We've had a monthly 20's-ish group hang out, so I wanted one last one before leaving. As the initiator this time I got to choose where, so of course it was something I've never had, Nepalese. But that's not the point of this post. Yes it was delicious, no it's not the same as Indian, but it is similar.
These wonderful people have been one my pillars of support by the grace of God. They have been so kind, honest, and welcoming, exemplifying God's "family" community. I just wanted to hang out with them again for this last dinner, but then I was given many engagement/wedding/goodbye gifts. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness and generosity. That's part 1.
Since my first Sunday here when Natsuki showed me around church, and then her family from January 1st celebrating Japanese New Year's, this family has welcomed me in as family in Japan. They teach me about Japan, cook amazing food, show me new places, introduce me to new things... they've taught me through example how to be hospitable, relaxed, and loving. With their home cooking, long conversations, laughter, and kind hospitality, they made me feel at home. That's part 2.
My coworker planned a goodbye dinner which I thought was just our office, but it ended up being a surprise goodbye party with many other people we have been working closely with, the Japanese staff from our client's company. Some people that couldn't come wrote a card (being read in the photo above) and they gave me many goodbye/wedding gifts. I was so touched by everyone's generosity and kind words, I didn't, and still don't know how to respond. Needless to say, many tears were part of the goodbye on Friday, my last day of work. Even my boss, who doesn't seem like the emotional type, teared up a few times at our last shu-rei (traditional Japanese "end of the day assembly/meeting"). I had to write letters to each one because I knew I wouldn't be able to get anything meaningful out without crying if I tried to say it. That's part 3.
Since many of us at the office are foreigners in Japan, somehow affiliated whether by blood or marriage, we immediately had a connection. In Japanese you can say people have "the same smell" when you feel that kind of connection right away. I could never imagine better coworkers. It really is possible to love the people you work with and to look forward to working with them every day. Maybe I'm unnecessarily pessimistic, but there seems to generally be those that are not quite as enjoyable company like that one annoying one, that one slow one, that loud one, etc, but I was wrong! God gave me an amazing work family that made a home and community for me here. On Friday after 1.5 hours of sleep (baking cookies and writing letters), when the morning commute was exceptionally cozy and I had to look up to breath any remotely fresh air, even then I was sad to think it was the last morning commute to see them.
I was dreading this part- being attached and having to leave...it is harder than I anticipated.
Since my internet is so slow I will work on Blown Away Round 2 tomorrow (about this weekend). I have to get some sleep to get busy tomorrow during the (VERY FEW) office hours of the bank, post office, and ward. Seriously, how is it possible that such an advanced country's bank hours are all 9am-3pm, and charge for ATM use (at your own bank!) before and after 9am-6pm, and close down except in a few major sites after 10pm?? It's like you have to take time off to put money in the bank...only a few more days of this system that I'm still not quite used to. Despite those things, I will miss so much here.
My favorite verse Ephesians 3:14-21 experienced over and over:
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
He strengthened me, he covered me in love that surpasses knowledge through His people, and continually did far more abundantly than what I asked or imagined. Praise the Lord for his kindness and provision.