Well, we are just starting our 6th day in Japan. We’ve been in Japan 5 full days now, and in many ways, it feels like an eternity. How have we only been here 5 days? So many emotions, experiences, and events have been jammed packed into these 5 days. You know those luggage compression bags for clothes? The ones where you can stuff all your clothes into an oversized Ziploc bag and then push out all the air to compress it…literally, every inch of space is used. That is what our time in Japan has been like…stuffed full of joys, challenges, new experiences, and adventures. I don’t know where to begin.
We are sleeping now. Let’s begin there. Because that is making a huge difference. The first 4 nights, nobody slept past 4:00am. And at least one kid would wake up between midnight and 3:00 every hour. We were so exhausted. But, there were so many things we had to get done, so our days were full. We literally only have futon mattresses on the floor…and nothing else.
So with 3 crazy tired children, and 2 exhausted zombie parents, we have walked, biked, rode trains, subways, walked, ran, and walked across this city to get things done. It is difficult getting used to not having a car. It is difficult not knowing how to communicate or read signs. Although it has been difficult, it has been good. We are learning that just because things are difficult, does not mean we have to avoid them. We are learning that we are able to do far more than we thought we could do. We are learning what relying on God truly means. Right smack in the heart of difficult, I can say confidently that we are full of joy. We are so blessed and honored to be here. We are so hopeful for what God is going to do.
And what he has already done.
Yesterday, God answered a prayer of ours that we have prayed as a family for over 6 months. We visited our local Japanese elementary school with Paul, our Japanese translator and new friend. We were truly blown away. We have heard from many other families that an American child going to a Japanese school is not common, and that most Japanese schools would not be accommodating at all to a foreigner. Literally, that is what we heard from every person we talked to.
But, through prayer, we have felt that Hannah is ready to go into Japanese public school. She has a strong child-like faith, she is ahead a full grade, and we want her to speak Japanese and have Japanese friends. We have hoped this would be a way for us to meet Japanese families and be involved in our community.
Although we were told it was unlikely to happen, we started to pray months ago. We prayed two things specifically almost every night: 1. That the principal at our local elementary school would be friendly, and 2. That there would be someone there that speaks English.
So we walked up to the school yesterday. It is one of the oldest schools in the city. It was damaged in World War II, but kept going. As soon as we walked in the doors we were greeted by the principal. He had a huge smile on his face and led us to a meeting room. The brought us tea and everyone we saw had such big smiles on their face. We were shocked by their hospitality. Soon, we found ourselves sitting in a room with the principal and another lady. They started talking to Paul in Japanese and we had no clue what they were saying. I was praying that Abigail and Josiah would not do something crazy. Abigail spilled her tea. I think I cleaned it before they noticed.
They kept talking. Katharine and I were on the edges of our seats. Finally Paul told us in English what they were saying. First, they would LOVE to have Hannah join their school. Secondly, that Japanese lady sitting across from us is a “foreign student specialist” and is at the school 4 out of 5 days a week. She speaks English but has not had an English speaking student to help. She told us she is eager to work with Hannah. She asked us if it was ok to personally tutor Hannah in Japanese. That while the other kids are in geography class, that she would take Hannah aside and teach her Japanese. One hour every day.
With tears in our eyes, we sat in that room and realized that God answered our prayers. In a mighty way he answered our prayers. A friendly principal and an English speaker. Our God is a God that answers prayers.
The last thing they gave us was a list of families that live in our apartment complex that go to Hannah’s school. You know, so we could meet them and walk with them to school everyday. We could not make this up. We left rejoicing, and as we walked out the door, Hannah was greeted by some fellow 1st graders. They loved Hannah. She was a bit shy, but she warmed up to them and said “Konichiwa.” They all screamed and Paul told us they were screaming, “she speaks Japanese.” Hannah keeps saying she is excited to start school and learn Japanese.
So, we are honored to announce that starting Monday morning June 30th, Hannah will be a student at Chihada Elementary School. Please pray for our sweet Hannah as she will be a little missionary in that school. She will be the only English speaker in her school. It is not going to be easy, in fact, it will be very difficult.
But we are learning that just because things are difficult, that does not mean we have to avoid them.
Thank you for your prayers, for your encouraging words, and for your support of our family. We know that as we descend into the pit, that we have people holding the ropes. Thank you for holding the ropes for our family. You are very much a part of all that God is doing here. Let’s rejoice together at what he has done and eagerly hope for what he will do in Japan.
Hannah meeting fellow 1st graders for the very first time.
Everyone fast asleep while Katharine shops for furniture.
Lost on the side of the road with 50 pound bags of curtains. Not one of our finest moments. Thank God for new phones with GPS.
Getting our new phones. Only a 3 hour process!
Josiah fast asleep as Matt shops for appliances.
We purchased appliances and it was quite the experience! We think we got everything correctly, and our appliances should be delivered on Friday!
Hannah and Abigail with a new friend at church.
A kid's snack in Japan.
Lots and lots of train and subway riding!
And lots of walking and taking little breaks to enjoy onigiri and other little Japanese snacks.