Positive Power

These next couple of weeks I want to talk about ‘reputation’ and ‘integrity’.

The reason is because I’ve come across some living examples of that lately.

Today I want to tell you about one of the men whose job was to translate for the Texas team while they were in Tokyo. I only met him the first day we arrived but immediately I felt like I’d known him all my life. Here’s what he told us about himself:

His name is Tetsui san, but when he’s in English speaking company, everyone calls him Mike. He was born and raised in Japan, and taught all the values that Japanese hold near and dear, such as unswerving loyalty, perseverance, and most of all, success accompanied by making a lot of money

He graduated from one of the best universities in Japan, then went to work almost immediately for the well-known Canon Corporation (we know of their cameras but there’s a lot more to the company).

He climbed up the corporate ladder, with one promotion following another. Then he was transferred to Dallas, Texas.

There he made friends with an American colleague who was going through a bitter divorce as well as, or perhaps because of, some serious health issues.

Tetsui (or Mike) felt real pity for the man so he went to a bookstore and browsed thru the ’self help section’, using what he could in his limited English to find a book for his friend.

He came across the “Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale.

Now, say what you will about Mr. Peale, God used the book to speak straight to the heart of Tetsui. As he read, he began to think about all the references to the Bible. Could this be something for me? Finally, after much thought, he bought a Bible

Things went along, Tetsui found that he was reading the Bible more than he was reading Mr. Peale. What was intended as a way to help his friend became more of an “answer book” for his own needs.

Soon, he found a Japanese church in Dallas and started attending. The more he learned the more he realized that he’d been looking for God all his life, but wasn’t aware of it. He became a Christian and was baptized there at the Japanese church..

Then, as he continued to grow, Tetsui became convicted that he had not told anyone at work about his decision. This struck him with terror because in a Japanese company “being different” is NOT something you want to be known for. More often than not, standing up for Christ can be professional suicide.

But finally Tetsui could bear it no longer and he humbly shared with his boss about his newfound faith.  He waited for the consequences and almost immediately they came.  He was passed over for his next promotion, and the next and the next.

But rather than become bitter, Tetsui just lived the Gospel, letting anyone and everyone see the love in his life. For three years, he continued to be faithful to his work, and faithful to his God.

Then one day the boss called him into his office. “Well, there goes my job”, he thought as the elevator went to the top floor.

But instead he was ushered in and offered a cup of tea.  Then the boss said, “I’ve been watching you and I think even though you’re a bit strange, you’re a real asset to our company.”

And what do you know, he was leap-frogged to an even a higher position than he would have had in the natural order of things. His faith grew as did the company in his competent hands.

Finally at they young age of 50, as an executive, he was pretty much set for life, so Mike retired and came back to Japan as Tetsui san, enrolled in Bible school and graduated as “Tetsui Sensei”.

He started a small urban church where he has been a pastor for over a decade, making a real difference in a lost world.

He was such a blessing to us and to all on our team.  Please pray for more people to ‘do the right thing’ even when you might be scared.

Love ya. Marsha

What a Little Compassion Can Do

Good morning all,

Today I want to tell you about a lady who recently was with us on the mission team when we were in Japan a few weeks ago.

Her name is Eva (Pronounced ‘Evah’) and she’s from the Philippines. She’s married to a sweet ol’ southern boy from Mississippi.  They married just 6 years ago after a 20+ year courtship.  They met when he had come to the Philippines as a young seminary student to preach a revival and she had been his interpreter. She had a busy life, as did he, but they kept a writing correspondence going until one day the shy bachelor finally popped the question.  They were inseparable as we went from activity to activity on our trip, usually holding hands and smiling at each other.

One day we were all riding somewhere on a train and I mentioned teasingly something about her waiting 20 years to marry Bill.  She asked me if I knew her story and when I shook my head “no” she continued.

“You know I”m a Compassion child,” she said as she looked into my eyes seemingly searching for a response.  I jumped back and she said, “Yeah, I know, you must think I’m pretty awful”.

In case you don’t know what a Compassion Child is, it’s a child that’s in some way supported by Christians, usually in third world or otherwise conflicted countries.  There are several agencies out there, World Vision, Samaritans Purse, the Red Cross, etc.  Some are good, many aren’t so much, but Compassion has always stood high in the ranks for it’s spotless integrity.

