Conspicuous Blanks

4 comments Written on August 13th, 2012     
Filed under: Family, missions, News
Today was the culmination of a very long process for our family; at least for Miles, Kendra and me. We went to the Tachikawa branch of the immigration bureau and received our new status as “permanent residents” here in Japan. It is roughly the equivalent of getting a green card in the U.S. With this new status we are no longer required to have a visa to live and work in Japan. Up until now we were here on a “Religious worker” visa. Our term of stay was three years and whenever the three year term came to an end we were required to go back to immigration and renew our term of stay.  Our passport and registration card always showed an expiration date for our term of stay. What that meant was that we were only allowed to be in Japan until that date. Of course, the Japanese government has always been very cooperative in renewing that term, but nevertheless we were always legally bound by those dates.

Today we got new stamps in our passport that indicate our status as permanent residents, and we received new residence cards that look quite similar to the old registration cards. But I immediately noticed a couple of differences. First, under the item “status” it no longer says “religious” but rather it says “Permanent Resident”. And even more noticeably, there is a line for “period of stay” which would normally show when we were required to leave the country. But on our new cards those spaces are filled with asterisks. In other words, the place that shows the date when we are required to leave Japan is conspicuously blank! It still hasn’t really sunk in yet, but as far as the Japanese government is concerned we can apparently stay here as long as we like! Of course we are free to leave whenever we want as well, and if we keep our paperwork current we can leave Japan for as long as five years at a time without losing our permanent resident status.

In some ways it may just be the natural result of how God has led us and our families. Hydi’s paternal grandfather first came to Japan as a German missionary in 1928, serving under the Liebenzeller Mission. His bride to be followed a few years later. Then Hydi’s parents came to Japan as missionaries in 1961 serving with The Evangelical Alliance Mission. My parents came to Japan as ECC missionaries in 1955. Hydi’s father was born in Japan. So were her sisters and so was she. I was also born in Japan in 1962 as was my older sister. Hydi and I have been missionaries here since 1993 and two of our three children were born here as well.

We still haven’t fully figured out all of the ramifications of our new status but are thankful that God has allowed this to proceed. The only remaining glitch is that Hydi and Eli will need to make a quick trip back to Japan to pick up their new status some time in the next few weeks. It’s a stretch for us financially, but we’ve been working on this too long to let it slip through our fingers now!

Of course when I hear the words “permanent resident” I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable about the rich fool or the words of James 4:13-15. We are here only because God has seen fit to allow it. No card or passport or legal status can ever change that fact! We hope to remain here as long as God wants us to continue in this work. And we are confident that God will make God’s will clear to us, and more importantly that we will have hearts and minds that are open to whatever God desires of us and for us.

I have no idea whether our parents or Hydi’s grand parents ever imagined that we would become permanent residents in this country. But I do know that God worked in and through their lives to bless many because they were open and willing to respond when they heard the call. Our lives here in Japan are no coincidence! And for that we are humbly grateful!

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4 comments “Conspicuous Blanks”

That’s great! おめでとう!Praise God that He has you in Japan for such a time as this!

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Congratulations! It’s seems so fitting, even as we look to our real citizenship in heaven. Trusting that Hydi and Eli make it back without difficulty.

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I am so praising God at this moment for this wonderful news brother!! Awesome!!

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A big congratulations! I hope everything works out for Hydi and Eli without any glitches! Now, what’s the requirement to become a Japanese citizen? I’ve heard of a few missionaries that have met this difficult goal. If it involves passing a language component you all should be able to pass unless the kanji are too difficult. I assume that you have to pay a lot of money.
Anyways, the permanent resident status is awesome and something that your parents or my parents probably never even dreamed about.
See you maybe in CO or CA this next school year we hope! Luke wants snow for Christmas but you all my fly south for warmer weather.

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