Monthly Archives

August 2017

What I Like About Living Here (In Photos)

August 26, 2017

I’ll start with a quick confession. Most of the blogs I post are actually self-serving. I try to learn to laugh at myself for the mistakes I make, or I try to force myself to process something I feel like God is trying to tell me. And I love to write. All that to say, this post, in its own way, is no different.

Culture shock, loneliness, exhaustion, homesickness affect 99% of people who live in another country for a long time. (Disclaimer: I have no basis for that “statistic”, but I am sure it’s somewhere around there. It’s a lot of people.) There are, however, studies I have read that warn you this tends to happen between 6-18 months of living outside your home country. The things you do in your normal routine are still hard, but you are very tired of the “adventure” of everyday life. In this hard season, sometimes it’s good to remember the things you love about your new home. And that is what I hope to do.

I am writing this intro to help avoid the “my life is wonderful, just look at these photos” vibe that might come from a post like this. And to be actually honest with myself and those of you who read this.

To start, the nature views. You often have to journey a bit outside of Tokyo to get them, but they are incredible.

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Now for the more typical Tokyo beauty – the amazing city itself. Busy streets, huge buildings, a nearly overwhelming level of lights and sounds.

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On a related note, the wall art. There is your regular graffiti here and there but I love the little joys of stumbling across something beautiful.

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FOOD. Often BOTH well-presented and delicious, wherever you go.

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Relatedly, the cafes. We are coffee junkies and since we are also currently students, it is a special and awesome treat to go to one of these beautiful places to do some Japanese homework.

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The festivals. Some we go to on purpose, but the majority of them we have stumbled across on our way to the park or the store. I love all the colors, food, music, dancing, and joy that surrounds these events.

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The parks. Because I am the mother of a toddler who is mostly only happy outside – we have seen a lot of parks here. They have not disappointed.

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Lastly, a special ode to my automatic bicycle. Jeff gave me the money he had been saving for a bike for himself and I bought this wonderful piece of equipment. Emerie does not love trains but we both love to explore and this thing has gotten us to many of the fun, exciting, and beautiful places I photographed. Not to mention the smile on my face as I bike down big streets and through little neighborhoods, soaking it all in.

P.S. You will notice I have not included in this post the thing I most love about this place – which is the people I have met. Two reasons: 1) I don’t necessarily have pictures of everyone and I don’t want to leave anyone out. 2) A larger majority of people here than in the States are concerned about their face being online. Probably smart.

Streams of Living Water

August 2, 2017

– Katie

I have always loved podcasts, but since moving to Japan, my podcast consumption has gone into hyperdrive. These hour long commutes and long morning runs have created a lot of space for listening to enlightening, entertaining, or just plain exciting stories. Recently I have been trying out a few new shows hosted by Christian women with the hope of receiving some mentorship-from-afar as I live what can feel like a very lonely life here in Tokyo. In this effort, I was reluctantly listening to a podcast with a very cheesy title on my commute from school today. But a question the woman asked stopped me in my tracks and brought tears to my eyes (and a bit of humility to my heart for the fierce title-judgement I had given to the show). She asked, “what is it you hope God will do in your life that is so big you are sometimes too scared to speak it out loud?” Without a second thought, I said “for God to use me to build his church in Japan”. And then I started crying, right there on the street, in one of the busiest areas of Tokyo.
It sounds so trite and small seeing it written down on paper (screen). But it feels gigantic to me. That God would use me. Me, a sinner, not only unqualified but ill-qualified to do his work. To build his church. His bride, the apple of his eye, the focus of his greatest love and most astounding act of redemption. In Japan. A place that is vast, hungry, hurting, dark, exciting, intimidating, and beautiful. This is something far beyond anything I can think or imagine. And humblingly outside of my control.

I can honestly say that these last few weeks I have felt tired, uninspired, and lonely as we march through the long days of studying Japanese, coming home to care for a toddler, cleaning the same rooms over and over, and starting back up again at 5am. I have felt worn-down with the constant strain of living life in another language and always, always being different. But today I can also honestly say I feel lifted up. Enlivened by the ministry of someone I do not know and strengthened by the prayers that I know are being lifted up on my behalf by many of you who may read this post and a whole lot more people who never will. But most of all, I feel propped up, comforted, and entirely dependent on my Saviour who despite my lack of faith and continual cycling into discontent, has chosen to love me, and has chiseled ways into my hard heart to pour in life-giving water to my soul.