As we had our last meal together, I asked Alvin what he thought of the church here. I had brought him to GAP, the church that I've been visiting quite regularly. Just 1 week before he came to Japan, he had just returned from a missions trip in Indonesia. He was recalling his experiences which not only humbled him but reminded him how much more they had even though they lived with very basic necessities.
Serving on a missions trip in one of the poorest region in a 3rd world country and then coming almost straight after to one of the richest metropolitan in the world was very surreal according to him. Certainly very contrasting experiences in almost every sense. As we talked a bit more about his adventures, I couldn't help but be reminded of my own some years back not too long ago.
And then after church today, as we said goodbye to Ps Song, who is an ABK* visiting Japan on his annual schedule, he was asking me how I ended up in Japan. Since mine was a story that could span a few hours, I gave him the brief version and through a strange misunderstanding that he somehow misheard from someone else, I also told him about my passion in the fields of music and missions.
And indeed, it is so much easier to serve in a developing country than to try to share to those who think they have done it on their own and have all their needs fulfilled. I still remember the hunger in the eyes of the villagers in the hilltribes in Muslim-dominated Mindanao and the eagerness of the street children who tried to sell us roses in downtown Ho Chi Minh. I've lived and played with them, and with the very little that they have, their hearts are bigger than some of the richest I've dined with in Tokyo.
While catching up with a friend who's also working here, he told me about this grrl he met in a bar who recently bought an additional flat screen monitor. And where did she put it? Not in her bedroom, not in the dining area, not in her guest room. She lives in a 2-storey house alone, and have 3 dogs and 2 lizards as pets. She's probably 20+, I have not met her, but since she probably has too much money to spend, she installed the new monitor in her bathroom. To play games in case she got bored before taking a shower!
I can't help but feel disgusted with such vanity and extravagance when there are so much more worthier things to be spent on elsewhere in the world. I echo Alvin's thoughts about how easier it is to be a missionary in South East Asia. They're so willing to welcome you with open arms and hear what you have to say. They even sacrifice the only chicken that they own, which they could easily sell in the market to buy rice. And that's probably the only thing they eat for the rest of the week, sprinkled with salt for seasoning. Knowing how precious that chicken was, I found it difficult to swallow it down and could only pray that God blessed them with more.
After 2+ years of being out of active missions (well, technically I am considered one since the field is where God has put you, no matter be it out of your country or in the workplace/school or in your circle of friends) and rubbing shoulders with those who are more involved, I'm itching to get my hands dirty again.
*ABK = American Born Korean