30 June, 2017

Shelter

"Shelter" is a prompt from velvetashes.com a group that provides encouragement for women serving overseas. I haven't written on their prompts for a long time. But this one had me thinking: 

Pause for a moment and let the word 'shelter' float around in your mind. What feelings, memories, images, fears or desires do you have?

My first thought was tent vs house. How a house is a much more adequate shelter than a tent. A tent is very convenient. It's flexible and portable. It's small. But it's also fragile and leaky. It's also cold in winter, as we discovered when we camped in the snow last year!

Houses are much more stable and secure. They provide really good protection from the weather, but they aren't portable. Both tents and houses require a lot of upkeep, but houses are more permanent. Houses can provide a lot more space than a tent. But they also isolate you from your environment more. 

I love camping out in nature in a tent because you are much closer to it. You're not tempted to cower inside and, after life in the city, it is wonderfully refreshing to get out in nature for a time. In our camping adventures last year I remember a couple of moments especially that I would have missed if I'd been comfortably ensconced in a house.
 
1. When camped next to Lake Biwa near Kyoto I got up to go to the toilet just as the sun was rising at about 4.30 one morning. It was incredible. I've never experienced a sunrise like it, probably because I'm almost never out and about in the countryside at that time. The air surrounding me was golden. It was made more special because I had a camera to capture it.

Not quite the photo I originally took with my iPhone, but you get
the idea


2. When we were camping in the snow last November it was hard. But again, coming back from the toilet the first morning I saw the most magnificent sight, with snow clinging to tree branches and the trees on the side of the road framing the sight of a snow-covered mountain glowing in the sun. I only had my iPhone, but I was able to capture that sight for future remembrance also.

Our house is the one with the green-blue roof.
Both these sights I saw only because I'd gotten out of my comfort zone of a house (just two days earlier at Lake Biwa we were up at dawn fighting off a lake forming underneath our tent in the middle of a downpour and the snow was no cakewalk either).

So where am I going with this theme, this post is threatening to "noodle" all over the place! 

Physical shelter
Shelter. It's a necessary thing, physically, and both houses and tents can give it. In fact they each have their place. We see that in the Bible where tents were necessary when the Israelites were moving from Egypt to Israel, there were no houses or hotels in the desert!

Tents are mentioned many times in Scripture, almost 400. There are some interesting tent-house incidents in the Bible.

King David got upset and wanted to build a temple for the Lord because he lived in a house, but the ark of the covenant was still only in a tent.

Uriah also refused to go into his house when David called him back from the war front for a few days. His words to his king: "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” (2 Samuel 11:11 NIV)

Both passages emphasising that houses are better, more privileged places than tents. Yes, that is true. Our camping is not because we have nowhere else to live, it is comparatively a joy only because we usually live in a convenient house.

Spiritual shelter
But the spiritual shelter that we get from our heavenly Father as Christians is something I value and have come to feel that it is also essential.

Shelter appears only 19 times in the ESV Bible. But a couple of those also have tents in it: 

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. Ps 27:5 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Ps 61:4

I love this:
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,  and princes will rule in justice.  Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,  a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place,   like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. Is 32:1-2

It seems to refer to our future in heaven, I believe, which the following one also does:

Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. Rev 7:15

That's our future to look forward to, but what about now?

This reminds me of when I've had kids sick enough to end up in hospital. I ran into an acquaintance the other day who had their daughter and sick granddaughter with them. She was heading for hospital and I've heard since that she is very sick indeed, they've found a tumour. My heart goes out to them. Having very sick kids is the pits, and mine were not even that sick.

God doesn't promise that we will have no troubles in this world, but he does promise that we can trust in him and shelter metaphorically beneath his wings (Ps. 61:4)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1 & 2)

Now this post is a bit all over the place, I haven't had the time today to hone it nicely. It's been an encouraging little word/Bible study for me and I hope that my pondering of the concept of shelter is helpful to someone. 

What do you think about when contemplating the word "shelter"? I'd love to hear your thoughts too. 

29 June, 2017

Notes to special people

After a meeting yesterday about the new OMF Japan website, I'm up to my ears in work today. I could write you a detailed list of what I've spent the day on the computer doing, but I'm not sure that you'd find it that interesting. Mostly giving feedback on writing, or creating content for the new OMF Japan website, or creating guidelines for a new OMF Japan blog that I'm managing or writing emails. Oh, and I finished my parts of our prayer letter.

Instead, I will repost something I wrote a few years back.

