We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

I’ve had some people ask me if I’ve noticed anything that’s different here in Japan from the last time that I was here.

Yes.  Some things, some things no.

For example:

-Sales tax has gone up 3%, and is about to go up another 2%.  Previously, I spent a great deal of time at the 100 yen store (aka the dollar store, but waaaaay better and less shady), and with taxes it was always 105 yen per item.  Now it’s 108.

-I’ve found flour tortillas in the stores.  Granted they’re about $5 for like 4 of them.  But the point is- you can find them. Along with more foreign foods in general.

-Baby carriers.  Everywhere.  But perhaps that’s just because now that I’m a mom, I notice it more.  And probably because out more during the day when moms are out, as compared to early mornings and late nights, when mommas are at home.

I’m sure there are plenty more things… but right now, I can only think of things that have been updated.  And projects that were being worked on before (malls, train stations) that are now finished.  More smart phones… but that’s in America too.

But in many other ways, Japan is still the same.  Some things I had forgotten how much I loved:

-The extremely helpful and patient Japanese who have lots of mercy on me as I sputter out what I need to get accomplished and they fill in the blanks to help.

-Toilet seat warmers and rug warmers.  Enough said.

-Great Japanese foods: Rice balls with a sweet, sticky sauce.  Japanese curry-stuffed fried bread. Yakisoba. Sesame seed dressing. Mikans (tangerines/mandarin oranges), grilled sweet potatoes as a snack, taiyaki.  So many good things.

-That feminine Japanese voice that is used everywhere.  It’s kinda strange but ya miss it at the same time.

-Convenient marts (conbinis).  You can go to the atm, print docs for your next meeting, buy a full meal, get some stamps, buy a tie and pay your bills all in one stop.  I’m pretty stoked that our new apartment is literally next door to a conbini.  Really.  You have no idea.

-Walking.  Everywhere.  And measuring everything by how many minutes’ walk it is to such and such a place.  And remembering how shaving 30 seconds off your route makes a world of a difference in busy Japan.

As soon as I post this, I’ll think of a million more things that I should have put down.  But perhaps I’ll save them all for a follow up post.

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Week One

Hello hello all!

Well here we are– we’ve made it one week in Japan.  Exactly one week ago right now, we were about an hour out from Tokyo and were getting situated in the airplane to be able to land.  It was at this time that I finally became a little sleepy and caught at 15 minute nap at the end of a 12 hour flight.

Figures.

Anyway, we made quite a spectacle, with a baby and a stroller and 10 loaded suitcases.  We had to have an airport lady help us push the carts through and out of customs.  We were quite literally a caravan.

There are still moments where we can hardly believe we’re here.  But people were looking forward to our coming, which is always encouraging.  Rosalyn, as if you had any doubts, is well loved here.  Certainly the star of the family, she has adapted pretty well to the time difference (thank you for praying) and to the cold and to being carried in the “carrier” a lot.  We see more Japanese women carrying/wearing their babies as compared to pushing them in a stroller.  It’s certainly easier than carrying a stroller up and down from the 3rd floor.

Our two practical accomplishments this week:
-We found an apartment we like love.  Well– we’re waiting for an answer, which we hope will be received tomorrow.  Sometimes landlords do not like to rent to foreigners, and some families here have been rejected in their application of renting a certain apartment.  Still we know that God has the perfect place for us, and if it’s not this place, it’s something better.

-Vicente got registered to start school in January.  Some of the other team members are going to the school so it seems we are well known as being part of the church group.  🙂  It was awesome to see my teachers from the past– I was surprised some of them remembered me!  They were excited to meet Rosalyn as well.

My Japanese is coming back surprisingly well!  I’ve been able to manage a lot of situations on my own and carry on conversations.  I even made a new friend on the airplane who lives about a half-hour away and we plan to have a play date sometime next week or the following week.  But I am thankful to God, who I know is the one who is helping me to recall words that I didn’t often use in Japanese and now can quickly remember how to carry on.

We’ve went to the Fuse Leadership Training, church service, small group, prayer meeting and have had lunch/dinner with different members of our team.  So, we are getting involved here slowly, but are excited at the doors that God is already opening.

Will be writing more later!

Undervalued and Overlooked

‘How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”’ Romans 10:14-15

I was sitting on a huge double-decker plane some 2..2? 3? days ago, my daughter in her car seat next to the window, my husband and I holding hands.  We had shed tears… heavy tears… in saying goodbye to our loved ones, in packing our belongings and our hearts to move to a place far, far away.  Even as the plane backed away from our gate, we were still sniffling and wiping our eyes.

As the jet began racing down the airstrip and taking off into the air, our fingers were still intertwined, trepidation in our hearts.  How would it be?  Would we be successful at what we were setting out to do?  Would we adjust well or struggle?  Would we make good friends? Would we have a great connection with our team members? Would our support base hold up? How would our families do during our absence?  Lots of questions as up, up and away we went.

In the few moments as we ascended into the clouds in silence, I became alert to my surroundings. I was looking up at the plane Christmas decorations hanging above the windows.  Overhead, we listened to a wonderful piano Christmas music.  Not just any music… a hymn.  I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it, but it was one of those you’ll be guaranteed to sing during the Christmas service at church. 

All of a sudden, it hit me that this was what it was all about.  Going to a foreign land, becoming Japanese to Japanese people with the purpose of sharing the wonderful news that Jesus Christ did the same thing for us.  He became human to bring us the Good News– to BE the Good News.  He died in our place, gave His life for us that we might have a relationship with our heavenly Father.  And we, in a very very small sense, were heading to a foreign land to give our lives so that others may hear.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to talk with many people who said, “Oh you’re so brave”, “Oh, you’re doing such a great work,”… We don’t feel particularly brave, certainly not the caliber of brave that missionaries centuries ago possessed.  But, to these people, I have attempted to communicate that:

We are unable to go without you.

There is absolutely no way that we would sitting in Asia today without senders.  Perhaps that is the most undervalued and overlooked part of the verse quoted above.  Yes, we need go-ers.  But the go-ers need the senders.  The senders are like the fuel for the car.  The car is great in an of itself, but the car goes nowhere without gasoline.  Gasoline is very useful in and of itself, but without being put to purpose in the car, it doesn’t produce anything.  Together– together we accomplish so much.

In anything accomplished here that gives glory to God, you share in that.  May the Lord be praised in Japan, through all of us.

So, as I am sitting all jet-lagged out some 5000+ miles away, please know that you, as a supporter, are an absolute necessity, a completely vital part of Mission Japan– of bringing the Gospel to Japan.  We don’t forget that.  If it was not through the Lord bringing us together, we would not be able to accomplish this purpose of sharing Jesus with the Japanese who really need to hear it.

So thank you.  We miss everyone already, but we are excited to see what the Lord will do.  Please continue to pray for us as we get settled and learn, learn, learn!