This is my first trip outside of the U.S. since I returned home from the World Race a year and a half ago.
I've never been to Japan before, so it's a new and exciting place, but a strangely familiar experience. The feeling of being in a different culture, trying to learn all you can in a short amount of time. Exploring the local neighborhood, venturing into shops and buying snacks that look different and interesting. The language barrier. Foods I've never tried before. Small churches with services not in English. Being asked to speak at a church event with very little warning. Just being in another culture.
Stepping back into what was my life for a year and experiencing all this again is comfortable to me. I hadn't realized how much I missed it all, until I got here. Who ever thought one could actually miss a language barrier?
I attended weekly meetings and trainings for the trip over the next few months, and now I'm here with a team of 8 other people. One week into our two week trip.
We are working with Churches, teaching English classes, and assisting with kids events. The same kinds of things I did on the World Race.
We've visited Nara, where deer are protected and considered sacred. A place where the deer are used to people providing treats to eat, and will stand still to be petted. They reminded me of my goats.
Also in Nara is the largest wooden building in Japan.
This ginormous wooden building (look how small the people out front appear) houses the largest Buddha in Japan.
Visiting temples and shrines has taught us a bit about the culture here and what the Japanese people believe, what their faith looks like.
Understanding a bit about the beliefs held dear here helps us to be better communicators about our faith, while still respecting the culture of Japan. Ultimately, we're here to share about the hope that can only be found in Jesus.
And Jesus is for all people of all cultures. Becoming a follower of Christ does not mean becoming American at all, it simply means believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Your culture is still your own and doesn't need to change. Thus, by visiting places our Japanese friends here want us to see and respecting their values, we are hoping to communicate that.
"To the Jews I become a Jew, so that I may win the Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;
to those who are without law, as without law, though not without the law of God but under the law of Christ so I might win those who are without law.
To the weak I become weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men so that I might by all means save some."
~ 1 Corinthians 9: 20-22
Thus far, half way through my trip, I am greatly enjoying being in Japan. It's refreshing after not leaving the U.S for the past year. I love it.