Learning to talk, trying to make friends, starting your first day of school, getting a driver’s license, opening a bank account, and even paying taxes! These are all “firsts” that I experienced in my home country. Completing these goals meant gaining experience and confidence to grow into a more mature person (I hope!).
…And then I came to Japan! All the accolades I had earned before really did not amount to much in the new context my family and I found ourselves in. In a lot of ways, we were not starting at zero, but at a deficit. Zero would have been a clean slate, but we brought expectations of what life in Japan as missionaries might be like. Some of these were met, but many were nothing like what we tried to prepare for.
When we first arrived in Japan, we struggled with not knowing how to get money out of our bank, how to help our kids with their Japanese homework, how to remember our new phone numbers and address, or even how to ask a cashier if we could please get a bag for our groceries.
Even our safe place of church was, in the beginning, a harder transition than we anticipated. Do we shake hands? Can we have our phones out to translate? Do we wear suits and dresses? It seemed that our identities, and everything we were confident in and felt good at, just didn’t make the flight over here with us.
But as we reflect on our first year here in Japan, we realize: yes, it was a rough start, but God really has strengthened us. Not knowing how to communicate well has challenged us, and learning to listen well has humbled us.
When Jesus called His first disciples and told them to drop their nets and follow Him, they were dropping more than a web of ropes. They were dropping their entire identities. In the challenges of following Christ across the world to share the Good News with the people of Japan, we find a new type of joy—one that we can’t explain even in our mother tongue!
So why don’t you come to Japan on mission and experience it firsthand!
by Jimmy, an OMF Missionary