Here's the thing - we don't know exactly what we are doing when we retire. Our home of record is Alaska, and while that is a beautiful dream, I don't see 80 year old adults in Alaska unless one of our children is there. We don't have a location where we plan to move. We're trying to be responsible and think, "If we were to settle in America, where would we want to live?" It makes sense to store our things THERE. Montana seems to be the forerunner in Michael's mind. I don't really care. TEXAS would be my first choice - I've been vetoed.
To all who know us well - it isn't a secret we feel called, driven, compelled to move to Japan. We have no idea how this will work out. While others nearing retirement joke about being a Walmart greeter, our joke is one of us will work at Pizza Hut on a military installation so we can have SOFA status. But here's the thing - God may not call us anywhere near a military installation. We could do many things to "get there." We could teach English. We could work at Pizza Hut. We could open an "American Cultural Center." We'd love to work in an orphanage or start one - but that seems to be impossible for foreigners to do in Japan.
Our eyes are open. We know it is very unlikely a mission board will accept us if Michael's health issues turn out to be as serious as they could be. We know the sacrifice of leaving children behind - and some days the thought brings tears. We know we are to honor our parents, and we're aware that Michael's mom is 87. We just don't know how it is all supposed to work; we just feel called, compelled, driven...
We are totally clueless about timing.
So here we are - time to make decisions. No, we really don't have an address to give you. No, we don't want our things moved to a new home - we're going to put the minimal in storage and sell, or give away, the rest. No, we don't quite know how we are going to get to Japan. No, we aren't sure when we'll get back to Japan. We just don't know.
We do know we can't get away from this ONE thing...God has ruined our hearts for Japan. He's broken our hearts. We know the hope Japan is searching for. We aren't trendy. We aren't cool. We aren't young. We aren't particularly bright or qualified. We don't have a lifetime to invest - only 10 - 15 years. We just know we are to be a part of bringing true peace and hope to Japan. We know there are missionaries in Japan. We know there are very cool churches in the Tokyo area. We also know there is only one church for every 58,000 people in Japan (I've heard a higher number). We know that God has a place for us somewhere in Japan. We know that in the grand plan He has a place for a middle-aged couple and their children - some small part for us to do. We ache to get back to Japan and to focus on relationships with the Japanese people - rather than military ministry as we were called to do in our first four years in Japan. We were faithful in that season, God birthed a call in that season, a dream...
When you ask, "What do you plan to do when you retire?"
We aren't hedging when we respond, "We aren't sure."
We aren't being cutesy or joking when we say, "We're moving to Japan."
Most really don't have time for the whole story when they ask. It's a lot like those OTHER questions we're never sure how to answer, "Where's home?" Or, "What do you plan to do when you graduate." We get Arielle's answers....we're there with this retirement thing.
This is what we're doing. Praying. Learning Japanese. Faithfully serving at Beale. Staying engaged in our current ministries. Preparing emotionally to get rid of most our furniture (we'll save our bedroom set) and household goods. We'll save sentimental things and china. ::snort::
And I find myself with pressing questions racing through my mind, "Will that fit into 2 suitcases?"
"What WILL fit in two suitcases?"
"Good GRIEF what ARE we thinking?"
"What ARE we going to do when we retire?"
"Life was much easier in Japan with SOFA status."
If you've read this far - you most likely are still wondering, "What are you going to do when you retire?"
We honestly aren't sure. Our general plan is to put our things in storage. To pack up "The Caboose" and live in it for 6 - 12 months while we REST and continue to pray about this compelling determination we have to get back to Japan.
Living all of life before the face of God...