So it's getting late here, but I didn't want to let the day pass without giving you lovely people a quick update. Now as well as this week including me drinking copious amounts of coffee (seriously!) and eating copious amounts of mushrooms (even more seriously… I mean, who I am? Right?) this week has been full of answered prayer. And as it's only Wednesday evening it feels right to just pause and be thankful.
Because I am.
For many things.
Some big, some small, and some inbetween, but all grace gifts from the Father of Lights 🙂
1) Today I finished my first essay of the year. Well, I have a friend doing a final proof-read for me, but it should be pretty much ready to submit before the weekend. Which means that I can move some headspace onto the next essay. And means I can move some more headspace onto language study. And just rejoice that it is one more deadline met and one more piece of work ticked off the hefty-Masters-list. In all honesty, I completely underestimated quite how difficult it would be to write a decent essay whilst moving halfway round the world… So I am super thankful! The fact it's complete also means I get to spend Saturday onsen-tripping-and-ice-BBQing with my friends. Yes, that's going to an onsen resort followed by eating BBQ food in an ice house… Sounds fun, right?
2) The people I'm meeting. Whether it's at church, or language school, through my research-networking, or through my home stay family, I can only be thankful that I am meeting some seriously wonderful people from pretty much all the nations of the world.
The last few days have been full-to-bursting.
On Monday afternoon I had my first meetings with a Professor at Hokkaido University, which were just so insightful. Not only did I leave with a small reading list and a copy of a fascinating dissertation, I also had some questions answered, some more meetings opened up, and a really generous invitation to visit the University whenever I needed. This guy was pretty personally inspiring, but is also a specialist in Child Protection, so I think it might well take a few interviews to even begin to understand his knowledge about the care system here.
That night I also went to a Gospel choir (yes, you heard right…) outreach with a few new friends from church. So, the songs they sing are in English, but the whole evening is in Japanese… Which is fun! 😉 Laughter is definitely a bilingual blessing…
The last few days my one-to-one language lessons have been picking up pace each afternoon and I am blessed with the most patient teacher on the planet. Despite my stumbling conversation and my limited abilities, she is really interested in my research and is helpfully working through the translation of key phrases to do with youth and social work in Japan. And then also working on my basic speaking abilities. Like, seriously basic. Talk about a paradox of learning…
And this evening has just been wonderful. I met an amazingly connected lady for coffee after language school. She is involved in so, so many great local initiatives and is introducing me to some 'Free Schools' in Sapporo that work to support young people who are non-school attenders or hikikomori. But, she was also just personally such a lovely person to grab some time with! I then hotfooted it over to a Sapporo business event that the head of our language school had invited a few of us to. So. Interesting. The evening was a bit like Dragon's Den, but locally based for new businesses in Sapporo, and with only one investor. He had invited individuals to do a ten minute pitch for a potential ¥2 million investment (about £12,000 I think…) So five people did presentations (in Japanese) about everything from skin care products to new schooling. So although no one was given funding tonight, we did get to meet the pretty-important-investor-guy and hear about some future events for potential funding. Which gets my brain ticking…
We also got to take some hilarious photos of us feeling a bit out of our depth language wise 😉
My research meetings are also continuing to see open doors. Tomorrow I am having lunch with a clinical psychologist who works with young people in care, and over the next two weeks I will continue to meet a number of local youth workers and visit projects. Please keep these things in prayer, especially as every new person I meet has so much to offer.
3) The opportunities to share my faith. In meeting so many new people, and following the kind of snowball-effect that comes with networking in a new place, the question I get asked more than any other is 'Why Japan?' And it is impossible to answer that question without Jesus coming up in a pretty central way. And so I'm incredibly thankful for the natural opportunties to share about He who is everything to me, in the everyday exploration of life here. Holy Spirit is so faithful. So, so faithful.
4) Which leads me to my final and most central area of thankfulfulness. The moments of intimacy with God. More than the moments, the constant awareness of His beautiful Presence. I'm finding a richness in the Word just now that is stunning to me. And I'm finding that in a place where I so often feel completely out of my depth, my comfort zone, and my natural ability, I am pushed to trust Him more and more. And I am finding Him so faithful. So kind. So steadfast. I was listening to a worship set that Amanda Cook was leading recently and she began to sing these words spontaneously,
And we would see the look on Your face, and we would hear the tone in Your voice, and we will be changed as we behold You.
I love that so much.
And it is my prayer and the cry of my heart.
Because more than I long to be connected, or to be popular here, or to be good at Japanese, or to make a difference in the world, I long to be changed as I behold the man Jesus. As a gaze into His eyes of burning love that change absolutely everything. As I hear His voice like rushing waters. As I realise that He calls me beautiful because I am hidden in He who is all beauty and all truth and all light. He is the desire of my heart. The purpose of my life. The meaning of absolutely everything. And only in that place am I free, and healed, and held, to walk in the fullness of everything else.
It's stunning, isn't it? He is stunning.
Right now I'm also rejoicing with some awesome friends over some seriously awesome answered prayer. So please know that I love hearing from you guys, you are a humongous blessing to me, and it is my privilege to journey with you.
Finally, as if my cup wasn't overflowing enough, I just got in to find I had mail today. This card is just a small reason that my parents are perhaps among the coolest people on the planet… 😉
God bless you all today!