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2009 Japan Mission Team

Keeping it Personal

There is a convergence in the force. Do you feel it? Can you see it? Kohichi chose the book of James as his sermon series this fall. Our supporting TEAM missionary Gerald wrote this summer to say he wanted to start a series on James. Then I visit all of you at the Lighthouse and find that you, too, are doing the book of James. The Lord seems to be sending us a very clear message: this is the time to act. The time for living out our faith is now.

"Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." James 2:18

What a great privilege and blessing it was to see all of you, to worship with you on Sunday, September 27 at the 9AM, and then to share with you at the JMT celebration at 4:30PM that same evening! Thank you for giving me some time to share a little bit about our ministry at Nokendai Bible Fellowship. We so appreciate your partnership with us, specifically, how to reach the children of NBF for Christ. The window of time we have with them is so very short, so these days are precious, and the relationship we have with them now may very well determine their spiritual future.

As I have been voraciously reading the book Mei-Ling gave me, "The Hole in our Gospel", one concept keeps popping out for me, and that is to "keep it personal". As I read biographies and autobiographies of missionaries past and present, the very worst thing that can happen is not lack of money or resources, persecution or loneliness. The worst thing that can happen to a missionary working abroad is to be forgotten. Actually it is the worst thing that can happen to anyone, missionary or not. Even in the bible, how many times does the Lord ask us to "remember"? Remember what has happened. Remember me. Remember what I have done for you. Remember whom I sent. God the Father asks us to remember Him and His mighty deeds. Jesus asked us to remember Him and take communion in remembrance of Him. The Apostle Paul pleaded with his church to remember him in chains. Now that LCC has sent 3 VBS teams to NBF, please remember the children and remember them by name if you can. Please do not forget them, because they have not forgotten you. Please remind them that you still remember their names, just as the Lord Himself calls each of us tenderly by our names. Japan will be won for Christ one person at a time. It will take perseverance on our parts to cultivate those relationships. We will have to work hard to remember since it is so much easier to be passive and to forget. This is true for me, too.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God: but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12

Thank you for letting "LOVE" lead you to a place many of you would not have gone to on your own. That was certainly true for me. Fall is already upon us and we are already gearing up for Christmas as you are at LCC. This Rich Stearns book has motivated me to rethink how we do Advent at NBF, too. We, too, will see if we can sponsor some work that World Vision is doing in Japan, or elsewhere around the globe, this season.

We continue to pray for all of you, too, and give thanks for each of you who have supported this VBS ministry at NBF these past 3 years. Words will never fully express the depth of gratitude and thanksgiving we have in our hearts for you at the Lighthouse. May all we do bring Glory to Him and Him alone.

Many blessings,
Shirley
Sunday, August 30, 2009

TOM: MY LAST 2009 JAPAN TEAM BLOG

I’VE BEEN TRYING TO PROCESS ALL THE EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS THAT TOOK PLACE OVER OUR MISSION TRIP TO JAPAN. IT HAS BEEN HARD BECAUSE SO MUCH HAD HAPPENED SO I JUST MADE A LIST. (THESE ARE MY IMPRESSIONS ALONE AND MAY BE INACCURATE BUT THAT IS WHAT I PERCEIVED)

