Rambling Notes from Japan
Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.
Last Day of School
"I never really left school. It's just part of what I've always done. It doesn't seem possible this is really happening!" I heard him repeating. He was well roasted by his fellow teachers. They even sang a special number, a parody of "At the Hop" with the same familiar tune and entitled "At the Shop." But all his colleagues also very sincerely complimented his dedication, faithfulness, sense of organization and neatness, love and care of his students, and skill as a teacher. 40 years of teaching "shop" class, and no lost fingers or blinded eyes. That in itself is an amazing feat! But to have made an impact in the lives of generations of students, to teach even their children's children, that is even more amazing. It was fitting to end the evening with "Amazing Grace." Congratulations, Dad, on your 40 years of ministry.
Meanwhile, another generation of Lavermans was celebrating his last day of school...at least for summer. Kaori and I pulled up to his elementary school today to pick him up. I knew I was in for a great show, so I was careful to park the car in a way that we got an unblocked view of the school exit doors. Then we waited for the last bell.
We weren't disappointed. The kids literally came bounding out of the doors, dancing on air, skipping, leaping and swinging their school bags about them. It was written all over their faces: LAST DAY OF SCHOOL! Oh, what a feeling! Three months to daydream outside, swim in the pool, read a book of your own choosing, play with friends, vacation with family, and the list goes on.
Although Justen's school year was at Lansing Christian was a bit abbreviated (just 6 weeks as we returned to the States in mid-April), he was also thrilled to be finished. But he really enjoyed being with his classmates again (spent 1st and part of 3rd grade with same kids), and he loved his teacher, Mrs. Furlong, pictured here at the left. Mrs. Furlong is another teacher with a long impact as I remember her well from MY school days at Lansing Christian some 30 year ago.
Time Travel Again
The physical adjustment of coming to the States is one real challenge. Still another challenge to this time travel is the mental adjustment. Big and small changes that have occurred in our culture and lives of people may have been easily absorbed if meted out one by one over time, but when you have been gone for a while and suddenly are met with all these changes at once, your brain begins to hiccup. You feel a bit of the Rip Van Winkle syndrome. You wonder if you really belong in this country. When exactly did people begin doing this (i.e., walking around talking to themselves with things stuck in their ear, self-checking their groceries, etc. etc.)? This neighborhood has changed. That person is no longer alive. Those familiar faces have grown older. A thousand and one little changes all around make us feel as though we have time traveled into the future.
This adjustment is perhaps the harder one to make, because there is a sense of loss and estrangement. While we don't expect things to remain the same, we do expect to feel at home when we return. But this feeling of moderate alienation with one's own culture should not be unique to missionaries. Scripture reminds all of us as believers that this world is not our home, that being uncomfortable in the world culture about us should be normal, that we are all sojourners looking toward a heavenly home. That "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." Phil 3:20
I will always be a traveler in this world as I look forward to the next. This is a good reminder as we begin our home assignment back in to the States.