Category Archives: Blog

A Fresh Start

After living and serving in Japan for three years, Akira and I have decided to withdraw from our missions organisation, All Nations. This doesn’t mean that we will stop sharing Jesus with the people of Japan, it just means that we will be doing it a little differently. We are withdrawing in order to become freelance (independent) missionaries. We believe this is the best choice for us to be able to root deeper and live more fully in Japan, while continuing to develop our relationships here.

Becoming “freelance” means that we will no longer be able to provide any supporters with an end of the year tax receipt. So, as we make this transition, we are NOT asking our supporters to financially support us, but to support us in prayer and friendship.  It’s a huge step of faith.

As we take these first steps, our goal is to gradually shift over from receiving donation support to earning a living here in Japan (tent-making).

Please pray for this transition and God’s financial provision in other ways.  All Nations will continue to receive donations for us until the end of June.

 

Josiah’s Graduation

We are pleased to announce Josiah’s graduation from elementary school.

Can you believe it?  Less that three years ago he walked into a 4th grade Japanese classroom, speaking almost no Japanese and now he is completely bilingual.  Truly amazing how quickly the young can learn.  (We are so proud.)

In two weeks he will be starting Jr.High, facing new challenges, making new goals.  He is both excited and a little frightened.  Please pray for his transition.

Julia finished 1st grade and is happily ready for 2nd.

Josie completed her first year of High School. (two more to go)

As a family we continue to thrive in the Father.

Thank you for all your prayers.

 

Summer’s End

Summer is nearly over, though from the relentless heat one would think it was here to stay. The Cicadas are wiser.  Their song has already begun to grow slower and fade.  Soon they will be quieted for yet, another, year.

In our house, backpacks are once again being packed daily, water bottles and lunches being made.  A few mornings, a light sweater has even been comfortable.  Summer is definitely ending.

Unlike the US, where kids are starting a new school year, ours are continuing the current year.  Julia is still in first grade, Josiah still in sixth grade and Josie still a first year high school student. They are in the same classrooms, with the same teachers and same classmates and friends.

But it has been a good summer, a full summer.  The kids and I were blessed to be able to make a trip to the US.  We were able to see my family, have time to catch up.  In the two years we have been in Japan, the kids have grown tall.  It was good for them to see my parents.  We had fun eating lots of American food, shopping and visiting family and friends.  We did lots of things.

 

 

 

Josiah got to operate a tractor! By himself!

Josie had an added blessing to fly to KC for a couple days and stay with her best friends.  Did someone say GIRL TIME!!!!  Oh, yes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget Julia. She had fun, too.

But summer break has finished and the last lingering days of summer are upon us. Today, I noticed the first leaves changing color.  We embrace these changes with open arms.  Already we are making plans for the next seasons.  We have a group of missionary friends from KC visiting us in October.  These five women will be staying with us for a couple of days.  Another friend from Iwaki will also be coming to visit.  Josie has already made plans to invite a friend from her class to our house for Christmas tree decorating and cookie making.  I’m in the early planning stage to invite my English class women to our house for a Christmas party.

So, with the changes of seasons comes new plans and new opportunities to love our neighbours and be lights in our neighborhood.

Our continued prayer is that we will be able to share Jesus with them, through the Word, through conversation, through fellowship, and through the simplicity of living our daily lives as a family.

How thankful we are that the Father has called us to Japan.  What a blessing to share Jesus with our neighbours, who don’t know Him, yet.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIV

 

 

 

“First Fruits”

We have been in Japan for two years, now, sowing the seeds of prayer, deepening our roots in our community, developing relationships with our neighbours.

Perhaps, in a world of mega churches, awe inspiring mass conversions to Christ,  and miraculous healings, what we do in our part of the world may seem small.  But, this is Japan.  Historically, missionary work in Japan has always been slow and it requires much patience, as I am constantly reminded.

I began this year, with the family, boldly praying that we would see our first fruits here in Japan. But, as the months have slid by, I found myself becoming frustrated, and I confess, impatient with God’s timing, which seemed, to me, far too slow.  And, so for a while now, out of that frustration, I have stopped praying that particular prayer.

But, God heard me.  As usual, He has demonstrated extreme patience with me…and has shown me, once again, that He has a hope and a plan for Japan as well as a unique sense of humour, even speaking to me through something as unlikely as potatoes.

Grzegorz-Skibka / Pixabay

It’s now summer time in Japan and the summer harvest season is upon us.

Two weeks ago, our neighbour M… shared with us a bag of organic potatoes she had been given by a friend.  Last week, the I… family, one of Julia’s classmates, brought us a ziplock bag from their trip to Shizuoka, with three beautiful organic potatoes inside, and then just yesterday, I ran into E…, from Nigeria.  He was working in his little community garden space when he saw me.

