Hello and happy summer everyone! I can’t believe it, I just looked and it’s been three months since I last sent out a report. Wow, time is continuing to fly!
For so long, mainly because of Covid, days and weeks just tend to look the same. We as a church family are unable to have special summer activities, parties, get-togethers, or movie nights any time of year in order to keep from having a large group of people together inside. Each time we think we’re going to be able to open up and plan something, the numbers go up again. They are currently at their all-time high both for all of Japan as well as here in our prefecture. But, as in the States, people have decided that it’s time to just live their lives (carefully, still wearing masks in public) and the government is no longer encouraging people to stay at home or to close down businesses.
I decided, before the numbers went up again, to take a trip, and continued with my plan even after they went up. I spent about five days traveling to and being in the area around Tokyo. My goals were to renew friendships and do a little more networking, get advice on books that should be added to the Kojima library, and then go shopping at one of the larger Christian bookstores in Japan. (still not very large though!) It was exciting to find some really good books in Japanese to add to our library, including a good study Bible, (it weighs a ton!!) and I’m excited to introduce them to the Christians here!
I was terrible about remembering to take pictures, but I enjoyed spending time with Sister Jeanne Ray and some of her English/Bible students, being with Sister Emiko Noguchi for a day, meeting a Christian sister, and hearing about the café and outreach that she and other Christians in her area use to reach hurting people such as alcoholics, homeless people, people suffering from cancer, and whoever else comes their way. I was able to speak with Brother Nao Fukushima only by Zoom because of his wife Noriko‘s illness, and Brother Yoshiya Noguchi for just an hour or two because he was so busy that week. And then a couple nights plus Sunday with Leslie and Sara Taylor and their delightful children and the Matsudo church. I was so delighted to get to spend a few hours with a woman, Nao, who was in my mom‘s Bible class, and her children attended my children’s Bible class here in Kojima two years back around 10 years ago. She’s now a Christian and assisted Sara in teaching the children’s Bible class at the Matsudo Church. And we got to talk a lot, it was great! The first picture below shows the Taylors and Nao with her daughter, taken a week and a half ago when I was there, and just for fun, the next two pictures are her kids, from when she was living in Kojima 10 years ago. And I got a picture of Brent in!
After my time in that part of Japan, I flew to Ishigaki Island, maybe the southernmost and westernmost island in the Okinawa chain of Japanese islands, for a short vacation.
Again, my pictures are either nonexistent or pretty bad, but I’ll put one down below of me eating an Okinawa, or maybe Ishigaki, a dish of noodles with Japanese flavored spareribs on top, and another one of the most beautiful flowers I saw down there.
Highlights of my trip were-
- Spending time with Christian sister Rumi, who decided to join me at the last minute,
- beautiful flowers, amazing night sky—probably the best I’ve ever seen the Milky Way,
- beautiful sunrise over the ocean,
- swimming in the ocean for a couple of hours,
- seeing gorgeous tropical fish, coral, clams, etc. from a glass bottom boat,
- swimming in the most beautiful pool I’ve ever seen,
- relaxing in the best what I would call a bungalow I’ve ever been in,
- making a pottery turtle in a workshop,
- eating amazingly delicious small pineapples such as peach pineapple and melon pineapple,
- eating tropical fish sashimi, and
- just, in general, relaxing in such an amazingly beautiful place.
Rumi flying down to vacation with me at the last minute was a blessing, I think for both of us. I pray that I was an encouragement to her and that she was a real blessing to me.
After 27 years of living in Japan, I’m glad I finally made it to Okinawa!
As I said before, no real big news, except I continue to praise God for the growth I see in the Christians here in Kojima.
For example, one sister considering getting a degree in Christian counseling so that she can be a counselor to others.
One sister teaching and encouraging a seeker, and the actual “teachers” sitting back and listening in amazement.
People teaching our children’s Bible class (so far just one child) for the first time.
One of our seekers said to the group, “I’m looking forward to the day when I will have a story to tell about how God saved me, the same as (some of our other Christians) have! He’s already loved me through all of you.
I pray Ephesians 1:18-20 for all of you, that through the Spirit you know deeply the hope we have, how great and amazing our blessings are, and the unbelievable power God uses for us.
Thank you as always for your prayers, messages of encouragement, and support.