The other day I stumbled upon a short list called "Notes to special people". I wrote short notes to seven special friends before we left for home assignment this time three years ago. My notes were to make sure they knew I'd appreciated their friendship in the recent months/years. I could hardly believe it when I realised that as of next month, only two of those women are still in Japan.

I post the below article as a reminder to myself  of all the wonderful people who have passed through my life. Alas they have passed through, but I've loved them while they were here. 

Bitter-sweet meal with friends


I did one of my favourite things today - went out for lunch with a bunch of women who happen to be missionaries with OMF here in Japan (in the greater Tokyo area). You can see by the photos here, that we like to get together, though, because we live spread apart over more than two hours, it isn't all that often.

It was, however, a bitter-sweet occasion this time. It was a farewell to one who warmly welcomed us to Tokyo six years ago and let us live in her house while we found one of our own. Who, with her husband, babysat our kids many times. Who is the only other OMF teacher on staff at CAJ. In short - one who we'll miss deeply.

Kathi and her husband have been like adopted aunt and uncle to our kids. But God has lead them back to the US to work in mobilisation there.

That wasn't the only sadness in my heart as I looked around at lunch. I realised that out of the 12 ladies there, besides Kathi, one other lady is going to prematurely retire later in the year due to ill health and two others will be leaving for home assignment in June and one of those for a two year home assignment. That means one-third of the friends I had lunch with today will simply not be there next time we have lunch. And maybe they'll never be there again.

Being a missionary is not just about frequent changes for oneself, it is about those around you frequently changing too. And not just us, our kids too. Most classes at CAJ have children leaving every year, sometimes for only a year and then they return, sometimes never to return. A higher rate of change than most national schools endure.

Yet I read an interesting short article in the magazine Just Between Us (Fall 2010) recently. A ministry wife wrote "It seems that God blesses me with friends for a season...The pain of loss does not diminish the joy of sharing your life with someone, no matter how long or short the season. I urge you to risk loving."

It is true. In the situation we find ourselves, it is easy to think - 'I'm not going to risk any more deep friendships, because I'll only lose any new friend sooner or later.' But this is harmful thinking and will deprive us of needed encouragement and help. 


It also helps us to value those friendships which last the distance. Both figuratively and literally. Friendships in which it "just seems like we've never been apart" when we get back together. And I can think of several of those. I'm thankful!

Originally posted here on 15 April, 2011.

28 June, 2017

What's your image of Japan?

Japan's worldwide image is one that includes technology, robots, sushi, and simple beauty. I find it hard at times to mesh that image with what I know of everyday life in Japan.

These three images go a little way towards showing my view. I captured them on one recent trip to my local grocery store.

First a car that's obviously been here a long time. But this is not just an abandoned car. It is parked in a rented space and it's been intentionally covered. So it's not an image of poverty. Cars depreciate quickly in Japan and also cost a lot to keep on the road. Every two years you have to have a mechanic do an expensive inspection in order to keep your car registered. Cars also cost a lot to throw away. 

So, why is the car here? Only the owner knows.


The Japan I know also makes do with what they have. This scooter owner has made a smaller lid fit this box, rather than buy a new box, presumably after the old lid broke. Yes, Japan is still a wealthy country compared to many, but there are many, especially the older generation, who will modify what they have, rather than buy new things. 

The idea that Japan is a technologically advanced country across the board is quite false. I don't know anyone who has a robot clean their house or centralised climate control at home. Almost no one has what many westerners would call standard technology: a dishwasher or a dryer. Most people shop with cash, not cards and fax machines were standard in households until recently.

I'd love to hear what other stereotypes have you heard about Japan. I'd be happy to look at them in future posts.


27 June, 2017

Some keys to living overseas

Free photo from pixabay.com
There are lots of things that are challenging when you move (or even travel) to other countries. Some are more obvious than others. For example, eating breakfast can be a challenge or being able to get around in a country where you don't speak or read the language are pretty obvious.

Here are a three less obvious challenges I've been reminded of in recent weeks.

Not knowing or understanding
The total sum of what we understand about Japan is much less than Australia, it always will be. Additionally, on a daily basis there is a lot less that we understand about what's going on than we do in Australia. I can't read all the signs, I don't get all the jokes. I'm pretty ignorant in many ways, compared to the average Japanese citizen, about life in Japan. That's something you need to become at peace with in order to live here long-term (although possibly I'm too relaxed about it).

