Well, we’re back!
For those of you who hadn’t heard, our family went to California for three weeks to visit with some churches. These were churches that we had a connection with, or who already have a heart for Japan. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with five of them in the Southern California area, to hear about their church life, their heart for their communities, and their passion for the great commission.
But first… there was a plane ride… travelling ten hours with two kids from Binghamton, to Buffalo, to Vegas, and finally to John Wayne Airport in Orange County California went… surprisingly well! You thought I was going to say it was awful and the kids cried the whole time and some very funny thing happened that I will tell you about, right? No, they were great, and the funniest thing that happened is that Jemma fell asleep LITERALLY two minutes before we touched down in California, and we toted her around to baggage claim and the car rental kiosk while while buckled into her car seat, strapped to the top of the luggage cart. It looked ridiculous but I applaud our ingenuity. You are free to applaud as well. 😀
The very next day we jumped right into things with meetings. We had the chance to meet with Japanese ministers various generations removed from Japan, and were very encouraged by their willingness to sit and chat with a couple that they had never met before. They shared their thoughts and convictions on missions in Japan and ministry in general, and it was fantastic. We definitely learned from these men and have already been adjusting our hopes for future ministry because of these conversations. I had the chance to visit a Japanese church service, and despite not understanding a word (well, maybe a few, but language school doesn’t start until we get to Japan, remember!) it was a great experience sharing communion with Japanese that love and serve Jesus. We also visited a church that focuses on people in recovery, or who have come from a recovery background. It was a wonderful example of acceptance and authenticity amidst a culture that easily overlooks people who come from more challenging backgrounds. Worshiping among these people seemed so much like where Jesus would be on a Sunday morning.
We also had the chance to visit a few beaches. Of course, it’s California, it’s what you do right? While the beach scene isn’t really my thing Ella and Jemma took to it like a peanut butter sandwich soaks up spilled orange juice. (I couldn’t say “a duck to water” that would have been too obvious. Plus PB&J sandwiches really do make great sponges. I’m thinking of marketing them.) Also fun fact, while Tracy and I burn just thinking about sunshine, our girls are tanners. We did get the chance to visit some tide pools and have our first homeschooling adventure of “everything is a field trip”. Ella was scared of the crabs. I thought they tasted delicious!
I think our favorite thing of all about our trip has to be getting to know one very new church plant. These beautiful people made it easy to feel included in their community. We made some new friends who it just so happens were in Japan around the same general time I was in 2011. They also happened to be able to get us in to Disneyland for free, which was a great surprise for our girls and a huge blessings! At church we were able to share life experiences with people and enjoy some great community meals as well as some fantastic non-traditional mochi! The pastor especially was beyond helpful to us in making connections, and he quickly became someone I admire in his pursuit of Christ through ministry. They have also decided to partner with us in bringing the good news of grace and freedom to the Japanese! We are so very grateful for these people and their desire to seek God’s direction in becoming ministry partners with us.
Normally at this point we tell you how you can be praying for us. I will do that, so I don’t take opportunity away for you to be a part of ministry, but really I want to ask you for YOUR prayer requests this time. How can we be praying for you? You can comment below or you can email or Facebook us with your prayer requests. We know we were upheld and sustained in California by God through your prayers, and we want to practice our ministry by doing the same for you. So let us know! Don’t be shy! Or be shy a little bit and use Facebook messenger or email.
For Tracy and I, we would like prayers for perseverance in the support raising phase of our ministry. Japan is a very challenging place to do ministry, both at the front end and when you touch down on their soil. Practicing perseverance in the “now” will pay off in the “then”. Also, we have started homeschooling Ella in expectation of transitioning to Japan halfway through a school year, so prayers for Tracy, Ella, and Jemma through this process would be very helpful.
As always, thanks for finding your part in God’s call to the nations alongside us, and thanks for being a part of our journey!