We, as a family, have supported a number of children thru the years, figuring it was a good ‘exercise’ for our kids to participate in giving up close and personal. Unfortunately (I can’t tell you the name of a single child we helped……..possibly because they just didn’t seem real In my mind.

Anyway, I quickly spoke up about her rather odd response. “Oh no, you’re not awful!”, I replied,  ”it’s just that as a Westerner, this is the first time I’ve met a Compassion Child. I don’t think I or any of my friends have ever imagined that there was a real person being helped out by our giving!”

She laughed and continued.  ”When I was 9 years old, my mother died two weeks after giving birth to her 7th child.  I was the oldest, so I became the mother.  Then, after about two more weeks, my father disappeared.”

She went on to explain that there was a little shelter of sorts at her grandparents, but they were in no way able to help, physically or mentally; they being old and needing care themselves.  The seven children had to get by with what they could forage with Eva being responsible for all of their ‘mothering’, including the two week old baby.

She remembers trying to kill herself at least twice, maybe more.  She also remembers praying to a higher source (the family was NOT Catholic or any religion but she felt that there had to be a God).  She would cry out “I don’t think it’s supposed to be like this, I’m a CHILD!”

But she soldiered on, stayed in elementary school or at least somehow reaching the requirements to matriculate into Junior High school.  Then finally someone in the village suggested, “Why don’t you go to that church over there?  They have some sort of program that might be able to help you kids.”

She went and they signed the kids up.  Yes, they would be able to help. And so began her life as a ‘Compassion Child’.  The ’support’ that she got for her family was THREE DOLLARS a month!!! “How in the world could that help?” my Western mindset screamed at her.

“Oh, You’d be surprised what you can do with three dollars,” she smiled back.  “It became the difference between despair and hope”

And so she found some happiness, went thru Junior High and had high enough marks that Compassion made an exception and kept her on the roles, even though children were usually let go after reaching age 15 or so.  In the process of being loved, she became a Christian, as did her siblings.  When she graduated from High School and was just 18, her father wandered back in as if he’d just stepped out for something.

Later in the time we were together, she was sharing her testimony in a Japanese prayer meeting and this time someone was translating for her. She spoke of how she struggled and it was only God Himself that could allow her to forgive her father, particularly because he was bringing his  second family with him.

The translator was stumped. Japanese do not tend to have second families……but finally everyone understood.  He had left seven small children and went to live with another woman who then in turn gave him another double handful of kids.

Well…….Eva was able to forgive him, and not only forgive him but love him and invite the two families to be one. Gradually everyone in the now HUGE  family turned to Christ as well.

Eva went on to go to College and then Seminary, now able to support herself and her siblings with the belated help of her father.   It was there, as a full professor of evangelism, that she was translating for Bill those 26 years ago. And now they are married and happily living in his inherited home in  Mississippi (He’s an only child, by the way).

She finished up her story with a beaming smile. “We go see our Philippine family every year at Christmas. It’s so much fun to see what God has given us.”

I must say, Bill and Eva were a joy to work with, never complaining or wanting their own way, but then I guess that’s how she brought herself up! Can’t we rejoice with all the ‘orphans’ that God has loved and cared for over the years.  I’m reminded of so many verses, but here are a couple for your Sunday morning musings:

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”    (Psalms 68:5)

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”      (Philippians 1:6)

And finally,  “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”       (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Pray for all the little ‘Evas’ out there who aren’t having childhoods. Pray for God’s comforting Hand on them and pray for Christians like Compassion and others to reach out to be a part of a wonderful story.

For those of you who can see the eclipse tomorrow, have fun and remember how great our Creator is!

Marsha

Legacies

As we joined hands around the dinner table with our ‘almost son’ Katsuya and his family, I felt a surge of what I’d like to call “generational fulfillment’.  Maybe some psychologist’ll pick up the term….or maybe they have a special word for this feeling already….other than just ‘getting old’.

I guess it’s sorta that feeling when you realize that some of the things you’ve done and some of the sacrifices you endured have possibly made a difference.

I feel it often when I see my children loving God and each other and even more when I see the little grand boys showing those same great qualities.  (I realize they may have just clobbered each other, but that’s part of being little boys!)

