The last time we read about Jane Knuth, she was telling us stories about her employment at a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Kalamazoo, MI. In this book, co-written by Jane and her daughter Ellen, the focus is on their relationship. Ellen is a college graduate heading off to Japan to teach English as a second language. Jane is struggling with the knowledge that her daughter will be halfway around the globe working in a country that predominantly practices the Buddhist faith. This is the story of a mother and a daughter working through the daily struggle of faith from opposite sides of the planet.
As I read this opening chapter, I internally applaud Ellen’s efforts to step so far outside her comfort zone as a young adult. Traveling to a foreign country by oneself is a tall order. I can also understand Jane’s hesitation and concern for her daughter, both physically and spiritually. She wants Ellen to be safe, and she also doesn’t want her to lose the faith she was raised with. It will be interesting to see how the two women learn and grow during this book.
If you were Jane, how would you support Ellen in her desire to serve others so far away? What would you do if it were your child?
If you were Ellen, how would you approach the challenge of moving to the other side of the planet? When have you stepped outside your comfort zone?