These updates seem to be getting more sparse. I don’t even know where to begin this entry because it seems like a lot has happened, and it proves difficult to summarize my past month in a manner that is short and sweet. That’s not my style, hehe.. but I will try.
After the earthquake, tsunami, and the events that soon followed, I was moved to Korea for 2 weeks. It was a confusing time, especially because I was at Change Conference, an annual JCCC conference similar to NYKCCC’s Vision Conference. Despite everything that was going on, the staff and students decided it would be best to continue as planned and hold the conference. What a blessing it was. I feel like it was so long ago, but I can still vividly remember the heavy presence of the Lord upon us during our times of prayer and praise. There were many students and staff that didn’t end up coming to the conference, which was held in Tokyo, because of safety reasons and such. I’m sure it was a bit discouraging at first, especially for those who have prayed and planned for months. However, God didn’t let any of that stop the heart of compassion He placed upon so many people. I’ve never seen or heard Japanese students praise the way they did at the conference. It was a blessing to just be with them. If something like March 11th happened in New Jersey, I wonder how I would have felt. Could I still attend a conference to seek the Lord without distraction and hurt in my heart? Would I stand firm in my faith and passionately, desperately desire to meet with God? I’m not sure, but when I looked at the Japanese students all I could see was the light of the Lord. It made me at peace even though it was a turbulent time with my family calling and worrying amidst rumors of possibly being moved out of Tokyo.
It wasn’t turbulent for long because God really filled our hearts with a peace that can only come from Him. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). My parents were really worried, understandably, but God made me calm to the point where I thought I was weird for not freaking out. After the conference we were moved to Kyoto (my STINT team, 10 in total), and soon after, Esther, Dave, and I were moved to Korea. During this time, because there was a lot of uncertainty, it was almost exciting to have to just depend solely on the Lord and His plans. There was literally nothing that I could control really.. and, again, the calmness that God placed in my heart was just beyond me. I didn’t get it.
Korea was an unexpected blessing altogether. I had no idea what to do for 2 weeks, and I was afraid that I’d be idle and lazy. However, I got to spend a lot of time with family and friends that I usually never get to see. I stayed with my aunt, and I’m amazed at her hospitality to me. I felt bad coming on such last minute notice, but she enjoyed cooking me a home-made meal every day and just talking with me. Her company was such a delight and made me realize the small, sweet blessings of every day. I also got to meet my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, and is currently staying at an elderly care center at a hospital. Man, I can’t convey to you the sorrow I had meeting my grandmother in a hospital. If the incidents in distant Northeastern Japan helped me realize how short life is, then this was a more visual and close-to-home confirmation of that. I was thankful, however, to be with her, and I felt like I learned more in that short hour about life than any other experience. The first couple of days in Seoul made my heart heavy.
I also got to meet some precious friends from back in my middle/early high school days. It’s crazy that a decade has passed since I moved to Korea. I feel like God was just taking me on a life trip, bringing me back to reminisce, but more importantly, to reflect with a grateful heart and press on towards the future. I got to spend a concentrated amount of time with one of my girlfriends who’s been an O.G. friend since the old days ;) Y’all know what I’m talking about, those times when you were really dumb but thought you owned the world. And one bad event made you feel like life was over, but some small approval brought the world back on your side. Everything was good. So up and down. Middle school, yay. Anyway, this chingoo was a friend since those times, and to see how God has led her throughout everything is just more glory to Him. She is someone I look up to, and to be able to praise God with her as a sister in Christ and look on our past and laugh and smile about it is more than I can ask for.
Lastly, Esther, Dave, and I were blessed to have come upon New Philadelphia Church and attend their 3-day retreat. It was a great way to spend our last couple of days in Seoul, but even better to just sit in the presence of the Lord. Man, I learned a lot there. I don’t even think half of what I heard through the messages has begun to hit me. As I re-listen to the sermons, I’m letting the truth just sink in and take hold. God, do your thing.
And Lord, may we continue to trust You and expect amazing things for the future of Japan. We don’t want our hearts to become numb to what has happened here more than a month ago. I want to see change and Your kingdom expand, but I know You want that so much more. May we continually renew and refresh ourselves in You, God.
These pictures are a bit out of order.