Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lessons in God's Timing

In my last post I detailed the process my application had to go through in order to receive my COE and Visa.  I was waiting for my COE to come.

I'm still waiting.

God has definitely decided it is time to teach me a lesson in patience.  I was told that it would take 3-4 weeks for my COE to be issued.  This is the middle of the fifth week.  Today is the day I expected to arrive in Tokyo.  I was supposed to start working at the beginning of next week.  Obviously that isn't going to happen.

Every day (okay, every five minutes) I anxiously check my email hoping for confirmation that it has been issued.  With each new email my heart surges, with each new email (including a cruel one from Southwest Airlines entitled You Could be Leaving on a Jet-Plane) my heart falls. 

I was able to speak with my contact at the school I will be working for and he reassured me that they are checking the mail each day.  He emphasized that nothing was wrong with my application and that the bureaucracy is just taking it's time.  No, it won't be rejected.  Yes, it's okay if I have to come later than my intended October 1st start date.  Yes, they will let me know as soon as they hear anything.  No, there's nothing else I can do.


So I wait.  And I pray.  I trust that there is a reason God is keeping me in the States for longer.  He has never let me down and He never will.  He knows better than I do what I need to do here; why I can't be there.  I am working hard to remember that.

God is definitely giving me a lesson in patience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Waiting Game

This week and next I am back home with my family, spending time with them, with others back home, packing, and taking care of errands.  The most common question seems to be, "So when are you leaving?"

Let me tell you, I would LOVE to know the answer to this question.  I REALLY hope to leave on September 26th, but I'm waiting on some paperwork before I can finalize my travel plans.  For those of you interested in governmental hoops, here is the process.

About a month ago, I received my contract and paperwork.  I signed my contract (which was printed entirely in Japanese), and filled out about five immigration applications before I completed one without any mistakes.  The application had to be on A4 paper, which is a different size than the regular 8 1/2 x 11, so I had to search through about 5 stores before I found a copy center that could print in that size.  In addition to the application I had to send in my original official diploma, an original official transcript, four passport pictures (in a different size than our passport pictures so I had to have them taken and cut them down), a resume, a letter of recommendation from a past professor, and copies of my passport.  I then had to mail everything to my employer in Japan, who submitted the packet to the local immigration office.

The immigration office has been reviewing my information for approximately three weeks.  When they are finished (I hoped this week, but since it's already Friday there, it probably won't be) they will issue me a document called a Certificate of Eligibility.  This certificate is basically permission from the Japanese government to work in Japan.  After it is issued, the certificate will be sent to my employer in Japan, who will send it to me, here in the states.

After I get my Certificate in my hands, I have to submit it with my passport and another application to the Japanese embassy in the US.  The closest embassy is in Houston, so I have the option of mailing it (and risking losing the Certificate and my passport in the mail) or taking it to Houston.  The processing time there is about three or four business days, and then they will (FINALLY) issue me my visa.

Until I receive my passport (with my visa) back from the embassy I cannot (or should not) book my flight to Japan.  SO.  I say all of this to say that I cannot book my flight, and therefore know when exactly I am leaving until I obtain my visa.  With the length of time that it has taken and will continue to take to get my visa, I may end up receiving my visa and booking my flight for only a few days later.  I will let you know as the process progresses.

Until then, please pray for my patience as I continue to make preparations and trust that everything will come together in God's timing.

またね!(Talk to you later!)

Monday, September 12, 2011


This past week has been a difficult one for me.  I have never been good at saying goodbye to people, especially people I care about.  This is definitely a bittersweet time in my life, as I transition from a place where God placed me and blessed me in many ways to a new and unknown place that God is now calling me.  I was prepared for difficult farewells, but really didn't know what to expect.

Needless to say, I have been completely blown away by the incredible amount of support, compliment, and love that has been shown to me by a wide variety of people.  I was not prepared for the storm of encouragement that I received, both for the time I have spent in Oklahoma and the work that I am about to do.  And for that, I want to thank YOU.  I want to thank everyone who expressed love, faith, confidence, and joy in the things that I have done through my time in America and the things that I will do over the past few years.  You have no idea how much your love and support means to me.  I have been blessed by my encounters with you and could not be more grateful.

So here's to the facebook posts, the going away luncheons, the cupcakes, the hugs, the words from the pulpit, and the hard goodbyes.  Here's to you who opened your home, to homemade ice cream, to walks through the neighborhood, to talks in the forum.  Here's to my friends, colleagues, employers, classmates, roommates, friends, and surrogate family.

There is no possible way that I can express the love and joy that I felt over the past week.  All I can say is

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Becoming Real

I apologize that I haven't updated for a while. I am really hoping to post fairly frequently to share everything that is going on. I have shared this site with people I care about, and that I want to make sure stay in the loop. I think it will be a great way to share with a lot of people at once, but so that everyone can still get a (mostly) clear idea of what is going on.

The past few weeks have been very busy trying to tie up loose ends before I move home for a few weeks. I've had appointments, road trips, time with family, time with friends... oh, and I've been working now and then too. About a month ago I began a very specific packing list (to hopefully help keep my bags light!), and I started actually putting things in my suitcase over the weekend. I have to take basically any clothes that I am going to want over the next year because I will be hard pressed to find my clothes or shoes in my size once I get to Japan. It's hard to anticipate everything I am going to need for a year, and to be able to fit it all in only two suitcases! I am trying to be as strategic as possible, but that includes only taking things that I know I will wear often. Coincidentally these are the things that I -- ahem -- wear often, so I can't pack them yet. You get my drift.

Somehow, even though I have been busy and working through various preparations, the move for the most part has not seemed real. I was so excited when I first got the position, but for the most part, the last month has pretty much been life as I've known it. I've settled back into a routine, and the thought of going to Japan seems like a hazy idea in a crazy dream from a long time ago. Until today, that is.

I'm not really sure why today was the day that sparked my attention, but I can only guess that it has partly to do with one (or both) of two things. One, the fact that tomorrow (eek!) is my last day at work. I have loved my job, my responsibilities, my company, my co-workers, and it is going to be very hard to say goodbye. Two, a friend who has been helping me prepare for Japan left for Japan toady. In fact, they are in route this moment, somewhere between Las Angeles and Tokyo. All summer we have talked together of when the time comes for us to (respectively) head to Japan, and I can't believe the time has come! I think being aware of that and experiencing that really caused things to sink in. I had butterflies in my stomach all day.

I am so excited. Nervous? -yes. Scared? -yes. But mostly I'm excited. I know that God has prepared these circumstances for me, and that he is orchestrating something incredible. The joy and confidence that He has placed in my heart is overwhelming, and it is overflowing to cover all of the doubts and fears that I have. These next few weeks will be very difficult, but I press on, focusing my eyes on what is ahead. I know that the Lord's plans are greater than mine could ever be, and he will take care of all of the worries that I may have.

Please pray for me as I pack and say my goodbyes. I hope to grace you with another update soon.