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Our Space

Seita

There is this one spot in the middle of our home where I can see every room in the apartment. By taking one step, I’m in the kitchen, or in the other direction, the bathroom and the kids’ rooms. By reaching into the nearest closet, I can touch the Christmas tree, winter boots, and paper towels. I can control the heat, watch TV, wash the dishes, and see every family member all simultaneously by standing in that one spot.

This is our space.

It’s different from what we were used to back in the states. We now live in a high-rise apartment block in the Tokyo Bay area with 11,000 other people on our corner of the island. This section is smaller than a quarter square mile.

There are six of us. We hear each other all the time. There is no space for private conversations. We sit on each other, breathe each other’s air, photo-bomb skype conversations. We see each other’s lives. We know each other’s thoughts. Ok, not really, but we have got to know each other much better.

The space we now live in was a surprise that we anticipated, but only got to know how much of a surprise after we had moved here two years ago.

We gave up our home in the states to follow the Lord calling us to a mission in Tokyo. In our mission here, we have come to love God, and we have come to love people. Considering our context, our mission does not require space. The lack of living space was a cross-cultural shock for sure, but the shock also came when I realized that space was not necessarily needed to love God or love people.

What we think we need in order accomplish what God has purposed for us to do can be a distraction. By loving people here, hospitality is required. Open lives, open homes, honest living, mess involved, sin exposed, redemption sort. Actually, the space we have aids our purpose well. More people in our space. Less place to hide. More life to share.

God has been gracious with giving us this space. In it He has held us up. He has allowed us to grow in sharing with one another – our lives, our food, our beds. Laughter, noise, tears, dreams, elbows. We have been watched by the world here, and prayed for by the people your side. We have seen God’s provision to help us balance a life of shared chaos, while maintaining peaceful hearts. As we experience more culture that crosses our expectations, or more expectations we have that crosses God’s purpose for us, we pray that God would grow us to love Him more and love people well.

Great Expectations

Seita

A few days ago Kaiya (8) went down the half-pipe at the skateboard park on her belly. I wish I was kidding. Somehow she got up there, waited her turn, then with such excitement, slid down smile first. No other trick trumped that move of hers. I could see the other older skateboarder guys freeze with shock when they saw it. However, J (10) sat there on the side watching his sister’s performance expressionless. He didn’t doubt her ability, even though she has Down Syndrome, and he wasn’t shocked like the others. Unfortunately, believe me, he has seen better stunts.

I was watching this all happen with a friend on the far end of the skateboard park. It was one of those precious moments you want to always remember. I mean, remember to hide. But I slowly made my way over and I sat down next to J, still marveling that he wasn’t surprised like the others by what Kaiya had just done. It didn’t even faze him. He knew what Kaiya could do when others probably had a low expectation of what she could do.

During that moment I realized that I wanted to be like him. The way he watched Kaiya is the way I want to view God’s work in Japan.

There are so many explanations that try to shed light on why Christianity has not taken root here. I’ve heard that it takes years before a Japanese person accepts Christ. I’ve heard stories of discouragement. But I don’t want to have low expectations of what God can do. I did not intend to come here and wait a certain amount of years, gear up for discouragement, or be bound by statistics. No. I want to expect God to do exceedingly more than my greatest expectations.

The truth is that Christ is already present and working in the hearts of many people, including my own. I want my sight to be set on how God is working today. I pray that I do not become content with the low expectations of Christianity taking root in a country like Japan. I want to see amazing things happen, and when I do, I want to remember to not be surprised about seeing great things from a big God.

Recounting God’s Goodness

Seita

As Emma mentioned in the recent post, we are going back to the US for a visit next week. It is a good opportunity for me to look back on the last several months and reflect on God’s goodness to us. Here are some pictures from the recent months. Enjoy!

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The Kids English Week. We had some visiting short-term teams that helped us tremendously! Some of the moms who came with their children have also started getting more involved in our community and attended events and Bible study.

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As a follow up to the Kids English Week, we started hosting “English Time” for moms and kids every other week. Some new moms have started coming, and we’re grateful for this opportunity to get to know them.

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Emma reading to the kids at the English Time.

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Ladies’ Bible study. Several non-Christian friends regularly attend this group. We are grateful to God for the work He is doing in the lives of our dear friends!

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One of the highlights of the last several months is the conversion of Miwa (center). She made a profession of faith in Jesus this summer, and it’s been so inspiring to see her desire to grow as a Christian. Every time she comes to our house, she borrows a new book to read that would help her grow spiritually. She is scheduled to be baptized this month at Grace Harbor Church, and we are very excited to see the grace of God in her life! We thank God for her.