1. PRAYER: PRAYER WAS KEY TO OUR TRIP, BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER. WE WOULD START OFF EVERY MORNING WITH GROUP PRAYER WHEN WE COULD. (THANKS KELLY) I KNOW FOR SURE OUR HOST PRAYED CONTINUALLY FOR US. SHIRLEY’S PRAYER OF GOOD WEATHER FOR OUR TIME IN JAPAN ESPECIALLY FOR THE OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES LIKE PE IN THE PARK. WE HAD A LITTLE RAIN HERE AND THERE BUT TO NO CONSEQUENCE. I HAD TRAINED FOR THE HOT WEATHER BUT WAS SURPRISE THAT IT ONLY GOT OVER 90 DEGREES ON THE DAY WE ARRIVED. MOST OF THE TIME IT WAS IN THE HIGH 70’S TO MID 80’S WHILE YOU IN SEATTLE BROILED IN 100+ DEGREE HEAT. ALL THE RAIN, TYPHOON AND EARTHQUAKES HAPPENED AFTER WE LEFT. SUCH GOOD HOSTS! THANKYOU REASONERS, NAKAYAMAS AND TAMURAS.
2.IN TOKOROZAWA WE WERE TREATED TO CHAUFFEURED CAR RIDES TO AND FROM SEND CENTER. THAT WAS AN ADVENTURE IN ITSELF. ZIPPING DOWN THESE NARROWS ROADS WITH CARS PASSING INCHES FROM EACH OTHER. ANYONE RIDING “SHOT GUN” WOULD FLINCH AT CARS, WALLS TELEPHONE POST WHEN A COLLISION SEEMED EMINENT. I MUST APPLAUD THE JAPANESE DRIVERS AND JON AND CHIEKO FOR THEIR DRIVING SKILLS AND THEIR DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION FOR THE INGENUITY TO SEE AROUND CORNERS. THEY HAVE INSTALLED MIRRORS AT ALL THE BLIND CORNERS AND CURVES.
3. POSESSED COMPUTER: MY COMPUTER WAS THE MAIN COMPUTER FOR RUNNING THE SONGS AND GRAPHICS FOR THE VBS AND STORED MANY OF THE PICTURES AND VIDEO WE TOOK. IT SEEMED AT THE MOST INOPPORTUNE TIMES IT WOULD GO NUTS ON ME. ONE DAY AT TMK THIS HAPPENED BUT LUCKILY WE HAD MATT WHO PLAYED ALL THE VBS SONGS ON THE PIANO. THANKS MATT, YOU’RE AWESOME! ALSO FOR THE STRANGEST THING HAPPENED AS I WAS MAKING PICTURE BUTTONS FOR EVERYONE AT THE VBS INCLUDING ADULTS. FOR SOME UNKNOW REASON PICTURES OF ADULTS WOULD NOT APPEAR AFTER DOING SOME CROPPING. THE KIDS PICTURES CAME OUT FINE BUT THE ADULTS CAME OUT BLANK. LATER SHIRLEY PRAYED FROM MY COMPUTER.
4. THE BLACKHOLE BACKPACK: THINGS GO IN BUT I COULD NEVER FIND THEM. I COULD ONLY CONCLUDE THAT MY BACKPACK WAS A PORTAL TO ANOTHER DIMENSION OR I WAS LOSING MY MIND FROM LACK OF SLEEP.
5. COMMUNITY LIVING: I HAVE BEEN SO USE TO LIVING ALONE THAT IT WAS SOMEWHAT STRANGE LIVING TOGETHER IN“CLOSE” COMMUNITY, SHARING BATHROOMS (OR IN ONE CASE, BATHROOM) WITH EIGHT OTHER PEOPLE, WAITING IN LINE FOR A SHOWER, COOKING BREAKFAST IN LARGE QUANITIES, EATING TOGETHER, TOILET DROPS, LATE NIGHT DISCUSSIONS, SLEEPING IN THE SAME ROOM SIDE BY SIDE WITH TWO OTHER GUYS (THANK GOD FOR EARPLUGS AND BLINDFOLD. I WISH I COULD HAVE SUPPLIED TIM AND MATT WITH THE EARPLUGS BECAUSE OF MY SNORING), WATCHING THE WOMEN PUT ON THEIR MAKE-UP, MORNING DEVOTIONS TOGETHER (THANKYOU KELLY), , THE HORSEPLAY AMONG THE YOUNG GUYS AND ONE OLD GUY, LAUNDRY DAY AND HAVING YOUR LAUNDRY FOLDED AT THE FOOT OF YOUR FUTON, THANKS SHARON (TEAM MOM), THE CHAOS IN THE MORNING TRYING TO GET GOING ON TIME, WALKING TO THE TRAIN IN MASS, LATE NIGHT JAM SESSIONS OR EARLY MORNING JAM SESSIONS, EARLY MORNING QUIET TIME BEFORE EVERYONE IS GETS UP, TEAM MEETINGS, MAXING OUT A RAMEN SHOP, JUST ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY.
