Golden Fasts

On Friday afternoon, the kids and I went on a playdate to the home of one of Owen’s school friends, Suzuka. Her mom and sister and another family had come over to our home the week before (see what we had for lunch!). There were four moms, their kids, and us all gathered at Suzuka’s for lunch. Atsuko, the host mom, and Yoko, one of the other moms, have been friends since high school (and had even gone to Hawaii together on a school trip!). Now they have the wonderful opportunity of living in the same neighborhood with their families. As we were all preparing lunch together, I noticed the ease in which they worked together, spoke to each other’s children; knew what each other needed without it being said. Yoko knew where all the dishes, pots, and silverware belonged. She and Atsuko had twenty years of history — the best kind of friends.

Suddenly, as I was boiling water, I felt the little tears fill up in my eyes. Please God! Don’t let me start crying! I was really enjoying this time, and continue to be so thankful for the new friends God is bringing into our lives through Owen’s kindergarten and our neighborhood. But I felt myself longing for the OLD friends – the ones who know what I need without me having to say it. The ones who can guess where I keep my silverware because they’ve been in enough of my past apartments and homes and KNOW ME. I knew I couldn’t explain this to my new friends without them feeling bad. Thankfully, the boiling water and my sleeve helped hide the tears, and I pushed the thoughts aside to enjoy the rest of our lunch together.

This week I read a fellow missionary’s blog as he reflected on their family’s returning to Japan from a home assignment in the US. Michael Oh wrote about the bittersweetness of coming back to the land where God has so clearly called them, but needing to leave their beloved family and friends. He likened this leaving to the concept of fasting…choosing to remove oneself from something one loves. Oh wrote: In missions, we fast the blessings of family, friends, and all the blessings and opportunities of life in the US – because there is something even more essential to life – our relationship to Christ whom we follow and seek to make known. And we fast these blessings – because there is something more urgent than even our family and friends – the Gospel going to the perishing among the 2.5 billion who have little or no chance to hear the Gospel.

Eric and I feel blessed over and over to be in Japan. I often say we have the best job in the world! But the part of being far away from the “old” friends and our families – this is the part that doesn’t ever seem to get easy. I pray that with time and patience, Atsuko and Yoko might become the kind of friends who know where I keep the silverware. God has a way of weaving new friends into our lives when we are grieving the old ones, and we never quite realize when they, too, become old friends. But I keep special places in my heart for those who are part of me and our history, who know my kitchen, my children, and my weaknesses; and yet still love me.

When I was growing up, we used to have a framed cross-stitch in our dining room that said, “Make new friends, keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.” How thankful I am for new friends; but oh, you old friends are as pure as gold to me!

(Photos below: Owen with some “silver” friends from kindergarten, enjoying Jello; Olivia with her new friend Kazu from our house church)


7 thoughts on “Golden Fasts

  1. Oh, Sue. What a touching note today. I know exactly what you mean about old friends. The kind that you don’t have to explain things to. They know who you are talking about when you mention a name, they know where places you love actually are and have been there with you, etc. I am adding that prayer, for those kinds of friends in Japan, to my list for you!

    Your blog also made me smile, because I thought of a prank that deals with silverware! And of course, it is one you would enjoy!!! At a friend’s house, helping to do the dishes after a dinner, we hid all of her forks! Or maybe spoons. I don’t remember which. But I pray that the friends you make will not only know where you keep the silverware, but that they will be the kinds of friends who laugh when you hide theirs!!!

    We miss you and love you all!!! Diane

  2. Dear Diane-
    What better way to make good friends than to start wtih a good prank! Isn’t that what made us golden friends?:) DR retreat – Biff and the feathering during the night, not to mention the FOG HORN… here “smell this”??? I need to try it. Atsuko and Yoko don’t know what they’re in for. But I am going to try the silverware. Ask me in a month ! Thanks for your encouragement and prayers…

  3. Sue, I found your site somewhere and then again on Michael Oh’s site. My family and I are moving to Nagoya sometime next year (w/ MTW), Lord willing, to serve with Michael/Pearl at CBS. I also got connected with the Ryu’s through their blog. Anyways, we’ve already learned so much about mission work in Japan through blogs such as yours. Thank you. Hopefully our paths will cross sometime, many blessings to you and Eric in the Lord’s work in Japan.

    Joe Kim

  4. It’s blogs like this Sue that continue to grab my heart. I will continue to pray for you and the family and for the future! Gambatte ne!

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