Venturing out of Tokyo…

So today sees me make my first venture out of Tokyo.

This afternoon I take the Shinkansen down to Hamamatsu to spend the long weekend with a wonderful church community there. I’m then back in Tokyo on Tuesday/Wednesday for meetings with Not for Sale and some other folk.

So I’m writing an early blog post now, and will hopefully get on WiFi when I arrive to update you with something more substantial πŸ˜‰

Right now, I’m making my meandering way across Tokyo, and have stopped into Starbucks for my typical mid day snack:

Yep. Healthy. Starbucks cinnamon danish addict in the UK. Starbucks cinnamon danish addict in Japan. (I do still eat lots of fruit by the way!! I promise!!)

Next to me a Swedish guy is talking to an American colleague in the loudest possible fashion. Between their swearing  and generally angry tones, the gist of the conversation is work ethic, and the amount of hours the American guy is willing to work. It is again a really saddening reminder of the gruelling work culture here. Now, my team work hard. It’s not unusual for us to start early, work late, and give it everything. Because, you know, we love working with young people. And we have a great team. And on the whole it’s a lot of fun!

But that’s not it here. This conversation is about the company. The image. The professionalism. The profit. And it’s just so… Empty. 

Because these two guys, for all their bravado, and sharp suits, are quite frankly, two of the most unsatisfied people I have ever heard talk. And the thing is, my two American friends from the onsen-fish-foot bath this week? They aspire for this.

It’s so sad!!

Just had to have a wee rant πŸ˜‰ (yep. I still use the word ‘wee’!) I really get that time that Jesus says it’s hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in a new way.

Now I’m excited to be going to Hamamatsu this weekend. I’ve met some incredible people and churches in Tokyo and am both moved and inspired, but over these last months I have been emailing the pastors of this church, and I really love their heart. I am also excited to learn and hear from people who have been sustaining ministry in Japan for decades. There’s something incredible about that in a country that is so hard and where the church is so small. How do you sustain a passion and a love and a zeal in this environment that isn’t measured in months or years, but in decades? Because that’s the kind of person I want to be. That I would run my race well, not just for a season, or for my 20’s, but decade, after decade after decade, that I might be a burning and shining lamp at the end of the age. 

The great (and sometimes hard) thing about being in Tokyo by myself, is the time you are propelled into the Presence of God. I was skyping one of my beautiful friends/mentors yesterday and she asked me a really great question: What’s the difference for you in experiencing the Presence of God in Japan over back in the UK? 

Good question!

And my answer, after a bit of thinking, was that here, everything is stripped away and I am forced to rely completely on God.

For everything.

I want to order something in a shop? I have to pray God helps my language.

I want to talk to someone about my faith? I have to pray for the opportunity and hear God clearly on it being right.

I want to get somewhere? I have to trust He will guide me.

Things that are so simple in the UK, things that I can do in my own strength, I now find I can’t. The support networks that I am so thankful for and privileged to have, just don’t exist here for me yet. Even sharing my faith, in the UK, is routine in some ways. Everyone knows I’m a Christian. It’s easy in many ways to talk about Jesus. 

But here? I have a heightened awareness of God’s Presence, because I know that I am completely reliant on Him, and that only in Him and through Him will I see His purposes happen. Which is truthfully the case all the time, but it’s the beautiful, raw reality here that I am beautifully, rawly aware of it.

And thankful. That He is my closest friend and deepest love.

And that I know, in that place, the race for decades is won. 

Oh Lord, let me learn to love the process as much as the promise!

Now, before I sign off to finish lunch and head over to Shinagawa, I must also post a special photo for Becca and Matt, and all the other people who actually laughed so hard I thought they were going to pee themselves when I mentioned I’d eaten here:

 

Yes Freshness Burger. We British people may laugh at your slightly silly name. But you do produce great burgers. So for that, we salute you. And Becca, you are coming for dinner with me here one day.

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