Today marks one month since we arrived back in the States. The flight to the U.S. always seems shorter than the flight out of it, but we were exhausted nonetheless. When we landed, we had nothing on our minds but sleep and carne asada burritos. The first week of adjusting to USA time was difficult, but our sleep schedules eventually caught up.
As for this update, it will cover the last couple weeks of our stay in Japan, as well as some info about the future as well!
After visiting churches in Tokyo, Meryl and I took a train way up North to Calvary Chapel Ishinomaki and visited pastor Rich and his wife Emi. Ishinomaki was one of the areas hit hard by the 2011 Tsunami. While visiting there, we heard several stories of the extreme things that people had to do to survive the catastrophe. One lady, who was inside her home when the wave struck, quickly found herself trapped as the water filled the first floor of her house. She survived by breaking a hole through the ceiling to the 2nd floor, and she was able to stick her head and hands through the hole to keep her head above the water. This is one of several stories that were told to us; some were about the people who survived, and others were of the people who tragically did not. Ishinomaki’s coast is now guarded by a huge wall, in order to prevent tsunamis from coming in again.
The church in Ishinomaki ministers to the community through a cafe outreach, along with worship services and Bible studies throughout the week. In addition, they visit a local elderly-people’s-home occasionally, and they are also looking to start a ministry for kids from the local school.
After waving farewell to our Ishinomaki friends, we hopped onto another train up to Hachinohe to visit the Galbreath family. Ron and Debbie Galbreath have been missionaries in their Northern area for more than 20 years, where they and their children continue to reach out daily through their relationships with those around them. They also hold church services each week at home. They have eight children, all of whom speak Japanese fluently. We were welcomed into their home with loads of hospitality, and they truly made us feel like part of their family. It was an encouragement to see all of them working together as a family with a passion to reach the lost.
They also arranged for us to take a tour of a Japanese school. Japanese schools are completely different from American schools, and it was a special experience to be able to see one first-hand.
After this, we took yet another train far down South to Nagoya, where we visited a local community church. This church is an international church filled with people from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ghana, and other places. Pastor Gary and his wife Carol have been there for over 20 years reaching out to the community. Several people have been raised up in this church to start churches in other countries around the world!
After this, we headed down to Calvary Osaka, also known as “Abide”, where we met Pastor Joseph and his wife Amy, along with their children. When Joseph originally came to Osaka, he was with a group that was holding a special event as a missions outreach. No one showed up to their event, and Joseph described it as very discouraging. Rather than turning away to seek out a more-receptive city, Joseph and Amy stayed and planted a church instead, which is now thriving as a community of growing, abiding believers. Through this progression, I can see that the Lord has placed in Joseph and Amy a godly determination, a sincere and Christlike stubbornness to love the people of Osaka with God’s love. God’s Word would describe this as: “longsuffering”.
It is easy to see the Lord’s persistently loving, abundantly merciful heart being extended toward the unreceptive masses of Japan. In fact, not only at Abide Osaka, but in each of the churches that we visited while in Japan, there is this enduring trait of perseverance and longsuffering , clearly reflecting the patient desire of the Lord for none to be lost.
We were blessed to help out at Abide during Easter Sunday, teaching Sunday school, where we made crafts, sang songs and told the children all about Easter. Afterwards, everyone at church was invited to a picnic in the park, where we all hung out on tarps under the Sakura (cherry blossom) trees.
On our final morning in Japan, we attended church at Calvary Logos Tokyo again, and said a big goodbye before heading to the airport.
Now a month has passed, and, after much prayer and thought, We’re happy to say that we’ll be coming alongside to serve with Calvary Ishinomaki! We’ll be raising support at various churches and setting aside funds from our jobs in order to go back to Japan in hopefully a year or less, if the Lord allows.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support; we’re excited to see what the Lord does with this open door that He’s given us.