So I broke the laminator Monday at school. Well, I didn't exactly break it but I did somehow manage to jam it and left it smelling somewhat like burning rubber. After getting the assistance of the secretary and another teacher (who repeated "it's good, it's ok Dabito" while simutaneously placing an out of order sign on the machine) the Vice Principal (the good man, Mr Iijima) helped me pull out the jammed and dismembered pieces of paper. Things like this are bound to happen to an AET in Japan. It happened late in the workday, a couple hours after the kids had all gone home and at a point when I had already left for home mentally. In the States, this moment would likely become a laughing and entertaining discussion point with coworkers. But I don't have a handle on the Japanese language and such is the life of an AET. Rather small hills and valleys can often translate into roller coasters here. It's all a learning experience and it helps change me for the better all the time. It's better to be uncomfortable and growing than comfortable and stagnant.
That's the only laminator I have broken so far but small disappointments such as these happen all the time. It's not terrible events that add to the culture stress, it's all the small things building up and not being able to adequately explain it to the people around me or even sometimes to myself. But it's all about learning from your mistakes, taking life lighter than we usually do and having a sense of humor about it. As Auschwitz Death camp survivor and renown psychologist Victor Frankl states in his book Man's Search for Meaning, "It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds".
Coming to Japan has been a huge blessing for me (or as some of my students like to say a "super" blessing), but being so far from what I know it's easy to become discontent too. It becomes clear in the lonely moments when I jam the laminator and just want to explain the situation and laugh it off with a close friend (or just hide since a close friend usually isn't around haha). It becomes clear when I'm frustrated with my heel injury and simply wish it wouldn't linger so I could run freely. Or when my bike gets a flat like it did last week (or whenever I simply think about the fact that I am 25 years old and my primary method of transportation is indeed a bike...) During these frustrating times, if only these obstacles were not in my way, I think, then I would be happy. But at these times, God is always whispering, "I'm with you. I am enough".
I believe He's telling all of us this. Our fears and worries stem from our struggle to believe He is enough. But there's nothing more powerful and comforting than the always loving, creator of the universe simply reminding you, "I'm with you". He is enough wherever we are. It's astounding that we constantly need to be reminded of the peace and contentment of Jesus.
Linked below is a beautiful song straight from Phillipians 4: 11-13 by Jaime Cochran and Brianna Gaither from Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City. The link also includes a well written explanation of what this well known verse really means. There is a quote in the explanation that I especially love which states, "stop lusting after new soil. Bloom where you are planted".
This past week at school my fifth grade class was learning how to ask "When is your birthday? And then responding with, "My birthday is.." During one exercise when each individual kid would answer I would write their name and their birthday on the chalkboard. I would write the girls names in pink and the boys names in blue. After we had finished two girls said, "Dabito Sensei!... Sayaka is a girl. You write blue" And then went onto giggle like, well, little Japanese girls. I tried not to act too surprised and eagerly pointed at my glasses as if they weren't good enough. Really, I was debating beforehand. Even though Sayaka is primarily a girls name I thought maybe it was a unisex name like Alex or Kelly. It's not. I even just checked wikipedia. Unisex names exist in Japan but Sayaka isn't one of them. Poor Sayakasan. I probably shut her out from ever wanting to learn English again. I've heard this mistake can happen to us AET's. I should have known it would happen rather publicly to me.
Teaching these kids has been an awesome experience. I've found I have a passion for it and they are a joy.
I thought I'd also include a picture. This is of a neighbor who has lived near one of my schools for a long, long time. He creates and collects really cool Japanese antiques and he gave me an awesome and rare Japanese Doll. I will have to upload a picture of the Doll once I am able to get it. It's so detailed and eloquent. I'm not sure what he saw in me to give me such a cool gift but the Japanese are so generous and welcoming! It's definitely a great place to be!
Thanks for reading the blog! If you have any questions or comments let me know!