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Far From Home Blog

Send-Off Sunday

This past Sunday, our church held a very special service to send us off to our mission field. (Video below) We share this not to draw attention to the nice things people said about us (though we were very humbled by and grateful for all their encouragement!), but we share this to highlight how fantastic our church is. Their passion for the Lord and commitment to the gospel and desire to see it spread around the world have been so evident throughout this process, and this service was simply an expression of those things. Emma and I were very grateful for the opportunity to worship God together with our dear friends, and we look forward to seeing the Lord work in and through our partnership in the gospel in the coming days!

 

2 Days to Breathe

 

We’re getting 2 snow days (no classes)! And that’s huge for North Carolina. The whole place stopped or slowed down considerably about 2 weeks ago when we got about 1 inch of snow. These next 2 days are going to be interesting.

We also have a chance to breathe, catch up, and update you on our lives. We’re nearing the end of our 4 week training. It’s been amazing. Four weeks don’t seem long enough, yet the amount of information, biblical truth, wisdom, and practical things that have been taught has been invaluable. We can get more into those details later. But for right now, since there are nothing quite like bullet points, here are some of the happenings in this lives of our kids from the past few weeks:

  • The kids are doing really well in their classes. Tamia has learned the Spanish version of “God Is So Good”. J has learned the version of every language known to man and known only to him for that song. You can just imagine.
  • J has been in heaven here. He is in class with kids around his age, riding bikes, building forts, and living a great life with every inch of space an 8-year-old can wish for in his backyard. This place is pretty remote. He’s enjoying every moment of seeing greenery before we move to the largely concrete world of Tokyo.
  • Kaiya has adjusted so well. Probably the best. She is saying “what the heck” less often too. This is a huge parenting moment for us. She is giving out hugs to strangers, welcoming many new people into out home, and killing ladybugs with her bare hands. She has been very busy with the others drawing pictures and making lots of things that look like origami gone wrong – but super precious to her.
  • Tamia is so helpful around here. She’s concerned with making sure she translates what Peter says into English for us (although we can understand him pretty well), loves helping me with the dishes, and soon will be given bigger jobs – like preparing dinner for our guests, cleaning the house, and taking the trash out. You know I’m not serious.
  • Peter runs around with his hood on, hands in pockets, and tattoos (scribbled with permanent marker) on his arms. He continues to master high pitch screams when he is smothered by his sisters. He is passionate about entertaining everyone, and this is always funny. He brings so much joy to us.

We know this is only the beginning part of the many changes that we will be experiencing as a family. God has helped each one of the kids, including us, with a different living situation, schedule, and group of people in our lives. Each one of these has been a blessing.

Cross-Cultural Training in NC

It’s been a while since we’ve posted here or sent out a prayer update… Why? Because we packed our van…

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and drove down to Union Mills, NC to attend a 4-week cross-cultural training at…

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CIT (Center for Intercultural Training). We moved into this…

 

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2-bedroom apartment. Kids really enjoy the spacious campus, equipped with…

 

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a playground, a game room, bikes, and a lot of room to run around.

We are in class from 8:30am-3:30pm M-F, and have a bunch of homework assignments each week. We really enjoy getting to know the other participants and fellow missionaries who will be going to different countries (India, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Germany, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, the UK). So encouraging to hear so many unique stories of how God has led them to this place.

We are in the second week of the program and already benefiting tremendously from the training we’re receiving from experienced missionaries. We’d love to share more about our experience in the coming days…

A BIG Thank You to an Anonymous Person

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A couple of days ago I went to the church office and found an envelope in my inbox. Inside it was a wad of cash and a note. What I read brought tears to my eyes. After thanking us for stepping out and following God in faith to Japan (only possible because of the tremendous support from our church family!), this person wrote, “I pray that God uses this money to bless your family, and in particular your kids.”

It’s been a very busy season for us; we have been tired, and our kids have certainly been affected by all the changes. At the dinner table that night we read the card and were able to communicate to them how much God cares for them.

