Robert & Roberta Adair

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of soil and icebergsSoil

This is a fairly common sight right now in our part of Japan.  When the tsunami came, rice fields, gardens, and this military lawn got flooded with salty, oily, filthy water.  A lot of these spaces have had the busted cars, garbage, fish, and other debris removed.  Now it’s time to work on the soil.

The top layer is scraped off and removed.  Then another layer is scraped into piles and removed.  Sometimes groups of people sift the soil looking for broken glass and other harmful stuff.  We’ve heard that it will likely take 5 years for all of the cultivated land to be restored and producing again.  I’ve found this process of removing the infertile soil and preparing the land to be productive again a neat picture of what God does with individuals (like me) – and, I hope, what he’s doing in this part of Japan, too.

Icebergs

During our commissioning service on Sunday, the pastor talked about missionaries as icebergs (this was translated for me – I’m not close to understanding sermons).  I thought at first that he meant that, despite communication issues, we have a depth of education and experience and, oh my, aren’t we special once one gets below the surface.  Then he clarified.  We (Robert and I) are the tip of the iceberg.  The mass under the surface is our support team – dozens to hundreds of people praying regularly for us, for the church and ministry, and for Japan.

I was encouraged by this reminder.  I often feel unnecessary and even occasionally think I’m a hinderance.  I can barely communicate simple thoughts (on a good day), and I often don’t understand the culture.  Yet this iceberg analogy reminded me that it’s not about me.  It’s about the churches and people who are praying for us and for Japan.  It’s about a big God who works in and through us despite – and sometimes because of – our weaknesses.  I’m so grateful for ways God continues to teach and encourage me despite language and culture barriers.

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