It's happening. I'm in full-time language school, and it is what I expected -- difficult. Muzukashidesu!
Classes started January 13, and I am in the "J1" class, the lowest level. I assumed the first couple weeks would be really easy for me, since I have lived in Japan for nearly three years total, and took Japanese classes in Chiba -- even if I didn't really study very much there. But class was actually difficult the very first day!
Beginning at 9 a.m., and with ten minute breaks every hour, I have three hours of language class in which we practice basic sentences. I am the only westerner, with most of my classmates being from Taiwan or South Korea (the former with the kanji advantage and the latter with the advantage of a similar grammatical structure). Most days there is NO English spoken, which shouldn't surprise me, but it did! I often feel lost and at the bottom of the class.
The fourth hour of the day has been spent on learning hiragana and katakana, the Japanese native alphabets. As I know these quite well, and many of my classmates don't, I get to feel smart for this last hour each day. But as of today, all that changed, and the last hour is now focusing on kanji, the Chinese script that may prove to be the bane of my language study! However, I was reminded recently that it doesn't really matter what grade I get, or where I am ranked in the class, but that I become conversant in Japanese. I appreciate your prayers for God's grace in this difficult learning process.
West Coast Missions Conference
I will be flying to San Diego on Friday, January 30 for the West Coast Missions Conference sponsored by Mission to the World and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Encinitas, CA. As I take on additional leadership responsibilities within Genesis College, the purpose of this trip is to recruit potential faculty, staff, and church planters for our team.
This will be a very short and very full weekend trip. Please pray that God will provide good connections at the conference, allow me to somewhat maintain my Japanese internal clock, and to keep up with my language school studies despite missing a day and a half of class.
- Praise God that I am finally in full-time language school! With a different teacher every day, each of them seem genuinely excited to be teaching beginning Japanese. I'm also enjoying my classmates.
- Pray that God will bless my efforts to comprehend this difficult language, that I will become somewhat conversant and able to build real friendships with Japanese people and to share the gospel with them.
- Pray that God will bless my relationships with my classmates and allow opportunities to be a light of the gospel among them as well.
- Praise God that He has connected me to several more people who are interested in learning about the gospel of HOPE.
- Pray for my weekend in San Diego (January 30 - February 1). Pray that God will connect me with potential GIC teammates and partners. Pray, too, that this crazy weekend will not be detrimental to my internal clock, and that it will not affect my language learning.
- Praise God that my small group has grown from four men to six. The five men I lead are all in very different places of spiritual maturity from seeking to committed. However, none of them are grounded in the Word or in any particular theology. Pray that God will draw all of us into closer communion with Himself.