We are so grateful for this person’s thoughtfulness in thinking about our kids during this crazy season. Thank you for your generosity! We wish we can thank you in person…

Family Photo Update

In the busyness of preparing to move across the ocean, sometimes it’s easy for us to focus only on all the tasks that need to be done. But we still want our children to enjoy this season and fun things in life that God has given us. We are grateful to God for giving us these moments when we can pull away from the things we need to do to catch our breath.

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Special Offering Update

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This past Sunday (12/15), our sending church graciously took a special offering for our Japan Mission Fund. Thanks to our amazingly generous church, it was a big boost in our support raising process. We are at about 58% of the goal, and we are very grateful to God for His goodness extended toward us through His people. Please join us in praising the Lord!

Before/After – Church Office

For the last several years, I was so blessed to have my own office at our church building with so many good resources. Well, I’m almost done with packing up my office to prepare for our move to Tokyo. (I shared a little bit about packing up my office in a recent prayer update.) Another concrete step toward our move becoming a reality – exciting and sad at the same time!

Here are before/after pictures:

 

Trip to Greenville, SC

Last week I attended the PCA Global Missions Conference in Greenville, SC with two guys from our church, Mark and Steven. One of the goals I had for this trip was to connect with missionaries to Japan and others who are involved in missions work, and the Lord really blessed us and gave us many opportunities to talk with people. They were very helpful to us in thinking about our involvement in global missions. We also had a great time worshiping the Lord together with the folks at Sovereign Grace Church in Greenville. Thanks for praying for us!

 

  • Our future teammates at Grace Harbor. Great time of getting to know them.

  • I had the privilege of preaching at Sovereign Grace Church in Greenville, SC. What a joy to be with Matt & Julie Rawlings (Matt is the senior pastor) and their friends.

  • My friend Steven Sieb’s birthday happened to fall on the first day of the conference. The hat & dessert courtesy of the restaurant.

  • Lunch after church with Matt. Thanks Matt for letting us come and visit!

  • Gary & Lois Watanabe from Redeemer City to City. Gracious, wise, experienced missionary couple coaching church planters around the world. Very helpful conversation – thank you Gary & Lois!

  • Japan Partnership Luncheon. So many people – encouraged to know many people are actively involved in mission work in Japan.

  • My first time at PCA Global Missions Conference. They’re doing great gospel work around the world – Praise God!

  • Japan booth at the conference. Apparently MTW has more missionaries in Japan than all the other nations in the world.

Seima’s Visit to Fairfax

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Seima Aoyagi, the pastor and leader of the Grace Harbor team, flew in this past weekend to hang out with us and visit our church on Sunday. We really enjoyed spending a lot of time with him talking about theology, family, church planting, practical things related to our pending move, Japan, Grace Harbor, and many other things. Our church was very blessed to hear from Seima about what God has been doing in Toyosu, and I was so glad some of my dear friends got to meet him and get to know him. Our kids were so excited to meet him and enjoyed walking around DC with him (well, for the most part, until they wanted me to carry them toward the end… Seima had to carry one of my daughters!). Seima-san, thanks for coming! And I’m sorry St. Louis lost…(He’s a Cardinals fan.)

“Trial” Worship Service @CAFE;HAUS

 

CAFE;HAUS is a local restaurant in Toyosu that the Grace Harbor team has developed a relationship with, and they have collaborated to put on community building events. (The video above was produced by the restaurant after a concert with Christian musicians from Julliard that the Grace Harbor team organized.)

Recently the Grace Harbor team had their first “trial” public Sunday meeting at the restaurant. Jon & Sarah Pfeil, our friends at Grace Harbor, said in their recent update that despite the pouring rain, a bunch of adults (including 7 non-Christian Japanese friends) and kids came out. You can watch a 4-minute video of the service here. Very exciting! Here’s one of their prayer requests:

Pray for our ongoing relationship with the restaurant Cafe:Haus in Toyosu.  Almost all of the people who attended worship with us, stayed and ate lunch at the restaurant.  On a rainy day, this meant a lot more business than they normally would have had.  Pray that Cafe:Haus would see us as a blessing to their business and to their community.  Unfortunately, our biggest advocate at the restaurant leaves at the end of October, so pray for favor with the next event manager!