Let me begin by telling you a bit more about the journey James and I have been on for the past year. For some of you, you know the ins and outs of how we arrived at today. Others will have known simply that Japan was on the cards before we got married.
For us, the plan to move has evolved, chopped and changed. We have had revelations about what the purpose of this move could be and despite this, we're still not quite sure what will happen. However, let me lay out some of what we have so far...
Japan is a dream of ours. At first, it was James who planted the idea. We like to joke that it was one of his conditions for marriage- of that I'm still not totally sure!
When we got married James had completed one year of university studying English language and Japanese with the sole goal of using his degree to get a job in Japan.
The funny thing was that even though we had talked about the idea of moving, and being aware of James’ main motivation to even get a degree, I still felt that it was just a pipe dream that may happen; but I couldn't be sure.
At the start of James’ final year of university in September 2014, through speaking with a mentor of mine, she confronted me with the fact that going to Japan really was a thing- that I had said to James I would go and that meant I would be going. Up until that point I hadn't accepted the idea deep down. I had said things to myself and others such as “Oh, who knows what will happen in the next few years” or “a lot could change before then”.
After that crucial conversation my thinking changed. I came home and told James that I was up for Japan, that I said I would go and that I was keeping to the agreement we had made.
Of course James thought I had always been game so he didn't even understand what I was going on about, nevertheless he was happy.
The original plan to get to Japan was though a Japanese government run teaching scheme called JET. James had his mind set on the programme and it all sounded great. Once he interviewed and obtained his place he would get a one year work Visa, I would get a dependency Visa through him, JET would book our flights, arrange our accommodation and we would live there happily ever after.
What we discovered quite a few times this past year is that our plans are often not God's plans!
We found out January of this year, 3 months after submitting his application that James didn't get an interview with JET. It was a strange moment for us both, we had tailored our vision of what would happen around getting on the programme. Strangely enough, James was the one who accepted it quicker and said it clearly wasn't the right thing for us, in hindsight I don't think it was.
The next point of call was applying for more jobs. James was printing off pages of job adverts and bringing them all home for us to look at. We both prayed that the right one would show itself and one stood out, a kindergarten English teaching position. This was seemingly positive, James had two Skype interviews where he was offered the job. Unfortunately, they wanted him to start before he actually graduated. Frustratingly, they seemed to have glossed over James information that he couldn't start until August onward.
As another door closed, it was March time and James was into his last few months of uni and he had a huge amount of coursework and exams.
It was a tricky time for us, James especially as he had to put on hold the plans and the job search to concentrate on finishing his 3 years of study. For me, the lack of degree on my part meant that I couldn't actually apply for anything so I felt a bit lost.
Skip forward to start of May, James and I had to let go of the ideal that we would be going to Japan with a job and somewhere to live, and accepting this was unusually freeing.
We decided that we were going to book our flights. We had no plans, no jobs in the running, just a confirmation from God through what he said to us and through other people that it was the right thing.
To us, booking the flights was our step of faith. It was us saying to God- You've told us to go, we're going for it, we're looking forward to seeing what you're going to do!
The months leading up to our flight on August 15th have been full of preparations, packing, emotions and excitement.
I haven't even got onto why we just travelled down to the Japanese island of Kyushu on the bullet train to a place called Fukuoka, that is a post for another time...