myself and forgot all my Japanese it has been very hard to communicate.  For breakfast this morning I had rice and really I say this a lot to my friend, the sausage tasted like Finland.  I had this seaweed stuff and it was ok but yesterday I felt sick because of the sudden food change and how healthy it was compared to American Food.  The present I got from my host family was some chopsticks that were pink.  The views in Japan are breathtaking and it's so much fun to take pictures.  The cherry blossoms have not bloomed yet but still I'm on the look out.  We went shopping and I got a mug with tons of Japanese words.  Well, I've explained as much as I can.  See you all when we get back!

Dahlia Speaks

This morning we had a PARTY!!! - sort of.  It started out small, we had breakfast (salad, sausage, eggs...) and the the oldest daughter, Faye, and I started to play cards.  Then for no reason that I could see, my host sister got up and left.  When she came back Jade and Hannah and their host sister were with her.  We started to play spoons (with coins since it seemed the best and easiest game to explain to the Japanese.  Then my host sister got up again (this time I heard the bell) and she came back with Mari and Mitra and their host sibling... Then Lina came and then Jamie and Amy.  We played spoons until it was time to go.  There was much drama during this simple and easy game.  Mitra attacked me to get a coin, Jade leaped across the tatami mat to get a coin and so on and so forth.  And then we left for bowling.  I always seem to fail at bowling, but by some lucky omen, I did not end up failing miserably.  The best part of the bowling was when Faye and Mari were experimenting with how to bowl.

Visiting the Sword Making Shop

After breakfast at the hotel, the parents and a couple of siblings decided to visit a local sword making shop.  The owner took the time to show us his technique and even passed out some flyers of the definitions that a woman had translated for him.  His shop was small and very personal.  He said it took him about three months to make one new sword.  He showed us a couple of different parts of the process.  He even challenged us to determine who could turn a small rectangular piece into a point on one end.  Bill Turcott accepted the challenge  And came up woefully short.  Not to be outdone, Cameron decided he would go next.  While he too was not nearly as quick or precise as the master, he was given a gift that the owner created himself.

While we were still at the shop, there were several members of a dojo who were ready to demonstrate the use of these precise weapons.  We humbly sat in chairs while they staged wet rolled up mats to be used as the "victims".  Each man stepped forward with care and concentration and cut through the mats quickly and with one stroke.  They took great care to make sure the blade was put back securely before stepping away.  Then we were able to take and hold the swords and ask questions.  The whole day was very funny because we did not have a translater and it was a lot of gesturing and laughing and guessing at what the others were saying.  However, we did learn that one of the demonstrators had one thumb shorter than the other.  This occurred on his very first day when he quickly pulled the blade from its sheath and in the process sliced his own thumb off, which was saved and reattached later.  We took many pictures and shared many smiles.

Here are the photos from that trip...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Felisa Speaks

It has been a whirlwind since the moment we arrived. Practically within the first hour of getting into Arao we went to meet the Mayor and Superintendent of Schools. You would have thought that David Beckham had arrived. The room was filled with as many photographers and city staff members as team members. Refreshments were served. The newspapers covered the EVENT. The Mayor delivered his speech in English. But the highlight was the question and answer session. The kids delivered some real softballs like, "What is your favorite sport?" and "What do you think about the Japanese world cup win?" Knowing the Mayor is a golfer, I wanted to ask his handicap. (Turns out it's a very respectable 13). The girls were all smiles, except for Mari as she delivered her speech. It turns out she was so tired that she couldn't spare the energy to smile until after she finished speaking. Then she broke out into a big smile. She did great! Next the Welcome Gathering and Meeting of Host Families was on the agenda for the evening. This time we had all the families, their children and two men in suits at the front. I believe they were the head of the Greenland Cup Tournament Association and the Arao Soccer Association. I could not help but wonder what they thought as 30+ kids of all ages ran raucously about the restaurant. It was probably not the event they imagined. The team and the host families were all awaiting their introductions. A couple of anxious families even went around looking for their host kids. It was a delightful celebration filled with joy. For me, it was a particular delight to be reunited with many of the families who hosted us three years ago. Although many are not host families this trip, they have been helping with preparations and came out to welcome us. We are very thankful. Dylan, your host sibling has grown into his head. He still has the same, beautiful smile and wonderful disposition, but now he runs about. Also on hand were Shirgeru's family - Kuwamoto-san. They will be hosting Joseph and Brad. I must say that I barely blinked as Dahlia and Joseph went out the door for the evening. I was asleep within a half a heartbeat of hitting the bed.

First Day of The Trip

The journey to Arao was long and took its toll on all of us, yet everyone is in good spirits and happy to be here.  There were no difficulties with flights or luggage - all was smooth sailing.  Getting on the plane in LA at midnight was toughest for the two youngest in our group, Bailey and Cameron, 9 year old siblings of Trebol players. In order to get us onto the right schedule the airline served us dinner within an hour of take-off.  That was at about 2:30am for us.  The lights stayed on through the meal to keep people awake.  Most of us were starting to doze as soon as the meal was over.  Then we tried to sleep.  The flight was full so there were no empty seats (except for the one that Tom Dieter gave up so some players could sit near each other).  We were woken at about 3am Korea time so they could serve us breakfast and we landed at around 5am.

After a short flight from Korea to Fukuoka we took a chartered bus to Arao.  Since the bus trip was an hour and a half, our new friends from Japan took us to a rest stop with shops and food about half-way to our destination.  We were able to get out and walk around in the fresh air and that was important to all of us.  We also got a chance to use some Japanese language, try the many, many vending machines and food from something like street vendors.

We had about 40 minutes to freshen up and then go to a reception at the mayors office in town.  It was a nice ceremony and official greeting.  Maudi stepped up to the plate and gave a short speech!  Then it was back to the hotel where we waited for the host families to arrive.  All the Trebol players and Sanvino players, the coaches and the families enjoyed a meal together in the hotel conference room.

I'm writing this at 7:50 pm Arao time and I am exhausted.  We have pictures to share, but right now the bed is calling me and can no longer be denied.  For those back home, we are safe and sound and the adrenaline rush is fading.  We are in good spirits and excited about the days ahead after a long nights rest!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Than Halfway There

I am sitting in the airport in Seoul, Korea. I really like how nice everyone has been and there is awesome food! I'm drinking Starbucks right now. Yum! The plain ride was really long so thank goodness we had tons of stuff to do. I'm really tired from jet lag. I'm really excited to be in Japan. We should be leaving in two hours. - randi

P.s. I lost my camera :(

Well,Randi wants to let her mom know that she lost her camera. Which is very sad. At this moment I am enjoying my first Starbucks from a different country. It's made with soy milk. Its very exciting. The plane ride was really long but we entertained our selves by playing battleship across the plane. Thank you mom for the bagel! - Amy

I'm so tired! I can never sleep on planes. It is 7:30am here and 4:30pm in Colorado. Wow! I don't have much else to say cuz Amy and Randi said most of the fun stuff. I miss all you people in Colorado! -Jade

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Itinerary and Host Family Information

At the final planning meeting on Monday 3/5 we were given the schedule for the entire trip. There are so many wonderful things planned, and we had all better start getting extra sleep now because there won't be much rest time while we are there!

The girls were given information about their host families so that they can make some final preparations. The enthusiasm was high as the girls laughed about food, language barriers and lots of soccer.

Only two weeks to go. It is sure to be an awesome adventure.