Sunday, August 17, 2014

New to KC

I am now an official resident of Kansas City, Kansas. I have unpacked and put away all my things and am working on getting settled in and used to my surroundings. Today I attended a church called Redeemer Fellowship. ( I enjoyed the service, and am looking forward to attending with friends! I also have had the chance to look for a good grocery store and experience some of what KC has to offer.

Among the settling, I have had good time to use as time alone with God (TAWG). In this time, I just finished the Book The Insider: Bringing the Kingdom of God into Your Everyday World, by Jim Petersen and Mike Shamy. It was such a good book, and am excited to get plugged into my new community here in light of being an insider. I am also anticipating a time when I can start reading my next book, Every Good Endeavor, by Timothy Keller.

My program orientation is on the 20th, and classes begin the 25th. I am so excited to begin this new chapter of my life in a new location. I know God has a purpose for me here and now, and I don't want to miss it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back on the Home Front

I have been back in Kansas for about two weeks now. The first  week was really hard. There was so much going on all at once. They warn you about reverse culture shock and jet lag, but I was not expecting it to hit me as hard as it did! Amidst the exhaustion, the processing has continued. I  have been working on what main things God was teaching and showing me this summer. Things that apply not only to life in Shizuoka, but also life in the States.

Most of these lessons all tie together to form a common thread of my interaction with others. I can break them down to be more easily understood though.

The first lesson is to be present. This might not make sense, but as a college student with life in constant transition it really does make sense. I am given, at the most, two years in any one given place. In this place I am then to live among the people and build a community. As I am going into a new campus this fall, almost everything around me will also be new. My roommate. My classes. My surroundings. My church. And most importantly, my community. I am so thankful that I serve an unchanging God amidst everything new! I know that He has placed me in this time and place for a reason, and my responsibility now is to be present.

The second lesson is love and patience. This is one that is extremely difficult for me.  While in Japan, everything required more patience, and through the frustrations of everyday life love was necessary. If we did not love those around us well, there was no way to build that relationship with them. It is much easier to first build a relationship on love and patience than to go back later and repair a damaged relationship due to lack of love or patience. I know this is something I am still working on, and will not be perfecting anytime soon. Again, I am so thankful for a God that  embodies love and patience in His very character, and wants to allow me to reflect Him.

The third lesson might seem a little bit strange, but is mostly due to my personality. I don't handle emotion well. That is something I've always known about myself, and most of my friends know about me also. Something that came to light this summer though, is how in that personality flaw, I set myself up to be unapproachable. In relationships with others, I am setting myself up for failure if I am unapproachable. That isn't my goal. And is still something I am working on.

I know that God isn't done teaching me yet from this trip. I know that He will continue to reveal Himself to me in life even here in the States. As I prepare for a difficult two years of school, I have to continue to trust in Him and know that in His timing, His will is going to be perfected. It is my job to continue to seek after Him and enjoy the life He has blessed me with.

Thank you all for praying for me and my team as we went to spend the summer in Shizuoka, Japan. Please continue to pray for each of us now as we adapt back to life here in the states and do our best to be present in the life God has given to us.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Final Week

It seems that we just got here and we already have to go back to the States.  Seven weeks is not nearly enough time to invest in a people or culture. It seems nearly impossible that we could have made any difference here, but based on what the students say about previous summer workers I know we have. I know I have done a poor job of recording what is going on here through writing, but thankfully I have been able to capture much of it through pictures. I have really enjoyed my time here in Shizuoka. I cannot wait til I can one day come back to visit these friends! I have learned so much through my time here, and am both excited and nervous to apply it to life back in the States. So here's to a few more days in Japan before we're due home. May they be honoring to the One who called us here, to those who are supporting us in prayer, and to our friends in Shizuoka.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Continued life in Japan!

Friends, do you even know how difficult it is to publish a blog about everyday life? I don't know how people do it. Especially when their lives are so similar to the readers of the blog. But here I am, again trying to tell you about life in Japan. We are keeping very busy and trying to fill our time wisely. It is so hard to think that we have less than three weeks left here. I am not ready to go back to the US. 

In the last couple weeks, we have done quite a bit. Our roommate Sarah went back to the US as her midterm assignment here was over. We had a farewell/congratulations party for her before she left. She will actually be back to Japan in the beginning of August to begin teaching at an elementary school, AND get married in October! Yay! I am so excited for her, but also miss her so much already! That same week, we went out on a roommate date to Shimizu. This is the neighboring town. We ate lunch there and then visited Miho Beach. Miho Beach is a part of the world heritage of Mount Fuji. Unfortunately it was raining and we were not able to see Fuji San, but it was still a good time spent with our roommates on last time before Sarah left. 

This week, I had the opportunity to meet up with my friend Wendy! We have known each other since elementary school. No matter where I go, even to Japan, I cannot escape her! Haha, I am so thankful that God has brought her into my life and kept her in my life through so many years and circumstances. 

Yesterday we went on our first day trip out of the city. We visited a restaurant of the parents one of the BEST club members. Here, I ate more raw fish in one day than I have in my entire life. I didn't even cry! Haha! No, it was actually good. I just had to avoid eye contact with my meal. :) Following this lunch we went to Odawara to visit the parents of another BEST club member. This family is a Christian family, and are currently pastoring a church in Odawara. It was very encouraging to hear their testimony and to see what church life looks like in the Japanese culture. 

