Grace Bailey studied the announcement posted in the kitchen of the Karuizawa Language School for missionaries.
Ralph and Sarah Taylor
Ruthanna, age 10
Arrival date: February 26
“Nicole, come look at this!” Grace leaned out of the kitchen and called to her older sister.
“Yeah, what is it, Grace?” asked Nicole. She walked into the kitchen and grabbed a handful of leftover popcorn from a big silver bowl.
Grace reached in for a handful, too, and said, “Look at this paper on the bulletin board. Didn’t Dad mention a new family moving here to attend the language school?”
“They have a girl my age!”
Nicole read the announcement silently. “They do, don’t they? Ruthanna Taylor, huh? God is answering your prayers for a friend, I guess.”
“She’s just a little bit older than me,” said Grace with a smile. “I’ll be ten in March. I wonder what she’ll be like.”
“Who knows?” said Nicole.
“She’ll love animals, definitely. Probably she’ll have short blond hair and wear jeans and a sweatshirt—a green sweatshirt, I think. Oh, I can hardly wait!”
“You don’t have that long to wait. February 26th is next week,” said Nicole. “Sounds like Mom is calling us. I think everyone’s going to start eating lunch now. We’d better go back into the chapel.”
“All right, I’m coming.”
The girls’ brother Levi met them as they entered the chapel. “Hey, what was taking y’all forever in that kitchen?”
“None of your business, Levi,” Nicole teased.
“A girl called Ruthanna is moving here!” Grace blurted out. “We were just looking at the announcement.”
“She doesn’t happen to have a brother or two, does she?” asked Levi. “I could use a couple more friends.”
“Nope, sorry. Looks like Ruthanna’s an only child. You’d better just start praying for friends, like I did!” Grace gazed around the table at the missionaries and their little kids, the Japanese teachers, and the food for lunch.
“Inorimasho, [Let’s pray,]” said one of the teachers. The Bailey family closed their eyes while the teacher prayed in Japanese. Grace couldn’t understand the prayer, so she thanked God silently that Ruthanna, age 10, would be coming to play with her soon.
The teacher finally said “Amen,” and the three Bailey kids looked up. The missionaries began to unwrap their sandwiches, and the Japanese teachers began to unwrap their riceballs.
“Mom did a good job with her Japanese prayer during chapel, didn’t she?” said Levi, biting into a tuna fish sandwich.
“She sure did!” Nicole agreed. “And Dad’s short sermon was even better.”
“I’m glad we don’t have to come to chapel every Friday, though,” said Grace. “Only when Mom and Dad have something to say. I hardly understood a word they said today, even after listening to Mom practice her prayer out loud all week.” She reached for a bag of Doritos and popped it open.
“Japanese is a weird language—but you ought to try harder, Grace. I’m picking up on Japanese pretty quickly, and that’s without going to language school,” Levi boasted. “Once we get out to the real Japan, away from all the English-speakers, I’m going to get some Japanese guys to be my friends.”
Nicole put down her sandwich. “Don’t talk about moving away yet, Levi. We still have another year before Dad and Mom finish up with language school.” She took a swig from her Coke can.
Grace said, “What am I going to do when we move away from Karuizawa, and I don’t know anybody who speaks English? Do you think life is going to be really different in ‘the real Japan’?”
“You could still talk to us in English,” Nicole pointed out. Grace rolled her eyes.
“But maybe we’ll move closer to the Douglas family,” said Levi. “Then we could get together more often. You and Eileen and Rebekah could play with your little plastic dogs again.”
“Yeah, that would really be nice,” Grace sighed. “I wish they wouldn’t have left Karuizawa. Eileen and Rebekah love dogs and cats and horses as much as I do. The Douglases were real good at Japanese, weren’t they? I think it’s because the girls went to school with the Japanese kids. I liked it when I visited their school that time.”
“When you went for Field Day?” Nicole asked.
“Yeah. I ran in races and played tug-of-war. When that new girl gets here, we can look at the animals in the encyclopedia and grade them on how cute they are. And we can swing on the swings in the playground behind the language school. I sure hope Ruthanna is a nice girl and likes animals.”
“Of course she’ll be nice. She’s a missionary kid,” said Nicole. “But I wouldn’t count on her loving animals.”
“Oh, I think she will,” said Grace. “Hey, I have an idea,” she whispered, so her dad and mom wouldn’t overhear. “What if Ruthanna goes to Japanese school? Do you think Dad would let me go too? I could go to fifth grade, or whatever grade Ruthanna is in. Then maybe I’d learn Japanese faster, and I wouldn’t have to study so hard at home, either.”
“I don’t know, Grace,” said her sister. “I’m pretty sure Mom would still make you do homeschooling in English, even if you went to Japanese school.”
“In all the subjects?” said Grace. “Couldn’t I skip math and English?”
“Dumb blonde! You hate those two subjects anyway,” said Levi. “You think Mom and Dad will fall for that?”
“Sure they would, if I gave Dad a back rub, and cuddled up to Mom right before I ask them,” Grace insisted. “It would be fun to be around other kids every day, even if I didn’t know what they were talking about. More fun than being cooped up in the house.”
“Well, if you want to start the school year when the Japanese kids do, you’ll have till April to talk Dad into it,” said Nicole.
“That gives me two months,” said Grace. She drew a deep breath. “I think I can do it.”
Meanwhile, Ruthanna Taylor was busy writing in her pink diary.
We are finally in Japan! On Thursday, we went to the airport, and flew to San Francisco. Then, we got on an airplane to Tokyo. That was the longest trip. We were in the first row of the second class, and there was a wall in front of us, instead of seats. So I lay down on the floor to sleep. From Tokyo, we went to Nagoya, and there we met the Elstons.
Of course, when we arrived in Japan, it was already Friday night because of the time change, so when we got to the Elstons' house, we went to bed. Actually, I played with Katelyn and Aimee, and we didn't really go to bed till after midnight. I didn't sleep at all that night, because I had slept in the plane. The next day, which was Saturday, I went to bed at 7:00 without eating supper, because I was so sleepy.
But I guess I should tell about what happened during the day Saturday before I talk about going to bed. Well, in the morning, Katelyn and I, who were sleeping in the same bed, went down to see if breakfast was ready. When we got to the kitchen, only Aunt Carol (Katelyn's mom) was there, but breakfast wasn't ready, because everybody else had slept in. Even Aunt Carol hadn't picked up the newspaper till 10:30, and she was the first one up. Anyway, since breakfast wasn't ready yet, Katelyn and I made it. We made pancakes. There was just enough for two per person.
Now on Sunday, after morning church, Katelyn and I pulled out a magic book and a craft book, thinking that we would put on a magic show that night. We started to work making a magic wand and preparing two of the magic tricks. We also decided to make a Mickey Mouse puppet and have a puppet show. We put eyelashes and a hair bow on our second puppet. Then we had Mickey and Minnie. Next, we turned over a wooden stool, put some pictures on the underneath part of it, and there was our puppet stage, scenery and all!
That night, we held a puppet and magic show. My Papa guessed all the magic tricks – but, too bad. It wasn't our fault.
On Tuesday night, Katelyn and Aimee had a tutor come to help them learn to read and write kanji. I went to the lesson with them. The tutor wrote some new kanji on the board, and we copied them into our notebooks. We played a game with kanji cards. The tutor called out a kanji, and the first person to put her hand on the correct card got a point. We each won a round of the game.