Monday, December 12, 2011

Luke 2:25-35 - Simeon Meets Jesus

Waiting - Who likes waiting?!?!?!? I remember when I was in college having to wait in line for everything!!!! Oh, the agony of standing in line to register for classes and not knowing if a space would still be available by the time you reached the table. I use to say that my social security number, and waiting in line were two of the most important things I learned while attending college!!!

As much as we dislike waiting, we actually can learn so much through the process. We live in a "I want it, and I want it now" society, but that is not the way God works. Read through His word and you will realize that when God calls His servants there is a time of waiting, or preparing before the call/promise is fulfilled.

The other day as I spent time with God, I was reading in Luke chapter 2. Yes, at this time of year, I usually find my way to this very familiar passage. But this year my eyes fell on a group of verses that usually don't get a lot of mention during the Christmas season - Luke 2:25-35. I have read these verses many times through the years, and was amazed again when I read them last week.

God gave Simeon a promise - he would see the Messiah before he died. But when God gave the promise, Simeon didn't know when it would be fulfilled. The Bible doesn't say, but I imagine Simeon went to the temple regularly, maybe even daily, to worship God. In his faithfulness to worshiping and serving God, he was in the right place at the right time to receive God's promise - seeing Jesus!

The Bible also doesn't say how long Simeon had to faithfully wait. I wonder if some days he thought it was all pointless because it was taking so long to receive the promise. Yet, he continued to go the temple and to worship God. He remained faithful to God even in the waiting. What if Simeon had woken up that morning and decided he was too tired to go to the temple again?!?!? Or what if he decided there was something more exciting for him to do that day instead of visiting the temple? Simeon would have missed meeting Jesus. He would have missed receiving God's promise! What an example of faithfulness for us to follow. Simeon faithfully waited for God to bring His call to reality, in His perfect timing.

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Even my DADDY gives "happies!"

God continues to blow my mind at how He knows every desire, need, and want of my heart. No, He doesn't always give me everything I ask for, or want. But there are times, for no other reason than to show off for me, He gives me a little "happy" to remind me that He knows every thought in the deep places of my heart.

Just last week I began to have a crazy desire. One of the soft drinks I have always loved is IBC Cream Soda. There is just something about cream sodas that bring a smile to my face and my heart. Now, I recognize that cream soda has absolutely no eternal value, but it is one of those things that I just really enjoy on this earth. I haven't really thought about cream sodas in a long time, but as I said, last week I began to have a real craving for it.

In the past two years of living in Tokyo, I have found several drinks that I enjoy, Diet Dr. Pepper, Ginger Ale, 7Up, Sprite, etc. but have never seen cream soda. I had just accepted that this would have to be one of those treats I would only be able to enjoy in America. Well, over this past weekend I went to one of our local convenience stores and saw a new Pepsi drink on the shelf. No, it wasn't cream soda, but it looked an awful lot like it. So, I decided to buy a bottle and see how it would taste. I was so surprised to find that it is VERY close to the taste of cream soda!!!! A sweet joy filled my heart as I drank that bottle of Pepsi "Caribbean Gold" because I knew that DADDY had heard my desire and gave me a little "happy."

As much as I was filled with joy over this little gift from God's hand, I was again reminded that the things He gives is not what really gives me this joy. No, it is God Himself that brings peace and joy to my heart. Nothing can substitute for His presence; nothing AT ALL!!!!! Yet, He still chooses to give me presents in addition to His presence.

God thank you for being a Good Father. A Father who knows how to give good gifts His children. But most importantly, You are a Father who gives all of Himself to us. You are my All in All!!!!!

Now, I wonder if something can be done about finding Cool-Whip here in Tokyo!!! Too much to ask? Well, we will see!!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Saturday, March 26

Well, it has been a few days since I last posted an update. There has not been any real new news to share until this morning. We received word early this morning that we are being allowed to return to Tokyo on a voluntary basis. Since it is only 8:30AM on a Saturday morning here, I have not yet spoken with other missionaries about they are deciding to do. Our leadership has spoken at length with an expert in the field of "all things nuclear" (he has even been a source used by Fox News, and CNN over the past couple of weeks) about our situation. They also contacted him last week before making the decision to evacuate. At that time he was 100% in agreement that we should leave based on the information that was given at that time. New information has been gained over the past week, and he agrees that it is safe for us to return to Tokyo.

