The Watchman

The Watchman

Friday, August 16, 2013

East Meets West in Zion

About the second week of summer, our family was doing what we normally do on a Saturday morning - hanging at the pool watching our daughters swim.  I guess it is more accurate to say that some of us were competing, some of us were timing, some of us were running the scoring system and prepping ribbons and Rick was doing a fine job announcing.  Basically, our Saturdays in the summer are consumed by the Hurricane Tigersharks' swim meets, just as our mornings in the summer are devoted to swim team practice.  I don't know many kids or parents willing to get up at 5 in the morning, every morning during summer break, but that is what we do.

So on this particular Saturday, another swim parent asked Rick and I if we would consider hosting a student from Japan in our home for two weeks at the end of the summer.  This to me was an answer to prayer.  As Wil continues to work to return to his LDS mission in Japan, he has struggled with the lack of language practice and that he is losing his ability to speak and understand Japanese.  What a better way to gain a refresher than to have a Japanese student right in our home.

Even though Hunter was discouraging of the idea, with the enthusiasm of the girls and Wil's acquiescence, we started the application process.  We had hoped for a boy, since we have an extra bed in Wil's room, but when assignments were made, we learned that we would be hosting a 16-year-old girl.  This resulted in some shifting of rooms and Wil sleeping on the couch for a few nights, but all was good.

One of my favorite memories was Hunter's goodbye dinner at Oscar's in Springdale.  Yuriko literally gasped when her hamburger was brought out.  For those of you who have been there, I am sure you have a good idea why.  For the rest of you, here is a picture:

By the way, dessert received a similar reaction, although a little more subdued.  I think she was still in shock from the Maui Burger.

As an only child of a father who is a doctor and a stay-at-home mom, Yuriko got to spend two weeks in the craziness that is sometimes our home.  During her visit, Hunter went back to school, Lela and Emily registered and started school, Rick had City Council and I had Planning Commission meetings.  She helped us set up the seed display for the County Fair, then went with us to the fair and back-to-school shopping.  She read scriptures with our family in the mornings and attended church for the first time in her life. She went with us when we went to vote, enjoyed Friday night pizza night from Dominos and Friday morning cinnamon rolls from River Rock Roasting Company.  She also enjoyed our favorite treat at the Big Chill and home-made ice-cream at Sandhollow.

According to her she ate more food than she ever does at home.  I hope all the new clothes she bought wasn't because she needed something that fit.  It was fun watching her take a picture of everything she ate to send home to her mother.

Although we couldn't get her on the carnival rides at the county fair, she did go canoeing with the Young Women in our ward.  She also hiked quite a bit and she was able to see a family of deer up close and not in a zoo, and a camel that was in a pen, and some rattlesnakes.  She learned to play Phase 10 and Uno where she held her own and seriously humiliated my children on the Wii.  She became more adventurous and my girls got to spend time with someone a little more gentle and soft-spoken than they normally are.

While there were times we never knew for sure how much Yuriko understood, we did learn that a smile and laughter transcend any language barrier.  And as far as Wil and his Japanese language skills, he got some practice in and was told more than once that he speaks very well.  Would we host a student again?  Probably.  It was a great experience for our whole family.

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