I have been back in Kansas for about two weeks now. The first week was really hard. There was so much going on all at once. They warn you about reverse culture shock and jet lag, but I was not expecting it to hit me as hard as it did! Amidst the exhaustion, the processing has continued. I have been working on what main things God was teaching and showing me this summer. Things that apply not only to life in Shizuoka, but also life in the States.
Most of these lessons all tie together to form a common thread of my interaction with others. I can break them down to be more easily understood though.
The first lesson is to be present. This might not make sense, but as a college student with life in constant transition it really does make sense. I am given, at the most, two years in any one given place. In this place I am then to live among the people and build a community. As I am going into a new campus this fall, almost everything around me will also be new. My roommate. My classes. My surroundings. My church. And most importantly, my community. I am so thankful that I serve an unchanging God amidst everything new! I know that He has placed me in this time and place for a reason, and my responsibility now is to be present.
The second lesson is love and patience. This is one that is extremely difficult for me. While in Japan, everything required more patience, and through the frustrations of everyday life love was necessary. If we did not love those around us well, there was no way to build that relationship with them. It is much easier to first build a relationship on love and patience than to go back later and repair a damaged relationship due to lack of love or patience. I know this is something I am still working on, and will not be perfecting anytime soon. Again, I am so thankful for a God that embodies love and patience in His very character, and wants to allow me to reflect Him.
The third lesson might seem a little bit strange, but is mostly due to my personality. I don't handle emotion well. That is something I've always known about myself, and most of my friends know about me also. Something that came to light this summer though, is how in that personality flaw, I set myself up to be unapproachable. In relationships with others, I am setting myself up for failure if I am unapproachable. That isn't my goal. And is still something I am working on.
I know that God isn't done teaching me yet from this trip. I know that He will continue to reveal Himself to me in life even here in the States. As I prepare for a difficult two years of school, I have to continue to trust in Him and know that in His timing, His will is going to be perfected. It is my job to continue to seek after Him and enjoy the life He has blessed me with.
Thank you all for praying for me and my team as we went to spend the summer in Shizuoka, Japan. Please continue to pray for each of us now as we adapt back to life here in the states and do our best to be present in the life God has given to us.