This is one of a series of emails I sent while preparing and living overseas in Japan, from April 2008 to April 2009. They are mostly for my own benefit, but also for anyone who may care to read them. Enjoy 🙂
Thanks for your prayers, I definitely felt calm and collected when I shared my testimony last night. It was my first experience with International Café and it was really great. We had about 20 people there. Two of my students came to hear me speak, both from my Tuesday night ladies class – Tomoko and Mika. Mika, who is 21, brought her friend Hiroka, and we had a great time getting to know each other through our limited vocabulary of each others’ language. Mika is going to miss our class this next week, and then we have holidays for the two weeks following that (two weeks of Tuesday class…the holidays are the 29th, and the Golden Week which is May 3rd – 6th). We were both so sad that we wouldn’t see each other for a whole three weeks, so I asked if they’d want to do something over Golden Week, since I don’t have any plans. They were so excited! We’re going to go on May 3rd to Karato, to see a ceremony that’s performed. It’s particular to Shimonoseki, and is Buddhist in origin. The ceremony starts out on the street and then goes up into a particular shrine…which I can’t go into…so we’ll just watch it from the streets, and then go to the aquarium and maybe to the summit of Hinoyama! It’s the highest point in the area, besides the Keiko Tower, and I’m so excited to get to go up. There’s a car that transports you to the top, so no climbing (sad…oh well), and then we’ll check out the view. I hope it’s a really nice day.
Mika and her friend Hiroka went to high school in the area called Baiko. There’s also a college, and Hiroka goes to college there as well. Baiko is a Christian school, so they teach the Bible and they pray there. It has a really good reputation, so whenever you mention the school everyone gets a look of astonishment on their face. So, Baiko is Christian mostly just in origin and practice, but they don’t teach any of the supernatural events in the Bible…so none of Jesus’ miracles and whatnot…maybe not even the resurrection. So, I don’t know how much you can call it a “Christian” school. But regardless, Mika has a pretty good knowledge of Bible stories, but I know she’s not a believer. She’s so friendly, though, and has a unique spirit – a personality that’s not very Japanese…meaning she’s very outgoing and expressive. Her friend is too. They are so sweet and I’m looking forward to building a relationship with them.
The rest of Int’l Café was great too. We had good food and lots of great conversation. I had several people come up to me, Christians and non-believers alike, saying that they got a lot out of my “life-story.” I’ve never thought that my testimony spoke much, since I was saved at a young age, and never really experienced doubts in my faith, or fell into anything like drugs or alcohol. But, the things that the Japanese struggle with, at least the ones I’ve met, is the idea of fitting into a mold of an ideal person, and my biggest problems and difficulties in life have been along those lines – Trying to live up to peoples’ standards instead of focusing on who God wants me to be. Through the whole thing, it was so neat to feel the veils that the Japanese people put over their face so often to be lifted up. By the grace of God, many of them heard it and were touched. I’m so grateful for that. I hope that it raised some questions in their minds and can lead to really good conversations in the future. The Japanese are very hard to reach…they’re very stand-off-ish, but they don’t let on that they are. They will tell you, “Sometime I’ll come to church with you.” But really they mean, I probably won’t ever, but I don’t want to disappoint you, so I’ll just say maybe. It makes it very difficult to gauge someone’s receptibility to it.
Thanks again for the prayers and I hope that you all have a wonderful Sunday and week to come. Later!!
aka. – Sarah-san
aka. – Sarah-sensai 🙂