A former missionary, now pastor at a supporting body gave us the following advice.
"Find things you love about your host country."
This approach gives new and settling missionaries a sense of grounding and home when so much of the missionary's host country reminds them..."you are not home."
Of course we have our favorite foods and drinks unique to Japan - tamanegi ramen, curry rice (esp. Clark) to name a few. There's a few of our regular family outings/activities we've enjoyed - bike riding, feeding the carp and ducks at the nearby river and grabbing ice cream at the nearby konbini (convenient store).
But, what about our favorite things-to-do outside those go-to's?
This summer we discovered some new things-to-do we've really enjoyed.
Here's our top 5 things-to-do we discovered from this summer in Japan.
Zushi Beach: We knew there was coastland with Japan obviously being an island nation. But, we were stunned to see the beautiful family-friendly beach just 50 minutes from home. This has definitely been our escape this summer.
Nozawaonsen Water Park: We had to travel a whopping 5 hours from home to get to this little village town in the mountains of Nagano, but it was definitely worth it. Traveling with friends who also have a child, finding the local water park with both hot spring and cool swimming pool access was a pleasant surprise.
Mt. Takao: I solo-hiked Takao-san a few years ago. But, this easily accessible mountain hike west of Tokyo was another fun place we went to this summer. This was a great place for Clark and I to hike one-on-one and to go up as a family. Hey, Clark even lost one of his teeth on the way up!
Adjacent Stream: Between Kanagawa and Tokyo prefectures is the famous Tamagawa River. Yet, there is a good size stream adjacent to the Tamagawa River that is perfect for Barrett-sized kids. We've visited here a few times due to its convenience and ideal spot for cooling off.
That Pizza Place in Kamakura: Linds and I were able to get away for an overnight celebrating 10 years of marriage, thanks to some very generous missionary colleagues who watched our kids. We spent two days away exploring Zushi, Kamakura and Enoshima areas. But we were certainly surprised by this tiny pizza shop on the main strip in Kamakura. Wish we could tell you the name, so you could go!
No doubt we miss our motherland of Lynchburg and our things-to-do there. But, God in His kindness provides these activities for our family to enjoy one another and most importantly Him. It also reminds us in our efforts to ground ourselves in Japan as a home of sorts, we will never truly be home until we are with Jesus for eternity in heaven. In the meantime, we can enjoy walking with Jesus NOW looking forward to our eternal home one day.
Do you know this truth for yourselves?
Even the greatest pizza joint or vacation spot or family activity you could think of cannot bring the peace and satisfaction that can only be found in Jesus. As believers, may our hope be found in Him regardless of where we live and serve. Our friends who may be searching and are not yet Christians, consider longing for something better; that feeling of peace, contentment and joy our world claims it can provide is impossible apart from Jesus. Jesus is always better. Consider the teachings of Jesus in this passage:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).