Rumblings of Change

Author: Caitlyn Babienco

January 2024

This is the pilot speaking. All passengers, please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.”

As the seatbelt light had been on for a while, and we had already been experiencing some turbulence on our 14-hour flight to Japan, this struck me as a warning that things were about to get interesting.

It took a few minutes. The flight attendants had just finished passing out a fresh round of drinks. I had a full cup of ginger ale in my hand — in preparation for some reciprocal tummy turbulence — when the plane suddenly dropped out from under us and then bucked back up alarmingly. My drink sloshed all over the place. A flight attendant yelled at passengers who thought this was a good time to get up and stretch their legs. It was by far the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced on a plane. The bouncing lasted almost until we landed about 45 minutes later.

Despite the turbulent entry, our arrival was made sweet by a church friend picking us up at the airport and helping us unload our many bags at our 13th-floor Airbnb, where we will stay while we look for more permanent housing. As our friend drove his now suitcase-jammed van out of the airport parking lot, we were treated to a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji basking in the sunset. We were so grateful for the warm welcome to our new country.

A few hazy, jetlagged days of paperwork and administrative details later, I was lying on the bed taking a much-needed mid-morning nap when a deep rumble broke the quiet, and the building started to vibrate.


Michael and I stared nervously at each other, wondering what to do. Those from the U.S. West Coast may laugh, but this was our first experience of having the earth beneath us simply move. Blessedly, it was a small quake that lasted only a few seconds. Nothing fell over in the house, and the train leaving the station outside didn’t even pause. Japan is situated on a fault line, and quakes are fairly common, so this was just another “welcome to Japan” moment for us.

All things considered, our first week here has gone quite smoothly. We have even remarked to each other on various occasions how blessed we feel that things have gone so well. We know tougher times will come eventually. But now, while we are getting our feet wet in our brand-new country, we are grateful that the most shaking we’ve felt has been from nature and not from technical, personal or administrative frustrations.

In Acts 17, followers of Christ were called the “men who turned the world upside down.” Obviously, Michael and I didn’t cause the turbulence or the earthquake, nor are we here to be a problem to anyone. But the movements of the Holy Spirit do tend to “shake things up,” and we are very excited to see how God continues moving as we settle here in Japan.