6.SPECIAL STORIES AND PICTURES: AS A TEACHER I DECIDED TO HAVE HOMEWORK FOR EXTRA CREDIT AND SPECIAL PRIZES. I ASKED THE CHILDREN WRITE ESSAYS OR DRAW PICTURES OF WHAT THEY WERE LEARNING. I RECEIVED MANY WONDERFUL STORIES, ESSAY AND PICTURES. THESE ARE THE MOST PRECIOUS ITEMS THAT I BROUGHT BACK FROM JAPAN.
7. EVERY YEAR THERE HAS BEEN A CHILD THAT HAS BEEN SPECIAL TO ME. THIS YEAR THERE WERE TWO BUT FOR OPPOSITE REASONS. ONE FOR SOME REASON TOOK A SHINE TO ME. CHIHO WAS VERY INDEPENDENT QUIET GIRL BUT WAS OUTGOING AND CONFIDENT. SHE WAS ONE OF THE ONLY CHILDREN WHO TOOK A TRAIN TO GET TO THE TMK VBS. I MADE IT A HABIT OF WALKING HER TO THE TRAIN STATION AFTER THE VBS AND PE @ THE PARK. AT FIRST SHE WOULD WALK QUICKLY TOWARD THE STATION AHEAD OF ME (AND USUALLY ELAINE) AND WOULD STOP AND WAVE SEVERAL TIMES AS SHE DESCENDED DOWN THE STAIRS AT THE TRAIN STATION. BUT THE LAST TIME AFTER DAY 4 AS WE WERE WALKING SHE TOOK MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE WALKED TO TRAIN STATION. THE OTHER WAS KIRIKO. SHE WAS “SHY’ AND RARELY TALK TO US. IN THE BEGINNING SHE WAS UNWILLING TO DO THE SINGING AND THE HAND MOTIONS OR EVEN SMILE BUT LATER BEGAN DO ALL THE MOTIONS. ALTHOUGH I THINK HER SHYNESS WAS MORE OF AN ACT, A KIND OF QUIET REBELLION, SHE STARTED TO WARM UP TO US. SHE WAS QUIET BUT SHE HAD A GOOD MIND AND ABSORBED ALL THE BIBLE STORIES AND TESTIMONIES. THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS WORKING IN HER. ON HER RESPONSE CARD SHE INDICATED SHE WANTED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JESUS.
8. OF COURSE, I HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE FOOD. SUSHI, SASHIMI, DENNY’S, RAMEN, BENTO, YAOKO’S, YAKITORI! FIVE POUNDS LATER. NEED I SAY MORE?
9. PE @ THE PARK WAS AN EXTRA, SOMETHING NEW THAT I THREW INTO THIS YEARS VBS. IT GAVE ME A CHANCE TO USE ONE OF MY GOD GIVEN TALENTS AND THIRTY YEARS OF TEACHING. I WAS EXPECTING JUST KELLY AND THE YOUNG GUYS TO HELP ME BUT EVERYONE ON THE TEAM CAME AND HELPED ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY. AN UNANTICIPATED BLESSING, THE EXTRA BONDING TIME THAT MADE US ALL CLOSER, THE TEAM, THE CHILDREN, THEIR PARENTS AND THE MISSIONARIES.
