Saturday, February 27, 2010

Confessions of a Conference Disliker

I'm not much of a conference-goer. I'd much rather be doing, than discussing the doing. Sit and listen has never completely fit my learning style. I'm greedy about how and where I invest time and energy...who isn't?

But when we determined we needed to be in the States briefly, and when American Airlines graciously allowed me to book multi-city award travel, I jumped at the chance to fly to Seattle for a few days to be among co-laborers reaching Japanese for Christ. What a great time the "Reaching Japanese for Christ" conference was!

The worship, messages, testimonies, seminars and, yes, even the food and weather, were all great. The ideas and resources I gleaned were very helpful. But what made the conference particularly fulfilling for me was the opportunity outside of our ministry and country of service context to be among people who completely understood my calling, passion, and challenges in Japan. Our times in the States rarely have this dimension to it. Thank you, RJC2010 staff, for making this conference such a worthy investment of time. It was an empowering and satisfying oasis from which to return to life and ministry here in Japan.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicago Forecast: Snowy with a Chance of Re-entry Shock

Snow and re-entry shock were two surprises waiting for us back in Chicago upon our arrival.

We scooted into Chicago on Monday just ahead of the big snowfall on Tuesday. Okay, just a couple inches or so. But coming from comparatively warm Tokyo, it's been awhile since we saw this kind of snow! Justen enjoyed sledding with a home church member -- what a rare and wonderful treat for him!

Re-entry shock is something we always struggle with when out of the States for a long period of time like this. We've written about this experience here and here and here on this blog. In essence, the values, dreams, ideals of our host culture of Japan become the ingrained norm for us. We become surprised by how far apart they are from folks in our own homeland. Although we want to find belonging and yearn to identify ourselves completely with our home culture, we have been changed significantly in ways while we were gone.

And people, places and things have also changed significantly. Absorbing the many changes all at once is quite overwhelming. It all brings about a sense of alienation, confusion, and frustration. The strongest feeling is that I have simply missed out on being a part of the journey and lives of friends and if I've been asleep while they've all moved on. This is part of the missionary complexities that we are learning to deal with as best as possible for our mental health.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Here Comes the Real Winter

We had a record snowfall here in Kawasaki last week -- the most in two years. A whole 2cm fell here around us. That's right, 2cm. Students everywhere in Kawasaki continue to be disappointed by another year without a snow day. Still, Justen found enough snow to make this 4inch snowman.

So, we've been blessed up until now. But here comes the real taste of winter. Tomorrow we head to Narita airport and board a plane for Chicago. The forecast there calls for snow, cold, wind...the real winter. And we get to spend two whole weeks in this glorious winter wonderland of Schererville, Indiana.

Strangely enough, I'm looking forward to the change of pace with the weather. So much green year round just doesn't feel natural to one born and bred in suburban Chicago. I feel a sense of shame (very infrequently, mind you) from enjoying such a balmy mission field. One day back in the frosty temperatures might change my opinion, but for now I look forward to embracing the real winter again! Chicago here we come.