Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seeing an old friend...

Twelve years ago, a little girl found an abandoned puppy in a puppy carrier on the beach near our cabin. After crying a river of tears, and with a Dad who couldn't resist, we decided to adopt this young, energetic puppy...knowing that as missionaries we would have to trust God to provide for his care during the years we were away from Japan.

Fast forward to Monday, when we went to visit Teddy (Senator Teddy Tak De La Cour) at his latest home. When we moved back to Japan in 2005, we were unable to take Teddy home since we live in a "no-pets" apartment. A family with two home-schooled daughters gladly took him and have taken good care of him. Since the little girl who cried him into our family is leaving for college, we wanted her to have a chance to see Teddy again (remember the RAFT we're building? Another Farewell.)

Teddy recognized Stan right away--jumped all over him! For a 12 year old dog who had an illness last year that they thought was going to take him, he still has that youthful energy. And a memory of Stan with the treats in his pocket. (Stan didn't disappoint him.)

The kids all enjoyed seeing him, though he didn't seem to be as attached to them. (They were rarely part of his daily routine, as I recall.)

We had a good time visiting with Teddy in his family's yard. Then they offered that we could take him for a walk along the river near their house.

Everyone had a chance to walk him--and while he was panting, I think he could have walked a lot more.

We had a wonderful time...and left feeling very sad. Teddy was an important part of our lives. Stan and I both spent significant time with him. As we saw the boys really interacting with him for the first time, we realized what a prime and age they are at for caring for a dog. One son, in particular, could really benefit from this.

What makes it harder is that the family he is with now will have to find another home for him in the next couple of months because they are moving into the city and won't have a place to keep him.

Heartbreak! The" if onlys" start again... Please pray that Teddy finds a good home. And pray for these boys who could benefit from a relational pet...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Japan pop culture and American youth

We are finding more and more North American young adults who have grown up absorbed in Japanese contemporary culture. Stan and I talked with a young man the other day who was spouting off names of Japanese performing artists -- knowing Japan pop culture far more than we do. So when I ran across this travel article about a family bringing their young adolescent boy to Japan, I found it interesting.

Two notes--
1) I've tried to get our boys to some of these things and they're not interested. Like most poeple who don't go to the tourist sights in their town, we have missed some of these. My personal hope is to get to the Gibli Museum in the next year with the guys.

2) We try to stay away from religious sites as much as possible when we are touring with guests. We don't endorse every stop this family made.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Prayer Quilts for our High School Seniors

On Sunday we gave two of our graduating high school seniors their prayer quilts we had made as a reminder of our prayers for them.

Over the past month, people from church have been taking the threads that hold the quilt together, and knotting them as they pray for the girls' transitions, their maturity in Christ, their future. So, each knot represents a prayer.

The quilts were made with traditional Japanese prints, since each of the girls will be going to college in the U.S. It is a touch of home for them.

This quilt goes with this young lady to Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA.

Each quilt was a different combination of fabrics for the top.

This quilt goes with this young lady to Vanguard University, Costa Mesa, CA.

Each quilt has a cross on the back, to remind the recipient that God loves them so much that He sent His Son so that they can have eternal life.

All our quilts have the label on the right--with the recipient's name, the chapel's name, and the date we made this quilt for them.

In Japan it is typical to receive a farewell gift of a decorative board full of messages and signatures of your friends. We decided to incorporate that concept into the quilt with a block of fabric and fabric pens.

Dancing around the World

This is a fun video that we ran across the other day. Hope you enjoy it!

A little summer aside

This is one of those times where people who have seen our daughters' perform will realize where the acting gene came from...

One of Stan's former students contacted us about casting our oldest in a short movie he was making. She was unable to participate but Stan asked if there was a role for him....

