“Tadaima” is what someone says when they return home in Japan and my team and I returned home last Saturday! Many good things occurred in the last two weeks of my trip since the last time I updated, but I’ll share just a few things in this update.
The Oshima trip was a great time where God allowed my team and me to connect deeper with the students. Two of my teammates, Madi and Kim, were able to share their testimonies with the students and share how God has changed their lives. Some of our friends opened up to talk about their past with Madi and Kim after their sharings.
Both nights, everyone was able to have pair talks, one on one conversations. I was able to talk with one fourth year student, Daiki and one third year student, Amane. I got to talk with them about their experiences in Tokyo BEST, why they love it, how much they have grown since they were freshman, and how they want to impact the community in their final years of college.
This is a group picture of the students, staff, and my team that went on the Oshima trip this year!
At Oshima every year, there is a talent show and I had the blessing to be able to sing “For Good” from the musical Wicked with one of my friends, Kurumi. It was probably one of the highlights of Oshima for me. The lyrics are beautiful; here are some bits and pieces from the song: “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn.” The end of the chorus says: “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
God did something very powerful to change her heart when we sang that song. As we were practicing together before Oshima, I told her I would probably cry when we sang because I thought the lyrics were so true; she had become a dear friend to me and changed me for the better. She told me many times that it was okay if I cried but she said that she wouldn’t. However, when we sang, my teammates told me that she was crying before I started singing my part. I think God helped her to realize what the lyrics really meant and allowed them to sink in, as the song is in English and Japanese is her first language. After we sang together, my teammates and I noticed that she was different, a good different. She was more joyful and even more caring towards my team as well as the other students. I can’t describe what God did in her heart, but He sure did something very powerful!
After the Oshima trip, our team was able to take the last few days of our trip to debrief together. We were able to reflect on the summer and take time to remember what God did in our friend’s lives and in our hearts as well as the students that God placed on our hearts. It was a sweet time to be together with one another before we all went our separate ways in America.
This is my team at debrief. We were missing our other team leader, Fitzy for this part of our trip. From left to right starting in the back: Roy, Madi, Aly, Elijah, myself, Allison, Kim, and our receiving staff member for the summer, Elsa!
In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus talks about the two greatest commandments, to love God and to love people. God was so faithful as He gave me a big heart that loves these students. I thought that the summer was going to be about me learning how to love them, but God showed me how much He loves and cares for me by seeing how well my friends loved and served me so well all summer.
These are two of my friends, Kurumi on the left and Fumika on the right. These are two that I got to connect with over the summer and I was able to gift them with shirts from UCSD.
- You can continue to pray for my friends May and Nami as they continue their walks with the Lord in Japan. Prayer that they would be in the Word, in prayer, and find a place where they can connect to and fellowship with other believers.
This is us together at the airport. From left to right: Nami, Kim, myself, and May
- You can be continuing to pray for my friends in Japan. Prayer that God would help my team and me to keep in touch with them even though we are not physically in the same country. Prayer that God would bring some of them to visit America in the near future for them to experience American culture and for my team and I to reconnect and sow more seeds. You can pray that God would grow the seeds that God sowed in their hearts through us this summer.
- You can be continuing to pray for my team and me as we continue to adjust back to life in America. You can be praying for physical recovery and for God to be at the forefront of our minds as we continue to reflect on what He did this summer.
Brothers and Sisters, thank you so much for all of your love, encouragement, prayers, and financial support. This could not have been done without God and all of you. God is so powerful to answer prayers and it is a blessing to have been prayed for by many different people over the course of the summer. If you want to see more pictures or hear more about what I was able to see God do, please let me know. Arigato gozaimasu!