ACs and Emergencies… again?

So, we had to pay.  For the tiny little hole in the wall.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fiasco of trying to get an AC installed.  Nearly a month after we purchased the AC, today it was installed and I’m feeling glad to check that one off the list.  Whew!

The very, very kind AC man explained to me that he had had many calls between our real estate agent, who had called many times to the other real estate agent who called many times to the landlords.  Anddddddd then reverse the process!

Lesson of the day: things take longer in foreign countries. But with perseverance and patience, it will work out!

I’m still not entirely sure why we have to pay.  After all, we won’t be taking the hole with us whenever we move out of the apartment, which Lord willing, won’t be anytime soon. All I know is that AC guy said somebody said, “Dame” (dah-me), which means like “not possible, not allowed.” So, whatever.

Our AC works and it’s done.  That’s all I care about.

In other news, we had an earthquake today.  I happened to be washing some of our recycleables (oh the joy…) when the shaking began. I froze and then my phone sounded with an emergency warning, which completely threw me off and oddly made me smile at the same time.  So I grabbed my kid out of her highchair (she was watching some videos on the laptop) and got under the table.  And then it stopped.

But it was very good practice for what to do in an earthquake!

I have to say, I don’t ignore the earthquakes now I have a kid.

Ok, enough of the boring stuff.  Tomorrow I’m meeting up with a girl who visited our cell group last week.  I’m hoping to establish a good connection with her– she’s looking for a cell group to attend, as she recently got saved (awesome!).  I hope I can be an encouragement to her.  Immediately following, I have a discipleship with the young lady I’ve been working with.  We’ve been reading through a Japanese book that really lays a good foundation, going from “Is there a God?” all the way to salvation.  I feel like she has been responding so well and I feel like she’s even changed.  If you think of it, please pray for me to have the words of knowledge I need in the moments as well as some good Japanese.

But the Lord is gracious.  I feel like I’ve needed it in those special moments, He seems to come through my fuddled mind of floating kanji and verb forms.

So.  Today: patience, perseverance, preparation and provision.  Can’t get any better than that.

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TCKs

So I’m reading a book right now about TCKs- Third Culture Kids, a passing recommendation on Facebook by another missionary mom. What are Third Culture Kids?  They are kids of missionaries or military personnel who grow up outside of their passport country.  It’s like they grow up between worlds– adapting to, loving and probably more fitting into their adopted country, but never completely on the “in”, always a foreigner.  On the other side, though they look completely like they should “know” (“respond”, “act like”, “fit in with”) their passport country, they often do not and the skills needed in their adopted country are often useless in their passport country, whereas the skills needed in their passport country are often lacking.  Belonging is the scary word I keep reading about in this book.

Our child will be a third culture kid.  Actually, a fourth culture kid. As Vicente and I come from two different cultures (thus no one consistent culture at home), and our baby will grow up in a third culture, but not quite belonging to any of those. She will have her own fourth culture.

Anyway, it’s a very interesting book- Between Worlds Essays on Culture and Belonging by Marilyn Gardner. I’d recommend it to those in that position and for all ya’ll who know of some TCKs coming to America, perhaps on furlough, and what their particular needs might be.

There are a lot of things I identify with in this book, having lived outside of the States for 5.5 years in total now.  It’s not that long I know, but in those times, I’d very much adapted to my adopted countries and cultures. Until the time I moved at age 21, I’d been monocultural, knowing only my American logical ways, my ways of getting places and getting things done, my perspectives and opinions based on my views based on being an American (and every American has their view!).  But when you begin to adapt to another culture and their ways, learn their opinions, and do things the way they do them (for more than a week/month-long trip, etc.), you become bi-cultural.  And the thing is, you can never go back.

You will always be a foreigner in that country, no matter how well you speak the language, understand their nuances, what’s going on behind what they’re saying, or prefer the way they do things. That’s expected.  But the big shocker, at least for me, is that you are a bit of a foreigner at home too.

I remember feeling lost at home sometimes.  Feeling like I’d changed and I didn’t quite know how to interact, how to do daily things, how to choose lotion at the store (seriously, an aisle full of options!!). It was exhausting.

I felt it most when I moved to California.  Fresh off the plane from Japan, I felt baffled at times with how to relate to these West Coasters who knew everything pop culture and did everything so prettily.  At that time, I knew very, very few people and the last two years of American movies, books and music were a black hole for me. It was challenging for me to feel like I belonged, especially when my new husband did.

Thankfully, I adjusted.  It took time, and making my first friend, Emily, was a balm for my wound-up, tensed self.  She was the first person I went to coffee with, after 2-3 months of being in California.  She listened to my stories (she’s good at that), and asked questions, and without realizing it, helped me feel like I could figure this new life out.  I don’t think she realized that day what a major role that played for me, but I remember it all clear as day.

