Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Territory Enlarged

This is a boring post. I'm just trying to reassure myself that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.

Last week I had a phone call from the neighborhood elementary school principal. She contacted me with a "request". I have known the principal for the past couple of years and she often comes to the crosswalk that I man every morning when the children are going to school. I have been a volunteer crosswalk guard for the past 8 years. Five days a week I go out with my homemade flag and spend about 30 minutes at the crosswalk until the 15 or 20 children leave the neighborhood.

The school principal asked me to consider a paying job at the SCHOOL crosswalk. The man who has been the crosswalk guard is retiring after 10 years of work and the city must have a crosswalk guard in front of every school. Since I have already been doing this for 8 years the principal wanted to recommend me for the position.

"You will be helping so many more children, Tanya. It is a necessary service for our small community. It is a paying job!"

I thought about this a couple of days. Yes, I have a love for the children and feel confident that I could continue doing what I've already been doing as a volunteer. I have settled in my heart that I want to be of use wherever God leads me and with a door opening up like this I feel this is what I should do. I have turned down jobs that took me to the other side of the town or that required I stop teaching where I already teach. A job that can be completed early in the morning, leaving me to teach or sew as I always have done sounds very appealing. I was a bit concerned about leaving my current post but there are other volunteers that come occasionally and maybe if I am not there they will commit themselves daily. At any event the chairman of our neighborhood who already comes to the crosswalk is fully behind me moving down the street to the school…

Moving to the school crosswalk will mean I have to leave the house earlier and stay longer. Tetsu isn't opposed to that. It will mean he is the one who will have to put out the garbage twice a week but he is willing. It will mean we don't have a leisurely cup of coffee on weekdays but that's okay with him too. "We could always wake up earlier." We get our chatting time in on our walk with Choco anyway.

Today I went to talk with some city officials about formally applying. Actually they admitted that there isn't anyone else applying so this is just a formality.

BUT… I didn't realize, but should have expected, a lot more "duties" are involved in this job. Even though everyone assures me that I don't HAVE to do everything, it is ENCOURAGED and has always been that way (the message was they expected me to follow the procedures but were willing to overlook a few lapses…)

1. A crosswalk guard must always wear her uniform. Oh glory be! A little skirt and jacket and hat? Gulp… This is going to be a great joke on me. I may never live this down. Forget it, Tanya. That's your pride talking. What you wear doesn't change the fact that you will be performing an important service. Okay. I can live with this rule.

2. A crosswalk guard makes daily entries in a log.

"Wait a minute, please. I do not write Japanese. At least I don't write it well. Second grade level at best. I am not going to be able to write in a log and send regular reports."

"No, no. Don't worry about that. You can just write things like "It is cold today." "The children looked happy." It doesn't have to be long and tedious."

As my blog friends know, I am pretty disciplined about writing daily… Well… a line a day in Japanese? Maybe… Discipline Tanya, discipline…

3. A crosswalk guard attends seminars to keep up to date on traffic rules and get feedback from other crosswalk guards.

"You'll make friends. We have a lot of fun."

I don't really need to make friends. I just want to perform a service. I told the officials that I work daily. I'm not going to be able to come to their monthly seminars.

"That's okay. Just attend when you can." (I'm saying, not much at all!) "You'll have to attend the first one to get the lowdown on what to do. You'll have to attend the ceremony where the former crosswalk guard retires and the position is passed on to you. After that you can attend when it fits your schedule. Oh, and we have an overnight seminar once a year too."

"Besides the first couple, I don't think I'm going to be able to attend overnight seminars or monthly seminars at all. I teach daily!"

"Okay, well, we'll work around it then, but do attend when you can." (…That's what I'm trying to tell you… I don't think I can…)

"And then there is the farewell ceremony at the school. Of course you'll come to that because you are invited even as a volunteer and there are the Entrance ceremonies at school which you'll need to attend because you have to be introduced to the students."

Sigh. And I thought I was just standing in front of the school every morning… The first two months may be hectic and take a lot of schedule shuffling… But I HAVE warned them that I don't have a lot of free time (except in the mornings…)

Hey, this may not be any worse than the dumb traffic committee I was a member of for four years. That was pretty bad but I didn't get paid for that.

I've got to remember not to complain about any of this to Tetsu since he didn't really see why I would want to take an official crosswalk position anyway.

"They say they need me… Hey, I'm 55. People don't usually get offered a job at my age. If I enjoy this it could be regular income far after I'm too old to play around with the kindergarten and nursery school kids. I'm an early bird anyway. I've always believed in taking the opportunities that God drops before me. Didn't even Jabez ask God to enlarge his territory?"

Japan has so many rules and ceremonies and formalities. I'm not very happy about them but I have lived with all of them for 30 years. This is just jumping feet first into FORMAL, OFFICIAL Japan.

I would appreciate prayers for patience and contentment.

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