10. THE TEAM: THE TEAM WAS GOD CHOSEN. THEY MADE MY JOB SO MUCH EASIER AND THEY SURPASSED MY GREATEST EXPECTATIONS. THE YOUNG PEOPLE, VINCY, MATT AND TIM, DID SUCH GREAT JOB WITH THE MUSIC, SONGS AND HAND MOTIONS AND THE YOU-TUBE VIDEO. THEIR ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM SET THE MOOD FOR THE WHOLE VBS. THE CHILDREN LOVED THE SONGS AND THE HAND MOTIONS AND ADORED THEM. THEIR DRAMA SKILLS AIDED IN THE CHILDREN UNDERSTANDING OF BIBLE TEACHINGS. SHARON AND SUSAN SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE BIBLE STORIES AND CRAFTS. WHAT A GREAT COMBINATION! THEY SAW TO IT THAT THE CRAFT AND THE STORIES WERE WELL COORDINATED AND FUN. ELAINE AND KELLY HAD WHAT I THOUGHT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILTY. AS SHEPHERDS THEY HAD FRONT LINE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CHILDREN. ELAINE HAD THE SOFT TOUCH TO HANDLE EVEN THE YOUNGEST CHILDREN EVEN TWO RAMBUNTIOUS THREE YEAR OLDS. KELLY, JUST A BIG KID HIMSELF, HAS A KNACK FOR ENTERTAINING KIDS OF ALL AGES AND LEADING LARGE GROUPS OF KIDS. THE ONLY THING THAT SLOWS HIM DOWN IS A BAD KNEE WHICH MAY BE A GOOD THING, KEEPING HIM FROM GOING COMPLETELY JUVENILE. KELLY ALSO DID OUR DAILY DEVOTIONS AND PRAYER TIMES. MASAE, OUR TEAM INTERPETER, WATCHING HER WORK WITH THE STORYTELLERS WAS AWESOME TO SEE. SHE WORKED SEAMLESSLY WITH THE STORYTELLERS. HER EXPRESSION, ENTHUSIASM AND ABILITY TO ANTICIPATE WHAT WAS TO BE SAID MADE HER INVALUABLE AT TMK AND MUCH MISSED AT NOKENDAI. AND WITHOUT JANIS NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE. SHE DID ALL THE BACKGROUND WORK, ALL THE ARRANGING AND UNFORTUNATEDLY MOST OF THE WORRYING SO THE REST OF US DIDN’T HAVE TO. THROUGH ALL OF JANIS’S EFFORT THE REST OF US WERE ABLE TO DO OUR JOBS MORE EFFECTIVELY. THIS TEAM WAS TRULY HAND PICKED AND BLESSED BY GOD.
11. LASTLY AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR HOSTS WERE SUCH A BLESSING TO OUR TEAM. THE REASONERS, NAKAMURAS AND TOMURAS BENT OVER BACKWARDS TO ACCOMMODATE US AND SEE THAT ALL OUR NEEDS WERE MET AND THEN SOME. THE OLDER CHILDREN, ALISHA, BRANDON, ELIOT AND ELIZABETH, WERE OUR FRONTLINE HELPERS. THE YOUNGER ONES, HANNA AND KAYLA, WHO ATTENDED THE VBS WERE ABLE TO BE LEADERS, SHOWING THE NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS WHAT TO DO BY THEIR EXAMPLE. AT NOKENDAI, MANY OF THE CHILDREN WHO ATTENDED WERE THERE BECAUSE OF EMMA AND CLARA. THESE TWO PINTSIZE EVANGELIST INVITED MANY OF THEIR FRIENDS TO THE OUR VBS. THESE TWO GIRLS ESCORTED AND GUIDED US THROUGH JAPAN’S RAIL SYSTEM. AT TMK WE WERE CHAUFFEURED, COOKED FOR, SHOPPED FOR AND TOTALLY PAMPERED BY CHIEKO AND JON. THE SAME IN NOKENDAI, SHIRLEY AND KOICHI SEEING OUR FATIGUE OFFERED TO DRIVES US THE LAST TWO DAYS OF VBS. WE WERE ALSO PROVIDED WITH DINNER AND WERE INVITED TO EMMA’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. WE, I, FELT REALLY SPECIAL AND WELL LOOK AFTER. GOD TRULY USED THEM TO SEE TO OUR NEEDS. THEIR ON-GOING DEVOTION TO THE JAPANESE PEOPLE HAS INSPIRED ME TO RETURN, GOD WILLING. ALSO THE PARENT AND ADULT HELPERS WERE AMAZING. INTERPRETING, SERVING SNACK, HELPING WITH CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT AND HELPING WHEREEVER POSSIBLE WITHOUT BEING ASKED.


