Monday, March 18, 2013

Missing Japan

The first time I went to Japan, when my group got off the airplane at Osaka airport my group leader smiled and exclaimed "It smells like Japan." Of course it smelled like any other airport. Yet that statement stuck with me.

That was not my first time overseas. I'd flown to Peru and the island of Grenada on mission trips when I was in high school. But this was my most anticipated trip. I had wanted to see Japan for years when the opportunity finally came in my Freshman year of college. My group went with the goal of sharing Christ by inviting college and high school students to come on a homestay in America. I made several friends that I am still able to keep up with thanks to Facebook. I've been able to see several Japanese girls become strong young women in Christ.
Not from 2003. Actually from May 2007.

Thinking back I understand better why my group leader, who had been visiting Japan at least annually for about twenty years, cherished that moment. It wasn't necessarily the smell, although some of the sea air and fishy food could be sensed. It was a homecoming feeling, and the love of the people of Japan that he felt.

Some great ladies. The one on the right lives in Orlando now!
I went twice to Japan, about a total of two months of my life. I long for the day I'll be able to go back. I miss the people, the atmosphere, the food, the train, the culture. In 2011 my church in Orlando sent a small group to Tokyo to help with a conference for pastors and missionaries in Japan. Unfortunately we weren't able to go on that trip, and our church isn't going to that conference again this year. I'm watching for an opportunity to go again. I feel that tug in my spirit toward that country.

A good friend of ours is teaching English in Japan. He's been there almost a year now. I think if I were not married and settled here now, upon graduating college I would have done the same as he. I'm very glad I didn't, because Japan is a very difficult place to be assimilated into as a foreigner. Not to mention I'm very blessed to have my husband, my family, and my life here.

I want to have my children see me and my husband go on mission trips when they are young. I'd love for them to come on mission trips with us as a family as they get older. I want them to see what it is like to serve the Lord both here in Orlando and to the ends of the earth. For me, that's Japan. Hopefully God will provide us an opportunity soon.
The second time I visited was during the Swine Flu scare. But that's a story for another time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I Just Read: Ender's Game

If there is any sci-fi book that needs to be included in a literature course, it's this one.

Part of why I chose to re-read Orson Scott Card's novel now is that the movie version is due to come out this year. I remembered the book being pretty intense, and I wondered how Hollywood could create a film version that would appeal to wide audiences. It's a rare film that can get away with such images of violence and crudeness coming from children. For sure, it will be somewhat toned down to manage a PG-13 rating.

That said, this book is a masterpiece. It challenges what children are capable of, given opportunity and giftedness. It challenges right and wrong. It asks when wrong can be right in what circumstances. It addresses adolescence and growing up and the feelings of isolation that many people feel at that age. Card not only challenges the supposed innocence of children, he throws the idea out entirely to show children capable of adult sin, but still keeps his characters youthful.

Card takes the sci-fi themes of space travel and aliens to a place it hasn't been before. I highly recommend taking the time to read it to the end. The twists and turns and reveals are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Happily Ever After

I guess most girls expect to live happily ever after after marriage. Disney surely subscribes to that belief. Every tale ends with a marriage and a happily ever after, tied in a pretty neat bow.

I guess I did expect that to some degree. In some ways I did get that. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive husband. He follows The Lord and treats me as an equal under the cross. But I never expected someone like Penny to drop into our family.

Two years ago, I would never have expected anything like this to happen to us. How could you expect to have a child with so many special needs before she's even born, and who only stays with us for two days? How could you expect to be in mourning for a child at the age of twenty-five? I figured I'd have four or so children, as naturally as possible, without C-sections. I'd have been much happier never knowing a speck about HELLP disease.

I've known for a while that I wanted to be a mommy. Still do. But sometimes (most times) I feel like Penny was never even mine. The (wonderful) nurses in the NICU spent more time with her than I did. Then the Lord took her, and she became His.

She would have been three months old now.

Some good friends of ours have a daughter only a week older than Penny. She's a beautiful, friendly, cuddly little girl, and I love her and her family so much. But there are days when I can't be in the same room with her for thinking "Penny would have been her age and size if she had been born healthy."

The other day a woman in Publix let me check out ahead of her because I was carrying a basket. It was a very friendly gesture, and I did appreciate it. Then she began talking on and on about how life is short and how far a smile can go. Now, I know she was just trying to be positive and cheery in a dreary everyday activity... but all I wanted to do was turn around and snap at her that of course I know life is short, but how could smiles have changed my daughter's fate? Could her grin have given her another hour, another day, another month or year to live? No.

Sorry if I'm rambling. The 26-28th of each month is hard. I go through her birthday and deathday anniversary all at once. It's emotionally rending, and I didn't expect it. Happily ever after is where Penny is now. I'm still on the roller coaster. Happy one minute, weeping the next, but at least I have a great man with me.