Friday, November 13th, the fourth graders from Josiah’s elementary school, ChuoRinkan Shogakko, had a field trip. All the students were divided into groups of 4 or 5 and each person was assigned a role within the group. One person was the leader. Other roles were co-leader and cleaner upper. Josiah’s role was “hokkengakkari”, or medical care person. He had to carry tissues and bandaids and be prepared to help if anyone needed them.
Josiah, never having gone to the station by himself, met with another 4th grade boy, named Mori, so that they could go to the park near the station where all the other students were meeting their groups. The groups had been divided into larger A, B, and C groups. When they went to the train station, one group at a time would buy their ticket. The teacher had told them that it was good practice to buy the ticket, to prepare them for when they were adults. Then they had to wait on the train platform. Every few minutes, one A,B and C group would get on the train while others waited until all the groups had gone. The train ran about every 5 minutes.
Two or three parent volunteers were at the station to make sure the kids behaved and got on the correct train. The students rode the train without an adult in their small groups to the next station, got off the train, and transferred to another. A few more parent volunteers were also at the station to help direct the students. Akira had been able to be one of the parent volunteers.
Then they rode the train to their final destination. In total, there were about a hundred students. When they arrived at their final stop, they exited the train and walked about ten minutes before starting the hike up the mountain. Along the way were several check points with parent volunteer helpers waiting. The students carried a folded card that was signed at each check point. In this way, the students were kept track of.
While walking up the mountain, there was a place with a stone statue. All the students were encouraged to bow and pray. While they did, Josiah prayed to Jesus that that they might know the true God and not pray to idols.
Once the students reached the orange orchard, the three 4th grade classes finally met up with their teachers waiting for them. Josiah joined his teacher, omura sensei. They picked oranges and were allowed to eat as many as they could within a given time period, and then were also allowed to carry ten oranges home. Josiah said he ate probably 10 or 15 oranges. They were so delicious.
Then they hiked further up the mountain on a long and steep staircase. Once they reached the top, they went to a small park. They sat around on their “leisure sheets” or small personal size picnic tarps and ate their bento lunches.
The whole day was such an interesting experience for Josiah because the students were so independent, and yet totally responsible for one another in their group. Japan is safe, safer than America, and it is not unusual to see small children riding the trains by themselves. But for Josiah, this was a new experience. Having spent most of his school age years in the US, going somewhere on a train without an adult was frightening. He spent the whole week worrying and praying that he would not get lost. When he got home, the first thing he said was, “It was so fun! And I didn’t get lost!” It was a great experience for him. And what a wonderful opportunity for him to pray for his classmates.