I got off the bus to Shizuoka just over 2 weeks ago , and by bus I mean Brians's minivan. As of today we've got less than 4 weeks left out here. 4 weeks to make some kind of impact. 4 weeks always sounded like a long time when I was growing up; 4weeks 'til Christmas or 4 weeks left in school, it was like an eternity. At some point however a switch flips in your life and it's ONLY 4 weeks left until Christmas or ONLY 4 weeks left until finals which sends a bit of panic down your spine. It's the difference between believing in Santa Clause and being Santa Clause. All that to say, with 4 weeks left and realizing there's a great possibility I'll never be able to make it back to Japan, God has given me a very healthy sense of urgency.
The staff has done a great job making sure that we understand what is expected from our time here in Japan. That we would be able to grow as believers first off, secondly that we would see and share more of God's love for the nations, and finally that we would be able to spend time with students developing personal relationships. It's a realistic vision for a relatively short time in a foreign country.
Time with the students this trip has been a lot easier to get. There's such a desire with this groups of students to learn English and to try out their very impressive conversational skills that at times it's almost overwhelming. Last time I was here, I was 1 of 6 English speaking guys trying to find a Japanese student to hang out with, this time I'm 1 of 3 (including the Bri(y)ans). It's a simple case of supply and demand. Since arriving we've:
- Had a small Basketball tournament
- Gone to a Sushi Restaurant
- Had 2 game nights/english times (They love Monopoly Deal)
- Gone to a Spa
- Had 2 Bible Discussions (led by Brian)
- Cooked dinners together; which sometimes turned out OK
- Gone downtown for shopping
- Ate lunch in the cafeteria on campus 4 times
- Spent an afternoon playing "Bigger and Better" (Warashibe Choja)
- And today we're going to the zoo
And I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting some stuff. Praise God for allowing us to meet students who have been initiators in creating activities for us to develop relationships.
Love for the Nations
Speaking of influential students. My quiet times lately have been in Luke, which led me to the beginning of Luke chapter 6. It's the story of the "Faith of the Centurion". The story goes that a Centurion sends for Jesus to come and heal one of his most valued servants. Before Jesus arrives at the Centurions house friends sent by the Centurion come out to meet with Jesus and explain that the Centurion doesn't feel worthy enough to have Jesus under his roof or even meet with Jesus face to face. Nevertheless he believes that Jesus can command his servant to be healed from right where He is! Jesus does heal the servant and proclaims the Centurions faith as the greatest He has yet seen in the country.
Normally I'm drawn to this story and the implications it has on my prayer life. That I should be praying knowing that God can do things I can't imagine, that I should be like the Centurion and have such a deep and unquestioning faith. This last time I read it however I was more struck by how badly I wanted one of my roomates "M" to be like the Centurion. To be from a largely unbelieving people yet have more love for God and faith in His Son than those who come from countries where Christianity is embroiled in the culture. To be in a position of influence so that his faith can be witnessed by those that work for him and the people he will bless in everyday life. That one day Jesus will marvel at the Faith of M. That's what I'm praying for.
I'll update again on Friday (Your Thursday) with some stuff. Hope you guys are all doing well.
Biking is the desired method of travel for just about everyone in Shizuoka.