Tag Archives: honor

Japan Living

My family and I have been fortunate throughout my military career, and one such blessing is that the Air Force has seen fit to station me in Japan for the vast majority of my 20+ years.

Japanese culture is amazing. Honor and courtesy matter a great deal. Service is valued and something people take pride in. Offering a tip at a restaurant, for example, is frowned upon. The workers know the quality of their product and their service, and they charge you for what is fair. They don’t need a tip as a bribe to put in good effort nor do they want you to feel like you have to help them out financially. (I’m probably vastly misunderstanding the reasoning behind this but the point is, you don’t tip like you would in the States.)

It sometimes seems like the treatment or culture that is too good to be true.

There are some downsides… Traffic laws are such that any accident is partly your fault even if it’s clearly entirely the fault of the other party. If you hadn’t been where you were, they wouldn’t have hit you, or so I guess the logic goes.

So when a landscaping crew’s high-power weed whacker accidentally launched a rock into my minivan’s passenger side window, shattering it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. 


While stopped and waiting for the light to turn green, I certainly didn’t expect the sudden pop and Pssshh of crumbling safety glass falling into my car. I may have said something unkind to the worker who–back turned to me, oblivious to my plight and rage–continued trimming the plants on the sidewalk’s edge. His co-worker noticed, called his attention to the situation, and helped start a rough conversation involving contacting his manager’s secretary who thankfully is bilingual. On the phone, she apologized and said someone was coming to take a look. 

In the States, I could almost imagine getting the finger and being sent on my way to sort matters out on my own. I worried that, like a traffic accident, this might fall into some mystical category of “But did you not contribute to the damage to your vehicle by placing your vehicle at that intersection, at that exact moment?”

The company offered to repair the window, which I at least hoped would be the case. I was happy enough with that.

Then they offered to get me a rental car in the mean-time. 

They repaired the car in less than half the expected time.

Then they cleaned out my car and (I’m pretty sure) filled up the gas tank. 

They paid for the rental–or technically, I paid for it on my credit card then they paid me in cash.

And then the manager handed me another envelope that looked like money. With some help and laughter from the bilingual ladies at the car rental office, I found out this was “for dinner.” It was a 10K yen note, which is roughly $100. I mean, the minivan might indicate a large family, but still… That’s a pricy dinner!

It would have been rude to refuse, because this is another custom. When you make a grievous error or do someone harm, you apologize and bring a gift of some sort to smooth the relationship.

As I type this, the taco style brick-oven pizzas my family loves are being cooked, purchased with the “dinner” gift, to be enjoyed with a family movie. Not too shabby. 

(Okay, being honest: the teens will probably thieve some pizza, opt out of family time, and hide out in their rooms watching YouTube videos. Just because we live in Japan, that doesn’t mean everything changes from what you might expect in the States.)


i skipped Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle challenge this week. I had a couple ideas but nothing really came together in my mind.

Then my captain reminded our office that today is our base’s 24 hour POW/MIA Remembrance Run to honor America’s prisoners of war and those missing in action. 

I wrote down some thoughts this morning, and showed up to walk laps on lunch. While people run with a POW/MIA flag, servicemembers read a list of the missing.  Pure serendipity, I was walking past as they read several “Williamson” entries from World War II.

This week’s word took on a different meaning. 

Though we’re separated by 

Both time and distance

Anyone can hear my cry 

If they but pause to listen

A foray in a foreign land

That didn’t go the way we planned

Becomes a test of strength and honor

Which I must withstand 

So little left to hope in 

My resolve threatens to crack 

My body may be broken 

But my spirit is intact 

Memory my only token 

Of all that I now lack

The oaths that I have spoken 

I will keep ’til I get back 

All the tears you cry in silence

All the nights you felt my absence

All the times we would have kissed

All the moments that I’ve missed

And the pictures that I’m not in

While I’m gone but not forgotten

TDY Lemonade

Does not contain Will Smith or Bill Pullman
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet

So the Air Force sent me TDY the weekend of the big air show back home.

For my non-military readers, “TDY” means “temporary duty” in the Air Force. Different services call it different acronyms, but it simply means you go somewhere else and do your job there for a short (or long) while. A six-day trip like mine is pretty short.

Of course, that leaves my wife home with four children and a zoo’s worth of pets.

And I miss the air show. I love airplanes. I particularly love the variety of fighters we’ve built over the years. There were supposed to be F/A-18E/F Super Hornets this year.

But such is life in the military, and we’ve grown accustomed to short-notice changes. The plan for this trip changed literally ten times or so. First we were going to England, then we were not, then we were, then maybe not, then maybe Washington State, then maybe not, then we found some rooms maybe but not enough, then no really there are enough rooms… you get the point.

My wife’s family lives in Washington State. My mother-in-law, Karen drives three hours one way every weekend to visit her husband, Jim in a care center where he stays while dealing with the effects of emphysema and the other ravages of a life-time of smoking. This weekend, Karen brought him a surprise: me.

We had a chance to play some Scrabble (Karen cheated, I maintain!). We chatted about how big my four children are now. We attempted to get a phone connection for FaceTime but reception out there was horrible. So we looked at the videos and photos of the kids that I have on my iPad and iPhone.

It DOES make shopping easy! (kidding)

Here’s Jonathan in his new glasses…
Here’s Teenager Deborah trying to be patient with Justin climbing on her…
Here’s Judah smiling…
Here’s our rabbit and our parakeet that we just bought…
Here’s Judah in a hand-held shopping basket…

I don’t know how well Jim does each weekend, of course. I only had this one to judge by.

But Karen said he seemed very happy to see me and seemed in good spirits as a result. We shook hands (he still gives a firm handshake), and he said, “You’re a good son-in-law.” I told him, sincerely, “It’s an honor.”

He let me give him a hug and even let me snap a picture for my wife and children.

He even smiled
Jim at the Care Center

All in all, it was a great way to spend a Saturday in a place I didn’t originally want to be.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28 NASB