Andrew is safely back home in Lancaster. He slept 16 hours the first night back! He texted me last night and said he’d written about his trip, if I’d like to post it on my blog. I’d planned to ask if he’d do that for me, so it was nice that he thought of it before I even asked. This is a little long, and I’ve included a few of his pictures pertaining to this portion of his trip, but I hope you’ll take the time to read it. There will be more to come, as this only covers his flight and first two days in Japan. I think you’ll enjoy it. He writes just as he speaks, so I think you’re really “meeting” Andrew through his words!
I am not sure exactly where to start talking about a trip so packed with awesome. There is so much to tell, but I do not want to bore you. Let me first say “thank you” to all of those that invested their money into this trip. Without your help it would not have been possible. I could not be more literal and honest when I say that every dollar, or every seventy yen, made a difference.
Second let me thank each of you who have supported me in prayer. It is a very long trip to Japan and back, and there were so many things that could have gone wrong, but I escaped unscathed, undeported, and un-many-other-things. Your prayers were greatly appreciated.
I began this trip believing four hours of flying to be far too long for any human being to spend on board an airplane. I proved myself correct. In fact, I proved my self correct two and a half times before finally coming to a landing at Narita International Airport. Despite the large size of a Boeing 747 the seats remain approximately the same size as those on board a Cessna. Mind you, I have nothing against the size of airplane seats, but it is amazing after eight hours how badly you want to be away from all of those elbows...so you sit there for two more hours.
We took off at around 8:30 on Saturday morning and arrived sometime on Sunday afternoon. Some people might not agree with flying on a Sunday morning, and I agree completely, so it was actually arranged to where Sunday morning just disappeared all together. One moment it was there, and the next moment it was gone. Kind of a weird feeling, and very disorienting.
We flew from Narita into Osaka International Airport. (Let me take a moment here to say that Japanese apple juice is infinity times better than American or even Canadian apple juice, AND they give you a whole can on the plane.) (Susan here: Andrew absolutely LOVES apple juice. Has since he was a baby. He drinks it every day of his life.) At the Osaka airport I received my first 10,000 yen. I broke my first 10,000 yen bill on a bottle of water. I got some funny looks on that one, but I guess money is money so they took it.
From the airport we took a bus through one of the most densely packed cities I have ever seen. Apartment buildings were almost touching the highways, and sound-proof barriers were on both sides of the road to make traffic noise bearable for those living in the apartments.
The country’s entire road system seems to be run on tolls. There are toll booths everywhere. We continued by bus through the city to a train station where we switched modes of transportation. Even at 9:00 at night the train was packed and so we stood for the trip. On board there were some soccer players between the ages of 9 and 13 who seemed to find the sight of Americans on the train funny. We spent the rest of our train ride trying to coerce the English they knew out of them. All we got was ages and their team name, but it made for a humourous experience.
Mrs. Harris met us at the train station and a short trip around the corner brought us to the Grace Kobe Baptist Church. The Harris’ home is on the property owned by the church, as was the guest room up the street that we stayed in. The humidity we encountered once arriving in Kobe, even during the evening, was incredible. I am not sure really how to describe it. Walking outside left you miserably sticky and covered in sweat, but I digress. We had a quick supper and then it was off to bed.
If you have trouble with getting up in the mornings I would highly suggest flying to Japan about once a week. The jet lag was very interesting. I was wide awake at around 6:00 in the morning. No alarm, no wake-up calls, just awake. It was incredible, and slightly depressing, knowing that I could not sleep in if I wanted to. We had a late breakfast and headed up to the college for their annual “open house”, a time when students from all over Japan are invited to come and check out the college. I had the privilege of attending a Greek class that morning. Being surrounded by Japanese-speaking people whom you cannot understand is a dilemma, but being surrounded by Japanese-speaking people speaking Greek was one of the more interesting things I’ve seen. Surprisingly enough, I learned a little about the Greek alphabet, and now feel more ready than ever to tackle Greek I this coming semester.
Morning classes lead into lunch and then a brief chapel. I am not exactly sure what the guy that was preaching said, but I found it interesting that he preached on Romans 15:20 where Paul speaks of not building on another man’s foundation. Here I was in Japan—what we would call the mission field—and the speaker was challenging the people of such small churches to go and reach people where Christ has not yet been named. People in Japan, a country with a very small witness, are being challenged to go out as missionaries. Think about it. I did.
They do not have the large Bible colleges and extensive training—they are simply surrendered. I wonder if we really see the need like they see it. Sunday night I was introduced to the dean of women at the college. The first thing she did was thank me for coming to Japan. The second thing she did was ask if I was coming there as a missionary.
Throughout my visit, each time I would meet a new pastor or missionary they would ask one or both of these questions: “Are you coming to Japan as a missionary?” and “Will you please come to Japan?”.
Religion is not a game to the people I met; their burden for souls is very obvious. The pastor who is the president of the Bible college sat next to me at lunch on Monday and asked me the two questions that I mentioned. I gave him the response that all Bible college students give: “I am open to the Lord’s leading.” He just grinned and said, “I will talk to the Lord about it.” ...amazing what you can get out of a message you can’t understand a single word of.
The rest of Monday was spent at the college and then out to dinner for Yakisoba. The middle of the table at the restaurant was a griddle type of thing which they dished out our Yakisoba on to, and then left the rest of the cooking up to us. I think I ate more at that meal than any single meal since I have come to college. It was so good. We finished stuffing ourselves and were then off to bed in preparation for an early start on our trip up north Tuesday morning.