Day 76 Paul’s first full-length Japanese Sermon

Sunday November 15th 2009

Paul was excited and a little nervous to preach his first full lengthIMG_5510 sermon in Japanese. He has addressed the congregation before, like our first Sunday here, but that was to introduce us and give a short message. That was definitely a big step but this was a little different. He volunteered to give the 20 to 30 minute sermon because Obata-san was having some medical tests done and we want to try to be as big a help here as we can. It took a lot of thinking to decide on the topic. There are so many different levels of spiritual maturity here and so many needs. Finally Paul decided to speak about who Jesus is. Brother Obata graciously translated Paul’s sermon into Japanese and then Paul practiced it many times. We believe it went well and one of the members even said Paul was as good as a first grader in his speech. (We both had to laugh at this, but it is actually a compliment as most of the time we probably speak like 2 year olds.)

Day 67-69 Visiting, Sushi, and Thank You BBQ

Friday November 6th, 2009

    We accompanied the Obata’s today for their weekly visitation to a friend in the hospital. When we first arrived he wasn’t there. We were disappointed we really wanted to meet him. His name is Nishinome-san and he is the father of Junko Ryan. She and her family were in a picture we were given, by Obata-san. It was a picture of the congregation one Sunday morning last year. We showed that picture to everyone to show them the people we would be working with in Japan. But actually Junko Ryan and her family (Rick, Sean, Aika, and Eamon) live in Pennsylvania, but Junko’s parents live in Takasaki.  Her and her family come to the church when they visit her parents. Junko’s father had to have some tests done and would be in the hospital for awhile. So we went to say hello. After we found his room and he wasn’t there, Obata-san was talking to the nurses’ station and they said he should be coming back to his room soon, so we decided to go back and wait for him. IMG_5248There he was. It was nice to meet him. He was in really good spirits and seemed to be doing well. Nishinome-san is not a Christian, so we hope to keep seeing him and encouraging him.


After we left, Obata-san wanted to show us a big mall close to us. We walked around and found lots of great stores to come back to. It was dinner time so we stopped in at a sushi restaurant. The cool thing about this restaurant was that the food came by on a conveyer belt that ran by every table. You could order a few special items, but for the most part you just take what looks good as it rolls by. Every plate is color coded and when your done the server comes by and adds up all your plates. It was a really cool experience. IMG_5264 



Sunday November 8th, 2009

    We had a few of the people that helped us get settled in Japan over for a dinner to thank them. We gathered up a lot of ingredients and did our best to show our gratitude with a little American BBQ! Paul was really excited. He loves to BBQ. We made BBQ chicken, cheeseburger, broccoli salad, macaroni and cheese. We tried to make hot dogs, but we accidentally bought fish sausage dogs instead!  Oops!  We had a lot of fun with everyone and hope they enjoyed the little bit of American hospitality. that we could show them. IMG_5329 IMG_5323 IMG_5324

          Our guests were: the Obatas, Shimakata-san, Itabashi-san, Miyazaki-san, and Noguchi-san.   It was great to meet these friends again! (and great to eat an American Cheeseburger!)

Day 65 Children’s class tonight

Wednesday November 4th 2009

Last Wednesday we had our first children’s class. I had the privilege of teaching two wonderful girls about the Bible. The only problem was that we were in the same room as the adults. So we had to be very quiet. The girls were great. But I felt like I could teach them more if we could talk a little louder. So we talked it over with Obata-san and we decided to clean out the office in the church. Obata-san mainly IMG_5234uses it for storage. He uses his office at his house since its bigger and right next door.           IMG_5235

We have been about cleaning this room out for awhile, so that Paul can use it if he wants to. So we tackled the little room together. After a few hours of sorting and throwing. We could finally see the floor again. It turned out to be a nice little room. And during the day Paul can come here to work on classes and sermons without me bothering him. IMG_5236:)

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That evening we tried our new classroom out. It started out great. We had a new family come. She brought her son (6 years old) and daughter (1 1/2years old) and she stayed in the class to see how her son would do. Then another family came. They brought their son for the class. So we all squeezed into the little room. A few of the adults went to the adult class in the main room, just to make space.  We had a nice class. We started going over the story of Jesus’ birth. I think it was a little hard for the kids to follow. They don’t know a lot of English and probably even less Christian English. So next week I will probably change a few things in my lesson.






