Going through our kids’ near-empty pants drawers made me realize two things today: a) our kids are growing way too quickly out of their previous clothes, and b) we need to get some more basics before school starts — tomorrow.
A trip to Uniqlo and our kids have some clothes that fit. Phew. Schoolbags are packed and prepared with first-day-of-school stuff (do you know in Japan they need to take cleaning rags to school on the first day? Japanese school kids all scrub the floors, desks, etc.). They also need to take these red soft pillows that sac child has on the back of their chair. In case of an earthquake, they can use it to cover their heads. Smart.
Tonight we once again did our back-to-school ritual after dinner. Each of us shared a prayer request that we want to ask God to help us with this next year, and lit a candle. Then the person on the left prayed for them, and then they shared. We went around the table. It was great to have our friend Ray with us – he shared too. At the end, everyone blew out their candle.
My prayer request for this new school year is God’s wisdom in helping us step by step figure out how to best help our children in Japanese school as well as learning English at home, AND that I won’t drive Ian’s pre-school crazy with things that I forget to do (I was sure they would have banned any more Takamoto kids after our first year in Ishinomaki when my life was so topsy-turvy…). They prayed for friendships at school; for help with Japanese/kanji; our youngest prayed for his first year of school that he would “have a nice time and have good manners.” His teacher is going to thank God for that prayer!
One of the most touching things from this day happened earlier than any of this, though. One of my friends from the Nozomi Project, Mrs. M.*, called me. She said she remembered when I had prayed for her when she was sick, and God had healed her, and wondered if I could pray for her daughter today? Her 17 year old is starting her last year of high school tomorrow. She told me that her last two years have been incredibly lonely for Y.* She has had no friends, and each day she would each her lunch — all by herself.
Needless to say, Y hasn’t been very excited about going back to school tomorrow. She was dreading it. So her mom Mrs. M. asked if they could call me and have me pray about this. Y agreed. Y even got on the phone, and we prayed together.
At the end of the prayer, I asked Y. if she believes that God loves her and cares about her. She said Yes! She and her mom had been at snow camp and experienced the power of prayer before; I can see changes in her life. In my prayer, I asked God not just to bring friends to her but also to give Y. the courage it takes to initiate friendships… to find others who may be feeling lonely and show them love as well. And that she will know that God is walking with her, step by step.
I am excited for what God will do. I can’t tell you how amazing it is that Mrs. M. would call out of the blue and ask me to pray over the phone for her daughter. We have a God who loves to show His grace and His love when we ask as Mrs. M. and Y have asked! Please join me in continuing to pray for them; as well as for the many other children starting school tomorrow who need courage to go back tomorrow. (And maybe a little prayer for a four year old who is quite afraid of starting preschool on Thursday – for him to have a good time and good manners, to boot!)
(*Changing even the initials just to protect my friends. But when you pray, God knows who they are!)