Saturday, November 30, 2013

This Mom goes to the UK

Before to much more time passes, I wanted to give some highlights of a delightful one-week trip I took mid-month to the UK to visit with our oldest daughter and her husband.  They are expecting our first grandchild in March, and while we expect to get over there soon after the birth, I wanted to take a quick trip to enjoy some "in person" time mid-pregnancy.

Stan and I in Karuizawa, Japan fall of '85
Often we do things as parents in response to our own experiences when we were younger. When I was pregnant with this daughter we were in Japan.  International phone calls were incredibly expensive and "the internet" wasn't even in our vocabulary (as a matter of fact, we didn't have a computer until three years later).  I don't think it ever crossed any of our minds that my mom would venture to Japan to spend time with me.  And I feel like I missed out on some special mother-daughter time as a, 28 years later it's a different world and I can do this!

The day after I arrived, we went for a walk along the Thames river toward the downtown area where they live.  It was a bit overcast but not raining, so that helped. It was good to walk and talk and take in the sights.


On Friday, we took off London.  There was rain forecast for the afternoon, so we headed straight to the "London Eye" where we were able to see much of the city in a 30 minute trip around.  We were blessed with beautiful weather through the ride.

Another daughter-mother photo.

A look at Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Cathedral from the "Eye."

It was fun to share the time with both of them. We have a wonderful son-in-law, by the way!

Later in the afternoon, we two ladies had a High Tea to attend.  It was an experience--probably not entirely traditional, but we have some good memories.  Even though this was in November, they were featuring "Halloween" in the sweets they brought to our table.  One of the cupcakes had green glitter on it--which I ended up getting on my face and wearing for the rest of the day!

By the time we wrapped up the tea it was a little too late for a tour of St. Paul's Cathedral.  This is where our son-in-law was ordained into the ministry a couple of years ago and it would have been fun to see the whole thing. We did, however, make it in time for Evensong.  As we sat under the dome, I couldn't help but take a photo (I confess... shouldn't have done this).

Those of us who were there early enough were invited to sit up in-choir. It was lovely to hear the choir singing and a wonderful reminder to hear the psalms read.

As we trekked back to the station to catch the train back to Staines, I looked back across the river to take a photo of St. Pauls.  It was a lovely day. The rain had come down quite heavily while we were at tea, and not been a bother the rest of the day.  But we weren't quite finished yet.

There was a party going on at the home of one of their church members celebrating Guy Fawkes Day/Bond Fire Night/Fireworks Night.  In the backyard of their home they set off fireworks.  A most awkward question for an American who lived in Japan (greatest fireworks around) to answer--do you have fireworks in America?  I hesitated to mention that yes, we do, on the 4th of July.

The following morning my daughter (on the right second table back) and I attended a women's breakfast outreach at their church.

Later in the day we stopped by Windsor Castle. We didn't make it inside on the tour (will save that one for next time!) but enjoyed walking around the town.

And before we left, we stopped for a hot beverage and some delicious cakes.

Sunday was a special day as the church had special Remembrance Day services. The boy scouts took part in the service and there were many from the community who don't normally attend the church.

In order to engage the youth (and the rest of us, too), they had a memory challenge...

In the sermon, the congregation was called to remember what was in the quiz.

Then they were called to remember what Jesus has done for us.

After the service, the community went outside of the church to the war memorial in the intersection. Scripture was read, the anthem sung, and then boy scouts and politicians laid wreaths of poppies.

We left for dinner at a pub along the Thames and enjoyed a quiet afternoon. I stayed home that evening while they led their youth group at the church.

Monday was my last full day, and my daughter and I headed to a nearby town to go shopping.  We mostly did window shopping, but I was able to get their Christmas presents. I also found a delightful baby book that was both winsome and warm for this first grandson!

And then we needed to eat.  We went to a diner, "50's American style."  There are some items on the menu you would never have seen (vegetarian items, etc.) But the food was good and the atmosphere was right.  The waiters didn't have the attitude, though. (Which was fine!)

It was fun spending this last lunch together.  I enjoyed my week very much. It was a great blend of tourist and just being "momma" to my girl.  We had fun going through bags of baby clothes, talking about future plans, looking at some craft work, and reminiscing.

And then it was time to go. We stopped for coffee at Heathrow airport before I headed to the plane.  I know there were tears for my girl as she headed back.  It was hard for me to leave.  It will be hard to have our grandbaby across the ocean, as well.  But this is part of the sacrifice when we follow God's call... I'm just glad we live in an age with Facetime where we can freely see and talk to one another across the ocean. We've come a long way in 28 years!

Friday, November 15, 2013

From "Being in Japan" to "Sending to Japan"

When we left Japan to work out of the US office of SIM, we knew there would be opportunities to be involved in connecting potential new missionaries to serve in Japan through the SIM and Asian Access Strategic Partnership. Little did we think it would happen so quickly.  

Ashley and Peter at SIMStart, the candidate
screening retreat in September

In September we met a couple who were exploring service with SIM, but weren't sure about where God would have them go. Through several conversations during the screening retreat, it was suggested they consider Japan. We had a couple of long conversations with them at that time, as did another mission couple who had served in Japan previously with a different mission organization.

Over the next few weeks, both this couple and the Japan field agreed to move forward toward having them become missionary appointees to Japan. We are enjoying walking with them on the next steps of their journey.

Over the past two weeks appointees have come to the SIMGo (pre-departure training program) and we spent additional time with them (as we sat through sessions to get an informal training of our own).

Stan prayed for Peter and Ashley after they shared their testimony in morning chapel at SIM.

We spent time talking with them about their presentation the day before they had to give it to a panel for evaluation. 

Ashley sharing in the actual presentation.

Peter gives more information on the partnership between Asian Access and SIM and how it will work for them.

We look forward to working with them over this next year as they go through the various stages of preparing for departure. Stan has been appointed their "coach" through this process. There is much they do not know about the future. Unlike many candidates who came directly to Asian Access in the past because of their call to Japan, the McKenzies have come open to going anywhere God leads and so there is in some ways a steeper learning curve. We are grateful to be able to walk with them.

If you clicked the link above regarding the Strategic Partnership, you will have read that we are hoping for many more Church Planting Missionaries to come out of this relationship.  While our full-time responsibilities will not be focused only on Japan, we are grateful to be here and available to encourage those who do come through SIM.

Are you interested in coming to Japan as a missionary?  Check out and then fill out an Inquiry Form at We would love to see some of you coming through Charlotte on your way to serving God in Japan!