Well hello blog world!
It feels like it's been a long time! The problem with going to blogging twice a week this year is that I literally feel my heart's about to burst with something by the time is comes around to writing time. And this week is no different. I actually have no idea where to start.
Let me first thank you for your prayers. In my language study, in my research, in my living-breathing-walking-around, in my friendship-making, in my working and in my worshipping, I am knowing so much joy. And I know that your prayers are so vitally important to this journey.
So, is language school still super hard work? Yep. Honestly, my progress feels painfully slow. But am I knowing joy in the journey? Yes. Totally. We are laughing so much in class this week. It's actually a bit of a riot. And somehow, that makes all the difference in the world. (And my one-to-one teacher is still the most patient and wonderful person on the planet!) I'm doing 5 – 6 hours of language classes on an average day just now, so it remains pretty intensive.
I will however, be starting to teach some English classes for my school in the next couple of weeks. I've actually started a few trial lessons already, which is pretty fun. Most of the students learning English with us are young adults, but I'm going to be joining a team writing some new curriculum stuff for kids this month and we are SUPER excited about that! Especially as it means the music, art, drama stuff can come into play (literally!) My boss also spoke to me this week about giving some thought to ways we can combine my research with the work of the school. So there's loads of exciting stuff in that which I'm not really at a point to talk about just now, but it involves empty houses, creative curriculums and hikikomori outreach. It's an exciting environment to be a part of, and I would appreciate prayers for wisdom, timings of taking on more classes, combined with study, when to talk to funders… All that jazz 🙂
Which takes me onto my research, which continues to snowball in a way that only God could orchastrate. This Friday I've been invited to attend a Hokkaido research group that runs events for teachers and professionals working with non school attenders and hikikomori. I'm going to be meeting the Professor who chairs the group first, and the evening is being hosted by another Professor who is a specialist on the family and school situation in Japan. On Sunday evening I am then visiting another youth centre to meet some of the team, and next week another free school. I'm also spending Tuesday afternoon interviewing another Professor who's speciality is work with young people aged 16+, and he emailed saying they'd just finished reading a book on Community Learning and Development in Scotland so it's just really mutually cool.
I can't really tell you how stoked I am about all this. I'm not sure yet if that makes me truly geeky, or if there's anyway I can redeem it with something a little more cool 😉 In a worldly sense, there's no way I can explain meeting some of these people other than the favour of God. Because I am a young woman who speaks terrible Japanese, and yet… I am really humbled that some of these men and women (who are experts in their fields and normally very hard to grab time with) will spare me afternoons and hours to talk to and learn from. The truth is that my heart burns in prayer for the young people here, and the more I learn, the more it burns. BUT, and here's the but for my research, meeting with others and being in a position of asking questions means that my prayers become grounded in the realness of potential, outreach, work and how God could use real people to make a real difference. It's early days, but these are exciting days. And it's looking set to be an eye-opening-heart-stirring-dissertation-writing journey.
Ok, now I could keep rambling about my thankfulness for being truly welcomed and embraced by a couple of amazing churches and some meeting-wonderful-new-friends type stories, but I'll save those for another day… Otherwise it could go into thousands of words… 😉
What I do want to share is this super cool little revelation…
So you know I'm in a home stay, right? And I had planned to stay with these ladies for a few months whilst I found my feet. But over the last couple of weeks I've been praying about staying with them for a bit longer… Because not only does the thought of moving all my books to an apartment fill me with dread (joke), but I'm also enjoying the relationships and conversations and general brilliant location of living here. So, over dinner on Monday night I asked Kayoko about the potential of staying with them for a few more months. And this was her reply… No joke…. 'Oh yes, that is absolutely wonderful, I was thinking it would be good for whilst you finished most of your research. But also, me and Obaa-san own a lot of properties in this area so when you do want to move out you can rent a flat off us…'
Mmm… WHAT?! Seriously, you can't just throw information like that into casual conversation Kayoko!!
So the thing is, I'd noticed that the two kanji of Kayoko's surname appear on a few buildings in our street, but not really thought a lot of it… You know, commonly used kanji can be kind of ambiguous sometimes… But, turns out the reason they appear on those particular buildings is… Yeah. You get it right? Blessed beyond words! As a friend of mine keeps saying to me, 'Sometimes, it's like God just likes showing off…'
Anyway, since moving in with Kayoko and Obaa-san I have introduced what I like to call 'Cake Day', which is the imaginatively-named-day of the week that I return home with cakes from some posh shop in town. I know, I know, I just bring the party don't I?! 😉
In celebration of the fact I'm staying longer, the cakes got really posh last night 😉
In typical 'Peta-style' the other exciting and totally unrelated news of my week is that I brought a new coat (it's so cold here that I am wearing two coats most of the time and I needed another one with a hood to take on the crazy snow storms!) So yeah, I found the perfect coat on sale.
Yes, I know, ginger people are always advised against wearing orange… BUT it's a really cool coat. And I secretly like the fact that when I wear it with my read scarf and my green tights I will look like actual traffic lights.
I'm being serious.
Anyway, this is a terrible photo, but you can appreciate the vibrancy of colour involved at the very least!
Which brings me down to land. With a really simple thought.
Psalm 30 has been gripping me this week. I read it on Sunday and I was so challenged by the power of our testimony and the power of our praise. That God has saved us so that we can speak and shout and song and proclaim His glory. And from that place, of knowing that we deserve nothing of His grace and nothing of His love, and have been rescued from our sin and rescued from hell and rescued from despair, and given His hope and His joy… From that place we worship.
The Message writes the last two verses of Psalm 30 like this:
You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.
And that, is beautiful Truth.
Because the thing is, Psalm 30 is real. Real about the heartwrenching pain, the guilt of sin and unexplainable circumstances. But it doesn't end there.
It ends here.
With the victory of Jesus.
With the transformation of Holy Spirit.
With hearts that will burst and mouths that will sing and feet that will dance.
I wish I could just pour out my heart more and some of the things He is speaking about in my life right now.
I want to pray more. For my every action to be in worship. I long to keep changing. To grow deeper in love with Him. To lay down more myself and delight in His Truth. To hate wickedness and the sin I war against. To be filled with a deeper longing for Holy Spirit. To radiant the vibrancy of His beautiful Presence. To truly live before an audience of One.
So, yeah, I brought this bright orange coat yesterday, and in all honesty it's way too bright and way too ridiculous. But I love it. And in a weird Peta's-brain-way it reminds me of the joy that I live in now that Jesus has taken away my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
If you get my drift.
He loves us so well 🙂