A Well-Rounded Week

What is it like to spend a week in our missionary shoes? Thanks to a fun new Japanese invention (the Ricoh Theta 360 camera), you can get a better idea than ever before. These pictures are like a person Google Street View — they’re taken in a full 360 degrees and you can move the images all around zoom in and out yourself. But things get really wild when you zoom out all the way and see 360 degrees at once. I hope you enjoy this unique and fun update and also get a good idea of what our week-in/week-out is like here in Japan. Don’t just be mesmerized by these spinning photos — take your mouse to them and move them around yourself!

It’s the weekend and we’re enjoying a some time in our little back garden – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The Weekend

Each Sunday marks the ending of one week and the beginning of the next. The weekend is anything but downtime, as we take full advantage of the time to have fun with our kids (who are off of school), prepare for the weekend services (with worship practices, etc) and have people over to build stronger relationships. It makes for busy weekends.

Worship rehearsal is in full swing – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Going to McDonalds is a special time for the girls, and we enjoy treating them to it. The girls’ big thing now is being able to ride their bikes there. Make sure to click the images to see them, as only the first one loads automatically.

Enjoying a bite with the family – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

On the weekends we make a point of always marking get-togethers to build relationships with new friends and old. It can be something fun, at home or outdoors, but always something to forge stronger friendships. Being with each other was a priority in the early church, and it’s a priority in ours as well!

Hosting get-togethers is a big part of our weekends. On a seperate note, Skip-bo works in Japanese too – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Sunday is reserved for ministry. From start to finish, we meet for discipleships, leadership trainings, celebration service and occasionally teach additional classes. Our Sundays in Santarém were filled with services from 7 in the morning to 9 at night, so the fact that we can do several different types of meetings and trainings on one day here in Japan is great!

Meeting with Will for discipleship at a local bakery perched above the Noborito JR Train Station entrance. Will is an awesome guy with a huge heart. He’s a model servant!

Meeting with Will at the Noborito train station. This guy is an example of a servant with a huge heart! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

To me, the pinnacle event each Sunday is the celebration service. It feels like the celebration of one week’s end but with the expectation the new week brings. Just being in God’s presence, worshipping Him and hearing His Word starts the week off right. But before the service even starts, another key meeting takes place: Leadership Training. This is the main meeting for the training of God’s people to be powerful leaders! Afterwards there is a powerful prayer time. Only then does the service start at 4:00 P.M. By then, Ruth is usually helping teach the kids fun songs about God and dancing around with them.

The week ends and begins with our Celebration Services at chruch. Here is our worship team praising God! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Every once in a while I have the privilege of teaching one of our many training classes. This one is our family class, and we got into some pretty heavy subjects, all while keeping it fun. A good 360 photo takes the edge off that!

Tonight I’m teaching Pr. Josiah’s family class. These guys right here are world changers and their families will impact Japan! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The Week Begins

While our typical week is busy — I’m off to my language school downtown Tokyo while Ruth is getting the girls ready for their preschool, taking care of Sarah, meeting for discipleships and caring for the home. But this week is especially unique. Ruth did 3 months of the same language school when we arrived, as we had help watching Sarah. Now that we have a friend from Brazil here who is helping with Sarah for about a month, Ruth can study at Shinjuku in addition to all the studies she typically does at home. Yea!

Welcome to the train in Japan — we can actually breathe today! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Going to school in Shinjuku isn’t for the weak of heart. It’s a ten minute walk to the train station, a 5 minute wait for the train, a 25 minute train ride on a PACKED train (see the picture) and a 15 minute walk to school. School runs from 8:50 to 12:30 pm. I study with students from Norway, France, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Brazil and America. Well, Brazil and America are represented by John and I! At the end, we head back home to Noborito for a late lunch and to pick up the girls from school. No rest for the weary here!

Get to study Japanese everyday with this fun group. France, China, Taiwan, Norway, Phillipines, Brazil and America are all represented. Ah! Can’t forget Japan!! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Our afternoons are full — mostly with discipleships, studying, playing together as a family and shopping.

While mommy is out in a meeting, we’re at home “busy” with homework! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Sometimes playing together as a family and discipleship even mix.

Love these guys — John and Silvia have been with us since Brazil! These guys are world-changers. And no better place to meet than in the local park. Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

And something else has been added into the busy schedule here in Japan: jogging. After arriving in Japan last April the heaviest I’ve ever been, I decided to do something more drastic to keep the weight off. Since we live right off the beautiful Tama River which has a 30 kilometer path all the way to the ocean, jogging was a natural solution. At first I felt like I was dying every time I went out, but now I really enjoy the time, especially on a beautiful day like today. And while I haven’t run all the way to the end of the path, I am somewhat proud of the 5k I can run at an alright pace.

Out for a jog along the Tama River — love this trail! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Some special events stick out during the week. There’s a powerful prayer time on Tuesday nights where we focus on worshipping God, being in His presence, hearing from Him and praying for the sick. It has been really special to see how God has been speaking to us, preparing us for the big harvest that is ripe here in Japan.

Then one of our most key events happens every Wednesday evening at 7 PM: Cell group. God is moving in fantastic and tangible ways in the lives of our cell group members. This Sunday three members will get baptized — two Japanese and an American! All of whom we’ve been working with since we got here. We keep seeing more visitors come as we pray for God to raise up workers for the harvest. New and old alike are being touched by God’s presence as we seek to raise up disciples. There’s nothing like cell group!

Fun and a snack after cell group meeting! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The team almost has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality leaders. The awesome thing is that, when we all get together, iron sharpens iron and we all become the better for it. Each week we have a cell group leader/supervisor meeting with Pastor Gumer and Marcia. They led the Paz Church in São Paulo Brazil which grew from around 50 people in 2000 to now over 6,000 people! We are learning so much from them and love this time we have together each Thursday morning!

Weekly meeting of the Leader/Supervisors of PAZ Japan! Love this awesome team – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

As the week winds down, we continue to meet for more discipleships — sometimes here at our house, sometimes out and about. On Thursdays and Friday afternoons we also enjoy time with the family, being together and doing fun things (like visiting the fantastic Rose Gardens that are only open for 2 weeks each Spring).

Becca and I stopping to smell the flowers – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

It’s fun to meet at different places for discipleship as there as so many great stations here in Japan!

Meeting in Sagamiono for dinner with our friend Aaron – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

We get to Fridays and breathe a deep sigh of relief and thankfulness, before we take the plunge into the weekend and fire up the next week!

Heading home from a full week of language learning! – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

And believe it or not, this is a typical week. All of these photos were taken in a week, because I’ve only had this camera for one week! Proof enough, ne?! As you can see, we really do value and need your prayers, as only God’s grace can continually strengthen us and give us the results we so desire. As I prayed about our ministry goals for this year, God put on my heart to raise leaders for 4 different cell groups by the end of the year. To that end we’re working hard, praying harder and believing God for what He put on our hearts. This is His harvest and it’s His heart that Japan know the love of God in Jesus. Please agree with us in prayer. We appreciate your loving support from the bottom of our hearts and pray God’s rich blessings upon you and your family.

And if you’re interested in the camera used, it’s called the Theta 360 from Ricoh and it’s possibly one of the most fun cameras I’ve ever used. It takes videos as well, which are equally impressive, however still in the infant phases of development. If you want to see what a 360 degree video looks like, my brother-in-law Paul filmed us getting off of the train during rush hour at the busiest station in the world. If you open this link in Google Chrome Browser, you will be able to look around the video while it plays! Here’s the video.

At the Rose Gardens in Mukogaukauen – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Enjoy this last picture from our family to yours!

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