I don't know specifics of when our return will actually happen, but I do know that I am ready to get back. I have received emails from a volunteer agency I have worked with in the past. This group will be preparing supplies to send up north. Our own IMB missionaries who are currently in Kyoto and Osaka have worked together to prepare rice and other essential supplies, and a few men are taking these things to the areas in greatest need. Those of us in Fukuoka do not have personal vehicles so our ability to help is more limited, but thankfully nothing limits our prayers (except ourselves) and those have been going out in mass supply!!!!!

So, that is the latest from my corner of the world. God is good, He is faithful, and He is answering prayers!!!! Don't miss an opportunity today to tell someone of the deeds He has done!!!!

"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever...it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." Psalm 73:21-28

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuesday, March 22

Yesterday was a fun and interesting day! We headed out in the morning to begin exploring our "new" city. As we were walking down the sidewalk some ladies in kimono approached us and asked if we would like to give a donation to the relief effort. For our donation we would receive a Japanese sweet treat and a cup of tea ceremony green tea (it is different from the green tea you buy in a vending machine). Now try to get this picture in your head, four Americans walking up to a tent filled with Japanese ladies who are learning to perform a proper tea ceremony, and several tv cameras with reporters and sound microphones. They begin recording our every move; from placing our donations in the box, to sitting down on the benches, to eating and drinking. I SO wanted to take some pictures, but with tv cameras in our faces it would not have been appropriate. So, there we sat with straight backs, big smiles on our faces, trying to be sure to drink the tea in the correct way. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to drink the green tea for a tea ceremony. There is a proper way to hold the cup, and then you must turn it one way, take a sip, then turn it back. Again, all of this is happening while the cameras are rolling!!!! Then the report walks over to our missionary host and begins asking her questions in Japanese. She shares with him that the three of us have left Tokyo because of the possible danger there. Well, now it becomes like flies attracted to spilt honey. When we were finished with our sweet and tea we stepped out from the tent and another reporter began asking me if I felt the quake and if I was ok. When I told here about what I felt her expression changed to real concern that I was alright. After we returned home a couple of the neighbors called our host couple to tell them they had seen us on the local evening news!

As we were walking through a small park, Nancy had the opportunity to talk with a Japanese mom and her son in English. Nancy shared a manga with them and asked the mom to please read it and get in touch if she had questions or wanted to know more about the story. The manga is actually the book of Luke put into manga form (comic book). So, even just walking the streets God's Word was shared yesterday.

Our leadership is planning to meet again Friday to discuss "what now," for the mission personnel. Thank you for your continued prayers for everyone (American and Japanese) involved in this situation.

A verse that has ministered to my heart since Sunday is Colossians 1:17. "He (Christ) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." When we feel like the world around us is falling apart we should remember that Christ holds all things together. How comforting to know this fact about our Savior. No matter what we are walking through or dealing with, our God is in control and His hands are big enough to hold all the pieces firmly together!

Off to see what God's adventure for us today will be......

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday, March 21

It is a rainy Monday morning here in Fukuoka. We will be heading out into our "new" city today to learn how to get around. All of the m's are now safely in new locations. We are all now from Kyoto, south and west to Fukuoka. Please pray that as we settle into our new locations we will adjust quickly so we can also begin to minister to our new neighbors.

Yesterday we had a sweet time of worship together at home. It was good to dig into God's Word and hear how He is speaking to each of us. Nancy asked if we needed the over head light on so we could read better, and I immediately thought, "No, we need to conserve the electricity." Even after a week, a mindset/habit was formed. We went out to eat lunch and then to the grocery to pick up a few "comfort food" items. It was comforting to see shelves fully stocked with food. And the prices are lower here. Confirmation once again that Tokyo really is the most expensive city.

I still have moments when it feels as though the ground is moving. I stop and think, "Is that another one?" It is all in my mind, but it still feels so incredibly real.

The following verses and song were on my heart this morning during my time with DADDY. I wanted to share them because no matter what a follower of Christ is walking through, these can bring His peace and comfort.

