Thursday, November 12, 2009

I love Jr High

Sometimes my job can be frustrating. Often it is amazingly boring. But even so, I find that I really like my job lately.

I'm finally figuring out a bit of the balance between discipline and loving the students. I've been able to start developing relationships with some of the students, and it's so great to watch kids who weren't doing anything before, suddenly working hard and doing their best. I want to be a teacher who makes kids feel loved. Who inspires them to be better than they were before. Personally, I don't care if my students ever learn English. But I want them to learn how to be better people. The only way I have to reach them is by teaching them English.

I've been very encouraged these past few weeks with kids who are suddenly working harder than before. Kids who are trying and pushing themselves. I love my kids.

There are several problem kids in our school. Kids that no one really knows what to do with. And there are the "weird" kids too. (the weird kids seem to like me! Go figure.) I want to reach out to them. I want them to know they are loved. I want to love them and encourage them. On days like this, I hate the thought of moving, because I want to stay with these kids a bit longer. If I leave who will take care of these kids in my place? Who will praise them, and tell them that they have worth in this world? My heart is torn.

Today the number one problem student in the first years gave me a calendar he designed. He doesn't do anything in class. He can't get along well with the other students. But recently, I've been praising him every time I see him. I ask him if he'll try to do something in class. He hasn't done anything yet, but the ice seems to be melting. But he likes computers. He designed a graphic and then made it into a calendar. He's been making them for some of his teachers. I was happy when he offered me one today.

I feel so powerless sometimes. All I can do is ask for God to watch over these children.

It goes to show that I can find purpose even when I'm not working in a church. When I was in college I wanted to do Jr. High ministry. Looks like I've found my Jr. High ministry. Nothing what I envisioned it to be, but, it's still so important.

I like kids.

In other random news, I forgot to write the other day that Sensei has stopped smoking! He had given up smoking for one week for the praise service. And on that day, he decided to give up smoking for good. He's so awesome! Once he decides something, he really goes all out. I really respect people who can put so much into stuff.

Anyway... I'm tired. I've had a cold this week. I need to shower and go to bed. But I felt like writing first. That's all. Time to stop rambling.

Still waiting for an answer about Fukushima. But not nearly as stressed anymore.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I received another comment today on one of my posts. I'm always a bit surprised when I find that people have found my blog and are reading it. I was even more shocked today to discover that I have 7 followers (and only two of them are people I know in person! This is also not counting the people I know read the blog, but who aren't listed at followers.) I guess this means I should update a bit more often. :-)

So recently lot's of things have been happening. (this is a long processing, and I'm starting at the beginning here...) After I finished my job as a missionary, I found a company and started working as an ALT. At that time, it was very important for me to stay here where I had already built up relationships and friendships. As I started working in the secular company, I found that I felt isolated and lonely. I went to work, commuted long hours and came home to an empty house. The only thing that kept me going was seeing the band on Saturday nights. But even that had started to feel a bit hollow.

Slowly I came to the realization that I was stagnating here. I had no purpose, no ministry. I'm originally a lazy person, so when I don't have a program or a ministry to be responsible for, I slack off easily. The band wasn't enough to support me. I also needed to be connected with a Christian community. I still had contacts with former co-workers, but because I didn't have money for transportation, I was rarely able to meet them. The lack of money and community began to take its toll on me.

Then I got the suggestion that I move to Fukushima to live with a former co-worker and do ministry there. I could work as an ALT while she worked at the church. I had been offered chances to move before to Niigata, but I had never felt it was right, so I always refused. This time, I surprised myself by saying I would go.

Circumstances changed a bit, leading to me getting a roommate, and then it being said that a different co-worker would also move to Fukushima. I started to loose my certainty about going. I started worrying about it, and praying about it. (more worrying than praying I confess.) I was torn. Suddenly, I didn't want to leave all the things I had built here. I didn't want to leave the band, I didn't want to leave my students. I didn't want to leave my roommate. But at the same time, I wanted to run away from it all. I wanted new air, fresh adventure and change.

So now the deadline for me to decide one way or another is quickly approaching. This has increased my anxiety quite a bit. Last week I was praying about it. Wed, on the way to work, I suddenly felt an urge to fast. I was a bit surprised, because I had already eaten breakfast. I was wondering "is this really ok?" But the urge didn't go away, so I told the school I wouldn't need lunch that day. (they are getting used to me not eating sometimes now.) So I prayed and journaled, and still wasn't finding any answers.

