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Half Way Reflection

Hello Brothers and Sisters!

I don’t think I can express enough how much all of your prayers and encouragement have meant to me as God continues to faithfully provide for my team and I!

I am at the half way point of the trip; so I have about four weeks left in Japan! It is crazy to think there is only four weeks left and I know it will pass by very quickly. In the last week or so, God has been gracious to encourage me with my relationships and conversations with students as well as helping me to trust in Him more.

This past weekend, my team and I went on a hike to the top of Mt. Takao with students. One of the students, Back (that is her nickname! :)), asked me why I wanted to come to Japan. When she asked me that question, my first response wanted to be to say, “I want to be a part of God’s work and share the Gospel with the students of Tokyo BEST.” I didn’t say that answer to her because it would have been too much for her to try to understand all at once. But, I think it hit me at that moment how many more things I am grateful for in addition to the blessing to be a part of what God is doing in Japan.

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This is a picture of Back and I from our culture night the first week I arrived in Japan. A setter that came on this trip last year asked me to deliver a letter to her from him.

The students call us the Setters and most of them understand that we are here to experience the culture of Japan and be a part of the Tokyo BEST community for 8 weeks before we return home to America. When I put myself into the student’s shoes, it is basically like a group of foreigners is coming to my college campus ¬†with a desire to be included in my community of friends for a short amount of time before they go back home. Japan is also on a different school schedule than America so they still have classes and exams for the next few weeks. Yet, they have welcomed us with open arms and have loved us as if we have been a part of the community for longer than we have.

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This is another picture from the culture night from a few weeks ago. From left to right: Myself, Riko, and Jun

I told Back how grateful I am that even though the students are so busy with school and their own lives, they want to spend time with me, someone they met only 4 weeks ago. Her response back to me was to thank me for wanting to come to Japan to spend my summer here and telling me how much the students love to have my team here. She also told me how much the students enjoy having us and how much they truly just want to be our friends. My heart was so warm after that conversation and God definitely used it to encourage me and affirm me in my calling to be here for the summer.

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A few of my teammates, two students, and I were able to spend time together exploring the zoo this past weekend!

Praises:

  • These students make my heart very happy. I am so blessed to be around each one of them and the opportunity to be able to ask them about their lives and get to know them as friends. I am also so grateful that they are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to want to spend time with me.
  • God has been continuing to help me to trust Him more and continuing to teach me so many things through the Word and these students.

Prayer Requests:

  • Please be praying for the students for the next two weeks. Most of them are starting to take their final exams for the semester. Most students have 7-8 tests and some may have up to 10 tests over the span of two weeks. Many have multiple tests on the same day. Pray that the students would be diligent to study and Ganbaru (Japanese for work hard, persevere) over the next two weeks and do the best they can on their exams. Prayer that our team would be able to encourage them during this time.
  • Prayer that I would continue to deeply trust in God. As my heart continues to love these students more, pray that I would deeply trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness for their salvation. You can pray that God would continue to use my team and I to show them Christ’s love and prayerfully the Gospel.
  • Continued prayer that my team and I would continue to find spiritual rest and renewal in the Word and in prayer. You can pray that we would continue to also get physical rest.
  • Continued prayer for the salvation of these students. You can pray that God would continue to soften their hearts to the Gospel and give my team and I opportunities to be used by Him to communicate that to them as best as we can.

Thank you so much again for reading and keeping updated with how God has been powerfully working in Japan! Have a wonderful rest of your week!

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The Dark Side

Greetings Brothers and Sisters! Thank you so much for your continued encouragement, words of affirmation, and faithful prayers for my team and I!

In my weekly BEST talk group, we have been discussing the topic of “Dark Side.” “The dark side is something that is a natural result of human development and is present in everyone. It is a part of us that we are unaware of to some degree, lurking in the shadows of our personality. The development of our dark side has been a lifetime in the making and is not exclusively a negative force in our lives.” (This description is from our BEST talk group material.)

