On Being Illiterate

Hello Everyone!

So, first I must apologize for my brief hiatus from writing. On Christmas, I started running a fever and became very sick. Finally, after being stubborn for a few days I broke down and went to the doctor to get some medicine. I spent most of time between Christmas and New Years recovering.

It’s a very odd experience, going to the doctor in a foreign place, and communicating with the doctor in a foreign language. In America, it’s easy to answer questions about what hurts and where, but here it’s totally different. I know almost know medical terminology, so even if I was able to say what I was feeling, I’d have no idea what the doctor was saying when they explained what is wrong with me.

Luckily, I had a friend who was able to help translate.

On New Years, I had the incredible experience of watching the first sunrise of the new year, which is a common practice in the aptly named “Land of the Rising Sun.” With a few friends from church, we gathered on top of a mountain called Ryozan to watch the sunrise. (Ryozan is where I took the picture that’s on the main page of this blog)

I like New Years because it’s a chance to reflect. Of course, it’s also a time to make resolutions. I know we could go into statistics about how many people actually keep their resolutions, but I feel very strongly about this one.

Tonight, I went to the store. I needed some milk. I went to a store I don’t normally go to, intending on just popping in and grabbing a carton of milk. I have a specific brand that I buy, it’s called “Ohayo,” like “Good Morning” in Japanese, and spelled in Japanese characters. However, I soon encountered a problem. This store didn’t have my brand of milk!

I began to look over the milk. It was all written in Kanji, which is Chinese characters. I know the Kanji for milk. However, Kanji, when combined with others, mean drastically different things. On these milk cartons, there were all kinds of Kanji along with the one for milk. Maybe I was buying two percent milk? Maybe I was buying goat milk? I had no idea. I grabbed one of the cheaper ones and took it up to the cashier.

Sheepishly I asked her, “Umm, this is milk right?”

She chuckled a little bit and said, “Yes, it’s milk.”

It’s quite an experience having to ask a cashier whether or not what you’ve brought up to purchase is milk or not!

This is one of several experiences I’ve had over the past few days which have put a strong desire within me to really crack down on my Japanese studies.

I haven’t quite made a goal yet as to how much I want to know. But one of my big resolutions for this year is to study, study, and study some more. Maybe this time next year I’ll at least be able to read the milk cartons!

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and the messages I’ve gotten since Brent’s passing. This weekend, we will have a memorial service for Brent. People are coming in from all across Japan to attend. Preachers are coming in from Tokyo to speak. Please pray for this event. Sandy’s biggest hope is that this memorial will be a reminder as to why Brent lived the life he did, and of the God he served. We hope that perhaps it will spark deeper interest about Christianity in many people who were close to Brent. Please pray that it does.

In Japan, it’s a very odd thing to say “Happy New Year” to someone who has lost someone. While 2018 has begun with a very rough start, I still believe this will be a good year. While there is much to overcome, I know God will get us through it here. I appreciate everyone’s prayers. Please continue to pray, especially for Sandy.

I will end here by wishing you all a very happy new year!

-Kaleb

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