Today I sold our mamachari (a bicycle with seats for children), and as I turned to go home after the sale, I found myself suddenly filled with emotion, my eyes tearing up. I felt genuine sorrow. I was caught by surprise by my unexpected reaction.
But as I was going home, I saw that I was responding to a chapter closed, a chapter of our lives in Japan had ended. You see, since coming here about three years ago, this bicycle was our main mode of transportation, for me and the girls. I have ridden it with both girls in our first year, and with only Mikayla thereafter, almost everyday to commute to their youchien (Japanese kindergarten).
The first year, especially, marked a time of new discoveries, uncountable cultural adjustments, and adventures into the unknown. Everything seemed so novel and fascinating. In addition, riding the bicycle with my girls was a special time we shared — numerous conversations had, songs sung, and roads passed. The girls were only 3 and 5 years old, and when I look at photos from that time, they seem so little. And life as we knew it, in the last three years, included this bicycle.
Now that the girls have both entered Japanese elementary school and are too old to ride in the mamachari, I see that we are entering into a new stage in our time in Japan. We are still on an adventure into the unknown, learning to adjust culturally, and discovering new experiences, but we are now in another phase. We have grown accustomed to things that once seemed so foreign. For our girls, memories of America have faded, and Japan has become what is familiar, what is home. And the reality is, our girls are also growing up, as they now ride their own bicycles without needing mama to tow them around. The farewell to the mamachari also reflects their growing independence.
Three years have flashed by so quickly, and yet so much has happened…and most days I’m rushing just to keep up. But today, the sale of our mamachari gave me the opportunity to pause and reflect on this transition, because the mamachari isn’t just a bicycle; it is an artifact that has recorded, with all the kilometers its wheels have turned, our day-to-day life in the last three years in Japan.
And with certainty, I can see the Lord’s good hand guiding and caring for us, with and now without, our beloved mamachari. For that, I am grateful.