One year ago today, our plane came to that screeching halt on the runway that throws you forward and signals the long awaited arrival in a new city.
We took a deep breath. Though we didn’t say it, we saw the excitement and the apprehension in face of the other. The memory of our loved ones’ tear streaked faces and choked last messages were fresh wounds still in our hearts as we waited to arrive at our gate. Still, I grabbed my husband’s knee, looked at him and said, “This is the beginning”.
We presented our papers, received our new identification cards and maneuvered through customs with three luggage carts piled high.
It was almost surreal as we drove through Tokyo, on a new side of the road with exits on the wrong side, signs that gave us little sense of where we were, and city lights galore that bedazzled our eyes.
It was just the beginning.
Since then, we’ve come a long way. A year ago, we were constantly attempting to search through suitcases, convinced it was in that other bag. Tonight, I sit in my tidy living room, the light of the Christmas tree illuminating picture frames and book-lined shelves.
We’ve traveled miles and miles of road on the language map. Vicente this evening was even texting some in Japanese while I read through paragraphs and paragraphs of my Japanese book on the train, one hand holding onto the hand rings to maintain balance.
We’ve explored the city, discovering our surroundings and learning those things that surprisingly become pertinent to cultural acclimation– from who sells the cheapest fruits and veggies, to what areas need some serious prayer work, from what train stations are not stroller friendly to where to get a real slice of pizza if you really need it. You know… the kind without corn on it.
We’ve asked lots of questions. LOTS. How do you say ___ in Japanese? What just happened in this situation? How do I respond without taking sides in a disagreement?– I better choose my words carefully in this new language! Are Chinese and other Asians considered foreigners or just Westerners (we were surprised- just westerners are considered 外国人- foreigners or outsiders).
We’ve had moments of excitement, overflowing joy, that top of the mountain type feeling. We’ve had moments of frustration, mountain ranges of challenges and disappointed tears.
And still, it’s only the beginning. At the end of one year, we feel gratitude. It’s been an unspeakable privilege to have begun discipling one person each and see them coming to faith, growing in the Lord, and excited for what He has planned. It’s a small beginning, but it’s a beginning. We pray that we will be able to share the message of God’s love with many others as well in the coming year and see them grow in all that God has for them.
Though we’ve changed and grown throughout this last year, we haven’t arrived. There’s more to learn. We’ll do all of the above more and more this next year. We will have more challenges, but we will also see more victories.
The best is yet to come.
Thank you to you many, many wonderful people who have all contributed in making year one possible. May He receive all the best.