Meet the psychiatrist--Dr. Erik something or other--who is trying to help a young man with hikikomori* return to participating in real life. When the trailers and the short video come out, we'll get you the links.
Filming took place over a couple of days--and it is very safe to say that Stan had a blast.
*social withdrawal syndrome--where a person shuts himself at home for at least six months, has no intimate relationships other than with family members, does not display symptoms of other psychotic disorders, and does not take part in social activities, such as school or work. (Japanese government definition). It seems to be an attachment disorder. This is described in the book "Shutting out the Sun".

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is that our son with his nose in a book?

Our boys are dyslexic. This makes language arts--reading and writing--one of their least favorite subjects. So when this one started to read before he went to bed every night towards the end of 7th grade, we were very pleased. Their school has a summer reading program--this one is shown here reading C.S. Lewis's "Out of the Silent Planet" -- his third and last required book in the reading program. He's written one of the required book reports already.

His brother is still dragging his feet on the first book... I took him with me to the office today to read--he spent about three hours (and has slowly gotten into Cornelia Funke's "Dragon Rider").

In addition to the three required books from a book list, they have also been given the class novels for 8th grade English, with the recommendation that they pre-read them this summer. We will probably opt to read those out loud when we head to the cabin in a few weeks.

We used audio books for their class novels last year, which may work in a pre-read situation, but they often didn't take the reading assignment as seriously when they were listening. We'll keep our membership at Audible for a while longer, however. (Our second daughter found it helpful for some of her required reading, too...but then, she's multitasking with craft projects while listening to the books).


You see on the table next to the emerging reader two of three prayer quilts for our church's high school graduates who are heading to college this summer. We'll complete the tying and give them to the girls on Sunday. The fabric is traditional Japanese prints, which we hope will be a touch of home away from home for these young ladies.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The "De La Cour Law of Convergence" -- or how everything important has happened THIS week...

A number of years ago I coined the term "De La Cour Law of Convergence" when I began realizing that if there was an important and significant event that was scheduled for a particular day, at least three other equally important events would be scheduled for the exact same day/time. This happens so regularly, that it must be one of the natural laws!

So, this is one of those times. We have had some special guests come to Japan, and have been involved in meeting with them over the past few days.

On Monday, we spent the morning talking with Bruce Johnson (front row, left), VP of Leadership Development for Asian Access. At 1 p.m. we gathered with other Asian Access staff in the Tokyo area to meet with our new ministry President, Joe Handley (front row, center). Joe took office on June 30, and has spent the last week flying around Japan meeting with as many missionaries as possible to begin getting acquainted with our ministry first-hand. It was a great time, and we are looking forward to what God has for Asian Access with Joe in the lead.

A few hours later we were at a Korean Barbecue Restaurant for dinner with the team from College Church in Wheaton who had come to help out at an adult English camp. They had finished their camp duties earlier in the day, and had returned to the Tokorozawa area. Two of the people had been here before to help with this camp two years ago, and it was fun catching up with them. The family on the right, behind Stan, have served in Japan with SEND for around 10 years. They are sent out from College Church (as are we) and will be returning to the States in a month.

The following day, Stan took the College Church team to visit the Tokyo Edo Museum--where one can get a fairly concise history of Tokyo in a few hours. After lunch, they took the train to the Imperial Palace, where they walked around the parade grounds.

We have also been hosting our oldest daughter's roommate from this past year for the week. It has been fun for me to meet her in person--and I think they've had a good time. It means a lot for B to be able to show her US friend some of her personal history in Japan. They joined into the Tuesday tour day, as well.

While they were out I was giving a devotional at the Japan Campus Crusade Prayer meeting on "missionary self-care." I enjoyed being able to share in this way.

Today, I had promised the girls earlier to go visit a few things in the Shinjuku/Harajuku area of Tokyo and go have lunch at a favorite restaurant. Stan had an Alpha meeting that was held at that same restaurant, and I had hoped to get in on the last part of the meeting, but the girls and I were slow in getting there, and we were finished about the time Stan finished.