Anyway, this went in a whole new direction. These experiences and this book are making me consider what needs my daughter will face, and how I might guide or make this process easier for her.  I can’t do it all, but for those who meet her on American soil in the coming years, your understanding of her (without pitying her) and including her in things will make a great difference in her life and will hopefully help her to embrace (discover?) and feel comfortable in the American side of her skin.

Come and See

I’m happy to report that our little one is feeling better.  It’s been a very long week where I’ve seen the dawn almost daily.  And I’m a night person, so there’s no need to explain how I feel about that.

It seems like there’s so much going on right now.  But to highlight one of the many things, we have a special project going on called the Nathanael Project. Who’s Nathanael?  Did he found the project?

No. Let’s look at John 1. In this chapter, Philip is the one to originally meet Jesus.  Philip has an experience with Jesus, decides to follow Him and then goes back to Nathanael (“ahhhh”), a pre-existing connection, and tells him about Him.  Nathanael’s not so convinced, but in verse 46, Philip says, “Come and see.”

So the Nathanael Project is something that cell groups do, where those who are believers and are being discipled target 2-3 of their connections.  As a group, we gather all our names and each “Philip” prays for everyone’s Nathanael’s by name everyday.

This is great, but there has to be a “come and see” moment- a goal… not just vague “someday” prayer.  So, we pray and pray everyday and work on developing our relationships with those people.  After prayer and scheduled fasting, etc., we plan an event at the end of 2-3 months.  It’s a big party, and our goal is for every Nathanael to come to that party.  During it, we focus specifically on connecting with our Nathanaels and that they can see how awesome Jesus (and church life really is).  Of course, there’s an invite to participate in cell group, which is our goal to get them to stick.  Once they are integrated, it’s only a matter of time before they decide to follow Jesus and become discipled.

We’re about 3.5 weeks into our Nathanael Project for our cell group.

But what I really love about this is that it’s very focused evangelism.  It’s specific prayer for the ripening of certain fruit.  Of course, any other we can grab along the way is awesome, but the fact that newer believers are participating in this really reinforces the reality that disciple-making is not for pastors or missionaries.  It’s for believers.  All of them. And this is not too daunting, it’s just purposed.

It’s a group effort, and multiplication can only be the result.

ACs and Emergencies

“Hai… Hai..  Wakarimashita!” A few more “Yes, yes, I understood”s later and I hung up the phone.  I turned to my study partner, Rosie, and mentioned that it was Yano-san, the real estate agent from church who most of us foreigners have used to look for apartments.

“I had to contact him because the electrician came to see if we could install the AC we got for Rosalyn’s room, but there’s some kind of problem with the outlet, as in it’s not set up or designed for the air conditioner. So we had to get permission to have a hole drilled in the wall and a wire run over two rooms to the breaker.”

“Wow, that’s really impressive that you arranged all that in Japanese,” she said.

“Yeah, but the thing is, I couldn’t tell from the context of the conversation if we have to pay for it or if the owner is paying for it.”

She laughed.  “Yeah, there’s a lot of that in Japan.  Yes! Yes!  I understand. What’d they say? Who knows!”

“Yeah, I guess I’ll find out the day that they install it what’s going on!”

Living in another culture requires an extraordinary amount of a) prep work and thinking ahead and b) going with the flow.

Today, I messaged a Japanese friend to ask some advice.  Rosalyn had had a fever of over 100 for nearly 24 hours and I wasn’t entirely sure what to do.  I asked my friend when she usually calls the doctor.  Of course, she corrected me– you don’t call the doctor here, you always take them to the clinic.  Of course, I knew that but it’s just my way of saying it.

I told her what our American doctors would say and she just said that she’s taken her kids with a lot fewer symptoms than Rosalyn had.  So I did.  I took along my American meds I’d given her, all the paperwork I thought I might have need of and went in.

Seems it’s only a cold.  I’d rather be safe than sorry.  But beyond my reconfirming all the details with the doctor to check my comprehension of how to give her the meds and what I needed to do about some insurance paperwork I have that’s now expired (sigh), it got me to reviewing.

What would I do if her fever were to go dangerously high? What number do I call?  I’m not talking about doctor’s numbers, I’m talking about 911.  Because it’s not 911 here!  There’s no nurse hotline here.  Where can I take her at 3am if I need to?  All those answers, as a mother, I have to know ahead of time.  It concerns me to make sure I can communicate clearly, and that we are prepared in case of emergency.

Some could accuse me of a lack of faith.  I’d say, no, that’s called being a responsible parent.

I absolutely have faith and trust God for healing.  I trust God that He will keep her safe.  I’m not too concerned about a little cold, it’ll build her immune system.  But in some cases, it’s not enough to just go with the flow and figure it out as it happens.

I’m not entirely sure where this blog is coming from. But it’s just been on my mind, that unlike what someone innocently mentioned that it’s just like figuring it out in the States, but just in another language, to this I’d say, no, it’s nothing like it.