“Wait,” he cried with a big smile.  Then he handed me a small bag.  Guess what I found when I looked inside…yup, more potatoes.

Whenever things happen in threes, I start looking to God for the reason.  My life has already had many significant threes.  Usually it happens when He’s trying to make a point obvious to me.  So, I asked Him what it was all about.

God, then, reminded me of that prayer for first fruits, that I had prayed for so boldly, so many months ago.  And suddenly, my mouth dropped open in surprise.

He had answered my prayers.

God had given us our “first fruits”…but not in the way I had envisioned.  He had given them to us in vegetables, more specifically, potatoes.  Our “first fruits” wasn’t a conversion, but friendship.

And so, I have been humbled and once again deeply awed by His faithfulness.  I have to believe He does have a perfect timing for everything and that He has great plans for Japan.

And you know what else, I’m praying boldly once again for those “first fruits,” or perhaps in this case, “first vegetables.”  I can’t wait to see what He has planned, next.

 

Note: To protect the privacy of the people mentioned, I have only given their first initial.  Thanks.

A Season of Cherry Blossoms and Rumors of War

Trust in Him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)

Pray for peace among the nations, especially peace in North Korea.

We live near a US Military base.  Each day, from morning until night, US Fighter aircraft and Japan military planes fly overhead, practicing manoeuvres for war.  They are so loud, we have to cover our ears.  Windows in our house rattle, the foundation beneath us shakes.  Until they pass, all conversation stops.  They are a constant reminder of the rising tensions between nations in the world, a constant reminder that peace is something we can never take for granted.

As North Korea threatens war, fear is slowly working its way across Japan, into the government, into the media, into the schools and into the homes.  Japan media has stated that a ballistic missile launched from North Korea would take approximately 10 minutes to hit mainland Japan.  We are told it that it would take about 4-5 minutes before warning sirens in Japan would sound.  This leaves people approximately 5 minutes to get inside and find shelter.  If children are in school, they will be told to crawl under their desk.

On April 25, the day North Korea was celebrating the birth of their military, tensions in Japan were even higher than usual.  It is a known fact that North Korea likes to mark national celebrations with a missile launch.  There was a real fear that war would begin that day.

I taught an English class that morning.  In the middle of class, we were interrupted by a blaring announcement over the warning speakers.  Everyone froze and the room became silent as we listened in fear.  I remember hearing one woman muttering softy, “daijobu…, It’s Ok”, over and over.  We didn’t breath again when we realised it was just an announcement informing us of delayed trains.

Under the Cherry Blossoms…Springtime in Japan

But, even in the midst of this uncertainty, fear and worldly tension, God is also reminding us of His presence in Japan, that He is good, that His plans and promises for us are good.

We have had an unusually beautiful spring.  Last week, the cherry trees were filled with delicate white cherry blossoms, so beautiful it made your heart ache.  Just last night, while Akira and I were sharing an evening walk, we watched a breathtaking pink sunset.  And then today, my ears caught the song of the first Japanese Bush Warbler of the season.  Sometimes called the Japanese Nightingale, this small bird makes an appearance in the spring.  It’s light and musical song accompanies the cicadas “mee, mee, mee” of summer.  The sound always brings a smile to my lips.

Sakura no Ki

All around us, things are green and growing and full of promise.  We have had plenty of rain this season and the sun has been warm and gentle.  But, there is an unusual quietness, a kind of silence and waiting,  almost as if the whole world were holding it’s breath.

Two years ago, God called us as a family to live in Japan and we chose to obey.  That’s why we are here, why we hope and pray and believe every single day, even when there are rumours of war.  In the midst of fighter jets and warplanes, there are Cherry blossoms and Nightingales, reminders that God is good, all the time, and that God loves the people of Japan.  So, In the midst of rising tensions in the world, we choose to hold on to hope, and continue to pray for peace among the nations.

Please join us in praying for peace.

 

 

 

A New Season

I realize it has been a while since I posted.

Julia receiving her Preschool Diploma

We have been busy. This year, Julia has been attending a preschool for foreign children in Japan planning to attend Japan Public Elementary schools.  This last Friday, she graduated.  In two weeks, she will begin first grade at the school where Josiah attends.  She is very excited. Her Japanese is coming along.  We feel confident she will do well and make lots of new friends.