We were able to take a test to see what our dark sides are and it has been a very eye-opening experience for me. It has been very humbling to come face to face with my dark side and realize that the dark side is a part of me. In my head I know the truth that I am a sinful person and even though I have God’s forgiveness, I will continue to sin in the flesh. But, it has been very good to be reminded how much I fall short and for myself from the dark side test, realizing how much I desire to be in control of everything when I can simply trust and rest in God’s sovereignty.

I thought I would share the link to the test with you if you are interested in taking the test yourself: http://barnabasministry.com/form-odsl.html

Praises:

  • My team and I along with some of the Tokyo staff were able to get away to Shizuoka from Monday to Wednesday. It was a good time to grow closer together as a team and take an extended time to be alone with God. I feel very refreshed after spending time away for a little while. Now I am back in Tokyo ready to love the students more and trust the Lord more for the rest of the summer.
  • This past weekend, I went with one of my teammates, Kim, two of the Tokyo staff members, and a few students to watch some of the Tokyo BEST boys play in a soccer tournament. It was a great blessing to be able to support them during their games and join them in the excitement when they won the tournament and won new uniforms to use for the next time they play together. It was a good chance for me to see how well all of them worked together so well considering it was the first time that group played soccer together. It was a beautiful scene of the loving community that has been built here in Tokyo BEST and so special to be apart of the joy that they all had in being able to play a sport they love together.

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Prayer Requests:

  • Continued prayer for humility for myself and to deeply trust God and in His sovereignty and goodness. Prayer that I would trust in God for the salvation of these students and that I would continue to build relationships with students and truly love them.
  • Continued prayer for the hearts of the students. Prayer that God would continue to break up the hard soil in the hearts of the students so that seeds can be planted. For students that are more receptive, prayer that the seeds would be able to grow and that they would be able to better understand the parts of the Gospel and God’s love for them in the Lord’s perfect timing.
  • Continued prayer for team unity. Prayer that our team would be able to love and serve each other and be able to show the Japanese students the love of Christ by how we love and encourage to one another.
  • Continued prayer over the university investigation. Prayer that God would be glorified and magnified through it.

Thank you so much again for all the support and prayers over the past weeks. If you have any questions feel free to let me know. Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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Thoughts from Sendai

Konichiwa (Hello) Brothers and Sisters!

Hope that this new post finds you well! Thank you again for your faithfulness in praying for and encouraging me as I continue to be taught and molded by God. We are in our second full week of being here in Japan and God continues to be a faithful God in teaching me.

This past weekend, my team and I traveled with 12 students from the Tokyo BEST club to Sendai which is about 6 hours north by car. We were able to join with some of the students of the Sendai BEST club, a sister club of the Tokyo club. 19679181_813341975494139_225704545808978573_o

These are three students from the Sendai BEST club that I was able to meet and talk with this weekend. From Left to Right: Kazuya, Norihiro, myself, and Masa.

Our group was able to visit the area of Ishinomaki on Saturday, which is the area that was greatly affected by the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, 2011.

In the morning, we were able to visit the Abe family that survived the earthquake and tsunami. They shared their experience with us: what happened on that day, the aftermath, and what they were able to learn from it. Some students from the Sendai BEST club were also able to share what they experienced more than 6 years ago when most of them were just middle school students. After they shared, some of the students from the Tokyo BEST club were able to share their thoughts regarding what the students shared and also what they experienced on that day.

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This picture above was taken on Saturday after the Abe Family invited us into their home and shared their story and experiences with us. This group includes the family (Abe san’s son in the front center, his wife and mother are behind him to the right), my team, Tokyo BEST students, and Sendai BEST students.

It was very humbling to hear what these people went through and what they were able to learn and take away from their experience. God taught me this weekend that I so often do not thank Him enough for what seem to me as little blessings, such as gas, electricity, clean water, and food. Some students shared that they went without some of these things for several days to a couple of weeks.

