Saturday, July 26, 2014

Redefining success

Today’s coffee: cold-brew iced coffee… but actually, it’s not all that hot today.

Today we had “parents’ movie event” in which we watched Spirited Away and talked about it. It was good to hear how they responded to the movie, and how they felt about their kids watching it, since it’s probably going to be the feature of our next movie night. The last time I watched Spirited Away was before we really spoke Japanese very well—over 3 years ago. I have to say it made a very different and powerful impression on me this time. The movie felt like a series of parables in which the filmmaker, Miyazaki brings to light problems in Japanese society; the lead character, Chihiro, has to struggle to overcome each challenge. I’m looking forward to watching it with our youth group, and I’ll probably write more about this later.

This week has been pretty busy. There was no post last week because of busy weekend: we found out K-san*, who recently started attending our church, plays shakuhachi, and invited us to his concert and supper. Then we went on an overnight retreat with our church, since Monday was a holiday. After the retreat ended, we climbed nearby Kamuishiri Mountain with Takahashi-sensei and his family—their first “real” hike, they said. It wasn’t a particularly easy hike; it was about 10km and over 600m of elevation gain. It was fun to see the kids’ excitement—K-kun and A-chan* would run ahead and then call back to their dad, “Look at this! Wow! Take a picture!” (K-kun is a long distance runner. We weighed him down with 6 liters of water, but he was still the fastest hiker by far.)

For me, hiking is an opportunity to enjoy God’s creation and to spend time with friends. I love that walking or even mountain climbing is also a way of describing our spiritual lives.

Recently, Takahashi-sensei said something that stuck with me and has been very encouraging: “Success is walking with God.” (He says lots of helpful things.  We’re blessed to be working alongside a wise and likeminded person!) Although I think that particular message was perhaps intended to correct a preoccupation with worldly success, I took it to mean that my primary calling and work is to walk with God—more important than keeping the house clean, practicing my cello, or even my work as a missionary. There’s a lot of stuff I try to do on my own (or feel like I should be doing on my own) that I don’t need to worry about at all. If I’m walking with God, I am not alone. I cannot begin to describe how freeing that is.

And… here’s some pictures of our hike! Enjoy!

*But first, a Japanese language note: “san,” “kun,” and “chan” are suffixes added to people’s names based on age, gender, and relationship—like our Mr., Mrs., and Miss. “San” is normal to use for adults other than family and close friends, “kun” is common for young boys, and “chan” for girls. Also, “sensei” literally means someone who has gone ahead in terms of life experience. We use it in place of “san” for pastors, doctors, teachers, etc.

The "before" picture. We look so energetic!
Datekanba tree--a kind of birch.

Last push to the peak, on the left!

The wind blew the bamboo grass so that it looked like waves.
Lunch break picture, at the peak! We had onigiri and hard-boiled eggs.
Hydrangea grows wild in Japan.
K-kun is still in the front, carrying 2 bags.

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