Friday, January 08, 2010

If you love me...

Check it out! I'm on a blogging roll! Well, I just go in spurts. Here's to a year's long "spurt!"

Anyway. So yeah. I have to admit it. I watch anime. I don't watch it as much as I used to. I actually run out of time for things like watching TV or anime. But sometimes I get the chance to watch it. Over the winter break I watched some anime. Good times.

Most of the time anime is kinda shallow and silly. But sometimes, it can really strike a chord with me.

So recently I've noticed a theme in a lot of love stories in anime. Two people will be together. Then something will happen that casts one of them in doubt. The other person invariably struggles with this new information. What will happen to the relationship? What seems to make it worse is that the person being accused often doesn't even defend themselves. They just allow the other person to assume things. This of course creates all kinds of tension. But then in the end, when the accused person is found indeed innocent, the other always asks, "why didn't you tell me?" then the reply is always along the lines of, "well, I just kinda thought you would believe in me without it..."

That's a humbling thought. What is love? I'm not experienced in this subject. I might even classify myself as "love impaired." (I can hear Pamela sighing from here. hehe) But I want to learn what it means to love. Sometimes I learn from watching others. Sometimes I learn from fiction. But this fiction is echoed so often in Jesus' life.

So many times, over and over, Jesus turns to someone close to him, and I can only imagine the hurt in his eyes as he says, "I thought you would believe in me... Where is your love? Where is your trust?"


If you truly love, you will trust. If you truly love a person, and know his character, no matter what anyone else says or accuses, no matter the external circumstances, you will believe in and trust in that person. That is true love. Unshakable faith.

How often we fall short! Heck, I'm not even close!

But the good news is that in the end, all is forgiven, and the doubter is given a new chance, and the relationship has become just a little stronger.

Love is pretty amazing. Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's nothing as strong as love.

Awesome. :-)

Back to work.

Today was the first day back to school. Despite being cold, half awake and having a headache left over from yesterday, I still remembered to take my camera to school today. Good thing too, because it was a beautiful clear morning and I could see Mt. Fuji from the bus windows. So here are a couple of bus window pictures! :-D

There were of course no classes today. Just an opening ceremony and then some cleaning. Then kids do club activities and teachers have some meetings.

Here's a little taste of a Japanese opening ceremony. (yeah, there are ceremonies for everything in Japan. They love them.)

Here the kids are all gathered and waiting for the official ceremony to begin. They are lined up according to class and are separated into alternating lines of boys and girls. Of course they have to wear their uniforms for the opening ceremony. (other times they are generally allowed to change into their jerseys, which are of course, all the same.) We had the ceremony in the gym. It was pretty cold. I could see my breath the whole ceremony! I felt sorry for the kids! I was wearing at least 3 layers plus my fuzzy fleece.

The vice principal starts the ceremony with the opening remarks, which roughly translated was, "The opening ceremony for the third trimester of the 2009-2010 school year has now begun." Simple, and to the point. Love it.

The kids are of course enthralled by the speech. (actually they do a pretty good job of sitting quietly. much better than in class.)

Next comes the school song, all three verses. Yeah, they are just as excited as American Jr. High kids here when it comes to singing the wonderful school song. On a side note, the accompanist is always a student!

Finally we get to sit down and listen to the speeches. *fun* and *cold*. Can't beat that! This is what I woke up at 5AM and traveled an hour for. Better than sitting at my desk though. Well, I did a lot of that too today.

After this was some cleaning of the school. In Japan students clean the school themselves. Well, kinda. They often play around instead.

Then the teachers had a lunch meeting, welcoming us back. It was fun and interesting. Then all the other teachers went to meetings and I sat at my desk playing with my new electronic dictionary. Eventually the teachers come back, and do whatever it is that teachers do to get ready for a new semester. I just sit at my desk.

Oh yeah. I did get a Christmas present from the school. They passed these out at the party that I couldn't go to. Here's my present! What is it???

Hello Kitty ear plugs of course! Just what I wanted! Standard equipment for any Jr. High teacher. Now I can use them in class when the kids get too loud. j/k

But actually the case is really cute, so I might find a use for that. :-D

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Beautiful Letdown

I can hardly believe that it's been two months since I have last written here. It feels so much longer, yet short. I think I'm living in a time warp right now. Haha.

So much has happened, yet not so much has changed.

I'm sitting here on my second to last day of winter break with my first major migraine of the new year.

It's been a good break. Time to get back in touch with people and catch up on communications. Unfortunately the cleaning didn't happen. We still have tomorrow. Maybe we'll be able to re-arrange the living room to a more comfortable place.

So here's a nutshell update. I'm not moving to Fukushima. I joined a group called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and I'm going to try to grow here, and learn to hear God's voice in the circumstances and communities He has graciously given me here. I guess I got a kind of wake up call, that I shouldn't just take the easy way out and that I really need to maintain the things I have here, at least for a while longer. So. That's the plan for now.