The students also shared how they felt that they were going to die and they didn’t know whether they were going to survive what was going on. When they shared that, the verse that was brought to my mind was James 4:14- “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Our days are numbered and only God knows how many days that is. So, we must be thankful for each new day of life that God graciously gives us and make it a point that the day be centered around Him being glorified.

Praises:

  • The one thing I requested of God before this trip was that He would humble me and that I would grow in my heart a willingness to have my pride crushed and be reminded that I do not know everything. God has been very faithful in humbling me and He continues to do so for me so thank you for your prayers!
  • I am continuing to meet with students and connect with them. It is a blessing to be able to invest in their lives and get to know who they are and the experiences they have had.
  • The Sendai trip this weekend was a huge blessing. My team and I were able to spend time with a smaller group of students and connect with them. We were able to be taught so many things by God and to bond with the students that came.

Prayer Requests:

  • Prayer that God would continue to teach me and that I would keep my focus on Him in all that I say, do and think. Pray that God would continue to teach me and give me peace.
  • Prayer that God would continue to help me connect with students and love them. This has been particularly saddening for me lately, realizing that as I am starting to love these students, I can see that they need Jesus and the Gospel but it is not that easy to share the Gospel with them. This is because the Gospel has concepts such as sin, grace, and salvation that are not a part of the Japanese vocabulary so it is hard for Japanese to understand these things. The Tokyo BEST club is also under investigation by Chuo University so we have to be careful about what we say so that our group is not perceived in a wrong light. Pray that I would trust in God’s sovereignty and His sovereignty over these student’s salvation and find rest in knowing that God knows all things even if I may not understand everything.
  • Continued prayer for team unity. Prayer that we would continue to support and encourage our teammates and not fall into the temptation of comparing ourselves to our teammates and how many students they are connecting with.
  • Prayer for the students of the Tokyo BEST club. Continued prayer that God would be softening their hearts and He would be giving us opportunities to share our testimonies and the Gospel with them. I have been able to see the work that God is doing in the hearts of these students, especially this weekend. Japanese people are usually more reserved and tend to keep their feelings and emotions inside. But this weekend, so many students from the Tokyo BEST club were willing to share their feelings with everyone, which is something that usually doesn’t occur. So, praise God that He is faithfully working in the hearts of these students!

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These are some of the students from the Tokyo BEST club that came on the Sendai Trip. From Left to Right: Myself, Mayu, Riko, Nao, and Kurumi.

Thank you for faithfully keeping up with my updates and for praying for my team and I! It has been difficult as God is growing me and stretching me in different ways that I have not experienced before. But I pray that I would rest and trust in Him and His sovereignty and know that all of these difficulties are for a greater purpose that I may not understand now but that He knows is for my good. I am very encouraged by the relationships I have been able to form with students thus far and what God can do through them as the summer progresses. I am blessed to be able to see God working in the hearts of these students and be a part of what He is doing in Japan!

 

 

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To Love God and To Love People

‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'” – Matthew 22:36-40

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,

Hope this new update finds you well! Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. God has been doing so many good things in the hearts of my team and I and continuing to grow us and prepare us for what He will call us to do in the upcoming weeks.

This passage spoken from Christ has been a good encouragement for me the past few days. I am praying that this summer would be an opportunity for me to grow in my love for God and for His people. Jesus calls us to love the Lord with all of who we are, in our hearts, in our thoughts, in our actions, and in our words. This is a tall order, for those of us still living in the sinful flesh. But grace be to our God that He has sent us the Holy Spirit to convict us and turn us to repentance in our sin and shortcomings. Jesus calls us to love other people with the love in which Christ loves us. This is another tall order for us, but it is something that I can always work on, since I can never be perfect at it.

Can you pray along with me for my team and I that we would ask Him for help to have our heart’s desires be to truly love Him and love other people and that we would grow in this love this summer?

