We love baptisms and everything they mean. The decision to get baptized is a big decision for anyone — you are identifying with Christ’s burial and resurrection in a profound public statement. In Japan, it’s an even bigger statement, as only 1% of the Japanese are Christians. The social pressure to not do anything outside of the “normal” is immense, and my hat goes off to these two wonderful young people. God is truly doing an awesome work here, as after this very public and fun baptism at the beach, a number of other people from church decided to get baptized, including two people from our cell group!
I made this video with my good friend and fellow missionary John to try to capture a bit of the excitement here in Japan. At the time of this writing, it has over 350 views, which is more than our attendance! Enjoy!
It’s been nearly 3 months since we arrived in Japan, 6 months since we left the tropical Amazon rainforest for the frigid polar vortex of the Midwest in January. Since October 2013, when we moved out of our house in Brazil, we have been in a constant state of flux, changing homes, languages, ministry situations and just about anything else one could imagine. We’ve said more goodbyes and hellos than we care to count.
So it’s been so nice to get settled into our new place and get used to our new lives. Ruth and I go to school each morning, a 1-hour commute done primarily on a crowded train. We leave at 7:50 and get back around 1:30 with our brains pumped full of Japanese. Some fellow missionaries are helping us out by watching Sarah each morning. The girls are enrolled in a Japanese Kindergarten and are there for over 5 hours each morning. They are amazing little troopers, because it’s all in Japanese (they don’t understand it yet) and it’s a long day. Two days a week, they eat the Japanese food for lunch — and do a pretty good job at it. They get a drawing on their hand when they eat it all, and are very proud to show it off when they get home. They just had their annual Tanabata (Summer) Festival, and the girls danced in their new ukatas (traditional Japanese dress). It was so adorable! Out of a couple hundred kids, they were the only two blondes out there! Ha!
And we certainly aren’t waiting for our Japanese to be sufficient to begin having a life in the church and community. By putting our kids in a Japanese Kindergarten, we have been able to make friendships with other parents at the school. Another couple invited us over for dinner and we had a wonderful time with them. The wife Midori speaks a little English and so we are able to communicate on a basic level. She told Ruth that all the moms want to get to know her. Then Ruth invited the moms and kids at our bus stop to our house to have a little birthday celebration for Sarah. Everyone really had a great time.
We are pretty amazed in how welcoming the Japanese are. So many are interested in meeting us, wanting to talk with us, coming over when we invite and even inviting us into their places (which apparently is not common here in Japan). We can hardly wait to be able to share the hope that we have in Jesus with them! They will never be the same, but one step at a time — for now we will work on building relationships as we build our Japanese.
Our monthly budget is also much more than it’s ever been and we could still use more support. We are also looking at buying a mini-van for this large family. If you’ve considered supporting us we would like to encourage you that it’s never too late to start! We are so thankful for each and everyone who is praying and supporting. We count on it as always. We’re so happy to be able to share with you such an encouraging start to our life here in Japan.
In our next video blog, we get to see what happens in a Japanese traffic jam (think packed trains at a standstill), the girls get to burn off some energy, and I go hiking on a local mountain to get to know some of our team. On a side note, I finally decide I need to start jogging because I am way to out of shape to be hiking up mountains! Enjoy our next video!
We’re coming up on three weeks here in Japan, and it’s really amazing all that we accomplished with God’s help. Not only are we mostly settled-in to our place, but we have already done a week of language class. We can already tell that this new life is going to be an extremely busy one. Language classes in the morning while the girls go to preschool and Sarah stays with some short-term missionary friends from church, then homework (the girls and ours!) in the afternoon and church meetings and discipleships at night! Take a look at our new video blog to get a feel of what’s gone on here recently…
Please pray that we find just the right Japanese preschool for the girls (right now they are doing the English-speaking preschool at the church, but we want them not only to learn Japanese, but make Japanese friends). Pray that we can retain all the information we’re getting in class. The classes are very good, and all in Japanese, so there is a wash of new things to learn. We would need to study 3 hours a day to keep up, but as parents of 3 kids and a church to serve, we can’t quite do it all exactly as we’d like to. We need a multiplication of time, energy and efforts! Oh, and we need Sarah to be sleeping all night long.
We are so very excited to be here. There is a sense in the church that God has big plans in store and we’re so excited to be here to serve in this part of the Church’s story in Japan. And as always, we want to thank you for all your love and support, without which we could not be serving the Lord in this way.
First of all, thank you to all who have been thinking about us and praying for our transition — our first week in Japan was a success. We were able to furnish our house, register as foreigners here in Japan (which comes with a decent health care plan), get bank accounts, cell phones, go to church, go visit our first cell group, do leadership training and lose weight while doing so! All while dealing with major jet-lag!
The Japanese way of life is economical and practical. (Like my wonderful wife, Ruth) They walk, ride bikes and use trains to get around. They use minimum amount of lights and power at home to save money. When they do drive, they turn off their cars at stop lights — even the buses do this. When at home, we do not even hear our neighbors, but I’m sure they hear us! However, they will sacrifice efficiency for options. Options and functions and paperwork. Oh, how they love them! They pick up 4 different types of trash (bottles, plastic, paper, trash). Each remote has two layers of panels of buttons to push and options to choose. The remote for our air conditioner was so complicated that I was afraid I might launch a nuclear missile by pushing the wrong button. If you play by the rules, all is good and smooth, but color outside of the lines, and things will get complicated fast!
This Wednesday, we begin language school — yes, this Wednesday! They added a May session as there were so many people desiring classes, so instead of starting on July 1, we can start already. Praise God! There are some short-term missionaries here that will be a HUGE blessing to us as they will help watch Sarah so Ruth and I can go to school together. The girls just started an English-speaking preschool at the church and are loving it. We will be looking for a good Japanese-speaking preschool for them as soon as we can.
So, now we will be diving into everyday-foreigner-in-Japan life! The language is certainly a challenge and we look forward to making some sense of it. Just turning on a TV or trying to get your microwave to work can end in lots of guessing and exasperated failure. But the Japanese as a whole are very helpful and considerate, and with enough loud English, hand motions and pointing, you can usually communicate what it is you want.
Now, without further ado, check out our first video blog. The plan is to make several of these for you to accompany our missionary move to Japan. Enjoy!