Thursday, May 04, 2006

Double Minded May 4 Japan update

Have been back and forth on this, which is hard. I had a meeting with the guys in my church who are guiding me and got some very good advice: I need to make a decision and stick to it. The church is very supportive, but they first want me to get off the fence -- either side is fine. I'll have to admit that right after that meeting I didn't think I could possibly make a decision. I'm getting so much input that it's hard to sort through. And I love the input. I want it, but eventually, I have to do what I did when I went to Japan in the first place and what I did when I decided to adopt Bonnie -- choose what is right for me and go with it.

Some thoughts that have come to me since that meeting:
  • Determining GOD'S WILL can be very scary -- especially when we look at it so seriously. I'm so scared about making the wrong decision that I can't move at all. Then I remembered the first time I went to Japan. I had been given the offer and said "no" without thinking about it. Then, as I was driving in the car, God spoke to me. I had been begging Him for a chance to leave the country and teach English somewhere. I just didn't want to do it in Japan. Then He said something only God could say, "This is a gift for you," He said. You won't be out of my will if you don't go, but you will be IN my will if you DO go. It's your choice and I'm giving it to you. But, if you choose NOT to go, you will be missing a wonderful present I have for you. As I sat here today, trying to figure out GOD'S WILL (Cuz that's what Raj wants me to determine and that's what it boils down to with my church, too), He seemed to say to me, "Stop trying to figure that out. On this one, maybe I don't have A WILL ( specifically). Maybe, like the last time, either one is OK. But one is probably better. That was a huge relief to me. Even if I make a mistake, God will be with me.
  • Whether I live in Japan or in the U.S., it is going to be stressful to take care of Bonnie. I am currently working three jobs and raising her alone. AND driving 100 miles a day. The rest of my life is going to involve working full time and trying to care for Bonnie. NO matter where I live, Bonnie will have to have child care. Raj is being so flexible about things that it's hard to believe. I told him I couldn't work on weekends. Done. I told him I needed more money. Done. I told him I couldn't work both mornings and evenings. Done. I told him I wanted to bring Bonnie to some of my classes. Done. Done. Done. This is a good indication to me that he will continue to be flexible as things come up in Japan.
  • I have to determine who to listen to and remember that God is BIG. He is very BIG. It is a privelege to get the chance to see how BIG He is.
  • My friend Frank told me to chase my dreams and chase them hard. When I was growing up, my mom told me the same thing. She never pushed me toward certain activities or vocations or types of boyfriends, etc. When I got in my car and drove from northern Illinois to SC, her heart was in her throat (she told me later) but I had NO idea. She wanted me to follow my dreams. And I want that for Bonnie. It is another legacy from my mom to her. Follow your dreams. If I do go to Japan, even if I fail, Bonnie will see someone who dreams BIG and dares to believe that God will do big things; someone who is bold enough to GO FOR IT. That is the way I have always been and it is the way I can't help but be. If I do'nt follow my dreams, I will not be me. God knew what He was doing when He put Bonnie with me. We are so well suited to each other, it's amazing. He knew I was a person who had to GO, to dream big and try to make it happen. If all my dreams for Bonnie's future are to come true, she will need to be that kind of person. It's my family's legacy and Bonnie was adopted into it.

So I need to take about 24 hours and decide. But after I decide, there will be no turning back. Same as when I adopted Bonnie. I really didn't listen to anyone who thought I couldn't/shouldn't do it. When I ran into an obstacle, I refused to take no for an answer. Because I knew it was the right thing to do. Yes, I was willing all along for God to close the door, as hard as it might be, but I didn't start with that assumption. If I decide to go to Japan, that will be IT. We will go forward until God stops us. IF I decide not to go, that's IT. I will be back to the job hunt and give up the idea of missions altogether because if this isn't the right mission field for me, nothing is.

If you have any final thoughts, please let me know! I should be back this time tomorrow with a decision. One way or the other.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 2 Japan update

As I look into living in Japan, I've run up to some major challenges regarding Bonnie. Here's the latest:

I recently talked with a couple of friends who are TEAM missionaries in Okayama and they have serious concerns about me bringing Bonnie to Japan. Violette has a friend who is an expert in educating missionary kids in Japan. When Violette contacted her friend about this situation, she thought it was a terrible idea for me to bring Bonnie to Japan under these circumstances. Paul grew up in Japan as an MK and has been there almost all of his life (he is in his late 40s). I have outlined their concerns below. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about God’s will here, but this does seem like something that needs to be seriously considered.