But the long train trip up to Hokkaido while we were in Japan a few weeks ago was more than compensated for by our visit to Katsuya and Motoko and their two lovely little daughters. Katsuya supports the family on a ‘carer’s’ wage, that is, he works in a facility that cares for people who cannot care for themselves. It’s a perfect match for this young man; you can see it in the way he relates to his family.

We arrived at their house just as the girls were walking home from school, so it happened that we all crowded into the small entrance together.  It was an old house that they’d bought with what money they could scrape up a few years ago.  Parts of the house were already renovated in what Motoko said was “Pinterest style” from ideas she’d picked up on the internet.  The living room was small but multipurpose and had a friendly feel with lots of light.

As we were getting our shoes off and preparing to come inside, Katsuya said to the girls, ‘Okay, let make the room ‘guest style’. They needed no coaxing, giggling all the while as they pulled the couch, chairs and table into a circle, pushed the clothes drying racks, floor cushions and desks over to the walls.  There was no TV.

Many of you can relate to that feeling of knowing you’ve raised someone well.  As we sat around that evening talking and laughing about life and all it’s intricacies, I’m sure my face was beaming.

Sometimes the Apostle Paul sorta provokes me (!) with his confident statements and his strong ideas, but I have to agree with him when he often brags of his own ‘generational happiness’ in his letters to the churches; like 1st Corinthians 1:4, “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.”

As we held hands around the dinner table to pray, I couldn’t help but remember the countless times we had done that before, when “little boy Katsuya” was having one of his weekly sleepovers at our house. What a legacy, I thought, even in such a small thing, and yet so full of love and guidance for the children who sat with us.  And what a legacy “Young man Katsuya” is now passing on to his children… and for perhaps for generations to come.

Like so many things, I simply can’t express what I’m feeling now, except like Paul …. Feeling blessed to have been a part of it all.

Have a great week!  Marsha

How Beautiful Are the Feet

In my house here in Australia I have a beautiful hand written picture from a Japanese friend.  It’s very ‘Japanesy” style and at the bottom of it, there’s a verse from Isaiah 52:7, which in the American Standard goes like this:,

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

For years I didn’t display this picture in Japan because I felt that I was the one bringing the good news and I didn’t want people thinking that I thought I had beautiful feet!  For those who know me well and have seen my rather unfortunate condition requiring surgery when I was a child realize that this description is anything but true.

But during our time in Japan I met someone who truly has beautiful feet.

For a few weeks now I’ve been giving you little teasers and some of you have been waiting for the ‘surprise’ that our friend Gabe san was going to give us when we visited.  He said in a cryptic English letter to Tony, “Need 2 hours of your time on Thursday.”

We wondered what in the world, but judging from his growing zeal for the Lord and evangelism, we knew it’d be something exciting.

If you don’t remember what I told you about Gabe san, I blogged about him last June 18th.  He’s the guy who runs a printing business in the heart of the electronics zone in downtown Tokyo.  We’ve known him for years, and during our last 5 years in Japan before retiring, Tony led a mostly men’s Bible study in his tiny office. During this trip, we were able to go back for a visit, and had such a fun time reminiscing about the years we were there and the years we were away.

But I’m sure you’re wondering what he had to ‘show us’!

After we arrived at his office early that afternoon, he finished a few things on his desk, spoke with some colleagues on the phone then grabbed his keys.  “We’re going for a ride,” he indicated as we headed out the sliding doors and climbed into his car.

WHAT a ride we had thru Tokyo!  I think he’s been spending too much time with one of the Bible study members who happens to be a Formula One race car driver for Japan.

Soon we’d left downtown and were getting on the freeway.  Then it got exciting: zipping along at alarming speeds, weaving and dodging, but before long we were very near our old neighborhood where we’d lived for the last 5 years.

Then he wound down several little alleys and suddenly pulled into a gated driveway.

There sat an enormous house, with a large concrete yard, smack in the middle of several other large houses.  He stopped the car and said, “Here is my new home!”

“Are you kidding me?” I thought to myself.  Here are two young professionals with no plans for a family that I can imagine, buying a two story many bedroomed house?