Trust
We also need to have a trusting attitude, rather than second guessing everything, thinking that we know better. Some cynicism is good, but too much is unhelpful for being able to live here long-term. Not trusting produces increased stress. In order to survive here, I have to be fairly trusting, especially seeing as I don't have all the information that I might otherwise have had access to in Australia.

For example, I often don't understand everything the doctor says to me. That would be totally unacceptable to me in Australia, but here I do my best and get the essence of the important stuff: diagnosis and treatment. That works in a relatively simple medical situation. I may not know exactly what medicine I've been prescribed, but that's (generally) okay.

Not black or white
I read this recently in a blog post about resilience
Sue Takamoto wrote of a transformation that takes place in successfully adapted missionaries—“a move from black and white, egocentric thinking to an ability to become more flexible and open.”
This is so true. Things that are done differently here to my home country aren't wrong because they're different. They might be strange or mysterious to me. They might even be less efficient or inconvenient to me, but a willingness to accept them anyway is needed to stay sane if you're living here. 

For example, if I got upset because I had to wait an hour for a simple medical test result because there was no appointment system, that wouldn't help my stress levels. I'm not hankering after the medical treatment I might have had in Australia, because here is where I live. And of course that ties in with trust and not-knowing. I trust my doctor here, even though I don't understand everything he says.


Over the years I've seen foreigners struggle with these three things while in Japan. Because we've adjusted to living here long-term, probably people who've spent their whole lives in one country struggle to understand us now too.

26 June, 2017

The gift of being able to be present

People come and go in our lives; celebrations happen, then are over;
time moves relentlessly onwards. It is good to sit, sometimes, and ponder.
Being able to be present at key events in loved-ones lives is a gift I no
longer overlook.
Yesterday I attended a memorial service for the Japanese missionary, Mr I, from our mission who died in April. At the time his funeral was held in Nagoya, only two days after he passed away. Yesterday they held a memorial service in Tokyo where and when many others could attend. I'd never met the man personally, only been at a meeting where he spoke, but I was asked to go as the pianist for the performance of "For the Cause" that OMF missionaries had been invited to perform.

OMF is an interesting mission in that many of the countries we work in also send missionaries to other places. That is the case in Japan. We have both a "home" office and a "field" office in the same building. Mr I and his family had been serving in another East Asian country, but battled his cancer in Japan. The OMFers who performed were from a variety of homesides, some sent to Japan, others sent from Japan.

What particularly struck me were the missionaries who came from overseas to this memorial service. They didn't come far, not as far as the Scottish pastor who flew over when our field director died, but they came. These were colleagues of Mr I, people who'd served with him overseas.

I was struck because there are a number of funerals I haven't been able to attend because of distance. During the 17 ½ years David and I have been in Japan four of our OMF Japan colleagues have died (if my count is right). All were cancer-related. That's not counting relatives and friends who have died. Often distance or finances or schedules prevent us from being present. It isn't easy. Funerals and memorial services have a place in the grieving process and when you can't go to one, there is no space to remember that person in community with others who knew them. Life moves on at a rapid space as if nothing happened, as if the world wasn't the poorer for the passing away of someone. 

It's a source of grief for missionaries as we miss many key events in the lives of those we care for, including funerals, but also births, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. As our circles are widened, by serving with people from many different nations, we "acquire" more people we care about and more events that we cannot be a part of.

So, I'm simply grateful that I could, in a small way, help others grieve yesterday. And in a similar way to how weddings I've attended after I myself was a married woman made me reminisce about my own wedding, this memorial service made me reflective about all the funerals that I've missed over the years. Being able to be present is easily overlooked as a gift to be treasured.


24 June, 2017

Today's picnic

Part of our picnic mat. In Japan picnic mats are almost always plastic.
Today we dropped our youngest son off at an English summer camp for middle schoolers run by some local missionaries. It is the the third of the series of camps where our eldest son is a leader (US = counsellor). The camp is held at a campsite owned by SEND International and is towards the western tip of Tokyo. It's close to where we did our first two camping trips way back in 2011. There are 80 campers there until Thursday. We're praying for those tired leaders and cooks and maintenance staff!

This pink area is Tokyo "prefecture". We live at the purple arrow, we drove out
to the red arrow today.
Our son was due at camp at 2pm, so we decided to leave early and have a picnic at Tama River. It's the river that comes from Tama Dam, part of Tokyo's water supply. A gorgeous place that's not all that far from us (though it does take between 1 ½ to 2 hours to get there). The river runs very close to the campsite.
Alas, I forgot my "big" camera. But the iPhone isn't too bad. We went for a stroll after lunch, stopping at
promising spots to climb on rocks.