"I (The LORD) said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:9b-10

The sky is gray and the light is far
The sea is a rage within my heart
I turn my sight to the crashing waves
I cry in the night just to be saved

'Cause I need eyes to be my guide
I need a voice that's louder than mine
I need hope and I need You
'Cause I can't do this alone

Grace, I call Your name
Oh, won't Your smile fall over me
I'm cracked and dry on hands and knees
Oh sweet grace, rain down on me, I need You, grace

I pray for dawn, a new day to live
I pray for mercy, only Jesus gives
Though darkness falls and a million cry
I believe over all there's a greater light shining for us

'Cause I need eyes to be my guide
I need a voice that's louder than mine
I need hope and I need You
'Cause I can't do this alone

I need You, grace
I call You, grace
I need You, grace
Amazing grace
I need You, grace

"Grace," Phil Wickham

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sunday, March 20 - Now Coming to You From Fukuoka!

Well, we have safely arrived in Fukuoka, Japan! Yesterday was a good day, just very long! We left Tokyo around 11:30am and traveled south/west for about 7 hours to Kyoto. We were in one of two vans traveling together. In Kyoto, myself and the three other singles were dropped off at the Kyoto train station so we could catch the bullet train to Fukuoka. This was my first time traveling by bullet train, and was a little sad it was at night because I couldn't see much of the view. Oh well, being an American tourist isn't the purpose of this trip now is it? So, the train ride was a little less than 3 hours, and we arrived in Fukuoka around 10:00pm. By the time we got to the home where we are now staying it was close to 11:00pm, and I was in the bed a little past midnight. As I said, it was a good day, just very long.

Most of the m's are located in the Osaka area. The four singles and one other family have relocated here to Fukuoka. Again, we do not know how long we will be here. We are all praying that it won't be long!!!!

We did get word that the family from Sendai was able to get on one of the buses provided by the US Government, and should have arrived in Tokyo late Saturday night. This family and another couple will depart Tokyo this morning (Sunday), and head to Osaka to join the other m's there. We are all so thankful they were able to get on the bus from Sendai.

As we traveled yesterday, we stopped a couple of times to rest and fill the vans with gas. It felt a little strange to walk into the convenience stores and see the shelves fully stocked. I haven't seen that in a week. Of course, the further away from Tokyo that we got, the more life was "normal."

Our M host told us on the drive to her house last night, that a beach is not far from their home! I am looking forward to some time with DADDY while I am here, listening to His voice on the water, and feeling His touch in the wind. Yes, I am out of Tokyo, but this is far from over. I realized as I crawled into bed last night, just how tired I was. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Now, please don't read more into that statement than I am intending to share - I really am great!!!!! It is just that I realized what a toll the events of the last week really did take on me. Last night was the first night in 8 nights that I did not sleep fully dressed. We were having so many aftershocks that I just felt better prepared that way. When I stepped in the shower this morning, I was not worried that another tremor/quake would happen at that moment. Now, these are SO minor compared to what so many people are living with each day. Please do not think I am complaining at all. I am deeply humbled and grateful to have the provisions I do, and to be with a company that takes SUCH good care of it's people! I really am blessed beyond what I deserve!

We will have worship this morning with our hosts here in their home. I am looking forward to worshipping our amazing God with them today. We will have a few days to just catch our breath, and then we will see what each day "holds" after that.

Please continue your prayers for me, the other m's, our Japanese friends who many of us left as we were evactuated, and the many people still suffering in the worst hit areas. Also, a bit of info about the work going on at the nuclear site. I have been told my several friends that the Japanese man in charge of getting the electrical lines reconnected at the nuclear plant is a Christian. We have not officially confirmed this information, but again I have heard it from different/unconnected friends. As I have said many times before, God is at work in this country!

Well, guess I better close for now. Be His witness today in the place He has planted you!

This is the song God has put on my heart today:
"Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder; Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.' Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.'

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin. Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.' Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.'

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim: 'My God, how great Thou art!' Then sings my soul, My Savior, God to Thee. 'How great Thou art. How great Thou art.' "

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday, 3/18

Well, as I have mentioned in a previous post, each morning brings new news! This morning the first call of the day was to inform me that we were being told to evacuate Tokyo by tomorrow (Saturday). Honestly, that was not the news I wanted to hear. I am sure many of you are thinking, "I would want to get out of there as fast as I could." That couldn't be further from what I am thinking right now. But we are people who live under authority, so when my leaders say "go," I go.

