One warm Summer night we were having a “Movie Night” with all the ESS college students at Setouchi Chapel and our movie disc kept freezing. I felt bad because I knew all the students had come to watch the movie together. Some traveled as far as 45 min by train. So when it was obvious that the disc wouldn’t play, I decided to ride my bike back to the store to get an exchange. Most of the students were shocked that I was willing to do it, but in my mind, the store was only an 8 minute ride away and I didn’t want the night to be spoiled. Some of the students tried to stop me and some wanted to come with me. I just tried to hurry out the door so we could pick up where we left off. As I started down the road, I noticed a guy had followed me. He quickly caught up on his bike and we rode together, chatting about what to do once we got there.
When we arrived at the rental store, he explained what happened to the cashier and we were told that we could grab another disc. Unfortunately, the movie we had was the last one, so we were subjected to picking another movie for the whole group. Of course this is the 21st century, so we texted the leader and asked which of 2 movies everyone wanted to see. They made a decision and we hurried back to pop in the new movie.
One of the most interesting things about this story is that it seemed so common in Japan. Our friends would drop everything they were doing to come and be together. It almost seemed countless how often they put spending time with others over spending time on their own endeavors. This type of thinking seems to promote community better than any method I’ve seen. We even adopted such a mindset – and going everywhere on bicycle helped a lot.
Technology has it’s advantages and it’s frustrations. For the oldest and longest-serving missionary in Takamatsu, it has more of the latter than the former. Stella Cox reached Japan first in 1953, beating her husband by a year. As communication advanced over the years Ralph, her loving husband, kept up with their supporters using every modern form including email. So when he went to be with the Lord in 2008, Stella was left to do a job she had never needed to do. And naturally she needed a little help. This is where I come in.
Stella would call me to come over and help with her prayer letter nearly every month. Sometimes I was rewarded with her famous pancakes, and sometimes not. But often this phone call came out of the blue and I was generally busy studying Japanese or in-between English classes. Knowing that her house was a short 10 minutes from ours, I would usually hop on my bike and pedal on over to help. Now that we’re in America, things may be 10 minutes away, but the distance is much greater. I’m not sure whether it’s the difference in my head or if it’s having to get into the car, fight traffic, and spend gas, but somehow it seems like much more of a burden to travel that 10 minutes here.
This is one of the things that we’ve struggled with since coming back. In part, I believe it’s a difference in communion between the two cultures, but largely it feels as if our automobile-dominated society is somehow missing out on a lot of opportunities to bond and spend time together. Think about these things in light of Christ’s life of sacrifice and discipleship – always with His disciples.
Posted via email from Reeds in Japan