Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome to my Advent

Advent??? Advent??? Amber, I hate to tell you this, but I think the quake has you a little more shaken up than you should be. It's Lent. Not Advent.

Yes, yes, I know that's what you are thinking. But don't worry. I'm always this crazy.

I've never really been one for holidays. Well, I suppose as a child they were a big deal, but there are no set traditions in my family, so I guess growing older, and with no family of my own to share them with, I just kind of loose interest in Holidays. And the church calendar isn't so different.

I realize the church calendar is important and useful. But I also don't always see a need to stick to it completely.

So I here by declare, that while most of the world might be in the season of Lent, I am in the season of Advent.

Why? you ask... Ah, I would love to tell you. :-D So glad you asked.

(Get comfortable. Take a seat. Have some tea.)

This post has been a while coming. I've been thinking a lot recently about how I feel like I'm not in a season of Lent at all, but more like a season of Advent. New job, new apartment, new roommate, new students, changes with the band... All these things are on their way.

And I am waiting.

Thus, this is my season of Advent. I'm waiting for a whole new life. The earthquake has even added more dimensions to this. Now I'm also waiting to see what Japan will become after this.

So much is changing. What is being born here?

I'm anxious to find out.

I have one week left of school. All our moving attempts have been postponed until at least the week after. It seems like everything begins in April.

So close, yet so far away.

Good thing I'm getting used to standing in lines. ;-)

It has been a crazy long week. Well, that's an understatement. But it's the best I can do.

Thursday and Friday I managed to make it to school mostly on time. The morning trains seem to be getting better. Getting home is always up in the air, but at least I can get to work. I've been getting rides from one of the teachers to the station that has running trains to get home recently. Opportunities to be blessed.

Saturday, I was tired, from lack of sleep from the insanity and stress. It would have been nice to have a day to get ready for moving. We were supposed to take a car load over Friday night, but because of the gasoline shortages, that was canceled. So we decided we would have to move as much as possible by bicycle. (it's not so far, only about a 25 min bike ride.) The only problem was, I needed to be at my new church for the Aloha party (good-bye to the old teachers hello to the new). We took care of some needed stuff in the morning, while waiting for the black out that was supposed to come. (I found out later that we have been reprieved of black-outs during the weekend. While I am very grateful for this, I wish I had known early enough to do laundry...) But I did manage to find some pants on sale, in my size! which is almost impossible! Opportunities to be blessed.

Then the small headache that I woke up with was getting bigger. Yep, it's going to be one of those migraines today. But I can't stop working because of a migraine. Nothing to do but keep moving forward.

After lunch, I get ready to go to the party. I was going to try to leave a little early because of the uncertain trains, but the short nap I took to try to combat the headache went a little longer than I expected. But I managed to get there almost on time.

The party was good. The current teachers were evacuated last week, so they couldn't attend. We instead set up the computer with skype and everyone was able to video chat for a while. It was a good way to include them in the party. I even had kids climbing up in my lap already! Wow. (Japanese kids NEVER do that!) I made lots of new friends with the kids, and got to know a few of the adult students I will inherit. I'm just hoping the next event I'll be able to be fully present at, instead of battling a crazy migraine at the same time. (the last even I went to last month I had the same problem.)

But I had kids in my lap. Opportunities for blessings.

We had another earthquake while we were cleaning up, so the trains were running slowly on the way home. At this point in time, I just felt like crap, but you gotta get home, so you can only keep moving forward. I made it through the first transfer, but only made it to the first stop on the second train before I had to get off so I could throw up over the ledge. But the good news is that I didn't throw up on the train, which is gross. And I made it to the ledge, so I didn't throw up on the platform either. Last time I threw up twice on the way home, but this time I only had the one time. I'm thankful for small mercies. Came home and went to bed.

12 hours later, it's so wonderful to wake up with a pain-free head. You just want to lay there and enjoy the sensation. It's so much easier to be thankful after pain. Opportunities for blessings.

After church, I announced we were moving, and because of the gasoline shortage we would be attempting to move by bicycle. We are looking into a way to cheaply move our washing machine, but we need a driver. We quickly had a new High School student and another lady offer to help us move by bicycle. Then another offered to help us with her car as well. Next Sunday we will decide who will drive the truck we want to use to move the washer. Moving has now become a community effort. A great way to connect better with the people at the church. (this is a great thing for me, since I am very bad about reaching out, or engaging with people. I'm also bad at asking for help, but this was a can't be helped situation.) Oh yes, opportunities for blessings.

