05 June, 2010

Unusual reunion

Most of yesterday I drove these ladies around Brisbane. That's what you do with international and interstate visitors. However this was an extra-ordinary event. All these ladies have served as missionaries in Japan for fifteen or more years. One comes from Scotland and another from Canada. Two are in Melbourne, but originally come from New Zealand. The other three are from Brisbane. Our only common point aside from our faith is service in Japan with OMF International over a 60 year period.

The main event of the day was celebrating Ruth White's 90th birthday (she is the one with the scarf). We even did the OMF Japan "thing" and went around the table sharing a prayer point each (well, a couple of us shared more than one). We could have been back in Sapporo at the weekly prayer meeting!

With more than 150 years of missionary experience between us, it was a gathering that could take your breath away. Except that I know they are all normal women, just like me. They know I write and I mentioned to them that I have an article soon to be published in the OMF magazine about the Ordinary Women who happen to be missionaries and the chorus was - "We fit that too!" This, as we made a toilet stop at park.

At first they apologised for taking up my day, but at the end of the day said they were probably doing me a service, giving me a 'girls day out'. And it's true. Despite most of them being old enough to be my mother or grandmother, I had a fun time. There is something about the missionary experience that bonds people, even people who've never worked together. I've holidayed in the same houses these ladies have. I've eaten the same food, travelled the same roads, lived amongst Japanese in the same way they have. When you live overseas parts of that culture embed themselves in you. For the most part, no one in Australia shares that. I cannot utter Japanese phrases to most people in Australia without strange looks. We had a mild gripe about how Australians mangle imported Japanese words and brand names!

I did spend a lot of time driving while they chatted in the back of our van (incidentally, probably the only reason I was invited to such a unique event - I drive an 8-seater van!), so I missed many conversations. Some were about people, places and events that I don't know. If the opportunity had been right, I'm sure I could have gathered enough information in the day to write an article or more on each of these ladies! Maybe one day.

They gave their lives for God's service. They've suffered as a result. Yet, they have gained much and I'm certain there are many rewards awaiting them in heaven. Meantime, they blessed me yesterday, as they've blessed many in the past.


Shan in Japan said...

What a blessing! Some of my favorite home assignment times were times spent with missionaries. Enjoy the rest of your time on that side of the ocean!

JN said...

What a wonderful day! Times with other missionaries while on HMA are often the highlights of HMA for me.

Footprints Australia said...

Hey Wendy, I *do* know Lorna ... I have spoken at her church ladies goupr a couple of times! Small world hey.