Stress Management is vital to success...
I (Katharine) have experienced more change in the last 10 months than I have in all my 32 years of life... at least that I can remember. Moving from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas to the booming metropolitan city of Nagoya, Japan and experiencing all sorts of culture shock on top of attempting to learn a very foreign culture and difficult language... it stresses me out to even think about it. I am dealing with hard to manage, unrelenting stress not just personally but also that of my three beautiful children. We leaped off the edge of a giant cliff when we took off on that airplane on June 18, 2014 and we landed in the deep end of a Japanese pool and we have been struggling to stay above water ever since! Moving overseas with three young children is crazy.
At MTI (Missionary Training Institute) we learned a lot about how to manage stress as it is such a huge part of living cross culturally. We were taught that when coping resources are not available, stress can be harmful and may lead to "burnout" and even depression. "Burnout"is a process that emerges from long-term unmanaged high stress. Cumulative, unmanaged stress damages our bodies and changes our personalities. And around December, after living in Japan for 6 months, Matt and I noticed that we were beginning to feel the affects of long term unmanaged stress. We began to pray for an opportunity to take a vacation, just the two of us. Finding someone to watch all three of our children seemed like an impossible task though. It's not that we are surrounded by unqualified people, it's just that our friends are in the same stressed out predicament along with us so we felt like it would be wrong of us to ask them to take on our kids for 4 days!! But we continued to daydream about what our ideal getaway would look like... Beach? Mountains? In Japan? Out of Japan?
Then reality set in and we abandoned the idea for two reasons: 1)vacations are really expensive and 2)we can't leave our kids unsupervised!
Then Evelina floated down from heaven with her magical umbrella and began washing the dishes and helping me cook dinner. I spoke of our dream getaway and she excitedly offered to watch both of the girls so that we could getaway and relax! What?!!? Evelina is such a blessing. I then shared my dream with a car full of friends on our way to Costco a few days later and my dear friend Jenny Rodriguez (our pastor's wife) offered to watch Josiah at her home as his schedule would align perfectly with their adorable 1 year old, Aiden! She practically begged me to let her watch him!! WOW!!! We started to get really excited about the possibility that it just might happen! Then Matt had an idea to check our forgotten Japanese bank account that had been accruing child benefit money from the government and we found out that we had saved almost $1500!!! FREE MONEY just for having kids!! The Lord answered ALL of our prayers!!! Praise the Lord!!! So, without any money out of pocket and beautiful people to watch over our sweet children, we booked our dream getaway (two days before leaving) to Hakuba in Nagano, Japan!!! Matt found a beautiful hotel in an area known as Olympic Village where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held!!
He planned to ski his heart out and I planned on doing nothing but lay in bed, read books, and take bubble baths for three days. That, friends, was our ideal getaway vacation! And it came true! We went the last weekend of February and it was glorious. We took a few pictures to share with you so that you could praise the Lord with us for His beautiful gift to us.
I was able to unwind, relax, and rest...
Matt used booking.com to find us a really good, last minute deal at this beautiful hotel.
I enjoyed a two hour breakfast experience every morning in which I ate lots of fresh fruit, drank hot coffee (while it was still hot), and ate freshly made chocolate croissants. Mornings are typically the busiest time of the day for me as I rush around getting everyone ready for school so it was wonderful to go slow and enjoy watching the snow fall while reflecting on all that we have experienced.
Oh glorious, beautiful, body length, jetted bath tub... with a view (swoon)!
I enjoyed long, slow dinner dates with my handsome husband in which we talked and talked without interruption.
I began reading Ann Voskamp's beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts. Her message was so timely, encouraging, and inspiring. I highly, highly recommend this book. I experienced a revelation while reading it that has truly changed my life.
Hakuba received a lot of snow during our visit. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
It doesn't snow like this in Texas!! Or in Nagoya!!
I couldn't get over how perfectly the snow accumulated on the tree branches.
I didn't sleep during the day but I did lay in bed while I read books, finished this season of Downton Abbey, and journaled.
I went on walks around the hotel to soak in the snow scenes. It was so peaceful. The Lord was so good to provide this time for us. I'm so incredibly grateful.
I had a good amount of much needed alone time which was perfect but I didn't have anyone to take my picture so I had to take a snow selfie!
Matt went on a crazy adventure, as usual...
Matt loves to unwind and relax by doing something exhilarating, spontaneous, & adventurous in the great outdoors. And since we live only 3 hours from some of the best skiing in Asia- why not?!? He rented every single item he would need and hit the slopes bright and early and stayed until they closed. He wore himself out and loved every minute of it, including the frozen beard!
He experienced a complete white out on the slopes!
Stress management, also known as "soul care", is so important for missionaries. We deal with hard to manage, unrelenting stress every single day. Taking time to get away and relax, rest, and recharge is vital to our long term success. I'm so thankful that the Lord provided this opportunity to us with no money out of pocket. It was such a blessing!!