Monday, July 30, 2012

Heading to Karuizawa...

Michael Oh is speaking for the first three days of the Conference here at Karuizawa Union Church.
On Wednesday morning, Stan and I head to Karuizawa for the Karuizawa Union Church Summer Conference.  Stan is their speaker for the Wednesday to Sunday sessions.  I will speak at the Ladies Luncheon on Thursday afternoon.

The weather has been quite warm--it was even hotter in Karuizawa than Toyko last week! Typically Karuizawa is cooler, since its at a higher elevation... Please pray that the heat doesn't interfere with our ability to focus on the ministry of encouragement to missionaries and other expatriates.

We will have our sons with us, and trust that they will make some connections with other youth in attendance.  We leave after the evening service on Sunday to begin making our way to Miyagi prefecture for a 10-day stay at our cabin. Stan will return to Tokorozawa for the service on August 12.

Karuizawa is where we spent the first two years of our married life, and where our oldest daughter was born. We have had significant times there as a family over the years, both for vacation and for conferences.  It was at a similar summer conference in 1990 that God began clearly initiated the call on my heart to begin preparing to serve Him through caring for missionaries.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The next two months...

We appreciate the strategic partnership that is developing between Asian Access and SIM. We have now been SIM USA missionaries for nearly seven months* and are experiencing the benefits in many tangible ways.

Of course there are some differences in the way the two organizations handle specific issues. One is SIM's stringent financial policy where we are expected to have an amount equal to one-month’s-support as a cushion in our SIM account by the beginning of their fiscal year on October 1.  We are nowhere near that amount presently and often August and September are some of the lowest giving months of the year. 

Would you pray with us for God’s provision of additional financial support over the next two months?

May God grow both your faith and ours as we trust in Him to meet all our needs!

If God has put it on your heart to be a part of the answer to these prayers, please follow the instructions on the link above, entitled How to Support the De La Cour's Ministry.

Thank you!

* For those that might have missed out on the details of the partnership between Asian Access and SIM, please read the following posts:

     Things that Change and Things that Stay the Same
     Going Deeper, Learning More about our Partnership

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The monthly dilemma on the Saturday night before Covered Dish

Shortly after we started the International Community Chapel of Saitama, we realized that we needed to begin meeting around the table together in order to develop the sense of "Community" that our name implies. So beginning in around 1991 we started a Covered Dish Lunch on the third Sunday of each month. 

This is a photo from that first covered dish.  I am on the left, with my second daughter next to me. Our oldest daughter peeks through on the right. At that time we used the Corelle dishes from the kitchen, and fit around this one table.

Within a couple of years, the church had grown significantly, and covered dish (this one was on an Easter Sunday) was logistically a little challenging, but still held an important part in the life of the fellowship. Paper plates had long replaced the Corelle, and we needed multiple tables.

Interestingly, we have never "assigned" food to different people--No" last name begins with A-M bring main dish' etc.--yet we have usually had ample of every kind of food. Some months it seems like everyone is thinking pasta and the next month is a rice dish. And in the summers we often end up with multiple salads. About 10 years ago, a grocery store was conveniently built in the next block, and many people run over there after the service to pick up food from the deli section.

So tonight is the Saturday night before Covered Dish. And once again I am thinking about what I'll make to bring tomorrow. I've had this decision about 200 times since we started the church. It might have been easier if I put together a recipe book with my repertoire of Covered Dish meals and a grid that showed me what dish worked with what season. Instead I find myself on  the night before wondering if I have the right ingredients in my kitchen to put together our contribution for the next meal. 

There are months when I am honestly tired of this.  Sometimes I wonder if its an idea whose time has come and gone. And then I go to church, put my hot dish in the oven before the service, and help get the tables and food set up after  the service. Then I see the friendships that are made across the tables, the opportunity for a newcomer to make connections with people in the fellowship, people praying for one another, and I realize its a lot like having Sunday dinner with the family--and for us, these people ARE family here in Japan.

Since its July, and the forecast is for a warm day, I'm making Asian Chicken Salad...I went shopping this afternoon for the ingredients. Tomorrow when I wake up, I'll put it together.  If you're in Tokorozawa, stop on by! Come for the service at 10:30, and stay for the meal.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

By the way, each of our daughters is in one of the other photos...not quite a "where's Waldo" but if you have time and nothing better to do...  If you want to post a comment, please do not use our children's names. Thank you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thoughts about that little girl...

I was looking for a photo to illustrate a concept a couple of days ago, when I ran across this one in my digital files. I'm not entirely sure where it was taken--could be Brazil or could be at a Grandparent's house when my  folks were on home assignment.  I may even have, somewhere in a box, that embroidery.

I'm preparing for a Missionary Career Transitions class in three months which requires a lot of personal testing and evaluation. Last weekend I surprised myself at how low I tested  in "artistic" when finding my "Holland Code." This area of interest would include sewing.  It surprised me because this is a skill I have used many different ways over the years.  

When I was in junior high school, I made all my clothes (and am grateful there are few pictures to prove it!) I've made curtains, quilts, slip-covers for sofas, maternity clothes, little girl dresses, a communion set cover, Christmas stockings, and in the past 10 years I sewed four or five costumes for my daughters' high school performances.  But there is little time now in my life for sewing, and quite a few frustrations when I do try. My machine isn't easy to use, doesn't work well, and my sewing supplies are in multiple inaccessible places thanks to the moves we've made over the past eight years.  That doesn't mean I don't have projects!  As I write there is a skirt on the bed nearby that needs some "remodeling" ...there are shirts in my closet I'd like to make a few minor adjustments to...and the list goes on.  Even sewing buttons on becomes a chore these days.

So I look at little Faith, sitting so serenely, working on her cross stitch, and wonder what happened.  Clearly I have other areas of interest and passion that call me in a different direction at this stage of life.  Still, there is a part of my soul that longs to be able to express this piece of "artistic" in me...maybe someday.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

What they don't tell you...

Today I flew from Okinawa to Tokyo after being there three days for meetings with our mission leadership team.  As we were nearing the time to land, an announcement came over the intercom, first in Japanese and then in English.

The English announcement told us that we were heading into turbulence, so please keep your seat belt fastened. They told us not to worry, the turbulence would in no way affect our safety.

The Japanese announcement just began essentially the same, but it included this final line.  "If you feel like you're going to throw up, please grab the bag that is in your seat pocket and use it as quickly as possible."  I waited to hear how they would translate that one when the English announcement began, but they didn't.

That got me thinking (following the 30 seconds of turbulence) how often our work cannot be fully translated for our constituencies back in our home country.  Its not that we don't want to tell you what we do...but there are messy things in our work that are better left unsaid in a "public announcement."

What do I mean?

  • Both Stan and I are involved in pastoral and member care fields.  If we are dealing with an individual or family who have major (and minor) issues, it would be unethical, immoral and mean-spirited to broadcast the details.
  • We have treasured people praying for our family over the years. We also need to respect each of our children through their individual journeys,and hold back on details of their lives. Like all families, we have very challenging seasons.

We will always treasure the prayer support we receive from our partners in ministry.  And we trust that you will understand when we ask for prayer as we go through turbulence but don't tell you about the "bag" we're holding as we're throwing up! And you who are sensitive to God's Spirit probably have a good idea of how to pray...

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26, 27