July 1, 2017- A Saturday
Another weekend, another adventure.
I have hope enough now to know that everywhere I go God is with me whether I hear Him or not. It is just a thing that is and I ain’t mad about it.
No, instead I am comforted and happy to know that even in the small things, God is still caring about me.
He doesn`t just only show up for the “big” things in life like getting a job, diseases, or financial struggles. No, that would only make him a part-time God. But He is a full time God and thus a full time daddy and a full time friend. And while other people may not believe that or even have experienced it I am sure as happy as a fish in water to live with the knowledge that God is my friend every 24 hours of each day for all eternity.
I`ll give you the details of an “average” weekend I spent in Japan, and you tell me if you can spot God. Okay?
On this “average” day, I, along with some other ALTs, hit up two Japanese sports games in one day.
We started our day early around 8am to catch a bus to Sendai which is about a two hour drive north from our city.
Unfortunately for us we had unreserved seats, meaning we risked the chance of not being able to get on the bus because all the seats were taken. When we got to the bus stop we were the first ones in line.
So not only did we get a seat, we got to choose whichever seat we wanted making for a more comfortable two hour trip. Which needed to be a bit comfortable because somewhere along the way we got caught in some traffic, probably due to the fact that it was a special weekend along with it being a game day.
Anyways, when we were dropped off about a 2 minute walk from the baseball stadium`s entrance our eyes were met with a stream of royal red flowing down the side walks and into the lake of Rakuten Eagles located right outside the stadium. In this lake you could spot vendors selling greasy Japanese meats, tables for the people to eat at, souvenir shops, and a nice little stage where cheerleaders and dancers and other entertainers did entertaining things. It was consuming.
We managed to get a picture with some of the cheerleaders.
They were super cute and super friendly. But I imagine that is what they are getting super paid to do.
We took about a thirty minute “split up” break to go our separate ways and buy any foods and souvenirs we wanted. I was not particularly hungry but if you read my previous post (here) then you would know I am obsessed with fries, so in the back of my mind I was looking for a good fry place. Although I did not find it within our thirty minutes on the way to our seats I saw multiple people carrying a paper box of the longest and thickest fries I think I have ever seen in my life.
And so the hunt began.
Me and my wingman for the game split up from the rest of the group to get those fries. We ended up buying the wrong fries from the wrong vendor only to find the right vendor after going through the wrong way to find our seats. But it was all worth it because the fries had the perfect taste.
Once we got to our seats we realized quickly that we were directly in the middle of the home team and the visiting team. Not only were we close to the visiting team we were next to the “super fan squad”, or that is what I am going to call them. Because you have fans but then you have super fans. And during these games I learned a Japanese fan is already crazy as is but a super Japanese fan is on a whole other level.
I have been to many baseball games back home but none of them together were ever as interesting as just the first five minutes of being at a Japanese baseball game was. Not only did these super fans wear their team jerseys as the rest of the fans did (meaning literally everyone else), but they screamed, they chanted, and they sung.
They had made this baseball game into an organized praise and worship service. They knew when to clap and how long to clap for. They knew what to shout and how to shout it. They knew to bring their pretty yellow and pink balloons and exactly what time to blow them. They were not just cheering for their players they were encouraging the loves of their life.
Their was such a joyful and relaxed atmosphere at the game. This was on a level that I have not experienced in Japan before.
It was consuming.
And so I cheered along with the visiting team. I caught along with the songs and the chants and I was dedicated to the cause of the win, even as we left a bit early to catch our train to the soccer game.
The soccer game`s super fans were just as organized. But while the baseball fans` display of support was like a praise and worship party, the soccer game fans’ support was like the rest of the religious ceremonies: there was a much more serious vibe.
While it seemed like the baseball fans would have just let a loss slide off their backs, the atmosphere of the soccer game seemed more like life or death. Those soccer players were not just kicking a ball back and forth, they were passing these fans’ lives in between their feet. A loss was a personal insult to their glory and a win would vindicate them and establish their righteousness.
Do not get me wrong, the fans were still a ball of bumbling fun. I actually had more fun at the soccer game than the baseball game. The cheering and chanting was much more intimate and….consuming.
At the baseball game I could comfortably eat food, go use the restroom, do some perusing at souvenir shops, and come back not really feeling like I missed anything. But at the soccer game I could not really sit because I would not be able to see anything.
Not because we had bad seats. No, we had some pretty great seats even though we had unreserved seats.
It took us a good 10 minutes trying to find seats together until some friendly fans saw our struggle and made some room for us. The room they made for us just happened to be in the midst of the jungle of fan obsession. One look away and I would have missed everything.
So I stayed focused, and saw everything. I was there for each goal and I was there for the “hug your neighbors”, and the “dance to the right”, and the “clap five times”.
While I might have been a casual Soft Banks Hawks fan at the baseball game, when we sat where we sat (in the visitors section again) and our one friend had to remove his opposing team jersey, I was indeed a Gamba Osaka fan for life.
Then the game ended and I had to shut off the joy and run.
We had three trains to catch to get home. And we had to make the first and second trains on time or else we would have been stuck in the city over night.
We power walked to the first train, but to get to the second train we had to run and run fast because there was only a 6 minute gap time which would normally not be bad if our connecting train wasn`t about a 5 minute walk from where we were getting off at and if we did not have to buy tickets.
And so hence, we had a problem.
But I had a bigger problem, I am not a fast runner.
So I said a prayer in my head on that first train, “God thank you for not letting us miss the next train”.
When the doors opened, we sprinted off.
With a little slow down because of the stairs we were all still running together, until we had to put our tickets through the exit gate. Everyone else`s ticket went through fine except mine.
I tried to put my ticket in but “boop boop!”.
The little side screen was flashing a big red X all over my face.
It took me a good minute before realizing I could try the next machine. I did and it worked fine. But by that point the others were far from me. So I ran in the direction I last saw them go.
It just so happened that way led to a five option spot: right, left, straight, right diagonally or left diagonally.
I could see no one nor any English signs to help direct me to where I should go.
I was about to panic until I prayed quickly in my head, “Holy Spirit help me.” At that point I heard like a whisper, “turn right”.
It was so soft I thought it was my own voice as I began making my way and saw the top of the head of one of the guys in our traveling group. Then I sprinted up the steps and ran out of breath.
I eventually stopped running and just walked because I could not breathe. I said to myself, “I am going to make that train, but right now I am going to walk.”
But then out of nowhere my feet were running again as if there was someone pulling them. I found the station and did not no where to go but this time I didn`t ask, my body just went to the right and up the escalators and the next thing I know I see and hear my roommate asking for me, trying to find me.
And then I sped fast to her, grabbed my ticket out of her hand and then we jetted briefly through the gate until we were faced with another set of options. The employee must have saw our confused faces or the sweat on them as she quickly rushed to help us and pointed us up the escalator.
We made it on the train with only about 5 seconds to spare and lots of loud inhales and exhales.
Everything thing else was a breeze from there, including the next day, July 2, 2017 – A Sunday.
Read about it here. Don’t forget to check out the video diary at the top as well.