Bowling in Japan

Our new site title! Just kidding. We went bowling with the College Students this week and had a great time bonding. Friday night we had a movie night in our home and only a few students came, but it was also a good time. The main purpose of these outreach events is to build a relationship with the students so that we can gradually share our relationship with Christ. It’s fun getting to know each one of them. We appreciate your prayers for them as we seek to share the Gospel with them.

More pics

February 2009 Prayer Letter

Here’s our latest news. It has been a fun month so far. Lots to write about next month!

JPEG Version: P1, P2

Godo Reihai

“Go do what?” Yesterday we had a godo reihai (pronounced like “go”-“doe”, “lay”-“hi”), or a combined worship service between all 6 church plants in Takamatsu. We were packed like sardines! But it was fun, and we had a guest speaker, Okawa-sensei (pictured) whom the church is praying about bringing onto leadership for the next 3 years. He was extremely energetic for a 70-year old (imagine moving houses at that age!) and had a good sense of humor. He has spent 30 years pastoring Japanese churches in California, so he can minister in both English and Japanese with quite a lot of wit. It is looking likely that he will come, but financially, we don’t know how it will happen, so please pray for the finances here.
While we were packing to move this weekend, I came across some paperwork that I hadn’t gotten to take a good look at. It details Church growth and status across Japan for 2008. I’ve put it below for downloading and highlighted the best (blue) and worst (red) prefectures in certain areas. The green line is our prefecture. It is sad to note that only one prefecture is listed as being over 1% Christian. Please pray for these areas and for Japan as a whole.

Goodbye Party, First Message in Japanese

How’s that for a title?! The goodbye party was held for the previous English teachers this weekend and it was a fun time for all. Dan and Laura have been teaching the classes that we’ve now taken over for the last 10 years! So this change is a big one. We got to see many of our students in a more relaxed environment, and the event also brought some new ones who want to sign up! Now, just to remind you, English classes are not held for the sake of English, they’re held for the sake of the Gospel. Many Japanese who come become Christians over time, and it’s a great way to build contacts for the church.

Yesterday Christina and I gave our first message in Japanese which was quite nerve-racking, but God got us through it. The congregation was a whole 6 people including us, so that took some of the pressure off. We will be giving it again at each of the churches over the next month or so. It’s basically an extended testimony of who we are and why we’re in Japan.

So, our apologies for less updates this month, but we’ve been thinking of you all and now that we’re better in the swing of things here, it should get easier. We have uploaded our schedule in EST if you would like to pray during some of the events. And we also have pictures coming soon of us in action! Hopefully we’ll be able to finish another video podcast soon too!

More pics from the party are here.

A New Year

Last night, we journeyed via bicycle to one of the churches to pray for the New Year. Only a couple other people came, so it was pretty intimate. Japanese tradition is to eat soba noodles around Midnight (some say before some say after). So, we happily participated. It was a fun time. Interestingly, they have no ball to watch drop like in America so it was somewhat anticlimactic, but fun nonetheless.
One our way home we passed hundreds of people visiting the Shrine (at midnight). It was a sad reminder of the cultural bondage here. Most people participating were not devout followers, but simply following their friends and family to worship demons (1 Cor. 10:19-22).
This year we ask that you pray with us for the Christians here to be bold and continue reaching out, and for us that we might become fluent in Japanese. Thanks for thinking and praying for us :)

I’ve added our address to the blog page and contact page in case you’d like to mail us anything.

pictures of the shrine here.

Christmas in Japan

This Christmas was quite different for us. It would be deceptive to say that it wasn’t hard.
Both of us have been fighting a cold/virus since last week and I (Matt) was up nearly every hour on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, making it a rather awful start. However, the Lord brought me some relief by removing my headache during the morning. On Tuesday night, we had a Candlelight service (pictured above) which went very well. You can play the audio of one of the songs we sang and try to guess what it is! We had quite a good turnout and got to see many of the believers for the first time since our visit this Spring. As the New Year comes, we’re excited about getting to begin ministry and help grow these churches. The one pictured above is one of six church plants in this area that we’ll be a part of.

Check out more pictures of the week.

From Karuizawa to Takamatsu

This is our train ride from Karuizawa to Tokyo, then from Tokyo to Okayama, then from Okayama to Takamatsu! It’s going to be long, but by Bullet Train (aka “Shinkansen”), it will be just over 6 hours. If you click the link up top that says “View Larger Map,” you can see more details. If you notice all that white area around Tokyo, that’s all city! It’s huge!

Confession time

So, among all this traveling and studying and sleeping and studying and doing things FOR God rather than WITH God, one can have a tendency to forget to focus on spending time with God…and that’s what I’ve done. I’m not happy about it, but there it is. We could really use your prayers to help us manage our time in this new crazy life we’re in. Hopefully things will settle down into a normal schedule once we hit Takamatsu, but no matter where we are, we could use your prayers in this area.

PS- we got the second snow of the season on Sunday, and above it what church looked like.

Heating in Japan

We have been getting a lot of questions about the heating here in Japan and there are different answers depending on where you are. So, we thought we would clarify a bit. Here in Karuizawa, we have this handy dandy little kerosene heater to heat our cabin. It has buttons on it to control the temperature. They use Celsius here, so don’t worry when you see other pictures that say our cabin is only 19 degrees! We like to keep it around 22-23. That is pretty nice. Anyway, it kind of resembles the heaters that are in hotels, the one’s that sit under the window. Like this one here. It’s long, and you control it much like you would the hotel ones in The States. There is a neat feature on the ones here that you can set a timer for it to turn on early in the morning before you wake up, but we can’t figure out how to do it, so we just turn it up really quick in the morning and jump back in bed! That is another question that people have had, “Why do you turn off the heater at night or when you leave the house?”




More pictures here

The Cabin – The start of our (video) podcast!

Growing up in an age saturated by media, we have found that it’s an excellent way to reach our generation. Therefore, we have begun our video podcast from Japan with a rather lackluster video touring our cabin. It’s not very spiritual, but it’s a start for us. Language school doesn’t have much exciting to film. Maybe if we get enough response, we could film a little of the school itself.
We hope to put out about one video per month to keep everyone back in the states connected and informed. For now, feel free to reuse any of our footage however you see fit. We may in the future gear our podcast toward church presentation, depending on the response we get. Let us know what you think!

Link to the podcast page.
Link to download/subscribe via iTunes.