Ok. So today is probably as good a time as any for another little update on my adventures thus far… Which are continuing to be plentiful.
It is now nearing the end of my third day in Sapporo (Man, I sound like I'm writing a Captain's log…) and I'm finding the following cycle pretty much sums up my experiential and emotional state.
1. I begin, feeling relatively confident and ok with working my way through my practical to-do list (Health insurance, banking etc, etc)
2. I attempt to do said task *insert activity*, realise how completely out of my depth I am and then have a minor freak out that I will never be able to speak Japanese… (Like, ever!) and start praying 'God, what in the world am I doing?!'
3. I eventually listen to the reassuring voice of the Holy Spirit, (wo)man up, and get on with it. Bad Japanese and all.
4. Jesus surprises me with his faithfulness. Over and over and over.
And then… The cycle begins again. You'd think that I'd be getting better at avoiding Step 2 in this process… But I'm seemingly an even slower learner at issues of faith than I am at Japanese.
So today. I opened a Japanese bank account. Ok, ok, I get that this might not be the biggest deal for most normal, adult people… But considering that I did it by myself and no one in the bank spoke much English, and there was a point where it pretty much felt like I was playing banking-charades… This was a major achievement. I, in all seriousness, am going to go back in tomorrow with donuts for the poor guy who sorted out my life for me.
But the banking thing, is now complete.
I actually had a bit of a debate with a friend this morning about whether I should bank with the 'Green Bank' or the 'Blue Bank' (Both are about two minutes from my house, but I had helpfully only clocked their colours up until 10am!) If you're interested, I'm with the green one. Which I now know is called Hokkaido Bank. Or something.
Look. Here's proof ->
Now, in celebration of the successful banking experience/recovery from the stress of the almost unsuccessful banking experience (Delete as you prefer), I then went to get a London Fog. Which, if you've been following my blog-world since the summer, you'll remember translates as a ラベンダーアールグレイティラテ (Lavender Earl Grey Tea Latte). Not the most succinct name for a drink, I admit. But you know, the fact I can buy these in Japan rocks my world more than I can actually put into words.
Kayoko also brought me loose leaf Earl Grey as a present for the house…
Blessed. Beyond. Tea. Words.
Ok. If you're with me so far, this is where it gets really fun.
Because when I arrived in Sapporo I emailed a couple of the churches I'd been put in touch with… Just to, you know, say, 'I'm here… Could I come to visit your church please?' And as I was sitting in Starbucks, the youth pastor from one of them emailed back and invited me to call by. So, I thought, what better way to try and get my bearings in Sapporo than to wander randomly in that direction and try and find the church. I mean I had a free afternoon and Sapporo's basically a grid… How hard could it be, right?
So totally wrong.
About 50 minutes later (The church was meant to be 20 minutes away…) I was seriously debating giving up. Except that I was in the middle of some random block of houses somewhere and I wasn't entirely sure how to actually 'give up' with any sense of finding my way back home again.
So, as going back was ruled out, and going forward wasn't getting me anywhere… I asked someone for directions.
And this young woman and her two children lived locally so thankfully knew where I was talking about. And they decided to not just give me directions, but to have a good old chat about why I was in Japan and looking for a church, and then they decided to not just have a chat but to walk me to the church, and then they decided not just to walk me to the church but to come in so they could see the entrance. So I invited them on Sunday too. And I think they know some other people who go, so please just pray they get to talk about Jesus more soon… And go to church!
Anyway… I then had a great couple of hours with the pastor, youth worker and selection of other team/volunteers at Fukuinkan Church. I am really, wonderfully encouraged by time with them actually. The pastor talked me through some of the church history and vision. I had a tour of their building (which is pretty cool!) and then a visit to the cafe/community shop outreach that they run in the same block (which is even cooler!). And then some great time just to talk… Over more great tea. Time to share a bit of my heart and story and hear a bit of their heart story and get excited about what God has done and is doing and will do. Time to talk about young people, and building real relationships with our communities and thinking outside of our church boxes. Encouraging stuff!! Really, really!!
I also got given a book, a CD and a scarf on my church-facility tour, (Honestly, it was like a blessing shower! A lady from the shop came through to the cafe and brought me the thickest, cosiest scarf you have ever seen and proceeded to wrap it around me saying it looked good…) and the youth pastor wonderfully gave me a lift home (Which is probably the only reason to explain how I am actually home right now, as opposed to still wandering the snowy streets of Sapporo totally lost!)
So that's been my day… I should also mention something about the weird, wonderful and PLENTIFUL food Kayoko's been cooking me these last two days… But that would be a whole blog post in itself. For those people who know Japanese food, last night I ate a whole block of mochi as part of my main meal. I still feel like my mouth is glued together.
Keep the weird-to-me-but-not-to-Japan food coming… 😉
And please keep praying. In all seriousness, I really just long to serve and be a part of the church family here that God wants, so as I meet a few folk in these next weeks, please pray for that specifically.
Thank you lovely, praying, beautiful people!! I appreciate you so much!!
P.S. The youth pastor I met today manages this great band -> http://night-de-light.com/ so check them out too! 😉