17 August, 2014

Amazing day

Yesterday was amazing on many fronts. My extroverted side was very stimulated and my introvert shadow was challenged. But most of all, my faith was strengthened.

I went to a one day Women's Conference, put on by a local Theological College. It was encouraging to see so many women there, I estimate between 300 and 400.

People to see
I've rarely been to an event where so many people from different eras in my life have been there. At this early point in our home assignment, it is often a shock to see people we haven't seen for ages, especially if they're not following our journey closely. Many know we've been in Japan and often it is like they've seen a ghost when they see us.
An old photo (1998) of me with a
missionary to Korea with OMF who I
knew as a child. I met her at the
conference yesterday and travelled part
of the way  home with her on the train.
She's now retired and living in Brisbane.

On Saturday I saw people I knew in my childhood church (2-17 years of age), a couple of people from the church I attended when I was at uni (17-21 years of age), and some from the church I married into and was sent out to Japan from (24-28 years of age). I saw someone from uni days, and people I've met in mission circles. It was quite a shock for us all! But also a blessing. Some of these ladies I haven't seen for 20 years or more. I might not see them again for a long time, either.

Speakers to listen to
The speaker was a slight shock too. I thought I might get away from hearing American speakers at events like these in Australia, but no, we had an American speaker. But we won't hold that against her. She was good, even if my overstimulated brain had trouble tracking with her for the whole of each of her three ¾ to 1 hr long sessions. She spoke on three different Psalms and I always enjoy a good exposition of a psalm!

Straight after lunch we also got to go to a topical "session", one of four we could choose from. I chose the "Self esteem" session, mostly because none of the others were particularly relevant or attractive to me. It was great and probably the best "take away" of the day for me. The speaker (and Aussie) challenged us to get away from our natural "me focused" thoughts and deliberately put on "God focused" thoughts. I even put it into practise this morning as I was thinking about what to wear to church and how often I feel dowdy.

But the best part was at the end
Though I knew a few people, I wasn't particularly "attached" to any one person. I went into the session after lunch and sat in a rather random spot, edging past someone I didn't know to sit several seats in from the aisle. During the opening prayer someone else I didn't know sat next to me. Later we had to do a couple of different activities with the people we were sitting next to, so I got to talk to these two ladies. The one next to me, I noticed, had a Japanese name. 

After the session I asked her if she had a Japanese background. She almost exploded, "I am Japanese!" I explained that I've been living in Japan for a while. The other lady took notice of our conversation and said she had a Christian Japanese lady living with her family at the moment. Well, the conversation quickly got curtailed because the programme up the front still had more to go.

After it was all over we began to talk again. The Australian went hunting for her boarder who was also present. Soon we were exchanging phone numbers and mixing up our Japanese and English. We even found several mutual friends between us!

You see, a couple of months ago as I said goodbye to my language exchange friends in Tokyo, I had the idea that it would be great to find some Japanese ladies in Brisbane to do language exchange for the year. I didn't have the slightest idea of how that would happen, but I prayed a couple of times back then that God might bring it about if it was His will. 

I've barely thought about it since.

So, I walked away from yesterday with the numbers of two Japanese ladies who are keen to meet to do language exchange and be friends. Wow! It blew me away. 

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