I did have a bag mostly packed yesterday before I went to bed last night. But today it has been packed and repacked a few times. Each time, a few more things are taken out. I have to keep telling myself that this is not permanent. I will return. I am not leaving these "things" with so many memories attached forever. But then I stop and realize, does it really matter if I were leaving them for the last time? I have gone through the apartment and taken all non-replaceable photos out of their frames and packed them in my bag. Other than that I only have clothes, important papers/documents, and basic toiletries packed. Any of you who know me well know this process has not been easy. I have thought several times over the past couple of days that it was just two years ago during this time that I was coming to the end of two months of packing up, giving away, or throwing out all of my earthly belongings in order to sell and move out of my house. I wonder if I will ever learn God's lesson about storing up treasures here on this earth!!!!!!

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

OK, I guess in this case I could add to the list in these verses, "where you have to walk away from them because of a natural disaster." I said to another missionary yesterday that this experience has left an impression on me as far as shopping. The next time I am walking through one of my favorite shops I hope I stop and ask myself, "Do you really need that teacup? Will it really matter if you end up having to walk away from it?" Oh how I desire to not be so attached to earthly belongings. "Lord, I am trying to learn. Please continue to be patient with me."

So, we are heading to Fukuoka, Japan tomorrow sometime before noon. We will travel by van from Tokyo to Kyoto, then most likely take a bullet train from there on to Fukuoka. The couple driving the van will stay with IMB personnel in Kyoto while the four singles will travel by train. We will be staying with two mission families until leadership decides it is safe to return. The van ride will include 6 adults and one cat, plus our luggage (one bag per person), and will probably be 5+ hours. Not exactly sure on that, but have heard the bullet train between Tokyo and Kyoto is about 3 hours, so I added a couple since we will NOT be on the bullet train tomorrow. Now, doesn't that sound like a fun van ride to you?!?!?!?! I am thankful to have a van to travel in, so not really complaining.

Trying to look at this journey as the "glass half full." I will be seeing a part of Japan I have not seen, nor would I have probably ever gone. I have been trying to visit Kyoto ever since I arrived, so at least I will be able to say I stepped foot in Kyoto. Won't really get to see the "sights," but for now that is ok. I have also thought it would be really neat to go to the Japan Sea side of Japan so I could put my toes in the Sea of Japan. So far in my life I have stepped in the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the mouth of the Amazon. One more body of water would be cool. Well, Fukuoka is on the Sea of Japan side of the country. Maybe I will get to put my toes in that water after all. Oooo, just realized, might need to paint those toes first. hahahahaha!!! I have also wanted to ride the bullet train. Yes, I have lived in Japan for almost 2 years and have not ridden the bullet train. BTW, it is expensive to buy a ticket for the train. It is basically like buying a plane ticket. But with this journey, looks like I might get to ride the bullet train too. I hope if you are reading this post you also know my heart well. I realize that in light of the events taking place in the northern part of Japan, these things I have just listed are so trivial. Again, just trying to keep a sense of humor and looking at "the bright side" of this situation.

Guess I better go. Need to do some more cleaning and packing before it too much more of this day goes away. Again, for those of you who know me well, you know that I am not the Queen of Neat Freaks. In fact on the cabinet just inside my front door, I have a plaque that reads, "Welcome to my loose interpretation of clean." :) So, got a bit to do before laying my head on the pillow tonight. No worries, it will get done before I leave.

Thanks again for your prayers. As I have mentioned on my FaceBook posts, I really do have God's peace that passes all human understanding. I believe that is in large part because of your faithful prayers for me and the people of this country. Please don't stop praying. I heard yesterday that there has been another new believer!!!! Praise the LORD! God IS being glorified in this nation of the rising sun!!!! Again, wouldn't it be amazing to one day see Japan as The Land of the Risen Son?!?!?!

Signing off from Tokyo. Catch up after reaching Fukuoka!!!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thursday, 3/17/11, on "God Mountain!"

The pictures loaded in the opposite order that I have written about below. So as you read, please look at the pictures from bottom to top rather than top to bottom. Sorry!

