I woke up this morning feeling plenty of leftover funk from last night. Perhaps the funk even multiplied in my sleep. I felt sick, I didn't want to walk in the rain to church, and I didn't want to do much of anything in general. However, I was teaching class this morning, so I truly had no choice but to go anyway. And once upon a time I remember being taught that the times you don't want to go to church are usually the times you need to go the most.
As I sat at the bus stop in the rain, I thought back to the verse I quoted last night about God's mercies being new every morning and scoffed as I thought of waking up in a nasty mood. Thus I entered into a round of culture stress. I bemoaned everything about Japan on the bus and train ride, consumed with the idea that this is not where I want to be. First rate pity party. And for the record, the intellectual knowledge that you are going through culture stress does not make the process any easier.
But I made it to church, said my ohayo gozaimasus, and tried to mentally prepare myself for class. Then, of course, the Lord provided, and class turned my mood around completely. I thought of the people in class-- Mizumi, a non-Christian woman who comes every week and is truly seeking to know God; Sho, a junior high boy who answers every question in class and says the closing prayer each week (one of the most precious people I've met here!); Yusuke, a high school boy who made it a special point to come to class today even though he had to leave right after and spend all day working at school; Jun, a Japanese Christian who has become a powerful witness at Ibaraki Christian High School and is so encouraging each week... and they all touched my heart. These people are devoted to coming, despite inconvienence or busy-ness or effort. They come because the church is a priority.
The church. I have such a newfound appreciation for the church. My brothers and sisters. They are my family here. Before I came here I would seek comfort in the verse, "everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life" (Mt. 19:29). Leaving family and friends behind is hard (understatement of the year), but God's promises are true. The Christians here are amazing people. I wish I could list by name the people here and tell you about them, but that would be tedious and ineffective, I think. Perhaps instead you will hear snippets about different people and get to know them gradually.
So tonight, I am thankful. Funk over. :)