Many people have asked me why I moved to Japan or why I began studying Japanese. The easiest
answer to those questions is that God placed Japan on my heart from a young age and I have always
felt a connection and appreciation for it. Today I would like to share with you the story of how I came to
Toyama, and how my faith grew during my senior year of college.
God moved me to Toyama in September 2014, and I didn’t find out that I would be moving until the end of July 2014. September was the beginning of my last year of college, and graduation was in June. This
meant I needed to find a job. In September I had a dream job in my head that I prayed about just about
every day of my last year of college. I had a long mental list of the things this job would have:
- it would be in Japan,
- decent pay,
-be in a small city or town where most people do not speak English,
-have a warm community,
-have enough time off so I could travel,
-help finding an apartment,
-and no more than 10 working hours a day
I know this sounds like a lot to ask for, but I had faith that it would work out. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV) So I asked.
And asked. And asked. As a result, one of the biggest lessons I learned during this season in my life is
to not put my trust in myself or my abilities or my degree or my network, but to put my complete trust in
God and His timing.
I dreamt of working in Japan since high school, and I began applying to jobs in September 2014.
Although I knew I wanted to be in Japan after graduation, I still applied to jobs in the US so I could have a backup plan. This would be extra security in case moving to Japan didn’t work out. Mistake number 1.
I soon learned that God had other plans.
I went to the Boston Career Forum, which is a large career fair for Japanese companies and bilingual
Although I had multiple interviews lined up there, I was denied from all of them. I left a little dejected,
but still hopeful. After all, it was only October so there was still plenty of time to have find a job by June.
I prayed and prayed for that dream job. I wanted to work in Japan where I could use Japanese and
improve, but my Japanese level was not high enough-- most companies at the career forum wanted
native-level speaker that had okay English, not the other way around.
So I did the only logical thing: I spent the next couple of weeks angry at myself for not being fluent in
Japanese. Angry for not being considered good enough for all of those companies. “Maybe I should try to
apply to more jobs in the US, just in case,” I thought. So I did. I thought if I applied to everything with
all my might and tried harad in all my interviews, I could get a job at least in the US. Mistakes 2 and 3.
I interviewed for one company and got rejected and then I got really far with a different company-- they even flew me out to their headquarters for a tour and final interview. A few weeks later I got the
I then applied to two more jobs/fellowships that I was sure would get me to Japan. One was through
my university. They have a program that would allow me to teach English in Japan, though they do not
offer much support for participants once they get to their destination. It actually didn’t have most of the
things on my dream-job list, but I was getting desperate. Mistake 4. I had a not so great experience
applying to the program affiliated with my university, so we both understood that I would not be working
The other job was the through the JET Program. I moved on to the interview round of both fellowships and then filled my time by applying to other jobs in the US. Let’s fast forward to April, since that’s when JET notifies applicants. I was waitlisted. And devastated. I went to my room and kept asking God why through
my tears. I tried to remind myself that I was not rejected and my chances of being moved off the waiting list were still pretty high. Although it was logically, it didn’t comfort me much the day I found out I was
waitlisted. My mom reminded me that God’s timing will be the best so not to worry. Sometimes that can be easier said than done, but i had to constantly tell myself that. Whenever Satan would interrupt and tell me that my dream job wasn’t going to happen and I would be stuck and unemployed at home and forgot
At church I decided to ask for some back up. For the next few months several of the church elders had been praying for me and agreeing with me about this dream job in Japan. I started confessing that I would
move to Japan at the end of the summer, regardless of whether I had a job by graduation. One particular
person prayed that God slam shut all the doors I do not need to go through and only allow the ones He has made for me to be opened, and that it be obvious what is from Him. In order to act on this faith, I began to study another Bible verse, in Japanese. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for your,’
declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This became my new motto for the next few months. I learned it in Japanese and said it before I went to
bed every night.
Along with trusting God for a job, I realized that I needed to be more patient. I busied myself with my thesis and applied to a summer business program at another university. Honestly though, with the long string of
rejections, and by this time I had applied and interviewed for about 10 jobs, it seemed like a long shot.
A big surprise came in April when I found out I got into the summer business program (I love business and plan on going to business school so I was delighted). I had prayed so much for this program, and it felt
really good to be accepted to something after the string of failures.
That earlier prayer began to make sense, a little. At least I wanted it to. After months and months of
applying to jobs (which is a long time for a college senior), I was finally accepted to the one thing that felt
like it was made for me, that I knew would prepare me for a path I wanted to go down.
Let’s fast-forward to graduation. Everything went smoothly, I graduated with no job, but a renewed
sense of hope since that one door had been opened to me. I went to the program a week after
my graduation and was immediately thrown back into the job hunt. I rewrote my resume several times,
did so many mock interviews and very quickly lined up four interviews with really amazing companies.
All the while telling everyone at the program that I planned on moving to Japan at the end of the summer if I don’t get a job during the program. That’s right. I still tried to create a safety net for myself by applying to
other jobs. Mistake 5.
I still prayed for God to close those doors that he did not set aside for me and ended up not get any of the jobs I applied for. That’s right. I felt horrible. It’s weird how feelings can really cloud what God is doing if you let them. Luckily I am blessed to have a mother who can give me better perspective and help me get a
grip on my feelings. A month later the program ended and I returned home to Los Angeles, still jobless.
But, this time I was determined that God wanted me in Japan and I was going to fly there myself and find a job if nothing came soon. My heart was in Japan and I continued to pray for that dream job. I knew
he would work something out if I stepped out there, without the safety net of other job prospects.
So, I started applying to teaching jobs through private companies. I thought that if I wasn’t going to Japan
through the JET Program, then I would go some other way. I immediately caught the eye of one company and scheduled an interview with them. About 2 days after scheduling that interview, I got an email with the subject “Short-List Upgrade” from the JET Program. I jumped up, screamed, and almost cried.
All at the same time. I thanked God and began to pray for my students and co-workers.
When I found out I was coming to Toyama I googled everything I could about it. I prayed for
my community, for my apartment, for the church I would attend. I started packing and planning
as if I were leaving the next day. I felt so many emotions at once. I couldn’t stop grinning.
I wanted to run into the streets and tell everyone what God had done. I didn’t do it now, but I’m happy
to be in front of you today sharing this story.