When getting the Internet feels like the most stressful job on the planet…

So… Getting the Internet in Japan…

Interesting. Very interesting.

I’d actually heard lots of horror stories about having to set up all kinds of utilities bills as a foreigner in Japan. People warned me it would be difficult, expensive, and just pose a whole host of problems.

And just to reassure folk, that hasn’t been my experience at all. Getting a bank account, a mobile phone contract, an apartment, gas, electric and water direct debits, health insurance, paying tax… All of it has been far more straight forward than I imagined or expected.

I have been super-duper-thankful.

However, getting the Internet.

Oh. My. Word.

That’s just been a whole other experience.

A-not-straight-forward-experience.

It’s not been helped by the fact that I am technologically one of the most un-knowledgable people on the planet, and my Internet-related-Japanese is pretty much non-existent. In fact, thinking about it my Internet-related-English is pretty much non-existent.

I am blessed with some amazingly-beautiful-and-wonderful-Japanese-friends… However, on the whole their Internet-related-Japanese is also pretty much non-existent.

We’re a sorry bunch of non-techies.

You can see where my problems began.

Six weeks or so ago when I first moved into my apartment I paid a visit to my mobile phone provider to see if they could advise me on setting up home wifi.

I spoke to an advisor who could speak English. She assured me it would be no problem, gave me a delivery date for a router and that was that. It was a pretty long wait, but as I pretty much live in Starbucks-free-wifi land I figured it would be okay.

And honestly, because in the UK that pretty much is that, I didn’t think a lot of it.

The company were a bit unreliable with delivering things when they said they would (which is super unlike Japan) but last week the guy came to connect the Internet box and the router finally arrived yesterday morning.

One of my Japanese friends has been staying at my house this weekend, and we opened the box… To reveal a very old fashioned looking router. I mean, even me, with my zero technological experience could tell that.

This was NOT a wifi router.

It was some kind of old school plug in thing that I haven’t seen since about 2001.

One phone call, one in store visit and a host of complicated instructions later, we ended up at a huge electronics store in Sapporo city centre.
And after a whole host of mind-boggling Internet-language (neither Japanese or English) we were finally led to some ominous looking corner of the shop for some advice.

The guy (who spoke English… But INTERNET English… Which I’m telling you is NOT English), basically said the easiest way to progress would be to cancel the whole rubbish Internet thing and just set up a new contract.

At which point I possibly put my head on his desk in despair.

Turns out in Japan the whole order-one-small-wifi-router-plug-it-in-and-go-thing doesn’t actually exist. You need TWO routers. TWO. To TWO companies. I couldn’t get over this. My new geeky-technician-friend talked me through the process, wrote step by step instructions for me in English, and then proposed that this would be the most extreme part of culture shock I ever experienced.

Can I highlight that this whole process took ALMOST THREE HOURS.

Three hours people.

That’s three hours of my life that I’m never getting back. That’s three hours of my friend Mai’s life that she’s never getting back. Not to mention the hours of my friend Ayumi’s life that she’d already spent on the phone.

I had to sign about a katrillion forms. I’ve got so much paperwork from the experience that it needs its own filing cabinet.

To give the guy credit, he felt so sorry for me that he didn’t just give me the crazy amount of free money off vouchers to spend in store, he also gave me a free tablet, his personal card, and assured me that within two weeks I will have the Internet.

Maybe.

I mean, at this point, I’m not entirely convinced.

But…

If it all goes to plan, this guy is totally getting doughnuts too. And a lot of them.

He’s kind of like my geeky-Japanese-Internet-hero.

There’s joy in the breakthrough right?

The moment where you feel like you’ve been waiting forever for an answer from God, where something that you imagined would be so simple is somehow surrounded with unexpected complications, where the journey is so, so, incredibly longer than you ever imagined it could be. Where you sit with your head on the metaphorical table and just exclaim, ‘All I wanted was wifi. I didn’t think it could be this hard!’

Sometimes it feels like a long, hard, walk back to our Father’s house before we see Him running towards us in the distance.

Sometimes it feels like it’s a long time trusting trusting the answer is on the way before it arrives.

Sometimes it’s the challenge of taking steps of faith even when we don’t know if they’re going to be immediately fruitful or not.

A bit like when Elijah was waiting for the rain. He knew it was coming. He trusted the promises of God. And so he kept on praying. He kept on sending his servant back, over and over again. Until he saw the cloud. The promised sign of rain. And then he ran. Then and only in the watching and the waiting and the trusting did he run.

There’s joy in the breakthrough.
There’s joy in trusting for the breakthrough when it seems unlikely.

Right now, I actually feel like sometimes I’m in this place. I have a few friends that I love so much, who I have shared so much of my heart with, who I genuinely believe the promises of God over and for. And I long for breakthrough in them and for them and with them. But it’s the waiting. It’s being faithful in the waiting, even when the waiting seems painstakingly long, trusting that God’s timings for them are perfect because they are His.

And as for my Internet… Well, I’ll keep you posted!

On Sunday my beautiful church family had a BBQ for over 200 people, and the last two days have been a mix of teaching English, and studying and going to cafes with friends. So enjoy a few pictures from the journey.

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