Praises:

  • We finally got to meet the students in BEST club at Chuo University this past Friday. They are a great group of students, all of whom are nonbelievers. But they are beautiful people, created in God’s image. They have been a breath of fresh air, loving and welcoming my team and I into their community and showing so much joy that we are here to spend the summer with them.
  • I have gotten to see and experience the Japanese culture and talk with some students about the differences between Japanese and American culture.
  • Some of my teammates from the UCSD campus and I were able to reconnect with two Japanese students that God brought to us this past school year, Mei and Honami. It was a beautiful time of fellowship and a unique blessing to be shown around Tokyo by locals.

Prayer Requests

  • For endurance and patience for myself, as the language barrier is difficult and as it can get tiring to focus on understanding Japanese conversations.
  • For my team and I to continue our pursuit in loving God and loving people. Prayer that we would not neglect our own personal spiritual growth amidst business of activities and that we would continue to see the work we do through Japanese eyes. Prayer that our love for these students would come from the Lord, because if we try and love these students on our own love, it will quickly run out.
  • For time with students, that they would ultimately see God and his love and see the hope and joy we have in our lives because of the Gospel.
  • For team unity, for our team bible study times and team unity times each week. Prayer that these times would be fruitful and a refreshing time of fellowship among our brothers and sisters that we are serving and laboring alongside of.

Thank you again for your prayers, for our God is a powerful God, for which nothing is too difficult. What a joy and blessing it is to know that brothers and sisters are praying for my team and I! Have a wonderful rest of your week!

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We made it!

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you so much again for all your love, encouragement, and support thus far in preparation for this trip. God has richly blessed me with the love and fellowship of Christ through all of you. We are so richly blessed that God loves us with an agape, unconditional love and we are able to enjoy sweet fellowship because Christ has saved all of us by the same blood and safe sacrifice.

Praise God that He has faithfully provided thus far and allowed my team and I to safely arrive to Japan yesterday! We are so humbled and grateful for God’s graciousness and faithfulness to us thus far and eager to see what He will do in us and in the hearts of these students.

Prayer Requests

  • For me personally, that if nothing else this summer, that God would truly humble me and remind me that without Him, I am nothing and all of this is for HIS glory.
  • For my team and I as we prepare to begin to meet with students that our hearts would be open to becoming like the Japanese in every way possible so that we can show them His love and that the students would be open to receiving us.
  • For the staff here in Japan, that God would be giving them physical and spiritual rest and that our team would be able to encourage and love them while we are here.
  • For team unity, that our team would truly desire to show the love of Christ to each other and the students would be able to see Jesus’ love by our love for one another.

“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (ESV)

Would you pray that our team would be willing to become like the Japanese people so that we may be able to share the love of Christ with them? Would you pray that we would be willing to look at the Gospel and at Christ through the eyes of Japanese people this summer?

Thank you brothers and sisters for your prayers. God is faithful and powerful to listen and answer our prayers in ways that we can not do on our own!

 

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Finding Joy

Hello friends! It’s about 3 more weeks until my team and I fly to Japan! It’s crazy how time has flown by so quickly and how soon this missions trip is. The last month or so since my last prayer update has been very busy for me. But, God’s faithfulness and grace has continued to be put on full display in front of my eyes, reminding me of the Gospel and the salvation we can have because of what Christ has done.

My team and I had a Skype group call with one of our receiving staff a few weeks ago and it was good to be able to see the rest of my team and share our excitements and fears for the summer. As I was listening to all of these things, I was reminded how much of a blessing this opportunity is.

There is so much joy to be had in the Gospel for us as Christians. I am undeserving and unworthy to be an ambassador for Christ and to receive God’s grace and salvation. But, because of what Christ has done for me, I am seen by God as His daughter and as a vessel to reach the lost.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon the Earth. – Psalm 67:4

The last month or so has been very difficult for me to find joy in all circumstances. I have found myself complaining a lot about school and forgetting what a blessing it is and how much joy can be had in the opportunity to be in college at all. There is so much joy to know that I have greater things to look forward to. There is so much joy to know that in all things I am able to glorify God.

