I've been avoiding this blog. Our time in Japan has been winding down and writing about it made it seem too real. It's silly, I know. Time marches on whether or not I process. There is an end date to this chapter and, whether or not I write about it, it's happening.
We've lived here for the past 3 years and 2 months. If you break it down, we've been married in Japan longer than we've been married in the States. That's a crazy thought. Japan: our time here; our friends here; our work here has made it's mark on how we think, live, serve. I'm sure we'll never fully know, this side of Heaven, how big of an impact our time as missionaries in Japan has had on us. One this is for certain though: Japan will always hold a large chunk of our hearts.
A fellow A2 missionary mentioned off hand when we first arrived about how they are never really fully in one place: they are always missing someone. In Japan, they miss their US family. In the US, they miss their Japan friends. It's hard to come to grips with. I'm increasingly thankful for Facebook, Skype, and other wonders of the digital age that allow me to say "goodbye", without saying "goodbye forever."
And as for Jillian, she'll be a few weeks shy of two when we leave the country she was born in. She most likely won't remember anything of her life in Japan. And that breaks my heart. There will be this whole world that will only exist for her in our stories and pictures. Here, she was Chiyo-chan, who loved mashed red-bean more than chocolate, who could polish off a whole rice-ball with dried fish and seaweed, who would rather say "abunai" and "wan-wan" than "dangerous" and "doggie," who was loved so well and so dearly by so many in our mission, church, and neighborhood. Those pieces of her will be absorbed by and exchanged with new experiences and friends. I'm starting to become crushed by the weight of the thought that Stephen and I alone will carry these memories for her.
There is still a week and a bit left of our time in Japan. Even though it's hard saying goodbye, I'm honored that God chose us to be here in this place for this time. We don't know what the future holds, but perhaps one day He'll bring us back. For now, we trust that He's calling us back to California for an extended time, and hope that eventually we'll make our way back to this land and these people who hold our hearts.