Well, we have finished our six months of orientation and language training and are now each moving into new apartments. I mentioned in the December blog that there were two assignment locations. One at the Hongo Student Center in Tokyo working with college students and general members of the surrounding community. The other in Kumamoto at Kyushu Luther Gakuin. Carolyn and I will be heading south to Kumamoto this weekend. We will be teaching junior high and high school students English conversation. While we are both very excited it has been tough saying goodbye to our friends and churches here in Tokyo. Even Matt has found it difficult leaving his orientation church though he'll be able to visit them again and again. We are all so grateful to our respective orientation church communities.
Now the "real" work begins (I say "real" because as long as we are in Japan as missionaries we are working, but now we have institutions and people depending on us to show up and teach). Carolyn and I will have 4-5 classes each week and with the exception of a brief orientation for new teachers, will have little to draw from since this will be our first time teaching in a classroom. We will be assigned Japanese teachers to work with so we won't have to teach on our own (thankfully).
Of course the other exciting thing is moving into new apartments. For the past 6 months we've been neighbors in small one room apartments. These Leo Palace apartments are built for temporary living so we were never fully able to stretch out (both because they're not built for comfort and because as such there wasn't much room for stretching out). We are each moving into fully furnished one bedroom apartments. What's great about the Kumamoto apartments is that they are owned by JELA (Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Association) the outreach organization of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church. JELA is responsible for Japanese missionaries to other countries and their programs. What's exciting about that is that the entire building was built to house J3's. Carolyn and I get to move into a building with people like ourselves. It's great.
The other fun fact is that this will be the first apartment I've ever lived in on my own (except of course for the temporary residence I'm leaving behind in Tokyo). It will be exciting to hang my own photos, have the refrigerator to myself, lay out on the couch and not worry about anyone else wanting to sit there. The restroom will be available when I want to use it. I won't have to worry about anyone's mess, but my own. I have to say, however, that this independence will be short-lived.
I mentioned in my last post a change in my personal life. Well, on January 1st of this year I got engaged. The two of us plan to marry this summer and he will come live with me in Japan through the duration of my term.
These are exciting times indeed. Please pray for Carolyn, Matt, and I as we make this transition into teaching. Pray also for me and my fiancé Rob as we prayerfully prepare for this major change in our lives and our relationship.
Thank you for your prayers concerning language, my dreams, and my health. After months of not being sure I wanted to leave my room so I wouldn't have to speak Japanese, I thank God that for the past several weeks I've wanted only to speak Japanese and have fallen in love with my host country and its people all over again. Please continue to pray that God open my heart to the people here and that I continue to make strides in Japanese. I will not be able to speak as much English in Kumamoto as I do in Tokyo, so please pray that God loosens my tongue more and that I would speak without fear of making a mistake. I have been in fairly good health except for occasional swelling and pain in the ball and toes of my right foot brought on by a mysterious ailment therein. Please continue to pray for my health as my schedule will become more rigorous in less than one month. And praise God my sleep has been sweet. I have been disciplined about regular reflection so that I don't go to sleep bothered by the issues of the day. This has caused a deepening in my relationship with God so thank you for your prayers.
My address is changing. If you have not received the new one from me and would like it please email me.