Middle son, foiling my attempt at taking his photo. He
has many good memories of this part of Tokyo, having
been to a few camps there himself.

As well as climbing, skipping rocks was a popular pastime for a bit.

On the way home we treated ourselves to afternoon tea at a coffee shop. It's nice to just have one boy at home for a bit, much less expensive. We're thinking it's be a little holiday-like here at home this week.



22 June, 2017

Sleep deprived nation

Japan is a sleep deprived nation. If you live here and travel around on trains, there's no need to look at a study to know that. Morning or night, people fall asleep in all sorts of public places. I don't normally like to take photos of people sleeping in public, but in the last week I've had two opportunities to do so without embarrassing anyone.

People often stop their cars or trucks (especially work vehicles) and sleep in them, often with the engines running. This gentleman was in a work vehicle, stopped next to a local park with a cloth over his face. The time was 6pm.

This lady, I presume, was having a cat-nap. It was at a local food court at 10.30 on Monday morning.

Many people, especially men, come home very late from work (8 is early). School children also often are doing cram classes or sports training late into the evening. It isn't unusual to see kids on the trains after 9pm. Indeed it seems that many pre-school kids are kept up late too. Having a 7/7.30 bedtime for our young boys seemed extraordinarily early to my Japanese friends. So exhaustion seems pervasive in the whole lifestyle here. It's no surprise people are sleeping any time they get the chance.

Napping in public is actually a sign of diligence in Japan, this article says. Indeed it seems to be quite the acceptable thing, as long as you don't sprawl. It's not uncommon to see people asleep on the train falling to one side or other. That isn't so acceptable.

But apparently lost sleep is costing Japanese economy billions. I'm not sure how they figured this out. But this article says:
[the researchers] tapped into government and large company data sets on sleep duration to estimate defined costs. It also predicted the future economic effects if the trend continued. Absenteeism (people not showing up for work), employees not working (people taking breaks), and presenteeism (people being present but working at a sub-optimal level) were the reasons traced for the unproductivity.
It is a significant problem, obviously, and not just for economic reasons. This Japan Times article gives an example of someone who ended up with clinical depression due to overwork. Death by overwork is recognised by society and if it can be proven then employer is in trouble.

But why is this such an ingrained part of the culture, you may ask? Well, people have written whole books on this, so this little blog post is barely going to touch the surface. 

One theory is that the culture has been formed by the rice-growing past. Growing rice is not only requires constant attention, but it also requires collective work, hence we've got a hard-working culture where it's hard to change individual habits. It is frowned upon to leave many workplaces exactly when your shift is over, in fact, leaving before the boss is a no-no in an office environment. I've never worked in a Japanese office, but this is what I've heard and read. (One article about the "rice theory": rice paddies and culture).

In any case. It's difficult to change culture, and that seems especially the case in Japan. So, though the government is trying to make changes, I'm not sure that we'll be seeing less public sleeping any time soon.


21 June, 2017

Kids newsletter

Our latest Kids newsletter for your enjoyment. You can contact me for a full-sized pdf version. Feel free to use it however you wish.


20 June, 2017

My weekend

This last weekend I spent about six hours on trains over two days. 

Saturday
I travelled from our western Tokyo home to east of the capital for an OMF gathering that included some long-term missionaries, but mostly foreigners who aren't officially with OMF, but also have a heart for reaching Japanese. Most Our region of OMF has been trying to provide some support and encouragement for such folk and this three-hour worship, fellowship, and discussion time was part of that. I enjoyed it, but it remains true that our headquarters is a long way from home.

Sunday
Then on Sunday I travelled from home to Yokohama, south of Tokyo. This was an equally long journey. Just like Saturday, it involved three of four trains and about one and a half hours.
We met our friend at the train station nearest where the
church was meeting and we found an attractive little
pizza restaurant nearby. This is the salad that came
with the pizza. Minimalist, but tasty.

I took a friend to Yokohama and we met another friend who lives down there for lunch, Bible study, and then church at 2.15. We joined with a small OMF church plant for their worship time. 

My intention was to introduce our friend, who's moved to Yokohama, to a church down there. It was also a good thing to do. It's not very often that we get to see what other OMF colleagues are doing. Seeing a young church plant reminded me to pray for our colleagues even more. It's tough, slow work in Japan!

