Now today, I’ve got another great story for you… In fact, I have a couple!! I mean, I still get surprised when God does stuff like this. And I actually enjoy that feeling of me being really surprised, and then going, ‘But of course… He is God! Nothing takes Him by surprise!’
I woke up this morning to have received a voice-recording from a friend of mine over WhatsApp that honestly just answered some of the things I’d been praying about just before I slept. So that was affirming in a way that just reminds you that you are on the heart of God and the heart of friends in a precious way. And I was thankful.
So today, I wanted a challenge and I thought it would be really good to attend an actual Japanese class whilst I was in Tokyo… You know, just to see if I could get some kind of gauge on where I’m at, see what other people do to learn here, and all that jazz.
So a quick ask at a local community centre, had me pointed in the direction of the local Waseda University campus and told there was a lesson starting before lunchtime.
Now, how do I get to this particular part of campus? The map was vague and in Japanese. It was apparently a 20 minute walk, so I set off with plenty of time and thought I could prayer walk my local neighbourhood at the same time.
Which was a good plan I think.
Because I had a really powerful time of intercession at a local shrine. That I kind of accidentally found. Anyway, there were quite a few people here and so I stayed for about 20 minutes and did my normal worship-praise-intercession wandering around and singing a song about Jesus being Lord. Which is what really hit me here. That here, satan may think that he has authority and power and influence… But he is wrong. And he is defeated. And Jesus is Sovereign. And King. And Lord. And on His throne for eternity.
I actually had one of those times of prayer where you are really bold in the Holy Spirit and you feel things shake. You know? Where you know God is asking you to pray boldly and in faith, and you know He provides the protection for you to do it, that angels camp around those who fear Him, and that you are safe.
Awesome. He is.
Anyway, this is the shrine:
The other good thing about finding the shrine, is that I knew the university building I was looking for was the left turn after it. So only a few minutes after leaving my prayer spot I had successfully found the building with 45 minutes to spare before class.
Now, this is where it starts to get fun.
What I didn’t know, on my quest to find a Japanese class, was that this particularly university building also housed a local church. So when I began to wander around the campus, and not have a clue where I was going, I decided to ask someone for directions.
So I go into what I think is the right building for the class, and there is an office on the ground floor with three guys inside about my age. So I knock on the door, and ask if they know where the Japanese class is and if they speak English.
And one guy speaks great English.
So we began to chat, and have a wander round trying to find the right room, when I ask, ‘Are you a student here?’ And he says, ‘No, I pastor the church that meets in this building.’
I just ‘happened’ to walk into the random office that one of the pastors and two of his friends were working from today. The pastor of a church that is growing, and has a heart for children and young people, and over 100 people (20 children) attending each Sunday! And I just ‘happened’ to have 45 minutes free before my class to learn about this ministry and share some of my heart and be part of one of those wonderfully encouraging God-moments that just ‘happen’…
We both laughed quite hard. Because the chances of me coincidentally choosing the one Japanese class in Tokyo that met here, and then just coincidentally choosing to ask for directions at that office on the one morning the pastor just coincidentally happened to be there, and me coincidentally being a Christian youth worker from the UK with a heart for this work in Japan… Were really pretty slim.
But seemingly God will have me meet whoever He wishes 🙂
Anyway, that was cool story number 1 and we’re not even at my class yet.
So as I shared yesterday, Japanese is really hard to learn and I am not that confident or competent in my abilities.
And today felt a bit like going back to junior school.
I walk into the class room. I probably would have been nervous had I not just been talking about God moving in Japan for the previous 40 minutes. There are 4 or 5 teachers and maybe 10 of us there for the class. I am the only student who speaks English, 3 are German, and the rest Korean. Only 1 of the teachers speaks English.
So I fill in a registration form and she sits next to me to try and gauge my abilities. I have taken my Japanese book to help show what I have been learning. So she opens my book. And I feel decidedly nervous. And then she starts shouting, and it takes me a moment to realise she’s shouting, ‘Awesome! Awesome!’ in Japanese. I am a bit thrown, and obviously look confused, because she then looks at me and says, ‘Your writing is good. I haven’t seen kanji this good from a student. You can write it!’ Which I’m sure is a massive exaggeration and her trying to be encouraging… But you know what?! I was really encouraged!! She then took my book around the room and showed all the other teachers… Which was… Embarrassing. Very embarrassing. But also nice I guess. I should have brought her an apple or something to be a real teacher’s pet! 😉
She decides that even though I am not very confident at speaking, I probably should be using an intermediate text book (eek!!), so I am then paired with a teacher who speaks no English and we are left to it for the next few hours.
And do you know what? It was probably one of the most encouraging ways I could have spent today. Because I have a long way to go in my language study. A very long way. But I could communicate with this lady. And I am exhausted after 4 hours of speaking… But she does know about where I am from. And what I am doing. And the fact I am a Christian. And work with young people. I could tell her I was studying. We could have conversations about the food I had been eating, and how I was travelling, and what I liked and didn’t. We could talk about the differences between Scotland and Japan. I could explain… stuff. And I may have made mistakes, and not known all my grammar, and needed correction… But she could understand me, and I could understand her. For hours. I could actually do it!!
And I can not tell you how much more confidence that has given me.
For actual Japanese people to say, ‘You are getting there. Keep going. Most people give up before they get to this point and we can tell you are a serious student!’
So that was cool story number 2.
Praise Jesus for days where He surprises us with blessing and kindness.