   At this point I realize that some of the kids are just here to learn English and hear a native English speaker, but we will keep teaching them the truth. Even if the only English they learn is from the Bible, I know God can do wonderful things through them. It’s really cute to see them learn these new words and it’s good practice for my Japanese to try and explain the new words to them as best I can in Japanese. So I will keep trying to be my best so that God’s words can be implanted on these little hearts.   

Day 59 Stacey teaches at a local Kindergarten

Thursday October 29th 2009

***I apologize I can’t show any pictures of the kids from this day. I was told by the school that I can’t post the children’s pictures on the internet, but I could in a newsletter to my church. There are a few pictures in our newsletters if you are curious.***


Last Wednesday I was asked to help Mie with her Kindergarten class that she teaches on Thursdays. She comes to 2 classes every Thursday to give the children a few lessons about English. She thought the children would benefit from listening to a native English speaker. She also said she wanted to teach the children a few Christian songs. The principle is Buddhist, but wants the children to learn more about other religions and cultures. So I went with Mie to see how I could help. She told me they were learning shapes and colors. So I made some colored shapes for the kids to play a few games with and decided to teach them the song “Jesus loves the Little Children” I thought it would be appropriate with the colors in the song.

The kids were so cute and so smart. I was really amazed at how many English words they knew. The first class was mostly 5 year olds and the second 6 year olds. It was really fun seeing the kids learn and interacting with them. The first class was really curious about why I was here. So I enjoyed telling them a little and Mie translating the rest for me. After we sang the song, one child asked what it was about. WOW. That really amazed me that I was given the opportunity to give a few of God’s words to a 5 year old. I told them that this song was about how Jesus loves ALL of us. No matter what we look like. If we have black hair or white hair. Blue eyes or brown eyes. I gave them all a little card with a scripture in it and a flyer to give to their parents inviting them to church. I look forward to coming back to see the kids and seeing the new questions they have for me.

Day 57 Concert at Haruna & a Special service for Cloe

Tuesday October 27th 2009

Today was Haruna’s annual concert for the elderly of this community. Obata-san often lets people of the community use the building like a community building. It allows people access, under Obata-san’s supervision, to use the building from time to time. This concert is a regular event held once a year. Obata-san also passed out info about the church for the people attending. It’s a very small and simple way of encouraging people to seek God. Also this is a good way of showing people that the “church” is not the building. Some people will bow before entering as they would a temple or shrine.  It’s interesting to see the different reactions.

We were invited to the concert by Nakajima-san. He and his wife host the event and are so anxious to help us interact with the community. It was very educational. It was traditional Japanese music and dancing. IMG_5119It was enjoyable to see the practice of such an old Japanese tradition.  IMG_5108





Later that afternoon Paul had the privilege of giving a very special and challenging service. IMG_5132We have an older couple that are members of the Church here.  They came to Obata-san one day inquiring about taking their granddaughter to the Buddhist temple for her 3rd birthday. It’s a part of Buddhism here to take children to the Buddhist temple to be blessed on certain birthdays. In Japan a lot of those religious ceremonies have been ingrained into the normal culture as well. Many people here, even not Buddhists, will do this.  Obata-san advised them as Christians not to take part in this ritual. So as a compromise Obata-san IMG_5133suggested we have a special devotional for the young girl, Cloe, at the church. Now this family is from Spain. The young girl’s mother is Japanese. Her father, Quentin, is a French atheist. And of course her Japanese grandparents are Christians. Also the young girls grandparents from France would be coming as well. The only thing that was most in common was the fact that 8/10 people of this group spoke English. So Paul was graciously volunteered to give this special talk. He spoke about Jesus growing up in Luke 2:51-52 and how Cloe should follow in his footsteps. The service was received well and we got to sit down and have cake with the family afterwards. IMG_5141The father, Quentin, told Paul he appreciated the service and that he had never set foot in a church before! God is using us to speak to such a variety of people! We thank the Lord for these opportunities which allow us to be ambassadors to people we never would have met in America. What a blessing!