§ Japanese are friendly to Westerners, but very cold toward other Orientals. There is a serious prejudice, especially, against Chinese.
§ Since adoption is not an accepted concept in Japan and they do not have the American attitude toward multicultural families, we could very possibly have even more problems than the average westerner in Japan.
§ Since I would be working sometime in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings, as well as on Saturdays, when would I see her? She might be able to come to some of my classes (with the kids her age) but how would I get her to and from a babysitter around my schedule? In Paul’s words, “Working out your English class schedule to fit around her needs would be a big challenge.” I’m not sure Agape school is in a position right now for that flexibility.
§ Bonnie would need to learn how to read and write in English since she would be in 1st grade. Is it realistic to think I could homeschool her AND work full time and do ministry and live in a foreign culture, etc?
§ There is a Christian school in Saidaiji about an hour away and that would be a friendly environment, but then it would cost a lot of money and I would still need to help her with English studies on my own. I would need to move closer to Saidaiji to send her there. I would really need a car.

Paul’s final words were this: “Sorry for the rather dismal response.We would love to have you as our friend out here again, but I can't honestly say you would be able to make a good living and meet Bonnie's needs by coming.”

I share this with a trusted friend here in the states and got this response (which I completely agree with) : “Serious considerations from trusted friends. I would know nothing of what he says, but you should take this very seriously.
It also sounded to me like Raj has not fully offered you the position until he gets confirmation from your church.
Use these cautions as from the Lord. Be willing to go wherever He wants. Also be willing not to do something that He stops.
It's not clear to me which this is yet. But, unlike my first reaction, these are serious concerns that may put the brakes on. ”

I on’t want to limit God. I don’t want to say this is too big a problem for Him to overcome, but I don’t want to be foolish either. I would love to go to Japan in a very flexible environment, recruit students, put some of my ideas into action for social activities and building relationships, communication with parents, etc. I’m bursting with ideas and nothing would make me happier than going back to Japan. However, I’m not sure Agape school is in a position to provide the flexibility Bonnie would need.

Still, I can’t say “no.” The first time I went to Japan, I really didn’t want to go, but God was so much wiser than I. He knows me better than I know myself and He knew Japan was the perfect place for me. I would like to think that things would work out for Bonnie. Didn’t God put us together? I believe He has a ministry we can do and a place for us. If Japan is perfect for me, doesn’t he know that I have a Chinese child?

On the other hand, as Paul pointed out to me, God HAS already given me a ministry – raising one Chinese child. I don’t believe He would call me to “sacrifice” her for a ministry in Japan. So I really don’t know what to make of this.

In addition, there are the additional considerations of my debt, my mortgage, my car lease. Putting them all together, do I takethis as a closed door? Or a challenge to overcome? I honestly don’t feel I can answer that question.

If you have any thoughts, please e-mail me with them or comment here. And, of course, keep praying.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Always on Your Side - not about Japan

I've been hearing this song on the radio lately. It's funny because I don't relate to the narrator's point of view, but to the person the narrator is describing: waiting to be picked, the angels and the demons, wandering eternally looking for -- something -- what, I don't know, but I DO know I don't have it . I see love all around me, but I have no idea how to pull it close and experience it. Butterflies are destined to fly. You can't pin them down without killing them. But sometimes I wonder if the butterflies would rather stay crawling along the ground where it's safe, where life moves at a slower pace, where the wind doesn't blow you to and fro. I guess, in their own way, butterflies are square pegs, too. At least I think they are in this song. Scroll down past the lyrics to watch the music video (clean) if you want. It's Sheryl Crow and Sting.

"Always On Your Side"
My yesterdays are all boxed up and neatly put away
But every now and then you come to mind
Cause you were always waiting to be picked to play the game
But when your name was called, you found a place to hide
When you knew that I was always on your side

Well everything was easy then, so sweet and innocent
But your demons and your angels reappeared
Leavin' all the traces of the man you thought you'd be
Leavin' me with no place left to go from here
Leavin' me so many questions all these years

But is there someplace far away, someplace where all is clear
Easy to start over with the ones you hold so dear
Or are you left to wonder, all alone, eternally
This isn't how it's really meant to be
No it isn't how it's really meant to be

Well they say that love is in the air, but never is it clear,
How to pull it close and make it stay
Butterflies are free to fly, and so they fly away
And I'm left to carry on and wonder why
Even through it all, I'm always on your side

But is there someplace far away, someplace where all is clear
Easy to start over with the ones you hold so dear
Or are we left to wonder, all alone, eternally
But is this how it's really meant to be
No is it how it's really meant to be

Well if they say that love is in the air, never is it clear
How to pull it close and make it stay
If butterflies are free to fly, why do they fly away
Leavin' me to carry on and wonder why
Was it you that kept me wondering through this life
When you know that I was always on your side

If the video doesn't play, click on the link to the website and do a search for "Always On Your Side" and you'll get it. It's worth it! It's free. :)

Sheryl Crow - Always On Your Side