Triumphs: A Glimpse of Practical Living Overseas

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

When we lived in the USA, Rosalyn’s bottle preparation was simple.  5 ounces of water to 2.5 scoops of formula.  In Japan, for nearly the same amount of water, you add a whopping 8 scoops of formula.
And that, ladies, is the perfect illustration of what it’s like to live in a foreign country…5.5 new steps for everything you do.

The title, “Triumph”, may seem like an exaggeration.  However, I guarantee you that the feeling I have when I’m able to accomplish simple things is nothing short of triumph!


Getting a Cell Phone:

We went to two places and were turned down for cell phone contracts because of the length of our visas, although I can name four other families of the same visa status who have the same plan we applied for.  Re-collecting my confidence and disappointed expectation, we went to another shop a few days later and obtained a contract.  It took only about an hour and a half.

Later that night the real fun began as we tried to set up our email account through the company in order to use sms.  Two and a half excruciating hours later I went into the “zone,” a place where I shut out all distractions and where Vicente knows not to bother joking with me.  It was the LORD who helped me through that!


Registering at City Hall:

Two hours…four windows.  Sooo many forms to fill out.


Internet and WiFi:

PTL!! He certainly helped me out on this one!  Setting up both of them I made simple mistakes.  But, in both cases, the LORD led me through random steps to figure out how to make it work, just as I began to think I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself.


Cooking on a two burner stove:

There were cheers of triumph in our apartment a couple of days after we moved in when we figured out that our tiny two burner stove top needed a battery in order to keep the flame lit.  Anything to do with gas lines scares the “bejeepers” out of me, but when we were finally able to light our stove and keep it lit in order to cook, we cheered…randomly…several times.  In fact, I still cheer randomly.

I won’t bore you with long lists of what we’ve had to do.  Though it took you just a few minutes to read this, none of these things were as simple as the 2.5 scoops of formula or the fifteen to thirty minutes it might take you to accomplish it at home.  They’ve involved many extra steps and many challenges.  There have been times when I’ve pulled out my iPodto use a translation tool and asked the person on the other side of the counter to type in the word for me.  I’ve received many papers in receipt of my transactions with information I’m sure is pertinent, but I can’t read them at the moment.  They are sitting in stacks and when I have a question, I’ll pull out the appropriate one, go into the “zone” and attempt to translate and understand it.

Sometimes…sometimes…maybe eight tries later, there are cheers of triumph.

by Janine Alvarado, Mission Japan