Our trips to America are always about one main thing: people. Whether it’s overdue time with family or visiting friends and churches, whatever we do revolves around other people. It’s the connecting thread through it all.
So it’s no surprise that our last 2 weeks in the States was filled with people — family and friends, trips and experiences. All of these things help keep our connections strong with our loved ones in America. The worst part of these trips isn’t leaving America, because we really love living in Japan. It’s saying goodbye to the ones we love! But it’s fun to have this video memory of a very special summer in America, and we’re already looking forward to the next time we will be together, wherever in the world it may happen!
In the Hrubik family, Papa Joe is a living legend. We recently celebrated his 100th birthday with him in Williamsburg, Virginia, and we sat for hours and hours just listening to his stories of life over the last 100 years. A lot has happened in 100 years, and he’s been through it all — the highs and the lows.
He was born in 1921 in the decade that would become defined in America for the Great Depression. When he was five years old he lost his mother to sickness, and his father remarried later on. When he was a teenager, he was drafted in World War II and sent to Europe, but because he could type was put into the office and spared much of the fighting.
When he returned to the States after the war, he got married and started a family, of which there were 2 girls and one boy (Ruth’s father). But when Ruth’s dad was in college, his mother, Papa Joe’s wife, died suddenly. Papa Joe later remarried to widow who had 3 girls and the result was like the Brady Bunch — 6 kids in all!
Throughout the years, Papa Joe pastored in the Apostolic Christian Church and eventually became a part of a Baptist church. He worked all those years and retired with his wife Sarah (for whom we named our Sarah after). But nearly 4 years ago, his second wife Sarah passed away.
But Papa Joe remained strong. He continues to live with much joy and love in his heart. In fact, one of his favorite verses is:
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine”
Proverbs 17:22a KJV
And it works just like that for him, for just this last February he got COVID, checked himself into the hospital and 4 days later was healthy enough to go home! He lives what he believes and it gives him strength. When I asked him “How do you stay joyful even in the midst of difficult times?” He answered,
“Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is constant, and doesn’t change with the circumstances. It’s always there for you.”
Needless to say, Papa Joe sets a standard for how I want to grow old — full of love, faith and joy, with a beautiful family with me that’s impacting the world!
One of my favorite parts of the YouTube community is the interaction you get with people. I love building bridges between people, and even though we’re enjoying vacation in America, it’s been especially fun to bring our Japanese viewers along for the ride, so to speak. Many have never had the opportunity to travel abroad like this, so they can via our online family.
With all of our videos, people become more and more curious about the missionary life. Being a missionary is about the broadest vocations that I can think of. Missionary can mean a social worker or disaster response, it can be a doctor or nurse serving in a missionary hospital, it can be an accountant or administrator making things work behind the scenes (think my dad or my good friend John) or an orphanage. It can mean running a coffee shop or it can be a church-planter who lives abroad and helps get things started (think us). It can mean a traveling speaker or evangelist, or a local pastor — and the list goes on and on!
But perhaps the greatest thing all missionaries have in common is that they live internationally, inbetween two (or more) cultures, building bridges and traveling frequently over them. As missionaries, we give up a normal life in our home country to move to another place and figure it all out there. Our main priority (after God) is people! Serving them and helping them in whatever capacity God has made us to serve. In order to do that, we have the support of many people all over the world.
Since one of a missionaries’ main priority is people, it means that traveling to see those people also becomes a priority — whether it’s in our home country to see family, friends or supporters (like this trip we’re on now) or when we’re living abroad, traveling, getting to know people and places, adapting to a new culture and serving. All of these elements go into being a missionary. A good missionary can feel just as at home in one culture as another.
Often, we give up things like new cars, big homes and other nice luxuries in order to have money for trips, hotels and ministry. Our priorities help us channel our resources of time, energy and finances accordingly, and we’re always striving to make the most of what God has given us, because we will all be accountable to God for what we did with the lives that God gave us. My prayer is that we can live our lives well before God and help others do the same!!
It’s a rare thing these days, being able to get together with your whole extended family — especially when that family lives overseas. But after so much has happened in 2020 and 2021, we were so thankful to be able to have a most memorable vacation in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. Not only did we have a special time together, we captured it in these videos.
The first video captures are arrival in Tennessee, our extended Reutter family reunion, the fun we had, and last but not least my mom’s 70th birthday celebration! The fun continues in the next video when we enjoyed the beauty of the area in some of the best ways.
A happy family isn’t something that just happens. It’s something that you have to fight for. Our family is not perfect — nor is our extended family. But we are all so blessed and thankful to God for all of his love and blessings in our lives. While living in Japan takes us further away from family than we would like to be, we are so thankful for a family that values getting together and makes space and time for it.
So many times I find out that our family gets together as much or even more than families who live close to each other. The fact the you live close to somebody physically does not mean you will automatically be close to them emotionally. Living far away, you have to make a conscious effort to be close to others — FaceTime calls, care packages, social media and planned vacations are all ways that you can be close even when far away. And these days, that is more important than ever.
These days, it doesn’t matter if you live near or far away from your loved ones, you are as close as you want to be.
This Summer we’re going on an epic trip to America to visit friends and family, so there won’t be as many posts as normal here, but if you want to see what’s been going on, here are a couple of videos to watc. Enjoy!
And if you want to see what happened, then watch this one next!
Stay tuned, because over the next several weeks we will be launching videos from our time here in the States. But don’t worry, we’re not planning on moving back to the States, we are coming back to Japan soon!