I’ve been in Japan for 8 months.
This blog certainly doesn’t reflect that well. My hope was to catch up on blog-writing instead of Nanowrimo — instead I haven’t written at all. 😛
I suppose this is the halfway point of my term here, though the Knoxes and I haven’t spoken about exactly when I’ll hand back the baton. I remember thinking back in September how surprising it felt to have been here for half a year and that I was really getting used to living here. Only Last week did I realize that six months had turned to eight.
Funny thing about moving to the other side of the world — you’re supposed to get homesick. Homesickness is an injury of the emotions that I’m not often subject to: whenever I would travel within the states, there was the thought that I’d see whomever was missing soon, and they understood my absence, so I didn’t need to miss them much. Technology has been very helpful, too. Facebook and texting make it easy to continue superficial interactions. Also, life is usually too busy for me to do more than think in passing, “It would be nice if Katie and Andrew were here to do this with me.” or “I wonder how Matthew is?” or “Kirstin/Crista/Becky can’t eat this yummy thing I’m about to eat because of allergies.” or “I miss the folks at game night/Bethany/Overbrook Chapel.” or “Fooey, it’s too late to send this card in time for Dad’s/Mom’s birthday two weeks from now.” And then I might pause to call these people and the others I’ve thought of and realize it’s 4 in the morning for them and I’ll have to try again another time. Moment over, busy-ness resumes, and I’ve been fine.
But now it’s fall. Fall has always been the most beautiful time of year, filled with perfectly crisp and colorful mornings, warm and fragrant fruit of the kitchen, and happy plans for framily holidays. Everybody’s more festive in the fall. People go apple picking, hayriding, bonfiring, costuming, and begin to practice for caroling.
It’s hard not being home among friends and family and neighbors for fall. ^_^
You end up missing unexpected things when you’re living in a foreign place. Like pumpkin spice anything. Facebook tells me the Autumnal Grinches are still complaining about the saturation of pumpkin spice everything, but be happy; here in my part of Japan, there’s nothing pumpkin spice at all! I was excited to find a pumpkin roll cake at my grocery store around Halloween and surprised when it tasted like pumpkin sans-spices. I was excited to be given half a pumpkin by a friend and surprised to find that it was green and gourd-shaped. Apples are still pricey. I’ve lost all hope of finding egg nog.
No Thanksgiving turkey for me at the market, either. Thankfully, some dear friends in Nagano had me over for an early Thanksgiving dinner on Monday the 23rd — turkey and everything! The weather is gorgeous and no one is tirading because of Christmas decor showing up in stores — and family sent me cider mix and excellent hot cocoa. ^_^ With such nourishing supplies, I will do better than mere survival.
I’m thankful for technology, that makes it easy to connect. I’m thankful for this opportunity to be in Japan for more than a year, working with people I love doing things I love for the beliefs that give me purpose and for the God I love. I’m thankful for the students that smile and love their classes with me and for the students who don’t smile but try hard anyway, and especially for the students who hate my classes and are so frustrated, but whom I still have a chance to help somehow. I’m thankful for my family and friends who are patient with me when I’m distant and who still want to keep in touch. I’m thankful for my family who are taking the time and cost to visit me during my time here — Mom and Dad came during the worst homesickness and made things so much better! I’m thankful for the friends I have here in Japan who take such kind care of me and who put up with my foreignness and have fun times with me anyway. I’m thankful for God’s constant demonstration of loving kindness, provision, and care for me — Whenever I’m discouraged, He reminds me that He knows the number of hairs on my head, that He loves me no matter what, and that I’m never actually alone. 🙂
That’s a lot to be thankful for. ^_^