Yes, it is Thursday, March 17th, but I won't be celebrating St. Patty's Day today. Of course, I never really did when I was in the States either. I have decided to stay home today for several reasons, the biggest is that I do not have a need to travel, so I want to help my not using the trains today. Speaking of using trains, the a couple of the pictures I have included with this post are from Shinjuku Station. This was yesterday around 10AM on the Chuo Line platform. Those of you who have been to Tokyo will really understand the significance of these pictures. The Chuo Line is the train that as a volunteer you traveled on from Shinjuku to Mitaka, Kichijoji, Kokubunji, and Tachikawa. For those of you not familiar with the trains in Tokyo, Shinjuku is one of the busiest (if not the busiest) stations in the world!!! The Chuo Line is one of the busiest in Tokyo, and at 10AM there are typically a lot of people on this platform waiting for the next train. Of course 10AM is not the working rush hour, so what I usually see are people out shopping, college students traveling to class, the older population out running errands, but not yesterday. When I showed these pictures to K-san, she was even very surprised! I am assuming that people are doing what the government is asking us to do, and that is restrict unnecessary train travel in order to help conserve electricity.

You will also notice a couple of pictures of people lined up waiting. One is a line which formed outside of the basement store at the Shinjuku station. I am sure they are waiting to go down and get basic groceries. Stores here do not really open until 10AM on a normal day. I have seen that some of the bread stores have large crowds early in the morning. K-san mentioned that yesterday she was at her grocery store very early to get some items. We are finding that after lunch most things are gone for the day. In Japan, the people don't shop for groceries like we do in the States. What I mean is that many go to the store every day, or every couple of days. The reason is because their apartments/homes are quite small and they don't have space to store a lot of extra food. Also their refrigerators are smaller. Now, for me, I am in an apartment built for Americans. So, I have an American refrigerator, and plenty of cabinets, and therefore, I am stocked up well with food. As long as we have electricity I am good. I have been picking up items each day which do not required cooking, just in case, but right now I am good as far as food is concerned.

The other picture of people lined up is outside of a Starbucks in Kokubunji just before 2PM. I have never seen this store closed but right now they are not opening until 2PM and closing at 6PM. Again, they are trying to help conserve electricity. Many stores are opening and closing at hours different from normal operating hours.

Again, for those of you who have been to Kokubunji, the next picture is of an arcade which one of you (Jared A.) played the drum video game at during our '07 trip. Also in the picture is the entrance to the karaoke place where we use to have our Sunday evening Bible study/church. Jackson Way folks, this is where you went during your trip in '09. Both of these "stores" are usually open at this time, so it was strange to not hear the sounds of the games being played and the voices of students talking and laughing on the street outside.

The next picture is of a convenience store I stop in regularly. The shelves in every store look like these pictures. Doesn't mean we can't get things. I took these pictures late in the afternoon, so the daily supply was just gone for that day. We are NOT starving!!!!

I am reading on American news sites some headlines are saying there is panic in Tokyo. That could NOT be further from the truth. Is there deep concern, yes. But panic like we see in America or the other countries, absolutely NOT! There is a difference in the "air" here. Meaning that although the people are usually quiet anyway, there is a more somber silence now. But, people are not running around screaming and crying. They are very calm and steady, which is typical of the Japanese. They form single file, orderly lines and wait patiently until it is their turn. I have heard that some people up north are waiting 2 - 4 hours to get fresh water, or gas for their cars. But again, there is not "panic" like we as Americans are use to seeing. Is there serious concern? Definitely. I have yet to meet with a person who does not talk about the scare of the nuclear situation. But everyone seems to be trying to take necessary precautions while going about life as normal as possible.

We are still having big aftershocks. Tuesday morning at 5AM I woke up to a shake different than any I had felt so far in Tokyo. It did not last long, but instead of moving side to side, it moved up and down. I literally was bounced (not very far) up from my bed. I have been told that this kind of quake is what is typical for the Kanto area, which is where Tokyo is located. My Japanese friends, later that day, confirmed that it was the Kanto type quake. Then Tuesday night we had another "big" shake. It registered here at a 3 on the Japanese scale. I realize that compared to the 9 quake from Friday a 3 is minor, but these days anything over a 1 gets the adrenaline pumping. I confess that one shook me up a little bit. I am really ok now, but the shake happened around 10:30pm and I just couldn't get to sleep until 2:30-3:00AM. Was SO thankful for God's Word, which I opened soon after, and some wonderful praise music, and harp music I have downloaded on my phone. Still amazed at how music can be very calming for the spirit. We had another good shake last night (Wednesday), again around 10:45pm. I was actually already in bed asleep, but woke up and began praying. Again, we are all ok. I don't want to "sugar coat" things, or make anything out to be worse than it really is, so will be honest and say that the number and magnitude of these tremors/quakes does begin to ware on you. I have wished several times that I could go to the shoes in my closet and find a pair of ruby slippers to put on so I could click my heels three times.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

