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Always With Me

CMS missionaries Dave & Beck McIntyre share how they have seen God at work in their family, particularly as their children settled into school in Japan. This is an extended version of the article that appeared in Checkpoint Spring 2019.

How will our children go at school?

This question summed up one fear we held as we approached our move to Japan over three years ago. It is a concern that resurfaced in recent months as two of our children moved up into higher levels of schooling.

School takes up a lot of our kids’ lives. We were worried about how they would go as Australian children at a local kindergarten and primary school. While my own experience attending schools in Japan was positive overall[1], I also knew the challenges.

The first day of school

Natasha, our middle child, started kindergarten with virtually no Japanese and little knowledge of the culture. On her first day, Beck took her to the school gate. The principal met her, took her by the hand, and hustled her off to class. Beck only had time to grab a quick photo and no time to pray. Beck was upset at the lack of a proper goodbye, and returned home to worry and fret.

When she picked Natasha up, she asked about her day.

Natasha said she had cried during singing time. But then she’d prayed and was ok, because “God goes with me everywhere I go, even yochien (kindergarten).”

Beck was rebuked because she hadn’t prayed, and just worried instead. And here was God’s clear answer to our prayers in this new place! We’d prayed not that things would be easy, but that our kids would trust God when things were hard.

In many ways God has given us the privilege of reinforcing our kids’ faith in Jesus as we have settled into our new location. We try to pray each morning at the front door before they go to school. Our family Bible reading and prayer each night after dinner have been important – especially when they haven’t understood Japanese Sunday school.

Hard words from other students

Alyssa, our eldest, was finding the comments of the other kids difficult. They were saying that she needed to get on and learn the kanji (Chinese characters) faster or she would fall behind.

We reminded Alyssa that God approved of her, no matter how well she did. We explained how for the other kids, particularly in an aspirational area of Japan, doing well academically is the highest priority placed upon them. But God loves us no matter what.

Challenges—for us as well as them—have meant that we have looked to our Lord Jesus together.

God’s care in little events

Alyssa started at an international school in April, which means a one-hour train trip each way, and again getting used to new people and ways of doing things. Beck went with her on the first day to get used to the commute.

At the school, they met some girls who were in Alyssa’s new class, who befriended her and hustled her off to show her around.

While she was happy that the school kids had welcomed our daughter, Beck felt a bit left behind; like she hadn’t said goodbye properly, again!

The school is very close to a beach, so Beck got a coffee and sat down to enjoy the view and sea breeze. While there, she noticed some letters in the sand: L…O…V…E. Another person’s random act. And in that moment, Beck was reminded of the love of our Father God ­– who cares deeply for our kids, even when we aren’t there with them.

An earthquake

We are very protective of our children. This is natural, especially coming from a society that has a much greater awareness of the things that might cause our children harm. While Japan doesn’t have the material hardships or civil unrest of other countries, there are still dangers.

Earthquakes are always unexpected, even in Japan. We had gone through the regular morning routine of getting changed, having breakfast and had just sent Natasha out to join her walking group. Then it started shaking. Dave was able to call Mitch and got him under the table. (Where were Lyss and Beck?) There we waited, knowing that Natasha was on the street, potentially by herself.

Once the shaking stopped, we waited a few more moments before Dave rushed out to check on Natasha. A very scared looking Natasha came around the corner.

“It looked like all the poles and wires were going to fall down!”

She had been very scared. But God had protected her and us in many ways that day. Natasha hadn’t been alone but was with two older girls in the group. They had been trained for earthquakes so knew to get low on the ground and huddle together until the shaking stopped. The biggest girls covered the two smaller girls as they waited together.  Praise God that they were there for her!

CARE

Going on location with children means increased joys, challenges and opportunities. Find out when some CMS missionary kids celebrate their birthdays, and send a card or gift to them on those special occasions.

 

[1] Dave grew up in Japan as a missionary kid.