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Have You Seen Her? - A Little Help From My Friends

A Little Help From My Friends

Example #1 - Ellie's Health Chart

Every day when I pick up Ellie from kindergarten, her teacher gives a brief update on what the kids did at school that day, plus important announcements about stuff we need to do.  I wish I could show a photo of the teacher, the kids, all the mommies... and me.  I think I often understand just about 10-20% of what the teacher is saying.  Needless to say, I miss a lot.  But there are 3-4 moms who graciously give me a simplified digest of what I need to know.   It's kind of comical as they collectively try to help me understand the bare essentials, so that I don't make a fool of myself or of Ellie.

Johnston family signature stamp

For example, Ellie's class is swimming every day now.  Each morning, I need to complete a form and use my official name signature stamp to verify her overall health. I must take Ellie's temperature, make sure she sleeps, eats breakfast, has clean and cut fingernails, is generally healthy and -- not only that she has had a bowel movement in the last 24 hours, but also report on the, ahem, condition of her poop.  (See Nozomi's post about this national fascination.)  This completed form is required every day or Ellie will not be allowed to swim with her classmates.


Example #2 - Tax Records

Takeshi TakazawaI needed to fill out a form in Japanese to apply for a government scholarship for our kids' educational costs.  So Takeshi Takazawa, our ministry partner, helped by filling out the first form in Japanese.  This form needs to be turned into Ellie's school.  But I first needed to go to my city office to obtain a certified copy of my income tax record to attach to the form.  Upon arriving at the city office, I shared in Japanese what form I needed. The clerk gave me a Japanese form to officially request my tax records. Everything was in Japanese, and I couldn't read 90% of the form.  But what could I do?

Well, I pulled out my cell phone and promptly took a photo of the form.  I emailed it from my cell phone to the Asian Access office, and asked Yuko-san to help me complete the form. She phoned and helped me "land the plane," and I even sent her a photo of my completed form to make sure it was correct.  Once confirmed, I stamped it with my signature stamp (which I carry with me), paid my 200 yen and got my tax records. Thanks to Takeshi, technology and Yuko-san, I completed my test.


Example #3 - Tonight's Dinner

Nozomi wonderfully provided me with a meal survival guide for my 11-day challenge.  Hey, the fewer decisions I need to make, the better.  I've actually cooked a good bit, and we've gone out some, too. Tonight was a treat, though, because Nozomi had arranged for another missionary friend to bring us a nice curry rice dinner and dessert.  Great!  No decisions tonight.  But then Kristen called me at 3pm to arrange the time to drop off dinner, adding that all I need to do was make the rice.

Make the rice?  That's all?  Holy Rice Cooker, Batman!  Yikes!  Well, in my pathetic case, that's easier said than done!  I realized I DID have to make decisions after all.  And gobs of them, at that!

  • Ok, what's the ratio of water to rice again?
  • And do I wash the rice before cooking?
  • How much rice do I need to make for 75% of my family?
  • Finally, have you seen our rice cooker, with all the kanji characters?  All I could make out was "timer," and I knew I was in deep dookie.
Afraid to 'fess up to Kristen (and make her feel obligated to make us rice), I thought to myself: "Ok, God, this is a great opportunity for me to depend on a neighbor for help!  Who should I ask?"

Immediately, I remembered a conversation I had with a friendly neighbor when Nozomi had left.  Mrs. T., whom you may have read about before, said that while Nozomi was gone, she would be Zack's & Ellie's substitute "Mommy" if they ever needed her.  It was very sweet, really, as she nearly teared up about my kids missing their Mommy.

So I waited for the T family to come home, and I sheepishly asked her to teach me how to use our rice cooker.  (I mean how embarrassing is that for a missionary to Japan?)  She graciously came over and showed us how to make perfect rice.  She seemed genuinely happy to be able to help us.  She even came back 30 minutes later to check if the rice was ready for us to eat.  And so I took this photo. . .


Mrs. T teaches us to make rice
 Mrs. T. taught how to make can't miss rice!


The secret lesson in all this for me is how to receive from others -- to bring Christ to people from a position of weakness -- not a position of strength -- which I'll have to address in another post.

We're hoping Nozomi will return to us on June 24 -- which happens to be the 14th anniversary of my proposal to her.

Jeff's Posts


Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.


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Nozomi's Posts


Nozomi's column contains reflections on motherhood, Japanese culture, and ministry.


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Zack's Posts


Zack's column provides a variety of glimpses into what makes him tick.


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Ellie's Posts


Ellie's column is coming soon...


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