Our Australian visitors have been here a few days now and I've asked them to do a couple of guest posts. To help you understand his "ravings", they have two children a son who is nine and a daughter who is six. Also, the disclaimer is: these are our visitor's opinions, not mine!
Today we have David H.'s perspective:
Visiting super missionaries and experiencing Japanese culture . . . with children.
Travelling to visit super missionaries takes on a whole new meaning with children. It really changes the perceptions that you may have by helping you see the world through different eyes . . . children's eyes.
Firstly, children have no preconceptions about anyone being super, no hang ups of anyone being better just because the are "called" or have any special ability – nope the parents are purely secondary . . . the real question is (in their eyes), do they have children . . . and what age? The whole discussion centres around which children we are going to visit . . . and who are we going to play with?
So in essence, in the children's eyes, we are visiting the Marshall kids . . . who are the parents? . . . "what they do" is not a question that even enters the equation.
Secondly, travelling to other countries takes on new meaning and new perspectives when you travel with children.
The kids top three experiences in Japan so far could be summarised as . . .
Within 10 minutes of arriving in a new country with diverse views and outlooks along with a rich and diverse tapestry of culture . . . we discovered the toilets. They have buttons, lots of buttons, the best one is the blue one and the objective is to get your sister to sit on the toilet and get her to push the blue button - the suspense is extended as she doubts your good will, "what does it do?" . . . "is it safe?" You convince her to sit on the toilet and then push the button . . . after a delay that surely has made you age, she cannot stop her own curiosity and bashes the button with a mixture of excitement and trepidation and is rewarded with a high pressure water jet going up out of the toilet. You are rewarded with a high pitched squeal followed by an extended silence . . . then the button is pushed again and again . . .
After that there is the green button . . .
Materialism rules over everything, especially when it comes so cheaply. Japan has 100 yen shops where everything and I mean everything is 100 Yen (oh yeah plus 5% tax) – which roughly is AUD $1.25 for each item. Before we arrived to the country we thought we were wise parents and decided beforehand to give the kids a generous 2,000 yen spending money for the entire trip. 50% of which was blown away in 20 minutes in a compulsive spending frenzy in one of these super 100 yen shops buying stuff that frankly will not make it home . . . To add insult to injury all of it was made in China . . . To add salt to the wound almost none of what the kids bought had any relationship to anything Japanese – well if you can draw a relationship with buying four small plastic water pistols has anything to do with Japanese culture I would be interested to know . . . it does have a lot to do with wanting to blast the other boys away in some park shortly . . . with the usually collateral damage done to a certain father who is currently wondering how he can enjoy some form of Japanese cultural experience . . . did I say that we are wise parents?
Fun and adventure is where you find it with children. After the toilet and possibly the 100 Yen shop the third on the list is the bucket in the bathroom. After a hard day running around a park, in "Rascal Mountain" with said water pistols – mixed with dirt resulting in mud caked on so hard you think it was done in a car detailing oven, the kids were summarily ordered to "scrub that stuff off or we will do it for you" . . . the mistake we did was to send them into the bathroom together as we thought it would save time . . .
To place this in context the Marshall's live in an area where the houses are on 120 metre square blocks of land, with a road set back by around 200mm with the neighbours windows so close you can literally reach out of your window and close your neighbours windows if they are open. Further the walls are made of almost paper (some of them literally are - which is another story on playtime and breaking walls with paper planes). You can also easily hear your neighbours dental hygiene as they gurgle two doors down . . . so we are all pretty close. (Editor's note: the bathroom windows are directly over the street, so any noise made there is heard easily by the pedestrians walking or riding by). What makes it all worse is the Japanese are very quiet even at home . . . maybe because they have learnt that everyone can hear everything that is going on in the house in the next street.
Add to the mix children told not to waste the water . . . so what do they do – they use the buckets to conserve water but . . . . . the buckets are also just big enough that they can squeeze into them bottom first. The fit is so tight with the water that the bucket gets vacuum sucked on so that it sticks and can only be forceably removed resulting in the walls of the bucket vibrating at just the right frequency to send out a very loud (I do not know how else to say it) FART. This is followed by hails of giggles, quiet whisperings and minor gruntings with an eventual repeated loud, low frequency, wall vibrating, noise which could be heard some distance from the house with the consequential large Japanese audience . . . without doubt including many neighbours. The process is repeated for some time with the volume increasing at each attempt with the associated laughter getting louder and louder . . . until . . . silence . . .
then a cry for help . . . "Mum I'm stuck . . ."
So much for a Japanese cultural experience with children to encourage super missionaries . . .