Sunday, March 25, 2012

One year ago...

I grew up with a dad who kept a diary.  When we closed up his home last year, we collected the multiple volumes and have stored them for that "someday" when one of us kids has a chance to leaf through them.  I remember how often we would get an email telling us that "in 1967 your mom and I ..." or "three years ago, you..."  Sometimes it was endearing, sometimes it was annoying.  But those diaries are a treasure store of personal and family history.

Four years ago, I started keeping a diary.  There are some very nice volumes in the Japanese market, and I picked up a three-year diary, specifically with the thought that  it would take me through the one-year home assignment cycle. (Which usually involves a three-year process...).

When that diary was complete, Stan got me my next diary.  I'm now on the second year of this one, and reading entries from the past few weeks has been a good exercise in remembering God's faithfulness in the days following the earthquake and tsunami, as well as how I was tracking the news related to radiation and whether the Asian Access missionaries should  be evacuating. [Instead we had people heading up to begin relief work in the tsunami devastated areas.]

Today I filled in the notes for the 25th and then noticed that last year there were several interesting entries.

1) Stan had a God-ordained meeting with a prayer team from New Song Church in Irvine, CA that encouraged him tremendously--and introduced him to some new friends.

2) We bought GAS!  This was 2 weeks after the earthquake, and we finally were able to fill up our car. It wasn't that we were driving a lot, but if we had needed to evacuate to another part of Japan, we didn't have enough gas to get very far.  This brought  tremendous relief.

3) I bought milk!  Up until this point, milk was being rationed--1 liter (slightly more than one quart) per customer. Since I typically buy three to four liters every other day, this was a sign of things settling down.

Looking to the 26th, it took me a while to figure out what I meant by "working out my stress on the carpet." I was trying to remember what I did--did I pitch a tantrum?  Any ideas?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Going Deeper, Learning more about our Partnership

Asian Access/SIM
We just got back from our annual retreat with the Asian Access/Japan family.  As I mentioned in my last post, we had an opportunity to learn more about the Strategic Partnership that Asian Access and SIM have entered into together. We are show here wearing  the joint-logo t-shirts that SIM had made for us.

a strategic partnership for JAPAN
We met in four mini training modules to learn more about the process of integrating with SIM, and each missionary family that will be going through that process in the next six to seven months had personal meetings with SIM's Director of Personnel, and Director of Finance.  In addition, as the first family to have already made the transition, we were able to share some of our own experiences with those who asked.

We spent some time commissioning our Tohoku Team and praying for each family and the children who are heading up there over the next few months. It was a very emotional time for many of us. Tonight, one single and a couple are now with their church planting partners in Tohoku.  One family is needing to find housing in Ishinomaki  by the end of this month so their children will be able to enter the local Japanese elementary school at the start of the school year next month. Another family is looking for housing in Sendai, and we are still seeking God's direction regarding the right placement for the final family. 

It was the first retreat in a long time that we didn't have children with us but there are many little ones in our mission.  Stan had a nice few minutes entertaining little Tigger here. This one made his debut at our last mission gathering in September.

2012 Asian Access Spring Retreat, Karuizawa, Japan

We enjoyed the music and children's ministry of a team from King's Harbor church in Torrence, California. They were a great blessing as they generously gave their time and energies on our behalf.  If you want to see some of their insights, go to

It was a good time, with a very full schedule.  We thank God for  His mercies on us all during this time together. We were challenged to Go Deeper in our relationship with Christ and his Word, and were encouraged that God is at work in our world.  We thank each of you who prayed for us!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ready for a Mountain-Top Experience!

Asian Access 2011 Retreat Photo
Its that time again...time for our mission to gather at Megumi Chalet in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture for our annual retreat.  Last year will be a retreat to we were sitting in an afternoon session on March 11, and the building started to shake...significantly shake...and Japan was changed...

This year, we are hoping for a different movement--one of the Spirit of God encouraging us to go deeper in our relationship with Him.  We will have one of our board members, Dave Bennett, sharing from the Word on the theme of "Going Deeper."  Having been under his teaching before, I know this will be an excellent time of spiritual nourishment and challenge.

We also have three administrators from SIMUSA coming to meet the Asian Access missionary staff in person, and to help explain the details of the transition for US-sent missionaries yet to move under their systems.   I am quite sure that our A2 missionaries will enjoy getting to know George, Sara and Eric. A2 people are looking forward to being able to ask the questions they have been mulling about...