 

Josie also graduated this year.  Her journey has been difficult.  She now has an official diploma from a Japanese Jr. High school.  We are so proud of her.  High School has been another challenge because in Japan, students have take entrance exams to get into the schools.  Josie studied hard, for almost a year.  She failed the first exam, but we held onto hope, knowing God’s plan for her would be the right one.  She took a second test…and passed.  So, in two weeks, she will be attending her new high school, wearing her new uniform and blazer.  Three years and she will graduate.  Time truly flies.   She worked hard and we are very proud of her.  We have peace that this is God’s plan for her.

Josie’s graduation!

Josiah is also doing well.  He completed fifth grade successfully and will be a sixth grader in the upcoming school year.  He is the tallest of all his classmates, taller than even some of his teachers.  He has grown a lot this year.  I won’t be long before I am looking up to him. Makes me wonder where my little boy has gone.  Sigh.

Next year will be a difficult year fro him, preparing him for Jr. High.  I am sure he is up to the challenge.

All in all, it has been a good year.  I continue to meet with my women’s English class twice a month.  Good friendships with them are developing and I look forward to more opportunities to share Jesus with them.  This school year, I have also enjoyed visiting Josiah’s class once a month to read aloud in English.  We have read a lot of books together.  At Christmas time, I even read the Christmas story.   We had a good time.

Josie, Josiah and I continue our studies at Kumon.  My Japanese is coming along, albeit slowly.  Josie and Josiah are doing well with their studies as well.  Monthly, we do a Saturday morning English class.  It has been a great time to get to know the kids in our neighbourhood better.

Akira is doing well, too.  He’s busy translations a Greek textbook into Japanese.  His hope is that Japanese will be able to learn to read the Bible in the original language.  The Japanese translations tend to be theologically biased, based on liberal and conservative views.  Through Greek, perhaps an unadulterated form of Jesus’s Word can be provided.

Please feel free to email me if you have questions or want to know more about what we are doing in Japan.  Thanks for reading.

 

 

The Darkness of Christmas

This Christmas, we are painfully aware of the absence of Jesus in Japan.

Winter everywhere is cold and dark and long.  In the US, we can all look forward to the brightness that surrounds Christmas and the light and joy it brings to the long winter. Can you imagine a winter season without Christmas?  In Japan, that winter darkness just stays dark.

Akira and I continue to walk our neighbourhood praying for Jesus to come.  As we walk, we are often weighed down with the spiritual darkness.  So few people in Japan know Jesus.  And the physical darkness is a constant reminder of that fact.

Most houses are dark.  People don’t turn on outside lights and the inside lights are blocked by shutters so they are not seen from the outside either.   Houses are dark and quiet.  Streets are dark and quiet.

This year we have been praying for light…both spiritual and physical, seen and unseen.  We put up a simple string of Christmas lights on our house to celebrate Jesus, the light of the season.  We are also praying to be “lights” wherever we go…Josiah in his school,  Josie in hers…even little julia who is now in preschool.  I have two English classes I teach privately.  I am praying to be a light to this group of women neighbours who I am getting to know.

Please pray with us as we invite Jesus to fill Japan with His light this Christmas.

 

 

Josiah’s Hiroshima Trip

This summer,  Josiah had an incredible opportunity to attend Hiroshima’s 71st memorial of the dropping of the atomic bomb.

a poem at Hiroshima decorated in paper cranes

A poem dedicated to the  victims of the bomb. It was  decorated with paper cranes

Six school children, from elementary through high school, attended.  A newspaper ad had been written, inviting students from our city, Yamato, to apply.   We saw the ad and Josiah filled out the application.  How surprised we were when he was selected.

Josiah and his group traveled to Hiroshima for the memorial service.  He was there to hear speeches from President Abe and others VIP’s as  well as personally meet with survivors of the bomb.  He sat under a canopy with hundreds of others watching the ceremony happening in the very same place President Obama visited earlier this year.  President Obama is the first standing US President to visit the Hiroshima memorial.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial

As the the gong was struck, marking the exact time of the the bomb, there was a minute of silence.  The people in attendance, from various backgrounds, prayed for the souls of those who had died.  While they prayed to their various gods,  Josiah prayed to the one God in heaven.

That evening, among hundreds of others,  Josiah’s group released paper lanterns on the river.  Each one represented a prayer.  Josiah told me he selected a simple white one and that on it he wrote a prayer to Jesus.  “I am the light of the world…” His lantern was a single prayer among many, but possibly the only prayer to God.  How sad that makes me feel.

In addition to attending Hiroshima,  they also had to write a speech about what they had learned.  Josiah had to deliver his twice, to two different Yamato City public meetings.   Josiah’s team also appeared in a local newspaper and was interviewed on TV.  The other kids spoke about how the older generation was growing older and dying and that their generation had to take the responsibility for continuing the peace.

Josiah interviewing a bomb survivor.

Josiah interviewing a bomb survivor.