On my way home, I started listening to my MP3 player. I have some Christian songs, and lots of band songs on the player. The song that came on is one of the band's new songs called "Smile." Part of the chorus is a repetition of "Why don't you smile for me?" in English. As this song was playing, I could feel God speaking to me. Why wasn't I smiling for him? Why did I worry so much? Of course my worry didn't please him. God desires my love and praise. He doesn't need me to figure things out or to have all the answers. He wants my love.

I was humbled, and suddenly felt released from my fast to eat dinner. (Shortest fast ever I tell you.) So somehow I felt a bit more peace, even though I didn't have any more answers.

Last week I had told Sing that I was 99% certain that I was moving to Fukushima. He was a bit shocked. Some other people are also starting to move on with their lives. I told him he's a bit like Peter Pan ruling Neverland. Lost Children come and can live and be loved, but eventually they grow up and leave Neverland. You can only be a Lost Boy for so long.

Yesterday we had a really long conversation about it. I had to tell Sing about what had happened Wed. I really didn't want to, because Sing has been telling me to smile for years, and I hate it when he does. His motivation is totally different. I resist Sing's message so much, because it's hollow and empty. But Sing was of course slightly triumphant when I told him that God used his song to give me a message. He went a bit too far, saying that it was his message and not God's, but I think he knew what I meant.

But then he started asking me a lot of really good questions. Why was I going to Fukushima? I told him I wanted to get stronger. Why can't I do that here? Because I'm lazy and too tied up with things like the band. He kept having so many questions, but it all came back to, why did I have to go away to get stronger? Why couldn't I stay? He told me he needed me. I argued of course that he doesn't need me, there are plenty of people there for him. But he was insistent. In the end, he said that he needed to make me happy, and then maybe I wouldn't go.

Now you have to understand a little about my relationship with Sing. A few years back, I fell in love with the guy. But he was in love with a friend of mine. I gave up on that love. It was a painful time. But he never left my heart. Over the years, I found that I still loved him, but I was no longer in love with him. (I'm instead in love with a different band member, but also probably not a good thing.) I have spent so much time praying and fasting and praying for Sing to become Christian. I tried talking to him about it at first, but found that I couldn't. We argue instead of discussing things. I couldn't understand where he was coming from, and he couldn't understand where I was coming from. We merely frustrated each other. So we eventually talked less and less. Lately, we barely said anything to each other at all. There were new fans to take care of, and I had been around long enough that it wasn't really necessary to talk anymore I guess. But still, I felt very far away from him. I began to wonder what it was I was doing here...

Now suddenly, I tell him I'm leaving, and he tells me things like he needs me and he'll try to make me happy. A couple of years ago, that would have made me very happy. Now... I know they aren't true. They are hollow words. He can't make me happy, no matter what he does. He doesn't understand that happiness is not my goal. I want to be fulfilled. I want to find joy. I can only find those things in God. He can never give them to me.

It was a rather emotional talk, but today I find that I have more peace than ever about Fukushima. Leave it to Sing to argue for me to stay and actually push me closer to going.

I'm still not at 100%, but I think I'm at 99.5 now. I do need to answer the question if I'm running away, or if it's time for me to go. But the more I think about it, the more I can't see myself here next year. I don't want to leave Sing, but maybe it's important that I do. I can't do anything for him. He can't do anything for me. But Fukushima will help me grow and mature as a Christian. (and hopefully get over the one-sided love with the other band member, who fortunately for me hasn't been coming lately...)

I have been in Japan 5 years, and March will mark the end of 5 years in Omiya. It's been a good 5 years. But it might be time for me to move on.

For the first time, I'm daring to hope and be filled with excitement about the prospect of moving.

I want to become a more beautiful bride of Christ.

Son of David, have mercy on me. Hear my prayers. Guide my feet, and fill me with your love.

Praise service

Today we had a special praise service at church. There have been attempts at it in the past, but things never seemed to fall together. But now we have "Sensei." Yang Sensei has been very quick in getting "Sensei" involved in things at church since he was baptized in April. He's been helping in the Sunday School, doing Children's messages once a month and doing a bit of performing after church sometimes. Today he was the worship leader for a praise service. Did I mention he was only baptized in April? God is good.

It was wonderful to see him lead worship. It was not what American's would picture as a praise service. It was more meditative, more Taize style, and just a little bit traditional Japanese thrown in. It was beautiful.

The Japanese was simple, so I could understand almost all of the songs. For the most part, it was very easy to follow.

I feel so blessed to watch Sensei grow like this.

I pray that God will continue to bless Sensei, and strengthen him, that he may also bear fruit someday.