A TALE OF TWO WOMEN OF GOD:

LOOKING BACK, OUR HOSTS, CHIEKO AND SHIRLEY, SHARE AND SHARED MUCH IN COMMON. BOTH ARE DEEPLY DEVOTED TO GOD AND THEIR MINISTRY. THEY ARE THE MOST ENTHUSIASTIC, POSITIVE, CARING, CHARMING, INTERESTING AND FUN PEOPLE TO BE AROUND. I CAN STILL HEAR SHILEY’S LAUGH ECHOING THROUGH MY MIND AND THE IMAGE OF CHIEKO DOWN ON THE FLOOR BEING ATTACK BY AN IMAGINARY SHARK IN A VBS GAME. HOW SHE SCREAMED (VERY CONVINCINGLY I MIGHT ADD) AS SHE WAS SLOWLY PULLED BENEATH THE WATER (PARACHUTE). HOW THEY DID SO MANY THINGS FOR US TO MAKE OUR STAY MEMORABLE AND COMFORTABLE. YOU MIGHT THINK THAT NOT SO UNUSUAL BUT BOTH RECENTLY HAD DEVASTATING LOSSES IN THEIR LIVES. ON RETURNING TO THE U.S. I ATTENDED MY SMALL GROUP. WE JUST HAPPEN TO BE STUDYING MATTHEW 14 WHERE JESUS WAS MOURNING THE DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. HOW HE WANTED TO GET AWAY AND BE IN SECLUSION AS HE OFTEN DID. BUT HIS MINISTRY DIDN’T LET HIM. JUST LIKE JESUS THESE TWO WOMEN OVERCAME THEIR GRIEF TO MINISTER TO US. THEY PROBABLY WOULD HAVE LIKE TO HAVE A QUIET SUMMER TO GRIEVE BUT FOR US AND THEIR LOVE FOR THE JAPANESE PEOPLE THEY JUMPED RIGHT BACK INTO THEIR MINISTRY TO DO GOD’S WORK. I HOPE AFTER WE LEFT THEY COULD FIND THAT SOLITUDE AND PEACE THAT JESUS ALSO LOOK FOR AFTER A LOSS.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Matt: "My Very Last Blog...AHHH!!!!!!"

