Last night Ben and myself hosted a sushi party at Shelley’s house for over 45 Japanese and American students! It was such a great experience. We spent three hours prepping for the party with another couple and their Japanese friends–I learned how to roll sushi really tight so it would cut nicely:) Right at eight pm twenty five or so people showed up and Ben guided the dynamic of the group gathering. It didn’t take long for people to start introducing themselves to one another and making connections! Soon everyone was eating sushi with chopsticks and plugging phone numbers into their phones for future plan-making. I was manning the cutting table where Yuka and others would hand me tightly wrapped sushi rolls that I would cut and serve to people who kept walking through the door. We had a table set up in the middle of the room where Japanese students would come and either roll together a sushi roll or learn how to make sushi. to my surprise for many of them, it was their first time making sushi…maybe it’s comparable to the generalization that Americans know how to make a good steak…I don’t. (I probably need to learn how, for Ben’s sake.)
When the party was into full swing and after everyone had their fill of good sushi, Ben quieted the crowd and had a woman named Fumiko come and share her life with the students. She is a part of E Free church and has been in America for five years with her husband and baby daughter. She spoke about how important truth is and how she found what that meant to her as a human in relationship to the God of the Bible. She also spoke about the spiritual and emotional state of the people in Japan and how the suicide rate is something like 350,000 people a year. I almost fell out of my chair. if that number is correct, there is really something drastically wrong there. she went on to explain how people buckle under the pressure of success and loss, needing to be stable and/or wealthy and significant. being a shame-based culture, there are many secrets. many people who realize they don’t have it together have nowhere to turn. when I received that information and started to really think about it, my heart ached for the people in that situation and those in the room that I engaged with earlier. I wonder if they are in that place of quiet desperation and confusion…or if they are in the ongoing process of continuing to build their foundation of security and confidence in their abilities. I was grateful for Fumiko’s words and her encouragement to seek and explore the God of the Bible. I desire for these students (both American and Japanese) to recognize their need and the reality that their best abilities to make something of themselves in this world won’t be enough to give them peace and everlasting life.
what is encouraging to me is the sincere curiosity of the couple with which we prepared the sushi. I really want them to know the truth and that it is not subjective… I feel so much love towards them and I desire opportunities for Ben and I to engage with them in the future. I need patience and sensitivity to what God is about.
after Fumiko shared, we transitioned into music time. a friend of Ben’s named Hairuki played the traditional Japanese shamisen in his tae kwon do outfit and Ben then played the accordion (to my amazement) and we danced the chicken-dance! talk about sharing our American culture with Japanese students…(didn’t that derive from some polka song???) people signed up for more information about the Bible and to keep posted about future gatherings…I’m excited for Ben to gather together international students and share some cool aspects of our culture while introducing them to the Creator of the universe.
observations from last night:
*we thought we would run out of food, expecting around thirty people showing up, and we had around fifty with food left over! We prayed that the Lord would provide abundantly–fish and loaves!!
*the Japanese students were so servant-oriented in their actions–Shelley’s house was cleaner after we had the party than before we started
*people like the chicken dance!!
*my two Japanese friends from AIB, who live at Westchester Park, that I took a risk inviting at the last minute–they came! they enjoyed themselves, made connections, and sincerely listened to what Fumiko had to say (in Japanese)..they understand little English:)
*the elements of community were beautiful–people sharing food and seats, helping with preparation, greeting and clean-up, teaching each other Japanese and English phrases, and attitudes of appreciation and graciousness abounding…
*this night was one step towards learning how to love people better, putting aside selfish ambitions and being a good listener and question-asker. it’s amazing what you can learn about someone by asking simple, open ended questions. for example, “where have you traveled in the world?” or “what has been your favorite cultural experience here in the states or back home?”
I want to do this more! I am tapping into a place in my heart that longs for this type of interaction with people in faith and who have yet to know Christ. this makes it hard to want to go to work tomorrow morning.