Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One more year!

Today, I changed the decision I made in February - I’m sticking around in Japan for one more year.

Since I made the decision to go, I’ve been doubting it and stressed about it - I didn't want to say goodbye, I didn't want to quit studying Japanese, I didn't want to leave yet.

I was feeling really sad about leaving and really uneasy about the decision I had made (usually it's one of the ways God tells me he wants me to do something else). Would I really be able to keep up friendships with friends in Japan, many of whom speak very little English? If I went home to be a first-year teacher, would I even have time to study?

I began to pray that something in my paperwork would be wrong and I’d be given the chance to change my mind, if this is where God wants me to be next year.

Friday all of this came together to make me realize that I didn’t want to leave. I was talking to a teacher and telling her about how tough this year had been. Since August I’ve been seriously sick twice (two weeks total), major car issues twice (four months total of being car-less), home for three weeks and in August fridge broke. Since August, there have been maybe two months of time when I’ve actually been here, healthy and able to get around.

It hit me then that even though it was really late, if this is where God wanted me he would open the doors that really shouldn’t be open to me at this point in the year. When I got home that night, I sent a text to the PA (Prefectural Advisor) for Hokkaido, knowing it wasn’t urgent, but that he might know that the time had passed already and I’d be able to put it out of my mind.

I decided not to bug him about it again until Monday because as much as I don’t want my job to be my life, I’m sure he doesn’t want it to be his either and it wasn’t an emergency.

On Saturday night, we had welcome party number three (this time for Junior High School staff). God continued to stir up the feelings of wanting to stay longer.

Sunday was Easter and despite being car-less, I knew I wanted to find a way to get to church. I asked a friend if she would mind picking me up at the station. We had a station mix-up, so we ended up at church a little late, but the drive was fun. The service was good, the friends were good. The thing that has always stuck out to me about this church is how much they love people.

After the service, one of the little girls I always play with saw me and shouted to her sister “kita!” (She came!). I felt so loved! I even got to chat with a woman who joined the church at the same time as I did, and we’re the same age, but just haven’t managed to talk much – I guess she was just shy.

At the end of the day, I even got a ride from another friend I had only talked to a bit, who I found out lives in the next town over from mine. I was surprised at how close she lived and thankful for her kindness to drive out of her way to get me home, so I didn't have to wait for the train.

All this time, I continued to pray that if God wants me to stay next year that he’d open the door.

Finally, Monday came. I knew it was time to bug the PA, if I didn’t hear something from him first. Mid-morning I got a response back that no, it was too late to change. I wanted to cry, I’m not ready to leave this place yet.

Then I got a phone call from a mystery number, which I ignored the first time (I’ve gotten some really strange calls in the past). It came again, so I decided to answer – it was the PA. It turned out there might be a loophole and so, if my BOE was ok with it, they were too.

Today (Tuesday), I was at the BOE because the JHS had school on Sunday, but I had wanted to go to church, so I didn’t get the make up holiday with the school. I waited to see if my supervisor would ask me about the phone call they had received the day before from the PA explaining the situation. By mid-morning she didn’t, so I decided to ask her, I wanted to find out the answer.

When I asked, her first reaction was it’s impossible. I asked if she had gotten the phone call from the day before. She hadn’t. She went and talked to the person who had taken the message. After that, they called me into the Kyoikucho’s office (the superintendent). They asked me a few questions including if I was going to stay a fifth year – I said I didn’t know that yet, but I definitely wanted to do one more. Then they looked at a book, and said some things I didn’t understand to each other and finally decided I could stay!

All that to say, I’ll be here for at least one more year! I’m excited to see what the time brings. I’m also very hopeful that I’ll finally get to enter some students in HEC (Hokkaido English Challenge – a contest the Hokkaido ALTs run) next year.