Robert & Roberta Adair



Stories from Robert & Roberta Adair

December 23rd was a long day. It started before 9am at full force and continued at that intensity until 9pm. Between kids choir and Gospel choir rehearsals, I trotted down the hill to a grocery store to get a bento (a pre made lunch box – kind of Japanese fast food). I trotted back up the hill to the cultural center where the concert would take place and found a warm spot with a comfy couch. I wolfed down my lunch in about 5 minutes and was messing on my phone (grrr…something I do too much of) when a nicely dressed older lady sat down on a couch across from me.

She was wearing a winter kimono. I told her she looked nice (which she did – kimonos are so elegant on Japanese women…and so, so awkward-looking on western women). She then asked me a lot of questions: Why am I in Japan, what do I think of Japan, have I ever participated in a traditional tea ceremony, etc. When I shared that the first time I came to Japan was in March of 2011 (the time of the big earthquake and tsunami), she sweetly asked if I was okay – if I was safe (yes). I then asked her if she was safe…

[Sidenote: I sometimes get nervous talking about the disaster with people. My language is still so limited that I fear missing major details that are about what was likely one of the most (or the most) traumatizing events in peoples' lives. Did my neighbor say her cousin passed or that she couldn't find him for a couple of days? Did this man say his father was safe because he was on his boat in the ocean or that he passed because he was on his boat? Also, I fear being the foreigner who talks too much or asks too many personal questions about such a difficult time that is still, for many people, hugely impacting their lives.]

…My new friend said she was safe – but that she lost her house. It was near the ocean, and it was totally destroyed. She stayed in the elementary school near our church when it was turned into an evacuation center. She, with her grandkids, now lives in an apartment. I said I was glad that she was safe but that I was so sad for her loss. I quietly asked her about her kimonos, as tea ceremony teachers’ uniform is kimono (another note: the cloth is very expensive. I have seen kimonos in stores that are about $15,000. And this lady likely had several. Regardless of the amount spent on them, this is the lady’s identity, her culture, her love). She looked at her hands as she said, “All gone.” We sat silently, and my vision got a touch blurry. Then she shared that she thought she was done – that she couldn’t and didn’t want to teach or perform the tea ceremony anymore. Then she said that some of her students and volunteers gave her kimonos and other supplies, and she felt cared for and supported. Now, every Monday afternoon, she gives lessons at the town’s culture center.

Conversation transitioned back to lighter things (comparing English and Japanese, driving in snow, the size of my feet, etc.). We exchanged business cards (oh yes, that delightfully silly but helpful thing we do on this island), and I hope we will have the opportunity to connect again in the future. I scurried to rehearsal and had a very full afternoon and evening, but this lady’s sweetness and story stayed with me.

Everyone has stories of loss. I pray for this lady and her family (she mentioned her grandkids still get scared of shaking and water) – that they will know God as Rock, Refuge, and Redeemer. Thanks for praying with us.

Follow this Site

Get new posts by email: