25 July, 2016

Thinking about the importance of connection

To stay healthy I need to be connected to others, quite a lot of others. That's something that I need more than others in my family. Some in my family are happy to be fairly isolated, others need lots of connection. I guess that's a function that the extroversion vs introversion continuum seeks to report on.

As a result of my personal needs, I tend to drag my predominantly introverted family into more times of connectivity than a few of them think they want or need.
Last year at the end of July we camped
 on the west coast of Japan, spending a day
with a missionary family who work there.
At the end of the day we sat on the beach with
them and thousands of others watching a
spectacular fireworks show.

During CAJ's long summer holidays we have more time to connect with others, but often connect less, because the school schedule doesn't provide natural opportunities to do so and many who we'd normally connect with are travelling all over the world.

However we did manage to connect with three different families during our recent camping trip. The first live and work in Niigata, on the west coast of Japan. I've gotten to know the mum mostly through social media, though we connected first at CAJ homeschooling events that I was involved in in our early days in Tokyo, but also through the missionary women's retreat in March. The two of us have dragged our families together a couple of times in the last 13 months, both times when our family was camping in Niigata. It's been an interesting experiment, especially because we have different demographics in our families, but I think we've all enjoyed it.

I invited a colleague from my magazine work to join us sightseeing in Kyoto in the middle of our camping trip. She lives in Osaka, about a half-hour train ride from Kyoto. She's a relatively new member to our magazine team and it was good to spend time getting to know her and allowing her to get to know me too, even in the midst of a family outing.
This was the house of our friends who we
stayed with at the end of our camping trip.
It was a lovely place to stay.

Then on the last weekend of our camping trip we stayed two nights with a family we've gotten to know a little at CAJ. Their eldest son is in our eldest son's class, he boards with a family from the school and only goes home periodically (they live a couple of hours from Tokyo on the Pacific side of the island). It was good to get to know them better too, nothing like staying with someone for that! 

There is something special about visiting people where they are, especially if they live in a more isolated location. We've periodically done this in our other travels as a family.  On our trip to Uluru we visited a couple from our denomination working in Alice Springs, we also caught up with a former student of David's in Townsville and friends who lived in Mackay, all three units in full-time ministry. We also met up with former missionaries to Japan, now living in rural Queensland. I don't know how much an encouragement it was to each of these folk for us to visit them, but it certainly was an encouragement to us.

I chatted with another friend this morning using the phone call part of Facebook Messenger (what is that called?). She too is in full-time Christian ministry, but in Australia. When I was there we met regularly over coffee, it's been great to continue this with the use of technology since we've been apart. She was very encouraging about the above meetings I've described, the people we deliberately met on our recent camping trip. She commented on how it's just these sort of people who will understand better what we do and with whom we can provide the best mutual support for one another. So true!

Living where we do, near an international school, it is generally easy for us to spend time with other missionaries. Even if it is just as we commute too and from sporting events. But I'm glad that we've been able to connect up with others who are a little more isolated than us and pray that we've been a help to them too.

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