Oh, how I love Dr. Suess. Seriously, that man is one of the great geniuses in my book. (The title up there is from one of his books, in case you’re wondering why I am once again professing my undying love for Dr. Suess. Name that book, nerds!)
As I mentioned here a few months ago, 2009 was a funky year for me. The whole year long, I struggled with loneliness, isolation, old issues/hurts from my past/childhood that I thought were long gone coming back to bite me in the butt, and other yucky stuff you don’t even want to know about most probably.
But I’ve gotta tell you guys, 2010 is looking pretty awesome so far. It’s like I’ve been walking around in the desert for 40 years (or okay, 1 year) and suddenly I’ve lifted my head, I somehow ended up in Hawaii. So many little surprises:
1) I have friends!!! Oh my gosh, after Brooke and then Bridgette and then Meredith and then Lesley left (all in what felt like a very quick and unhappy parade to little-old-stay-here-me), girls who got me, girls whom I got, girls who I could talk to about God or about mineral makeup or about anything at all, suddenly I was alone! It was quite horrible and lonesome for a good full year. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some of you out “there” who are the very nearest and dearest people on the planet to my heart. But there’s just something about having a girlfriend or two in the flesh that really helps, you know? I think I’d just about gotten used to “feeling” friendless, feeling like there was nobody HERE who really, truly got me, when suddenly I looked up and there were a few. Suddenly, I noticed that there was wonderful Eri, who can somehow see right through me and can somehow say the very hardest things to me and it only hurts for a second, like a life-saving vaccine. There was beautiful Barbara, with her constant kindness and everyday encouragement, inspiring me with her life to become the thing that has brought me the very most joy I’ve ever felt as a mother, a homeschooling one. There’s Christina, who just moved back to Japan, and who understands more than anyone else this aching in my heart for this nation to know of His great love, and who understands how hard it is to be a missionary here, but who, like me, wouldn’t trade this difficult honor for anything in the world. There’s loyal Lisa, who is as faithful a friend as they come, never forgetting a birthday, always my biggest karaoke fan, and who would eat sushi with me anytime, even though she doesn’t like sushi. There’s Michelle, who shared her beautiful testimony at Coffee Talk on Tuesday, which mirrors my own in so many ways, and which made me fall in love with Him all over again this week, reminiscing over what He’s done for me, and for her. There’s merry Martha, who ALWAYS laughs hard at my shameless and never-ending comedy routine, and bakes the best (and prettiest) cakes I’ve ever seen! And then just today, I had a very long coffee date with a woman who’s not even moved here yet (she’ll be here for real in June), and I haven’t hit it off that fast and furious with anyone since we met Paul and Eri (our pastors), and before that….my husband!!! (Jill, you’re the straw that made me write this blog! I’m amazed and thankful that God is bringing you into my life! Woo hoo! We’re gonna have so much fun! Well, as long as you’re not scared off by this intense post!! 🙂 Nah, you won’t be!) I am just so incredibly thankful for these women. I’m blown away by how unalone I suddenly feel, after feeling so isolated for almost a year. I was just to the point of being okay with it, really, and then BAM! Here’s a whole palette of lovely ladies to play with! Or maybe I’m just finally paying attention, since the pity party ended.
2) We have one heck of an awesome church. Man, last year was tough. It is not easy being missionaries in a Japanese church. I’m not gonna go into all that, but let’s just say the honeymoon with Life Chapel was over by the time we rang in 2009, and we began to really get to know each other. And this is not the kind of church where you go to church, put your Sunday smile on, and then go home. These people get in deep with each other. And we got in with them last year, and it was a lot to take in sometimes. But we made it through. We survived. And we love them now even more than when we first fell for them. And they love us back. It’s hard and it’s real and it’s awesome. Life Chapel is a huge, huge part of what makes my life so wonderful in Japan.
3) It’s been a phenomenal ministry year. Two ministries that a year ago were seemingly comatose, God has revived: Coffee Talk and Awana. This year, I had the privilege of moving Coffee Talk from a Chapel-led ministry to a Life Chapel ministry (actually, the Atsugi Chapel pulled the plug on it, which kind of forced my hand in that direction). But God’s hand has been upon this ministry in a way that I cannot even describe. We are reaching women who might never otherwise step foot into a church, and it is so fulfilling, month after month, to meet with these women, enjoy their beautiful personalities and tell them our stories, of how He’s saved us. There is such an openness and transparency at these meetings, and women’s lives are being changed. It’s humbling to be a part of that. And Awana–oh my goodness!!! For real, this time last year we weren’t sure if we could keep it going at all: we had like $200 in the club account; there were like 6 faithful kids, including our three; and almost all of the volunteers left Japan within a 3 month period. But we decided to take it on hardcore, to really give it a shot for a comeback, and WOW, has God blessed it!!! There are now over 70 kids in our Awana Club, about 1/3 of them being Japanese, and our kids are having an absolute blast hiding the Word of God in their hearts, week after week.
4) Homeschooling is such a blessing. I feel truly fulfilled as a mother, doing what we’re doing. We got off the fast-track, slowed down the whole pace of our life, and we’re breathing again. And we’re doing it together and having a lot of fun. Since we started homeschooling in November, we have started praying for unreached people groups of the world as part of our geography curriculum, we’ve read through 4 classic novels together, been in the Word together nearly every day, taken several amazing field trips on days when “all the other kids” were in school, and I’ve gotten to singlehandedly (okay, with more than a little help from Tad :-)) teach my son to read. These are things I’d dreamed of doing with my children, but there was just not enough time before. I have this amazing window of opportunity to pour into them, and I feel like I’m seizing it. And it feels awesome! I enjoy being with them so much, and it’s so wonderful to see them enjoy each other’s company so much as well. Homeschooling, though it’s absolutely exhausting, is my favorite slice of life these days.
Please forgive me for this perhaps overindulgent praise report–but I just have to shout it out–GOD IS SO GOOD!!! I didn’t unslump myself at all, you see. He did it. I am officially unslumped, people and all the glory goes to God.