10 May, 2016

Dramatic summer plans are normal

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were headed into the territory of people asking about summer plans. The reason is that summer plans for expats are often quite dramatic. Here are some I've heard recently:

A family leaving for North America days after school finishes and return not long before school starts again. They will do many thousands of kilometers in that time visiting supporters, churches, family, going to mission events and visiting colleges with their upper high-school aged son. 

Another family whose church in the States is helping them afford to go back for a few weeks. Their kids will go to some church-related camps/conferences while they're there.

A third family who has both high school and college aged kids. Their American-based college aged son will participate in a couple of ministry trips in other countries, but first he's visiting his family in Japan. While he's doing that the rest of the family will spend a bit of time in the US and he will join them there before they all come back to Japan for a week. Then they have a mission conference to go to in Thailand for another week.

Several families have college-aged kids who are coming back to spend time with their family in Japan in the next few weeks.

And of course we have a few families transitioning out of Japan altogether. Packing up their lives into boxes and saying their farewells. That's become normal for us too, though is always sad.

These are not isolated stories. I'm sure there are plenty others out there that I will hear in the coming months.

I remember people at our home church in Australia being surprised, even a little jealous, at how much travel we did while we were there for a year. Mind you almost none of that travel was purely indulgence on our part. Almost every trip we made included visiting family or supporters. Even the two trips south to wrestling tournaments included time with supporters! 

I don't think most people in our home church had seen missionaries so close up before, because missionaries do travel a lot. It's normal in our expat community here to have conversations about "summer" that result in stories like the above.

Interestingly our 15/16 day camping trip around in Japan is getting some gasps. That's much more unusual than flying overseas! The above types of stories are so common that people arrive at a conversation about summer with us and assume that we're going to Australia. What I'm getting a kick out of is that we're learning Japanese geography by doing this and have now been to places that many of our Japanese friends haven't heard of or been to in their own country!

Alas, just now I must get back to my much-less-dramatic day's work: magazine editing, calendar publishing, and email.

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