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LIJ Episode Lives Update

Being Happy

What things make you happy? When you landed the new job you wanted? When you moved into your dream house or when you got into the college that you wanted? Maybe you started that relationship with the person of your dreams? Or maybe you’re one of the lucky people out there who have won the lottery. Or you finally reached retirement. We as humans have a funny way of getting excited and happy about things that ironically cause us much heartache, stress and insomnia in the future.

A good job is a blessing, but even the best jobs will cause stress at some point. And even the best relationships have difficulties — a bad relationship is full of them. And sometimes the things that make us sad: a heart-wrenching breakup, losing a job or even just being quarantined, can actually end up being good for us in the end. Ironic, isn’t it?

My point is this: true happiness is not found in the circumstances of life. These things are fleeting moments that come and go — good moments and bad ones. True happiness is mental state of being thankful for the people and blessings already in our lives today. When you are thankful and content, you are happy.

This doesn’t mean you don’t long for better things in your life. Desiring these things is a powerful force to better yourself, but it means you don’t waste energy focusing on what life would be like if you had those things.

For example, today we all sat down and had lunch together: Ruth made her famous pizza! I was so happy! We talked about our dream house: a big place where we can have people over and each person has space for their things. A nice kitchen and garden for mommy and a nice studio for daddy. A big yard for the kids to play in and have a dog. They are already praying that God gives us the right place! But we don’t focus on what we don’t have. We are thankful for where we do live — we have a beautiful view, a great location, wonderful neighbors, a quite street, a nice little garden, and the list goes on.

Most of all, each and every person in our family knows the love of God personally. They know that not only do daddy and mommy love them, but most importantly God loves them and calls them his children. Do you know that? Knowing the love of the Heavenly Father in Jesus Christ is the key to having lasting, meaningful happiness (which we call joy) that goes beyond any circumstance. But you don’t have to wait until you’re a Christian to start becoming happy — you can become happier by just finding one thing in your life that you’re thankful for and start to thank Jesus for it. Just see what it does to your attitude. We call this worship, and it can change your life.

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LIJ Episode Lives Update Videos

Japanese Spring Break

In Japan, Spring Break is more than just a short time off of school for students. It’s the change of the school year, a time for graduation, moving up to the next level; a time to start new jobs and new endeavors. It’s the time that winter ends and spring begins marked by the blooming of the Sakura. In fact, this April 1st marks the very beginning of not only a new year, but a new era in Japan, the 令和 Reiwa Era! Yes, the old Emperor is retiring and his son is taking his place. The years in Japan are marked by the year of their Emperor. Welcome to year 1!

And this Spring Break meant that Becca and Anna passed the 3rd grade and are moving on to the 4th grade. Not only did they pass, but they continue to improve and are becoming quite the good students. Sarah will move into her last year of Kindergarten before elementary school, and Joshua only has one year left before starting Kindergarten himself. Wow how time flies! So before it flies away, we’re making memories while they’re still kids. We took time off with our Paz team to enjoy some R&R in the mountain town of Karuizawa — a place where people like to go to escape the heat of Tokyo in the summer. Of course since we are catching it at the beginning of Spring, we were glad just to have warm enough temperatures to enjoy the outdoors!

Nobody I know works harder or with more passion and determination than the Paz team here in Japan, so this precious time off was exactly what we needed. There are lots of things that don’t make it into a video like this — the amazing Onsen (Japanese Bath) we went to, some of the sights of a the lava flow park or even a number of the great meetings and times together we had, but this gives you a taste of what it’s like. Enjoy the video below!

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LIJ Episode Lives Update Videos

Furlough: A Summer Homecoming

Every two years our family embarks on an exciting, unique adventure.  This adventure takes us across the world to visit people and places near and dear to our hearts.  These places — especially these people — mean so much to us — they’re the very reason we can live in Japan and share God’s love here.  This adventure is called furlough, and it’s a chance for our family of 6 to check in and catch up with our loved ones.  