 
 
Well hello there! It's been a while, hasn't it?! I would just like to take this time to thank all of you for reading the blogs! It has been a pleasure sharing about my experiences in Japan, the amazing food, my weird rambling problem, and not-so-funny-jokes. (Haha...okay, no...) And now that I'm home, I've had time to think about what's happened.

God really blessed me on this past trip. It was a challenge to leave my family and friends for two weeks; it really made me rely on God that much more. The Lord truly revealed himself to be a sovereign, loving, and gracious God. He NEVER let me down.

I suppose that a mission trip is something one can never fully process. A lot happens and a lot changes in a person. Jesus opened my eyes to the darkness of Japan and the world. He's shown me that I have a heart for Japan and the people there. I know this wasn't my last trip to Japan. It was my honor to serve him.

I still remember my first time on the train; it felt dark and empty. The people looked lifeless and tired. It is that image that inspires and motivates me to minister to these people. If we won't, who will?

I will probably write more later...or maybe not... No more food to blog about...that's no fun...oh well... There's always next year! ;)

- Matt
Saturday, August 15, 2009

Susan - I missed Japan!

It's been 6 days since we've returned home from Japan and my internal clock is finally back to West Coast time! Although I'm happy to be back home sleeping on my comfortable bed and having the luxury of the bathroom all to myself, I missed waking up to the sound of someone making breakfast and the tapping noise of someone using the laptop. I missed the team! most of all I missed Japan and all the kids who came to VBS. One thing I don't miss is the mosquitos bites! I swelled up like a balloon for a few days, and the bad news, Shirley told me that the mosquito bites only gets worse each time I come back... I wondered why?

Before and during the trip, I had doubts about whether I should be a part of the Japan mission team. I wondered whether I was heeding to God calling me to go to Japan, or was I heeding to my heart's desires to go? So I prayed about it. Two things had to happen in order for me to go. First, the original date the team was set to leave conflicted with my work schedule. Then the original date fell thru because the Reasoner's were going to be out of town the same week the JMT was going to be in Tokorozawa, so the date was bumped up a week earlier, yeah for me! Second, I had to ask for time off from work which wasn't going to be easy because, one, I had a fairly new manager who was still learning his job, and two, I will be leaving during the most critical time in the company's accounting cycle. Again I prayed and God opened the way for me to go. Nothing is impossible for God, if it's His will, He will make a way!

Satan was at work again filling my thoughts with doubts about being called to serve on JMT. At first I didn't realized this was a spiritual attack until now as I'm writing this, otherwise I would have prayed against Satan's attack. But I did share about my doubts with some of the team members, so they must have been praying for me. As I see the smiling faces on the children and their eagerness to learn more about God, my doubt began to fade away. It wasn't unil our final debriefing at the Tamara's that my doubt had toally vanquished. Kohichi, shared with the team the responses from the kids and moms who attended VBS. I was so overjoyed to hear that the majority of the children wanted to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, even the moms said "yes" to Jesus! That was the best news ever!! I'm sure all the heavenly beings was shouting with joy over this.

I wish I could stay longer in Japan to help the Tamara's with the follow-up's. I'm praying that God would open the door for me to stay longer in Japan to help with the harvest and that He would provide workers to help the Tamara's, Reasoner's, and Nakamura's family to further His Kingdom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vincy in Seattle!

Hello everyone! I'm back in Seattle. My time is so messed up right now. But I already miss Japan! I am sort of glad that I'm out of Japan too. I heard all the rain is there and the wind and the earthquake... I feel bad for them. While it is so rainey and humid in Japan, it is so cool over here. I do miss the VBS team though. I miss the condo too, though it is nice to sleep in my own room too. The VBS was a great turnout, for both we all had alot of fun. They all loved the VBS. I'll never forget this trip. We all made it to church too. So much for sleeping in. Well in'till next year, bye-bye!

Vincy
2009 Japan Mission Team

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Janis - now for some fun of our own

Tom had the VBS kids play a 4-way "Tug of War". Here, the 4 BIG VBS KIDS play...
If you watch closely, Kohichi's socks do him in while Matt wins early...


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shirley: Sunday after NBF

I feel vindicated. It is raining today. There is typhoon coming to this area tonight. There is flash flooding in our area as well, affecting Saitama, near the SEND center, and slowly moving down towards us in Yokoahama/Nokendai and Yokosuka. Is our God the greatest or what?! Praise His Holy Name! I told you I was not kidding about rain and bad weather for last week. The Lord post-poned it one week for us so we could have a nice VBS and PE at the Park outside. We also had one of the longest earthquakes we have felt in a long time. Hope it did not stop the shinkansen, bullet train, that Kelly and Sharon are on right now to Nagoya.

Service was very nice today, 13 adults and 7 children. We did a recap of last week's bible stories with Sharon-sensei and we learned Romans 10:9, the hard version, to reinforce the VBS song "You Will Be Saved". Kohichi is doing a series on the book of James right now, but is explaining the relevant stories of the Old Testament starting with Abraham to give new people enough background about what James is teaching.

All in all, a very good Sunday, and an extra blessing to have Kelly and Sharon in service with us. Hope you all have a good Sunday at LCC this morning, also.


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