I’ve sort of been putting this post off for a bit, because I was visiting churches in the area and I wasn’t really sure if I was going to stay at either of the two I tried. This post isn’t really about church so much as it is about how God’s been answering some of my prayers, and the prayers that people have prayed over me.
I want to begin by saying that I’ve been feeling really strongly since getting here that I want to get my roots set in my community here (ie, here in Waki, or at least kind of nearby, like Iwakuni or Otake). It feels like there are JET events and invitations to hang out with other JETs in other towns on the weekends pretty often, and I don’t plan to isolate myself, but what I really wanted was to build my community and spend time with people in town as much as possible. There was an event this weekend for a shrimp-catching festival that a lot of my friends were going to, but I just went 2 hours both ways to Hofu last weekend to see the Rurouni Kenshin movie, and I didn’t really want to go all the way to Yamaguchi City (even further by train) the weekend right after. I just got my new cell phone this last week, so I called a couple (Mr. & Mrs. M) that Emily had been friends with–they’re Christians and they live in Waki. This was the first part of my prayers being answered.
I’ve had people pray that I would be able to see God having prepared the way for me before coming, and people also prayed that there would be a family and community to greet me as soon as I got to the airport. It didn’t happen exactly that way, but God did indeed prepare a family and friends and a community for me here without my doing anything. I think it goes two ways–Emily left a wonderful legacy for me to walk into, and I got to help fill her place, since the people she’d hung out with were left going, “Now how am I going to practice my English?!” haha.
When I made that phone call, we ended up planning to meet at their house the next day (this Sat). We only planned to have lunch and talk a little, but we ended up talking a lot–all the way until dinner, and I actually didn’t get home until around 7:30pm or so^^; It was really nice of them to share their home with me. This picture of miso ramen is special because when I asked for advice on how to make miso ramen (because I really really like it haha), Mrs. M ended up making it for me^^ Eggs and bean sprouts and all^^
I asked if I could come to church with them (if it was okay) too, because Emily had said she went with them so I figured it was alright to ask. The church is an hour away in Hiroshima, and they picked me up Sunday morning and we went by car. On the way there, Mrs. M informed me that you take off your shoes to enter the church, so would it be alright if I had to use the church’s indoor shoes. I said yeah, sure, and I got really excited right then, because I hadn’t been to a church like that before. It’s Japanese culture to take off your shoes when you enter a residence, school, or (sometimes) restaurant, but to do that in a church felt significant to me.
We went in, I slipped into the church sandals, and we went up to the second floor, where the services are held; (there are two every Sunday morning–they go to the second one, so I got to sleep in! Yay!) and greeted people that Mrs. M knew along the way. The services are held in Japanese, and most of the bulletin is in Japanese as well. When the worship started, I can’t describe it but the atmosphere of that place was really special. People’s hearts were there to worship God. I was really moved, and when everyone closed their eyes to pray I actually teared up and had to wipe my tears before the prayer ended. It was different from two weeks ago when I visited the second church I tried–where I liked the worship but I know that I was a little emotional from missing my friends, and the songs we were singing reminded me of Newsong/JHOP.
I don’t know if I understood all of the message, but I don’t think I did too bad, all things considered. We lingered afterwords to greet people, and I got to meet a group of girls who are all around my own age!! 〇（≧▽≦）〇 We had lunch together, and I got to know a girl who was friends with Emily–they used to hang out, and I think they were language learning partners. She likes Jane Austen and reads her books!! :O I was so surprised, because in my experience, people aren’t usually that familiar with Pride & Prejudice here^^ I used mostly Japanese today, but when I was hanging out with Emily’s/my new friend, I ended up speaking in English^^
This is all to say that I want to keep coming back here.