Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Humbling to be so Needy

Members of Nisshin Church at the Fall picnic last Sunday
     These past few weeks have been very humbling for Gina and me.  We've gone from living in a place where we were mostly competent and self-sufficient to one where we're functionally illiterate, unable to communicate basic ideas, and as a result very needy.
     It's been getting cold outside, and last night I decided to fire up one of the kerosene heaters we'll use to warm the house this winter.  I went to the gas station, bought some kerosene (an adventure in itself), and then topped off the tank in the heater.  The heater itself is more complex than its US counterparts with buttons and digital readouts all over the front.  Of course, each button is clearly Japanese!  I finally did get the heater to light, and it warmed the house nicely. However, I'm not sure which combination of things actually resulted in ignition, so I'll be starting from scratch tomorrow morning!
     Everything in our lives right now is like lighting that kerosene heater.  The buttons on the microwave oven and the washing machine are all written in Japanese - as is the owner's manual for our new (to us) Toyota van and the labels on everything in the grocery store.  It seems like we need help with almost everything!  By the way, this experience has given us a different perspective on some of our Spanish-speaking neighbors back home in Asheboro, but that's a blog entry for another day.
     So, through this transition, the Holy Spirit has been giving us a better view of our weakness.  At the same time, He's been mercifully providing for our daily needs through His Church here.  Our teammates and the Japanese Christians who attend Nisshin Christ Church have been so helpful and patient with us.  I'm pretty sure that someone from our team has spent time with us EVERY DAY over the past month.  When we've thanked them and apologized for taking so much of their time, they've assured us that helping us is their joy, and they're so pleased to have us here on the field.  We feel humbled and grateful for the welcome and constant help they've been to us.
     The Japanese Christians at Nisshin Church have also received us warmly.  Within 48 hours after our arrival, one of the church ladies knocked on our door to take Gina to the grocery store and teach her how to cook a Japanese-style meal.  Another lady took us to City Hall to register our address and then helped us open bank accounts.  Someone else spent their whole Saturday translating for us at the cell phone store to get us set up with phones, and a team of 3 ladies are taking turns meeting with us each week to help with basic language acquisition.  I could go on, but you get the idea.
     The Church here is very (very) small, but God has people here who've welcomed us with lavish generosity.  They're able to do that because they've experienced the lavish, welcoming love of God through Christ Jesus.  He received them when they were aliens and strangers because of their sin, and now they're showing a similar welcome to us.  It's a marvelous picture of God's grace drawn around our new-found weakness.
     I wish I could tell you that we'll be independent again in a few weeks, but that's probably not reality.  We'll need a lot of help (and prayer!) for a long time.  And in the process, God will get glory as He continues to show Himself strong through our weakness.  Thank you for praying to that end!


  1. Hi Jeremy! Greetings from Ishinomaki. So good to hear you arrived in Japan at long last. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing updates regarding your adjustment to life in Japan. Indeed, Japan has a special way of making one feel humbled to the dust. Many times during my 4+ years in Japan I have thought to myself that God is surely far less concerned about what we missionaries can DO in Japan (which by human standards seems so little in the stages when we are unable to speak or read or do much of anything independently) and more concerned about refining our character and hammering away at our incredible pride and arrogance. I would encourage you to rejoice in your weakness and embrace it with all you've got. Many missionaries simply quit after language school because it's too much. I often wonder if they quit because they couldn't handle feeling so helpless for years on end. The humbling thing is that even when you have the language "down pat" (like my husband does) it really pales in comparison to having a godly and patient character. God bless you as you begin your journey in Japan! -Danielle Krammel

    1. Hi Danielle!

      I saw this comment through an email a couple of weeks ago. I tried to respond, and it didn't go through...I just now realized I had to do so here. Sorry for being slow!

      It's great to hear from you and to know that things are going well up in Ishinomaki! Thanks also for the encouragement in your comment. I think it will be a long time before we have ANYTHING "down pat" - so realizing that god delights to use weak things/people to accomplish his plans is very reassuring right now.

      Please pass along our greetings to your husband. We look forward to the opportunity to meet you one of these days!