|In the beautiful sunken garden in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.|
|Gorgeous Japanese garden in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Really felt like the real thing.|
|Stopped here for lunch before heading up to the north shore of Lake Superior. Home of the|
best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had. (It had pesto! Genius!)
It was four years ago this summer that we met each other for the first time in Chicago, Illinois for orientation to the J-3 program and the 2012 Summer Missionary Conference. That's where we also first met several of the people we'd be working with--Morgan and Katie and other missionaries in Japan--that (little did we know) would change our lives irrevocably for the better.
So here are some frequently asked questions, new for 2016.
How are people doing after the earthquake?
From what I hear, the relief effort is still going, especially in more rural areas. In the city, many are back in their homes and classes resumed at Luther in May, but the psychological effects of the quake still linger. I have heard requests from missionaries in Kumamoto to keep in your prayers those struggling with PTSD symptoms, especially the youngest ones.
How was Japan?
Amazing. Life-changing. Thus far the best decision I've ever made and greatest adventure I've ever had. I am grateful for everything, even the tough stuff. (And there was plenty of that, too.)
Do you miss it?
Are you planning to go back?
Not immediately--at least, not for any extended period of time. Given the chance to visit for a few weeks, though, I'd be on the plane in a heartbeat.
|This is Nene (pronounced "nehneh").|
She is my roommate's cat and
more or less the cutest thing ever.
I am in graduate school, pursuing my master's degree in library and information science. I also work as a library tech at a public elementary school, where my daily experience is dramatically (and sometimes hilariously) different from teaching English at Luther. In my spare time I'm enjoying things I couldn't in Japan, like learning to play the folk harp (a new hobby) and keeping a cat in my apartment. I have been blessed by friends, family, and my church. (Oh, and I'm also my Presbyterian church's newest ruling elder.)
Sometimes, though, the future looks downright scary. Being a J-3, for all its ups and downs, was quite stable in a lot of ways. Housing, community, and employment were all more or less guaranteed while I was there. Now, back in America and on my own, there are no such guarantees.
When I taught at Luther, at the end of the year, after grades were due but before classes were over, I'd do movie lessons with my first-years. We'd give the kids a page of the screenplay with some of the words taken out and they'd watch the clip several times, listening carefully, and fill in the blanks. One of the lessons we did was the scene in Finding Nemo near the end where Dory and Marlin are in the whale. One part in particular brought tears to my eyes, every single time: when the whale is about to push Marlin and Dory out of his blowhole and Marlin holds on to the whale's tongue, certain that the whale is going to swallow them.
DORY: He says it's time to let go! Everything's gonna be all right!Japan did amazing things for my faith, and I know the lessons I learned there will stay with me for the rest of my life. But there's always more room to grow, more things to learn. I've seen the goodness of God here and halfway across the globe in the midst of what seems like despair. We can be assured God will have the final word on everything, even if everything seems hopeless. One day we'll see, but until then we are called to live in peace with one another; to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God; to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn; and to live in the hope of the Gospel. I do these things imperfectly at my best, but God's grace is more than enough to carry me through.
MARLIN: How do you know?! How do you know something bad isn't gonna happen?!
DORY: I don't!
How can I repay the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
Psalm 116:12 (NIV)