Consequences
I was pretty tired at the end of the weekend. But I'd been fairly tired to start the weekend. I've been dodging illness-bullets for some time now, but obviously not taking time-off over the weekend was all that was needed to end my winning streak and I ended up at the doctor with an infection yesterday afternoon. I was pretty wiped out from lunch on. Thankfully it's an easy-to-treat infection and I'm already feeling better.

I'm thankful too that my job is fairly flexible and it isn't usually too hard to take things easy if I need to. The trick that I haven't yet found is how to avoid these situations altogether. I don't think I'm terrible at managing my time, but somehow I get over busy and I periodically get physical reminders like this, that I need to take some time to rest.. Probably it's a great blessing that these are relatively small things, gauges to help me see when I'm getting too worn out.

At this point I'm looking forward to our holidays. We're going away for a while in July. The rest is much needed and much anticipated. For three of the nights we'll be camping at Lake Tazawa (check out the lakeside campsite) towards the north of this island, with other venues planned either side of that. I'm looking forward to new experiences and stepping away from most of my responsibilities for a bit.

16 June, 2017

Life's been a bit topsy-turvy this week

Feeding the family continues. I made these brownies from
scratch yesterday and some are already gone. That's a
good sign! It's the first time I've made brownies from scratch.
Probably they're healthier than the packet-mix ones, they're
certainly lighter in texture.
It's time for a "what's been going on in our neck of the woods" type post.

This has been a topsy-turvy type week, as is usual in our house, the first week that students are on summer holidays, with the usual schedules all out the window.

Monday to Wednesday David was at school full-time participating/leading various compulsory meetings and finishing off his responsibilities for the school year. The boys were "full-time" at home.

Well, that's not quite true. Our eldest went off on a two-night hiking/camping trip in the mountains west of here with more than a dozen of his friends. You might think it is crazy to let a bunch of teenagers do that, but it's safe in Japan and looking at the character of this group of kids, we had no concerns at all. Oh, and one of them was a scout while another has exceptional orienteering skills. So our son was gone from Sunday lunch time till late on Tuesday, then Wednesday was a recovery day.

Our youngest son hung out most of the time with a classmate who lives nearby and has both parents as teachers. The boys spent most mornings outside and afternoons upstairs in his bedroom here.

Our middle son was home almost full-time. The most extreme introvert of the family, he's enjoyed being a homebody and having few people to interact with.

Thursday and Friday David's been at school part-time, doing preparation for next week (summer school) and next year (handing over some of his classes).

Our youngest and middle sons continued a similar schedule to the above. 

Our eldest son had training at school yesterday for the two weeks he's left for today as a summer camp "leader" (Americans call it "counselor"). During those two weeks they have three camps coming through, first one is grades 1 and 2! Then 3–5 and finally from next Saturday is 6–8. They're going to be busy and have a lot of fun. But it also is a paid gig!

There's no doubt about it, having older boys is definitely a different parenting lifestyle. But I like it.

My week?
And through all the above? Aside from Monday morning, I've mostly been at home trying to catch up on what has been put on the back-burner over the last month as I dealt with a senior graduating and parents visiting. I'm finally feeling a little more on top of things again. 

Oh, as well as mopping up the final things from the events that I helped coordinate for the seniors over the last ten months. I'm so glad that that is almost completely done. I don't think I'll be volunteering to such an extent for our younger two sons classes!

I also went out with a couple of friends for dinner on Wednesday night and that was a lot of fun.

This morning I did one of my least favourite chores: a starving blood test as part of an annual check-up provided by the Japanese medical system. 

I'm a little peeved, though. From my experience trying to get a blood test for an OMF medical last year, I knew that in Japan you can't get health maintenance checks at the "wrong" time of the year. But I'm due (according to Australian recommendations) for a couple of female-health tests. However it seems that I'm the wrong age. You can only have these two particular tests at a certain time of the year and only if you're 41, 43, or 45 (you get the idea, an "odd" age). But next year, when I'll be the "right" age, the tests will be in the second half of the year (as best as I understand the schedule) and by then I'll be back in Australia for a year! 

Sigh. As I'm not particularly worried about anything, I guess I'll have to wait another seven months till I'm in Australia settling out eldest son into university in February, to get those particular tests done. It's going to be a great visit to Australia (sarcasm intended!), but at least I'll be able to do it all in English.

