Connecting the Dots

Today we’re sending this from the road!  We’ve begun our trip. Hawaii has good internet so you can get this.

Speaking of connecting the dots, we have completed the first two flights of our trip and I will be mailing this from the home of our good friends Bob and Gail Gierhart.  He was the one that wrote the blog about all the “Bobs” a few weeks ago.  We’ve been serving Japanese for a lifetime together and they have been like family for us ever since we met them at a small college church in the early 70’s.

Anyway, today’s blog isn’t about ‘Bob’, mainly because you already know a lot about them, but rather the couple who has come from Japan to house sit in our Australian home for about 5 of the 8 weeks we’re gone.

We’ve known Masami and Janeen Nakazawa for about 20+ years. We worked with them in the 1998 Nagano Olympics and lived quite near them in the mountains of western Japan.

I’m telling you about this couple because only God could have done what He has done and continues to do in their lives.  They have been missionaries about as long as we have, but also support themselves with a litany of interesting entrepreneurial ideas that leave us shaking our heads in wonder.

But let’s start at the beginning when we didn’t know them.

Masami was born and raised in Nagano, where the Olympics were. When he was 18 he finished high school with his class, but unlike most of his class, he had a tug on his heart to do something amazing.  He liked all things American, was a talented musician and most of all enjoyed languages.

It was a known fact at that time that if you wanted to learn English, you needed to put yourself with English native speakers.  He and his mom figured out that if he went to the next city over, Karuizawa, he might be able to interface with some foreigners. For many years, from back in the 1800’s, Karuizawa attracted the elite expatriates from Tokyo who often summered there to escape the heat.  So off he went.

It wasn’t long till he met foreigners. However, the ones he met, perhaps by God’s hand, were missionaries, and so he not only learned English but soon accepted Christ.  He went back home and led his mother and his sister to Christ as well, and then was able to go off to Biola College in California and pursue a degree.

Several years later he was home for the summer doing ministry to Japanese when a young girl started coming to his classes, much as he had done years before. Her name was Miss Yorie Ito.  Hang on to that name.

And that summer he also met another winsome girl, Janeen, from America. She had come out with a summer mission team to teach young children, but she and Masami actually met where he was playing Bluegrass guitar in a small steakhouse called ‘“Cowboy House”.

They discovered they both had the same love for God, fell in love, and got married.  For the next 30+ years they’ve traveled the world, usually with Operation Mobilization and other mission organisations  living in everything from boats to log cabins, doing whatever it takes to get the job done, all the while raising three beautiful children and now three grandchildren.

And now they’ve moved into to our house, not only to escape the deep winter snows of Nagano, but to help Tony by doing a LOT of translation for him.  I mentioned Masami loves languages. Tony won’t be there with him but they should be able to communicate if we can just find a signal here and there.

But here’s the hook.  We mentioned in passing to Miss Yorie Ito, better known as Ito Sensei, as she is the current pastor of the Singapore Japanese Baptist Church, that someone would be watching our house and helping with translations while we were gone. We mentioned the name Masami and she wrote back within a minute or two.

It seems that she was saved largely because of Masami’s leading!

You know the saying, “What goes around comes around”?   Here’s God, reaching out across time and the whole world (they’ve never met each other after all these years) to remind us that we’re all working together to bring about his purpose.

Isn’t God good!

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