Our new furniture arrived today. All of the apartments we have lived in over the past few months have led to this- our new, sweet and roomy one bedroom apartment that we have signed a one year contract for.
It feels like today marks a new stage of our journey here in Japan. We finally have our own space, our own things and after three and a half months since leaving England we have actually unpacked our suitcases. It’s a strangely liberating thing to put your clothes on hangers and stand back to look at them in a wardrobe again.
The time between us applying for our visa and then getting it felt like a painfully long time- it took nine weeks to be exact. We were told it would take up to a month to process our application, and with each week that went by we felt increasingly irritated by the situation that arose by not having a visa. It meant we couldn't settle down, get a bank account, get phone numbers, get an actual address- everything was off limits until we got our resident cards.
We went from one Airbnb apartment to another, each time thinking it would be the last one. This is now the ninth place we have stayed in and thank goodness we won’t be moving for a long while. Some apartments were better than others, but unfortunately the place we were in for the second month of waiting for our visa would rank last out of all the others we have experienced. Situated in a pretty seedy area, next to several escort bars and restaurants, every night you would be treated to rowdy drunks outside. As double glazing isn't a thing here, there is not much of a sound barrier for living on a busy street. Everything about it was awkward: the non existent cooking space, the wet room, the one living space with the bed and the dining table. It was in this apartment for a month that we both felt at a bit of a loss, feeling unhappy about where we were living but not knowing how long it would stay that way.
When you are cramped up like this, waiting, things feel overly worse than they actually are. For me in particular, being an impatient person and having long periods of time on my own in this apartment I disliked a lot meant I definitely got myself into a bit of a state. One week in particular I only left the apartment when I was on my own about once. It seems I thought for some reason that making myself really miserable would be in some way be a catalyst to getting the visa quicker. Obviously that didn't make any sense at all and the visa still didn't come.
In this instance, there was nothing we could do whatsoever to get our visa quicker, we simply had to wait. Waiting is not something I do well, unless it's waiting for an exciting thing to happen that I know will take place on a particular day- to wait and not know how long for is another story. In situations like these I know I have a choice of how I will respond to them. One, is to let it consume me, to wallow in the negativity and to whine and moan at the unfairness of it all, thinking that the more angry I get, maybe things will change. It is this wrestling with being out of control that is a total waste of energy and quite frankly, not nice to be around (poor James!). The other option is to choose to let go of it, to accept things are out of my control, to stop with the moaning and to surrender it to God.
So many times I have been given this choice when a situation doesn't go how I want and is out of my control. And so many times I make the wrong decision, choosing to be in a bad mood. I always used to think that I had no control over my emotions, that if something bad happened I had no option but to obviously be moody. However, I was told by a wise person that in fact, I have a choice. I can deal with it another way, a much more peaceful and less tiring way, to stop trying so hard to hold onto control that isn't even there. To give it to God and to trust Him.
I thought at the beginning of this journey that my trust in God was pretty good, I mean, we have moved to the other side of the world with no actual plans, that's got to be pretty trusting right? But I realised during this time of waiting that I had a lot of confidence because things were going well, the first few weeks here went extremely great and to plan. It’s a totally different case when things are uncertain and maybe not going like the way you thought. This is when trusting becomes a challenge.
It was the last two weeks before we got the visa that I finally let go and surrendered the whole situation, I felt peaceful, I stopped lying awake at night worrying about things I couldn't do anything about. I felt a trust that comes even when things aren't going to plan, I knew that we were not alone in this.
When we first applied for our visa in September, we were on such a high of excitement that we booked an appointment to see some apartments to potentially rent. We saw three different places and there was one that we particularly loved. It was on the ground floor so it actually had a little garden and it just felt good to us. We emailed the agency saying we wanted the place and that we would like to move in as soon as our visa was through. They advised us they could hold it for up to a month and after that it would be back up on the website. At the time we thought “Of course we will get it by a month- don’t worry!” but that was not the case. A few weeks before we got our visa we got an email to say that the apartment was back on the website and someone else was interested, thankfully we were both at the point of feeling peaceful about it all and knowing something would work out. We both decided that if it was the place for us, something would happen and if not then it simply wasn't to be.
The day we got told we could go to the immigration office to pick up our visa was a ridiculously happy moment, we instantly emailed the apartment agency to tell them the news and we got an response a few days later saying the place we liked was available again! The person who was interested had changed their mind. We could move in as soon as we signed the contract.
So here we are, in the place we really had our hearts set on, a bit later than we planned but nevertheless we feel so blessed and thankful to God and everyone who has helped us to get to this point. Especially for some great new friends who went through the whole process with us and translated all the complicated things we would never have been able to work out on our own. Not forgetting the fact that another friend gave us a fridge-freezer, washing machine, microwave and a TV for free from their relative who was moving around the time we needed to buy it all. We truly have been provided for. We are on to a new stage, one where we can settle, one where we can start to pursue more of what we are here for, whatever that may be and it feels good.