Steve and I had the unique pleasure of hosting a student from Nara, Japan in our home for a week. His name is Takato. It was his very first time in America, and we got to be his American family for 7 days. He was gone with his school for most of the day, but we had him in the mornings, evenings at 4:30, and the entire weekend. We tried to pack in as much fun, good food, and American culture (or as American as you can get in Provo, UT) as we could while he was here. It was really entertaining getting to watch him experience new things for the first time, and in turn, share a little bit of his own culture with us. The kids warmed up to him quickly, especially Vinny. Takato has a passion for sports, especially soccer, which you can only imagine made for a great match with our family. Vinny was in heaven kicking and throwing the ball with him around the house, and Steve was in heaven watching soccer games with him in the evening before bed.

We all had a really great time getting to know him. He was so kind, respectful, happy, cute, easy going, well-mannered, good sense of humor and nice to the kids. I thought he had a pretty good time too. There is quite a language barrier - enough to get by, but I was never always sure if his smiles wherever we went or with whatever we were doing or eating were just out of kindness or genuine enjoyment. It wasn't until we said our goodbyes this morning, and he started CRYING (yes, crying!) that I felt pretty confident he had enjoyed his stay. It was so tender and so sweet. He even left little notes hidden around the house (the drawers of his bedroom, the bathroom, and the family room) thanking us for his stay. And some notes written to each of us individually that were so sweet and kind.The kids especially loved the little origami house with our family drawn in the window that he left on his bedside table for us. You guys, I wanted to keep him! I hope his parents know how lucky they are!

I really didn't expect this experience to be as rewarding as it was in such a short time. But I feel like we really lucked out on our end by having him with us. He is a good kid - and do I dare say I came to love him? I really miss him!

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