Return to Tokyo, then Quarantine - Jan. 2021

On Dec. 26 we completed our six-month US home assignment and returned to Tokyo, arriving on Dec. 27, and then entered a 14-day quarantine. Our travel from Maine to Tokyo was not uneventful but we sensed the Lord’s presence as we jumped over each hurdle. Lord willing, we will very soon once again dive into in-person church planting ministry and leadership.

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Our home assignment had the purpose of visiting our eastern US supporting churches. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic we only visited one church and only zoomed with a few more. Instead, our “home assignment” became a “health assignment” to help Dale get back to good health. Prescription drug treatment in Maine for his polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) auto-immune disease was excellent, bringing his chronic joint pain under control by mid-Aug and regaining sufficient joint mobility in the following months so that our return to Tokyo was possible. He will remain on meds prescribed in Maine until at least the summer of 2021. On Nov. 4 Dale also had an unexpected but much needed total right hip replacement and by mid-Dec. had enough strength in that leg to (carefully) haul wheeled suitcases for our flights back to Tokyo.

Ann also had some health issues addressed during our home assignment. Is our age beginning to show? Because we are getting better medical treatment in Maine than here in Tokyo, we are moving our primary medical treatment to Maine, requiring that we return to Maine every six-months for 4-6 weeks.

We received our required negative C-19 test results in Maine 72 hours before departure and again upon arrival at Narita airport near Tokyo. The C-19 testing at Narita took about 3 hours, then after clearing immigration, where we had no problem legally entering Japan because we are residents here, and picking up our baggage, we grabbed our previously arranged special taxi for quarantine returnees like ourselves and arrived at our apartment in Tokyo an hour later. That was an expensive taxi ride! Public transit such as trains, buses, and normal taxis cannot be used by those arriving from overseas who need to quarantine.

En route we also had an unexpected adventure transferring to our departure flight at Newark NJ. Our connecting flight from Boston MA was delayed 2.5 hours. As soon as we got off our connecting flight and began to hurry toward our departure gate for our flight to Tokyo we heard our names being called over the airport speaker system announcing that our flight was about to leave. Fortunately a young man on our connecting flight was catching the same departing flight for Tokyo so he told the folks at the gate that we were coming along behind. More accurately, Ann was coming along right behind. I was way behind because my hip prevented me from walking very quickly. I was kind of shuffling along. Anyway, United delayed the departure flight for us. If they had not and we had been rebooked for the next day, our negative C-19 test results would have “expired” because the tests had been taken prior to the 72-hour window before departure.

So the first day of our 14-day quarantine was Dec. 29 and the last day will be Jan. 11. We are actually enjoying our time restricted to our apartment. Missionary colleague Duane has brought us some groceries a few times and Ann has found ways of ordering more online. Lest anyone think this is a 2-week holiday for us, we seem to be extra busy on our laptops writing emails, having zoom meetings with our church leadership or EFCCM missionaries and leaders, preparing for various ministry presentations, and writing what seem to be endless reports for our mission agency and some supporting churches. It makes us think we can actually lead our church planting ministry in a virtual format from anywhere in the world, as long as we have key people based locally.

Anyway, the day after our quarantine ends we go to Japan Immigration to get our residency permits renewed for another 3 years (an all day commitment) and then jump back into in-person church planting ministry.