We entered the door and although (or maybe because it was empty), it did look enormous.  We took off our shoes and stepped up into the foyer and were immediately directed up to the second floor.  A couple of twists down the hallway, and we arrived, whereupon Gabe stretched out his arm and declared,  “This will be your ‘prophet’s retreat!’ Mariko and I want you to think of it as home whenever you’re in Japan. In fact, we’d like to start a church here. What do you think?”

Then the penny dropped….. of course, buy a BIG house if you’re going to start a church!  They plan to live on the ground floor and the second floor was inspired by the prophet Elijah from I Kings 17, where he was invited to stay in the upper room of a widow and her son. So, “Prophet’s Retreat” it is.

We couldn’t be happier.  We were also just a bit relieved that we don’t have to ‘receive’ anything that we’d have to turn down (The Japanese have been known to be a bit over-generous from time to time, giving lovely things that can be more of a burden than a blessing)

And what a vision for Gabe and even his wife Mariko, who has still not made a public profession of her faith, even though it is becoming more obvious every day.

Please continue to pray for Mariko’s outward acceptance of Christ, as well as the zeal that they both have for the Good news!  How beautiful are the feet………

Have a good week and God Bless!

Marsha

Lots of Prayers and a Poodle Named Tom

Good morning everyone.…….I’ve been sitting on this bit of good/amazing news for over 10 days.

Remember when I asked you to PRAY for our former neighbors, the Kawanas, in Japan?  He’s the retired scientist and she’s the housewife, etc etc.

Neither had thought about Christianity until we met up about 7 years ago. We became friends, more like ‘eating out buddies’ as we were new to the neighborhood and they’d lived there awhile. We really hit it off because they immediately ‘got us’ and didn’t spend any time pandering and trying to use our foreignness to entertain them or elevate their status. After a few visits we also discovered that both of our first born sons had died in the same year, theirs to a motorcycle and ours to leukemia.  After that we referred to ourselves as “brothers in suffering”.

Then after a few years they moved back to the ‘ol home place’ quite near the Airport.  We continued to have contact with them and once we even went to a church that we’d found in their neighborhood…… without them, as they had chickened out at the last moment.

We Westerners have no idea how hard it is for Japanese to step over the threshold into what they often consider a Western religion, Christianity. Imagine you were stepping into a Hare Krishna tent for the first time…….

You’ll remember a few weeks ago I asked you for prayer as we had only a 3 hour visit scheduled with them before we boarded our return flight.

They picked us up and after all the typical greetings related to not seeing them for the last two years, they said rather casually,

“We thought maybe you’d like to drop by our church before we go to the house.”

Sachiko laughed at my startled face and then I said, “WHAT?  Oh wait”, (thinking of our last experience with them and church) “have you actually been IN this church?”

“Well, not exactly” she admitted ………. “but we’ve taken them chocolates last Christmas and then some bread this last Easter because they like our dog!” she beamed.

They explained that Aki (the husband) and ‘Tom’, the much loved poodle, had happened onto this church during a morning walk.  Tom seemed interested and lingered long enough for the pastor (a woman) struck up a conversation, and now they were ‘inviting’ us to stop in and meet aforementioned pastor.

My hackles were up about the woman pastor until they said, “Her husband was the pastor and he died last year”.  Oh, ok, we can go with that, but just to be safe I reminded them, “If it’s a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness church we’re not going to be happy”

“Oh no, it’s Protestant……..we think”

We were there before we knew it, and as we stopped the car IN THE STREET (maybe for a fast getaway??) and headed in, I was searching all over for clues.

In Japanese it said, “Emmanuel”, which I considered a good omen, then two Japanese characters I only understood as ‘safe’ and ‘eat’ and then the writing continued, “Christian Church”.

Imagining some weird diet sect, I grabbed Sachiko and nervously whispered in her ear “What is the meaning of ’safe eat’?”

“Marsha! Relax!  That’s the name of this suburb!”

Whew.  And then there she was, the aging but very spry pastor.  We introduced ourselves, and they all gathered around.

Of course I had to jump in IMMEDIATELY, without finesse, no time to waste, “What ARE you?”  She didn’t understand, so I said “What denomination?”

To which she replied with a laugh,  “Oh! We’re Assembly of God”

WHEW!!!  I apologize to everyone for being so paranoid, but the Japanese are so gullible and every other sect or religion are happy to refer to themselves as “Christian”.

