Friday, March 31, 2006

Our 25 year celebration and other retreat photos

Here is a photo from the 25 years of service celebration at the Asian Access retreat. The photos in the certificate span those years. It was very special!

We start the last month of our Alpha course tomorrow. It has been a good experience, and we are certainly learning as we go along. We have a list of what we'll do differently "next time." Even so, the course is going well.

At the retreat we somehow managed to get the "boys" of the mission together for a great photo. The Cubs baseball caps were provided by the Illinois team that came to provide the worship and the children's ministry for our Asian Access retreat. Can you pick our twins out?

On Sunday afternoon, we managed to "sneak away" with Bob and Harriet to the Cowboy House restaurant. When we were all in language school, Bob and Stan were involved in a Bible study with the guys from the Cowboy House, and they both did a Saturday morning radio broadcast from the restaurant's little studio. The broadcast radius was less than a mile, but they had fun doing it. So...20 some years later, we got over to the Cowboy house and had dessert and coffee, and chatted with Shin-san, who was a waiter in the old days, and now runs the restaurant.

On our way out of town, we stopped at what used to be a Burger King, for a photo of the boys. This is the same place we took the photo below nine years ago. There have been a few changes--one being their willingness to pose!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Alpha Weekend Participants

We were able to gather together on Saturday for a day of learning about the person and work of the Holy Spirit with our Alpha group this past weekend. It was a good, but very packed day. We have already decided that next time we offer this course, we will truly schedule a weekend retreat, rather than an all day gathering. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006


We have just returned from the Annual Asian Access Spring Retreat. What an encouragement it was to be with our mission family! While there, the mission celebrated our (Stan's) 25 years* of service with a lovely certificate, a cake, and a DVD presentation of our years of ministry and family (thanks for the work, Jason and Emi!). It was a special treat that the speaker and his wife were the couple that we started language school with oh so many years ago. Bob and Harriet came from central Illinois, where Bob pastors a church now.

As a mission we celebrated the new missionaries, we celebrated babies, we celebrated faithful service of our returning short term missionaries, and we celebrated (with tears) the end of service of another long-term mission family. Most of all, though, we celebrated God's faithfulness. I believe that God has set before us an amazing challenge as we work to see churches multiplied, and as we develop leaders who will develop leaders, both in Japan and through out other parts of Asia. Our theme was "expanding the vision". Our prayer is that God will expand our vision and our faith!

We will include a few photos later--like after my computer has its system reinstalled... I had problems with it while we were gone. Thankfully I can use our daughter's computer when she's at school!

*Twenty five years--actually, in September it will be 27 years since Stan first arrived in Japan. I came with him 22 years ago in August. We were on home assignment last year, so they delayed our celebration by one year. Twenty five years--looking at some of the old photos, it makes me realize that we are some of those "old" missionaries now! We have short term missionaries serving here now who weren't born when we first came!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Our apartment

We have now spent four months in our apartment--this gift of God. We usually enjoy living here... The location has been ideal for both our ministry (10 minutes walk from ICCS) and for the kids' commute to the Christian Academy (5 minute walk to the station and 15-20 minute train ride). I think that since the apartment is a bit unique in its shape, we enjoy it a little more! But one more room would have been nice.

The floor plan is typical of what one gets here in Japan when you go to rent a place, although this one has more detail with the actual dimensions (in centemeters). Housing is labed by the number of rooms, so this one is called a 3LDK--meaning that there are three rooms in addition to the joint Living-Dining room. Rooms are rated by the number of tatami (woven straw) mats that could fit in them. So, we have one 6-mat room, one 4.5 mat room, the size of the living/dining room is 12 mats, and the triangular room is calculated to be 10 mats. All this translates into 82 square meters, which we figured to be about 920 square feet.

So, when we were expecting a place that was at least 115 square meters, this is a bit of a squeeze. The phrase "ruthlessly eliminate clutter from your lives" (I think I got it from an Ann Ortland book years ago) came to mind when we started to move in here! It has to be my daily motto--because there is no room for clutter, and anything out of place looks like clutter! [Okay, there are two rooms that are not my direct responsiblity, and they do tend to be more cluttered--but I can close those doors and if the occupants are comfortable then theoretically, I should be too.]

Here are two views of our living/dining room, with the kitchen off to the left. Notice how bright it is! We have a lovely southern exposure which is valued in Japan. That means that if the sun is out, we get it. It helps to keep the apartment warm in the winter...which is actually one of the benefits of living here. This is the first winter in our 20+ years that we haven't had to feel chilled constantly! The apartment has been warm and relatively draft free. Our utilitiy costs are about 1/5 what they were in our old house.

A is the one with the smallest room. We have borrowed a loft bed now, and so she has more floor space, but she is defintely cramped. When her sister was home at Christmas, there was no floor space. I have to say that we admire her attitude. This is challenging to her (her last room was this small, too). Someday I hope she is rewarded with an expansive room!

The boys room is the "coolest" in this apartment. It is down a little hallway, and has this great sweep to open space. They seem to enjoy it. We had hoped to be able to split them, but this room is large enough, and provides enough open space, that they seem to be doing reasonably well sharing.

Our room is the "tatami" room--it has the straw mat flooring. We've covered it with a carpet so we can put the bed down on it without doing too much damage to the tatami. We have a whole wall of closets--but none of them are full length. There is a shelf that goes across the width of the closet about where you see the circle handles.

It is a bit weird to be in a bedroom without windows...this is an inside room. In a different family, this room might be used as an extension of the living room. The photo is being taken from the living room, and the wall here is actually three doors but we have the china cabinet in front of two of them.

The final photo is our balcony, aka clothes dryer... Our electric clothes dryer is broken, and we held off replacing it with the thought that if we moved into a house with a gas connection, we would buy a gas dryer. Meanwhile, along with most of Japan, we hang our laundry out on racks and poles and make use of solar heat! Our small freezer is at the end of the balcony. If those trees weren't as tall as they are, you would be able to see Mt. Fuji in the background.

Our first service

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.

- Life Together
, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Joining the 21st Century

Some days there are so many tidbits in "life in Japan" that we want to share. Letters don't quite give enough opportunities, and e-mail updates get too lengthy if we insert these thoughts. So, we are going to join the 21st Century and start blogging!