Matthias and I are so thankful that we can work with a great team here in Japan – the Longs, the Gilberts, and our new short-term worker from Germany, Tobias (aka Tobi). The Longs and Gilberts have all lived in Japan for a long time and have so much experience working in Japan which is awesome! We are going on a three-day team retreat next week and are looking forward this time very much.
Lunch with the Longs and Gilberts

Matthias and Tobi enjoying lunch

Honestly, I don’t think I could ever be in Japan without a team. Even though it can be a big challenge to work together (since we are are such different people with an amazing array of personalities, passions, and gifts) the advantages of being in a team far outweigh any disadvantages of working without a team. One really nice thing about our team, besides the fact that they all are cool people, is that we all live so close to one another. I love that I can be at the Longs’  in three minutes and the Gilberts’ in ten – awesome!

Lately, I have been amazed at how our lives here revolve around conversations. Matthias has had some particularly deep conversations lately when he least expected it to happen. Sometimes we intentionally seek out folks (such as our friend who owns a coffee shop who loves to talk and several other friends who enjoy when we drop by their home). The other night we spent time with a friend who barely survived the tsunami. I was hanging on her every word as she once again described that day to us and shared with us how difficult it is for survivors to live with the effects of the trauma of the tsunami – insomnia, bad dreams, remembering the sight of the dead, bloated bodies, depression, survivor’s guilt, lack of appetite, etc. She said that the only way she gets through the bad memories is by praying to Jesus.

I started teaching English to a lovely lady from Tokyo, Mrs. F, who is living here on a short-term basis working as a sixth grade teacher. So, I basically get paid to have long conversations with her.  I really enjoy hearing her perspective on life here in Ishinomaki since we are both outsiders, so to speak. Mrs. F has never lived outside Tokyo and in many ways Ishinomaki is quite a foreign culture to her. As we are both adjusting to post-tsunami life here in Ishinomaki we are learning a lot from each other.

I am constantly thankful for my dear husband who has boundless energy when it comes to engaging people in conversation. I really like to talk, but he LOVES to talk! It really energizes him and I see that Japanese people, especially elderly folks, enjoy talking with him as well. Yesterday he went out with a team to distribute tulip bulbs to the neighbors and spent hours talking with people he’d never met before. He said they had loads of invitations to come inside and drink tea but since they had so many tulips to distribute they decided to come back another time. He also joined a badminton club which gives him more chances to meet new people and keep on talking! The opportunities abound in this city to simply be with people, chat, drink tea, provide a listening ear, and alleviate loneliness.

Every day here is an adventure. Sometimes I just like to sit back and take it all in – life in a disaster area is filled with sadness but also beauty. It’s lovely to see that many people in Ishinomaki treasure above all the things in life that really matter – family,  relationships, and friendships…and long, meaningful conversations which are free from the sense that “I have to run now.”