There is one girl that I have been intentionally spending time with here in Shizuoka. She came to one Bible discussion where she was introduced to the Bible for the first time. I know she was very overwhelmed by the discussion. She told me it was difficult and hasn't come to another one since. She is a very sweet girl. Please pray for this relationship. Pray that I can show her Christ's love and grace through my own life. Pray that I can  enjoy my time with her and not feel that I need to force the Bible on her. Thank you for praying previously that I would be able to love these people as individuals and not as projects. I can definitely see it in her life. 

As our team is on the last stretch of our visit here to Shizuoka, please continue praying for us. Please pray:

  • We will be intentional with the time left that we are given here. 
  • We will remain mentally present here and not wander back to the US already.
  • We can each continue to find our way to serve the team better.
  • Our relationships will emanate the love of Christ to those around us. 

Thank you again for your continued prayer over our time here. I know I serve a big God, and I know that He hears your prayers for us too!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Day 21 on the Island.
Who are you?
What are you doing here?

This post will not be so much about our interaction with the students, but more about our purpose here.

Today we had time together as a team.  This was a good time of fellowship and just checking up on each other. Checking how we each were physically, mentally, and spiritually. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in what we are doing, that we hardly realize the toll that it can take on us. It's important to check in and see where we are lacking.

During this time together as a team, we also went over our Bible study for the week (Acts 15:1-35). This was possibly the most thought provoking time I have had since we have been here. As a tangent to the Bible study, one of our team leaders posed the question from I Kings 19:9, 13. God has called each of us here for some reason. If He did not call us, we wouldn't be here. But now that we are here, "What are we doing here?" What is God's purpose in us being on the Island?

I do not think that this means we need to know right this moment why God has called us here, but it is definitely a check. I am not here by accident. What purpose am I serving? Am I a help or a hinderance to the ministry that is already in existence here?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Another Week, Gone?

Hi Friends! It's been a while since I have written, and I apologize for that. It has been pretty busy here. Quite a bit has happened since the last post. 

Last Thursday, we had our first sports day for our time that we are here. Each week, they have a sports day on Thursday. Week by week the games vary. For example, last week we were assigned teams for basketball and volleyball. Both of which you all know I'm a star at...haha just kidding friends. I hope you know me better than that! This week we are playing soccer and frisbee! Another two sports that I love. Ok, so maybe sports is not my strongest point, but that's ok! Here in Japan it is not so much of an individualistic culture as in the US. It is very much an emphasis on the group or team. As long as everybody is trying and is having fun, then the team is happy. 

Thursday night we had our first Joy Katsu. Which is a time spent together in the guys house, "Joy House." This event also varies week by week. They incorporate games that are Japanese and American, times of discussion, and other events. Last week this involved so many different Japanese snacks...all of which tasted like soy sauce at the end. The best was dried squids. Well, maybe not. The best was either the chocolate or some variety of rice crackers. 

Friday was a refreshing day of time spent with Jesus. This was a time to be able to catch up on rest and really to enjoy being in His presence. This is a little intimidating for me to go into mostly because I am not used to having so much time to fully devote at once to something like this. But at the end of the day, it was good.

As you can tell, each day is full. We are making new friends, and experiencing so much new culture every second that we are here. It can be exhausting, but I'm loving it. As we go into another week, I ask that you continue to pray for our team, and pray for me. 

1) Even as we are loving our time here, it can be easy to get discouraged. Everything is definitely more difficult when you don't speak the language. 
2) As things do tend to vary week by week, thiss is difficult for me. I am usually one to look for a rhythm to fall into and stick with. It's easy for me to feel lost or dissatisfied with how things are going.
3) Please pray for our  team to continue to grow together as one unit in Christ. It is so easy to use sarcasm  amongst each other, as Americans often do. However, this is very easily lost in translation, and can appear to be snide remarks. We are all here with one purpose, please pray that we continue to trust Him to be able to show that. 
4) My final request for this post is maybe a little more shallow. I injured my knee at our first sports day and can't participate for a while. Please pray for quick healing and patience while it heals. 

Thank you all for your continued support! It means so much to be able to know that I have friends and family supporting me. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Learning French in Japan?

Last night was our first unofficial event with students. Several students came to our house and enjoyed making dinner together and playing games. It was fun to be able to spend this time with them  to again continue building relationships. Today my friend Haruna gave me a small tour of Shizuoka University. We went to lunch in the cafeteria, and she helped me to order. Following our lunch and some time of talking, her French teacher invited me to attend class with her. Today I had the opportunity to learn French in a Japanese classroom setting. Haruna was so sweet trying to translate both the Japanese and the French into English for me, but thankfully French is close enough to Spanish that my head was not completely spinning. 

As these relationships continue to develop, please pray:
1) I will have patience and be willing to see what God is already doing here. (Habakkuk 1:5)
2) I will fully understand that God will not leave His work unfinished. (Philippians 1:6)
3) "I'm not here to even be relevant or successful by human standards. I'm here to please [Him]." (Galatians 1:10) (31 Days of Praise, Ruth Myers)

It is easy for me to see everything as a project. Please pray that I will continue to see these relationships as actual people and not just another project that God has placed in front of me. I have a disconnect somewhere that inhibits me from realizing that people are individuals who think and feel and hope in all the same ways that I do. They have a future too, and this future is not just a task to check off the list.