Anyway, we've been doing lots of preparations for leaving, even since before graduation. First there was the application process for the work we will be doing with OMF. Then after graduation, when we started having a little space to spare in our brains, we started studying Japanese. We can't do much on our own, but we've become somewhat comfortable with the writing system, and we're enjoying learning about the grammar. We have found it a little frustrating that most Japanese textbooks assume that the student has no desire or aptitude for grammar, and thus skims over it in an effort to teach the student to intuit the language, teaching phrases rather than vocab and grammar. This doesn't fly with us. We are language nerds. Luckily we found a good textbook finally... I am thrilled with the pages and pages of grammar notes. I have an intense desire to understand how the Japanese language works! We are excited about our upcoming Japanese language lessons with a real teacher.
We've also gone on a couple of trips as part of our preparations. First, we went to Colorado for OMF orientation. This was fun, challenging, and exhausting at the same time. We had many rewarding conversations with the other people who are going to do short term mission trips this summer, as well as with long term workers. We also became vividly aware of the places where we had become rigid from being in our comfortable church and school environment, surrounded by like-minded people. We were confronted with Christians from all different backgrounds, not just Regent-style Christians. That was a good wake-up call--learning to trust God and not be quite so suspicious of other Christians from outside our little tribe. There was time for some fun activities too...
Incidentally (and slightly off topic), we got to visit some dear friends in Colorado while we were there. We finally got to meet Janelle and Kelly's two children, Elaine and Elliott! We didn't do much with them other than cooking, eating, and talking. That's great... since that's what I wanted to do most!
Keith purchases a baby (Elliott) at the grocery store...
We ate hotpot for dinner... yum! (that's an understatement!)
Kelly taught Keith to play Chinese chess.
We had dinner with Don and Amelia and Inara! Don, who will shortly be opening a brewery, gave us a tour of his Bierkeller... including samples. :) Keep your eyes open for Grimm Brothers Brewhouse! It's going to be delicious...
We did a little hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park too.
I already posted a week ago about our road trip, so I will only add a few comments here. Part of the purpose of that trip was to visit all the churches to which we are connected. Keith preached a sermon at our former church in Grand Forks on John 20 which was interwoven with his testimony. That church had played a particularly large role in Keith's faith journey, so it was important for him to tell his story there. We were surprised (and delighted) to find that a new congregation, made up of Mexican immigrants, had grown out of the old congregation. The church welcomed us to attend the Spanish service as well. It was good practice for being in church in Japan... no idea what was going on. Oh well. It was good to be gathered with other Christians even if we weren't speaking the same language. Both the English and Spanish congregations prayed for us and sent us off as missionaries. We were encouraged by the support given to us by the new congregation, even though we didn't know any of them! (On a side note: at orientation we learned the following missionary motto: "Where he leads me, I will follow; what he feeds me, I will swallow." This was put to the test for me at lunch that Sunday... an interesting Mexican soup was served to me with the comment, "It's probably better if I don't tell you what's in it." So, I ate cow stomach for the first time... and discovered that I liked it!)
Finally, we're having a "goodbye bash" on Saturday night! Feel free to drop by any time after 7:30 if you happen to be in Vancouver. I'm not posting the address since sharing personal info on the internet scares me... email me if you need it. Keith promises to entertain you by juggling. There will probably also be a fire and roasted peeps. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should just come to the party.
For those of you who are praying for us, here are some things to pray about:
- The visa. Argh!!!!! (And Celia's sanity until everything is worked out. Keith is amazingly calm.)
- We're moving out on Saturday. So, please pray that everything goes smoothly and quickly... we get to use the moving truck for a total of 4 hours.
- Safety in travel. As I mentioned, we're supposed to be leaving on the 29th.