We’re back in our little village adjusting to such a quiet life (after such a busy time). It’s very beautiful and quiet here, and I am thankful for several things. First, I found a way to call my parents for less than one cent per minute. (Our internet connection here is too poor to use Skype and I was worried about how I would call home at a reasonable price.) Second, I am especially thankful for my husband, who has put up with a very crabby, rude, and complaining wife who, especially due to severe lack of sleep, has not been very pleasant to be around! Third, among many other things, I am thankful that I can go to language school for five weeks starting in February. I haven’t been in German language school since last spring! My German has been stagnant for what seems like ages, so hopefully this course will really help me to get back on track.

Friends back in NJ often asked us, “So, what do you guys do in Germany?” Good question. The short answer is that we are preparing to go back to Japan this summer. The fuller answer is that we are living at the headquarters of our mission agency, the Alliance Mission, and we are raising financial support among churches in this area to be able to go back to Japan this summer. The mission agency is kind enough to provide us with a furnished apartment, a car, a small stipend, and they pay for our travel expenses. We spend our weekdays at the mission office (which is one minute from our apartment) from 8-5 and they try to provide us with various projects to keep us busy.

Needless to say, we are extremely excited to think that sometime this year (hopefully by the summer) we will finally be living our dream of being back in Japan. It’s something we’ve been hoping and planning for since we got engaged. We plan to live in Sendai (which was the epicenter of the enormous earthquake last March 11th). Sendai is the capital of Miyagi prefecture and a fabulous city! It has a wonderful balance of nature and city life and although winters are very cold, the summers are not as sweltering and humid as many parts of Japan such as Nagoya and Tokyo.

Here is an image of where the 3/11 earthquake was felt across Japan.

Sendai is located over 350 kilometers (over 200 miles) north of Tokyo and yet the earthquake was felt very powerfully in Tokyo. (That is like the distance between New York City and Boston.)

Needless to say, there are a lot of traumatized people in the Tohoku region. The feelings of Japanese in those days and weeks after the big earthquake and tsunami were very similar to how Americans felt in the weeks and months after 9/11: deep fear, uncertainty, anger, many answered questions, and unrelenting grief. Do we really think that we going to be able to help in the midst of such emotional and psychological trauma? No, we do not claim to be capable of healing hearts. However, we know that God can heal and bind up their wounds, and we are more than willing to do as much as God allows us to do for these hurting people, including meeting physical needs and simply offering a listening ear, crying with people, serving hot food and drinks, and giving lots of hugs (even though Japanese don’t really hug…rarely. However, once the concept of hugs is introduced, they can definitely grow to like it.)

We hope to partner with missionaries from the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) and our dream is to develop friendships with the survivors of the tsunami from Minami Sanriku. We worked among the children who survived the tsunami from that area last May and June 2011 we want to continue growing the relationships that we made with the people we met in Tome-shi. No, we are not fearful of radiation, although I really ought to take the time to write an entire post explaining the nuclear situation in Japan and why we are not scared to go to Sendai.

Aside from our future plans for ourselves, I’m still busy trying to do what I can from abroad to help my parents to get my father into an assisted living facility. As I maneuver my way through Medicaid and unfamiliar laws, I am thankful for kind people on the phone who have patiently answered my many questions. I feel as though I am finally starting to get a grasp of what’s going on and how the Medicaid system works. I am learning all sorts of new terms such as “spend down,” “Medicaid Only,” “Straight Medicaid,” “Community Spouse,” “exempt assets,” etc. If anyone reading my blog has any questions about this process, feel free to ask me anytime.