10 June, 2010

Are you any different?

On Tuesday night we were invited to a meeting of the committee that helps run OMF here in Queensland. It was kind of like a debrief for us and an informative time for them. We gave a brief report (like we've visited 25 churches etc.) and then they asked us questions. You'll know, if you've followed this blog this year, that "Questions" has been a bit of a theme. They didn't ask us easy questions (like "Is it winter or summer in Japan now?"), but they did ask good questions, thoughtful questions. One was, "Compared to when you went back to Japan in 2005 for your second term, how are you different?"

Took a little bit of thought, this one, but it is worth thinking about. First of all I'd need to explain the context of our going back. We served our first four years in the northern island of Japan. Second term was to be Tokyo. Almost like a different country - different shops, different public transport, different expats to get to know, skinnier roads etc. First term was language learning and church based ministry - where both of us were home for portions of the day most days. Second term was to be David working a "day job" away from home - teaching at CAJ, and I was to be the mainstay at home for the children. First term we had one, then two children. Our third was born during home assignment, so we went to Tokyo with three - one of which was only three months old.

We had a huge number of changes occur in a very short space of time. Going back to Japan last time was almost as challenging as going there the first time. Thankfully we didn't have to learn a new language, though. That might have bust us.

Going back this time we're heading back to similar ministries. At least David is. I'm going back to things I've been planning for for a while. Our living situation is similar to our previous term. We already have friends there. We know where to get things. We know how to get around. Our boys are going to a school we are familiar with. We have a doctor, a dentist and a hairdresser. We know how to drive to the immigration office (an hour away). AND all our kids are school age and much more independent. They all sleep through the night, which helps during stressful times!

But back to the original question. It is hard to judge, but we must have grown through all the challenges we've faced. I think we are probably steadier in the Lord. We've experienced intense loneliness and survived. That has to change you. Maybe only others can see it. I wonder.

One other aspect I gave was regarding our feelings about the future. Five years ago we didn't have much of a sense of how God was leading us in the longer term (except that it seemed to be to persevere with mission work). I didn't have a pervasive feeling that I could manage in the longer term in Japan. It was more a case of living week by week. Not long after we returned, however, I remember thinking - "Yeah, I think I can do this. I think that I can think of living here for a long time." Hard to explain, but real at the time. Now we feel like we've found the place God has been preparing us for and we can see ourselves persevering at CAJ for a long time, if God doesn't move us into something else.

This is hard to explain. I hope I've managed. If you've known us for a while, maybe you'd like to comment on whether you've seen us change over the years?


-J said...

This matches up with the research which shows that it takes North American missionaries 3-4 years to adapt to a new language and culture EXCEPT in Japan, where it takes 7.8 years. Yet many people intending to be career missionaries in Japan never reach the seven year mark. (You might remember the 2004 or 2005 JH article about this. You can also click on "Dissertation" on this page to read it: http://www.takameter.com/resources.html)

Wendy said...

Interesting! I think we've, by God's grace, beaten the average! I wish that your link would work, I'm interested in reading that article.

Meredith said...

Hi Wendy,

Well, I don't know you in person but have been reading your blog quietly for most of the time you have been back in Australia on home assignment - found you via Simone's blog. And this seems to good time to come out lurkdom and say HOORAY FOR YOU! I have a great passion for seeing missionaries well supported and encouraged on the field and at home. Your blog has been such an encouragement to me and an education for me too - you have blessed us with a "fly on the wall" view of your life and the tensions of ultimately feeling like your citizenship is in heaven. So thank you for your honesty and openness which has been a great blessing.

And this seems a good time to say as well, as I come out of lurkdom, that you and your family are in my prayers.

God bless,

KarenKTeachCamb said...

What a great question to be asked? Don't tell your parents or they might ask it of me! It's great to hear how God is changing you, and to learn from the lessons you are learning, because they often apply to me too!
I'm with Meredith. I love reading your blog, especially for the honesty I see there in your joys and struggles. Keep on writing Wendy, knowing that God uses your writing to encourage and challenge others.

Karen said...

Hey Wendy,
I only know you through the blogging world as well, but what stands out to me in your posts is how you've been able to reflect on your experiences and put them into words in such a thoughtful and honest way. That's something which I think takes time and maturity, as well as a bank of experiences/challenges, positive and not so positive, that you grow through and which inevitably change you.
All the best as you get ready to go back to Japan in the next few weeks.

Wendy said...

Well this is all very encouraging.
Meredith - Thank you for your comments and for venturing out of "lurkdom" and for your prayers. I'm so excited that the goal I set myself when I started this blog is being fulfilled and even exceeded.

Karen - thank you for your encouraging and insightful words.

KK - I hope I can keep encouraging you and that God will continue to use my writing in this format and in other formats too.