Josiah talked more practically about how he had a Japanese Father and an American Mother and that we should forgive one another.  He also said “We should make peace” a paraphrase from James 3:18 as well as Matthew 5, the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”

This is a survivor of the Hiroshima a bomb.

This is a survivor of the Hiroshima a bomb.

We were able to share Josiah’s experience with our family here in Japan.    Akira’s parents and siblings were all touched by his words. They were given copies of the newspaper article and watched a recording off his interview.  Josiah showed great understanding and maturity.  We are all very proud of him.

What an amazing opportunity we have to be in Japan.  Simply by who we are, we live a life modelling forgiveness.  Only a few short years ago, my grandfather and his brothers fought in World War II.  Akira’s parents were small children at the time.  America and Japan were heated enemies.  And now, only a few years later, we are here living together as a family.  We might be a husband and wife from two different worlds but our children tell a different tale.  They are beautiful blends of our differences.   What an amazing testimony of reconciliation and restoration.

Come Jesus!

 

 

Streams of Living Water

We have been in Japan for just over a year now.

It has been said that Japan is a nation difficult to reach with the gospel.  It is said that it takes years to bear fruit.  But we stand firm believing in Him.   We, as a family,  continue to pray over our neighbourhood, our city and all of Japan.  We have asked for the Lord to “make himself known” to “enter into the homes and families and individuals in our neighbourhood.”  We have prayed for Him to “become popular”  and to “break the chains” that bind.  And though we have not seen much “fruit” yet, we have been encouraged.

As a family, we recently started a devotional entitled  “Why Give” by John Devries.  The main point in the first lesson is that  “we are born again to be a river through which the Spirit flows.”

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelations 22:1-2)

God is a river.  That means that life, love, care, relationship, restoration and every good thing flows from Him.  And it keeps flowing.  He is not a lake or pond that takes in, hoards and doesn’t let out.  If we are made in His image, to be His image bearers, then we, too, must be rivers pouring out.

“I am creating something new. There it is, do you see it? I have put roads in the deserts, and streams in thirsty lands.” (Isaiah 44:19)

Japan is a thirsty land, a land without the Father, bearing a long history of not knowing Him.  Do you see it?  The new thing?  WE are the streams.  WE carry the water to the thirsty lands.  Our prayer today is that the Father would pour out the river of life on Japan through us, that their thirst may be satisfied and they may thirst no more.  We pray too for other thirsty lands, that they would be filled with living streams.  God’s streams are going to thirsty places, He is making something new.

There is a children’s worship song we used to sing at the Boiler Room (now Navah Church)  in Kansas City.

“I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors sets the captives free.  I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.

May we all have rivers of life flowing out of us.

 

Crying for the Children

Akira and I were deeply saddened by a story we read in yesterday’s news. The night of Monday, May 9th, two thirteen year old girls, linked arm in arm,  jumped off a train station platform in front of an oncoming train.  They were rushed to the hospital where they were pronounced dead.    In their backpacks found on the tracks were notes saying they wanted to die.

sharonang / Pixabay

Last year in July, when Josie was still deciding what to do for her schooling, she visited her present school, Tsukimino Jr. High , for a one week trial.  At the end of the week, she decided to attend the school.  Then, summer break started and she had a six week break.  Josie was 13 years old.

Just two days into the first week back after the break, all the second year students, like Josie, were called into a special school assembly.  They were told that the day before school had started, one of their classmates had committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.  I remember that day, when I went to meet Josie as she walked home from school.  Her face was pale and she was so frightened when I saw her.  She had not known the girl, but others in her class had.  She said several girls had been crying.  Josie told me that if this had happened before she decided to attend the school, she would have said no.  But, since it happened after she had decided, God must want her to be there.  So, she would continue to go.  It was a very hard way for her to start school, a hard introduction into the reality of Japan.

In Japan, only 2-3% are believers.  That means 97% don’t know God.  They don’t know how much they are loved.  Children are taking their own lives.  To them, life is so bad that suicide is the only alternative.   But, they have to know there is something better…that there is a reason to live.  Our constant prayers for them are to know their Heavenly Father and how valuable they are to Him.  That is why we are reaching out to families and children.

Yesterday evening, Akira and I walked around Josie’s school campus praying for the students and teachers.  No doubt they also will have heard the news about the two girls.  No doubt, they are being reminded of painful memories from last year.  My heart is grieving for them, for the two families that just lost their daughters, and for their friends and teachers.

Anyone who reads this, please pray for the children of Japan, especially the Jr.High students. Suicide is like a sickness here.   They need to know there is a Someone who understands.  There is a Someone who loves and values them, a Someone who cares.