Last Friday we had our bi-monthly gathering of A2 missionaries, and used the opportunity to welcome Ray (see pizza entry below). We all gave him advice/thoughts on adjusting to Japan. The two things I shared were 1) to choose a verse/saying that he puts in his heart for this next season and can pull it out daily- more than that even! – as he needs it during this process. I gave him the example of one missionary who chose “for THIS I have Jesus”… as she faced many challenges during her time serving, she would use this short saying to bring her perspective. The second advice that I shared was to allow Japanese to help him. Often the “missionary mentality” is to come in with answers and being the helper, when in reality adjustment – and life in general – works best when we allow others to help us too.
So- that was my advice! This morning, after teaching a morning class, Eric picked up our friend Randy and they began the trek up to Ishinomaki, Tohoku. They are expecting to get in around midnight.
When the kids woke up this morning, I was taking Annie’s temperature (she was home sick yesterday- and turns out today too) and felt a bad pull in my lower back. The next few hours it progressively got worse, and I recognized the pain and symptoms of a diagnosis I had a few years ago in New Jersey- sacroiliac joint disorder. It tends to happen to high school cheerleaders and women in their forties (I’m in my forties, silly…). After finding a great doctor there who diagnosed the condition, taking a lot of strong meds and doing physical therapy, I got all better. But he said it could recur periodically, or it may not at all.
A year ago, on the morning that we were leaving to catch our flights for the U.S., it happened again. I took the medicine that the doctor had sent with me back to Japan, accepted the amazing last minute packing help of Peter and Wendi, and got on the flight. It was much better in a few days’ time.
And then today. IT happened again.It has been quite a challenging day. I sneezed and thought I was going to faint from the pain. I went to our favorite chiropractor/acupuncture doctor. After gingerly treating me, he said I need to stay in bed. I laughed my way out of the office. During dinner, I had to call Owen into the restroom to help me stand up from the toilet. He came back to the table and promptly announced, “I think Mom is dying.” During dinner they brainstormed how they could help out. Owen said he would pull a chair over to the toaster oven so he could make breakfast for everyone and that he should get his driver’s license tomorrow.
But, my advice from a week ago has come back to me–to let others help me. Today has been humbling but good. Aiko came over to bring some last minute supplies to Eric, and stayed to hang out my laundry. Mrs. I came by with offers to help. Ray spent much of the day here helping with the kids when we weren’t doing training (and I did get to take a nap thanks to his help). He even learned how to change a diaper in the process (and now is even more adamant about not wanting children). Peter and Ray helped move some boxes and other things I couldn’t lift; they’ve offered to pick up dinner when they go to Costco tomorrow. A mom friend who I don’t even know really well picked Olivia up after school and took her to their home until dinner time. She’s going to come and pick Olivia up in the morning. A neighbor friend re-did soccer carpool so I didn’t need to be involved, and then our friend Yuko drove Owen to and from the practice. Yuko called just when I was having a little breakdown and came over to help me put the kids to bed. Our friend Keiko brought her high school daughter Minami over to spend the night in order to help me get the kids off in the morning before she needs to leave for school.
I have been so blessed! It has seemed like crazy bad timing – the first time Eric went up to do tsunami relief I got a bad case of influenza, and now excruciating back pain. But it is also such a great (but hard) opportunity to allow others to help us.
And then the first piece of advice I gave Ray. My verse for this year is a version of Philippians 4:13: “I am equal to every lot, through the help of Him who gives me inner strength.” So what this means is – I am not equal to every lot unless it’s through His help. And today – I really believed it. I have totally not been equal to the tasks of this day. But God has promised to level the playing ground, even of pain, and equip me inwardly for all that comes my way. He knew I would need this assurance, and He has been totally faithful to His promises.