Kyou wa ii tenki desu ne!
When Jonathan first came to Japan he was told that Japanese always talk about the weather. So when you start a conversation with someone it`s always a good time to talk about the weather. Specifically the phrase above means the weather is nice today! If you’re waiting at a train station, a bus stop, a traffic light, in line somewhere and you want to start a conversation, it’s always a good way to do that.
But that doesn’t translate to all cultures. At ARI, we have people from around 20 different nations and probably over 30 different cultures around us. While some like the Japanese always talk about the weather, others talk about food, politics, religion, family, etc… While there always is a way to talk with someone, that also means some things are off limits.
Learning to find out what is ok to say and what is not is the process we go through every year to build a new community. While it can be stressful at times, the mistakes can actually help to form relationships and trust.
A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to another missionaries home for lunch and one of the participants, students, from ARI was there when we arrived. Jonathan, being sarcastic and getting in trouble, said oh man I thought I was getting away from you today! They both laughed but soon we noticed that the participant had left. Later Jonathan approached the gentleman who, staying true to his culture, gave an excuse as to why he left. As the conversation continued though the participant realized that miscommunication had happened, forgave Jonathan and opened up some.
At ARI and in our Christian walk we often learn that mistakes, failures do not mean the end. They are opportunities to try again, to become better at something, to grow. Jesus teaches us that grace, mercy, love are all about another chance and using mistakes for a new tomorrow. If participants are going to achieve anything in their communities, if the church is to grow and new people are to come to Christ, and if we are to become disciples, sanctified believers, then mistakes will happen and God teaches us what to do with those mistakes.
As we close we ask that you would please pray for us at ARI, the other staff, volunteers and participants. Please pray for the Japanese Church. Pray that we will try new things, learning from the mistakes, experiencing the grace and mercy of God in deeper ways than we have before.
Come Back Soon, Pictures to come!