Author: Michael Babienco

October 2022

Ikigai—a reason for being; the thing that gets you up in the morning; Japanese.

On August 5, the thing that got me up at 1:30 a.m. for a two-hour drive to the airport was a plane ride to Sacramento, California. After landing later that morning and driving east, I arrived for a weekend at a Japanese SDA Camp Meeting held at Leoni Meadows Camp and Retreat Center. My goals were to meet as many Japanese-Americans as possible, learn more about the culture and perhaps even pick up some new Japanese words or language learning tips.

The theme of the camp meeting was ikigai, a word describing why you choose to get up each day. The weekend was filled with meetings, many conversations and great food. I had decided to carry a small composition book with me, and I filled several pages with notes that will be helpful as Caitlyn and I continue to learn about Japan. During the Sabbath worship service, they brought me and another missionary up front to talk about our mission plans and have a prayer of blessing for our time overseas.

Other highlights of the camp meeting included watching a natto-eating contest (natto: a Japanese, fermented soybean dish with pungent flavor and gluey texture), having a two-hour conversation about Japanese culture and Christianity with a first-generation Japanese Adventist, and making many new friends. After a full weekend, I arrived back home at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning. The rewards of knowledge and friendships made on this trip far exceeded the difficulty of early mornings and late nights.

What gets you up in the morning? Work? School? What if it was the chance to share joy with others? Each day you have new opportunities to share Christ through your words and actions. Use today—and every day—to help others learn about His love for them and obtain their own ikigai.