The past two weeks’ return to life in Ishinomaki following my dad’s death has felt rather complex and challenging. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but we hit the ground running, with me starting back at Nozomi Project the morning after we returned.
It has been a different working and home environment upon coming back. I realized that THREE (3!) of my coworkers from the fall are not working side by side with me, and I feel that loss sorely. (Lora, Hannah, Ayami — I miss you each!! And Beth too!) I don’t like doing work and ministry alone, and much of the past two weeks has felt like that. How thankful I am for the team that remains and how they are juggling a lot to help out! Yet I have felt a much greater spiritual weight in my daily work without my co-workers’ daily presence. (Please pray with us for more help at Nozomi Project and a teacher to help with our home schooling kids!)
Yesterday morning I had our weekly bible study with two of our Nozomi staff. I wasn’t excited about needing to do this alone (Lora and Ayami used to co-lead with me). But God surprised me! My two Nozomi friends, T and C, ended up ministering to me.
As we were starting our study, C. began to reflect on how she has changed so much through our study together the past two years. She has a junior high son with autism. He was mainstreamed through elementary school (in my son’s class), but now in junior high he is going to a special needs school.
C. said that throughout her son’s life she has felt embarrassed and worried that her son’s condition has bothered people or put them out. She loves him dearly, but didn’t really know how what to think about his autism and special needs.
Over the past two years, however, her thinking has changed 180 degrees. She said she now realizes that her son is a special gift from God. D. and his autism are gifts from God to her and to others as well. She no longer resents his autism but she is able to embrace it. His innocence, his unconditional love, his smile (Oh, I wish you could see his warm smile when I come to his house!) are all part of the special package God has given her – and our community – in her son. Her experiences with God as a young believer have changed how she views the challenges in her life.
These words touched me so deeply. God IS at work in our midst. He can change how we view challenges, and show us his workings in the midst of them. We can better value the parts of our lives that may feel like a handicap but which God wants to use to bless us and others. A message I need to hear!
I’m praying for the daily grace to embrace what is before me. I’m thankful for C. and T. and God’s sweet reminder of His work in our lives.