Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016 and Happy New Year from the Biesingers!

Merry Christmas from, Geoff, Rachel, Kai, Hana, Aya and Aya!
メリークリスマス あけましておめでとうございます  

What an amazing year it has been for our family! As most of you know, we spent January-June running the Mikuni International College in a rural mountain town in Japan and loved it. You can read about our adventures on our family blog at if you are interested. This was our girls first time to Japan and we had so much fun introducing them to some of our favorite places, food and people. Geoff was the principal and Rachel was the vice principal (aka the mom) of the school so we were all very busy. Hana and Aya loved playing with all the students.  We lived near the school along with all of our students who came from all over Japan and we really became a family. We love and miss our students and Mikuni staff so much! Geoff is continuing to work with Mikuni as the principal of their Ejuku (online) classes and we keep in contact with all of our students. In fact, one of the Mikuni students, decided to come to the U.S. for her last 2 years of high school and is now part of our family while she is doing that! Her name is Aya Nagano, so yes, we have 2 Ayas in our family!



Our Mikuni family in May at the dinner dance-miss you all so much!
私たちのファミリー ダンスパーティーにて とても寂しく思います!
When we came back from Japan we moved into a home in Riverton, Utah, close to Daybreak where we lived before. We love our neighborhood, ward and schools here.

While we were traveling we also had the opportunity to go to Hawaii again! It was so great to see our Ohana there because we miss them a lot. Love and aloha to all of you! And thanks so much for your hospitality Murdocks, we loved spending time with you!


Quick update on everyone:

Kai stayed with another American family in South Jordan while we were in Japan so he could keep going to school here. It was kind of funny that he was in the U.S. while we were in Japan! We had the chance to meet his family in person while we were in Kyoto and we all got along really well. They took us to a really cool secret Ninja hideout themed restaurant and it was amazing!
With the Sawai family in front of the cool Ninja restaurant in Kyoto

Kai is a senior at American Heritage now and is continuing to enjoy his B Boy and Hip Hop company dance classes. He had the opportunity to choreograph and teach dances to other boys in his class for the fall concert and it was really fun to watch. He graduates in June!


Kai and Aya blowing out the candles on their cakes at the Bushman family August birthday party
Kai playing with Hana and Aya 
Aya (Nagano) had her whole life change when she and her parents decided to have her finish high school here in Utah this summer. Now she is here, as part of our family and doing really well adjusting to doing school in English, American culture, having siblings etc. She also goes to American Heritage and is learning the guitar, sign language and Quidditch along with all of the regular classes. We’re so happy to have her here with us! 

The first time we met Aya at our school, last February. In this picture we have 2 Ayas and 2 Hanas!

Kai and Aya's first day of school this year at American Heritage in South Jordan in August
Hana is in the 5th grade now and is loving her teacher and new school, here in Riverton. She loved living in Japan and some of her favorite things from that experience were: becoming friends with all of our students (and Japanese girls her age wherever we went!) eating lots of yummy seaweed and Japanese candy, going to Tokyo Disneyland and being spoiled by her Japanese grandparents.

Lamby and Hana enjoying some delicious ramen at a place near our home in Japan.
Aya (the younger) is a 2nd grader and is enjoying it a lot. She also loved Japan and some of her favorite things from the experience were: playing with all of our students and in the playroom she and Hana had in the school, seeing the baby monkeys that lived around our school, eating chicken katsu and chocolate eggs and collecting the little toys that come inside and also going to Tokyo Disneyland and being spoiled by her Japanese grandparents.

Aya blowing out the candles on her R2D2 cake at her Star Wars birthday party for her 7th birthday!

Geoff and I (Rachel) finally started the business that we’ve dreamed of for a long time! We work to help Japanese students succeed in college and ESL programs in Utah and Hawaii. I really enjoy being the American mom and arranging the right school and living situation for each student, Geoff great at using his schooling and experience to help our students make progress with their English and their studies at school. We really think studying here is very beneficial, but challenging so we are working hard to help as many Japanese students study here as we can. We are also continuing to run our organizing business and I love helping people simplify and organize their lives. I also teach meal planning classes and love all the people that I meet that attend those. We are really busy running these 2 businesses but we love doing what we do!