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A view from the new civic center in Toyosu.

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A recent photo of our kids. It must have been a “girls only” joke.

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On the way to the Grace Harbor Church fall retreat.

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Group photo at the retreat. Great opportunity to deepen our relationships with one another, including several of the friends who are not yet Christians.

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Sunday afternoon picnic.

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Toyosu Missional Community Thanksgiving Dinner. We had some traditional Japanese dishes that people brought, and we enjoyed the mashing of different flavors!

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This fall we attended the Japan Church Planting Institute National Conference. Several hundred missionaries, pastors, church planters, and others gathered near Mt. Fuji to worship God together and to encourage one another in ministry. I was asked to lead the singing, and it was a privilege to serve.

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I was also asked to teach a seminar on “a worshiping church”.

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Grace Harbor Team photo taken at the conference. Grateful to God for each of them and their friendship, encouragement, and partnership in the gospel!

3 Day Countdown

Seita

We’re coming over on Monday! As a family, this will be our first time back to the US since we moved. It makes me realize how much Tokyo has become my home when something holds me back from writing the words “we’re coming home”, because it might feel like home, but it’s not my home. Although, there are definitely certain things that I am pretty sure I will never get used to. Singing ‘hallelujah’ in church, but pronouncing it ‘hareruya’ is one of them.

But for real, I am dying to see you all, listen and talk, overhear stranger’s conversations and understand them, see grass, and yes, eat Chipotle. The anticipation! I realize that this trip will be a month, but I still get the feeling that trying to take a swing at living real life with you for a few moments, every few years, is going to be difficult. I am looking forward to seeing how God has prepared the way for us, even when our schedule is filling up and my brain will be permanently aware of the time limit we have.

This is what the Lord has called us to. Not only the life in Japan, but the transitions too. There is grace in that too.

Part of me wants to fast-forward over another transition; however, I have been learning that the character of God is revealed in the waiting. I am always waiting for something to happen, or an event to take place, or a prayer to be answered. His character is on display for us in the moments we least expect. As we feel like our real lives are on hold or we wait in anticipation for something, we can look up and receive the gift of faith in the waiting. Our faith becomes strong when our eyes on fixed on God, not on the days ahead. I want to learn this truth as I am in anticipation for what is to come. Christ is with me today, and He wants my attention right now.

As we travel back to the states in 3 days time, please pray that our faith will grow in Christ as he shapes and leads us through our trip. Pray that we don’t only look up to God for peace in each moment of crazy, but that we look up because there is an irresistible dose of grace and strengthening of faith that God is ready to pour out on His children during the moments of our weakness.

Our faith to return to our new home after this trip is strong. We will miss the real life in Toyosu while in the states, but know that we are so blessed to be able to see family and friends again. It feels like it’s been too long. And Peter has almost spent half his life in Japan already. Seriously. Japan really, really is home for him.

Last Few Months…

Seita

At Grace Harbor Church, we officially started our weekly Sunday worship service on Easter. We thank God for that! But with that, our workload has dramatically increased as well, so I haven’t been able to post updates for a while…So many things have happened in the last several months, and I can’t recap everything, but here are some pics from the recent months!

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Official launching service of Grace Harbor Church on Easter. Super blessed to have our teammates and people who make up our church.

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Peter turned 3! Growing up fast…

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Family pic taken in the spring with cherry blossoms in the background. Don’t know what got into Peter…

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Our friends in Toyosu/Grace Harbor community. All the ladies have been studying the Bible with us.

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Our newest teammates, Joe & Felicity Congdon (in the middle) with their three children arrived in March!

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Marriage Seminar with Dr. Diane Powell. Our teammates, Sean & Lisa Radke, shared their testimony of God’s grace and mercy in their marriage with many of our friends from Toyosu.

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A short-term team from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Diego came and did a fantastic job reaching out to the college students at a local university. Debriefing meeting recounting expressions of God’s grace. Special guest – Michael Briggs (far right) from our home church in Fairfax, VA! Great to have you Mike!

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I was invited to a pastors’ luncheon hosted by the Gideon International Japan. Grateful to have the opportunity to meet older pastors and Christian workers in Japan.

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From our balcony. How many people are giving thanks to God for this in Tokyo? Praying for many to come to know the wonderful Creator who is revealing Himself in creation and through Jesus Christ!