Robert & Roberta Adair

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Today, while I met with A2 ladies for our once-a-month get-together, Robert was with 30 to 40 kids at a pre-back-to-school party (the school year here starts in mid-April).  He came home around 3pm pretty wiped out.  Jet lag + throwing kids around for over 4 hours = a tired Robert.

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Although R and I have some similarities (tallish, brown hair, big eaters, a bit goofy, and alotta stubborn), one difference that we realized early in our relationship is that R is a kid person and I’m more of a grandma and grandpa person.  (in Japanese, the elderly are often referred to as ojichan and obachan, which is affectionate for grandpa and grandma.)Few things drain me more than being around a bunch of kids whereas R is something of a kiddo magnet.  I used to be a bit intimidated by his kiddo skills, but now I’m pretty much just proud of them.  And while he’s quite good with the elderly, too, I think these interactions are more life-giving for me than for him.

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Anyhoo, R came back from the event full and exhausted – full as he seemed quite pleased with the event itself and the kids who came (including several of his students); exhausted as he gave all of himself to the task of presence and play…I’m sure including being jumped on, tackled, and “forced” to play chase for hours on end.

Then it was time for me to head out.  My plan was to go to the little café I’ve been trying to frequent lately to study.  Partly for exercise and also to take advantage of pretty post-rain weather, I walked.  On the way, I saw Smiley Grandpa (he has at least 3 teeth) talking with another grandpa friend of his.  Other interactions have been friendly greetings only, but today he commented on my growing belly.  The 3 of us then managed to have some semblance of conversation about flowers, gardening, pregnancy, the recent tsunami warnings, Obama, and more…for at least 20 minutes.

Usually older peeps are pretty tough to understand, but these two gents spoke plainly and clearly with me.  I found it ironic that someone who should’ve been really tough to understand (given both age and lack of teeth) was the person with whom I’ve had the clearest communication with all week.  [kind of funny, sweet, and ridiculous rolled into one: he wants to take R and me out drinking after the baby arrives.  I asked if we could do tea instead…]

I walked a little further, and another older gent (late 70s? older?) talked with me after I commented on a pretty bird.  He called it the word I know for pigeon, but it was blue and apparently sings a lot right before it rains (???).  While talking briefly about gun violence in America, the 3.11 tsunami, and Miyagi-ken being the best place to live in Japan (not too hot, not too cold, little snow, and few typhoons), I noticed a pretty significant stutter.  I’ve never met this gent before, and I thought about the unlikelihood of running into him again.  I decided I really wanted to pray for him – deciding not to care that it’s awkward and “inappropriate” and absurd to do so (being the young, foreign woman that I am…).  But I wanted to believe that Jesus could meet this Shinto-Buddhist gent with a very visible need.  I wanted to believe that the God who made the “blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the mute speak” could heal this gent’s stammer.  I, brokenly, said, “Grandpa, I am a Christian.  My God’s name is Jesus.  I believe he has a lot of power.  This might be a strange request, but can I pray for you?”

…I wish I could write that he said, “Oh yes, please!!”  Instead he spoke about going to local famous shrines.  I listened politely and tried to bring the conversation back to Jesus (this was partly a language exercise, partly a culture exercise, and partly a faith exercise).  He never directly said, “Nope, I don’t want you to pray for me,” but he’s also Japanese where saying “no” is confrontational, rude, and unnecessary…so I think he communicated a clear “no.”  I was disappointed and felt sad for this gent, and as I walked away I prayed for him to experience God’s mercy.

I made it to the café, but it had closed early.  After talking briefly with the owner (painting inside in what felt like to me a sauna), I headed home.  Holding a bag of groceries that I picked up on the way home, I then talked (in the dark) with our next-door-grandma (4 generations live there) who I haven’t seen in several months for probably yet another 15 minutes.

So…I didn’t get study time in.  But I got some good chit-chat stuff going on.  I hope R and I can do more stuff together geared at people our age (“10 years younger to 5 years older” is apparently where one has the most influence), but I also hope R can continue playing with kiddos and I can keep meeting grandmas and grandpas.

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