The cherry blossom season is over. (Big sigh.) I confess it was a very sad, almost pitiable sight to see the streets covered with beautiful, pink cherry blossom petals which are soon run over by cars and trampled. Looking at the cherry blossom trees during the past few weeks followed by the fallen, delicate petals (it felt like it was snowing pink petals) helped me to understand why there are a gazillion poems written about cherry blossoms by the Japanese. They were beautiful! I didn’t take any photos except for a few but I really enjoyed the short season while it lasted.
Lately, I have been thinking that my time here is coming to a close. I imagine that my last five months here will most likely fly by very quickly, especially with summer trips to see old friends in Niigata, Tokyo, Osaka, and Hamamatsu, and many fun, summer activities. I want to enjoy my time here to the fullest before I head back to Philadelphia. One thing I look forward to back in Philly is seeing all my international friends again; some are Japanese, some Mexican, Albanian, Chinese…what I miss about home the most (besides family and friends) is seeing all the different colors of people again. I miss walking down the street and hearing several languages and being able to eat Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, or Chinese food all in the same week. I suppose I can do that here, but international cuisine isn’t that cheap here.
There are many things I am thankful for because I decided to come back to Japan (after five years of not being here). I am thankful that I been able to meet so many amazing people and make new friends from all over the world, learn a ton of Japanese, learn about an Asian culture that in many ways is the polar opposite of my own, and travel to see many friends, many of whom I met in Philadelphia. In addition, I think that God has used this time to show me more clearly where my strengths and weaknesses lie. Best of all, I have been privileged to see Japanese people come to know God here – it’s been amazing to see God working in people’s hearts to reveal Himself to people in a country where less than 1/4 of 1% of the people are Christians.
People often ask me what I am doing next and I really don’t have a concrete answer. One thing I know for sure is that I want to be a good friend to many many international friends and continue to serve in my church back home. I truly hope that my experience living abroad will enable to effectively love and serve folks who are foreigners, since I understand well how hard it can be to live in another country. I have been thinking and praying about trying to learn Spanish well – right now it is pretty functional but I would like to really put some effort in learning it really, really well on somewhat of a professional level. Since there are so many Mexicans in Philadelphia and all over the U.S., I know that speaking Spanish would be a help and blessings to many people. I have a good number of Mexican friends and most of them do not speak any English and often need help with various things. Anyway, time will tell what the future holds and I am not too worried about it! Here are a few photos I took this past week. Enjoy!
Cherry blossoms at the nearby train station
Photos my roommate Deb took
Taka and Megumi Oba and their new baby boy, Yoshi (Taka works at All Nations Fellowship and is a graduate of Christ Bible Seminary)
Yoshi smiled at me!
Last night at church we had special guests – Rocky (actually Hiroaki) and Marla are missionaries from Kyushu. Marla is originally from Texas and has been in Japan for 12 years! They adopted two precious Japanese children and here I am with Hana (such a cutie!).
Marla says Hana just learned how to wink…sooooo cute!!!
One of my students, Luka, on Easter Sunday
Another student, Hazuki, being cute
What a “colorful” group of ladies we have at All Nations Fellowship!
Easter egg hunt fun on Easter Sunday