Today I intended to write an update. Today, I had plans of coming home from our Sunday afternoon stroll along the river next to our home, sitting down, and writing a fantastic update about all the wonderful things we’ve experienced, the challenges we’ve faced, and our daily joys and struggles since coming to Japan. I still plan to do that, but first let me tell you about my night.
6PM – I set dinner down on the table and begin eating, only to realize the package of soft, squishy noodles that I used actually came packaged as uncooked noodles. Dinner has to go back on the stove to make it able to be stomached/complained-over while we chew. Disturbance level- Negligible: Continue with Project Update after apologizing to family for the unpleasantness in their bowls.
6:45PM – Sit down to begin writing blog and notice that when our website went down a month ago, it never fully came back. All web updates and blog posts since November 2015 are gone. Disturbance level – Medium: Make important updates to website, then continue Project Update
7:20PM – Urgent calls from the kitchen. There’s an ant. No biggie, we just dispose of the tiny fella and… and 97 of his tiny brothers and sisters, apparently! Bust out the vacuum and bleach. All is well for the moment. Disturbance level – Annoying. I mean they’re just ants. But Tracy made cookies, and I’m almost convinced to eat warm chocolate chip confections instead of write but, no. Project Update is still a go!
7:55PM – There’s a message on my phone. Oh, and it brought a friend! My phone screen is now cracked. I set it down on the tile floor to vacuum ants, and it cracked (the phone, not the tile). My new phone that I just bought in Japan because my US phone is illegal to use (more on that later). My new phone that doesn’t have insurance. Cracked. Disturbance level – Moderately High. Scatter in the frequent errant child incident, encroaching sugar coma, and sundry distractions, and Project Update seems a bust…
Over the past two months there’s been phone issues, mold issues, ant issues, bike registration issues, light bulb issues, heater issues, stomach issues, language issues, website issues, all keeping me preoccupied and busy one way or another. And tonight, in my mind they all added up to this thing. We are supposed to be in Japan, you are supposed to be a part of this journey with us, and “someone” doesn’t want that to happen. I serve a God who doesn’t lose these types of fights unless we wave the white flag, so here I am; your humble servant with too many excuses. Without further ado-
Project Update: 3/5/17 8:57PM (UTC +09:00) Tokyo, Japan
It is awesome being in Japan! We have felt nearly at home from the moment we arrived. We had two families precede us to the field that we had been in near-constant contact since our Pre-Departure Orientation with TEAM in 2016. They each have two young girls near our girls’ ages, are about the same age as us themselves (I’m the oldest for a change!), and share a love of guacamole that has brought us close over the past year. Add to that list several other families we had grown close to since joining TEAM and we had a great support base to come “home” to. We had meals arranged for us for the first month, and that went SOO far toward helping us adjust more quickly.
Month number one was spent mostly setting up house. We moved into an empty-ish apartment with loaner futon (mattresses you put on the ground) and bedding, plates, towels, necessities stuff. All this had to go back to its original owners eventually, so we made the rounds to the 2nd hand stores, Japanese shops, and the dreaded/beloved IKEA to get the things we needed to live. We purchased most of our furniture from 2nd hand shops and this one particular Japanese store called Nitori. This brought trial number one, because the couch, bed, table and chairs that we ordered on DAY 3 of being in Japan weren’t scheduled to be delivered until DAY 34. You would be surprised how difficult it is to relax after a day of ramming about Tokyo when you only have a few folding chairs and a floor mattress to do so on! But the couch came, the table is great, and the new bed doesn’t grow mold. (HINT: The Japanese don’t pick up their futon mattresses every day just to make space. read-black mold. Lesson learned).
Trying to get cell service in Japan is decidedly difficult as well. You have to have a credit card, but it can’t be American. Also, you can’t get a Japanese credit card because you just got here. This company over here will let you use your US card, but wait, your phone isn’t certified for use in Japan (it’s a new thing since you bought those phones you researched intentionally for use in Japan). After three weeks time and five full days of trying to get phone things to work (with the help of some VERY patient TEAM members) TEAM JAPAN comes to the rescue and opens a corporate account so we can use the new phones we just bought for Japan (The one I just cracked. Yep) All is well now, and within that month we had the opportunity to get to know many of our new TEAM mates, and are excited to work with them all in the future.
Month number two brought language study! In the second week of February, Tracy and I went back to school for the first time in a long-ish time. (We aren’t that old yet 😉 The Japanese language is beautiful! It is so full of nuance and care – so intricately formulated to convey meaning. It is also nothing like English. In fact it’s considered one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn. It is a challenge we readily accept, however. Tracy and I are in separate classes with different tutors. She is with our two missionary mom friends, and I am with one of the new missionary dads. Even though we are so new to officially learning language, it is so very encouraging when we are out and about and we hear a word or phrase we can pick out and understand. It’s also fantastic when there is a question asked and you actually have an answer in Japanese! Again, we have a long way to go and would appreciate your prayers for increased brain capacity, but we love having the chance to learn. We also started attending a Japanese church. Two Sundays in and we still don’t understand much of anything, but the people are so friendly and seem eager for us to be able to speak with them. We are looking forward to getting to know our fellow brothers and sisters more as our language grows.
Ella is loving school. Jemma is itching to start hers. All of us love travelling on our bicycles, even if we get rained on occasionally. The sushi is delicious, the people are friendly if currently unable to be understood by us, and there is a joy underlying all the unpleasant moments we’ve experienced that speaks of a God who cares deeply.
Pray for patience – In-between the rays of sunshine, it IS difficult to live in a new place where you can’t speak the language. Pray for patience and grace for each other as we grate on one another, and for patience and grace for ourselves as we make those inevitable foibles and faux pas.
Pray for an ability to learn – There is so much we need to learn! Language, culture, train schedules, recipes, which milk is milk and which is a yogurt/milk amalgamation. Pray that God would open our minds to absorb the things he needs us to learn to be an effective blessing.
Pray that we would remember who we are – When you’ve failed for the Nth time that afternoon, or said something unkind, or skipped lunch, it’s easy to forget that we were called and equipped by the Maker of All Good Things. When we are quick to understand, accomplish a challenging task, or just have a really nice day, it’s easy to forget that everything we have and everything we bring to the table amounts to nothing unless God is at the center.
Thanks for keeping up with us on Facebook! For those of you connected, it is a great way for us to post daily tidbits of life here in Japan. We hope you find it gives you that sense. If there are certain aspects of life you would like a closer glimpse into, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do 🙂
Also, there will come a day when there will be things we can’t share on Facebook. So keep an eye on your email or our website for some more in-depth insights in the future. Thank you for being a part of this with us!
We love you all.
ps: That photo at the top is not my screen. My screen crack is minimal if terribly annoying. Full disclosure 😉