A Dream Hike

When you think of Japan, what’s one of the first things you think about? For a lot of people, it’s the iconic mountain of Mt Fuji. Over the last seven years, we’ve seen it quite a bit, and it’s always exciting to see. But this year we wanted to try something new: an epic hike along a nearby mountain ridge at the height of Fall. We waited for the best weather when the fall colors were at their best, and we got it. This is a hike for the books, full of amazing views, friendship and humor. It was little taste of heaven.

For this video, I recommend the biggest screen you can find with the sound turned up! Enjoy!


Little House in the Big City

For many people living in Japan, our YouTube channel is like a modern-day version of Little House on the Prairie. If you don’t know what that is, it is a defining part of American TV history that aired from 1974 to 1982 and was a huge success not only in America, but also (ironically) in Japan. The combination of the adventurous lifestyle of the historic American western frontier and the Ingells family with their blond-haired kids and (mostly) biblical family values somehow caught the attention of the Japanese and made big waves here.

So it’s almost comical that now, in 2021, our family of blond-haired kids is braving the wild frontier of life in the big city in Japan, with all of its’ challenges and adventures. It might not be Little House on the Prairie, but it’s certainly a Little House in the Big City!


Family Takes Flight

Society today is doing its’ best to keep the family apart. Sure — you’ll see commercials showing families using certain products to be happy and pleasant, but the truth is that most homes are far from pleasant places to be.

The pressures to succeed and make money to afford a good life push many parents to sacrifice their time, energy and life working jobs which take them away from home for a majority of the week. Kids are seen as a nuisance and get in the way from attaining “true success”, so they are put into day care as soon as possible. The parent’s job of raising their kids often goes to others.

In Japan, the school hours are long and keep the kids as busy as possible, with terribly short spring, summer and winter breaks. People are expected to focus everywhere but the family, so when there is precious family time, those same people are too tired to give any quality energy toward their family or see it as a nuisance to do so. This is a downwards spiral where family members treat each other terribly, not even liking each other.

So what does it take for a family to fly above it all? Well I believe family must become priority again. More important than work and success, school and business; above fun and pleasure and individual pursuit is the value of the family as the true base unit of society. No government, program, school, club, business or institution can take the place of the family or the importance of the father and mother. Children are the greatest inheritance anyone could have — they aren’t a nuisance, they’re a reward!

When loving parents create a family culture that values each member of the family, the home becomes a place of heaven on earth. Dad can’t wait to get back at the end of the day. Mom is energized by being together. The kids feel loved, safe and secure at home. Their friends are welcomed. Even the pets love it there!

That’s why we make a point of doing things together as family. Not only our family, but with other families as well! When we go out on a day trip, it’s more than just something to do to kill the time, or another thing clogging up our schedule. This is what it’s all about! It’s about developing and maintaining loving relationships with others, most importantly the loving relationships we can enjoy with Creator God in Jesus Christ.

Our videos are often fun and playful, but there is a much deeper, hidden value behind each video we post. It’s the higher values of family and relationships which has been sorely neglected in society today. No one gets married and starts a family to have a loveless, miserable family. No! We want a happy family, so we strive to give our family the best.

But in the pursuit of the best jobs, the best schools, the safest cities, the best homes, the best _________, we sacrifice what really matters: our personal focus towards one another, attention and thoughtfulness. Your job title, position, salary, possessions, life-status, school, company and business have no overall bearing on your happiness. These things advertise happiness but only provide anxiety, stress, exhaustion and a life spent on chasing the wind. But a family built on loving relationships that value each other will be happy no matter the life circumstance, and that’s something money just can’t buy.

So what’s one of the best things you can do for your family? Take a day off when your kids have their next day off school, and do something, anything, together. Most of my friends (including myself) have more vacation days stored up that they never use! Go against the grain of society and take the day off! Give your attention to the other family members and not to your agenda, phone or to-do list. Yes, be a good, hard-working person, but when it’s time to be with family, do it all in. The rewards you reap will surprise you!


The Storms of Life

One thing is for sure about life: there are sure to be storms. Storms of all sorts of shapes and sizes come into life, and often without much warning (if any at all). The amount that a storm disrupts your life depends on the size and scope of the storm. And I’m talking not just about bad weather here, but all the bad news that life throws your way: the doctor said “cancer,” the boss said “you’re fired,” the teacher said “you didn’t pass.” Sometimes we tragically lose someone we love or find out that someone we trusted betrayed us. The thing about storms is that, if you knew what was going to come, you would prepare yourself for the storm to minimize the damage.

People sell insurance to minimize the risk for physical storms, accidents or mishaps. But is there such a thing as storm insurance for life? And if so, wouldn’t it be worth securing? Jesus Himself talked about the storms of life. In what may be his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, 6 and 7, he teaches about all areas of life. How to be blessed, life right, fulfill the law of God, anger, lust, divorce, our words, our actions, our thoughts, our neighbors. He teaches about giving to the poor, prayer, fasting, true wealth, worry, jealousy, receiving from God and distinguishing true men of God. Then at the very end, he ends with this story:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

Did you catch the difference between the person who was ready for life’s storm and the one who wasn’t? Are you ready for life’s storm? You never know when it may come or how fierce it will be, but blessed is the person who is ready for it!


Navigating Japan’s Healthcare System

Joshua having an accident and getting 2nd degree burns all down his left arm while we were camping on vacation was certainly not in our list of things to do. It’s hard enough to know what to do in a situation like that if you’re in your home country, but we were figuring it all out in a foreign language and country whose healthcare system is not familiar. Many thing Americans are used in the USA are not available anywhere else in the world, and we soon found out that’s true for Japan as well.

We were glad that Japan’s emergency response was really good, that made a big difference of getting Joshua’s burn under control. But if you know anything about burns, you know the treatment that one receives can make the difference in avoiding future scarring or even surgery. We certainly didn’t want that for Joshua. The poor guy had suffered enough.

Trying to navigate the waters of the Japanese healthcare system was honestly a bit overwhelming. The first day after Joshua’s accident, we went to the local hospital to get treatment, and they did their best to change his bandages, but honestly the treatment left us feeling uneasy. We soon found out why.

One of our friends from church heard about Joshua’s situation, and as a professional in a medical field, he began to research the best burn treatment in our area. He understands the Japanese medical system and knew that hospitals cannot advertise their expertise in certain fields. It was up to an individual to find that out! We as foreigners would have very little hope of figuring it out, but he went to battle for us.

Turns out that our local hospital didn’t have a single burn specialist on staff. Not only that, but the leading children’s hospital in Japan didn’t even have one on staff! Things we really looking bleak.

He continued to call around until he came upon a local clinic of a plastic surgeon whose doctor specialized in burns. He called the receptionist and found out the doctor was not taking any new patients. The doctor just happened to be overhearing the conversation and asked to speak to our friend, who explained Joshua’s situation. The doctor said “I’ll make space, bring Joshua in right away.”

So we went, and the doctor treated Joshua so well that he didn’t even scream when they changed his bandage and cleaned his wound. Immediately our hearts were at ease — this was the treatment that would help him recover. Until then the doctors had been talking about possible skin grafts and were only changing his bandages every other day, but the specialist seemed to think that with proper care and changing the bandages everyday the skin should heal without any issues.

We certainly would not want to pass through that experience again. But having passed through it, we can offer this helpful insight for those who may have to do the same thing in the future. Here is what we learned from navigating Japan’s medical system.