Moshi moshi.” (That is “hello” in Japanese.) A weeping voice was on the phone line-my eldest sister, Thembi, in South Africa. “Lindah, I am going to Zimbabwe. Dad passed away.”
My dad had always been a chief supporter of my missionary experience. His letters were full of hope. “I know God looks after you because you are doing His work,” he would write. Now he was gone.
Five years have passed since I left Africa to begin work in the mission field. The year 1999 marked my arrival in the “Land of the morning calm,” Korea. The friendliness of the Korean people won my heart.
After two years my intention was to return home, but God had other plans for me. I went to Norway to study for a medical
missionary diploma. Armed with the health message, God opened more doors in my missionary experience for three years in Europe, but the pull to return to teaching became stronger.
The “Land of the rising sun” was my next destination, and in 2004 I came to Japan to teach English and Bible. We have about ten SDA language schools. Most of the teachers are
volunteers and stay for a year or two. Others stay longer. The stipend may not be much, but I can share the love of Jesus and how He rescued me.
To most people, Japan is the land of sushi, advanced technology, and Gucci and Luis Vuitton. However, to a missionary from Africa, Osaka is a concrete jungle where mobile phones seem to be more important than people and hugs are scarce, but where there is much bowing of heads.
Though I am not a city girl, God reveals to me through my students that behind the concrete walls are men and women waiting to hear the good news of Jesus. For His sake, I am in love with this concrete jungle. It makes me listen to others.
It forces me to pause and amidst the noise and turmoil of the city to experience the still small voice and peace of God.
Day after day, I am confronted with my limitations and my need for the power of God in my work.
Here in the concrete jungle of Osaka, I focus on a God who is able to confound minds, “I don’t know why I always feel happy when I come to SDA,” Mr. Shimuzi says! A God who finds me friends like Ji Yun who is struggling with leukemia. A God who keeps me from being annoyed
when the children rub my hand to see if my brown skin is just paint.
It’s now 2005 and I miss home, the multitudes of hugs on Sabbath morning in an English-speaking church, whole-wheat bread that’s baked in an oven and not in a microwave. But for now, this is my home that I will someday exchange for the heavenly New Jerusalem. But can we consider heaven to be our home while some of our brothers are lost? That is the thought I wrestle with every day as I sit on my futon in my tiny apartment in my concrete jungle of Osaka, Japan.
Lindah Mavave, from Zimbabwe, Africa, is a volunteer in Japan.