the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

a letter to Mom and Dad

I'm always glad to hear from you.  No matter what the medium.  :)  It seems I always get sick when traveling.  Yesterday on the train home, I started to get a cough, and it's worse today.  I'm required to work a half day today - mostly I'm just cleaning up my desk because I don't even know my class schedule for next year yet. :(

I can't even begin to say how sad I'll be to miss my brother's graduation - and the family reunion.

This retreat was perhaps the best of all three years.  We had a good match of younger and older people - short term and career missionaries - and we all got along pretty well.  We voiced concerns about how the gospel is being shared in Christian schools to our mission board of Japanese nationals (who also attended) as well as talking about the specifics of how our interdenominational relationships work.

For the first time, I felt like they really listened and we really communicated.  I overheard the general secretary talking in Japanese with another chairman about how it must be hard to teach and preach the gospel at the same time, and how we need more missionaries but he hopes regular lay people understand that it's their job too.  It's nice to know people at the top have the same concerns that we do.  Because sometimes in the day to day it doesn't look like that at all. 

I had a conversation with my Japanese national boss on the same subject.  Both he and a woman from the Board of Missionary Concerns said they'd be sad to see me go.  So did my missionary friends I helped with VBS last summer.  I was surprised to hear a missionary chaplain from one of the universities say the same thing.  I didn't think he even knew my name!  You never know what you've got till it's gone I guess.

Before the conference we did some sight seeing in Tokyo.  We went to Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, etc.  The next day my fellow teachers met up with one of their students who will be studying in Tokyo soon, and I met up with my friends from college.  They're doing ok, mostly just working ALOT these days. 
In Japan it's typical for a boss to ask a worker to work "unpaid / unreported overtime", and they do it!  One has a few part-time jobs and uses the excuse that she's only part-time to not work overtime.  However, the other is a bit more quiet and "loyal" - in the Confucian sense - and actually works those hours.  She's been working from 9am to 9pm a lot recently.  We talked about that for a bit.

Her grandmother is in ill health and the family goes to visit her every Sunday (the ONLY day of the week everyone is not working).  Besides filial piety, she says this is the only chance she gets to see her real family during the week too.  So she hasn't been going to church much.

However, on Sunday her grandmother was having a small operation and the family was told not to visit.  So she came to church at my missionary friends' church with me on Sunday.  We both made a friend at summer VBS last year.  She was volunteering there too.  She's an amazing Christian young woman.  Especially for a young single working person in Japan these days.  It was really great to see her again.

I'll tell you all about her later since this email is getting long and I should get back to work.

At the conference I could speak whichever language I wanted to and most people understood.  I came back to the office today and was speaking a mix of Japanese and English and was surprised for a bit when staff didn't understand me fully!  Just to be able to meet like minded Christians and be free to express myself was quite the vacation.

Today is exactly four months from my last day at work.  I'm beginning to realize how quickly that will come here.  See you guys soon!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so hard to leave. I remember that well, and it makes it so much harder when everyone is telling you how much they will miss you. Still, it looks like you'll be having some exciting new things in your life!

If you have any more insight into the four questions I sent you, let me know. But I totally understand if you get too busy.

And who's this girl you met? :)

Nick D

4/02/2009 4:17 AM  

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