Carrell Rpt – Sept-Oct ’09

Japanese Lantern September-October, 2009

Dear Friends,

Our winter in Matsudo is marked by when we start buying kerosene to heat our homes. As we see beautiful leaves fall from the trees and feel the crisp air, we are reminded of the changes that God is controlling all over His globe. We also rejoice that with these changes, hearts are being touched by the gospel, lives are being changed, and we continually have much for which to thank our Lord!

New Missionaries Arrive in Haruna

We had looked forward with great anticipation to the arrival of Paul and Stacey Harrington at the beginning of September. They seemed to “hit the ground running” with much excitement and desire to learn the Japanese language and culture, but also to do all they could for the Lord’s kingdom as soon as possible. Through communications over the Internet via Facebook, Skype, and e-mail, we had gotten to know each other, but finally being able to meet face-to-face was a particular joy.

Bro. and Sis. Shiro Obata helped them find their apartment, set up a program of language study, and oriented them to living in the Takasaki (Haruna) area of Gunma prefecture. Getting accounts opened, phones and internet set up, house furnished, and supplies bought for work where among some of the initial challenges the Herringtons met. Then meeting all the Japanese preachers and missionaries at the monthly Preacher’s meeting was one of the next orders of business.

On the return from one of their trips to Ibaraki, Paul and Stacey dropped by Matsudo to spend several days with us. They were able to worship with us at Matsudo on a Sunday when we had a pot luck meal, all-church meeting, and a Bible class. It was also their first congregation to visit outside of the Haruna church where they are working. Since we are close to their parents ages, it was particularly interesting to share our differing perspectives on Japanese mission work, noting how each of us have various talents which can be mutually beneficial to the Lord’s kingdom.

If you go to their homepage and blog (, you will be able to read about their many activities in Haruna. Paul has begun to preach and teach while they are both studying and learning Japanese language and culture. Stacey’s communications through the blog, photography, and reports are quite clear to see. We welcome them and pray God will use them mightily to spread His kingdom in Japan.

Matsudo Church and Bro. Tamura’s Dizziness

We were very surprised one Thursday evening when Bro. Tamura called to tell us that he would not be able to come to Bible study due to feeling dizzy when he stood up or walked. The following morning, I took him and his wife to the hospital to check them in for tests. An MRI and ear tests did not show anything out of the ordinary, but it was thought that something between the ears and eyes might be causing the dizziness.

With only Tamura san and I as the only men in the congregation for the worship service, it suddenly fell upon me to carry all the responsibility for worship functions the following week. After two weeks, I thought I should seek help while Tamura san was laid up and appealed to Ochanomizu Church of Christ to send someone to help during the worship time. Bro. Hosokawa, an elder from Ochanomizu came one Sunday and Bro. Tadayoshi Aikawa the next. They did not preach for us, but were a great help with the singing, prayers, and Lord’s Supper. In the meantime, Bro. Tamura got out of the hospital and is now able to return to worship services. He can function normally in the worship as long as he is seated, so a chair was provided for him while he leads services. Each week, he seems to be getting his strength back and we are thankful to the Lord.

Changing Events in our Neighborhood

Next door to our home was a local tavern which had been around for nearly 30 years or more. It was getting “run-down” and the elderly lady who ran the place was ready to retire, so it was torn down and those in the apartments had to move elsewhere. Next to our church building a house had been torn down and the land was sold to build three homes there. I thought it might be interesting to take digital pictures of the demolition and construction processes as part of the changes in our community.

The week before this newsletter was finished we also heard that our “community chief” (chonaikai cho) died suddenly at 74 years old. He had been very kind to us over the years, giving us food from his garden next to our apartment and allowing us permission to advertise for LST. We will miss seeing him around. In January, Debbie and I had a visit in his home where we discussed Christianity and Buddhism, but I did not know we would not speak with him anymore. In such cases I’m reminded that we should use every opportunity we can because life is “like a vapor” (James 4:1317). Please pray that we can be a good influence on our neighborhood for good.

Bible Class for Children Begun

During September, Noriko Sanpei, Debbie, and I met to discuss how we could use the momentum gained from our initial follow-up party for the kids of LST readers. We agreed to try a monthly Bible class for our neighborhood children, starting out with the Creation, to tell them of God’s power, His care for man, and try to teach them a respect for the Bible as God’s Word. Four children attended the first class which was on the fourth Sunday morning of September from 9:3010:15. These children have also been taught English by Debbie in our home. We wanted them to start enjoying coming to Bible school on Sunday mornings.

In October, we again had four children come, the older sister of one of the girls came because the younger sister had to go to her grandma’s house that day. But the children are showing interest and even come a little early, so as not to “miss” anything. The second topic was “Cain and Abel,” where we were able to talk about relationships between brothers, jealousy, anger, and murder. We emphasized “pleasing God” – Abel was obedient to God and thus pleased Him, while his brother Cain disobeyed God and was “not pleasing” to Him. While Debbie held the “kamishibai” or paper storyboard which she prepared, Sis. Sanpei “held” the children in rapt attention as she read the story with expression. Afterward, I asked the children questions to promote a discussion. We closed out with more songs. We also asked each of the children to invite a friend to join them for Bible school next month. Please pray for all these children and our efforts.

Two Year Milestone since Matsudo Arrival

We thank and praise the Lord for bringing us through two years (as of October 27th) of mission efforts in Matsudo. Looking back over these years, four Bible classes were begun and are continuing – two are weekly (Thursday, Saturday) and two are monthly (one adult, one children) classes. Three are now teaching or helping in the children’s classes. The church has a homepage and the weekly bulletin has been revised. More people are now willing to help with both. Debbie’s cooking, craft, and English classes (five adults and five children regularly) are well received and continuing. We had one successful summer LST program in 2009 and are planning another, Lord willing, in 2010. Our connections with Yokota Church of Christ has continued as we fellowship, study, and try to encourage those brethren too. One Matsudo member is helping with the Fukuin (Gospel) magazine and some of our members have attended area wide meetings as well. The Lord allowed us to have one new sister added to the body and others are being taught. The church has a wonderful spirit of working together in the Lord, trusting Him with our plans for the future. Please continue to pray for us.

In His service, Steve & Debbie Carrell