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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Tsunami Part 1

This post already feels like it’s going to be immensely long, so….that was your warning. And I promise this post isn’t all about me complaining. So there’s that to look forward to. I think I will have to make this a two or three parter. It really is a lot of stuff, and I need to make sure I say it all.

I hope this blog is serving as a genuine and transparent testimony to all the grace He gives me, all the struggles I have, and how He is always pulling me back into Himself. I just wanted to say that, too…

This week is my “Spring Break 2012.” Even after college, I get one of those. And while most of my coworkers jetted off to exotic places like Singapore or Australia or America, I chose to spend my first break in my own city. I wanted to get to know it, and I wanted to be used by God. For me, that meant spending lots of time in Shichigahama, an area that is being rebuilt after the March 2011 tsunami. Now, this trip was EXTREMELY important to me. I don’t think I can emphasize enough how much I wanted to work in this area. I wanted to work for four days, and spend one day at Matsushima Bay, which is famous and near Shichigahama. I had this semi-elaborate plan in my head, and I even got others in on it because I thought it was the perfect thing to do over break. I knew God would finally give me some blue skies if I would just be giving enough and selfless enough. And I knew God would speak to me while I was working and while I was seeing His creation at Matsushima. I knew and practically told God what He would do. Surely you already see some problems, right? … but I’m not to that part of the story yet.

My plan was to go out Saturday, work all day; use the free day, Sunday, to visit Matsushima Bay-a famous Japanese site near Shichgahama; work Monday through Wednesday spending the night in SP’s places. We’d be uncomfortable and I was even excited about that. I thought it’d help me focus on important things and make me forget some unhappy things. I knew God would talk to me while I was working hard in the homes. I knew God would talk to me while I was in nature at Matsushima. Surely I’d get some deep revelations!

Thursday we found out that Saturday was a no go, and that spending the night there was out of the question period. Too many volunteers already there. I envied those people for a second…and then I realized how ridiculous it is to envy people who are just having good hearts. Good grief, what’s wrong with me? Anyway, needless to say I was devastated. Why on earth would God take my perfectly holy plan and let it fall apart, get stepped on, and then burned up?

On Sunday, I went along with my original dream plan under different circumstances and got myself to Matsushima. I couldn’t take a picture to do it justice, and the day consisted of me just being quiet, looking at things, and contemplating. I didn’t get insanely promising revelations from God that day, and thankfully the initial disappointments related to the Shichigahama trip trimmed down my expectations of a day at Matsushima anyway. I wasn’t upset about it. I think I finally understood that it was silly for me to show God where and when He would speak to me and expecting it to happen that way. Thankfully He is so far above my own plans.

Monday, we got to go volunteer. And what an incredible blessing it was. I promise to write about that, too. At the end of Monday, though, we got the email saying that the rest of the week was now out for us. So my four days of volunteering turned into one day. And again, I wasn’t as upset as I initially was. I understood that sometimes God doesn’t need us to do what we think we ought to do. He has something better, something perfect for us, even if we can’t see it. Even if I still don’t see it. But He has me in mind and He is taking care of me.

From now on, I’m making plans timidly, understanding that they may change, that my idea for what’s best may or may not be best, and that God may just let me be disappointed just so He can grow me more… I won’t “boast about tomorrow,” to steal something from the Bible.

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Mission

Surely by now I’ve mentioned how I’ve been sent to Japan for some mysterious mission that God has concocted for me… Some situation where a Beth shaped puzzle piece fits absolutely perfectly.

 

And what is the said mission?

I still have no idea. I’ve been here a month and a half, over a tenth of my total time here (if I stay one school year…) and I still don’t have a clue about my purpose, about what I’m fulfilling, about where my puzzle piece fits.

 

Maybe for most, this isn’t really a big deal. You can just keep on living day to day without really knowing the bigger picture and you do great. I’m not really to that point. I appreciate knowing the plan. I love to know what my bigger goal is. It gives me a target to aim for while I’m doing whatever I’m doing. Even doing menial things have some meaning to me when I know my mission.

 

In one organization in college, we were made to write mission statements. We wrote down a bigger goal for our projects within the organization and were encouraged to integrate those mission statements into our lives. Maybe that’s just really gotten into my head, but I’m very grateful to know what I’m working and shopping and talking and living and praying for. I feel like I actually have a purpose. I don’t question whether I’m in the correct place in life when I know there’s a mission to accomplish.

 

And this has been a significant prayer for me for a while. I pray that God will reveal His mission for me so I can live more purposefully. I can have more specific goals. I can do things with more uumph. At least that’s what I imagine would happen. I won’t stop praying for this until I see it.

 

But, honestly, I need to look at the possibility that I may never be told why I’m here…at least not until after I’m already done here and back home. I have to figure how to live with purpose without my standard motivation, without “the mission” being told to me. What will that look like? Will I let myself get depressed or insecure if I don’t know?

Insecurity is a very real threat in this case because my mission is so important to me. But I can’t let something like that happen when I’ve already been so assured that I am suppose to be here in Japan. So if I’m not insecure, how will I live day to day without a bigger goal? I don’t really know…I’m still trying to figure out how I will deal with this possibility. If you have some encouragement, that’d be super. I’m certain there are many Bible verses that would be helpful to me now… I’m just in the middle of my thoughts on this and haven’t been exploring them yet.

A Special Case of a Post

I haven’t written in a while… And why?

I work very hard to use my blog and Facebook as a means of encouragement, to make people smile, and, perhaps, hopefully, occasionally, make people think. It’s important to me that I try not to complain about my life, use my statuses as a therapist, or make it sound like I’m just ungrateful. Except for the occasional “complaint” hopefully taken as silly (ie-hard-boiled eggs sure are hard to make!) I try to write things that show God’s faithfulness and love for me as an example for all. And lately, I haven’t had many encouraging or happy things cross my mind. They are all overshadowed by the doomy gloomyness of the past week or so as I’ve struggled and fought to get by. And in fact, God actually got me by.

