Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Arrival in Japan

Earlier this week I arrived in Japan after a very long day of travel which began in Montana at about 4:30 A.M. Tuesday (9/16/14) and ended in my apartment in Japan at midnight the next day. Considering that Japan is about sixteen hours ahead of my normal time in Montana it will likely take some time to overcome the jet lag. The flights were not too bad overall. I was able to sit next to a South Korean man who spoke English fairly well. He indicated that he was a minister visiting the United States to talk about his ministry with North Koreans. He spoke about much of what I had previously learned from Voice of the Martyrs (Bible Route to North Korea) about how much of the ministry to North Koreans is done in China. If you are interested in this check out that ministry's Youtube channel. He also indicated how Chinese authorities would beat ministers who were found to try to minister to North Koreans if they were discovered! I gave him my email address and hope to hear more about his ministry.

Since my arrival I have been slowly adjusting to some various differences in culture. This feeling is very disorienting, like I am in a dream-like state. Not only am I not used to living in a new culture, but also I have been adjusting to living in a mega-city. Fortunately, Katie Folden has been here to help me along the way. Much of the Japanese that I have learned has been hard to apply since their communication has various layers of meaning as well as situational usage. My brain has literally been working overtime taking in all of the sights, sounds, and trying to read the language. I am certain that over time this will go away. I will say that each day my brain is very tired!

                                                                 Kodiara Shopping Area

                                                                  Kodiara Station 

My apartment located in Kodiara, Tokyo, Japan is quite nice. I really thought that it would be quite small as well as expensive, but was glad to find out that it was relatively large as well as cheap for what was needed. God really provided! There is plenty of space to work, sleep, prepare food, and store items. It takes about 20 minutes by bike to go to the church and 10 minutes to get to the main train station. I will try to use a bike as much as possible since travel here on the train can get expensive quickly. Fortunately, my language school will be able to provide a discount travel card when I take school associated routes which will save a lot of money.

Apartment Panorama

Being a Westerner is still somewhat of a spectacle in Japan, so some people want to talk and find out who you are and why you are here. I noticed again upon my arrival that people do not generally speak with each other unless some occasion permits them to do so. For instance, when Katie and I went into an organic shop to buy some goods the store owner wanted to talk once a conversation was initiated due to an item purchase. This led to an extensive conversation (20-30 mins) in which this lady claimed interest in visiting our church due to the sign-language program. Also, on another occasion at Starbucks a lady sat next to us but was too shy to say anything the whole time until Katie asked her for some help with directions on a map. This led to her confessing that she was lonely, did not know any foreigners, and wanted to know Katie more. I do not yet know if these people are just being polite, or if they actually want to do things. Only time will tell. Generally in America people will freely talk with one another without an excuse to do so as we are a very out-going type of people. Not so much in Japan.

Recently I met my language partner. His name is Shinya, age 44. He speaks English relatively well since he had lived in the United States for about 4 months. His wife is a Christian who attends the church. We seem to have some commonalities as he studied social psychology in college. I will be spending a lot of time with him. He is not Christian, so please pray for him! I still have some time left before language school starts, so please pray that I continue to adjust!  Also, an exchange student that I helped with English while in Montana named Kobiyashi would like me to speak at his university. His professor is apparently Christian. Please pray for this opportunity coming up soon. Thank you!

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