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.