Rambling Notes from Japan
Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.
Back "Home" Again
It is that last point that bears emphasizing. After two years away from the States, we expect things to be different upon our return. But along with that feeling is a general sense of disconnect with things that is hard to pinpoint exactly. There is the sense of being a foreigner to your own culture that always manages to sneak up and surprise me when we return home after a period of time like this. Slight reverse culture shock is part of that, but there is more. Slowly my point of reference and identification has drifted away from the North American axis, to points east...far east. It's only upon coming back and scraping against my own home culture again that I come to realize how lengths of time in Japan have changed me.
Well, enough with the introspection for now. There are many things to do during our three week stay. Justen is going back to Lansing Christian for a week to reconnect with his school pals. Kaori and I are speaking in four different churches, and connecting with many more people. Phone calls and personal matters. Shopping and family. It all takes a bit of time. But we relish this great fall weather to experience it all in. More later.
Seeing only Half the Show
I found a restaurant in our neighborhood that actually serves what they call "American" hotdogs. It does indeed look like an American hotdog. The bun is a plain white one. And the dog is short, thick and juicy (not the long, skinny Japanese kind.). It even comes with packs of Heinz ketchup and mustard, unlike the Japanese mustard that is some hot Chinese dristan type that clears your sinuses.
The crowd along the river was estimated to be in the hundred thousands, so we distanced ourselves by watching from a park a half kilometer away. Lawnchairs, hotdogs and chips in tow, we watched the show. Felt just like the Fourth of July, but this was August in Japan to be sure.
This year both Kawasaki and Setagaya had their fireworks shows simultaneously along the river as part of a combined coordinated show. Unfortunately it was impossible from our viewing angle to see both parts of the show at the same time. One was immediately in front of us, the other directly behind and to our right. The couple of hundred of others in the park had the same difficulty. Some and oohhed and aaahhhed at the fantastic display in front of them, only to miss the fireworks going off behind them. Some tried flipping their attention both ways and probably went home with a very sore neck. There was no way to see the whole show at once.
This reminded me of how limited our perspective can be as humans when it comes to God's Firework Show: his fantastic work in multiple places all at once. In fact, he is at work in billions of lives at the same time around the globe, yet our focus so often is only on the one life here, or there, that we seem His hand at work, and even that is a limited perspective. How limitlessly more fantastic the show would be for us if we had a broader perspective. If, for even one moment, God were to give us a birdseye view of all He is doing, I know we would certainly join the angels in saying "Holy holy holy!" He is powerfully at work in so many places. Being a missionary has opened my eyes to just a bit of this reality.
A Thorny Refuge
Yet how often God does the same for us. Though he may not spare us from the pain. He builds a place of safety and refuge in the middle of it all. A place we can find refuge and peace. We trust him. He cares for us. It seems too childish. Too simple. Yet God makes that promise to us through his prophet Nahum. While trusting, we wait and watch for Christ's return. That will be joy!
Why indeed? Why change to fit culture? And so for some time I've debated whether to create this blog. It seems a bit self-focused. It definitely is pop culture. But in my mind's eye I see a future missionary. He is no longer swayed by the old ways of communication. He is connected. He wants the personal touch, not the distant missionary in faraway lands. He wants to know and explore and sense his world in ways the old communication methods just can't satisfy any more.
I want people like this to understand our challenges, know that we are real people, and be challenged to pray, give, come or educate others about missions. And so we want to redeem this technology for just those purposes.
So here it is! The first post of our blog. We'll be writing and updating things here regularly, adding bits of culture, ministry, family life, and prayer needs. So check back frequently!