I hate leaving places. Or, more correctly, I hate leaving people.
I have so loved teaching my neighborhood ladies’ English class the past three years! Our co-worker Mary has been teaching an advanced class at the same time I teach the beginning in our home, so it was been really special to co-minister together. This past Thursday we had a potluck party/baby shower for one of the women expecting soon. It was also my last class before we leave for the summer, so it was a goodbye of sorts, as well.
As we sat around the table enjoying lots of great Japanese dishes, I got teary-eyed. We are only going to be in the U.S. for 2 and a 1/2 months, but it still feels hard to say goodbye to these dear friends. God has been working in the hearts of these women. And they have become special friends to me. Every week after the English conversation lesson, we have an extended “tea time” and often include an informal chapel, which is usually sharing about what God has been in doing in our midst. One of the women in the class, E., said that every week she feels God’s presence. We have all sensed the Lord’s work in these ladies’ lives.
We blessed our friend N. with a little shower — she is expecting her third in September. Her oldest son is Owen’s closest friend, so it has been fun to encourage her as she prepares for another. Japanese do not usually do baby showers, so it was fun to help teach them what we do at one! We chipped in and gave her a few baby gifts….
Our special friend Shirley in Okinawa sent us a care package recently, and hearing about this baby shower she sent a big bag of confectioner’s sugar (it’s really expensive for small bags here); and some Noah’s Ark paper napkins and plates. The ladies LOVED these — more than the cupcakes I think!
What was so hilarious was that none of the ladies wanted to “waste” their paper plate by having the cupcake put on it. So we had to get real plates for the cupcakes; all ten ladies took their plates and napkins home clean! (Thanks again, Shirley- they were a great hit!).
I love these ladies! I will miss sharing life with them each week….
Yesterday, our friends the K. family called to see if they could drop by to say goodbye (we are leaving in four days, during the middle of the school week). We have really enjoyed getting to know the extended K. family over the past year. Mrs. K, her sister, and her two daughters brought some wonderful airplane-travel gifts for all four of our kids, and stayed to have brownies and lemonade. Chi. is also expecting– any minute! We are excited for Ian to have a little buddy. We thought she would have delivered by now (and really want to meet this little one before we leave). Her oldest daughter Y. is Owen’s “special friend” – they have been close friends for four years and have a special friendship. Here they are sitting a bit awkwardly for the photo…
Before they left, I asked Chi. if I could pray for her and her baby. As I laid my hands upon her womb and prayed for safe delivery and for God’s hand to be upon they little one’s life, we all got misty-eyed. I hope that he is born in the next couple of days so that I can hold him directly, but even if not, I am assured of the Presence of this little one’s Creator God on his life.
As we say goodbye to many friends in these last few days, I will try and have a thankful heart for the deep roots that God has intertwined in our community. And I will try not to think about the goodbyes that will come after the hellos back in the U.S. over the next few months.