So I’ve just finished day two of language school… And… I am exhausted!! I mean, not in a bad way at all… Just in a ‘My. Brain. Hurts.’ kind of way. I’m trying to memorise a dialogue that we’re doing in class tomorrow, whilst also learning some more kanji, whilst also getting ready to do more on my Masters essay after dinner… But actually, I just thought I should pause to write a quick blog. Because there’s something about writing about what God is doing and saying that seems a bit more important than all that other stuff. Because without that focus none of the other stuff makes sense anyway.
So, I want to update you on my last few days. So that we can continue to join with each other in prayer!
So, Captain’s log…. (I’m kidding, I’m kidding… That one’s a private joke for Derrick…)
On Sunday I was blessed/encouraged/challenged (any and all of those words) by spending the morning and afternoon with Fukuinkan Church. Blessed, so blessed, by the people I met, encouraged by just joining with some Christian family who overflow with love for Jesus in worship, and challenged because this is a Japanese-speaking church. Which means that it deep ends me in my language ability to the point where I possibly need arm-bands. But yet… I feel strangely ok about that. I’m pretty comfortable singing worship in Japanese (which goes back to my reading being way better than my speaking… and probably my incapability to not sing loudly in praise…) and actually the worship was such a beautiful time where I really felt the Holy Spirit speak and just be so present very strongly. So, I guess not really being able to get loads of the sermon nailed is just going to push me to really study/practice/learn hard!! But yeah, it was the best kind of Sunday. I love this church’s heart! And I even got some Masters work done in the evening!
And then… Monday came. And I began language school!
My days just now language study wise follow a pretty basic structure. From 9am until lunch, I have classes. And yes, I am being made to speak, and yes, this is really, really good for me (I hope!!) There are only 4/5 of us in a class so I can’t even hide! Then, after a quick lunch break, the afternoons are filled with activities or one-to-one lessons which aim to get us using Japanese in real life scenarios (This is the bit I am notoriously terrible at as it can’t be learnt from a textbook!)
So, on a normal week, I’ll have 3 afternoons of one to one tuition and 2/3 activities a week (depending on if I have a Saturday class!)
Which is pretty immersive when you consider that I live with two Japanese ladies and am probably going to go to a Japanese speaking church!
This week’s langauge learning activities have thus far been kimono-dressing-up (I’m sure there is a proper name for this!) and sushi making (yep, I actually made and ate my own PROPER sushi… although the guy we learnt from was saying that it takes 3 years to train and 10 years before you can work in his restaurant so I don’t think I’ll be winning any prizes anytime soon!) Tomorrow we hit the snow festival, which in all honesty will be less practice-speaking, and more taking pretty pictures. But all this does mean that I’m having a whole lot of fun as I learn and I have some hilarious photos of our antics to keep you amused.
Check these moments out… 😉 (spot us acting the classic scene of me about to be beheaded by a crazy man with a katana… ;))
Now, this is also a pretty cool little God-moment… My language school is on the second floor of a building in central Sapporo (right off the station walkway if you know Sapporo…), and today I discovered… That there’s an amazing Christian book shop on the third floor! Seriously, super cool! I possibly did a little excited dance in the middle of my language school cafe when I realised this earlier. I went up today to say hello and buy a bilingual Bible… And realised that it really is a blessing to even have found this place. One of my friends told me it’s the only Christian bookshop here!
Last night over dinner I also had a really great talk with Kayoko. Dinner times here are the most wonderful occasions to eat a whole lot of food (and that includes mushrooms, raw fish and a whole host of unknown items I honestly never would have seen myself happily eating a few years ago…) and chat in a mix of Japanese and English. Kayoko is cheeky… She starts a conversation with me in English, and then gradually switches to Japanese so I almost don’t realise we’re doing it! And then she wanders through into the kitchen and keeps talking and I suddenly realise. I’m normally like, ‘Kayoko, you’re so sneeky getting me to speak Japanese without realising it!’ And she just simply carries on ‘fufufu’ laughing to herself.
Anyway, we were just finishing up dinner when she said to me, ‘As a Christian, do you normally pray over your meal?’ And so we had a talk about why I would pray to thank God for food and why I would pray to thank God more generally. Kayoko was explaining why she says the phrases she does before an after her meal, and put it like she was thanking the god of each food that we had eaten and the people who had made it. Anyway, she then looks at me and says, ‘But for me, God has always been about my heart. I want to be true to my heart. And when I read the Bible I like many of the things that it says but in my heart I know I could never follow them’. So… I mean, if that’s not an invitation to share about Jesus then I don’t know what is. We talked about how I believe that Jesus came because He is interested in our hearts and interested in making them right with Him. Because even though we all fail and we all mess up and we all sin, Jesus did everything to be close to us. Such a beautiful opportunity from Holy Spirit to share such a beautiful truth.
Ok. Alongside this, I’ve also started to make contact with some organisations in Sapporo for my dissertation. There are a lot of what seem to be called ‘free schools’ in the city, which have outreach for hikikomori young people and non-school attenders, and I’ve also got a hold of Sapporo council’s youth strategy and details of the four main centres for provision. So, like normal when I’m beginning to network and make links, I’d really value your prayers for the right doors to open and discernment to follow the leading of Holy Spirit in all things.
In my prayer times these last few days a couple of thoughts have been refreshing my heart and my spirit in a very special way. Firstly, those words, ‘I have been crucified with Christ, and now I no longer live, but the power of Christ now lives in me’. And secondly, the overwhelming revelation that this Jesus, whose power lives in me, is more than enough. For everything. For every desire of my heart, and every thirst of my soul and every need of this city, and every problem of these young people. There’s such hope in that truth. Because not only is the power of Jesus a power greater and a force stronger than my sinful nature, it is a power greater and a force stronger than the sin and disease and hopelessness and despair in our world at every level. Because the power of Christ was never intended just to live in us for us. It was intended to pour out and overflow and tranform everything else.
Holy Spirit, I love how you meet us and use us and are so very present in every moment or everyday 🙂
Sorry, that’s a kind of rambling blog post. But, I am kind of a rambling girl… 😉