I was hoping to go out to Japan this November. My plan was to arrive in Japan a few days after my 30th birthday. It seemed like a good plan to me. I had enough time to sort out the final details and say goodbye. It would mean that I get to start my work in Japan before this year ended.
But that is not to be. Now it looks like I’ll be heading out to Japan mid-February.
People have asked me how I feel about having to wait, and the answer is, “OK.”
Sure I’m sad not to be going out to Japan sooner and I’ll probably get bummed out in November. I’ll be walking down the street through the winter sleet and think, “If I were in Hokkaido this’d be proper snow.” When I go shopping I’ll end up gazing longingly at the space by the checkout where the hot canned coffee stand would be if I were in Japan. And when I see photos on Facebook of folk in Japan and click ‘like’ what I’ll mean is, “It sucks that I’m not there with you!”
But seriously, I’m OK with having to be in the UK for an extra 5 months, because it presents me with opportunities that I won’t have in Japan. Here’s 3 that come to mind:
Spending Time with Family and Friends
Almost certainly the most difficult part of going out to Japan will be saying goodbye to those I love.
I have to admit I’m not great at goodbyes. I have been rebuked on more than one occasion for my habit of just hanging up the phone when a conversation is done without properly saying goodbye. In my defence I figure that people would work it out from the abrupt and continued silence – if you’re going to talk to someone again soon why make a big deal out of it?
Except that this time I won’t be seeing people again soon. For most folk I won’t see them for 4 years and that’s not particularly awesome.
So I see these extra months as a gift: a chance for quality time with family and friends. Time to delight in, not begrudge.
Enjoying British Culture
For me, the most baffling thing about Japan is how it can have trains that hover on magnets and travel at over 300 miles an hour, but nothing that even mildly resembles decent cheese. Sure, the public transport system in the UK is terrible, our shop assistants are apparently trained in apathetic rudeness, and our streets flow with filth and crime… but at least we have mature cheddar!
Obviously this is not as important as the first point. But the UK has its unique points of culture, just like Japan and I think anytime we have in a place is an opportunity for us to discover and enjoy the local culture, even if it isn’t ‘exotic’ or ‘exciting.’ If it tastes good, we should enjoy it with thanksgiving. And what tastes better than cheese?
Learning that I’m not the Saviour of Japan
Just to clarify, I’m not crazy. I do know that I’m not the Son of God. I don’t try to walk on water or calm storms. There is no ‘Church of Levi’ in the pipeline.
But if I’m honest, I do sometimes fall into thinking that Christians in Japan are waiting for me to show up and save their country. I can fool myself into believing that the reason many churches in Japan struggle is because I’m not there. My pride tells me that the reason why so few people in Japan have heard about Jesus is because those who have gone before me were bumbling idiots who didn’t have my depth of understanding, or whatever.
The reality is that I’m just a short ginger guy with poor phone manners and an unhealthy liking for cheddar cheese. I’m not the hero of this story, Jesus is. Waiting to go to Japan is an opportunity for me to become OK with that.
Have you ever had a departure delayed? How did you deal with the wait? What did you do with your time? What lessons did you learn?