Monday, November 29, 2010

Hurray for Guidelines!

When we got back from our home assignment, our car navigational system no longer had the ability to show back-up guidelines. We have a camera that helps us back up (you may remember that is how we park) and the system had always given us some lines to help in the alignment process.

But they were gone. I went to the user guide to try to figure out how to get a hold of them again, and the button I was supposed to push didn't even show up on the set-up screen. I thought about stopping by the dealership to see if they could help, though I feared looking like a dumb ____ (woman/ foreigner).

I originally learned how to back into parking places without the help of guidelines and a back-up camera, and I've been complimented several times on my skill. The most recent was yesterday at the church parking lot when an older Japanese man praised me in English as soon as I stepped out of the van. I was in a little shock at his comment--here he was in traditional Japanese clothing, with the wooden sandals, a cloth around his head, and for some strange reason, a huge gold "x" earring in his right ear--but I surprised him by responding in Japanese.

A couple of weeks ago, I turned the van on briefly to close the side mirrors, and then turned it off quickly. The next time I started the car, the navigational system looked like it was going to have a break-down...before getting to the normal start screen. I went to put the car in reverse, and there--

--were my guidelines!

It has taken a lot of pressure off of backing into the parking space in our house where we have to narrowly fit in between a corner of the house and the fence. (Pictured here is our church parking space).

I'm grateful for these guidelines but I'm even more grateful for the guidelines we find in the Bible. Life without the wise instruction from God is so chaotic and random. Remember, God promises that our lives are blessed if we keep His statutes and seek Him with all our heart. (Psalm 119)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A special anniversary

I wrapped my US trip up with a visit to Nashville, where I met up with my sister and brother. It has been four months since we were together for Dad's funeral, and twelve years on Monday since Mom went to be with the Lord. We converged for a time of planning "next steps" together.

We made it out to visit our parent's graves. The gentle wind blowing through the fall late afternoon was quite different from the extremely hot and humid July afternoon at our last visit.

As followers of Jesus with the assurance of our parents' faith in Christ, we realized that while it is a good place to remember them, none of us had any sense of being "closer" to them there.

Back at the house we felt a bit like archaeologists, though, as we began going through files and boxes of family memories. We discovered some that we had never seen before, such as

Our mother's baby book!

We enjoyed the photo of our grandmother (who died before our brother was born) holding her little girl in this sweet book. On the page that asked about "baby's first Christmas" we read that they stayed home from the family gathering since the North Dakota temperatures that day were -30F. We all shuddered at that one!

There were a couple of elementary school autograph books. Almost everyone wrote in rhyme. Many of them were quite darling--some were surprisingly risqué in an elementary-student innocent way for the 40's... And imagine having your mom to be the first one to write in your book!

We found a stack of post cards written to our dad as a young boy from his grandfather. Since he didn't live with a father, his grandfather was quite an important person to him.

My brother brought several of his children with him on this trip. It was a delight to spend time with nieces and a nephew that I rarely get to see.

There was a lot of fun going on!

The night before we all left, we sat around the dining room table enjoying one another, so blessed to have this time. We don't know when we'll have our next "reunion" but we know we will have to start deliberately scheduling them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

reminders and reminiscing

Today we wrapped up our second visit and had a little time to visit some friends at the Campus Crusade International Headquarters. While waiting for my friend to come get us we wandered through the Jesus film display.

Half-way down the hall was a display that caught my eye, because of the story that involved our friend Alfred who serves in Uganda. He was the driver of a vehicle, filled with a group of people who had been doing the Ateso language voice-overs for the Jesus video in 1987, that was ambushed by guerrillas. The two men who were killed in that ambush are honored on this wall.

Moses Ogiel (left) died instantly in the ambush, and John Eluru(center), the voice of Jesus, died two days later. Eight years later, Stan was visiting Alfred who was telling him the story while driving past the place they were ambushed...then pointed to the holes in the door of the vehicle where the bullets had passed...

It was a good reminder of the costs involved in sharing the Gospel.

After looking around a little more, my friend came and walked us through several areas of the Crusade campus. Since my area of work is Missionary Care, she introduced me to some of her coworkers in that area. Then she took me to another building where we connected with some Crusade staff who used to serve in Japan.