With a team getting ready to relocate to Tohoku to be involved in church planting in "the zone" we are going to have a special time of commissioning.  Our VP for Japan, Mary Jo Wilson, notes that the stresses the residents, pastors and other Christian workers have lived under in Tohoku over the past year are similar to those experienced in combat zones. And we are well aware that there are spiritual battles all around as we get ready to launch this team.

I've been coordinating the details of the retreat, and have a few more last minute things to complete before we head up.  Stan will be the MC for the retreat. Our sons will stay in Tokyo so as to not miss school.

If you pray, please remember to keep us all in your prayers over the next five days.  There are a number of people traveling quite a distance to be at the retreat--pray for safe travels.  Pray for rest and refreshment in the midst of a busy lives.  We have many people in the process of moving, so getting away at this time is a bit challenging. Pray for good connections with the A2 and SIM people.  And pray that we will all hear from the Lord and be motivated to Go Deeper with Him.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Bit (quite a bit, actually) of Color

Last night we went to Tokyo to meet friends who are here on a speaking engagement to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the Triple Disaster. Philip's book, What Good is God?, has been published in Japanese in time for this anniversary.  The conversation over dinner ranged from memories of years gone by, family updates,  traveling stories, and listening to their reflections of having visited the Tohoku area of Japan a few days earlier.  

In the lobby of the hotel was a display commemorating Japanese Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival). In addition to having the typical prince and princess dolls and courtiers on the tiered stands, there were these mobiles of fabric fish and  animals, flowers, babies, etc.

Hinamatsuri (the Doll's Festival) is traditionally a day for families with daughters to pray for their healthy growth and their happiness as well.  In Edo Era, ordinary people were not wealthy enough to buy luxurious Hina Dolls, so women made and knitted dolls stitch by stitch.  And these "Tsurushi Kazari", handmade small dolls decorated by Kimono cloth pieces, were hung from the frame instead of being displayed on the conventional tiered Hina doll stand.

It was fascinating to see the variety of hand-stitched dolls -- these obviously not made from scraps -- displayed not only in the center lobby, but throughout the public areas in the hotel.  This fish was one of my favorites.  

At a time when the news is full of solemn stories (and rightfully so as we mark this anniversary) it is also nice to see cheerful color and variety. Just as this craft was birthed out of poverty, so may we see new spiritual life birthed in brilliant color from the rubble and destruction of the Triple Disaster of 3/11/2011.

Friday, March 09, 2012

This little light of mine...

I have written before that after the triple disaster last March, I was nearing burn-out.  As I took time to begin the refreshing /renewal process, I realized it was time to get moving--physically moving.  

Now my dear friend "Grandma Judy" back in the States had tried to get me to Curves each time I visited her, but I resisted.  However, when three opened up in our city I began thinking it might be a good option for me to consider.  Its hard to for me walk into a place like this alone in my own country, so of course it took a little extra encouragement to do it here... So when I found out that another friend in town was also interested, we decided to brave that frosted door on the 7th floor of the Daiei Department Store building and check it out.

We've been going since October. My friend has been much more regular than I (between overseas trips and a respiratory infection last month, my attendance has been sporatic) but its been wonderful to have her spur me on.

One of the interesting things I realized after I started was that my current ministry doesn't have me "out" in the Japanese community very much.  It feels really good to start being a presence for Jesus in this Curves.  Yesterday the sound track had "This Little Light of Mine" playing (totally left out the let it shine for Jesus lines) and it made me reflect on how I want to be light and salt even at Curves.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

I am beginning to realize that I am now recognizable by a community of women.  Whether its stopping at a local fast food establishment for a bite to eat or shopping in the grocery store, I'm seeing people I somewhat recognize.  The other day a lady stopped to talk to me at a department store. She was wearing one of those white surgical masks so I will NEVER recognize her again, but she knew me from Curves.  

This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine...

If I have time in my schedule I walk to Curves from home--it takes 15 minutes.  I have enjoyed being "on the street" in my town, too. In my normal lifestyle, I usually drive or take a train, so this street view has been refreshing and informative. Of course, between window shopping and picking something up at one of the grocery stores or fruit stands on the way, it can take me 30-50 minutes on the way back home...

They use the same English music tracks at Japanese Curves as in the US.  Honestly, I'm grateful--not because I like the music--but because most of those listening miss the woefully immoral lyrics.  There is one "gospel" track that is a highlight.  And Christmas, well, what can I say... "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer" every day didn't do much for my holiday spirit.