So, things are moving quite quickly at the moment. And I should really update you. As much as I can.
This last week a lot of things that I thought were steadfast for me shifted and were shaken, and this impacted upon some of the plans I had for Japan in January. Which was not a comfortable place to be. Because on Sunday, at about 5.30am, I was struck with the realisation that, alongside some heart/emotion type stuff… I was practically leaving on a plane to Japan in less than 15 weeks… and didn’t really know anymore what I was doing or where exactly I was going.
And being the slightly-obsessive-organiser that I am, the thought of no home to live in was pretty terrifying. Alongside everything else.
I knew I had a dissertation to write on youth work in Japan. I knew I wanted to do some intensive language schooling to get my speaking up to speed a bit. I knew I really wanted to be part of a great church family that I could just love and serve. And I knew that my heart burned for Japan and for the purposes of God to be outworked there, for the broken children to be loved there, for the things that are still seared deep into my spirit from the summer to be interceded for there…
But the details… They had changed. And I was scared.
And when scared, you suddenly have those moments where you doubt everything. Everything. Am I even called to Japan? Maybe I made it all up? It’s so stupid to give up a well paid job and a comfortable life to move halfway round-the-world for…. What?
But there’s this great quote that I absolutely love which just says, ‘Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew to be true in the light.’
Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew to be true in the light.
When I was in Japan this summer, it was like this light-illuminated mountain top of faith, and seeing God’s provision and knowing His heart. I felt loved and affirmed and secure and totally, totally confident in so many things. And since coming back home… Life has been… Massively, hugely difficult. It’s been dark. But the promises of God, that I heard Him speak so clearly and audibly in Japan… in the light… They are still true now. In the dark. And we should never doubt in the dark what we knew to be true in the light. This is why I journal. To remember.
But at 5am on Sunday, I was not remembering very much very fast. Until my precious godfather Jim emailed me at 8.44am. He simply referenced one verse.
John 1 v 5.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
I cried so hard when I read that. Because it’s true. So beautifully true. His Light is my strength. He is my strength. And He only, only, only speaks the undoutable Truth.
My friends pulled my butt into gear by Sunday afternoon.
I began to pray, a really unarticulate prayer that went something along the lines of, ‘God, I will go to Japan and I will trust You, the flights are booked anyway… The visa application is being processed anyway… But I’d really rather have somewhere to live. I don’t need to know any more than that if you don’t want to show me yet… But please just at least give me a bed somewhere’.
And the words I felt Holy Spirit speak straight to my heart? Not affirmation. Not ground-altering vision… Just three words.
Hokkaido Language School.
Seriously. I thought I was going mad.
For those whose Japanese geography is limited… Hokkaido is the North Island of Japan… About 24 hours drive further North than I had anticipated going. And not somewhere I have really contemplated in the past. I don’t really know anyone there. And in January… it’s cold. Really cold.
But to be honest, I kind of thought I had nothing else to lose. So I looked up Hokkaido Language School… And found… It exists. It also does the most wonderful courses. And organises the most wonderful home stays. And they are flexible. And their administrator offered to find me a home stay that was close to the local church that I’ll be involved in. And 48 hours after contacting them, I’m enrolled, sorted, and just have to pay tuition once my visa comes back next week.
So, I’m moving to Sapporo! I arrive the week before the Snow Festival starts (which I’m SO excited about), and I’ve made connections with a church that a friend of a friend is involved in that just sounds amazing.
I’ve enrolled for just under 4 months…I have 15 classroom lessons a week, 6 private lessons a week, and four cultural activities a week… And I am staying with a Japanese family… So I’m hoping, praying and aiming… That my Japanese speaking should improve at least a little in that amount of time 😉
And here’s the thing… If plans hadn’t changed, I wouldn’t have been able to start language school until the new term in April. That was the only option. So I might have had a bit more time to write some Masters work in those weeks… But I would have probably had two months of not really speaking a great deal of Japanese. Which I guess… Might not have be the best use of time when the whole purpose of moving to Japan is to share about Jesus… In Japanese. It might have been comfortable, but it was probably based more on what I wanted than giving every moment to what God wanted. So, I almost feel like He has shouted to me, ‘Peta. There’s something bigger than you going on here!!’
So what after that? What happens in May? Well… I don’t quite know is the honest answer. In my flurry of Sunday activity, I identified a couple of scholarship funds for postgraduate research and put my CV out to a few companies. I’ve heard back from two companies and I’ve submitted one fund application.
I was struck this morning as I prayed that right now I was faced with two choices. I could submit to the grief and sadness that my plans and my dreams hadn’t turned out my way. Or I could remember that I was never called to Japan for me. It wasn’t ever about my happiness (although I am hopeful that that will also follow), it was about His call, His purposes and His will. I said over the summer, as I prayer walked Tokyo’s red-light district, that for one of those girls I would give up everything and go. And so I will. And today I had the overwhelming feeling that I might be facing sadness, but I am not facing despair. Because it’s about His Name and not mine. And it’s about His love and not the love that I receive from others. And it’s His purposes that will prevail.
I’m ok with not knowing the next steps, but I guess I’m in a place of praying and seeking God’s plan for these steps. I’ll follow His Light on this path. And I would value your prayers over these next days and weeks and months.
Oh, and here’s Sapporo at festival time 🙂