Sorry it's been such a long time coming. Seems like I'm either too busy, or too free.
After quite a bit of waiting, I was finally granted a new job. The money is less than I was hoping for, but I am ever so thankful to have a job at this point. It was truly a miracle to get the job. It would take a while to explain, so I'll just leave it at that.
I currently have a job as an ALT or Assistant Language Teacher. I am working in a Jr High School about an hour away by bus. I spend a lot of my time commuting right now, but that's ok.
I was wondering if I would like the new job, because I've heard stories about ALT's and Jr High kids, but it turns out this job seems to suit me just fine. There's not a lot of prep work that I have to do, and the kids aren't so bad at all. Sometimes they are downright cute. They are getting used to me, and I think I'll be able to have fun with them.
Mostly I've been adjusting to my new life. It takes a lot more trust I've found, to work for a secular company than for a church. Before, I was assured that the church would take care of me if anything happened. That is not the case with secular companies. I have to fend for myself. It's a bit scary if I think about it too much. So I spend a lot of time depending on God. More so than ever before. It is very frightening to walk forward on your own, knowing full well that your own power is not enough to sustain you. But God has been gracious to me, and all my needs are being met. I've had to sacrifice some of the expectations I had for my new life (mainly the idea of having a little extra spending money per month...) but I'm looking forward to the ways that God will use this next year to help me grow. I think I can become a stronger person through this experience.
In many ways, I feel like I've graduated. These 4 years as a "missionary" gave me the training and the strength I will need to move forward without that title anymore. But just because I am no longer a missionary by title, doesn't mean anything. I love Japan. I love God. So it is only natural that my life in Japan will continue to combine the two in all things I do. It will just be harder now, because I don't have the "easy-in" any more. I have to truly live my faith in all aspects of my life. It will be a great challenge for someone as lazy as myself.
I'm very grateful for the 4 years I've lived in Japan already. I don't think I would have been able to do a job like this without this prior experience. I already have a working knowledge of Japanese, and I know how to find my way around the transportation system. I would have been completely lost without that. God's timing is truly amazing.
In other news, this year's Easter was a wonderful affair. I've heard from so many different people this year that they felt God's presence this year at Easter. It was such a blessing.
In my case, two people who are very dear to me were baptized. There have of course been baptisms at my church before, but this was the first time the people were connected to me. One was Sensei, from Trash Box Jam, and the other was my student, we'll call her Y. It was a wonderful, emotional day for me, and I can't tell you how blessed I was to be able to see it happen. God is so kind to me. I know many people who go back to the states without seeing something as encouraging as this.
And I know it was not my doing. I was just here to observe God working in their lives. So amazing.
There's still a lot of adjusting for me to do. I swing between joy and contentment, and fear and complaining. I still have a long way to mature, and I am constantly reminded of my own sin and ugliness.
Watching dear sisters return to America has also been hard. Hearing about their struggles as they try to re-adjust to America and process all the things that have happened here in Japan. I understand their pain, because I fear it.
On a side note, the next time you welcome a returned missionary to your church... Try to imagine what they have been through. Not everyone who returns to America have done so gladly. When you go to another country, and pour out your heart and soul for it and its people, you leave something of yourself behind. When you return to America, part of yourself has been ripped away. You have become a stranger in your own home. Everything is strange, yet similar. You get hit by reverse culture shock. It's a huge re-adjustment, possibly harder than leaving was. Well meaning "Welcome Home"'s might just be pouring salt on their wounds. Of course everyone is different. But the best thing you can do for someone who has been a missionary for several years in a different country, is listen to them. You will probably never be able to understand all the things that they have gone through, but you can listen. Listen with love, don't judge, rejoice and weep with them. There will probably be wounds that only time and God can heal, but we all want to be understood, even if just a little... Ok, that's my sermon for now, from one who hasn't returned yet. But I want to protect my sisters, if only a little.
So that's my update for now. Hopefully later I'll put up some pictures from my new school and some more fun details.