Monday, April 27, 2009

Commissioning Ken as ICCS Intern

Sunday we had a commissioning for Ken N. who is serving as a ministry intern at ICCS for the next year. Ken came to Christ at our fellowship, and was mentored by a ministry partner we had for a number of years, Mappe. Ken is 2/3rds of the way through a Bible School training program, and the school suggested he take the year and serve at the church before returning for his 3rd and final year.







Ken will be preaching one Sunday a month, and will be working with the Japanese speaking youth of our congregation. We are grateful to God for his work in Ken's life. We are also grateful to have him serving at ICCS at this time when we have more and more Japanese attending.



Stan called any who wanted to lay hands and pray for Ken to come to the front. By the time I realized I could film it, most of the English prayers had been said, and the ones on the film are praying in Japanese (which makes it easier for Ken to understand--he understands some English, but doesn't speak it.)





Join us in praying for God's blessing in and through Ken. Thank God that he recently found a part time job to help supplement his financial situation. Pray that he will find like-hearted friends his age with whom he can bounce ideas around about life and ministry.


While we are gone, another man in the church will be Ken's mentor.

Visual inspiration...

Ever since I started blogging, I have been on the lookout for interesting things to share with my readers. Here is my latest collection--

While riding on the bullet train a few weeks ago, I looked through the en-route magazine and saw this display for a desk.



It is not uncommon to see desks that are made low to the floor. In many Japanese homes, people still sit at low tables on mats rather than chairs. So having a desk at that level makes perfect sense.


I have no idea if this is the current slogan that McDonalds has in the US right now, but all the bags here in Japan have this inspiring motto:



We love to share our passion, too. But it isn't about food...unless we're talking about Jesus, the Bread of Life, and the Living Water.



As I walked through the second floor passage way on Sunday afternoon at my local Parco department store, I saw this below:



Parents and children sitting on blue tarps (in front of Starbucks--glad I decided to skip the cup of coffee!) watching a show with an animated character. I apologize that I don't know which character it is--we don't watch these in our house since we have two teenage boys.


A few months ago I wrote about how President Obama's speeches have inspired the Japanese. "Change, hope, yes we can" --




This is an advertisement for a fitness club that is posted on trains in our area.


And finally, sometimes there are things that just don't make sense. No matter how hard I try to connect the dots, there is nothing that works. This photo album cover was spotted at a local store.





If you have trouble reading the print, it says "Lovely Caskets"... the subtitle is even less enlightening. It is "splendid moments"



When I go to America, I'm going to miss...

that the cheapest cut of chicken I can buy is boneless breast...

I was shopping for meat at Costco the other day, and had to snap this photo of the chicken display.


The chicken is sold in 2 kilogram bags. They have boneless breast, boneless thigh, little drumsticks, wings and chicken breast tender filet.




The price for the boneless breast is 788 yen per 2 kilograms, or about $1.85 per pound .


The price for the thigh pieces, chicken tender filet and the wings averaged $3.75 per pound.


The drumsticks came in at around $2.30 a pound.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cleaning out Storage

Before we left for Home Assignment five years ago, we rented a space on the second floor of a "tea warehouse" to store our "stuff."

When we came back four years ago, and instead of moving into a four bedroom house, moved into a 3 bedroom apartment, we ended up continuing the contract. We pulled out things we wanted and shifted the boxes around so we could go through them from time to time.




I would make my way up these uneven metal steps to the storage to get or return the Christmas decorations, and several season I spent extended time sorting through things.



There is a service elevator, not really too fun to ride, but it does help getting furniture and big items up and down to the second floor.


After time, however, the storage space became pretty full and chaotic. And the thought of having to bring back our all our belongs from our apartment to store was a bit overwhelming when we walked in and had to squeeze our way through the stuff.



The room in which we have our space is divided into six sections--the marker for our section is that tape line in the photo above. We had put boxes along there as the outside "wall."

Stan and I spent two days this week out there, reshifting the boxes and "creating space." We moved the boxes into the corner, and stacked them to the ceiling. See the floor space?
Instead of the row of boxes, we moved some of the furniture along that outside wall.
Tonight, we're a bit sore and tired--but when we left, we felt like we had done it. I don't think we even need to go back until we go with the moving truck.
Now my dream is that we can find the funds to have someone else do the packing and moving for us...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Its Sunday evening in Japan, and we've enjoyed a day of worship




a sermon preached by our Japanese intern, Ken, translated into English by Tim (right)




and then the monthly covered dish lunch after the service which began with us singing "Happy Birthday" to the April birthday people--a large group this month.


We have a new young couple who started attending a few weeks ago from Madagascar who are here in graduate school and found our church on the web. I (Faith) spent time learning more out about them at lunch, and am rejoicing that God brought this sweet couple with a baby-on-the-way to our fellowship at ICCS.


Its times like these that make the prospect of leaving this body of believers in a little over two months somewhat sad. At the same time we are eager to see our family, friends and ministry partners in the States -- so we live in this state of paradox.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Preaching the Gospel to your Dad

We have been seeking God's provision of translators for a while. One woman has been doing it, but she will be relocating for ministry to another major Asian city in a couple of months.


Meanwhile, our intern, Ken, who doesn't speak much English, encouraged one of our high school boys to be a junior counselor at an evangelistic Soccer camp during the spring break a few weeks ago. While H. was there, he was drafted on the spot to translate from English to Japanese.


