Hello friends! Thank you for your prayers for our safe trip – we’ve made it to Japan!
You may be wondering what Erich and I have been up to since landing. Our last post was over a month ago! It’s been a crazy past two weeks—let me tell you the highlights of our experience.
Table of Contents
- The Send Off from Moran Park Church
- The Arrival
- Settling Down in the Hobbit Hole
- Group Counseling
- Erich’s Thoughts
I. The Send Off from Moran Park Church
During our last week in the States, we had the honor of being sent out by Moran Park church. We can’t articulate how much we felt loved and accepted by the community that we are a part of. People prayed and prophesied over us encouraging and loving words. As one of the first missionaries being sent out from Moran Park, we are so excited to continue the relationship with the church and help develop our church’s new missions program. Keeping our home church involved in this adventure is one of our top priorities!
II. The Arrival
Instead of flying directly to Osaka, we stopped off in Saitama, where my parents live to visit for a few days. Less than 12 hours after we arrived at my parents’, my dad put us to work observing and helping out with group counseling — an important part of my Dad’s work. It was an all-day affair, and by the end of it we could barely stand! We had Sunday free, which we used to eat delicious udon and waste a few hours looking for a mobile phone carrier, and the next day they helped us make the six-hour drive from Saitama (Tokyo area) to Osaka so they could help us move into the temporary apartment. We are so thankful for my parents—they are just so supportive of us!
They are the best parents in the world. Erich and I cannot survive in Japan without them. They drove us 6 hours to Osaka, helped us settle in to the temporary apt, and they are just SO supportive of us. #yayGod #erichandemi
III. Settling Down in Hobbit Hole
Tour the New Apartment (above)
The temporary apartment is a 20 square-meter studio right next to a major train station and Osaka castle. It’s a really, really tiny place. Erich often stumbles and hits his head on things because he’s a giant in a doll house. We keep the windows closed except for a narrow slit because they have no screens and the sill is below waist level, which would make for an interesting 11-story drop if Erich derps in the kitchen. The day after we arrived, an extremely helpful real estate agent, and our first real friend in Osaka, helped us find our dream apartment: a two bedroom, 81 square-meter apartment, which is about a 30-second walk to Erich’s Japanese language school. Jesus, you are so good! We are moving in there on the 25th of this month, so please feel free to visit Osaka!
A castle next to our apt. #Osaka View on Instagram
Thank you so much to all of you who were praying for our future apartment! We nearly signed on another apartment before the Lord spoke to us that it wasn’t our home. We waited and the same day found a much better apartment.
IV. Group Counseling
We had a rare opportunity to observe my dad’s group counseling the day after we arrived to Japan. What we observed were the power of the enemy and the power of Holy Spirit on Japanese people’s hearts. In the end of the session, Erich and I got to pray for almost 20 people at the scene. 19 people’s hands shot up in the air when asked if anyone wants a prayer. We bound the enemy and prayed for the holy spirit to fill each of them. We are thankful that we are being used by Him! More to come on this experience.
V. Osaka Lifehouse
Lifehouse was one of two churches we visited in Japan when we traveled for a couple of weeks here last year. We felt an immediate connection with so many people, and we felt God leading us to return an invest more in what they’re doing.
There’s a lot of interracial couple like us – a white guy and a Japanese woman. Services are bilingual, and people here come from all types of diverse backgrounds. There are so many young people — pastors are in their twenties, membership is mostly young, and there’s so much energy in the worship service because it’s like a rock concert! I’m so joyful to see young people rising to be leaders. They are so after Jesus! We even got to participate in their “Speak English” outreach. Basically, we stand on the street and invite people to speak English until cops come shoo us away. Japanese people love white people and English. English attracts people off the street. Then we invite them to a free language exchange group that meets just before church at the same venue. It was a good new experience, and we are looking forward to work more with the Lifehouse people.
VI. Erich’s Thoughts
Emi did most of the talking on this one, and since I like to talk, I thought I would squeeze into this update at the end.
