Hey guys! This is Isaac here, and thank you for taking your time to read this blog and praying for us. I came to Japan to see how God is working here, in a country where Christianity is a minority, a presence continually washed out by the busy-ness of work and life. It’s my first time in Japan, but not my first time doing a short term mission.
We started off the day eating breakfast that we bought from the convenience store, and a devotion on 2 Corinthians 1, then we had an orientation by Yamamoto-sensei (Pastor Yamamoto, Sensei refers to a respectable person, rather than just teacher) on how we can help them live in their home, as well as the different places that are around the vicinity of the church.
We were given a map to explore Nagayama, and then we took off by ourselves to explore! We then helped them out with handing out flyers about the Australian party (coming soon to a website near you, next Tuesday), and then planning for the camp that we are going tomorrow! Like an actual camp with tents and stuff. Then we had dinner and went to the bathhouse.
I’m falling in love with the Japanese gi- I mean culture. At first when I came I felt like I was in a dream because everywhere we went it was like ANIME BECAME REAL LIFE. I could see why Miyazaki-san (Studio Ghibli) drew trains and houses the way he drew them, even the forests! I love the manners of the Japanese people, and how staff would bow for every bus, plane and train that departed. Prior to coming, we were scared that we would offend the Japanese people for our misconduct on the trains, the buses, public areas (especially because Phillip is hysterical and Naomi laughs loudly). However, Hoi Yan encouraged us by sharing that she also had this struggle when she first came to Japan, and she told us that;
“The people at the church are very thankful that you have come all the way from Australia to get to know them, and their church, so don’t be so afraid to offend them by saying the wrong things or doing the wrong things because they are very gracious and thankful.”
To me this was my biggest encouragement coming to Japan so far. All this time leading up to this trip and especially when we arrived I had felt incompetent since I had forgotten so much of my Japanese (because I haven’t been using it for 2 years after high school) and I had no confidence to talk to them because of my incompetency. However after prayer for boldness, and just trying to speak to the people at church, I realised how true Hoi Yan’s encouragement was, and I felt very comfortable speaking to them. In fact, we are all trying; the church people are trying to speak English so that we can understand, whilst we are trying to speak Japanese, it all works out well!
A great moment today was when we all finished our exploring in Nagayama, and we sat down to have lunch with Yamamoto-sensei. He shared why he became a Pastor of Nagayama Church (this church has been blessed with over 30 years of history). He wanted to raise a family of children that would grow up glorifying God, however he was found to not be able to have children with his wife. He constantly prayed, asking God for guidance, and funnily enough, as he and his wife prayed for guidance, they both found Isaiah 6 which says, ‘Here I am, send me’. They both decided to go to Bible college, and he chose to become a pastor for the church that he has been going to ever since he had to work in Asahikawa. He also shared about struggles being the only Christian in his school. There was a school training camp that started on the same day as his baptism. They were both very important events and he asked his Pastor if they could move the baptism to next week. But the Pastor said No. Yamamoto-sensei prayed about this, and he talked to his teacher in high school about this, and funnily enough he found out that his teacher was Catholic, who acknowledged that the Baptism was a very important day. So he told Yamamoto-sensei to come to the training camp after his baptism. It is very common for there to only be one Christian in your school, high school, university, or workplace. Please pray that these Christians can be bold in living out their faith, and trusting God to work in their lives.
The best thing that happened today was handing out flyers for the children to come to the Australian Party that we will be running next week. Hoi Yan and some people run a regular English club, and we are the spin off series of that club. The kids were SUPER KAWAII! They are so cute!!! KYAAA~! Especially their squeaky little voices!
ANYWAYS, we ended up handing out all the flyers, and we even got a phone call back from one of their parents asking about the event! Praise God! Pray that lots of children would come, not only to learn English but to plant seeds in them to know God. It reminds me of the story of a Japanese old man, who is 80 years old. He saw the church as a young boy but never really entered the church until he was 80. Also pray that the parents would be encouraged to bring their children to the church regularly, that the church’s reputation will be a loving community to Nagayama, and that the children’s parents would be encouraged to come to the church as well.
I am very thankful for the Yamamoto family, opening up their place for us to stay in. We have futon, we have a fridge, water, bathroom, shelter, and WiFi, which is not the most important…but it does help you read this post so….there are convenience stores everywhere, squat toilets, and the most awesome bathhouses in the world! I am very thankful being a part of this team, and being a small part of God’s big plan for Japan. I will be praying for the growth of this church, and all the churches in Japan, will you be praying with me too?
- Thank God that we are safe
- Thank God that he has given me the courage to use my limited Japanese, and pray that it will continue to get better.
- Pray for Hoi-Yan’s back, which is still sore.
- Pray that Hoi-Yan will have enough rest and wisdom. It is very tiring for her to be translating conversations from English to Japanese and vice versa. She is a gun! And doing a great job!
- Pray for the camp that is happening tomorrow (Friday), that it can be run smoothly. We are going to be playing games with children, preparing food and also setting up tents.
- Pray for a safe drive to the camp site.
Quote of the day
Hoi-Yan: “You guys should probably go find something interesting and tell us about it”
Phillip: “NAHHHH we’re going straight for AEON (a shopping center) and taking a DUMP”