14 November, 2016

Unusual days

I've had some unusual days these last four days.

I caught trains across town to our mission's Japan headquarters to attend a meeting about updating our website https://omf.org/asia/japan/. Now I'm not that tech-savvy however the meeting wasn't so much about the "back-end" of the website as the user-end. We looked at the website from the perspective of specific users and brainstormed ideas to improve. 
Our website's primary purpose to help mobilise people into being more involved in mission. It was an unusual (for me) and challenging meeting. But the four and a half hours went by quickly

We had no sport and it would have been a quiet day involving a sleep-in and some baking. But there were two significant extras: 

1. We're at the tail-end of another magazine issue, it was due at the printer today (Monday), so I speed-read the whole magazine as well as looked carefully at other design aspects that most readers wouldn't easily identify but concern designers and editors deeply. The 53 notes and comments I made on the pdf were for our designer to fix or check on. She (and our Art Director) wrote back overnight and I had more decisions to make and questions to answer on this after church on Sunday. 

2. I did something I've never done before. Last Sunday I impulsively invited two new friends from church to meet me for coffee yesterday and to memorize a Bible story. Have you heard of this movement? Where people learn short Bible stories and tell them to people they meet. Storyingthescriptures.com. Our guest last weekend has written a book on this and is a strong advocate. I'm planning to  write a whole post about this event tomorrow, but it was the most unusual Bible study I've ever done. 

Actually there was a third factor (aside from some grumpy, conflict-inducing kids) and that was phone calls and emails regarding Sunday.

Our Sunday afternoons, unlike many missionaries, are typically quietly spent at home. Not this week. Instead, yesterday, I spent five hours with  ladies from our eldest son's class.  We checked a possible venue for the senior students' and parents' end of year banquet and continued meeting afterwards at a restaurant to nut out some more details.

It was another unusual meeting for me. I think the only other venue decision I've been in on (for a social function like this) was our wedding. It was bilingual and bicultural too, with three Japanese ladies, an American, and me, an Australian. 

Being a part of this organizing group (I hesitate to call it a committee because it's less formal than that) has been a challenging and stressful experience.  On top of my usual heavy load of email communication, I've received at least 200 emails regarding this in the last two months and I've spent much more time on the phone than I have for many years.
A pedestrian mall close to the venue. It was
"hopping" at 6pm on a Sunday night. We
found a little Indian restaurant who served
reasonably priced meals (under AU$10). 

Thankfully we came to a decision on the venue yesterday and it's a nice one! (See the first photo on this page: https://www.sunplaza.jp/en/meeting/banquet.php). Hopefully we can move forward now in a more linear direction. It's certainly been a cultural experience for me, trying to fit into a Japanese-style of decision-making. Even though we are an international school (and organising group) ultimately the venue is Japanese and the people searching for the venue were too. 

Today I hopped  back on the trains to go to our monthly mission fellowship and prayer meeting on the other side of the city (same place as Friday). Another 6-8 trains. We've got a working bee too, so there's plenty to do. I'm currently sandwiched into a train on my way there and looking forward to some coffee when I arrive. 

But more than that I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm planning to take some time off tomorrow. Not sure what it will include but I'm thinking a coffee shop and a good book might be a good start. 


Christine Dillon said...

very encouraging that you're beginning to tell stories too! Look forward to the full blog post on it. Please also mention the FB group 'storying the scriptures' as a place to support each other, ask questions ...

-J said...

I, too, am looking forward to the full blog post on memorizing stories. I love this kind of post b/c it shows the unpredictable nature of life sometimes. Both my father and my husband are farmers, and my single years were spent on the mission field, so I'm always looking for tips to make an unpredictable schedule work better. This article by John Piper (while written for pastors) has been helpful to me: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-can-pastors-guard-their-time-with-their-families

Ken Rolph said...

The idea of having a movement to remember Bible stories seems odd to me. But it fits with a recent comment a colleague made, about there being whole areas of supposedly active Christians who don't actually read their Bibles at all. Stories are the basic form of human knowledge and are the easiest form to remember. We recall them and tell them to make sense of our current situations. After the recent American presidential election I found myself compelled to sit and re-read the story of Samson.

Wendy said...

J, that's an interesting post by Piper and way to look at things. I feel, though, that I need more than "seven blocks" a week. We're all different and need different amounts off, I think. There's also the extrovert/introvert balance, not to mention that what stresses one person refreshes another. I was disturbed over the last few days two missionaries talk about their insane schedules. They seem okay with them, but I wouldn't be. In fact I'd probably be in hospital soon enough. But then my evenings at home, a lot of that is "work" for me as a mum, even more these days as our boys grow older and they are often not in bed before us. All that being said, I appreciate the flexibility that that church is trying to build into their system for the pastors. (I can feel a post coming on about all this...).

Regards dealing with unprofitable nature of life. My chief defence is to try to build margin into my life (something that was lacking this weekend) and that includes getting enough sleep so that I don't need to rely on coffee. If I find I'm "needing" caffeine daily then I'm overdoing it. The other defence is exercise. If I stay somewhat fit I can cope with more.

What happened over Fri-Mon wasn't really unpredictable, though. Most of it had been scheduled in a while. The Bible storying/study was unexpected, but scheduled last Sunday. The thing that was most out of my control was the Sun afternoon meeting and all the phone calls and emails that preceded it (they took up a lot of my margin on Saturday and I hadn't been prepared for that).

Wendy said...

Ken, you're quite right. It is a revival of stories, not a new thing. But stories haven't been prominent as a evangelistic tool in literate societies for a long time. We've relied on other more direct tools.