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Day 54 Community Pizza Party with the Neighborhood Chief

Saturday October 24th 2009

We were graciously invited to a private pizza party. It was hosted by Nakajima-san. He is the man that is chief of this area that we live in and invited us over last month for his wonderful homemade Soba noodles. He has a hand built brick pizza oven in his backyard too. The women got together around 2:00pm to prepare the dough and topping for the pizza.IMG_4999 It was fun yet a little frustrating for me. First I didn't have Paul with me to help understand the conversations. Second most of the women knew English, but purely to help me with my Japanese were told not to use English, Japanese only.IMG_5002


These situations really emphasize how little Japanese I know. But it is also a good reminder to study study study. Of course they helped me out and answered my questions, but when I couldn’t answer a simple question I just felt plain ignorant. It was a lot of fun getting to know a lot more women in the area. IMG_5004All the ladies lives within walking distance, so hopefully I will see them around.


Around 5:00 the guys started to come.IMG_5017

Over the course of 4 hours we consumed about 18 pizzas between 15-20 people. It was a lot of food.  And we had fun trying a lot of different pizza. In the US most of these ingredients would not even come close to a pizza. They had a sweet sesame-seed and miso paste sauce, a tomato sauce, pumpkin, natto (fermented soy beans), eggplant, boiled eggs …. I tried to make one with the most American toppings they had, but it still wasn't the same. Oh well, it was a blast making the pizzas and meeting new people.   We were introduced to a lot of people from the community and we hope to make many new friends from this.










                                                                                                          This guy made Paul try on his hat.   He was very friendly!        IMG_5014

And here’s Nakajima-san cooking the dough!!


Day 52 Trip to Mt. Akagi

Thursday October 22nd 2009

Obata-san has been wanting to take us to the mountains to go hiking. Obata-san is 74 years old and has so much energy. So today he finally got to take us hiking.IMG_4827 We started pretty early because we had an hour and a half drive to Mt. Akagi. Paul was especially excited to visit this mountain, because its talked about in an anime (Japanese Animation) he and his brothers used to watch called Initial D. We actually live right in the middle of where this anime is based. And a few years ago a Chinese movie company made a live action film using this mountain and a city near by for special footage.

It was a beautiful day. We could see the mountains approaching ahead of us. IIMG_4833t has been a long time since we went mountain hiking, and we were excited to be getting out of the house. It was pretty chilly when we got there. We were a little worried we hadn’t brought enough warm clothes. But as soon as we started moving we warmed up. Soon we found our hiking trail. IMG_4850                                                      I have to say it wasn’t what I expected. All of our expectations are obviously based on life experiences. We are from Kansas and the only times we’ve been “hiking” were trips to Colorado through nice flat uphill trails with few rocks to trip over. IMG_4879

This was straight up mountain climbing in my book. No wonder Obata-san was worried with my choice of shoes. Yesterday he had recommended hiking boots, but all we had were trail running or tennis shoes. Now we understood. Well we decided to do the best we could and hope for safety. Just kidding, but seriously I was a little scared. So up up up we went. It was kind of cool. We were climbing a mountain. Obata-san was really worried about me and kept asking if I was alright.  He should see me when I really exert myself. My face gets all red and my blue eyes stand out like I’m going to pass out, but that’s just normal for me.  IMG_4875  IMG_4877                                                      







We made it up to the first peak i guess you would call it. We stopped and looked around. It was so cool. Beautiful view! We had fun taking a few pictures and then we headed back down. We will climb to the top another day.








     We walked around and found a good spot for lunch. It was funny looking at the difference between our “bag” lunch and Obata- san’s “box” lunch.  IMG_4950He brought a large ball of rice wrapped in seaweed and we brought sandwiches.  IMG_4949      






After lunch we decided this would be a good spot to do a little singing. Obata-san had brought some copies of “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art”, & “Jesus is Lord”.


We drew a little attention, but we didn’t mind. It gave us the chance to tell a few people why we were in Japan and what the songs were about. A few people even joined in for “Amazing Grace”. Its a very popular song here.

After we were finished singing we headed towards the car. We passed a big Shrine on our way back to the car. We hadn’t seen a Shrine yet so walked by and Obata-san explained a few things about the shrine and the area around it. It was quite interesting to learn of some of the similarities between Shinto and Judaism IMG_4922. They have priests. And inside the shrine is a similar setup to the temple.  They have a place for normal people to come in, and then another place inside only the priests can go, like a Holy of Holies. The similarities stop there though.  They also have this dragon water fountain for IMG_4930

drinking before you enter the Shrine. Its supposed to purify you.  Also this entrance has this special rope with tassels on it to cleans you as you enter towards the Shrine. It was an interesting walk through the Shrine.



On our way home Paul drove and Obata-san enjoyed the ride home with a little nap.  Its good to be able to help Obata-san in this way.