Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day Twelve - Early Morning

Growing up in a different country from your country of origin brings many blessings but also causes certain conflicts and confusion. I was born in Kyushu on Ashia Air force Base. We lived in a city called Fukuoka, Kyushu. In our community we were the only Americans. We had other missionary friends who lived near by in other communities and we saw them on a regular basis, however, daily lives encompassed mostly Japanese people. I attended Japanese kindergarten and my best friends were Japanese.I remember some young Japanese men (probably teenagers) walking near our house one day shout, "Yankee go home!!" You will need to place the proper emphasis on the words to get the full effect. It probably sounded more like "Yanke (soft a) go homu!!" As a four/five year old, I recall being completely incensed by this statement. It was such a false accusation! Wearing my then blond hair I shouted back in my loudest and firmest voice, "Watashi wa 'YANKE' ja naidesu. Watashi wa Nihon-jin desu!" Translated, "I'm not a Yankee, I am Japanese!" Besides, I wasn't even from the North. Why did they think I was Yankee? Ha!I guess our presence was a little bit intimidating. Here we were perched on the hill, representing the saviors from America, bringing the good news. Living in what represented a castle to their tiny, dirt floored homes. My memories are vague but, hopefully, relay the message I'm trying to share.We came to the states every five years. My first visit was in 1962 when I was three years old. I thought we traveled by ship but my dad's book states that we flew. This was my first time in an airplane. We arrived in San Francisco and visited my Aunt and her family in Sunnyvale, California. We then proceeded to drive across America with my family of seven and one of my first cousins', making eight. I can only imagine what kind of trip that was.My dad, describes some of the feelings they had after they arrived in the States in his book, Windows in the Wall. He writes,"From Sunnyvale, California to Brookhaven, Mississippi was a long journey for us with six children, but we had the wonderful opportunity of seeing the land that we loved. It was hot and arid, but it was beautiful. The people spoke English and didn't stare at us. We traveled along the roads, through the cities and countryside, and hardly anyone noticed that we had been there. No crowds gathered around our car."This pretty much sums up how life was for a missionary kid. In Japan, we were constantly stared at because we were so different. Even the monkeys at the zoo would gather around and mock us as if we were the ones in the cage. But coming to the states was another adventure. In the early 60's and even up to the mid 70's being a missionary kid was kind of like being a celebrity, both in Japan and in the states. My dad's book also makes reference to us kids being "little missionaries."If you know anything about me or my siblings, we were anything but "little missionaries". I guess our lives pretty much typified the infamous preacher's kid. This isn't something that I'm rather proud about, it's just a fact. Now, I can only really speak for myself, however, my siblings weren't complete saints either.But, I do think that everyone thought that we were supposed to be "missionaries." Well, I don't know who signed me up to join that cause but it certainly wasn't me. So, when I received the call as a Freshman in college at 8:00 in the MORNING on a SATURDAY in the dorm hall and someone else had to wake up to answer it, I was just a little miffed. The lady on the other end of the phone identified herself as someone from one of the thousand Baptist churches surrounding Mississippi College. She was from the Baptist women's group and wanted to know if I could come speak to their group about missions and what it was like to be a missionary. Well, I was very quick to remind her that, "I AM NOT A MISSIONARY." Very incensed by this bold and rather rude reaction she responded, "Well, Janet, where do you go to church?" At the time, I wasn't involved in any church and frankly, didn't know if I would ever be so I said, "I DON'T GOOOO TO CHURCH." You can probably imagine this very refined southern lady's reaction to my response. She said, "Well! What would your parents think about that?!" I replied, "They know!!" And that was how the conversation or rather admonishments, both ways, went.

Time to get my kids to school. I'll continue this line of thought this evening.

© Copyright 2009 Janet Calcote Simmons All rights reserved.

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