This is some of the latest news from the mission family in Sendai: "On an amazingly upbeat note, Kevin Qualls, whose family's safety you prayed for writes, "As we have continued to check on friends, today by phone because of the rain and snow, we found out that my friend, whom I made when I joined the cooking class last term and whom we have been witnessing to and praying for, accepted Christ on the 13th. His wife is a believer and we are all praising the Lord for this new brother in the Lord." Lord, You continue to amaze us! (Our leadership is currently putting together a temporary relocation plan for the Qualls.)" Praise God for this awesome news of a new believer. I am sure there are other stories like this happening throughout this country.

Thanks for "holding the ropes" for us through your prayers! God is to be praised at ALL times!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Latest News From Kamiyama ("God Mountain")

(A little explanation of the title - Yes, I live in Tokyo. But Tokyo is kind of like a state in the USA. The "city" I live in is Shibuya, and the "district" I am in is Kamiyama. So, the literal translation of Kamiyama is "God Mountatin." Kami=God; yama=mountain.)

Well, it is Wednesday morning, and just like you, we wake up to the latest news from the events happening just to our north. Each time I turn on the tv or go online it is to find out what the "bad news" is they will tell us today. BUT, you know what else comes each morning? God's mercies (compassions)!!!! "Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is YOUR faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.'" Lamentations 3:22-24 These words from DADDY are my "ace of spades." They "trump" anything else I read or hear. So thankful for His love, mercy, grace, comfort, peace, faithfulness...and the list goes on and on.

I also find it interesting that these verses are found in the book of Lamentations!!! In a chapter titled, "Hope in the midst of affliction!" Happenstance? I think NOT!!!!!

Heading out today for my weekly Bible study with K-san and N-san. God's Word is going out during this time!!!! I pray that as each person who hears about God's love, they will open the doors of their heart to let in our loving and almighty Savior!

Until next time...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Here in Tokyo, today (March 14th) was White Day! A holiday where you give a gift of white chocolate. It is sort of like the other bookend of Valentine's Day where you usually give milk/dark chocolate. There is a bit more to the tradition of this holiday than that, but that is not why I am writing to you. I am sure you can "Google" it to find out the details if you really want to know more.
Well anyway, from what I have heard the rolling blackouts didn't happen as much as planned today. People conserved energy enough so service wasn't stopped in most areas! Here in Shibuya we were told that we would not lose any electricity as the 23 wards of central Tokyo needed power for the companies, and government offices to run today. So, as of now I have power, gas, and water. Very thankful for it, but am trying to do my part and use each as little as necessary. Many train lines were/are not working, also to save power. Many stores/small businesses/restaurants are closed, or open but close by 6PM-7PM. Just like in HSV when snow has been predicted, the stores were sold out of bread and milk, and also toilet paper and batteries. Interesting that it doesn't matter where you are from, the basic necessities of life are the same. As I was out in the city today, it appeared on the outside that life was somewhat back to "normal." But you could feel it in the air that this was a different day. While I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor's office another tremor hit. I must confess that it was more than a bit unnerving to hear the glass wall of windows rattle. There were two separate parents wit their children also in the room. The three of us (adults) all made eye contact, and they both immediately went back to reading with their children to help keep them calm. It was nothing like on Friday, but enough to get the adrenaline pumping, especially because this time I was not at home. I am so thankful for the hope I have been given through Jesus Christ. Praying for many opportunities to share His love and hope with these incredibly resilient people.
One of my Japanese Christian FB friends had this to say, "The situation is really bad here but we Japanese are strong enough to get through this horrible situation...Please keep praying for Japan." I pray that as she has found strength in Christ, the Japanese people will realize that they need His salvation and strength too.
I was reminded today by a colleague of Romans 8:38-39. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." How precious yet powerful are the words of those two verses. How comforting it is to know that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus!!!! For those of us with control issues, (hehehehe) Paul even covers the fact that the future won't even separate us from God's love. The future that we have little if any control over. But we know and should trust the One who does have control over it!
We have finally received another message from the mission family who lives in Sendai (the missionaries closest to the epicenter). They are all doing well, and electricity has just been restored. Their neighbors have been good to be sure they know what is being announced and what they should be doing. They have decided at this time to stay where they are to continue to minister to those God brings to them. Please continue to lift this family to DADDY.
I too have a couple of friends who are emailing me with current announcements to be sure I am aware of what is being shared by the leaders. Are you friends or neighbors with any internationals in your area? When there is emergency news being broadcast, have you thought about contacting them to be sure they know what is going on? I confess that thought never occurred to me before this situation. I encourage you to think about your "neighbors" the next time you hear that newscast, it really means a lot when you are not 100% sure what they are saying on the TV.
I know you are hearing all sorts of news reports about the condition of things here. Honestly, in Tokyo, we really are ok. As for the nuclear reactor concerns, we are also fine. We have not become "glow in the dark missionaries" yet, and don't think we will any time soon. Don't mean to make light of the situation, but finding humor does help a person work through the process. So, we really are doing well. We are waiting for the initial recovery to be complete so we can assess how we as a mission can "hit the ground" to help. We are not equipped to help with what is truly needed at this point in time, so we will wait until God opens the opportunities for which He has equipped us to help. Please pray specifically for the missionaries: wisdom, discernment, and connection with God during this time of waiting and seeking His direction. And that we will seize the moments given to us now to minister to those here in Tokyo who are also figuring out how to live through this tragic event.

