So before you think I'm genuinely dedicating a blog post to trying to answer that question… Believe me, it's rhetorical.
It just happens that tonight I moved the last of my belongings from my old house into my new flat and that's the rhetorical question I've been left asking myself.
Why (in the world) do I have so many pairs of socks?
And where did they come from?
No joke. I have over 70 pairs of socks.
That's, quite frankly, ridiculous.
And now that's out of my system I want to talk to you about getting to know your communities. Through prayer and conversation and the wonderfulness of forming new relationships. Which has altogether more profound answers than why my socks seem to be breeding themselves into triple figures….
Today has been wonderfully eventful.
My encouragement to you is to go get some tea, take a seat and prepare to be entertained… Because I am going to ramble through some stories…
Post language school, I've had a much-appreciated-day-off in order to do the rather boring-yet-neccessary-moving-related-tasks of changing my address (by one number) at the local council office and starting to organise getting home-internet installed.
A wonderful fluent-in-Japanese friend assisted me in the council registration/health insurance stuff as it's normally a bit tiresome to make sure you've filled in the right form with the right jargon, and afterwards he asked me (something along the lines of) the following question…
Do you always just happen to meet random people and get talking wherever you go?
He's a Christian so he didn't mean that in a bad way (I don't think!) He was just reflecting upon some of the weird and wonderful conversations, friendships and Jesus-sharing experiences that seem to unravel upon life's journey…
But post boring-neccessary-paperwork, it hit about 4pm, and this question remained with me.
I was walking to an Internet-installing-type-store a few blocks from my house, and I began to pray that Holy Spirit would give me more opportunties and a tangible burden for the neighbourhood that I'm living in.
You know, the immediate few blocks around my house? My community that I am now putting down furniture-buying roots in? Yep.
We'd had this truly awesome and precious day of prayer at my church yesterday and God was so powerfully present in the meetings. And I guess in that place of really praying with expectancy, and then today with that question, which reminded me of the importance of Holy Spirit just overflowing from us all the time in every moment, I was challenged. Or I was re-challenged. And re-amazed at the beauty in the body of Christ, and in this particular part of the body of Christ that I'm planted in.
So I was walking and I was praying.
That God would open my eyes.
To what He is already doing.
And then on the next main street, that I walk down every-single-day, I looked to the left and saw a little shop that I'd never clocked before. It was a tiny French-style interior shop, and it looked like my kind of place.
As I approached it, I thought to myself, 'This is one of those shops that's so small that I'll have to buy something or I'll feel bad for getting the owners hopes up by going in…'
But I needn't have worried. Because this place was full of awesome house-stuff… Like some kind of rustic-French-treasure-chest.
That just happened to be selling a huge-quirky-pretty-much-full-length-mirror which would tick another box in the items-to-buy-for-the-flat-list.
The woman spoke no English, so we had a quick chat as I paid and I arranged to go back and get the mirror on the way home before her shop shut. Her shop is about 3 blocks from my house… But you know, I'm pretty strong so carrying a mirror that far is No.Worries. (Joke. You do get that, right?)
So then I went to do the whole Internet thing. Which was fun. But productive. And oh boy, these kind of things make me wish I was more confident at speaking Japanese! But we got there…
And then I began to walk home. But I noticed this tiny cafe-style-restaurant and I really felt like I should go in. I walk in and discover that the place sells Indian curry, a selection of fresh bread and home made cakes. Seriously. It is as weirdly-awesome as it sounds. (And only 10 minutes from my house!)
The guy who owns the store is an Indian chap who speaks English (and fluent Japanese) who's married to a Japanese lady. They moved to Sapporo 14 years ago. He's a Muslim, and I said I was a Christian, and once we got over that kinda-awkward-oh-we-can-still-be-friends hurdle we actually had a really great conversation. Just talking about life and faith and what brought us to Hokkaido. Just talking. And he gave me a cool membership card and some curry recommendations so I am totally sold on becoming a regular. AND I brought cakes for my entire household which went down a treat.
But now I have a box of cakes and a handbag. And a mirror to collect.
So I keep walking, when I pass a florist. It's my local florist and Kayoko loves flowers and I've really wanted to get her something this week. So I go in.
And it's basically a florist where you choose your own flowers and stuff and they make up the bouquet for you to the size you want. So I explain to the lady that it's a gift for a super cool lady, tell her about living nearby, choose a few flowers, ask for some recommendations, design this stunningly colourful, massive array… And then realise I now have a box of cakes and a handbag and a huge bouquet of flowers. And a mirror to collect. To carry three blocks home.
But my heart is super happy because I've been meeting local people and praying and having good conversations… So I'm in one of those moods where I'm like, 'It'll be fine. I've totally got the ability to carry four arms worth of stuff with only two. Easy.'
So I get back to the mirror-shop.
And the woman takes one look at me, laden with bags, and says without any hesitation (in Japanese), 'You live in 22? (I had told her that earlier…) I will shut the shop just now and carry the mirror for you!'
I am not even kidding you.
This woman shut her store and carried a full length mirror three blocks to a random stranger's house.
And on the way we got to talk more. In Japanese. About life. And faith. And why I'm in Japan. And her store. And young people. And just start to form a friendship.
Super cool right? This woman literally carried the thing into my flat and helped me get it set up. And it had an old school iron frame so it was super heavy!
So… (Are you still with me?) I get back to Kayoko's house in time for tea, and give her cake and flowers. And she says, 'Oh, you kind of had a parcel today….'
And I'm like… 'Kind of…?'
Basically a friend who's back in the UK just now sent me some of my favourite sweets as a gift, but got my address four blocks out. I live in 22. He put 26. Which is pretty different in terms of Japanese addresses. He also only put my first name.
So the envelope just said 'Peta'… With the wrong address.
BUT… Kayoko got a call from the post office because they knew who I was. They knew the name. And just wanted to check. So the parcel still arrived.
So. Super. Weird.
And it really got me thinking. About the influence we have as Christians. Even when we don't realise it. Especially when we don't realise it. In the mundane, going-to-the-post-office and buying-cake and getting-flowers kind of activities. We become known. People watch our lives. We become vessels of Holy Spirit. And we have opportunities to love others. And be loved by others. And talk. And share. And walk this whole journey out with people.
So I want to encourage you to walk. To pray. To talk. To engage with your communities. And let God start to do some beautifully crazy things.
Because this daily life we're living is our worship. It's our prayer. It's our praise. It's our opportunity to choose to love others and choose to love Jesus and choose to live in His strength and His joy.
He's so abundant.
Holy Spirit is so abundant.
Even more than the socks that keep multiplying themselves in my closet.
Oh boy, there's a whole story of God's provision that I was going to blog about but I'm out of time and space… But basically He just amazes me in everyway. Thank you for praying for me! Please keep doing so. Especially for my language abilities… Although today showed me I could talk more than I thought I could in more situations than I thought possible.
I love you all.
And here are some pictures of the latest adventures… 😉
A few of us had a tea party at my flat… Because we're wild…
A beautiful skate followed by a beautiful four-hour-prayer meeting…