To say I was stressed would be an understatement. We had just finished a sixteen hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, which had been preceded by an eighteen hour layover in New York. Emma had done an excellent job on her first international flight, and I was proud of her, but we were both tired and in need of some rest. For some reason, I had forgotten to anticipate that my phone wouldn’t immediately work in Japan. I am so used to relying on the device for maps, calls, and email that it was a shock to my system to not be able to find a wifi signal in the airport to be able to use these applications. I needed maps to find my way to the Airbnb. I needed email to download the information for checking in. I needed to tell my family I was safe. I couldn’t do any of these, and having come so far to only be stuck at the threshold of entering Japan was deeply frustrating. I tried to stay calm, but lugging around three of our four suitcases for several hours because Emma couldn’t handle their weight was beginning to drain what little patience I had left. During those three hours at the airport I tried every option I could find. Free WiFi? The signal lasted 5 minutes and cut out before completing the download. Pay 100 yen for 10 minutes at a computer kiosk? The CAPS lock button was stuck, rendering my password entry attempts useless. No password means no email. Pay 400 yen for 30 minutes on the airport lounge computers? Computers work, but my husband had installed two-step authentication for my account, and it required the phone to work for the second step. Pay 5000 yen for a SIM card? Seemed like a great option, but I couldn’t get it to connect. So now I’m out the equivalent of $50 for nothing.
While I was at the airport lounge, I managed to tell my teammate, Candie, that I was stuck at the airport with internet connection problems. After all my struggling, I hated being in the airport so much that I decided to get on a train and head in the general direction of the Airbnb, asking God to help me find it from the station and get the key. The fifty-minute ride to Osaka station helped me calm down. I was able to pray and ask God to help me in my distress. From our seat on the train we could see a mom with three boys who were roughly the same ages as my sons, and oh how I remembered and missed them when I saw these little kids. It hurt so much to miss my family while being severed from the people and information that I desired in order to feel safe. Emma had fallen asleep, so I couldn’t even share the nostalgic view from the train window with her.
Our train eventually rolled into Umeda Station, the fourth most highly trafficked train station in the world. It serves approximately 820 million people a year who cross through its corridors, run to and fro to catch trains, and shop in its labyrinthine underground malls. Somewhere on the second floor of the South exit, where I was about to give in and take a taxi because I could no longer drag all the suitcases, I got a WiFi signal. I paid 1500 yen to keep the signal access for 3 days, just in case I would need it again, and I was able to contact the teammates who I had previously alerted to my distress. Candie sent her husband Jesse to find me alongside a seriously jet lagged Emma, who was lying half asleep atop our suitcases. I was able to use the WiFi signal to finally download the check-in procedure for the Airbnb, and I took screenshots of all the information I would need to get the key and open the door. Jesse helped us to Kyobashi Station and led us through the winding izakaya-filled streets and alleyways to find the back entrance of the Airbnb apartment we would be staying in for the rest of our trip. I used the screenshots I took to put in the key code for entry into the building and unlock the mailbox to get the key and Emma and I crashed in the room after thanking Jesse and Candie from the bottom of our heart.
There was a pocket WiFi device that was provided by the owner of the Airbnb, and I attempted to use it to get in touch with Daniel. Unfortunately, the battery was dead, and at that point I became highly irritated upon facing yet another obstruction preventing me from reaching information and family. I couldn’t even reach the Airbnb host to tell her I had arrived.
So, I prayed. As I was praying, God showed me the folly of trusting in anything other than Him for my protection and guidance. My frustration had come from my reliance upon devices and man-made connections for a feeling of security, when in reality my security is found in Christ alone. I have perpetual access to God through prayer thanks to the work of Christ on the cross, and I had been using this gift as a back up plan when God means for it to be a ceaseless conversation. I began praising God in the middle of the night,
“I am not cut off from You. I cannot see my family. I cannot reach my host. I have no map to guide me. I feel cut off from so many things, but I am not cut off from You. Please, Lord help me to cherish this truth and abide in Your presence with me, to trust Your guidance, and rest in Your sovereignty. I am not cut off from You. Thank you, Father.”
Once I submitted myself in prayer to His will and guidance, my worry and distress were gone. I was able to sleep without concern about how the next day would progress. After I gave up on idolizing technology and my own plans, the pocket WiFi device began to work. God gave me access to the tools I had been trying to use after my heart was put into the right place through enduring the irritation of their failure. I am ever so thankful this discipline, and the lesson that I am not cut off from God, not even for a moment.