Choosing to swim without armbands.

So this week one of my greatest Sapporo-based achievements occured.

I managed to get myself a mobile phone.


Like, a real-life-all-round-apple-produced-contract-phone-on-a-good-deal. That actually works.

I know, I know, most people reading this will be like, ‘Big deal Peta. Welcome to the real world’…

But the thing is, there’s something about being totally out of your depth language wise that makes even the simplest of tasks become almost-overwhelming complicated.

Like, trying to figure out what it is you’re signing, and how you set up a direct debit in Japan, and whether this phone is even going to work when you step out the shop.

Now, I could have taken a Japanese speaking friend/colleague/fake-family-member with me to make this whole experience easier. But truthfully, I’m a really firm believer that I’m only going to get better at this whole speaking-Japanese malarky, if I actually make myself jump in at the deep end sometimes.

Which goes against almost every natural inclination I have. But yet…

Here we go. Without armbands.

So on Thursday afternoon, I finished school and trundled (what a great word!) along to the mobile phone shop.

A wonderful shop assistant comes to my aid, and within about 30 seconds we identify that he speaks about zero words of English. He’s really apologetic about this, and I feel bad that he’s so apologetic and so am really, really apologetic about the fact I don’t speak very good Japanese (I am in his country afterall). After a further 5 minutes of us both being increasingly remorseful about our language failings and having an ‘I’m so sorry’, ‘No, I’m more sorry’ exchange, we reach a kind of mutual understanding that we’re going to try and tackle the challenge of sorting me out a real-life-Japanese-mobile-phone-contract or die trying.

At least I felt like we were on the same page…

It was actually not as painful as I (or he) anticipated. He downloaded a Japanese phrase translator for the really complicated bits (turns out I really don’t know contract-speak), I had all my bank information and passport details ready to go, and within 45 minutes I left the shop with an all singing, all dancing, bright blue iPhone 5c. Occassionally when we were waiting for the system to load the guy even took great delight in typing random phrases into the translator just to entertain me. Which was pretty funny. And the phrase ‘I’m sorry, my English speaking is not there’ is now a classic for me.

Check out my new phone people! And be proud please!


The guy was as much of a legend as my bank clerk a few weeks ago. Except this time, he went out and brought me a bag of Japanese food as a thank you/apology/souvenir/present of the occasion. I was pretty touched. And Kayoko was pretty amused when I got home.

The whole experience was a gentle-yet-real-reminder for me of the trusting-God-and-stepping-out-journey that every day should actually consist of.

In the little things.

And the big things.

In the things that really do cost.

You see, just as the simple things, like getting a working mobile phone, can seem a bit daunting here, even-more-so can the big things. Like, when I look at the complex needs of the young people I meet. And when I look at the challenge of learning Japanese fluently. And when I prayer walk Susukino knowing there are 100s of ‘businesses’, ’employing’ thousands of girls and guys that the heart of Jesus weeps over.

Because the thing is, these things are costly. To my flesh. And uncomfortable. To my human nature.

Yet beautifully costly. And stunningly uncomfortable.

Because my natural position is so often doubt instead of faith, and fear instead of love. But allowing God to change my vision and my lifestyle and my everything means that I am changed. Changed by His love that can’t help but outpour. Changed by His vision that means boldness rises. Changed by His sight which means the unloveable become beautiful and there’s real hope in the mess.

But everyday is a choice. And everyday is a battle. To position ourselves rightly. To walk with Holy Spirit. To live for the One thing, that is always Jesus.

As I type this I’m sitting at my desk and there’s a Buddhist priest in the shrine-room next door chanting and burning incense as he performs his monthly ceremonial ritual over this household and this family.

And it’s a stark reality of the spiritual reality here.

Of the spiritual battle here. Even in this house.

Because every day I pray here. And I worship Jesus in this home. In my home. And I sing the Word over this family. And I intercede of these people that I now love so much. And Holy Spirit is at work.

But, everyday it’s a choice. And everyday it’s a battle. Of spiritual proportions. Of actually jumping in at the deep end. Without armbands. Knowing that it’s for the love of Jesus. And the love of people. And the belief that He’s got this.

He pursued me. He pursues us. He pursues them.

I’m going to leave you with a link to a piece of poetry that I’ve been using as I prayer-walk recently.

His love changes everything.

How can it not?



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