P.S. The picture is one I captured from the Japan Meteorological Agency. It is a graphic of the earthquake on Friday. Amazing that almost the entire country is covered!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

God's Still Making the Impossible Possible!!!!

I have a great God Story to share with you! So, when you have a few minutes, because this is long, grab a cup of your favorite coffee/tea and read about how God is still in the business of making the "impossible," possible!

"O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago." Isaiah 25:1

This past summer we had a group of 33 high school and college interns serving with us here in Tokyo. Part of this group used a phrase all summer that really struck a chord with me, "God's ancient work." We are all a part of God's ancient work! Think about that for a minute. What God is doing in and through you, He has been doing for years in and through His servants who are willing and obedient to Him. In the verse above, Isaiah even referred to God's ancient work with the phrase, "...things planned long ago." Well, I want to share how God is continuing His ancient work in/through me here in Tokyo, and how He continues to make what seems impossible to the human eye, possible!

Most of you have been partnered with me on this God journey from the beginning, back in March/April 2009. And most of you know that from the time God called me to come to Japan, I believed He was calling me here for 3 years, and then possibly to return as a career missionary. You also know those plans seemed to have changed this time last year when I was told that I could only stay for 2 years, and that a 3rd year was not possible because it would take a "slot" away from someone wanting to come for 2 years. Each time someone in leadership (from my local leadership all the way up the "chain" to Richmond, VA) told me that I would not be allowed to stay beyond 2 years, I told them (and myself), "I am not to trust in horses or chariots, but only in the name of the Lord my God." I didn't know how it would happen but I believed so strongly in my God and the knowledge of what He had called me to do that I tried to keep pressing onward and upward.

Well, as time kept marching on, and with each month that passed, the news from the company did not change. Then I got the news that I was given a three month extension! This put my departure at July 17th instead of April 19th. I was so thrilled that things had changed enough to at least allow me a few more months in the place I have come to love and that I know God has called me to. As I have mentioned in past prayer updates, even with this new departure date, I still couldn't see what was to come beginning July 18th. I knew God was in control, so I never really worried, but I just couldn't "figure out" why God had called me here for three years, but was only allowing me to stay for two.

In the fall, I began to accept that things with the company were not going to change and that I needed to begin preparing myself to return to the States in July. All the time thinking I might could come back to Japan through a different company/job. In fact, I had begun asking about the process of renting an apartment here in the city, thinking that maybe I was suppose to be here a third year, just not with the IMB (International Mission Board). I have had a couple of possible job offers outside of the Board. Although I was staying "open minded" about them, I just was not able to get His perfect peace either.

