the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A good Sunday

For all these years, I've been going to Japanese church not understanding much.  Finally today something (a lot of things) happened.

DL wanted to go and see church this morning, so we went together.  Church words are kind of special anyway, and that just makes them hard in Japanese.  Even though I've been sitting listening to them for three years it's still difficult for me. 

I consulted my dictionary about twenty times just during the message.

At the end of the service, there were the regular wastes of time.  Reading the activities in the bulletin.  Practicing a new hymn (at this point, all four Koreans left), then the entire congregation stands in one big circle, passes the mic around, and introduces themselves one by one so that you have almost no chance of remembering anyone's name.  Then there was 15 minutes where everyone cleans the sanctuary.  Then everyone set up tables for the meal.  DL made it through all this, but left before the meal started.

I remember the feels of being completely lost in all this.  Actually, many times in the past two years I just saved myself the trouble of feeling lonely and embarrassed and left out right. 

But the Togi-juku principal said she wanted to eat with me, so I wanted to stay.  She mentioned she would come to the Japanese lesson with me and FT if TA and AA came too.  She REALLY wants to come and talk with them if it would level up their Japanese.  But we ended up getting separated. 

I sat and talked with the children's church leader, Mr. Tsugisawa, instead.  He's a really hard worker.  He's and elder too, and also leads the order of service sometime.  We had a serious chat about why people come to church and what we should do to encourage that. 

We didn't agree on how to do that, but we both had a chance to consider new points of view.  And I'm glad he gave me the chance to talk about something serious.  Since my level of Japanese isn't great, people who find the conversation embarrassing can write me off anytime they want.  Mr. Tsugisawa usually takes time to listen to me.  I really appreciate him for that.

Then, after the meal, there was a Seinenkai 青年会, which roughly translated means "young person's group".  There is "High School group" that is regularly held, but no one comes.  So I thought this group was like that.  But the pastor's wife said to me, "Why don't you go take a look at the Seinenkai?" "青年会ちょっと行って見て。"

This is the best part.  What I found at the "young person's group" were two men, (one in his 50's and one in his 40's) and a woman in her 30's.  They were studying the Bible, discussing what it means, and talking about how they could apply it to their lives! 

All these years I've been thinking there must be something like this at church but I'd never seen it or known how to ask.  Even though there were only a few people there, I was so pumped to be there!

Of course, I didn't understand everything they said, but that's not the point.  The point is that there are people studying the Bible on their own who think it's important for how they live their lives! 

The man in his fifties, Mr. Ota, was particularly adept.  Mr. Ota is kind of the janitor at church, and I always had the feeling there was more to him than meets the eye.  They were studying the parable of the talents and he said he had always thought the money is not literally money, but what each of us does with the Word of God that we have stored in our hearts.  He then gave examples of times he has used scripture when he was feeling lonely, or when a (non-Christian) friend was miserable and asked the others if they had any examples like that or any scripture that they particularly love. 

At the end, the woman noted how sad it was that there were only a few people at the "young people's meeting".  She especially wanted some more female participation (a rare problem).  This meeting is only held on the third Sunday of each month, and frankly, it's kind of hard to find.

We then talked about ways to publicize the meeting both at church and outside of church such as posters, post cards, encouraging other "young" church members to come etc.

This is the kind of stuff that gives me strength to keep going.  How is it that I've only now found it now that I'm ready to leave?  Yet another reason I have to come back. 


Blogger *cq* said...

*thumbs up*

God is always at work. always. He's just waiting for us to come onboard.

5/18/2009 11:30 PM  

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