We all stepped into the church just as they were finishing up a children’s camp.  They had leftover cold noodles which was the ONE food item we hadn’t been served on this lovely excursion to Japan, so we sat around the table for a meal.  As we were talking and enjoying each other, I just kept wondering “What a GOD we serve” and “What a people you are that pray so effectively for us!”  and for the Kawanas….

On our happy way to the airport we decided that our Facebook conversations would go better in simple Japanese since they don’t really speak English, and this morning I got a text, which basically said, “We went to church, had a good time, lots of nice people and food”.

Now all they need is an encounter with God………or maybe they have they already had that?
…and all because of a lot of prayers and a poodle named Tom….

Seeing Where He Has Been

We’re happy to announce that we’re back in Australia, safe and sound.  Knock on wood, we didn’t even pick up an ‘airplane cold’ or anything else this time!

For the next several weeks, I’m going to tell you about our trip, but today let me just skirt around the fringes.

Initially this event was billed as an “Evangelism Trip” put together and sponsored by Dub Jackson’s ministries out of Dallas. As the trip went on, though, I began thinking of it as more of an “Ego Trip” for Tony and Marsha. Let me explain:

We got to Japan a week early, in order to visit old friends back in Sendai, as well as an extended jaunt clear up to Sapporo, Hokkaido to see Katsuya and his family. He was the best friend of our late son, Trevor as they were growing up, and we just had to check in on him, his wife and their two daughters.

That was just the beginning of the ego trip, as old friends, new friends, never-met-before-friends and a big assortment of brothers and sisters in Christ pulled out the stops to welcome us. Everywhere we turned, we were left “gobsmackered” by the generosity and kindness of everyone. Picture albums were pulled out and dusted off, stories were told and re-told that made us laugh and cry, often at the same time.

Looking back, I think the thing that really moved us the most was not necessarily the fact that these folks from as far back as 35 years ago still remembered us. Instead it was the constant affirmation that the time spent there was not in vain. Sure, streets were named (see my blog a couple of weeks ago) and tales are still told not only of the blond kid, Nathan, but also of his brother Trevor, who is buried nearby, so far the only foreigner there and the subject of many a discussion from passers by.

I’m reminded of Psalms 46:8, and the words, “Come and see what the Lord has done, see the amazing things he has done on earth!” Yep, the real miracle in Sendai has nothing to do with what we may or may not have attempted over the years, but rather what God could accomplish with what little He had to work with.
So, do stay tuned, won’t you? We’ll share more about some of the amazing things that have happened and continue to happen in this beautiful part of Japan.

Back at home, Tony preached today at the Japanese fellowship up in Brisbane, talking a little about the trip, but mostly about “seeing God in where He has been.” Check out Ezekiel 33:12-23 to get an idea.  For most of us it seems, even Ezekiel, we’re just not wired to see God face to face this side of Heaven. But take a look around, and see His footprints.

Wow.

Marsha

Done!

Hello friends!

I remember when I was a little girl and I’d go somewhere to a friend’s birthday party.  I’d be having so much fun that I wanted it to last forever, and then my parents would come, spoiling all the fun as they shoveled me, high on sugar and sticky all over, into the car.  A few minutes later I would be sound asleep.

That’s been this last 10 days.  We just arrived at our hotel after a 12-hour day at church.  Honestly it was the perfect end to a great week.  Gobs of newcomers came, Tony preached his heart out and several made decisions.  Then all the members and we guests went on to have a fabulous lunch, lots of great singing from various choirs and quartets within the church.  One guy even played his SAW that he’d had for 60 years.  Then we digressed to silly songs, ala Tony, followed by games, more food, and finally formal tea ceremony tea!  We’ve been riding on a high since we left and started the train ride across Tokyo to where were staying tonight before leaving for home tomorrow afternoon.

I have so many things to tell you, but I feel like that little girl and if I don’t get my party frock off and into bed I’m going to fall over.

But before I sleep I do have one last wish.  Pray HARD for our friends Aki and Sachiko Kawana.  I told you about them a couple of weeks ago and we have about 3 hours tomorrow to make a real impact in their lives.  I think God is really reaching out to them, I just hope we can help them understand that.

Till next week when hopefully we’re rested and ready to get back into normal life…….at least for a few weeks!

