18 April, 2016

It helps to know why you do what you do

I'm on a train, again. This is my 15th train in four days. 

Ikebukuro Station, one of the largest stations in the world
and I passed through it twice today, no worries.
On Friday I travelled into the city to meet some people from Singapore who'd read my blog (I'm planning to write more about that soon)—four trains. 

On Saturday I went to a Track and Field meet to support two of my boys (and wrote about it here)—seven trains. 

And then today I went over to our mission's Japan Headquarters for a prayer meeting, fellowship, and a working bee—six or seven trains (depending on whether I get a semi-express that stops at our station or an express that doesn't so I have to change one before to a local). 

I'm so glad that I've grown used to Tokyo trains. They're a convenient and reliable  way to get around. For a long time they were a mystery to me and very stressful. But I've gradually figured them out. Definitely a part of learning to live happily where I am. 

This morning before the prayer meeting I met an Australian OMF missionary for chat over coffee and hot cocoa. She's still in language school and has been here less than two years. She asked about how I came to be doing what I do (as in writing and editing). So I got to tell some of story, of how God has gone before me and guided me into what I'm doing. No, it wasn't planned. I was reminded of how I never planned to come to Tokyo and how this place was overwhelming for many years.

Then I read this article soon after hopping on the train to go home.

It's about the different challenges of staying. As opposed to leaving your home country and adjusting to your country of service or the opposite, leaving the place you've been serving and going somewhere else, perhaps your passport country. 

I've written about staying before. It can be hard. Some of the challenges are:
  • It lacks the adrenaline rush of changing countries or making big changes. That might sound strange, but those changes are not just challenging they have an element of "new" and "exciting" to them. 
  • Staying in an expat situation generally means lots of hellos and goodbyes as other expats around you make those big moves. It's easy to get jaded, to wonder if it's worth investing in new relationships. It's easy to get immune to goodbyes and not really feel them anymore. 
  • After a while it's easy to stay bound by what's familiar and not venture beyond that. You can get tired of the extra effort it takes to venture outside what is comfortable. 
I'm now on my 17th train. Mobile blogging at its best!

Today we were challenged to keep our eyes on our goal, like Jesus did. He "did ministry" for only three years, but those three years were very focused on the end goal: to die for our sins and defeat death by rising again. Along the way he taught his disciples who would continue his church after he'd left this earth. 

The article I've linked to above gives us eight ways to do a good job of remaining in our country of service. (The article used the phrase "stay well" obviously play on the phrase "leave well", except it doesn't work wonderfully because the phrase "stay well" usually means "stay healthy", but it does gave the advantage of being more succinct than anything else I can think of.) The article says a lot of good things, but it doesn't mention keeping your eye on the goal. 

So ask why are you doing this hard thing. It's a question that you probably answered before you came, but sometimes in the midst of life the answer gets forgotten. Or perhaps the answer has changed since you've left. In order to flourish in your country of service past the time of the adrenaline rush of arriving, you need to remember why you're doing what you're doing.

Here is another post about "Staying well" that I didn't write.

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