The weekend of January 8th, the missionaries from Tokyo and north of Tokyo met for our yearly meeting, and our Sub-cluster leader was there too. I have talked with him several times over the past year about my situation, and was able to sit down with him again during this weekend meeting. He again said that as far as he knew things had not changed, and advised me to contact the office in Richmond to see what possible career positions were available for me throughout East Asia, or in other affinity groups (countries/people groups). So, I sent an email to the person responsible for assigning candidates to open positions and asked him what I needed to do to begin the process of applying for a career position. Now, here is where this story gets interesting...

In his reply to me, he asked if I was interested in staying for a third year. He said that there are currently no career jobs on the books for Japan that I qualify for, but staying here a third year might put me in a better position down the road. All that needed to happen was for my supervisor to make an appeal to our affinity leader on my behalf. WHAT?!?!?!?!? I sent the email to my supervisor who was as shocked as I was to read his reply. Come to find out, the concern of a "slot" being taken away from someone else is, for some reason, no longer an issue. Things have somehow changed, and my staying a third year no longer creates that issue. So, the wrestling in my heart began at this point. I knew God had called me here, but I had already begun to accept that I was going "home" in July. I had let my mind shift to returning to the States, which created a challenge for me. What should I do? Where was God in the middle of all of this?

I asked my supervisor to make the appeal and see what our affinity leader's answer would be. If you know anything about a Southern Baptist organization, you know decisions don't always happen quickly! So, I was thinking it would take a month or two for everyone involved to make this decision, and I would have a little more time to process it myself. Well, nope! Less than two days later we got word that I had been approved for a third year of service! On top of that, my supervisor had not even had time to make the official appeal before I was given the approval! What a God thing!!!! Of course I was still struggling with what I should do. I mean, my parents and my friends were all getting ready for me to come "home" in 6 months. How could I come back now I say, "Nope, just kiddin'. I'm staying for another year." Some of you have shared your concerns about how much my parents have missed me, and that was also a part of my struggle. But, once I shared this news with Mom and Dad, their immediate reaction was that of excitement and joy. There was not one second of hesitation on their part, they knew immediately that this was from God and were praising Him for it! I am SO grateful to have parents who are not just supportive of me, and I want to brag on them just a little. They are 110% behind me, and have let me know that even though they do miss me, I can not let that cause me to not follow God's leading and call! I am just too blessed beyond what I deserve! So, those of you concerned about my parents, thank you for caring, and thank you for loving on them in my absence. They need your love, support, prayers, shoulders, and ears. But please understand, they are ok with my being here, because it is where God wants me to be!

Then, God took me to the story of Zechariah and Elisabeth in the book of Luke. In the footnotes from Luke 1:20 of my Bible was the following:

"Zechariah thought it incredible that he and his wife, at their old age, could conceive a child. But what God promises, he delivers. And God delivers on time! You can have complete confidence that God will keep his promises. Their fulfillment may not be the next day, but they will be "at their proper time." If you are waiting for God to answer some request or to fill some need, remain patient. No matter how impossible God's promises may seem, what he has said in his Word will come true at the right time."

Then He took me to the verse at the top of this God story, Isaiah 25:1:

"O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."

How could I deny God was confirming that He was smack in the middle of my staying in Japan for another year! So, saying all the above to share with you, I have accepted the extension, and will be in Tokyo until April 2012 to continue "God's ancient work" in me, and in Japan! "To God be the glory, great things He hath done!" Thank you so much for being on the journey of faith with me!!! My prayer is that this story from God will be an encouragement, and faith strengthener for you too. If God has called you to something, or promised something that seems impossible in your eyes (or in the eyes of those around you), don't forget what the angel Gabriel said to Mary, "For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

Thank you for taking a few minutes of your precious time to read this God story. And again, I thank you for praying for/with me and the people of Japan. God is at work in this incredible country, and He is obviously not finished with me here either. As you pray for me and the Japanese, I challenge you to pray the same prayers for yourselves and the people in your neighborhood, work office, or school. In Acts 1:8, Jesus commanded us to begin missions in our "Jerusalem." Whatever city you live in is your "Jerusalem," and that is where missions for you begins. As much as the people in Japan need to hear about Jesus, the people in your city need to hear about Him too. Will you be His hands and feet today in the place where He has planted you? That is what I pray for you!

Until next time, know that I love you and miss you, and am deeply grateful for you!



"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Acts 26:17b-18