I've felt a lot of peace since coming to that conclusion. The future still seems foggy and difficult to see and understand, but I no longer feel like I'm going to be pulled under by hidden currents.

Even though I feel peace about the Fukushima choice, life still has a way of wearing me down. I'm tired a lot, even though I'm not really doing so much, or getting anywhere. There's a nice phrase in one of the songs I listen to that describes it well. It's like "swimming in a sea of peanut butter." You spend a whole lot of effort and don't get very far. Good news is that it's easy to float in peanut butter. ;-)

Today I was able to talk to one of my good friends for a while. It's really good to have friends like that, who support you and can lift you up. I wish it was easier to stay connected. But today we were supposed to be cleaning our house. But I ended up with a headache. After my conversation with my friend, I ended up having to go to bed to try to sleep it off. I'm sitting in the middle of winter, wrapped up in lots of blankets to stay warm, with an ice pack on my neck to help with the headache. The ice packs seem to be the only thing that does any good with these headaches. But really, hot water bottles at my feet and ice packs on my neck? Does this seem insane to anyone else? haha.

After a few hours of abandoning my poor roommate, I come out with my head feeling a little better, but moving and light quickly makes it worse again. :-( It's easy to get discouraged, and wonder, is this all I really have to look forward to? Pain that sends me to bed and keeps me from doing the things I want to do, the things I need to do? It's somewhat depressing. There's also a lot of discouraging news lately. Marriages in trouble, financial problems, things ending... But there's hope too. Other friends getting married, babies on the way, new starts. I guess it balances out.

But a lot of times I feel like a spectator watching other people's lives go by.

so I was thinking about all these things tonight, while waiting for my wonderful roommate to cook our dinner. (Chicken and veggie soup, wonderful!) I put on my music and this song came up.

The Beautiful Letdown by switchfoot.

It was a beautiful letdown,
when I crashed and burned
when I found myself alone
unknown and hurt
it was a beautiful letdown
the day I knew
that all the riches this world had to offer me
would never do

in a world full of bitter pain, and bitter doubts
I was trying so hard to fit in,
fit in, until I found out

I don't belong here, I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong
I will carry a cross and song
where I don't belong
I don't belong

it was a beautiful letdown
When you found me here
yeah, for once in a rare blue moon
I see everything clear
I'll be a beautiful letdown
that's what I'll forever be
and though it may cost my soul
I'll sing for free

We're still chasing our tails
in the rising sun
in our dark water planet still spinning
in a direction no one wins
no one's won

see, I don't belong here, I don't belong
well, I don't belong here, I don't belong
I will carry a cross with a song
where I don't belong
I don't belong here, I don't belong
no I don't belong here, I don't belong
I'm gonna set side and set sail
for the kingdom come, kingdom come
Your kingdom come
won't you let me down?
my foolish pride forever let me down

ah, easy living, you're not much like the name
easy dying, you look just about the same
would you please take me off your list
easy living, please come on and let me down

we are a beautiful letdown
painfully uncool,
the church of the dropouts, the losers, the sinners, the failures and the fools
what a beautiful letdown
are we salt in the wound
hey let us sing one true tune

I don't belong here, I don't belong
it feels like I don't belong here
it goes like I don't belong here
I don't belong, I don't belong
won't you let me down, I don't belong
c'mon and let me down, I don't belong
you always let me down, I don't belong
so glad that I'm let down, I don't belong
c'mon and let me down, I don't belong
'cause I don't belong here
won't you let me down

This song does a good job of expressing the things I'm feeling right now. I think a lot of my discontent lately has been because I've been trying to find my identity. Who am I? What am I doing here? What am I supposed to be doing? But in my search, I try to find my identity in my job, or other people or outside circumstances. But those always leave me frustrated. I was able to meet one of my good friends during the break, and she is famous for her "sermons." She wasn't even actually "sermonizing" at me, but she said something that just cleared up so much for me. She said that we have to find our identity in God. When we search in other places, we will be frustrated. But if we have a firm identity in God, then our circumstances don't matter. I want that. I'm tired of being lost and looking in the wrong places trying to figure out who I am.

So just like the song, I've realized once again that I don't belong here. It's so easy for me to understand this. I'm a foreigner. I don't belong here. But I know now that it doesn't matter where I go, I will never belong here. Because this is not my home. The things of this world can't make me happy. They can't fulfill me. No matter how long I search or how much my circumstances change. I will never be satisfied. That is the beautiful letdown. I will never be perfect. I will never stop disappointing those around me. There will never be the final "click" that makes everything right. Not here anyway.

I don't belong here. But for now, I do belong here. And that's the grace. I can continue swimming in this sea of peanut butter, in this world where I don't belong. But it's not forever. There is always hope. This world is not forever. This world will end. And I will finally be where I belong. And now somehow the peanut butter doesn't seem so bad. :-D