This afternoon I made a quick decision to leave today for Nagoya instead of tomorrow morning, after hearing that we may be hit again with a crazy snowstorm like two weeks ago. I am still wondering if this will affect the classes I am supposed to teach tomorrow. Because of the day being cancelled the last time, I am scheduled to teach an extra class, going from 9:30 to 5 tomorrow. Please do pray for me and for this class — I can’t think of a more important subject for students in seminary (or any of us in Japan) than that of evangelism. (Blogging to follow!)
This morning our family got up early and headed in a different direction – south — to Kobe. We caravanned with two families from our neighborhood to participate in the parent/child Kobe City Marathon (the word marathon, when used in this country just means a race, rather than 26 miles!). Owen and Eric, and three other parent/child pairs who live near us all ran the 1.5 kms.
The younger three kids and I, and one of the grandmothers from our neighborhood had just started waiting at the finish line. I watched a number of father or mother/child pairs come around the bend, hand-in-hand, and realized it was a pretty short race. I started to get out my iPhone to be ready to take a picture when Annie yelled, “Hey – there’s Owen!” I hadn’t seen Eric yet- so I was surprised, and just managed to get the back of him as he headed across the finish line (wearing the orange shirt). Without Eric!
A few moments later we saw Eric, focused on the orange shirt running in front of him. They met up after the finish line. (So – I have no idea why that picture just came in sideways – but I’m too tired to try and change it. Sorry!)
The race officials had given a sensor for each of the parent’s to wear on their sneaker, and Eric’s showed that they (or he at least) had come in 32nd (4 minute 45 second kilometer). If Owen had been wearing it, they would have been at least 25th…
Eric said when they started out Owen wanted to bolt, as he usually does when they’ve gone jogging at the beginning. Eric told him just to go, assuming that Owen at some point soon would grow weary and slow down, allowing Eric to catch up. It never happened. He was one dashing boy, all the way across the finish line. Technically they were supposed to hold hands across the finish line, but I don’t think that partnership was on Owen’s mind as much as getting across the finish line as fast as he could.
It was great fun to celebrate with our good friends as they came across the finish line, too, and then to all caravan back to Sanda and enjoy steaming bowls of hot ramen noodles together. It was a wonderful time for community building and enjoying friendship.
On the way back in the car, as Eric was telling me about Owen sprinting on ahead, I thought that it is often harder than one thinks to stay hand-in-hand with our Japanese and ministry partners. We have our eyes on the same goal – and that is good- but at some point along the way we drop hands and forget that the plan is for us to be going at this together. We still get across the goal, but it may not be with all that God intends it to be. In some ways I think as North Americans we are so used to doing things for ourselves; setting our own goals and course, and going for it. And Japanese are not always sure quite how to link arms with North Americans. Alone, we can each get there faster perhaps. But without all the benefits that come from linking arms with those God has called us to partner with.
We continue to pray for God to show us with whom, and how, He wants us to partner here in Japan. To perhaps slow us down; or redirect us, so that we maximize all the benefits of running this race together.