And I had been contemplating about how I would like to see the band. They are taking a month off to find inspiration or something like that. And I think about how long that is, and how much I'd like to see them.

And after church I get an e-mail from Sing. Tomorrow is a live. It was decided at the last minute. Wow. Tomorrow is a national holiday, and it's supposed to rain, so we can't do moving stuff. Wow. Blessings are raining down on me. I get to see the band tomorrow! :-D

God is good.

No, God is way more than good. God is amazing. And cares enough to show me more about Himself in the ups and downs of my week. From allowing me to be in a place to be needy, just so that my needs can be met.

The comments I had been dreading finally showed up on my Facebook page this week... "When are you coming home? Why don't you leave already? If it were me, I'd pack up and leave..." It's hard to respond to these comments. I know many people are just concerned for my safety. But...

Most of all, I guess I was afraid of what my parents were thinking. That they were freaking out because of all the media reports. (Don't get me started on my opinion of the state of journalism in the world.) I was afraid my parents would want me to go back. And my parents are the only one's I can't say no to.

So I e-mailed them, and we talked on Skype (another great arrangement by God I might add, since I got home early that day, thanks to the teacher driving me.) And I got the best blessing of all. Understanding and support from my parents. I didn't have to ask for it, or argue my case. My parents accepted my heart, and that means so much to me. I never told them that this is my home now. But somehow they knew. I never wanted to say that, because it feels like it somehow makes them less if I say it. But they accepted it anyway. Of course, they would rather have me nearby where they can see me and be with me. But they also want me to be happy. And they have accepted my love of Japan. They may not share it or understand it, but they accept it, and support me in it. That is amazing. There is so much relief in my heart, and now I can be fully at peace here and in this time. That is the best present I could have ever asked for.

Opportunities for Blessings to be rained down.

Japan has been confirmed as my home now. So I can say it. I'm from Texas stock, and in Texas you don't run away when someone tries to take away your home. You fight for it. So this is where I stand, fighting for my home in a land that is not my own. I will stand against what comes my way, until God tells me it's time to go. But for now, this is my home.

I am so blessed.

I don't know what the future will hold. The ground is still shaking here. We aren't sure how we are going to get everything done in the next two weeks. But in the midst of all the waiting, expecting, fearing and preparing... God is Showering me with Blessings. (Feels like a baby shower arranged by God! Maybe my friend was right about the labor analogy after all.)

I'm hoping for a chance to volunteer in one of the areas hit by the tsunami during my spring break. If we can get moved quickly, I might have a little less than a week free that I could try to volunteer during. I would appreciate any prayers for that direction.

I say good-bye to my current school on the 25th. We are having a home party for the band while we still have a house we can do things like that in on the 26th(we hope). I go back to my new church for an English school Open House on the 27th. We have a full out moving day on the 28th. (car trip in the morning, bicycle trips in the afternoon. 3 people scheduled to help us) I start teaching my new students on the 8th. Things are coming quickly.

It's the last few weeks of Advent that are the hardest!

Here are some pictures of the continued impact of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis in our area:

I found this on my way home. The area was in the middle of a scheduled black-out, but this is a rather busy and dangerous intersection. Up until now, they had just had several police officers directing the traffic when the power was out. Friday they decided to hook up a generator to the traffic light. Good thinking!

To help conserve power, many stores are either closed or on reduced hours. The stores that are open are trying to help save energy by using reduced lighting and such. There are many places where escalators are not working to save power. Here is a department store with half the lights off. This is a common sight these days.

You never really consider how much electricity we waste or take for granted until there is a shortage of it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to share your struggles. You really challenge me to think about my own faith or lack thereof. I hope you are abe to continue to show the love of Christ to the Japanese people in the midst of this tragedy.

Katy said...

Thank you for the inspiration today, Amber! Your determination to “keep moving forward” is something I really want to learn.
I also worry sometimes about how my parents and siblings (my most precious people) are going to feel if/when I move to Japan. But they, like your parents, accept my love for the Japanese, always supporting me. I just have to trust that, in the end, God will have his way, anyway.
Be safe. Praying for you always! :)

comic said...