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.

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