Marsha

Prayers at Work

Good Morning.  For once I’m in the northern hemisphere so I can say, “Happy Summer Day!”

Have you ever had those times when you just know people are praying for you? It was one of those mornings here, in a good way. Our team that we’re leading/pastoring from Texas split up, with half of us going to Shinagawa Baptist and the other half to Yokohama.

When we all stumbled into the church, hot and sweaty, trying to get all of us foreigners to take their shoes off and put on tiny slippers whilst  stepping up into the church and remembering to bow appropriately and keep smiling….. we found the church people were so friendly; we felt at home immediately.

Tony went to a ‘retired mens’ class and spent some time back slapping and talking about the good life, while I joined a children’s Sunday school class.  I had fun hearing about their little Christian lives while I told them stories about my children when they were in Japan. They all listened politely, but their eyes and thoughts were on the koala key chains and the Minties I’d brought along.

I have to admit, Tony’s sermon went way beyond his normal ability, thanks, I believe, to you people out there who were praying. The response was overwhelming. More on that later, but let me share just one example of the “God thing”-ness of the day:

We were completely surprised to see a man we had known when we worked in Tokyo those last 5 years before we retired.  Some of you may remember Kunio and all the work we did with him.   We were blessed to take part in his baptism 4 years ago, and although he was one of the first students to study Tony’s “Anagaion” course, we’d somehow managed to fall out of touch with him. So as I said, we were delighted to see him, especially because he’d driven pretty far to get to this church, bringing along his new wife to meet us.

After church we stayed for “dinner on the grounds”… lots of food, great music, testimonies from young and old… and did I mention the food?

These old friends of ours sat at the table with us, and with all the shuffle to find seats, the last two seats were filled by a couple from the Texas volunteer team, the wife sitting next to our friend’s wife.  Before we knew it, the volunteer wife and the ‘new’ wife were rattling together in Tagalog!  You see, the volunteer wife was born and raised in the Philippines before she married her husband and as it turns out, Kunio’s wife was also born there in the Philippines, their villages being just a short drive from each other. Even though she looks Japanese, and speaks it fluently, her “heart language” is Tagalog, something she rarely has a chance to hear, much less speak……….and wait, there’s more!

Years ago, when we’d first met Kunio he mentioned that he had a wife and two girls ‘somewhere’ in Japan, but he’d abandoned them when the children were babies.  Even before he became a Christian and certainly after, we encouraged him to find them and make contact, but it was too hard for him……he always said he was too ashamed and it would be impossible.

…….And now as these ladies sat talking, we realized that this lovely lady IS the FIRST wife!  Somehow they’ve reunited, by the grace of God in Kunios life.  Their girls are 16 and 20.  Who could have imagined what the Lord can do!

It’s really true isn’t it, that “people look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God knew exactly what this young lady needed, and although we’re not sure if this new wife is a Christian, God has somehow brought back her husband, who is now a new creature in Christ, and God knows all the intricate needs they may have and He made sure that she was brought to the exact place and time where a faithful servant could encourage and share His Word with her.

This week has been a bushel full of blessings and I will tell you about the “visit with our almost son” and the “surprise” that Gabe san had for us, as well as some other nuggets, but I’ve got to catch my breath and get ready for another week!  I promise to continue telling you details if you’ll stay tuned!!!

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers. Please pray for those on the team who are struggling with stomach issues; relatively minor, but distracting. (maybe I should stop dragging them off to my favorite places, largely sushi based…….). And pray that God will continue to lead us where we need to be, regardless of the schedule we think we’re following!

Marsha

On the Street Where You Lived

Hi! Just checking in.

We finally have internet after a three day fast!  Maybe it was a good thing.  I looked at Facebook and was reminded of the two years I spent in Africa without seeing my favorite soap opera (yes, I was sucked into one in my college days).  When I got back to it after missing 100+ episodes and realized that the very same ‘dramas’ were going……. I gave it up! Ha.

The trip up here to Japan was a non-event which is always my favorite way to go in airplanes.