The couple in the center, Dan and Sheree, left Japan after our oldest children completed first grade (those children are now 24, so that gives some time perspective). Tom, on the right, left Japan about 8 years ago. They are all active in ministries that still impact Japan on strategic administrative levels. Dan, Sheree and I got on facebook to reminisce over photos of our kids in pre-school and first grade...

The night before my Asian Access team had dinner with Valerie, who had been with us in the late 80's and early 90's before going to serve with Co-Mission for a number of years. There were a lot of stories going around the table of days gone by and people we had worked with.

I wonder who we're going to connect with in Colorado...that's our next stop.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Photos from my trip...

I am presently on a tour in the US with three other colleagues from Asian Access. We are on a fact-finding assignment, meeting with three other mission organizations. On my way from Japan to the east coast, it only seemed right to stop in California to catch a brief visit with my daughters.

I also got to be the first mission person to see this little one--our latest addition to the Asian Access mission family. Her mom, Emi, and I are both HRD--she handles the US side and I handle the Japan side. It was fun to have my first baby with me, too!

Later that evening both my girls were able to join me at Balboa Beach for dinner at a restaurant. It was so precious to spend time with these girls. I am continually blessed by the work God is doing in each of their lives. I get to see A at Christmas, when she'll return to spend a few weeks with us. B is going to England for the holidays to spend time with a special friend and his family...

We had meetings on Thursday and Friday, so Saturday was a day off after this first visit, and we had a chance to see some places around Charlotte, NC.

First we stopped to show the camera man the way to Japan... A little east of China.

In an effort to impress my sons, we stopped for a photo op at the Nascar Hall of Fame.

We went from there to the Billy Graham Library. It was a moving visit (once we got past the moo-ving part of a talking cow on the Graham dairy farm...). There were many video clips, still photos and memorabilia.

I couldn't help but have this photo taken after we had gotten through the whole exhibit!

The fall colors are out, and we got a photo of three of our group, plus long-time friend and former colleague, Bruce outside the Graham Library.

I took a little detour down to Ruth Bell Graham's grave-site. On the gravestone is the Chinese character for righteousness. At the bottom are the words "End of Construction, Thank you for your Patience." Apparently she had seen that after a wait on a highway later in her life, and had requested that be on her gravestone.

We're on to the second stop. Maybe there will more photos in a few days. Meanwhile, if you pray, please remember to pray for wisdom and discernment for the four of us meeting with people, as well as for safety and health. Lots of flights, short on sleep, and intense meetings wear down the immune system!

Friday, November 05, 2010


This is my 401st blog post! No, I haven't kept track of it myself, but I happened to notice the number on the listing of posts when I signed on.

Living in Japan for many years, I have gotten somewhat used to seeing shrines and statues here and there, but once in a while something happens that shocks me again into realizing we live in a land where so many are following a lie.

If you think back to our "refrigerator on a crane" story, you may remember that I was hanging out a third story window taking photos of the mover on our balcony railing directing the furniture through the door. While I was up there, I happened to notice something in our neighbor's back yard.

They have their own little Shinto shrine. This is directly against our back fence, and within feet of one of our son's bedroom. To be honest, it made me feel uneasy. We know that our God is greater than the forces of darkness represented here, and we pray for His protection over us as we live is such close proximity.

Last month I had another reminder as the local shrine parade car stopped in our neighborhood for a while the day before the Tokorozawa Matsuri (See the blog from when my daughter and I went to this Festival). I realized that we live in an older neighborhood--and there are long-time connections between some of the families nearby and some shrine in the area.

A couple of days ago, I was reading Psalm 115.
Not to us, LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.

Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.

But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.

The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike. (115: 1-13, NIV)

I am so grateful to know the Living God who loves us and is faithful, who is our help and shield, who remembers us and blesses us, who sees us regardless of light or darkness, hears when we call to him, and speaks through his word.

If you pray, ask God to enable us to live out the life God has called us to in this neighborhood. Specifically, we need to find ways of connecting with those who live nearby -- our lives are busy and we seldom have opportunity to "hang out" trying to catch people. There are almost no "natural" ways for us to intersect with them.