With our Japanese family, the Ishiis in Gifu! We love them so much and they treated us like royalty both times we stayed at their home! 
 We are so thankful for all that the Lord has blessed us with this year. We have had so many amazing experiences, grown closer as a family and learned we can do challenging things with Heavenly Father's help and direction. We are so thankful for our Savior and to love celebrating Him this Christmas season. We are continually amazed and thankful for all the wonderful people He puts in our life. Thank you so much for all your love and support.  We love you all and hope you all have a wonderful 2017!

At the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, UT

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wonderful weekend with a baptism of & visit to Tokyo Disneyland

During the week break between our winter and spring semesters we were so happy to be able to drive down to Yokohama to attend the baptism of one of our dear students, into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) after some wonderful talks with her roommates and friends at Mikuni who are members she came to gain her own testimony of our church being true and decided to be baptized. Many of our students had traveled from their homes in varies parts of Japan to come to Hana’s baptism to show their love and support and one of our new teachers, Jessi drove down with us. It was a sweet experience and we all felt the spirit and our Heavenly Father’s love.

Aya pointing to the lei we made for Hana to show some aloha. She loves Bananas and chocolate so that's what we put in it :)

While we were in Yokohoma we were kindly invited to stay at the home of a colleague, Joy Yuasa, of Geoff’s from teaching Japanese days at BYU. Since then she had married a great guy named Masa and they have an adorable baby girl named Maya. We had such a wonderful time staying in their home and getting to know them. They are such fun, friendly and awesome people and we became fast friends. Maya was adorable and loved Hana and Aya. In the mornings she would call for them. :) We hope they will come visit us at Mikuni sometime soon. Love and thanks Yuasa family!
On the front steps of the Yuasa's home. I'm so sad I didn't take pictures with Joy and Masa and of their cool, old Japanese house! 

In the van with Maya-chan

We also attended church in Yokohama, Hana’s ward, and enjoyed that so much.  Such loving people there! I love going to church wherever we are and meeting the local people there.

Here we are at the church nursery with the little kids of this ward. The girls loved it and I really enjoyed chatting with the sisters during this. I usually go with Hana and Aya to primary so I can translate for the primary teachers since our girls don't speak much Japanese yet. (One of the sad things about living at an English immersion school where no one is allowed to speak Japanese.

The day before the baptism, Friday,  we decided to take the opportunity to surprise the girls and take them to Tokyo Disneyland for the day since it was on the way to Yokohama.  Our new teacher, Jessi, (who was immediately adopted into our family and taken on this road trip just a few days after arriving in Japan and was totally cool with that) came with us and we had so much fun! The girls favorite rides were Splash Mountain, Star Tours and the teacups. It was really fun to hear all the familiar characters and animatronic animals speak in Japanese! 

We caught a Frozen show with Elsa, Hana and Olaf, a great parade and the really cool light/fire/firework show that they project on the side of the castle.  
From the Frozen show in front of the castle. Ana, Elsa & Olaf all speak Japanese very well! ;)
The cool light, fire work show
 We also met up with one of our students that was also there that day so that was fun too.

Tokyo Disneyland is very similar to the original one in CA but it’s on a little smaller scale land wise so everything is a little more close together.  They have most of the same rides but not all of them and seem to have a few that aren’t in CA. Since it gets cold there in the winter the main street (not main street U.S.A.) is covered by a huge glass ceiling.  We saw very few foreigners and the place was just packed because the Japanese people love Disney! Tons of people were really decked out in Disney accessories, hats and entire costumes, and often you'd even see high schoolers in matching outfits. 

3 girls in matching mini costumes (random pic I found online since I didn't take any pictures of this while we were there.)

There is also another park next door called "Disney Sea" that is kind of the same idea as California Adventure that I really want to go to someday. It's the only Disney Sea park in the world. 

The Disney Sea park next door

Main Street
Cinderella's Castle

The castle at Tokyo Disneyland is Cinderella's castle instead of Sleeping Beauty's like it is in CA. You can see the Frozen troll flower beds they had while we were there in front of the castle.

The price is also quite a bit less than the one in the U.S. One of the fun things that they have there are collectible popcorn buckets shaped like different Disney characters and Disney items that have a strap so you can wear them around your neck. They are all the rage in Japan and it seemed everyone there had one. Apparently after you buy one you can bring it back with you to Disneyland and get cheap(ish) popcorn refills. They have several yummy flavors of popcorn sold all over the park. 

The R2D2 bucket we wanted to get...

