Sunday, May 15, 2016


Happy Sunday!  Weve had a wonderful weekend at the lake.  I have a couple of more days before I have to go back home, although Dennis is back to work tomorrow.  We went into town for church this morning and it was a wonderful morning.   Our new senior pastor was ordained, along with two new deacons.  We have a new youth minister who was introduced this morning too.  Lot's of great things happening!

Many of you have asked about how Alex came to be living in Japan.  Here's the story for those of you who asked. For those who aren't interested...I'll see you here next time!  Have a wonderful day my friends!  :-)

When he was 13, Alex spent some time with an exchange group of middle schoolers that were visiting Spokane for three weeks one summer.  That happened to be the same year that he started college at Eastern Washington University.  Yes, he went to college at 13!  Got his Bachelors Degree at 17 and his Masters Degree at 19 years old.  Anyway, after spending the time with the exchange students, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and where.  He took Japanese classes that year, although he had gone through the entire textbook before the school year began and was already speaking Japanese when classes started.  As time went on, he took every Japanese class offered.  He ended up translating papers for the Japanese instructor throughout his college years to help pay for books and fees.  He also taught English classes his last two years.

Every summer from 13 on he went to Japan and taught English in a private school.  He absolutely fell in love with the Japanese culture and embraced it wholly.  When he got his Masters he moved to Japan permanently and taught Elementary School.  We visited him there in a tiny town in northern Japan.  He was like the pied piper.  The kids loved him.  Everywhere we went, the kids would come running too see "teacher".  After that, he was transferred to teach Junior high students in a small town about 20 miles away.  It's normal in the Japanese school system to be moved around a lot.  He was in this town when the big earthquake/tsunami hit a few years ago.  Since the town was on a bay, there was some flooding but his apartment was on a hill and he was fine.

That's when I began this blog.  A lot of people don't realize that Aomori, where Alex lived, and the Sendai region get a LOT of snow every year and it's very cold.  So I had a goal to knit 400 hats by winter to give to the people in the shelters who had lost everything.  It's not much, but I thought it would help them to know  that someone cared.  I mentioned it to a few knitting and crochet friends and they wanted to help.  They also wanted to see pictures of my trip, (yes, I went to Japan for three weeks and Alex and I took the handmade items to the shelters.). You can read about it in my very first posts.  I ended up taking thousands of things made by wonderful crafters all over the world.  Baby things, hats, socks, blankets, mittens, sweaters, among other things.  All handmade.  It was wonderful.  The people were so grateful.  You can't imagine the total and utter devastation these people experienced.  Thousands and thousands of people just disappeared into the ocean, never to be seen again.  Entire towns gone in seconds.  It was awful.  Helping in such a small way was very rewarding.

In the years since he moved to Japan, Alex has also learned Chinese.  He is now a translator at Keio University in Tokyo, but also has his own translation business on the side that he has been growing for years.  He is very interested in the old culture of Japan and has translated several books of folklore and does a lot of work for museums around Aomori.  His plan is to move back to northern Japan this fall where he plans to buy a house.  He will be leaving the university and working with more museums, etc.  

Dennis has been to Japan twice to visit him and Mandy went with us once, just before she and Brad got married.  I've been there three times and would like to go see him again this fall to see his house, if my health lets me.  I love visiting him in Tokyo where each neighborhood has everything you need within walking distance.  Doctors, dentists, grocery stores, etc.  You could live your entire life and never leave your neighborhood.  I've never experienced anything like it before.  He prefers the small towns in northern Japan where you do need a car to get around.  No walking everywhere there, but people still know each other better and you can make friends, unlike in the frenetic pace of Tokyo.  Much like here in the U.S. Where there are trains and subways in big cities, but not so much in the midsize and small towns.

So that's it in a nutshell.  I hope I haven't bored you, but there's the story of how Alex came to live in Japan.  I don't think he'll ever move back home permanently.  He really wants Dennis and I to move in with him in Japan when Dennis retires, but I don't see that happening.  It's nice that he wants us though.  :-).  I would love to see him teach again.  He's a natural, especially with small kids.  I watched him with Kyleigh and Caleb this visit and he had them speaking Japanese almost instantly.  He will do what his heart leads him to do though and that's what is best.  Right?

I hope you've all had a lovely weekend.  