H.'s mother is from England and his dad is Japanese. He attends a school for children who are "returnees" coming back to Japan from schooling outside this country. He was still fairly young when he returned with his family from England, and has done well in his Japanese language acquisition. He was recruited for the Japanese Scripture reading "team" a year or so ago--this group reads the Scriptures in Japanese after Stan refers to in them in his English sermons, which is a great help on those Sundays when there is no translator.


The Sunday after the Soccer camp, Ken was going to share his testimony, so he had H. get up and translate for him...talking about him in the process. H. discovered that he "could do it" and got really excited about being able to translate. He feels he is up to simultaneously interpreting the sermons into Japanese. So Stan asked H. if he wanted to try translating the sermon on Easter Sunday. And without any reluctance, he said "yes."





H. translated with ease using Stan's script as a basis. Next to him is Ken, listening intently. Those who heard his translation felt he did a good job, very confident and speaking with ease. He's up to doing this about once a month.


In the congregation was H.'s dad--not a believer and not a regular church attender--who came to hear him translate his first sermon. The sermon was very straight forward, calling people to choose life in Christ...calling his dad to choose life in Christ. How wonderful it would be for this man to make that decision, and join the rest of his family!


This isn't all. H's sister is going to try her hand at translating in two weeks, and dad is coming back again to hear her.


We've asked many of you to pray for the need for translators. Meanwhile, God has been growing them up in our own congregation! H. is going to be going to Brisbane, Australia for a one-year exchange program later this year...he will be missed.



Easter 2009 at ICCS

We had a wonderful Easter celebration on Sunday here at ICCS. It was so enjoyable to see God working through various people within the congregation.



Stan had gotten back from his trip to the US on Thursday, and has been fighting jet lag--waking at 4 a.m. Perhaps it made it easier for him to get up and going to the SonRise service at 7:30. He was joined by six others, including Ken, our intern, who shared a short message in Japanese. Following the early service, they headed over to the church, got the coffee going, and set up a great continental breakfast spread.



It was a full house for the morning service. We had almost everyone there who usually attends, and a few guests as well. In the front row is a new couple from Madagascar who found us on the web and started coming three weeks ago! They are studying in graduate schools here in the Tokyo area.


We enjoyed worshipping lead by a full worship team.



It is a joy to be able to sing in Japanese -- and for those who don't read it, the romanized pronunciation is provided below the Japanese.



One of the highlights of this Sunday was the baptism of three young people, each of whom had put their faith in Christ at around 4 years old.


J was the first one to give his testimony.


Then C shared how he wanted to be baptized in obedience to Christ's commands.



Finally A got up and emotionally moved by the experience, shared a very precious testimony of her desire to be baptized. A is from Singapore, but attended Japanese elementary school for a while, so she asked if she could also give her testimony in Japanese--and even though she was struggling she plowed on to give it in Japanese too.

After their testimonies they each went and changed for their baptisms.

Stan is immersing J. in a tub we use for baptisms of "small people."





There is actual video of the baptism at the end of this blog.


Following the baptisms, Stan gave a clear presentation of the Gospel in his sermon. We have several non-believing husbands of believing wives in the congregation who we earnestly pray will take the step of faith. There is nothing quite like coming back from a believing family member's funeral to "power up" the gospel presentation.


When the service was over we had our traditional coffee time "Higher Grounds" and then we pulled the families together for photos.





A's family is here from Singapore working with Campus Crusade for Christ. They have been wonderful partners in the ministry at ICCS, as well.



J's family recently started attending ICCS. They met and married in the US, and J's father has worked for various multinational companies. J's mom is always the epitome of southern graciousness! And his sister is a new darling of the church.




C's family attended our church for a number of years before they left for a seven year interlude while working in the States and then at Faith Academy in the Philippines. His dad has returned to teach band at the Christian Academy and his mom also teaches in the elementary school. (Two sisters had left by the time we got to the photo op!)



This group represents a cross section of those who have made ICCS their home. And we all had a blast celebrating Easter with these young people's baptisms.


Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
The baptism is recorded on the video below--if you have time, please celebrate with us!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cherry Blossom Time again!

Today I couldn't help but take a few photos from my balcony of the cherry blossom season! It looks like the ground is covered with snow, but in fact, its blossoms that have fallen and are covering everything! The season has been a little longer thanks to a cold spell after the blossoms started opening--it has been beautiful.



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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Choices...

The other day Stan left for the States to attend his mom's funeral. As we were figuring out the best way for him to get to the airport on time for his 11:30 a.m. flight--we had to make a choice based on the probability of someone committing suicide on one of the train lines that he would have to travel.

In the past two months I've been on trains that have been delayed because of suicide at least four times. We understand that the authorities were expecting an increase in suicides in March because it is the end of the Japanese fiscal year and many people were losing their jobs...and their hope.

In late February I attended a meeting that started late because many of the attendees were on the same train line as I was that was halted for an hour while the "bodily injury accident" was being cleared off the tracks ahead of us.

When I got off the train, I was handed this pre-printed "excuse" that is prepared for travelers explaining that the train was over 40 minutes late. The hole punch is for the date. These generic forms are ready for use whenever they are needed.

We enter this Easter season, where we celebrate the hope of the resurrection, with the gratefulness that Mom De La Cour loved Jesus very much. And with the realization that we are surrounded by people who don't know this same hope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We opted for getting Stan on a 6:10 a.m. airport bus out of one of our nearby train stations for about $10 more than going by train--and he arrived at the airport with ample time.