Saturday, July 27, 2013

Living in Japan: Opportunity

"Be Joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances" 1 Thessalonians 5:16

In my last blog post I wrote about the hardest things about living in Japan and today I want to focus on the things I really enjoy about living in Japan. It would be much too long to keep it this vague so I will make it a little less vague by talking about the best parts of living in Japan themed around the word opportunity.

The decision to come to Japan took a lot of risk. I had to give up everything I mentioned in my last post while also being really unsure of what awaited me in Japan. But as I've been thinking of this post over the last few weeks, the word 'opportunity' keeps coming to mind.

The world has been further opened up for me. Today I went on a day trip to Tokyo with all my teachers from one school I teach at. It was a great time. We took a boat ride around Tokyo, ate a great buffet lunch and then saw the Lion King Musical, which was an incredible production. For once I thought ahead and watched the movie in English Friday night before watching the musical in Japanese, it made a huge difference in understanding everything. Many wrinkles are added when you can't speak their language very well, but it was such a great opportunity. (As soon as I sat down on the bus at 6:50 in the morning I was handed a beer as another teacher showed me he had already finished a huge beer).

It's amazing to think about not coming to Japan and all the opportunities I would not have had here, it flows deeper than just having the Japanese forcing beer down you just as the sun finds a comfortable place to rest for the morning.

Beginning next week, I will be traveling to Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand. The Mito Church is taking a group of young people (Japanese, Singaporeans and Americans and a Canadian) to help an elementary school started by the church. I will be teaching English and playing with the kids. It's my first time to go and I'm really excited, especially the new relationships to be made and the current relationships to strengthen.

After going to Cambodia, Austin Powell and I will be going to Thailand. First, we will spend a day in Bangkok and then several days in Koh Chang, to explore the outdoors and relax on the tropical beach.

I was not planning on traveling to Southeast Asia prior to my second year in Japan, but when the opportunity opened up, it was an easy decision to make. I have loved going on adventures within beautiful Japan, such as the various Tokyo trips, the glorious Nagano hike (my favorite place so far in Japan), the Nikko hike, the many ski trips, the chance to go with my dad to Osaka and Kyoto, the all night Fuji hike, the Disneyland trip playing with random kids... I have had many opportunities to travel all over Japan.

Sometimes, it occurs to me, "hey, only because I actually came to Japan, I'm able to experience                  ." It all becomes so surreal and makes me really thankful.

I also love the chance to be an ambassador for my faith and country. I especially enjoying being an ambassador to the elementary school kids I teach. It's a unique job. Everyday I have the opportunity to show the kids who I am and where I come from. I hope they have fun learning some English. But more than just learning English, I hope they enjoy taking a risk and putting themselves out there. I am learning this daily, as I battle my own fears in this foreign place.

It has been a great experience to be a foreigner. I hope it changes how I live for the rest of my life. The trials, the generosity of other's time and efforts, the people I have met and had the chance to get to know, the loneliness, my students, have all helped form who I am. While I have varying emotions about each of these things whenever I leave this place, I will think fondly upon these blessings.

Be Thankful Always

Park in the city I live in

Anzo-San came to our English teacher's meeting and helped us make Hina Dolls. Probably my most proud moment as an aspiring, young craft artist, ok, it's not saying much but...

Tokyo Boat ride

All my male teachers smoke, they're great

Just before watching The Lion King, with one of my teachers

Two fantastic teachers

Not really sure, I did shake his hand

A Japanese garden in Mito (the city I live in), all the English teachers came here last week

The same park, so beautiful