Christmas Grace

Merry Christmas from Japan via Hawaii!  Our family has enjoyed two days so far with Eric’s family, and are looking forward to visiting Eric’s home church tomorrow morning and celebrating Christmas there as well.

Our first day of travel to get here was crazy — reminding us of our humanity!  As we were loading our luggage onto the luggage belt at Kansai airport, we realized that one of our backpacks wasn’t there – the one with my computer in it.  Ouch.  We were getting to get the battery replaced in Hawaii, and I was hoping to make several photo albums for some Sanda friends.  Bummer.  While we were waiting for our boarding passes to get printed, I checked all of our flight schedules in my notebook.  And it dawned on me that I had bought our tickets for our three-day trip to the island of Kauai over new years to Kona (the Big Island) instead of Lihue (Kauai).  I felt sick.

We went through immigration, and as the officer was checking all of our passports, she stopped at Olivia’s, and pointed to the expiration date.  It had expired last MAY!  Our mission requires us to check all of our documentation twice a year and send the dates in to the office.  We still don’t know how this got by us and them, except that Olivia (and two of her siblings so far) have two passports – a US and Japanese one.  At any rate, we were moved over to a special office, and after ten minutes of discussion were allowed to pass through (in reality, because she had one passport that was not expired, we were ok.  But it was still unnerving!).  To top things off, I realized that we had never sent in our official mission travel form for our trip to Hawaii.  Strike four.

The day after we arrived, I was able to change our island tickets for a fairly minimal cost.  We are fine without the backpack and computer.  We can get Olivia’s passport renewed when we get back home.  I sent an apology in for the travel form.   But I just felt so deflated – exhausted –almost numb.  The past month feels like a blur of many special “lasts” in Sanda, milking the season with lots of people over, special events for friends and our family, lots of occasions where we had to prepare and be “on.”  I got on the plane and just wanted to collapse (which doesn’t really happen when you are flying with four kids aged two to nine).

Two days here and I feel my tanks being restored.  Tonight is Christmas eve, and we have been very blessed and taken care of by Eric’s family.  And in a strange way it’s been good to be reminded of our humanity.  Today we received a digital Christmas letter from our friends Jay and Elisha Case.  It was just what my heart needed.  I quote the last paragraph:

It seems to me that a fuller understanding of Christmas gift-giving would lead us to see that God has given each of us talents, resources, and opportunities that we are to share, enjoy, and use for His purposes.  However, we should also recognize that each of us is beset by flaws, sins and limitations, some of which run much more deeply than escapades with air conditioners and trenchers.  We are not able to make everything right by our own power.  But, as I understand the Christian faith, God has given us the gift of Jesus Christ, so that we might be able to accept the grace that we all so desperately need.  May we all be willing to open ourselves up to that grace this Christmas.

Our flaws and sins and limitations have come out this week in me through lots of forgottenness  and mistakes….  There are gonna’ be days like this.  How desperately I need the grace of Christmas;  the grace of Jesus this Christmas.  I’m happy to receive it all.

And my greatest present this Christmas is a reminder of the amazing family God has given us.  These four children are probably part (a lot?) of the reason I am more tired and forgetful, but they are the greatest daily displays of God’s grace that Eric and I have in our lives.

Grace upon grace upon grace.  Merry Christmas.


5 thoughts on “Christmas Grace

  1. I’m so thankful you arrived safely and are feeling well-cared for. I love how your learning, servant heart seeks lessons in all things. What a model you are! With much love from just a little further across the Pacific….

  2. Hi Sue, it’s so great to read your updates. It’s been a long time since I met you and your family in Sanda, but I still remember being impressed by God’s work in your house church. Praise him for your family’s faithfulness – and your willingness to let God work through you.

    I spent five months in Tokyo this past year, mostly studying but also doing some work. While I was there, I went to Ichinoseki for a week to do some work with CRASH. I pray that you and your family will find a good home and good friends in Ichinoseki.

    Take care and Merry Christmas!

    David Dilworth

  3. LOVE the photo above of your beautiful children! Glad to hear you had safe (if not eventful! travels)! I feel your pain in the items you mentioned, but I see how you give and give and do and do for everyone else! You only have the capacity to do so much…:) So go easy on yourself and enjoy your vacation and having someone else care and give to you for a change. Sending you much love and big hugs!!!
    PS: I thought of you last night. As we were all preparing to leave my parents house Sarah came running back into the house sobbing because she didn’t get to give my mom (her grandma) a hug good-bye and doesn’t know when they will be back home again to see everyone. It made me think of you and all the good-byes you have to say. Sarah and Brett are only 14 hours away (instead of the other side of the world) but the feelings are the same. Hope to see you someday soon again, my friend.

  4. Love the photo. Love the reminder of our humanity. I do hope you can refuel and re-tool in the warm climate. Love to all. WOW! Owen and Annie look SO grown up.

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