What to do when you find yourself in Japan
For those that got our more recent newsletter, some of this you might already know, but if you are curious or need a quick catch up, continue on!
This summer has been filled with events and people, of which, we are thankful for every one. We have now been in California for about 4 months now with plans to make it our "homebase" for some time longer. Though the end of summer has come and gone, and thankfully bringing in lower temperatures in it's absence, we intend to keep our energy high as we move towards the end of the year.
We are very blessed to have hit about 35% of our fundraising goal at this point (granted that number flexed a bit as we waited on a final budget from TEAM in Japan) and with many new friendships to boot! It's been a steady stream of meeting with individuals, small groups, and entire congregations where we get the privilege to share God's call on our lives and present the opportunity for others to be involved in the mission.
We want to make this time more than just about raising up support and we have recently found an incredible Japanese church in San Jose that has been very welcoming. We are currently involved in their bi-weekly Japanese classes (incredibly helpful), weekly small group, regular service, and the time of fellowship that follows immediately after that. It has been a great blessing to get to know just a few of the people there to hear some incredible testimonies and stories about Japan. We are hopeful to visit this community frequently and look for ways we can serve.
Nick has just one last semester left until the Master's degree journey comes to a close and he can finally take a short reprieve from educational pursuits. For those that don't know, he intends to pursue a Doctorates while in Japan that will enable him to not only be much better prepared for future ministry in that nation but also allow for more opportunities in places missionaries can't always go (such as the public schools).
We will keep it short, if you want to hear more, please get added to our newsletter! But for a quick recap:
- We've hit 35% of our fundraising goal
- We will be travelling over the next several weeks out in Arizona to visit family, friends, and churches
- We are still looking for a more permanent housing solution as we continue fundraising
- Currently staying with family in the Bay Area
- We have joined a more formal class for Japanese language
- Began attending a local Japanese church
- Timeline for Japan is summer of 2017 (Already less than a year!)
Please keep us in your prayers as we travel these next few weeks to meet with a church in Phoenix (our first church we attended as a married couple!) as well as Nick's home church back in Payson and that God would use us to share about His calling on us for Japan. Thank you all so much for your continued prayer and support, it is absolutely what makes this happen and keeps us going!
Technically not true, as of course we always "know" more than what we did yesterday, it's just that knowledge we gain often puts into perspective how much more we don't know. As I was pursuing my undergrad I had a strong mix of Theology and Psychology thrown at me. The Biblical studies really helped me define and expand on what I believed and created some of the most edifying relationships with professors that loved God. The Psychology really helped me to better understand the human mind, not only just how it works and develops, but also how individually different they are for each person that is the result of God's work and their unique experience.
What is most interesting about Psychology, that while it is a science, it has many limitations in application and scope that other scientific fields don't typically encounter. For example: mathematics in China can be used in the same way to solve the same problems in England. Logic flows that a cure a doctor might use for yellow fever will work in Africa the same way it might work in South America. Psychology is all about the mental faculty of humans and this mental faculty is made up of our own individual experiences, relationships, biology, and culture. This science has to adapt to each of these factors, and that introduces no small amount of challenge.
The deeper I went into Psychology and Japanese culture, the more I realized how "western" this science is. I think many people already know that a healthy secular mindset as presented by a therapist will be very centralized with the patient focusing on themselves and doing what is best for them: that they should be all about themselves and they alone have the power to realize this (this is oversimplified, but we've all already heard this one) In Japan, this idea is completely wild and unacceptable. The Japanese are very much about what is best for the group as a whole, and not that of the individual. In fact, the people of that nation have a phrase that is commonly used, "This is very Japanese of me to say but..." which one might translate as, "I know what I'm about to say doesn't make sense, and might even be considered wrong, but it is what I believe because it's the most appropriate response".
So it took me 4 years of college and now almost 2 years of graduate school to realize I'm not getting what I need? Not quite: I certainly gained some useful skills, and it sets me up to pursue that PhD as originally intended, but instead of pursuing that in the US, I'm going to wait and do most of it in Japan. I realize this means a very high level of language fluency, but that was always part of the plan. What I really need is that deeper level of cultural understanding of the Japanese people and I'm not going to get that over here no matter how many classes I take. Of course this will also have the benefit of knowing more effective ways to minister and disciple, but that is an entirely new topic on its own.
So even as I wrap up this Master's I know I have quite a few more years of study ahead of me, and I'm very thankful for that. God has given me such a passionate yearning for the Japanese people and culture, and the thought of pursuing education in that very context to help give me the tools for ministry towards sharing Jesus and combating suicide is nothing short of a blessing.