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2011 Japan Mission Team
We are members of Lighthouse Christian Church in Bellevue, Washington. Our mission is to share God's grace and truth so that people come to know, love and share Jesus Christ. While in Japan we will divide into two teams to help run the VBS programs at Tokorozawa Megumi Church and Nokendai Bible Fellowship.
Karen, Randy, Jo Ann, Ev, Al, Matt, Bj, Tim
Nozomi, Katherine, Garrett, Andrew

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday at NBF on Sep 4

Here is a picture of our students on September 4 at NBF's 3pm afternoon service. Kohichi had them up front and interviewed them in a Q&A format since it is a rare Sunday that we get to see all three of them together (lots of school clubs on Saturday and Sunday afternoon). It was a blessing to hear about their time in the US with their host families and at JEMS Warm Beach camp. Apparently it was very cold for them, something they did not expect, I guess, although I did tell them to bring a fleece jacket just in case. They all spoke fondly of their time with their host families and how much everyone gathered at night just to talk. They enjoyed camp, especially Kaoru, and visiting Lighthouse church, seeing past and present VBS members, meeting new people and making new friends, eating American food, and just seeing the great American outdoors. They were amazed by how many cars there were, how big everything was and how "free" it felt to be there. We have asked each of them to prepare a more formal presentation and will schedule each for a time to share on Sunday when they are able to attend service again.

We had lots of visitors this day, because Larry and Alma Oline, our former TEAM missionaries, were in town visiting. We always have lots of people when they are in town!

We asked Larry if he could share a short message with us after the kids shared. He talked briefly about Proverbs 3:5-6, and Matthew 11:28-29, two timeless passages that all of us go back to again and again for encouragement, guidance and comfort.

We ended with a pretty grand tea and snack time as many visiting ladies brought sandwiches, fruit, pizza! and other more substantial snacks for a wonderful time of fellowship. We are thankful we have the chance to see the Oline's at least once every year in Japan. They are already in Kobe now serving as relief missionaries for 2.5 months as the assigned missionary family there takes a short furlough to the USA. We praise God for all his faithful and willing servants and pray that the Oline's time in Kobe would be fruitful, too! Amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Homestay Students Back Safely in Japan

August 30 at SeaTac Airport

August 31, 2011

On behalf of Nokendai Bible Fellowship, we are happy to report that our 3 homestay students arrived safely back in Japan on Wednesday afternoon in Japan, ahead of typhoon #12. Our heartfelt thanks to Lighthouse Christian Church body of believers and the host families who gave so generously of themselves to show Kaoru, Saya and Yuko an unforgettable first US experience.

God bless you and we look forward to the next time we may fellowship again in person!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I am back my regular schedule already, fighting off the jet lag. It's the first time that I had the time and energy to blog. On the VBS days, I got about 4-6 hours of sleep on average. While it was a busy time, the adrenaline kept me going and the mission was a satisfying experience. It was great to have an intense week of focus of sharing the gospel and spending time with those who Jesus loves and who He wants to know him. I was able to share my personal testimony twice - with the kids and also at Sunday Service, share the basics of the gospel, teach how to do a simple bible study, pray for personal concerns of the women in my bible study and just love the kids through recreation time and crafts.

Some of the most touching times were just seeing the kids having a good time and showing whole hearted interest in learning about Jesus. And while we didn't have the time to know how much the kids really understood, it was encouraging that almost all the kids raised their hands to say they wanted to accept Jesus into the hearts.

Free-spirited Lisa. Showing off her new Manga bible.

Kokoro. His name means "heart" and he lives up to his name. He does everything with his whole heart.

Garrett, Matt, Ayumi, Mimi, Andrew and Daiki

One particularly, heart-warming time was to witness the baptism of one of the children who attended VBS last year. Yuka was only 8-years old and yet she showed an understanding of who Jesus was and what he had done for her.

We really got the sense that we were building on the work of the previous years of VBS. There were many opportunities to experience Christian community through worship, prayer and fellowship. There seems to be movement toward wanting to know Jesus more and experience his love.

Three students - Yuko, Saya and Kaoru -- around 13-14 years old, will come home to stay with Lighthouse families and it is our hope that they will experience the lifestyle of loving Christian families as well as the extended family of God at Pacific Northwest JEMS Warm Beach Conference and the Lighthouse community. It makes me wonder about God's plan for the 3 students who are so fortunate to have this experience at a young age. My prayer is that God would use them to lead the church at home in Japan having witnessed a greater vision of what church could be.

Please pray that we would continue to build on the work of this year, and we will see even greater fruit next year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shirley-On Their Way Back
August 15, 2011

We all made it to the Yokohama City Air Terminal (YCAT) bus terminal at Yokohama station before 11:00 AM this morning, praise God! This was not such an easy task since the team was staying in several locations. We were all there on time and met Kayoko and Yukina and their mothers, the two homestay girls from Soshin who will be traveling back with the team. Saya and Yuko and their parents were there, too, so we had a big group of people sending off the team. It was joyful, exciting for the homestay girls, and a little sad with tears in many eyes of others, but we trust the Lord will bring all of us back together again someday soon. We are so very thankful for the time we had together and for the blessing we received all around from our work together for God's glory. Here are some photos of them leaving on the bus.

Afterwards, we all got together for lunch. It was great to see 4 dads at a table eating together and the moms and kids at a long table.

After lunch, we parted ways. We took Nozomi to the JR train entrance and sent him on his way to his grandmother's house after we put some ice-cream into him and my 3 girls. He called already to say he arrived safely, another praise.

