As I am writing this, my contemplations of the National Pension are still fresh on my mind after spending the last thirty minutes reading up on what it’s all about. I didn’t think I signed up for this until I received a little blue book in the mail a couple of days ago addressed by the Japan Pension Service. Yet another thing to think about… another thing to pay for.
I never considered the amount of money needed to be spent on, well, things that are not mine. Before moving to Japan, I only had to be concerned about paying for my phone bills, personal purchases and the occasional contact lens subscription. Again, all mine. Now I’m paying for housing (of course), health insurance (I get that), taxes (I also get this though I’d rather it be cheaper), but national pension? I’m probably not gonna live here till I’m 65, so that I don’t get. As I mull over what might happen if I ignore the letters sent for payment (just a crazy thought… I am gonna pay for it), I sigh a little over the amount I’ve spent just over the past three weeks since I got my first pay-check.
Life has never been more complicated.
Living independently has been a bitter-sweet experience. I love having my own place and I give thanks to God for the warmth of my own home. I love being able to decide how I want it to be; the way it looks, smells, the atmosphere it exudes.
I’ve recently purchased my own bookshelf! Call it a Christmas present to myself. Having been on-the-move the past couple of years, it became easier to simply buy books for my Kindle, because although paperback is awesome, it was very impractical to carry stacks of books with me whenever I travelled. And I counted, I’ve flown about six times this year, all between UK, Singapore and Japan (not forgetting the unintentional two-day stay in India en-route to Singapore ><).
It’s a first-world problem to be moping about this, trust me, I’m not. But as much as I enjoyed travelling and going places with only a rucksack with me, I am sooo thankful to be settling somewhere for at least awhile. And to celebrate, I got myself a bookshelf. I cannot wait to fill this with books! It marks a new season of being rooted in a place.
My friend, Xinru, gave me a card for my send-off from Singapore, and on it she drew a big tree with strong roots. In the card she wrote “drew a tree because God sorta put it in my heart to do so. But I have no idea why hahaha”.
I hadn’t thought much about the drawing until I saw it again a few weeks ago. For the first time in a long time, I felt like God was saying that it was time for me to be grounded. I haven’t heard that in over three years. This is completely foreign to me.
In a sense, I wish I was back to my missionary days, where I hadn’t a care in the world besides listening to the voice of God and obeying. I love being in Japan, but I am also struggling with what it means to be in a place on a rather permanent (as permanent as I can foresee for now) note, what it means to invest and what it means to continue fighting for my faith in the routines of life.
I was ranting about my bills and day-to-day woes to a friend last night and I quickly became aware of how trivial my problems were as compared to those of the world. She just got back from a mission trip to Nagaland and had much to share on her time there. They visited orphanages, got to pray for the sick and bless the community. It was amazing, and it was her first mission trip. While she shared, I smiled as images from my time in Romania flashed through my mind.
Funny how Romania came up and not Mozambique when I spent three months in the latter but only ten days in the former. But Romania was my first. I remembered what it felt like to be in awe, in freedom and love.
I had no experience but everything I did felt completely natural. Sure I struggled, but my struggles weren’t the things I remember most of that place. All that’s left in my conscious memory was how beautiful, how transformational that time was, and how in love I am with the place and people. Romania remains one of my favourite places in the world.
I love Japan. I really really do and I cannot believe I’m here! I could not have pictured this a year ago. I have no experience, no connections and am struggling everyday for different reasons, but I can say with all certainty that I never once thought of leaving. Well, I definitely contemplated the odds of me being fired (lol), but never of me leaving on my own will.
I know that at the end of the day, the memories I will have of this place and time would be of how beautiful, how transformational this time is and how in love I am with the place and people.
May we never lose our sight, our wonder~