While furlough may seem long to some, and to others it seems like a vacation, it is much more than all of that.  For in the short amount of six weeks, the kids catch up with 2 years of Grandpa/Grandma time, we speak at a different church each weekend, we travel all over the country to make important visits, we update our legal and banking matters, we raise more support and all while dealing with jet lag.  Yes, furlough is far from normal — and the change of pace that is very refreshing at first becomes an impulse propelling us back towards Japan for the next phase of life.  In our newest video, you get a sense of the beauty, excitement, business and adventure that is furlough in our next video.  Enjoy!

We now come back to a very exciting time here in Japan for us as our church is opening a new coffee shop — a place for the community to come, enjoy the BEST coffee around and connect with people full of God’s love.  In fact, upon arriving here in Japan, I (Nate) went off to serve in a weekend retreat our church hosts called “Encounter with God.”  It was such a powerful time and so many of the people who participated felt God’s presence and love like never before.  We are more excited than ever to be a part of God’s move here in Japan!  

Encounter with God Japan — Wow!  What a weekend!

Now we are looking forward to this next week and weekend when we will have the grand opening of our brand new coffee shop.  This coffee shop will be open during the week and serve the best speciality coffees as well as have an all-you-can-drink special blend coffee — a first (as far as we know) for Japan!  Then on Sundays we will hold our church services in the coffee shop itself.  It certainly serves two amazing purposes!  If you live anywhere nearby or here visiting, please stop by!

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LIJ Episode Lives Update

Roses, Kids and Cafes and What Ties Them Together

What do roses, our blonde American kids and cafes have in common? See if you can figure it out in episode 5 of Life in Japan, as we secure our new cafe/church location. To celebrate, we visit the famous Rose Garden in Ikuta with our family. That’s right, all these things are related, and they’re all right here in Noborito. Hope I didn’t give anything away now…

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Lives Music Update Videos

Our First Music Video is Out!

Watch the video and see what else is in the works below

When we visited Japan for the first time 5 years ago, I could see the potential of worship to really alter this country. In a nation so moved by music, there is a huge opportunity to share God’s love and the truth through music that no one has really harnessed the potential of it yet. But by God’s grace, we want to change that. This video is the first of many planned. These are songs that we do every Sunday in church, songs that the Church around the world has been singing for years, but still have not reached into Japan. As God gives us grace, we will continue to produce these simple but powerful videos to reach people wherever they are — on a train, at work, at school or at home. Most Japanese have never considered coming to a church, but a video could be the bridge to help them meet God. Please consider sharing this!! It is produced under the name Diflen Tokyo — the name of our local youth and worship movement.

Kind of like the von Trapp family

Recently Ruth and the girls have also joined the worship revolution and have been writing songs. These songs are fun, have great words, dance moves and catchy tunes. I began producing some of them and we are doing them at church! These songs really shook up the Christmas and Easter services! Ruth and the girls have many other ideas for songs for us to eventually complete an album of fun songs aimed at kids and families throughout Japan. Ruth is already putting together a Christmas program full of singing, drama and an unforgettable Gospel presentation. Check out the video from Easter and just try to get this tune out of your head!

Diflen Music

In April we said good-bye to our beautiful families for a week while we went to the SEND International missionary retreat near Mt Fuji to begin working on a brand-new international worship project that will bless Brazil, Japan and many other countries. Under the team name of DIFLEN (Discipling and Forming LEaders in the Nations), we got the project off to a great start. It was a dream come true, setting up studio and working together with my brother-in-law Bruno and the amazing team that is coming together here. We are starting from scratch, writing new songs aimed for the church to sing! Check out this one-minute video about that time.

Pray, for the Battle is Underway

As we move forward on these things, it seems like sometimes everything else comes apart. Family members get sick and need to go to the hospital. Accidents happen. Many other “necessary” distractions come into play. We are well aware that the enemy is vehemently against these worship projects, the proclamation of the Gospel in Japan as well as the establishment and growth of the Church as a whole. Please, PLEASE pray for our encouragement, protection, holiness, energy and unity among our team. The day that we were working on finishing the video, Bruno’s son Paul had to go to the hospital and my daughter Anna went to the emergency room twice the following day! Your prayer covering could make the difference in us completing projects on time or fighting for each and every note we play. We love you!

Part of our Diflen Tokyo team — great things are coming!