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Ephesians 2:10



  1. ahhhh thanks so mcuh dear Betsy for filling us in on all that.. it explains how God gave him a love for Japan, Japanese and and the Japanese people .. truly wodnerful.
    Is he anywhere near Sapporo? I have friends there from Oz have been there over twenty five years .. they're from oz and he too fell in love with Japan and Japanese , he taught it here in Australia before going over there with his wife and two young children, they now through God's blessing have a growing church in Sapporo which in a country of Buddhism and Shintoism worshipers in 98% (many are both) of the population it is very hard..
    He and Tony sound very alike.. I can give you their contact details.. if you like,
    Thanks so much for sharing it all.
    Shaz in Oz.x

    {Shaz in Oz – Calligraphy Cards}

    1. Right now he is in Tokyo, but plans to move back to Aomori in the fall. Sapporo is in Hokkaido, which is the island just north of Aomori. I would be glad to pass on the contact information to Alex! Have s lovely day my friend!

  2. Oh I have loved reading your post Betsy. He is obviously a very clever and caring young man. So lovely that he would like you and Dennis to retire there. I will go and read your posts re the knitted items you took out there - how wonderful. I pray your health will let you visit again. Hugs Anne x

  3. Wow! What a story Betsy. I hope you can travel over to Japan this Fall.

  4. I hope you get to go to Japan!

    You've been nominated to receive the Liebster Award. Hop over to my blog to accept it. :)

  5. What a beautiful story, He was obviously meant to be in Japan. Hope you and Dennis manage a trip later in the year. Take care.

  6. Wow, Alex sounds like a very interesting young man. You must be so proud of him. How amazing to be so well-educated at such a young age. I expect to see my son taking some college classes when he is in high school because he is very advanced, especially in math, and it will be good to earn some college credits early and while they are very cheap from a community college. I would love to visit Japan someday and so would my husband, even more than I would. His family hosted a boy from Japan as an exchange student when he was a kid and it was a very formative experience for him to live with Kentaro for a few months. He has loved Japanese culture ever since. I hope you're enjoying the lake this week. :)

  7. I think it is absolutely fantastic that Alex knew what he wanted from such a young age and has done everything in his power to make his passion his life. Very inspiring! My husband does business with a Japanese paper company that has been around since the 1800s. Our last visit to Dubai was to meet the new sales associate -- they switch them about every 4 years, so this is the third guy since my husband became the sole agent for them in Kuwait. We hope to visit Japan one day. It's so incredible that your son is fluent in Japanese. My kids have a Japanese dvd given to them by Saito, but they never did anything with it. My second son, Zack, has a knack for language and I believe he could have learned many languages but he just never pushed himself. He's taken Spanish and French, along with the required Arabic, and of course, English which is the only one he's fluent in. He takes his last two world exams tomorrow and Wednesday, both in French, and then he is finished with high school and graduation is the end of this month. And then he's off to college. Sure isn't easy sending our boys out into the world. I'm anxious already. Wishing you a wonderful week. Hugs and blessings, Tammy

  8. I have read this story before but I never get tired of reading about it. I really admire your son and wish I could meet him someday. I do hope you keep telling us of his story as it evolves. The house you showed us really impresses me! I'd love to see more of it. I hope you get to go see him in the fall. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  9. Thank you for sharing Alex's story with us. I am blown away by his awesome adventures. Wishing you a lovely day sweet friend. Blessings always. :)

  10. origato thank you !!! Did I spell it right?

  11. That's quite the story of your Alex. I remember you telling me about him when we were at Elmer's restaurant last year. Glad he likes it there and it's an interesting life he leads. Thanks for sharing your non boring story, my dear friend! Hugs and blessings!

  12. I also forgot to mention that I think you are pretty darn amazing for organizing the handmade contributions for those in the shelter. I think I'll go read your very first posts about that now. :)

  13. that's a super story to share, well done Alex you must be so proud of him? Yes Mark's and Spencer does deliver to the States, click on that link on my blog post and look at the top and there is a click down menu to pick a country and it will be in US dollars as well.

  14. My oldest did the same thing in Japan as your Alex and that's why I started my blog. He's back home now and married to a lovely Chinese lady he met on his travels in the east. I've got two adorable Chinese-American grandsons who are just the most amazing little things. It hasn't all been smooth sailing though. Chinese culture and American culture don't always mesh and I've put my foot in it more than once but we are all learning together and I wouldn't trade those Grands for anything in the world!

  15. This is such a fascinating story Betsy. Your son Alex is quite an amazing young man, so smart and talented. I have never heard any of this before so thank you so much for sharing. I know you are so proud of all he has accomplished and you should be. Hugs to you,

  16. Better than reading his story was witnessing it. All your kids are amazing and you are blessed with wonderful grand kids too!