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.
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.
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.
- 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 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!
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!