All of these have been delightful...and I am tired! There are still more things scheduled for this week.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wheaton Alumni gathering

Last Wednesday, Stan and I attended a Wheaton Alumni gathering held at Tokyo Christian University, where the Wheaton President, Dr. Duane Litfin, had been giving some lectures. There are quite a number of Wheaton graduates in the area, but the timing and location cut down on the turn out significantly.

It was interesting to hear Dr. Litfin talk about the school. I think most of us wondered if we would have qualified for admission based on today's standards! I remember, as a transfer student in the mid 70's, feeling awed by God allowing me to attend this premiere school. I am grateful for the input I received from teachers and fellow students during my time at Wheaton.

We had a chance to make some connections with Japanese alumni. It was delightful to meet a Japanese pastor, a psychologist and his wife as well as a current Wheaton student. We reconnected with other missionary alumni and met a couple of newer "missionary alumni" as well.

We also were able to be introduced to top staff at the Tokyo Christian University. They have an impressive program, and while we have recommended the school to various people, we hadn't ever actually been there before! In addition to their undergraduate liberal arts degree for Japanese students, they also offer an English-language degree program for students from outside Japan who have an interest in future ministry in Asia. Check it out at

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Reconnecting with friends

On Monday we had a chance to visit with some friends who used to to serve in Japan with another mission. Ron and Carol had been acquaintances of Stan's and we spent time together with their family when they were here living near Yokohama. Its been 10 years since they were led to relocate to Southern California, where Ron is a pastor and Carol is a counselor.

We spent time chatting, catching up, and enjoying "Japanese-Chinese" food together. Our girls and their girls were very close in age--and it didn't take too long for them to warm up to conversation again after 10 years.

Ron and Carol had specifically decided to bring their girls back to help with some MK grief and closure issues. The girls were early adolescents when they were moved back to the States, and the transition was not easy for them. This was their first trip back--the oldest one just graduated from college, the other has one more year. We felt privileged to be included in their visit.

We really enjoyed seeing them all together. I've seen both Ron and Carol at various times when I've gone back for mission-related business. Stan and I had lunch with them on our last home assignment. They are special people to us, and this was a treat. (I just noticed both our boys are smiling!!!)

Carol and I had a chance to talk privately for a while. I have been feeling quite depleted the past few months, and I had shared some of this with her when I saw her earlier in the year. We closed our little time together with her praying for me. I honestly don't remember being prayed for so intensely in a very long time. It meant so much to me. Thanks, Carol!

Friday, July 04, 2008

ICCS has a summer barbecue--indoors due to rain

With five Sundays in June, the leadership of ICCS decided that the last Sunday would be our annual picnic/BBQ after the service. Realizing that this was also still in rainy season, they made plans for the possibility that we couldn't meet at a local park as planned.

Good was pouring on Sunday afternoon!

That didn't seem to dampen the plans for anyone though--especially the BBQ chef, Pastor Stan.

While this is where we always have our covered dish lunches, we were a little more "rustic" -- no table cloths and fancy serving dishes. Just the basics...and great food!

People were very relaxed--stayed around longer than at a usual covered dish--and cleared out most of the desserts and salads. We had a couple of people who don't usually attend, including the Japanese husband of one of our English church members. Another person had invited an acquaintance who found many people willing to sit and talk with her. We also had an Alumni of ICCS visit with his two children--it was great to see you Ray!

There was lots of time to sit and talk across the table. Even two of our children had an intense discussion over salad, chicken and hamburgers.

Once the dessert table was set, the young crowd was waiting. Lots of brownies, chocolate from Switzerland (one of our people goes there regularly for his work), Scandinavian cakes and other goodies. And when it was over, we had lots of help in the kitchen, and the room was reset for church.

One of the men, not yet a believer, said again that he has never experienced such a warm, friendly church. There are advantages to being smaller. But we believe that this is the work of the Spirit in the lives of people, who are willing to sit around the tables and listen to one another, share together in the breaking of bread, and to pray for one another. We experience family with one another.