The promise of internet access sealed the deal. Never mind the Divine events that led to me taking a 24-hour trip half-way across the world to fulfill “the Great Commission.” See, though I’d lived in four other countries, and encountered many different people, cultures, and places, this would be different, and I needed the assurance that I could somehow stay connected with the people I loved most.
I accepted an AVS [Adventist Volunteer Service] position to teach English in Japan, and set off from Tampa, FL on August 26th. This Jamaican-born, Bahamas-raised, Turks and Caicos-resident, and United States-college-educated 29-year-old had signed on to spend her 30th birthday in a country I’d vaguely read about and periodically seen on TV. My mom quickly reminded the nomad she created that “that’s the place where they had that nuclear thing.” It was too far, too strange, too unknown (to Westerners), too everything-that-would-make-me-change-my-mind. But I knew this was where God was leading me. And they promised internet, so I went.
It was bad. But it was good.
In the beginning months, I taught junior high and elementary schools, and later junior college. I had so many students at one point that I started getting the schools and students all mixed up in my head. But I had so many students, all of whom were so delightful that I had more love to go around.
I failed my Japanese driver’s license test seven times and felt stuck in my little rural town. But I was forced to find things to do in my little rural town and interact with the people there, which allowed me to end up making some invaluable friendships.
I didn’t get to see a lot of Japan. But I visited some of most beautiful and iconic places in Japan.
I didn’t have internet for 2 ½ months. But for 2 ½ months I read my Bible and prayed, which strengthened my relationship with God, and formed a habit of worship that I never want to break.
It wasn’t the best experience but it was the best experience. (Read that again and you’ll get it). It’s a year I’ll never forget and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
This was written and shared by Joydel Trail who served as a volunteer English Teacher in Japan for 12 months through the NAD Office of Volunteer Ministries and Adventist Volunteer Service. Joydel returned from service in August 2014.