As God continues to prepare me and grow me for what He is going to do through me this summer, may I find my joy in salvation and the blessing of the Gospel. May I find joy in this season of life He has given me to be a student and to diligently finish the school year well. May I find joy in the blessing of being God’s daughter and the blessing to know God and to be able to serve Him.

Prayer Requests

  • To have joy and endurance in continuing through the rest of the school year.
  • Logistical things such as safe flight to Japan as well as a quick/ smooth transition for myself and my team between school and going to Japan.
  • For full funding for the rest of my team. Praying that we would continue to have full trust and dependence on God and remember His faithfulness.
  • For the continued preparation for my team and my heart’s to be humble and for God continue to mold us into men and women to be used by Him for his glory.
  • For the continued preparation for the hearts of the Japanese students. Prayer that God would continue to soften the hard ground for these students to hear the Gospel and to be receptive of Christ’s love through us.
  • For strength and endurance for the Navigators staff in Japan at Chuo University and that God would be continuing to use them to share the Gospel and love of Christ with the students. For them to be able to have some rest when we are able to partner with them this summer.

Thank you so much again for all of your prayers! Thank you for asking me directly for prayer requests because I have been lacking on updating y’all. I am looking forward to seeing how God will use this ministry opportunity to grow my team and I and glorify Himself in Japan!

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To God Be the Glory

 

“[God] needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone.” -A.W. Tozer on God’s Self-Sufficiency in “Knowledge of the Holy”

God can glorify Himself without me. Even if God did not choose me to be used by Him to share His love and the Gospel to the people of Japan, He would still be glorified. How humbling is that?

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. – Romans 1:20 (ESV)

His glory is already evident in the lives of those who believe in Him, in creation, and even in people who do not know Him. But it is so humbling for me to meditate on the fact that God has chosen me, a sinner who has been saved by grace alone and an inadequate servant, to glorify Him.

This trip is not for my glory. I can not save anyone and the growth that is going to be done in me and the work that is going to be done in these students’ lives is not of my own doing. All these things will be done through God and for His glory alone.

This trip is not for my glory. I hope that would truly be my prayer and that I would not take any glory away from God. I pray that my heart would be in the right attitude, a humble attitude, that is not going on this trip to glorify myself. I pray that I would not be using this to seek the recognition of others or for people to think that I am holy or anything like that. In reality, we are all level at the foot of the cross and we are all to be on our hands and knees before the throne thanking God for our salvation and His grace.

It is crazy but my team and I are leaving for Japan in less than two months!! God has been so good and so gracious so far in this process and I am so joyful to be able to have this opportunity to serve in God’s name. I am looking forward with so much excitement to see how God will be glorified this summer!

Some praises and prayer requests:

  • I am fully funded for this trip!! God has proved his sovereignty and power and has swung so many doors wide open with people wanting to partner with me in this ministry opportunity. However, if God leads you to give financially, please still do so and you will help to support the rest of my team.
  • God has been doing so much growth in my own personal walk and has been continuing to help me to understand the Gospel more and more and has been molding and shaping me for what He will do in me this summer.
  • Prayer for funding and prayer partner finding for the rest of my team. We are about 3 weeks away from our deadline for funding so prayer that God would bountifully provide for us.
  • Prayer for team unity. The next time our whole team will be all together in person is when we leave together at the airport so prayer that God will unite us all together for the common purpose to be used by Him and see His Gospel made known.
  • Prayer for the preparation of my team’s hearts and my own heart. God is going to powerfully make Himself known to these students but He is also going to be doing a lot of growth in our own lives. Prayer that He would be continuing to prepare us as we finish out our school years and that He would be molding us for what He will do through us.
  • Finally, prayer for the preparation and softening of the hearts of the Japanese students we will be ministering to and showing love to. Prayer that God would be sowing the soil of their hearts now to receive the seeds of God’s love and the Gospel.

Thank you so much for your time in reading this update and for continuing to be praying and supporting my team and I. I will be trying to update with prayer requests more often using this blog and prayerfully God will be continuing to be doing good work in my team and I as we prepare for Japan!!