A lot has happened since I last posted. For one thing, we’re back in Japan! Let me get you up to date.
We moved out of our house and stayed for a few days with Anna’s parents while we packed up and cleaned our house. It looked pretty good after we’d given it a good clean. So good that I thought to myself, I’d quite like to move in here! But instead we handed over the keys to our tenants. They seem like nice enough people who said they’d look after our house that has become a precious home over the past year. But it was still hard to part with it, especially for Anna who is a real ‘home bird’.
Then on August 20th, we drove down to Heathrow and got on a plane from London direct to Tokyo, then a connecting flight straight up to Sapporo. One highlight and amazing answer to prayer was that Ethan, who had dreaded flying, said early on, “Flying is so much fun!” Thank you so much for praying for him!
A fellow OMFer picked us up at the airport in Sapporo with an amazing Tardis-like car that somehow managed to fit in all of us and all our luggage! We arrived in the evening on August 21st, ready for bed!
Until we found a house, we’d booked to stay in the OMF guest home in Sapporo, a place especially for missionaries to stay short-term.
So, the next morning we got on the phone to a few estate agents about houses we’d seen online whilst still in the UK. “No, you’re foreign.” “No, you’re religious.” Well that took the wind out of our sails a bit.
After 2 weeks of searching and finding nothing, we were getting desperate. We knew we had to be out of the guest house by Oct 9th. The estate agent said that it seemed all the houses were taken that were available for September/October. We had hoped for a house, rather than a flat because previously we had complaints from neighbours 2 floors below us about the noise of little feet! We had hoped for a house near the university so that we could easily invite students to our house and easily get to the university. We had hoped to find a house for reasonable rent… We had underestimated how difficult it would be to find a house, and one with a landlord who would rent to ‘religious foreigners’.
We discovered that in Japan it’s very unusual for houses to have a toilet upstairs. In our criteria for the house we were looking for, we had hoped to have an upstairs toilet, but as hardly any had one and we didn’t seem to have any houses available anyway, that moved down to the nice-but-not-necessary list. But one time we were looking round a house and Micaiah fell down the stairs. The thought of sleepy little boys frequently having to stumble down the steep, slippery stairs in the night to go to the toilet was not a comforting one. So we asked people to pray that we’d find a house with a toilet upstairs.
Finally, one landlord agreed to rent one of his houses to us. It was brand new but wasn’t the best location and was a lot more expensive than we had hoped for, and didn’t have a toilet upstairs. But it seemed all other doors were closed, so we told the estate agent we would choose that one.
The next day, Friday night, a friend from our old church called me to say that his parents owned a house that they were renting out. The previous tenants had left a couple of months ago and they had been too busy to sort out finding new tenants. He had heard that we were looking for a place and wondered if we’d be interesting in renting it from them! The price? As friends, they’d let us rent it very cheaply. The location? Right next door to the church we’ll be attending!
God has an interesting sense of timing, doesn’t He?
We then had a bit of a dilemma. Do we choose a brand new house that we’ve seen or an old house we’ve not seen? Did we even have the option to back out of that new house? I had a rather awkward conversation with the estate agent Saturday morning and he graciously gave us until Tuesday morning to make our final decision so we could have time to see our friend’s house.
So Monday night after work, our friend showed me round his house. It was much older and not clean, but my friend said they would clean it before we moved in. It was spacious, plenty of room. And… it had a toilet upstairs!
That was the clincher!
So we now know where we will be living. But we have to wait for it to get all cleaned up and for any repairs that need doing. We will move in early October.
Meanwhile, the kids are getting to know the local children in a park 10 minutes walk from the guest house. They are enjoying being here. And they don’t want to have to move yet again, the 3rd time in 2 months.
They want to be home. We all want to be home.
Sometimes that means they want to be back in our house in Wales. Sometimes it means they want to be in the guest house. Often it means that deep in our hearts there’s a sense of longing to be ‘home’, to be in a place where we belong, where we are settled, where we can be ourselves, where we can relax, where we are safe, where we can rest.
I’m looking forward to being in that Home.
- Please pray that this time of transition would cause us to focus our hearts on our eternal rest rather than place our hopes on our earthly home
- Pray for wisdom to know practically how much to settle and unpack in the guest house, knowing we’ll be moving again in a couple of weeks
- Pray for other practical things that need to be sorted e.g. visas for Boaz & Micaiah, health insurance, mobile phones, internet, removal vans, curtains (!) …