So, in a summary, in the last twelve days we've gone from seven people in the house, to five, to four, back to five, (with an extra boy in there for several afternoons, but not for meals) and now four for the next eight days. Then, from the 24th, we'll have six days of three of us in the house, when our youngest goes away to summer camp himself. My meal planning and grocery shopping has taken a bit of a hit. Not to mention my sense of "normal". I remind myself occasionally that it's okay to feel a little off-balance.


15 June, 2017

Share my world #3

Camping and photography combined last summer!
Taken at sunrise at Lake Biwa.
I slipped off the wagon with this one. It's been a month since I last responded to the prompt. Here are this week's questions and answers:

What do you do when you’re not working?
I could write an essay on this, but my simple answer is: Read, watch DVD episodes, play word or card or other simple games on my phone, crafting, coffee with friends, riding my bike, photography, camping.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I don't play the lottery, but if someone gave me a significant amount of money above and beyond what we needed, I might buy my first house or apartment in Australia. I'd probably also use some to support other missionaries.
What makes you laugh the most?
Yikes, that's hard. Possibly irony?
What is your biggest pet peeve with modern technology?
That I don't understand it well enough to fearlessly fix it myself when things go wrong with something like email that I use on a daily basis for my work.
Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I'm grateful that the regular school year has finished for everyone now. 
I'm doing something unusual on Sunday, taking a couple of friends to visit a church plant run by OMF colleagues in Yokohama.

This prompt comes from Cee's Photography blog. 

14 June, 2017

Summer holidays guidelines (2017 edition)

Last year around this time I posted about our family's "Summer Holiday Guidelines". It worked fairly well last year, so we're doing it again. Hopefully now they're one year older we'll see an even better response.

Here are our revised guidelines:



13 June, 2017

Advice on tentmaker ministry in Japan?

One email I had to answer in my work today was from someone who had found the OMF Japan website and was asking for advice about becoming a tentmaker in Japan. 

As I thought about how to formulate my reply, or even if I should pass this enquiry off to someone else, I realised that I had the perfect resource to start, one that has much more authority to it than I could on my own. Early this year we published a Japan Harvest magazine with the theme "Independent Missionaries".


A number of the articles from that issue are now online, so I sent our enquirer some links. I thought you might enjoy them too. These are articles "from the horses mouth". Independent missionaries/tentmakers themselves writing about their experiences.


Good and bad aspects of tentmaking by a friend of mine who has worked with her husband in a rural part of Japan since 1991.
Independent not self-reliant by a Malaysian lady who's been in Japan with her husband for just over a year.
Relational Evangelism by an American who teaches English in Japanese schools.
Doing mission when you're not a missionary by another friend who is in Japan after her husband got transferred by his company from the UK (she's the lady on the cover).

Tentmaking ministry in Japan looks different to other countries. I remember Aussie friends who were here teaching in schools when we arrived in 2000. One of the reasons they didn't stay long-term was that working full-time in Japan is very time consuming. Employers demand a lot and there is little left-over time for extra "ministry".

But some have made it work. I do recommend having a look at the articles I've linked to above, you'll see different perspectives to what you get from someone like me who lives (partly) off what we receive from generous friends elsewhere.

12 June, 2017

Special morning tea for staff

I did something a little different this morning. I helped put on a morning tea for the CAJ staff. It was a thank you present from the families of the Seniors who have just graduated. We did this instead of giving some of the staff presents. We figured that many of the staff at the school have contributed to our student's school experience and they all deserved a thank you. So rather than just picking out a few to give presents to, we put this together for the morning snack break of the staff's first day of meetings after school finished. 

If the reaction of the staff to this event is any indication, we did a good job of both surprising them, and showing our appreciation to them. They were extravagant in their praise. Apparently this is the first time senior parents have ever done this.

It was a team effort. I did little but help coordinate, buy some of the food, and be there to help set up and clean up. A few people who couldn't come provided food and decorations and this morning two ladies who came to help did a great job of making it aesthetically pleasing. We used money that was left-over from the banquet and after-party (we'd collected money from senior families at the start of the year to cover those two events). One of the dads even baked American scones, which were a major hit. 
I even got a bit teary in the midst of it all when I thought about how many of these precious staff members have taken the time to help my son. It hasn't been an easy journey and it was wonderful to be a part of something saying thank you to them all.
It was definitely the most satisfying of the things I've been involved in for this Senior class end-of-year events. The banquet was quite a spectacular event, but I spent a lot of time answering questions and dealing with problems, so didn't really get to enjoy it that much.

Now I'm looking forward to getting the final reports collated and handed over to the upcoming class so I can put this responsibility down.