After a particularly crazy December, I finally carved out an hour to hole up in the local Starbucks and compose my introductory blog for the GEN Desk explaining Second Story Coffee Roasters, our missional enterprise in Japan. My coffee had arrived, my computer was open, my earbuds were in -- and just a literal moment later, my phone buzzed. A text message, written in Japanese: "Are you at Starbucks?" I looked up, puzzled, mainly because I didn't recognize the Chinese characters of the author's name. How do you read that kanji again? "Yes, I'm in Starbucks. Where are you?" I glanced around for a familiar face as I typed, hoping I might remember the name that went with it.
I didn't need to wait long, because she showed up at my table: a woman I'm slightly acquainted with through my volleyball league. She asked if she could join me, though I was clearly there to work and even said so. Nonetheless, she grabbed her bag and sat down, which is unusually forward for a Japanese person, so I took the hint and closed my computer. This was outlined long ago in our cultural training, right? To let go of expectations and go with what comes? I took the opportunity to practice, and found myself excited to have coffee with a new friend.
She and I talked about the normal things of life: work and children, medical appointments and shopping, daycare, school life, and trips we'd taken. It was essentially an hour of chitchat. The time I had set aside to work had been totally enveloped into conversation with this woman, whose name I would later look up and make a note of so I could actually use it the next time we met. I mentioned the time and we parted ways, she to get groceries and I to pick up kids. I was musing over our meeting in the car, when realized that God had given me my blog post, though I hadn't written a word. That simple conversation about day-to-day life in Japan? That was at the heart of our desire to start a missionally-minded business.
When we worked in traditional ministry with college students, though we had good relationship with the young adults that came to our home, we felt out-of-sync with the culture at large. While everyone else's husbands were at work, mine was available to help. Whenever anyone asked what our job was, they quickly became lost after we tried to explain. We were living our lives in a way that was very different from the people around us. Though we had moved to their country, studied their language, and sent our children to their schools, there was a part of the nominal, everyday chitchat that we just didn't get. We keenly felt the ways in which we could not relate to our Japanese friends and neighbors, from childhood memories to language, skin color, family culture, and even worldview. But we felt that if there was anything we could do to bridge the gap, enabling us to understand the hearts and minds of our friends just a little bit more, we wanted to do it.
This is one of the reasons we have started Second Story Coffee Roasters.
Wife, Mother, Founder, GEN Desk Writer