It’s been almost seven months since the cold, early February day that I moved here.

I often get asked the question.

"How long are you planning on staying in Japan?"

My answer, most of the time, is something vaguely along the lines of, “For the indefinite future.” In other words, I neither have a set time period that I am planning to stay, nor do I have any plans to leave.

I say something like, “I’ve chosen Japan as my home."

Reactions to this answer range from surprise to incredulity to flat-out disapproval. And are generally accompanied by the question, “Why?"

Of course there are things I dislike, or that even make me angry.
Of course there are days when I pine for a time I could walk into a store and hear English all around me, and not get nervous at just the idea of asking the shop staff for help.
Of course there are mornings I wake up, realising that I am a recent university graduate literally living alone in a foreign country, and think, "Dear Lord, what have I done?"

But at the end of the day, none of that really matters.

To me, it’s home.

The food.
The trains.
The language.
The politeness of service staff and generally everyone.
The convenience (of Tokyo).
The traditions.
The history.
The tiny children with leather rucksacks on their backs and yellow caps on their heads, walking to school.
The glimmering pools of water with little green shoots of growing rice sticking up out of the mirrored sky.
The pink clouds of cherry blossoms lining the roads in spring.
The way the cicadas chirp on sultry summer evenings.
Fiery autumn leaves.
The cold, brisk air of sunny winter mornings.
Baths and hot springs.
Streets where no two houses look alike.
The quiet of a centuries-old Shinto shrine.
The way the housewives, both young and old, stop to chat with their neighbours outside.
The kindness of strangers.
The profuse gratitude of strangers when kindness is shown to them.
The custom of bringing a gift for everyone, always.

And a million countless other things, big and small, that it would take me hours to put into words. 

But, more than anything else, it is the deep knowing in my heart that this is where God wants me to be. This is part of the path He has set out for me. I feel a deep sense of abiding in His will when I am here in this country. For, when we simply want what God wants for our lives, I believe He gives us the same desires, the same heart, that He has. He gives us the same dreams and vision and purpose. And when we walk in His will, He gives us the grace to see it through.

People don’t understand this. They can’t. "I just don’t understand you" is a common reply, expected even. They can’t fathom the seeming abandonment of one’s home country, one’s family, old lifestyle, familiar comforts. They can’t understand why a single 23-year-old female would launch herself into a country that is not her own, committing, perhaps, to be there for life.

It is beyond their comprehension.

They just don’t understand.

And I don’t expect them to.

But every time someone shakes their head, looks at me aghast, or with a worried expression starts listing all the things I should be concerned about, the things I clearly haven’t considered in this sweeping declaration of commitment...

...the whisper of God comes bringing peace to my heart.

This is home.

And until He tells me to go elsewhere or do otherwise, it is here that I stay.

For being in His will is what makes it the safest, most beautiful place to be.

And His grace is new. Every. Single. Morning.

'"Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.
...For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.' 
Isaiah 54:2-3, 10


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