Sights unseen from my first visit to Japan, revealed after I finally developed my first roll of film from a trusty disposable camera with overexposed flash. There is a certain delight in peering into the past, and bringing to heart and mind the sheer joy of seeing a foreign land, and the sadness in recognising why this was hard ground for salvation.
Omoide Yokochou 思い出横丁
Everything is half-familiar, half-foreign. Memories become re-written having lived them twice. I remember the D&D spiced latte to have been particularly refreshing, but drinking it then, recall it to be diluted and bland to taste.
We invest in our past a little differently than we do our present. So it seems.
It is the perfect town to experience the way Japan savours beauty. Delicate china cups lining the streets, fresh flowers, exquisite fans. The reverence for beauty, a form of common grace, permeates the aesthetics.
As our first experience of Japan, it was a blessed time to have the afternoon to explore this city. We dragged our luggage through clusters of hydrangeas, a Japanese cemetery and a winding alleyway to find physical peace.
Our first taste of Japan was the matcha milk gelato by the wayside. What a discovery!
And I recall the psalms – For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light’
Lord, we ask that the rest of the team will join us safely tomorrow morning, and that we will be ready to launch into a busy schedule of three mobile cafes at various temporary housing on the 13th. Pastor Iwatsuka does not speak English and we do not speak Japanese, but You are Lord of languages. Open our eyes to what You are doing in the little waysides of Japan.
Help us to be good hands and feet to the locals. May smiles radiate from within.
I ask this is Christ’s Name, Him who says that as we abide in Him, to ask anything and it will be done.
This private villa is the largest the bridal party has seen, much less lived in.
Yet, oddly, despite the many rooms and extravangant crannies, it is difficult to find a quiet spot to read and talk to God. The mind is simply distracted by things and views and events. It was that easy?
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy)
Father, I am Your child and blessed with power and ability to obey You. These novel experiences speak very loudly, yet, Your Word clearly says- but among Your believers there should not even be a hint of sexual immortality or any kind of impurity or of greed, improper for God’s holy people.
The brokenness around me is hidden behind a beautiful veneer. We do not worship Creator as we should, but created things and toys and people. It is a folly that is tempting and distracting. I do not pretend to be immune if king Solomon himself fell.
I do, however, turn to You for wisdom for each day. That I may be true to who I am in Christ, and that I will permit no foolish talk. I pray for my fellow villa-dwellers. They can’t see You amidst the distractions.
But You so loved the world, even those who may find it easier to step through the eye of the needle.
It is not easy to flood my heart with pure thrill after a red-eye flight which was delayed by 7 hours.
At the Beau-Rivage Palace, one step into the ballroom, replete with drawing-room art, and the soul was flooded with instant and absolute delight.
I was dancing in spirit across the gilded floor, unashamed and alone in my bourgeois dreams. The rest of the delegation had head straight back to the rooms for shelter.
The wing that led to the ballroom was built in 1861, as the hotel manager proudly informed me. I saw hotel staff decked the typical black-white garb of a French maid, quietly dusting the ornate armchairs. Yes, the simple majesty of Rococo armchairs afforded much pleasure to my starving sensibilities.
I end this litany of praise with a final sentiment – however difficult this trip will become: