Good Morning from Osaka, Japan! As I write this, it is 7:00am on Wednesday here is Japan, and 3:00pm on Tuesday back home. So I write to you from the future! But don’t worry, I won’t tell you what happens in the future, because I’m sure you want to be surprised. Ha ha! Yet another FRIENDS reference, because pretty much everything in life somehow relates back to that show.
Anyway, I’m wide awake right now, which for those of you who know me well, is very unusual for this time of day. But after traveling for 23 hours straight, we went to bed about 10:00pm Japan time last night, giving us a full 9 hours of sleep! What a great way to reset our body clocks!
Though yesterday was basically just a day of travel, I’ll still give you a run down of our experience. After meeting at the church at 5:00am, our team traveled together by van to LAX. As the only female on the trip, I fulfilled my womanly duties and brought everyone a delicious breakfast…well, what I consider delicious – a fresh homemade juice consisting of carrot, green apple, orange and pineapple. Yum yum!
Everything went smoothly checking in for our flight, and boarding was a breeze, but it was all too good to be true, as we were told we had to de-plane for security reasons. Annoyed at first, I was grateful in the end when we learned it was due to a bomb scare. Oh dear! But everything was safe and we were on our way to Hawaii. We were a bit nervous we would miss our connection flight from Hawaii to Japan since we ended up leaving LA over an hour late.
But when we arrived in Hawaii we had an escort waiting just for us to take us to the other side of the airport. No time for Starbucks or a restroom, but we made it to our plane with a couple minutes to spare. And what a plane it was! We were in coach, but everything looked new and clean and spacious. I always tell Matt that I get sick of hearing from the flight attendants, “We have a very full flight today, so blah blah blah.” It seems like EVERY time we fly we hear this announcement. Well if there was ever a time to get a non-full flight, it was this time, and that’s exactly what we got! We had so much room that everyone could have their very own row.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that one of my biggest concerns for this trip was the 23 hours of travel it required. Well the Lord has blessed me with a rare and long lost spiritual gift – sleeping on planes. Although I thought I might just lose this gift when it mattered most, this time was no exception, and I slept 90% of both plane rides, waking only for a beverage or a bathroom.
When we arrived in Osaka, Jay Greer, the Senior Pastor of Mustard Seed Christian Church, was there to greet us. I’ve met Jay a few times via Skype, so it was wonderful to see a friendly face in this foreign land. Further down is a picture of Jay and his family, and as you can see, he is Caucasian, born and raised in Missouri. Him and his wife, Caitlin, just up and moved to Japan 4 ½ years ago. They felt a calling from the Lord to help plant churches among unreached people groups in urban areas, and Nagoya, Japan fit the bill perfectly. After having great success in planting a church in Nagoya, they moved to Osaka last year to plant a second church. Oh, and by the way, this couple is younger than I am. Pretty impressive, huh? And I haven’t even mentioned that they’re fluent in Japanese. It’s amazing to watch them converse with the locals. They are raising two handsome and fun-loving boys, Rowen and Frankie. You’ll hear more about this family soon, that’s for certain.
But back to our travel. From the airport we hopped on a train and rode it for a good thirty minutes. This is when the celebrity sighting happened. On one of the stops a group of college-aged ladies boarded the train and started whispering to one another, not realizing Jay speaks Japanese. He responded to them and they proceeded to have a conversation, all the while the girls were giggling, smiling and staring our direction. Come to find out, they were asking Jay if Matt and I were movie stars or celebrities. I wasn’t even wearing my tiara or holding my scepter or anything. The ladies were quite smitten with Matt, but let’s be honest, his good looks translate into every culture. It was a very sweet way to be welcomed into Japan, as ridiculous as it was.
As the camera flashes and signed headshots died down, and Matt and I sat hand in hand watching the landscape of Japan breeze past our train window, I became unexpectedly emotional. There are not many moments in my life when I’ve been able to fully step off the escalator I’m on and think, “Maybe God has something else for me. Something totally different and seemingly crazy. Who says I’m going to live in California and have a 9-5 job for the rest of my life? Is it God? Cause if not, than that’s not what I want.” Just for a moment I thought, “Could this be a place I call home one day, for the purpose of serving the Lord and making a difference in people’s lives?” What a life that would be. So different. So crazy. So what?
Once we were off the train, we starting walking toward our hotel. Again, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I am a list-maker, and therefore a task-oriented person. Especially since I’m on a mission trip, and on YOUR dime, I had to make sure I accomplished something meaningful, even on the first day. But what could I do knowing no Japanese and needing to be at dinner in 30 minutes? Hmm, I could…pray! I am by no means a prayer warrior, but when I feel God tugging on my heart to pray, I obey. I’m so glad only God hears my prayers, because I would be embarrassed for anyone else to know how elementary they are, greatly lacking diverse vocabulary. But nonetheless, as individuals passed, I began to pray for one of them specifically, until another caught my attention. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it was a very interesting experience. Somehow, without any invitation from the person I was praying for, I instantly became involved in their life. Though they were complete strangers that I would never speak to or see again, just by praying for them, I became connected to them, involved in their spiritual journey, possibly having an effect on their future. Strange, and beautiful.
After checking into our hotel, we made our way to dinner, a curry house. It reeked of curry when we walked in, but not when we walked out, so we were sure the stench had attached itself to us as well. The best part of dinner was getting to meet Jay’s wife Caitlin, and their two sons, in person. Caitlin rode her bike with two baby seats on it to dinner. I asked her how long the bike ride was and she said, “Oh, not long at all…probably 40 minutes.” Ha ha, that is quite a long bike ride in my book, especially just to meet some chumps from California, but I guess you have to be extra patient and flexible like Caitlin to make it here.
If you’ve read to this point, I’m impressed! And guess what, you’re almost done!
Japan has already been such a moving experience, and I am chomping at the bit to get out there and meet people and do things to bless others and further God’s Kingdom.
Tomorrow I’ll blog about our adventures traveling around Osaka, and quality time we spent with Japan missionaries.
I feel so thankful for the opportunity to be here, and thankful to have an army of people back home praying for this beautiful country.