D-Day + X
My father-in-law has a great interest in military history, and much to my wife’s annoyance, refers to our arrival in Japan as our “D-Day.” Indeed, every day since our arrival, he has reminded us of our time in-country in reference to that day; hence the the post title. While the metaphor is a bit exaggerated, there’s a certain truth in the comparison. We wouldn’t be so proud as to think our presence in this country will single-handedly change its shape, but for me that day represented seven-years’ worth of dreaming and over two years’ planning.
Learning Humility… Again
Whenever I move to a new place, I’m reminded of just how much I don’t know. On top of a new language, whose entrance costs are among the highest possible for English-speakers, the culture presents all types of new challenges. It’s no surprise, the Japanese people are very different from Americans. Being polite here means following a very rigid set of social rules (and it’s not like they’re posted on the door), which is just the opposite of previous experiences in America where society rewards boldness and informality or Morocco where you treat shopkeepers as if they were your biological brother.
People here follow the rules, even when those rules prevent them from performing simplest of tasks. E.g. You’ll see a dozen people waiting for the crossing signal on an empty streets to change even though they could make it across in two strides. You can’t open a simple bank account without going to the hardware shop to create an ink-stamp customized to your last name. Getting a cell phone is near impossible unless you have several forms of ID and have registered your most recent address at the highly-bureaucratic ward office and received their official stamp.
Even so, we learn to adjust by bringing our whole file cabinet with us whenever we do anything more complex than buying toothpaste, and of course we recognize that moving to a new place comes with all types of special challenges that we won’t need to face in day-to-day life. Rule-following also adds a nice, strangely comfortable sense of predictability, i.e. if you know it’s going to be a total pain in the neck, you can only be delighted when things move more smoothly.
I’m also learning humility in our new church community. The Osaka Lifehouse community has been tremendously welcoming and accepting of us. We feel a great connection with them. Still, coming from a place in Holland of consistent promotion, it’s strange being in a community where people simply don’t know you. It’s an odd feeling: going from a place of authority to place where I need to become small, serving others’ visions. It’s humbling, but I’m excited for the time being to serve at Lifehouse, a church that in its relatively short existence has already made so much impact in this city.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Image of Osaka Castle by Travis King[/box]
12 replies on “D-Day + 10: Missions Landing Report”
You guys are awesome. Praise the Lord that you were able to find such an amazing apartment so quickly!
Thanks Vince! Now you guys just have to come visit!
Nice update, guys! Love the apartment tour. I notice that your wine bottle looks suspiciously similar to le hibou clin d’œil. Or shall I say, “the Winking Owl”. Or in Japanese…”Uinkufukurou” ウインクフクロウ. A delightful vintage, with woodsy notes of oak and cedar, a hint of cinnamon and a subtle berry undertone (grape, I daresay?). I am proud, Erich, that you would choose this to be your carry-on liquid, even though you probably couldn’t bring any other fluids with you on the plane.
Also, your bathroom is awesome. You may see it as a detriment, but the fact that your entire bathroom fills with condensation is kind of like getting two showers in one. Now you can shower AND clean the outside of your toilet at the same time! Please post another awesome tour when you guys find your next place!
For everyone’s benefit, a link to the winking owl: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090829155401/harrypotter/images/4/48/Winking_owl.jpg.
Also, hey! That bottle was from Chile. Chile in a bottle.
Do you feel like Gandalf in the Shire?
Erich certainly does. I feel like a taller hobbit who blends in.
I bump my head or fall over in my own apartment at least twice daily.
Hi Erich and Emi, great to hear of your landing and new beginning. I heard news that a typhoon was on its way to Osaka. Pray for protection and safety for you guys. Also, I recently read an article that compared Korean and Japanese cultures and how Koreans mistakenly think the Japanese culture is the same as Korean. There are similarities, but many subtle differences, I learned. Wonder if you are familiar with high/low context cultures. Korea is a high context culture, but I think Japan is even more so. Hope and pray that God will be your navigator in the new culture.
I’ve learned, especially after my first day at school today, that Japan has a lot of cultural subtleties that it’s going to take me a while to learn. Thanks for your prayers on the typhoon. We had drizzling rain for about three hours but were otherwise untouched in the city. 🙂
Thank you for continuing to share your lives with us! Best and blessings!
Thanks Laura!! 🙂 Blessings to you too!
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