By Carson Foushee
It began early in 2020 as our family anticipated our return to Tokyo in March after five months of sharing with CBF congregations around the Southeast. Just as we prepared to leave, reports of COVID-19 cases emerged in Asia and then in nations across the globe. Discussions with CBF and Japan Baptist Convention (JBC) leadership led us to the decision to wait in North Carolina until it was safer to return, even if it meant our visas and residency would expire.
Waiting continued for our daughter’s cleft palate surgery as the date was delayed twice due to new COVID-related safety measures.
We awoke each morning waiting for news of any changes to Japan’s travel restrictions that would allow us to apply for new entry. Six months passed as we stayed with Laura’s parents before we accepted an invitation from FBC Greensboro, N.C., to stay in apartment by the church to settle a bit more as we continued to wait.
When restrictions eased in the late fall, we then hurried up just to wait more for paperwork and visa processing in Japan and America. We waited anxiously for COVID test results before leaving America and again to enter Japan at Haneda Airport. All the while, our ministry partners in Japan waited for us to return in order continue our shared work and also to dream of new ministry together.
Finally, after 14 months away, we stepped back into our apartment in Tokyo, only to wait for two more weeks in quarantine.
I can safely say the waiting of Advent was never more tangible as we spent the last half of the season at home. We were finally able to move more freely on the day after Christmas, getting out beyond quick neighborhood walks for more play time in the park and to run errands in the neighborhood. And even though our family is settling again in Tokyo, we still are waiting. Waiting to safely minister again as COVID cases rise as our church pauses in-person worship again; for Japan COVID vaccine and inoculations to reach everyone; for a clearer picture of future work with the JBC as we develop a new long-term project together; for speech therapy in both English and Japanese for our daughter; and so much more.
Waiting has produced plenty of frustration, but also opportunities to reflect upon the blessings that abound in my life. Like the gift of extra family time in America. Or deeper relationships with Japanese people in Raleigh as we worshipped and studied scripture with the Japanese Baptist Church of Raleigh online. Or discovering new ways to connect with friends and ministry partners virtually. The waiting of 2020 may be over, but the lessons learned will challenge and sustain me for years to come.
Carson Foushee serves as CBF field personnel alongside his wife, Laura, and the Japan Baptist Convention in Tokyo. Learn more about and support their work at www.cbf.net/foushee.