Today's music is a song that at this moment in time almost makes me cry: This is Home by Switchfoot.
Saturday, Hope and I went to the Kid's Gospel Choir concert. She went to a Gospel church while she was there, so it was neat to see a little of the type of thing that she experienced. It was really special to see the kids singing about being friends of God...it isn't very likely that many of them will stay close to God as they get older, but there is a small grain that maybe a handful will, and who knows what God will do in Japan through them? It's a country that needs to experience the grace of God in a big way. Hope told me that the Japanese language doesn't even have a word for forgiveness in the sense of God's total forgiveness, only of "paying back what is owed." Please keep Japan in your prayers!
Later in the evening on Saturday, we headed out with all the missionaries and OMF workers for the festival in Ichikawa. It has been going on for around 200 years! Everyone wears traditional dress and gathers on the banks of the river to watch fireworks. The crowds were ENORMOUS. We all sat on a big blue tarp that the pastor at the OMF chapel had claimed for us earlier in the day. The fireworks were by far the best I've ever seen in my life: an hour and 15 minutes of uninterrupted display. There were so many going off that the huge clouds of smoke would have hidden some of the explosions from sight, if there hadn't been a strong breeze blowing the sky clear between fireworks. I took some pictures, but firework pictures never do anything justice.
Our last morning together, Hope and I decided to just bike to the market and get the ingredients for a nice big breakfast. We made bacon and scrambled eggs with toast and bought pineapple and blueberries to go with it. Milk tea was our beverage of choice, which is basically bubble tea without the bubbles. We had packed the night before (Hope was leaving the next day) so we just ate leisurely and chatted about all the new things coming up, especially for Hope and going to Temple. It was truly a gift to get to hang out with her and give her some encouragement before she went off to such a big new adventure. And of course, we laughed.
I realized something on the shinkansen back to Fukuoka for my flight why it felt so daunting to go back to Korea after such a great week. I don't laugh as much as I do at home there.
That's going to sound super depressing, and I don't want it to sound like it's grim here. It isn't in the least, and I do laugh every day. But it's not yet in the same way that I laugh with Hope or with my friends from home that I've known forever. There is something about laughing from a shared experience that feels like with every laugh you're deepening your connection to someone. It's not there yet because I don't have enough shared history here. When I laugh like that with someone, I feel at home.
That got me thinking then about how, unless I stay in the same place or with certain people for a very long time, I might not have that kind of "home feeling" anywhere. If the people I feel at home with are constantly moving on, or I'm moving on, where is my home? I kind of freaked out a little. Where's the constant? I can't be the constant! I'm a backwards-looking type person, who can get very caught up in the good times of the past and have a hard time believing that good times are coming. If there isn't anything from the past coming with me into the future it feels too rootless, guide-less.
You probably can see where this is going, because it's pretty obvious, but there is one person who is constant. Even though it was silly of me to not think of him first, it was like a wave of relief to really internalize that realization. Jesus is constant. He's coming with me. He's been there for every sad thing and for every moment of laughter, and he'll be there for the ones to come.
And he always, always feels like home.