And so with nothing nice to say, I chose not to say anything at all. This is good, because I am slowly gaining some perspective over the despair- yes, it felt like despair- of the recent.

I have begun teaching for extended times in class. Monday I’ll have my first class alone, no real teacher. This has been very challenging for me, but I am not surprised that it has been that way. My teaching experience is minimal, though Meysen doesn’t mind as long as you fit other criteria, and so skills like classroom control and experience don’t have my back yet. There is a lot of curriculum to memorize. A lot is subjective and so I’ll just leave it at that-It’s a lot.

Interesting Sidenote—

—it’s a special curriculum rooted/connected with Meysen. Meysen people made this stuff.

—this curriculum is being used all over the world, even somewhere in the US.

—it’s still being perfected and worked on as they learn what works in teaching english to non-native speakers.

 

So I’m teaching. Making lesson plans that I care about so I spend lots of time on them. Trying to remember 100 Japanese kids’ names I’ve known for less that 4 weeks. Studying curriculum. Learning what classroom management looks like. Taking observation notes. Asking so so many questions. Walking up and down a hill that’ll whip anybody into shape in 2 gos. Shoveling snow very very occasionally. Sleeping. Eating. Connecting with home. Connecting with new people in my life.

 

I’ve whined quite enough, right?

Wrong. This week I also managed to catch the fiercest minor sickness cold thing I can remember. Colds in Arkansas are certainly not like this. I literally thought I had pneumonia…I had nearly every symptom, and it felt like the last time I had pneumonia. I just figured I knew my body when it was feeling like it was on the brink of seeing the Pearly Gates. The doctor thought otherwise. After missing one day of work, not really ideal when you’re new and in training and are still developing your work reputation, I decided that pneumonia symptoms should be checked out by a professional. The friendly doctor read my symptoms, which I didn’t bother to fully explain, on a piece of paper. I expected her to ask questions about said symptoms…that’s what we do in the US, hey? Nope. She did at least check my asthmatic little lungs which were a bit weazy. Lower respiratory-check. Upper respiratory…the place where all the crap that I want out of my body is-nope. I know a little something about getting my lungs checked out. And that was not how I wanted it done.

In the end, what is my diagnosis? “You don’t have anything.” Sweet. All this hacking and feeling like death is called Nothing. Sounds pretty bad. (They gave me 5 kinds of pills for my Nothing…7 pills at breakfast and dinner and 4 at lunch. Don’t be alarmed…Japanese pills come in small milligram amounts and it was a pill per symptom. America has something on Japan in this area.) Now perhaps I’m being too harsh on the doctor who surely has a ton of medical education and experience backing her. She’s certainly better at doctoring than I am at teaching. She doesn’t know my medical history… Fine.

That doctor trip was full of bitterness and anger and nearly tears. Because the day and night preceding that was filled with bitterness and anger and tears. I was feeling so sick it must have worn on every other aspect of myself. I lost myself physically and mentally and some spiritually. I broke. I prayed God would send me home to be with my family–I just knew the doctor would declare I had some sickness that required that I go home immediately. And at home I could at the very least die with people who knew me. Or mom, who can fix anything, would revive me and I could live a happy life in Arkansas and never think of silly ol’ Japan again. I made plans for what I’d do as soon as I arrived home in a few days. I started questioning whether I had listened to God when I accepted the job to come here. I was wrecked.

My friend, Jade, explained the epic freak out like this–when we’re sick, or something happens to mess up the flow, perhaps, we have a knee-jerk reaction. When you’re 6,470 miles from home the knee-jerk reaction is difficult to carry through. So what happens? Epic freak out. Maybe this is a girl thing. I don’t know.

Perhaps adding to the chaos inside my mind was the fact my constant nose blowing and stuffy head prevented me from getting anything more than 20 minutes of a doze at a time the last two nights. Two nights ago I was too afraid to take NyQuil because I thought I’d stop breathing since I was already having breathing issues. Oh, the dramatics go on. I’m just adding sleep deprivation to my list of cruddy things.

I am done complaining now. Those are THE main points that stick out from the recent life and times of my adventures.
But, even among the overwhelming blehness I have felt lately, I can recall many small quiet blessings that the enemy wants me to forget…

My teachers are helpful, understanding, and care about my success as a new teacher.

I am more gracious to myself than I expected…when I make mistakes, I learn and always try my best. Even when I’m not feeling like effort is worth it.

I’m getting to know some interesting people, and they are people I will get to bond with a lot this year. I’m making new friends…something to always be glad about.

Tonight, when I blow my nose,  I can sometimes use it as an orifice in which I can inhale oxygen for nearly a minute! Praise God!

I had an encouraging conversation with someone here that was very meaningful to me.

When I skyped with Brad, I had to stick tissue up my nose to help a…situation. He did it with me just so I didn’t feel so stupid looking. (Moral of that is just feeling loved, despite the weird things I do. :] )

The kids at school are getting use to me. Sometimes they even seem excited to see me…I can’t wait for one to run up and give me a hug!

I am living in Japan.

And I still have life.

 

Maybe the bad and the good shouldn’t be always be in competition with each other, battling to outnumber the other so that I can say “Bad, you win this round.” Instead, I’ll try to focus on the flow, the ups and downs, the bigger picture. It won’t be about which one outdid the other, but rather taking them both and just learning. A day will just be a period of time that I grew more and more; even the “bad” ones have so so much to teach me.

I hope that no one who read this is hoping that I never speak again on the interwebs…I’ll keep the complain-fests out of my future writings. This was a special case.