4 years ago this time I was on a plane across the latitudes to a foreign country never in my wildest dreams I would think of setting foot in.
Easter that year was not spent in church, because I only found a proper church 1 month after settling down in Niigata.
4 years ago this time I was seated at the last corner seat of the JAL plane, next to a rather huge man who seemed to be squeezed into the tiny seat next to mine.
Even though I did not spend Easter nor Good Friday at church, I appreciated His goodness in a different way.
4 years ago this time I was so excited I could barely sleep on the 8 hour journey, wondering how life would change from then on.
My first encounter with a church ended up with the JW fiasco which saw me almost wanting to open the doors of the moving car and tumble myself out just to avoid going to their church.
4 years ago this time my adrenaline kept me going for a good whole day as we dragged our luggages from the plane to the bullet train to a local bus and then from the university campus to our apartment. We only realised how hungry and tired we were when we had our first meal 12 hours later - instant noodle courtesy of our landlord.
When I finally found a church which not only felt right, but was actually right for all the right reasons, I fell in love with it and all the people that made it so.
4 years ago this time I wondered if ever waking up to the land of the rising sun would give new meaning to sunrises.
So when I had to leave the AG church in Niigata city, I cried because I didn't know if I would find another church like it in Urasa.
4 years ago this time I only had with me 2 luggages and a backpack filled with clothes and necessities, plus many tokens of love and well wishes.
My 2nd Easter was spent with a tiny community of foreign students and family-like Japanese congregation in Urasa who would cook lunch after church. I still keep some of their service leaflets in my Japanese bible.
4 years ago this time as I looked back at the SMS' that I managed to save into my mobile, I still couldn't believe that I was leaving everything familiar to fulfil my dreams.
My 3rd & 4th Easter was spent with my GAP family in Tokyo, a motley mix of faithful locals, short-term students, and young working adults. This was where God answered my prayer for a church to belong to and friends to be accountable to.
4 years ago this time I thanked God for giving me the bestest birthday present ever, one that would transform my perspective in more ways than I expected.
Today is significant because it reminds me of not only how God has blessed and brought me through those years in Japan but more importantly, that no matter where I am during Good Fridays and Easter Sundays, His love will continue to be so extravagant, so excellent, so exuberant.