The R2D2 bucket was adorable and we all decided we would get that as our one souvenir from the day but were sad to find that they only offer 2 kids of popcorn buckets at a time and R2 was not being sold :( I even startled a Japanese high school girl by asking here where she bought her R2 bucket and she told me she bought it quite awhile ago :( 

Ah well, maybe it was for the best since the buckets were pricey and as a professional organizer I know what usually happens to trinkets you pick up on vacation!

Image result for tokyo disney popcorn buckets
These are little filled mochi desserts made to look like the Toy Story Aliens and they were delicious! I like the chocolate cream filled one best.
In Toon Town 

Anyway, it was a fun day and total change of pace from what we’ve been doing.

I have to mention that Geoff drove the van all the way from our school in the mountains through crazy Tokyo traffic, to the tiny (and I mean so tiny we had to slowly back out of some of them because our van just wouldn’t fit!) streets of Yokohama when he had never done anything like that before. The driving he is used to in Japan is in the country where there aren’t a whole lot of other cars and wider roads. He’s so amazing!

In the van!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Geoff took me to Japan for our 11th Wedding Anniversary! ;)

Our Winter semester ended on Friday and what a semester it has been! We have been so busy that I haven't had time to blog like I had planned so I hope to squeeze in the time to add blog posts when I can.

This is backing up to February again...

We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on February 16th. When some of our students found out it was going to be our anniversary soon they offered to babysit the girls for us while we went on a date! It was so fun to go out and spend time with just the 2 of us. Our first night off since we've been here. We went to a yaki niku restaurant that is close to our apartment and it was delicious! Yaki niku means "grilled meat" and is really fun because you have a little grill at your table and cook the thinly sliced meat and vegetables that you ordered and then dip them in a delicious sauce. Unfortunately the pictures I have are terrible because my phone only takes good pictures outside in full sunlight but here is what I have.

Here is our meal of rice (which is so delicious in this reason)

Mikuni's got talent!

Wow, our time here in Japan is just flying by! We have never been so busy but we are really enjoying this adventure. I decided I had to make time to finally update this blog!

First I'm going to back up a few months and tell you about some of the fun events we had at our Mikuni school in February.

I get to teach the Modern American Culture class and I love it! I decided that we needed to start this class so I could help prepare the Japanese students for some of the cultural differences that can be hard for Japanese students when they first come to school in America. Since Geoff and I have had about 18 foreign students (most of them Japanese) come and live with us since we’ve been married we’ve seen a lot of these challenges first hand. Some of the things I teach in my class are: participating and contributing to class discussions (in Japan the students are expected to just sit and listen to their teacher with out asking questions, giving comments etc.) the differences between dating in Japan and in America (and wow, are there a lot!) food, cooking, facebook, gmail/googledocs, greeting people/being more out going, eating and cooking in America (where we don't use the metric system!) etc. I have really loved this class and I think the students do too, even though I make them do things that are completely out of their comfort zone! One of them was teaching them how a dance works and having one for Valentine’s Day. All of the students were so nervous and did NOT want to dance but after teaching them the basics and putting everyone on committees to get everything ready (music play list, refreshments, decorations, sound system etc.) when the dance actually came everyone did awesome and really enjoyed it! I’m really proud of my students because dancing is NOT something most Japanese people do! (Unless of course it’s Obon and they are doing the traditional line dances all together.)

Everyone getting read for the dance to start

Eventually I did get the boys and girls to dance together ;)

Some of our Mikuni ladies

Aya enjoying the awesome refreshments we had

I told the students what the term "wall flower" means and here 2 of them are demonstrating it for me :)

As if I didn’t put them out of their comfort zone enough, the next week we had a talent show and I told everyone well in advance that participation was mandatory.  And wow, Mikuni’s got talent! We were blown away by everything from guitar playing to baking to speaking Pigeon (that was Aya) to video game tutoring to my very favorite, a boys band!  Let me explain a little about this. Several of our boy students live in a lodge(cabin) instead of the apartment building like everyone else. We naturally started calling them “The Lodge Boys” and so I told them with a name like that they really should start a boys band. I would often remind them, jokingly, to practice singing and dancing and they did it! For the talent show they did not one but several song and dance numbers in boys band style. It was awesome and hilarious! When they get famous I’m totally telling everyone it was my idea :)

Lodge Boys!

One of our talented musicians

The cup song

Our lovely hostesses for the evening

A hilarious skit 

I love our students!