Konnichiwa! That's the sweet little salutation I enjoyed saying over and over on my trip to Okinawa, Japan, a couple of weeks ago. And some of the friendliest, most beautiful people I've ever encountered would smile, bow their heads humbly and counter my Southern American version of their word for "hello" with an authentic Japanese greeting.

Oh, how I loved my visit to Okinawa!

Except the excruciatingly long flights there and back. But I'll not whine about that, since the days in between were some of the best I've ever had.

I was invited by the PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) of Kadena U.S. Air Force Base to speak at their annual spring retreat March 9-11 at Okuma, a military resort on the island of Okinawa. So my traveling buddy Kim and I agreed to "make the huge sacrifice" *wink*wink* and fly around the world to meet some of the most lovely women you'll ever encounter. These are the wives of our air force, army, navy, and marines serving in the far reaches of the world. These are the moms of our military kids, keeping the home fires burning in a foreign land, helping their children adjust to a different kind of life, and serving with optimism and gladness of heart while they are thousands of miles from the places they call home.

While I'll tell you a little about my week in Okinawa, you need to know right from the start that the highlight of the week was simply making these new friends, or sisters as they call themselves. My life has truly been enriched from this experience and from becoming "sisters" with these brave, determined, lovely, and godly gals. They are not only serving their country well by remaining at their husbands' sides, but they are serving as a light for the glory of God in a very dark part of the world. Their husbands are our national heroes, but these ladies are my heroines. And I know our Lord is pleased with their service as well.

Me and Kim with a few of the 
PWOC gals on Monday when we 
toured the Shuri Castle in Okinawa.

Kim and I landed in Okinawa a couple of days before the retreat so that we could adjust to the time change before the big weekend. So on Thursday we enjoyed doing a little shopping with some of the ladies. We also visited the Foot Doctor where we had a unique kind of pedicure, as you'll see in the pics below.

Kristie Nix (the PWOC Retreat Coordinator 
with whom I am MOST IMPRESSED), 
myself and Kim getting our "pedicure."

This is why I looked like this...

But I survived!

On Friday we headed for the retreat center in the care of Rachelle and Carrie. We lunched at a decidedly Italian eatery--which is always a good thing--and then played the tourists at a pineapple plantation. We laughed so hard! And boy howdy, did we enjoy some pineapple!

 Rachelle, myself and Kim preparing to enter the world of pineapple!

 Me and Carrie sampling some pineapple vinegar...surprisingly not bad.

 Kim has threatened me with my life if I post one more picture
of her eating something, but, hey, this is what we came here for!
The pineapple was to die for. And besides, we're all three 
stuffing our faces with the sweet stuff!

Evidently this was the place to take a final photo at the pineapple plantation. 
All the Japanese tourists made these little
peace signs when they snapped photos,
so we followed suit.

Here's Rachelle and Carrie in the back seat of the little 
pineapple car that drove us around the plantation.

 Here's a shot of someone else's little pineapple car. It was 
raining, so we had rain covers on the cars.

 I'm posting another one of me eating pineapple to make Kim
feel better.

Everywhere we went Japanese tourists wanted
us to pose with them for pictures. Sometimes
they just wanted pictures of us and other
times they wanted pictures with us. So we
got in the habit of asking for photos
with them too. Here's Kim with some 
young Japanese women we met at the
Pineapple Plantation. They were all so pretty
and friendly. Very happy.

From the Pineapple Plantation we ventured on to Okuma. This is a lovely little resort used by military families. The water surrounding it was crystal blue and the beaches were strewn with sea glass, a treasure everyone collects from the sand.

It was rainy and overcast when we arrived in Okuma,
but the water was still blue. These photos definitely
do not do the beauty of Okinawa justice.

So I'll sign off here for today. Within a day or two I'll post more pictures and information about the retreat itself. As much as I enjoyed touring Okinawa and learning about this tiny island, I LOVED sharing the messages of Satisfied...at Last with this group of women. So let's talk about that in my next post. 

But as I say goodbye for today, I'll leave you with a few more photos of our first few days in Okinawa. 


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