I've included my original letters to sponsors in my blog so the whole Japan story is together in one place.
This is one of those big 'hello again and here's what I'm up to and I'd love to hear what you're up to' sort of emails. For those of you who have not yet heard, I'm getting ready to leave for Japan with ELCA Global Missions to teach English. I'll be there until spring of 2009. So, while I would normally prefer individual emails, I am about to become a mass emailer. I have put all of you on the list as people who might be interested in hearing updates from Japan, but, really, if you are not a person who likes mass emails, just let me know and I'll take you off. Also, I will definitely respond to individual emails and would love to hear from all of you too.
Business being out of the way, I just got back from Mission Orientation in Chicago. It was a really incredible experience. There were thirty seven of us there getting ready to go to just about every corner of the world, from the Central African Republic to Germany to Palestine to Honduras to Hong Kong (and many other places, of course!). The Japan contingent was probably the biggest group there. Three of us are just out of college and on our way to teach English through the J3 program. The other two are Matt and Sarah, and we'll all be in Tokyo for the first six months to attend Japanese language school. From there, the Japanese Lutheran Church will give us our teaching assignments, so we will either stay in Tokyo or move down to Kumamoto, a city on the southern island of Japan. There was also a family going into long term mission in Japan who were a lot of fun. The couple actually met while serving in the J3 program and now are coming back to Japan with their two daughters (ages 6 and 9 / 10). At the end of our orientation, we joined the Summer Missionary Conference and met yet another two couples who are currently long term in Japan, both involved in various ministries in Tokyo. So, when we go to Tokyo, we are really joining a nice family of ELCA folks.
We also learned a little bit about the living situation. It's not for sure yet, but it sounds like Sarah and I will be living in a house for the first six months. This came as a big shock...I haven't even lived in an apartment yet! But we figure it will be a small house since it's in Tokyo, so hopefully it won't feel too extravagant. We also learned that calling home is going to be far cheaper than I'd anticipated. Apparently internet service and phone service are coming together in Japan and Dave (one of the long terms) thought that I could call home for about 3 cents a minute. That made me very excited!
I'll be leaving for Japan on September 11th, so I have the next month and a half or so to hang out in Lander and work on getting rid of a bunch of unneeded stuff that's been haunting the shelves in my room.
I hope things are going well for all of you!