50- Japan Was Our Home for Six Weeks
Our apartment in Tokyo was perfect and I was drop-dead surprised and joyously overwhelmed by the open-hearted caring we received from the missionaries.
We felt safe and comfortable on the four-acre campus of CAJ. When Dan was at meetings, I was content being at home with Timmy or giving him stroller rides around the campus, as we admired the cherry blossoms and observed the Japanese school children across the street.
Timmy turned one-year old and one of the missionaries made him a cake with a candle perched on top. He also learned to walk!–but Dan still transported him around town and country in the baby carrier.
To meet the 7 missionary couples of the E-Free church, we traveled by car, by regular trains, and for one long journey we took the Shinkansen, the famous bullet train. And then we always returned to the familiarity and privacy of our cozy home base.
Each missionary gave us their personal insights into missionary life as we traversed the countryside to meet them, eat at their tables, and stay overnight in their guest rooms. Many of my anxieties were alleviated: Eileen knew she would not be able to go without conveniences of hot water, washing machine, heat, telephone, car, and was happy to be in Japan rather than in a crude hut cooking over an open fire (which her husband would have preferred!). She said they had moved 13 times in 11 years of marriage (which I would later be able to identify with). Monica talked about being a new Christian, who sometimes got mad at God when things didn’t go her way. She showed me how to make a delicious Japanese soup so I could replicate it in our apartment. They had come to Japan when her daughter was one year old. John believed MK’s (missionary kids) have better self-esteem than most children because they are highly regarded by the people their parents are serving. Joyce emphasized that the mission schools are often better schools because of smaller classes and that CAJ was a deluxe school with lots of extras. I was very impressed that the missionary children all traveled by train, unescorted by an adult, to school each day. One 7 year old girl, Missy, happily made two train changes to get to school, and that was not uncommon. This knowledge became a guiding principle for me–that our children needed to be raised for independence and self-confidence so that they would be ready for the experiences of the mission field. This was a God thing, as I would have tended to coddle and even indulge our sons, and instead they were all prepared for independent living by their late teens. (I also note that Dan was raised to be independent and capable and hard-working, so this early realization helped us be of the same mind in raising our sons.)
SPOILER: We pursued the missionary experience for ten years, wove our every decision around our vision for going to Japan, prepared ourselves by living a missionary lifestyle–which meant no frills, praying rather than running to the doctor, praying and sending support to people on the mission field. And then God had us lay it down. He did not explain the WHY. We knew that Father knew best, but it was a very difficult experience for us, especially for me. That’s another story for another time.