Living in Japan seems to entail a series of contradictions and paradoxes. On the one hand, we've been here for a few years and have figured a few things out. On the other hand, we are still very ignorant of many aspects of the culture and language, and often feel adrift. Thank goodness that the missionary life has nothing to do with how adequate we are, and everything to do with how capable our Heavenly Father is!
The past three days have been a blast—and not once did I remember to take pictures! We thought we would share some highlights with you here.
Day 1 (Jan 26)
The morning started off great, with lots of productivity: before lunch we had managed to take care of the regular maintenance on our car, write thank you notes to our partners, and plan the coming week's lesson for our kids' ESL class. I was feeling pretty proud of myself along the way to our next task: getting some money out of the bank so that we could take care of a bunch of errands.
That's when everything fell apart. The bank card for our main account wasn't working. It took all afternoon to figure things out with the bank, and in the end we discovered that the card itself had stopped working. The bank would send us a replacement, but it would take a week to arrive. We shook our heads at a wasted afternoon.
We had arranged to meet our friends Theo and Trent for dinner that evening (if you need to refresh your memory about them, you can read more here and here). We hadn't seen Trent since coming back to Okinawa, and it was great to reconnect with him. Since we saw him last, Trent had shut down his restaurant and reverted to only working a single job: as a nurse at a local hospital.
At one point in the conversation, when Trent found out that Peter plays violin, he got really excited. "It would be great if you could come to my hospital to play violin for the elderly people on their birthdays!" he said. He asked Peter to learn three old Okinawan melodies for this purpose. We will ask one of our church friends to write out the music so that Peter can practice.
When Trent heard that Peter is trying to learn the sanshin (an Okinawan three-stringed instrument), he invited us to come to his music lesson on the following evening. He, too, is learning the sanshin. We arranged to meet again then.
Day 2 (Jan 27)
Having successfully transferred our money to a different bank account with a different card, we were finally able to access it. We managed to cram two days' worth of work and errands into this day—I don’t know how to explain this other than to say that God enabled us—and were still were able to finish in time to have dinner and meet Trent at 5:30pm at his hospital. Phewf! From there we went together to the sanshin studio where Trent has his lessons from 6-8pm.
We met the instructor and his wife, and really hit it off with them. They invited us to join them in playing at an Okinawan sanshin festival in March, but we were unfortunately already booked for that day. ("That's okay; you can join us next year, then!" they said. We agreed.)
They asked us to consider coming back for lessons, and now we've come up with a plan to work sanshin into our schedule and keep building into this exciting new relationship.
After we were done at the studio, we came home to prepare for some lunchtime guests we would be having over on the next day.
Day 3 (Jan 28)
In the morning we had our kids' ESL class. At the end we ferried some of them back to their homes, and hurried to finish preparations for our lunchtime guests, Penelope and Percival (if you need to refresh your memory about them, you can read more here and here).
Percival, a physiotherapist who is extremely skilled, is in very high demand and is currently going-out-of-his-mind busy. Meanwhile, Penelope has really been struggling with her health over the past few months. She was just diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning and has been battling extreme fatigue, headaches, and several other symptoms.
I've been praying for her, and asking God to guide me in when to let her know I was praying. I didn't want prayers to Jesus to get lumped in with prayers to her other 8000+ gods. And I also was hoping that Jesus would show her the difference in effectiveness that prayers to Him make, as compared to prayers to other gods.
In preparing for their visit, I'd said, "God please help them to feel the difference in Your Spirit in and around us, as compared with the spirits that they pray to. Please—when we pray for Penelope in her presence—please heal her quickly so that she knows her healing has come from You and no one else."
I will share more about Penelope and Percival in our newsletter, but for now I will say that we had a truly wonderful time with them. We talked, and laughed, and ate, and shared stories. And we did indeed have a chance to pray for them. Our visit finally ended at around suppertime.
We are now asking for swift and conclusive results from our Heavenly Father, the Gentle Healer.
As we reflect on the past few days, Peter and I can't help being amazed at how God has opened several new doors for us—to deepen our relationships with Trent, Theo, Penelope, and Percival; to meet Trent's (and soon-to-be-our) sanshin teacher and his wife; and to eventually meet new people at a local hospital. What a wonderful declaration from our Father that even when—especially when—we are inadequate, He is more than enough!