Robert & Roberta Adair

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Saturday was a good day. I like days full of time with people, and Saturday was definitely that. I suppose my full, happy people time started Friday evening. A friend’s kiddo got sick, so our dinner guests cancelled. I was bummed, but then R suggested that he could put J to bed and that I could go to onsen (bath) with a friend. I picked her up at 730 and got back at 1030 – 3 quality hours with a quality friend.

When I got out of the bath, I saw that I missed a message asking me to go on a 715a boat instead of the 930 one. The morning came even earlier than I hoped (J was my 5:15 wakeup alarm…he’s getting better at making it to 6 sometimes, but we still have some early mornings). Then it was breakfast for him, breakfast for me, pack a lunch, throw a crockpot meal together for small group, grab rain gear, and a bit of a mad dash to catch the train (thanks, R, for helping me get out the door and for watching J).

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My friend met me with a thermos of coffee and a roll with sweet beans. We ate on the boat and chatted. Once on the island, we saw that the rain had picked up a bit, but we smirked and started tromping around in the mud anyway. Our main goal was pulling edamame plants so that a group of volunteers can plant a fall vegetable (hakusai) in the field. I’ve probably spent time with this friend 20+ times over the last 8 or so months, but I’ve never had the chance to (pardon the cheese) “hear her heart” before. Sure, mom talk is fine and dandy (her kiddo is a month younger than J), but I got to hear about her past. We could talk about trusting people, loneliness, and savior complex. She is well-known in her community (most people know about her if I mention her name), and yet she struggles with loneliness. [sidenote: there is something about loneliness and Japan. I sometimes ache with loneliness here in a way I’ve never experienced – and I know I just get a taste of what many people around me feel.]

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She feels responsible to help her community post-disaster (I heard from her dad that she basically quit an impressive career to move back and do things for her community). I mentioned that Christians often struggle (okay, I Roberta Adair struggle) feeling it’s my responsibility to fix things, people, and systems. I said that perhaps our goals are different – I want everyone to hear about and experience the love of Christ and feel like I always have to do more…; hers is to see her city restored to pre-disaster (and pretty much for people to be happy). Anyhoo, I said that although we are (ahem) exceptionally strong and capable women, our shoulders are far too small to carry the burden we take on. When I/we feel the responsibility is too great, we can confess our weakness and put the heaviness on Christ’s shoulders.

My friend, despite participating in Shinto Buddhist rituals with her family, claims to not believe in God/gods. She said something along the lines of: “It’s all me. If something bad happens, it’s my fault. If something good happens, I worked hard for it.” (sigh. But I appreciated her honesty.)

We then found out that our work at another island got postponed because, surprise, an elderly lady didn’t think the weather was ideal for picking tomatoes. We instead visited an older couple that she’s gotten to know (she affectionately calls them Island Mom and Dad), and they invited us in. We were then treated to fresh crab (I ate 2), a beautiful salad made from veggies from their garden, various kinds of seaweed, and a noodle soup packed with veggies. More and more food was brought out – pickled cucumbers and plums, more sides, etc. It was very healthy, “local,” delicious, and filling. [I’ve written before about how private the home is in Japan. It feels like a super big deal to be invited in past the genkan, or place where you take off your shoes. I felt welcomed in a way that is a rare treat.]

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My friend’s husband gave us a ride back to the port in his small boat. It was a 10 min ride instead of the usual 30 min, and the ocean was so calm.

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When I got home (filthy and wet), I called R to see what he and J were up to. They were on a man-date at Ikea, and we decided that I could again run to catch the next train out to meet them. Although we didn’t really need anything (but picked up hangers, granola, and a few other items), it was fun walking around…

But, wow, what a contrast between island people (rain gear, rain boots, tan skin, rough hands, salt of the earth) and Ikea people (perfect makeup, latest fashion, families in matching outfits, women with zero arm hair and eyebrows perfectly applied). Hm.

We got home and picked up our very messy house before small group (J has a remarkable talent for bringing disorder to order). Then friends came, and we had one of the best discussion nights we’ve had in awhile. There were 9 of us, and we heard more from people that night than we’ve perhaps ever heard before. Everyone went home around 9p, and R and I went to bed shortly thereafter. Yep, it was a long day, but I would love to have many, many more days just like this. image

Jesus, may your Kingdom come and will be done in this region, on this island, in this city, in my friend, in our small group, in me…as it is in heaven.

Originally posted on Adair Update...

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