Amazed by the expected and surprised by the unexpected. That describes our last 2 ½ year adventure. We returned to Japan, packed our belongings and moved to the other side of Tokyo.
In a 6 month period, we sold our condo in the States, bought a house, moved into it, moved back to Japan, and moved to the other side of Tokyo. We said good-bye to our kids who stayed behind in the U.S., said good-bye to our Japanese friends and neighbors of 15 years, moved to a new neighborhood, and had it rain for the first week. No wonder Elaine began to wonder what we had done and why.
This whole adventure started just before our last Home Assignment. We were discussing what we would do when we returned to Japan. It was one of those moments when the words come out of my mouth before the thought is in your head. Elaine said, “Why don’t we move to Machida.” John who hates change said, “Yes, why don’t we?” We looked at each other and thought what has just happened. It was God leading us to pack up and move so we moved! Following God is not always easy or comfortable but it is always the best.
Tokyo is still the largest city in the world and our new neighborhood still speaks Japanese but what an amazing difference. The community welcomed us not just to live among them but to live with them. Elaine started cooking and craft classes as an outreach ministry. Her one cooking class is now 3, the craft class is now 2, the needlepoint class has grown from 1 to 5 ladies and the Bible study continues to grow as ladies ask to join. We had many people over for meals some even for BBQ parties on our new patio. John has been able to begin building bridges to several of the husbands as well. But in amongst the expected God has surprised us with more of the unexpected.
One day John and Tim were in front of our house getting ready to go for a hot summer walk when a lady from the neighborhood stopped and mentioned that it was her birthday. She was 80. John and Tim began to sing Happy Birthday to her when they were joined by an elderly Japanese man who happened to be walking by. The three sang a rousing version of Happy Birthday in Japanese. Just a few weeks ago, this short little lady came running after us. She wanted to thank each of us for her birthday from last year. Unfortunately, it was the only remembrance of her birthday that she received that day. The neighborhood knows we are Christ followers, so everything we do they see as a witness of our faith. What an incredible gift of love to this lady.
Over and over God has let us show His love to those who live around us. One afternoon while John was having his Japanese chess (shogi) lesson, there was a disturbance in the small park next to our house. At first John called out and asked them to keep the noise down. Then it got to the point that the women was begging for someone to please rescue her because she was being dragged down the street by her hair. John, Mr. H the shogi teacher and Elaine all went out to help. John was able to separate the man and woman while I took the woman and her children in the house to call the police and an ambulance. Japan is much like America in that people do not get involved in domestic disturbances. The lady was so thankful that we did. Mr. H. responded by becoming more interested in what the Bible has to say about being a good neighbor. Last month he and his wife watched and enjoyed a Christian video in their home.
And the adventure continues . . . . . . . . . . . Coming up the Mehn Us Tour – January to June 2009.