We did not receive any frantic telephone calls from the airport, so I presume everyone made it onto their respective flights on time with all their luggage.

We continue to pray for our homestay students, for their experiences at Warm Beach, Lighthouse, JBC, and with their host families and our extended church families in Bellevue and Seattle. May the Lord have His way with all of us during this time as we each seek to know Him and love Him, and obey Him as He calls us to various work He has planned for us in advance all around the world. Kaoru will join the other students at Warm Beach; he flies out on August 17 with a camp counselor from Warm Beach, another unexpected blessing that was arranged by our Lord back in June. The 2 Soshin students return with the Hwangs on August 25, landing in Japan August 26. The 3 NBF students return on August 30, landing in Japan on August 31. Our many thanks to those who helped arrange all our homestays, especially Mei-Ling, and to the families who are willing to host our students. We look forward to hearing their stories when they return to NBF in Japan. God bless you all!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Shirley-Blessed Weekend

Saturday, August 13
On Saturday night, we had the privilege of going to Semplice, Mr. Pagnotta's restaurant in Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, an amusement park with aquarium very near Kohichi's workplace in Yokohama. We enjoyed his Italian cooking and a time of wonderful fellowship with the whole Pagnotta family.
We celebrated Yuko's 13th birthday together; her birthday was today August 13.
And, we even saw some fireworks in the park around 8:30pm.

Except for not meeting up with the TMK team that evening at 5:30pm, because I miscommunicated the train station, it would have been a perfect night. But the Lord's mercy and grace are ever present, and we were able to meet them in Yokosuka at our apartment building, got Al and Ev settled into their room, got the 3 older boys to the Hoki's house, and dropped off Matt and Nozomi at the Onizuka's for the next 2 nights, all before midnight, praise God!

Sunday, August 14

On Sunday afternoon at our 3pm service, we were surprised to see 48 people at our service. We almost ran out of chairs, a wonderful problem to have.
This was a special day since the TMK team with with us and we had a planned baptism for Yuhka-chan. She was so brave and did such a good job answering Pastor Gerald's questions about her faith and commitment to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Yuhka's step of faith was a powerful witness to other children in the room who later told their mother that if that was what baptism was, they wanted to do it too. They had been scared off by the concept of being dunked under water. If their faith is there and sprinkling works for them, then praise God! Perhaps this is the beginning of many baptisms among the VBS children this year!

Overall, we had a joyous time of worship and celebrated with a potluck dinner afterwards. We ate and talked and laughed and had wonderful fellowship together until almost 8:00pm!

What a blessed way to end a week of VBS at NBF. We are so very thankful for our partnership with the Lighthouse Church in Bellevue and pray that our continued work together would reap a grand harvest in Japan for God's glory. Amen!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shirley-NBF Day 5, Last Day of VBS

Praise God for a terrific week of VBS at Nokendai Bible Fellowship. We had 21 kids today and were joined by many moms who have come faithfully all week to help and observe. Several dads showed up this afternoon, also to pick up their kids and see what they have been doing all week.

We took a group picture at lunch with many of the kids wearing their tie-dyed T-shirts! After a wonderful morning introduction, Mrs. Karen's experiment depicting sin and turning water into wine, we also had Nozomi-kun's testimony and an in depth bible discussion in each group and an invitation to say the believer's prayer, also. We pray for those who checked the box that said they had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior today! We will do our best to follow-up with each person to encourage them in their new life in Jesus.
After lunch, we did marbling paper crafts that turned into beautiful cards complete with envelopes. The kids were still revving up and wanted to continue to do iron-beads and other recreation games, but we just plain ran out of time. We handed out pictures with picture frames, our gift bags and "Messenger" manga bibles, the fifth in the series that starts with "Messiah".

It is hard to believe a whole week has gone by already and it is almost time to say "good-bye" to our NBF team. We look forward to meeting up with the TMK team tomorrow night in Yokosuka. We pray that the Lord would continue to work in the hearts of all the children and parents we met this week as we continue to nurture our relationships with each of them. May God bless them and keep them and shine His face on them and give them peace. Amen.

Al and Ev: Final Night at Okutama and the animals come out!

Tonight's dinner was a jungle theme. We decorated the dining room to look like a jungle and each cabin group had to come down to the pool, get in a raft and row to the another side while fighting off a hippo who made big splashes (BJ in a rubber hippo mask), a frog that used a squirt gun and wanted to jump into the boat (Andrew in a rubber frog mask) and a very scary baboon (Tim) who tried to grab you if you got too close to "shore". We were afraid that the boys would get bonked on the head with a paddle by some of the girls. One girl even stood up to get better aim. Elias Reasoner was also a monkey and he and Tim really moved like a monkey and baboon! The kitchen staff all come out to watch the show. There must have been 8 rafts of kids at least. Those guys were so tired. We had a great dinner of salad, German sausage on a bone, fried boneless chicken, broccoli, corn on the cob, and dirt pudding with a gummy worm for dessert. All the meals have been really delicious - almost like a restaurant than camp food. God has blessed us at Okutama because we really got to serve not just with a servant's heart but literally as servants - meeting physical needs of believers in Japan by putting aside our comforts and doing hard work. Our wonderful "slave masters" were Laura and Bruce Harris, the director of the camp. The staff at the camp is so dedicated - the cook has been serving for 15 years! Ev learned to crack an egg properly by hitting it against another egg!! It works! After breakfast, we will be heading back to Tokyo area and then to Yokohama to have dinner with the NBF team. It will be so good to see them again. Thank for all your prayers. Al and Ev





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