Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just stopping by

It has been over two weeks since I blogged. Its not that life is mundane or boring. Far from it!

We went out for Mother's Day lunch after church on the 8th.

That afternoon Stan and I took a walk with our oldest to the nearby park.

A little girl made friends with her. She also returned a softball, and stopped a soccer ball. She certainly attracted as much attention at the park as an adult as she did when she was our little girl!

On the 14th, Stan officiated at a wedding. He was looking particularly dapper in a clerical way as he donned a friends robe for the ceremony.

This wedding was of two professionals who were introduce to one another a few months ago. It was a joyous time of celebrating God's work in both their lives.

In between there have been numerous meetings, in my role as member care coordinator, pastor's wife, and parent. Yesterday was the final Ladies' Bible study for the spring -- we have a wrap up session on June 1.

Next week we have a trip to Kobe with other Asian Access Missionaries, where we will gather together to talk mission, vision, and leadership. We are looking forward to this, though we still have a few arrangements to make on the home-front.

Do you pray? We'd appreciate it!

Monday, May 02, 2011

A year...

A year ago there was flooding in Nashville. After all the more recent news of natural disasters, why does this come to my mind? Because at the time, my Dad was living alone, in his condo just above the high water mark. He was in final stages of renal failure as a result of multiple myeloma, and his cognitive abilities were being compromised. We didn't realize how much until no one was able to communicate with him for several days... We reflected later that this seemed to be the acceleration point in his process of dying.

A year--what a year since then! At times over the year, I've felt like someone has body slammed me against a wall. I've written about transition,the family farewells and death of my Dad, moving, trying to settle, taking graduate courses, closing up our parents' house. There are other more personal things that don't go into a blog that have added to these. And then came the "Great East Japan Earthquake" and tsunami and the aftermath of living through radiation alerts and feeling unable to respond the way a "good missionary" should.

After listening to a friend talk about crisis response, and reading some articles in my member care library, I gave names to what I've been feeling--"brown out heading toward burn out." Some how, the act of labeling it, made a difference and I allowed myself to "stop."

In the aftermath of such a major event, the natural desire of caregivers is to get out there and DO SOMETHING! And while I am extremely grateful for those who were able to immediately respond, I realized that I couldn't. But it would be okay. My job was to build up my strength again, to listen to Christ when He said "come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)

And then I had to admit that a component of this has been grief. It surprised me, but when my Dad died, I began to really grieve my Mom's death 12 years earlier. I doubt that this is unusual, but it was a bit unexpected.

A week or so ago, I felt like I was walking out of a fog. Being able to go enjoy the cherry blossoms was a part of that. Discovering that my eyes and heart are focusing again on the seasonal changes in front of us here in Japan has helped. The Dogwoods are just finishing their blooming season, and the parks are filling with the Japanese carp flags that mark this season. Soon it will be summer, and the cicadas will begin humming.

So, it was a year ago that there was flooding in Nashville. The Lord was with my dear confused Dad while he sat alone in his home.

The Lord has been with a weary, burning out, grieving me.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalms 34:18

Finally, we're part of the community!

We've lived in this neighborhood for eight months now, and all during that time I kept wondering when I would start getting the message folder.

Last month, one neighbor told me that technically our house was the next one in line to be the "block head" for the year (April to March), but they had decided to skip us and pass it on to the next neighbor. While some of our friends have experienced this honor (being in that position actually helped one friend in his work with neighborhood associations in the Tohoku area) I don't honestly think I have the language level and fortitude to take that role, so I am very grateful.

Last week, our neighbor on the other side (the one who speaks some English) asked me if it was okay for me to join the neighborhood association. I said of course we would. So this morning, I was handed the message folder for the first time.

The next challenge is trying to decipher whether what is included is important or not. This time we've got a few town newsletters, a note reporting on the amount of donations through the Japan Red Cross from our town, and the new garbage schedule. Gratefully I can tell this week what its all about. In past neighborhoods, there have been the annual donations to various causes, a sign up for the community sports day, notices of theft in the area, etc. I expect all of those will show up again...

I've honestly resented these in the past, but this neighborhood has been a little hard to figure out and make connections, so if getting the message folder at least has me in touch with the neighbors on either side of me, I'm thankful.