This past summer seemed to be marked by coincidental meetings. We ran into so many old friends, just by accident. Herewith, a few of the friends who crossed our path--some planned reunions, and some happy surprises. . .
Yeneer Merino, former Saipan Teacher.
We ran into Yeneer at Barbara's parents home church while we were still in Ohio. Yeneer was our 1st/2nd grade teacher, Barbara's first full year as principal in Saipan back in 2002/2003. She was also co-director, with me, of REAL Christian Theater. She'd just taken a job teaching first grade at Bab's high school alma mater, Spring Valley Academy. We were so happy to see Yeneer! A week or so later we took her out for Ohio's finest pizza and ice cream--LaRosa's and Graeters. It was fun getting caught up and reminiscing old times. She misses Saipan a lot and hopes to return someday soon. We hope she comes back too. Yeneer is a gem!
Liane, Babs, and the oldest Farris daughter, whom I nicknamed "Lenzeeno" when she was my student in Saipan.
At church in Kailua, we ran into the Farris family. We last saw them at their home in Singapore when we were there with the 8th graders in March. Well, they came back to Hawaii, where Liane is from, for the summer, and it just so happened that their last weekend of their summer in Hawaii, was our one weekend there. The whole family was there except for Terry. We were sorry to miss him, but it was great to see Liane and the kids again. The Kailua church is Liane's home church since she was a little girl, so she and her kids were active participants all throughout the service.
Babs and I with Aya Sato.
Seeing Aya wasn't an accident, but it was still a pleasure. We've known Aya as long as we've been in Saipan. She was a student at the SDA from kindergarten through the 9th grade. Her connection with the SDA community continued after she left the school through her involvement with REAL Christian Theater where she was a student director for three years. She graduated from NMA/NMC a little more than a year ago and moved with her family to Hawaii to continue her college education. Aya and I have stayed in touch via e-mail, and we decided to get together while we were in Hawaii. Aya had just flown in from her summer vacation in Japan the morning of the day before we left, but fortunately she wasn't too tired to get together for coffee and catching up at Barnes & Nobles and dinner at Ruby Tuesdays with Barbara and me. It was fun to see her again!
Tyce Mister, friend and fellow teacher from Saipan.
Tyce, a long-time Saipan resident and teacher at Marianas High School, who we befriended (along with his wife Angie) through Marriage Encounter, was flying back from States via Maui where he spent a few days with his mom. We both happened to be on the same flight out of Honolulu , and I spotted him a few rows ahead of me soon after we boarded. He decided to join our new preschool director Amy Foote (who was also on my flight) and I on our excursion into Narita during our layover in Japan. The picture above was taken at one of the temples on the grounds of the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple complex. The three of us had a lot of fun hiking the grounds of the temple and feasting on ice cream cones and fresh juicy peaches on our walk back through the city to the train station. I even managed to find a nice Japanese teapot for Babs!
A video of Tyce, Amy, and I adventuring in Narita.
Behold! Bab's hotel, the Narita Mercure!
Just outside the train station in Narita I spotted the hotel where Babs would be staying that night. She, also, was winging her way to Japan on a different flight from us and her connecting flight required her to overnight in Japan. We arrived a few hours ahead of her. It was about that time I realized that I might be able to arrange another surprise encounter. It occured to me that Babs would be landing in Japan before my flight left for Saipan. Wouldn't it be great to surprise her at the gate? Unfortunately, welcoming someone at the gate of an international flight turned out to be far more complicated than I'd thought, and I ended up unable to "run into" her.
The Rankin Family in Japan
As I was seeing Amy and Tyce off on their flight to Saipan (I was on yet another flight that would leave a few hours later and route through Guam), someone called my name. I turned around and it was Gina Rankin! She, along with her husband Ricardo, and their three children were on their way back home to Rota, via Saipan after a long vacation in the States. They chatted for a few minutes before boarding Tyce & Amy's flight.
Unfortunately for them, (but fortunately for us!), their long journey would turn out to be a little longer. They missed their connecting flight to Rota and ended up stranded in Saipan. Gina and the girls were eventually able to get on a flight Friday morning, August 3, a few hours after I landed in Saipan, but Ricardo and his son were stuck until Sabbath morning. So they came home with me and stayed with us until then. Though the circumstances were frustrating for him, it was nice for us to spend some time with Ricardo.