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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Asia (02/26/09)

TITLE: Nikko
By Mary McLeary


Judy Maxwell was very impressed with the first class section of International Flight 61. Unfortunately, she and her husband Don passed right through it to economy. Safety information was given on the movie screen and they were handed menus for lunch, snack and dinner written in English and Japanese. The flight to Nirita Airport in Tokyo would take twelve hours. After nine hours they had eaten lunch, a snack, watched two movies, worked two crossword puzzles and Judy had read over half of the new book she had brought.
Judy and Don were on this trip because Don, head coach of the local college, had been invited to spend a week coaching a club team at a sister university in Japan. When Don got the invitation he immediately said yes and made arrangements for Judy to go along too. This would be a great way to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
They arrived in Tokyo at 2:10 p.m. on July 5th. Because of the time difference they had a very short 4th. The host university had sent a car to take them to the campus in a city another five hours away. They also sent a student, who had visited the college in America, to act as a translator. The trip was interesting and they arrived at their destination about 7:00. After being up for 24 hours, they collapsed into bed.
They ate breakfast in their room, instant coffee and breakfast bars that Judy had brought from home. At 9:00 the university car arrived and took them to the campus where they met the president and members of the team Don was to coach. Gifts were exchanged. There was a great deal of smiling and bowing, but only a little conversation. The Maxwells soon realized that their hosts understood English, but hesitated to try to speak it to the Americans. The people they met were very gracious. Judy later wrote in her journal, “I like people who are nice to me. That may be seen as a shallow approach to life, but so what. Today everyone I met was nice therefore I like them all.”
The feeling was mutual. The Maxwells radiated a warmth and joy that their hosts were drawn to. During the week, Don and the football players practiced long hours on a primitive field. The language barrier was overcome with the help of a player who was learning English, lots of sign language and football films Don had brought because he knew a picture really is worth a thousand words. At the end of each session Don would give the team a “thumbs up” and they would return his gesture with a collective bow. The guys worked hard and by the end of the week they had made substantial progress.
One day while Don was working, the university president arranged for Judy to go on a very special trip. Accompanying her were Atsumi who spoke perfect English, the driver and one of the professors from the university. This excursion of a lifetime began at 8:30 and they didn’t return until 7:30 that night. This is what Judy entered in her journal that evening, “After driving up the beautiful mountains we arrived at Nikko National Park. Atsumi said, ‘We will go up to the Shogun’s home.’ We climbed about two hundred steps and seemed to step back in time. There were many beautiful pagodas surrounding a courtyard. However, this was not the Shogun’s home. Atsumi said, ‘We will go up.’ We climbed many more steps to his home. Atsumi said, ‘We will go up.’ We climbed more steps and finally reached the Shogun’s impressive tomb and more steps to reach the Buddist temple. When we arrived at the temple Atsumi said, ‘You may now pray for something – a safe trip perhaps?’ After catching my breath I told her with a grin that I had been in constant prayer since we started climbing those steps, and my prayers had been answered because I had made it!”
The good company of travelers, Nikko Nation Park, which was fantastic, and the roar of an exquisite waterfall combined to make a perfect day. Psalms 91:11 says, “He shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways.” Judy always thought of her hosts as angels. They guided her and Don so they would have wonderful memories to share with friends and family. Judy prayed that her new friends had also felt God’s love during their visit.

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This article has been read 387 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/06/09
I had the pleasure of a few days in Japan. The Japanese are wonderful people; the country spectacular. Thanks for the memories.
Karlene Jacobsen03/07/09
I'd pray too, given that many steps to climb. With my asthma, I'd need a miracle, LOL.
An enjoyable read.
Ruth Ann Moore03/10/09
I loved your first two lines. They made me chuckle. Good story.