We just spent a wonderful two days in our home town of Sendai…….what can I say, old friends are the best! They took great care of us and we talked, laughed, read Scripture, teased each other and drug up old memories and photos.  We are happy to report that everyone is doing great and we’re the only ones who seem to be gaining weight (always a fascination for Japanese to observe). There was one interesting surprise: the streets in our neighborhood where we used to live don’t have proper names; instead they just go by the house and section number. But “unofficially” every street has a name that the whole city refers to. The street that goes by our old house is called … wait for it…. Nathan Road. Some newcomers think it’s a reference to the famous street of the same name in Hong Kong, but those in the know tell them that in fact it’s named after a blond kid who used to live here. What a legacy!

Now we’ve done half of the trip up to see our almost son in Sapporo. This afternoon we spent about 30 minutes zooming under the ocean separating the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in the newly opened 30-mile Seikan tunnel.  It’s 140 metres (400ft) below the sea bed .  All I can say is, it was dark……..

Now we’ve checked into an ‘onsen’ (hotel centered around hot springs) and are headed to the bath…….life is good!

Tony preached this morning, and by next week he will be deep into the reason for this trip; the evangelism team and many services that he’s leading, so keep up the good prayin!

Love you all, Marsha

Whistling While We Pack

Long ago I remember hearing some wise words from a military man. Because of his job, he had to be away from his home often. One day he was reminded by his commander, “I know it’s hard to be leaving your family, but try to remember that as you pack, try not to whistle”.

That’s what we’re doing (whistling) as we begin the week before we leave for Japan.  We’ve been back from Tony’s graduation and home here in Australia long enough to catch colds and get over of them, pay the bills, cut the grass, and basically catch up with life.  Now it looks like we’re taking off again this Friday.  While it’s great to be ‘settled’ at home, the rush of being able to reach out again to our beloved Japanese is a strong one, even after (or maybe especially) being away from them these two years.

But as I stand over our suitcase whistling, I notice it’s a tenuous one.

We will have so much responsibility, not only to ourselves and others, but to the Japanese we know and love, not to mention the Texas team we’ll be helping facilitate.

So this week, could we ask for an extra measure of “preparation” prayer, and then for the next three weeks for daily “lift ups”? How’s that for greedy.

We have SO many friends and acquaintances that we need to touch base with before the team actually arrives and begins working on the 6th of July. Japanese hold their relationships dear and to ‘forget’ someone is quite a blow, so we need to be alert.

There are the families at the apartments where we used to live.  A few of them once said that they were ‘thinking of Jesus’.  We have a responsibility to touch base with them and see if they’re progressing, but that’ll take some effort and coordinating to catch up with them all.

Then there are the people we mentioned before.  We’ll be able to meet up with Gabe from last week’s blog, as well as put in an appearance at the Bible study Tony started years ago.

On Sunday the 2nd of July, Tony will be preaching at our church that we started almost 30 years ago in Sendai.  Before that, we’ll visit another church that has Trevor’s ashes as well as so many of our old and faithful friends. Pray that we have the stamina to keep on being there for everyone.

And then, please don’t forget our friends from the last 5 years, Mr. and Mrs. Kawana.  They’re retired and moved out of the apartment building that we all shared back then, moving to their old home place about an hour away.

He’s a scientist and she’s a housewife.  They don’t speak a word of English and don’t want to, but we’ve always appreciated them because they have let us into their hearts and lives without ever even insinuating that we might not fully understand everything we were discussing.  Maybe I need to explain, but when someone is constantly speaking “special Japanese” to you, it can be a little off-putting … a not so gentle reminder that you’re not really as good as you thought you were! The Kawanas don’t do that.  They’re just happy to sit down and talk with us, about everything from pottery making to Bible reading. They lost a son in a motorcycle accident about the time our Trevor died, and so we refer to each other as “Itami no Kyoudai”, which means “Brothers in Pain”.  Recently she told me she’s “studying the Bible, but it’s hard”.  We hope to have a fruitful visit with them…….according to your prayers.

So that’s a pretty big assignment for you all.  Next Sunday when you may or may not receive the blog, depending on internet; we’ll have (as I said) put in a long day at two churches and then ridden the bullet train for 5 hours in route to see our ‘almost’ son and family in Sapporo the next day.  I’ll try to give you an update if I can…..  I DO know the hostel where we’re staying in has an “Ofuro” so if you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m up to my neck in lovely hot spring water.  I can’t wait!!

All the best and thanks for your support, Marsha