Good evening everyone! I’ve settled into my apartment and begun meeting people in Yamaguchi Prefecture (Yamaguchi-ken). I don’t plan to write newsletters this close together, but I think things happen more quickly at the beginning.
I think I must have the best predecessor in the entire history of the JET Program. When I moved into her apartment, she let lots of supplies behind for me (like shower rugs, and a plug adapter thing so that my 3-pronged laptop plug can be inserted into the 2-pronged wall outlet). This is my second day here, and she answered all the questions I asked her and gave lots of useful advice. She wrote me a large packet of papers detailing what my job will be like, who the teachers are (ie, this teacher is shy but has a great sense of humor, etc), and any sort of information I might need. I found out today that she’s a Christian, and she had all sorts of information on the friends she’d met and the churches she’d been to. To top it all off, I really like the colors blue and green, and her color scheme for the stuff she’d left me for the apartment is–you guessed it–blue and green.
This really hit me because before coming on this trip, I made sure to ask for prayer a lot, and people have prayed that God would be preparing the way for me to come to Japan, and for a community. During the Pre-Departure Orientation in LA, JET placed each of us in a hotel room with a roommate, and my roommate turned out to be a Christian. We share one mutual friend, who was in Bridge (my college group’s international Bible study) with me before he transferred from UC Irvine to Azusa Pacific University. She and I are probably the only two JETs who know him, let alone knew him through Christian campus groups. She’s an artist, and she wants to use culture (like manga) and media to share Christ with people and be relatable. She loves groups like NEWS (even minus Yamapi and Nishikido Ryo, for those of you who get that), and has long-term plans to stay in Japan. Needless to say, I don’t think we met on accident. This summer, someone who was praying for me said that I would be part of a wave of people going over to Japan–I think I’m probably going to meet a lot more people who love Jesus and want to live here.
I didn’t choose my roommate, I didn’t choose my predecessor, and I didn’t choose this town, but God has placed me in the company of extremely kind people who have been so kind about making sure I feel at home here. A couple nights ago I was in Shinjuku with my friends eating out for the first time, and I realized that I felt really comfortable. It feels, right now, like something was missing over the past year that was always in the back of my mind or something, and when I got to Japan, that “something” isn’t missing anymore–I know it sounds corny, but I don’t have any other way to describe it. I feel at home.
Tonight, I got to eat with some of my new coworkers. My supervisor kept asking me if the different foods were good–he wanted to make sure I’d be able to adjust to life in Japan and the food and everything. All of my coworkers are really kind like that. I had been a little concerned that I wouldn’t be as “interesting” of a JET as someone who was completely new to Japan and didn’t know much Japanese, but it seems like the other teachers were a little bit relieved because it’s freaky when you’re supposed to work with a new teacher and you can’t easily speak to them (haha). I think the best advice we got from the JET Orientation in Tokyo was to never, never turn down invitations to go out and eat/drink with your coworkers, because if you do people might not invite you later (not out of spite, but because they figure you aren’t interested–this happened to one girl who was speaking). The orientation people said, even if you’re tired, just GO. I am the type of person who would be inclined to want to rest and everything, but with that advice in mind I’ve just been saying yes to everything I’m invited to, and getting to know my coworkers. JET said that once the school year starts (in a little under a month), teachers can get really busy and the only time you can get to know each other better is when you go to eat out together after work. I’m glad the schools are on summer break still, because that gives me some time to get settled in, explore Waki, and get things like self introductions prepared before the school year starts.
I’ve started to post on my blog a little, too–check it out if you’re interested!
1. A trio of blondes on the way to Yamaguchi-ken!
2. Me and my predecessor chllin’ on a bridge nearby.