Thursday, November 1, 2012

Two weeks in...

Joshua in front of our ride to Nagoya on 10/17/2012
Today marks the end of our second full week in Nagoya.  In fact, it was about this time 14 days ago that our wheels touched down at Chubu International Airport and we began the next phase of this adventure we've been on for the past two years.  In one way, it feels surreal to think that we've already been here so long.  It's even more surreal to think about how long it may be before we're back realize that we are in fact home.

Our biggest challenges these past two weeks haven't had anything to do with the transition to Japan.   Everyone except Josiah has now been sick with what I'll call a bad, long-lasting, chest cold.  Lot's of coughing, low grade fevers, and generally feeling yucky.  And it seems it will never end (7-10 days to run its course).  Garrett, Joshua, and I are now on the mend, but Gina's still in the thick of it. 

On Sunday, we also got news that Gina's grandmother had passed away unexpectedly.  She had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous lesion on her liver, and she died of complications related to the surgery.  Up until that moment, Skype and email had seemed sufficient to keep some semblance of connection with family and friends at home. But technology can't give or receive a hug...and that's what everyone needed.  The cost of this calling began to feel a good bit heavier than it did before.

Our home for the next year or so...
In spite of sickness and sadness, we've also experienced a lot of joy these past few weeks.  When we arrived in our new home, there was already a card waiting for us from home.  Some precious friends took the time to write a note and sent it on ahead of us.  There was also a loaf of homemade banana bread in the fridge from our teammates here - along with a welcome note telling us how happy they all were to have us here.  That first Sunday at church was overwhelming in many ways, but there was a steady stream of people who approached us to introduce themselves and genuinely thank us for coming.  The Japanese Christians are conscious of the fact that we've made a big sacrifice to be here, and they come across as being very grateful.

These past few days, I've thought about how much of our ministry will be built on the foundation laid by those who've gone before us.  So much about our transition has gone smoothly because we're joining a team that's been on this field for a lot of years.  They were here to welcome us, stock our fridge...bake us banana bread.  They've planted a church where many of the members speak relatively good English, where there are friends for our boys, and where there's an elementary school for Garrett to attend.  The team has relationships with people all over Nagoya who trust them...and whom they can trust (trust is something that's incredibly important and hard to come by as foreigners in Japan)

Steps leading up to one of the many temples in our city
The current team inherited many of those relationships from teammates who plowed even harder soil before them and have long since retired or gone home to be with Jesus.  And before our missions agency (MTW) was ever born, there were Christian missionaries in Japan who were laying down their lives in the face of bloody persecution to bring the Good News to the Japanese.  There's such a legacy here, and it helps me to remember that we're now joining a work that the Church has been laboring at for many hundreds of years.  More importantly, it's a work that the Holy Spirit has been doing long before we sensed His calling to come.  It's moved quite slowly to this point...only God knows what lays ahead.  But we feel honored to be here to play some small part in bringing the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this dark land.

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