Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Distractions

Since  returning to the states after living in Japan, I'm amazed at how easily distracted I get at situations that were once common habits.

I often go to the library and am distracted by the numerous rows of books - in ENGLISH! from children's books to cookbooks to Christian books.  Ahh - abundant blessings! The lights flicker as they tell readers, "closing time has come" and I recall - I came here for some free internet and a quiet work area but instead go home with yet another armful of books.

A visit to a local coffee shop has me typing away at my computer until I realize all of the surrounding conversations are in English. Unintentionally I overhear about someone's upcoming surgery, a new book club starting, a mission trip to Haiti, and the transition someone is making in a new job. I have to pop my earphones in my ears to block out the temptations to eavesdrop on my fellow coffee drinkers.

Grocery shopping in America where the labels are in English would seem to make things easier here.  But then I find myself reading the packaging of 3 or 4 varieties of something, trying to find the item that will best match what is listed in a recipe. I often text my sister to see which item to get. "What kind of milk do we like again?"  Sometimes I make it simple and buy the same thing each time like: Sunchips - original flavor.  For other items, like cereal and cheese I try a new kind each week.  The abundant blessings of variety can be distracting sometimes.

Each weekend as I meet people at a new church who are connecting with ministry in Japan I'm blessed to hear about how God is working in their lives and share stories from mine.  But admit it takes some intense focus to match the names to the faces as a sea of names floats around in my head.  Some people I met 5 years ago and haven't seen since. Others I've only communicated with via email. Matching names of children to parents and husbands to wives is like a memory game that I fall short on. I often find myself saying, "I'm sorry, remind me of your name again."  And then there are those awkward moments where I'm distracted by what I don't see and begin to wonder, 'Did she get divorced since I saw her last?' 'Is her husband still living?'  The blessings of relationships can be distracting, too.

As I approach a cash register to purchase an item I get flustered when I realize I'm not sure what to do.  Using credit cards or ATM cards is the norm in the states where by contrast Japan is a cash based society.  I hand my card to the check-out person and she says, "Oh, you'll need to swipe the card yourself over here."  After murmuring an apology, I swipe the card and I stare at the buttons of the machine, reading the English yet not sure yet which one to push. When I find I've clicked the right button I wait to sign something, only to hear, "You don't have to sign anything, Thank you, have a nice day." I smile and sigh as I walk away with my purchase.

Who knew living stateside could be such lesson on coping with distractions and living with ambiguity for a returning expat?!  It prompts me to pray for Third Culture Kids returning to their passport culture after having absorbed the habits and routines of living abroad. If I'm going through this awkward adjustment after having grown up in this culture - how much more those children and young adults who have only spent snippets of their life in their passport culture? Children who crave a certain foods from their host culture, or stumble with a new currency, or have closer ties to fellow expats than to their own relatives living in this passport culture.  TCKs who are starting their first year of college with parents half a globe away.  May they trust God to give them the wisdom, grace and energy to face the cross-cultural transitions in front of them and may they find relationships with people who will help them cope with those challenges.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Prayer Update August

Prayer Updates

1. Pray that God will show Japanese people that he is real and that he created them to love and worship him.

2. Pray that God would use students and teachers at Kansai ChristianSchool (K.C.S.) to teach people about God's love. Praise God for Ms. Ayers - the 1st  & 2nd grade teacher at KCS (Sept-Dec.) while Lori is on home assignment in the States. For students and teachers as they return from summer trips and focus on the new school year. For the KCS Class of 2012 to draw close to Jesus as they start college, ministries, and gap year programs scattered around the world.
 
3. Pray for wisdom for me to know how to show and tell ministry partners stateside about how God is working in Japan. Pray that I'd keep growing in love with Jesus and His Word.

Upcoming church visits:
August. 12 Bethany Baptist Church, Roseville, MN
August 18 Faith Baptist Church, Bayfield, WI