Monday, May 13, 2013

Konnichiwa Japan

     And that is the extent of the Japanese I know, besides sushi and sake of course. And so it begins! As many of you may already know, and some that are just now finding out, I have been selected to take part in a mission with the Young Adult Service Corp. In layman's terms, it's the Episcopal version of the Peace Corp. In a mere two and half months, give or take a week or so, I will be packing up my most prized possessions and heading to the other side of the world for a year. Why might you ask am I doing this? Read my story here to get a better idea of how I got here. After months of waiting around after receiving my placement in Japan back in February, I have received official word on what my job will entail. Being one that doesn't like to jinx things, I put off telling too many people and even having this blog go public until I knew for sure that I was in fact heading to the land of the rising sun. As of last week I finally heard from my receiving diocese that in fact they want me to come and be apart of their team at the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project. In the email I also finally got a glimpse into what I will be doing while I am there. In their words I will be
-Developing and managing International exchange programs
-Working with camp programs for young adults
-Introducing American culture and English language to children
-Working alongside the clergy of St. Andrew's to support church activities
-Bringing cultural diversity and international insights through praying together, learning together and working together

Need info on my mission? Pick up a handy flyer I've created
I think that last bullet there is the most telling of how this experience will be. I hope I can live up to their expectations and can do all of that. I've always thought I have a pretty good grasp of the English language, but teaching someone else whose first language isn't English? I'm going to be needing lots of help from you teachers out there. I'm just happy I finally have a guarantee that I will be going. For awhile I was convinced one day I was going to get an email that said "Sorry. We actually no longer have a spot for you. Better luck next time" so when I did get the green light I couldn't have been more relieved. I had been playing the waiting game too long and was itching to shout from the roof tops "I'M GOING TO JAPAN!!!" The last week has been a whirlwind of developments. I got the info on KEEP, the area (sounds like the climate of Indiana, but with picturesque Mt. Fuji as a backdrop) and where I will be living (I'm going to be reliving the dorm style days of college). I also started the process to get my visa approved, which come to find out is actually the biggest factor in when I will be moving over there. They had originally said they wanted me to start the beginning of August and then emailed and asked if it was possible to come sooner. Of course I will come when I am needed, but like I said it all depends on the visa process which they say can take up to two months. We shall see, we shall see.

Of course I have my reservations, who wouldn't moving halfway around the world and leaving friends and family and everything they know. I've always been the adventurous type and am beyond excited to live in a new place and experience new things, but I was having huge FOMO (fear of missing out) on things going on at home. After the excitement and fellowship of the discernment process waned a few weeks later, I realized what all I would be missing being half a world away. I found out I would be missing three weddings of six absolutely amazing people from college, one of which I was even asked to be a bridesmaid in. I weighed my options day in and day out and if there was ever a reason I didn't go through with this mission, it would be because I wanted to share in those special days with people that mean so much to me. I came to the conclusion that I needed to do this for me and the people I would be serving. When would I ever have this opportunity again? The YASC program of course is going to be there next year, but where will I be a year from now? Right now, I have no serious career, a lease on an apartment that ends in September and no significant other in my life holding me back. I just hope those friends of mine realize that it was a near impossible decision and I had them in my mind throughout the whole process. I also told them to look on the bright side. They'll be getting wedding gifts with a return address in Japan. How many people can say that?

Candid shot of me speaking at the Dean's forum courtesy of  Hannah File
This past weekend was the turning point in the whole process. I can actually see things coming together. As I have said, I am one that doesn't like to jinx things and get people excited over something that may not actually come to fruition, so I had been putting off the fundraising and spreading the word. Who wants to ask people for support when they can't speak to what that money will be going towards? I was able to speak at our church's forum in between services on Sunday and while it was a smaller crowd, everyone seemed to be very excited for me. They asked questions about where I was going and what I was doing, which only solidified my excitement to be doing this. Our priest even gave me a little shout out during the announcements in the service, to which a couple in the pew behind me stopped to ask me more about after the service. As a group of fellow missionaries, the upcoming class of YASCers keep in touch through Facebook updating each other on our placements and fundraising goals and just general encouraging stories. I hadn't really had anything to contribute until this weekend when I got to see the generosity of people I only knew in passing. A couple from my parish had been a part of YASC a few years back in Japan with another organization. After the forum I spoke at, they pulled me aside and gave me a few gifts that included the Japanese Book of Common Prayer, the Hymnal of Nippon Sei Ko Kai and a Bilingual atlas of Japan. I knew they had been missionaries to Japan before and knew they would be a great resource to use before I left, but I never expected such an amazing and thoughtful gift. 
Hymnal of Nippon Sei Ko Kai and Japanese prayer book

So here I am, creating my first blog post in a long line of many more to come. My next step, after a two week orientation in June in New York, is to pack up my life for a year abroad. That's probably going to be the biggest challenge. What do I bring? What do I leave behind? What am I going to want to/need to wear over there. I've already got a checklist started: Bible, Book of Common Prayer, rain boots, nice work suit, laptop, camera, Rosetta Stone, entire collection of Harry Potter DVDs and pictures of the family and friends. Those all seem like essentials right now. I'm sure that list is only going to grow.
I'm on that Rosetta Stone

Thank you again for joining me on this journey and if you want to find out how to support my cause click here. Anything helps. Even things as little as a simple email saying hello while I'm over there will support me in ways that money cannot. 

Until next time,


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