Saturday, May 10, 2014

Singing a love song

Today’s “coffee”: honey lemon tea?

I’ve been extremely healthy for about the last 9 months; that’s probably a personal record for longest time without catching a cold. Then on Thursday, it hit. I don’t remember the last time I’ve been this sick… and I think I’ve become thoroughly Japanese, since I went to the doctor for cold medicine. Anyway, I’ve recovered a bit, having skipped going to a rehearsal, a prayer meeting, the Franklin Graham “Festival of Hope,” and hanami (picnic with cherry blossoms). Boo. At least I got sick after I finished performing at the International Shamisen Festival on Tuesday; it would have been difficult to sing with a cold...

I can’t say it wasn’t stressful leading up to the concert, so perhaps that may have contributed to this weekend’s illness. I really had no idea what to expect, and it was my first time to perform hauta (a style of singing while playing) in front of people who actually know about shamisen. As I was awake late the night before the concert, freaking out about various things, I spent some time praying and reflecting on why I started playing the shamisen. Actually, there’s many reasons: the obaasan at our language school’s Japanese Culture Day wearing a purple kimono and playing shamisen as if she thoroughly enjoyed it (I’m pretty sure she lives in our neighbourhood), Tomiko-san’s invitation to take lessons from her, the feeling of accomplishment in learning an instrument which I picked up quickly even when language studies were going badly, the awesome buzzing sound… but most importantly, when I came to Japan as a missionary, I decided to learn about Japanese culture as a way of showing love and respect to the people around me. I wanted to tell them that God loves them.

With that in mind, I pictured myself on the stage, playing and singing a love song to the Japanese people. I prayed that somehow in my performance, my thoughts would reach them. After that I was able to sleep… and then I was able to go out on the stage, no more nervous than I would be for any other concert. I didn’t even mess up any of the words!

The concert was sold out... so Keith took this picture from backstage. (First performance with Kanzo!)
Yay, I didn't mess up!
Of course this is only a starting point—the pieces I played had nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity. I just hope that by continuing my studies, I will have opportunities to use words to communicate God’s love more directly. (And I did… at the after-party!)

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