Friday, September 29, 2006

You make me Smile

Driving passed corn fields with the sights of John Deere equipment in the fields proved it is harvest time in Iowa. It's also football season and I was able to visit Iowa City just before the thousands of fans descended on Kinnik Stadium in their team colors. My hosts, Sharon and Jamie, were my cultural tour guides through hawkeye territory. If I forgot were I was, all I had to do was look at all the yellow t-shirts that said "IOWA".

But my real reason to visit Iowa was to share my vision for ministry with a few churches. I had a delightful visit in Iowa City, Eldridge, and then to Illinois.

In Galesburg, a railroad town in Northwest Illinois, the missions team at Bethel Baptist Church interviewed me. It was a joyful evening among people passionate for growing God's kingdom. I am excited to report that I have been invited back to canididate with the congregation November 5!

(Bethel Baptist Church pictured below).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Benson


I spoke at First Baptist Church, Benson, MN, yesterday with a sermon titled "Wired for Community". I enjoyed the welcome one can only find in a small town. Benson - Thank you for your hospitality!
(Picture: downtown Benson.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Amarikan Homestay


August 21-29 - I had the blessing of hanging out with Mrs. Kazue Ura and her daughter Sayaka, English students of a fellow missionary in Japan. During their "Amarikan Homestay" we visited museums, a cathedral, state capital building, historical sites, the Mississippi River and of course - the Mall of America! They fearlessly ate many "big" and "sweet" foods. Grilling out or BBQ’s are not common in Japan, so it was fun to introduce Kazue and Sayaka to roasting marshmallows and the gooey mess that follows. (Sayaka stands just outside the photo trying to blow out the fire on her flaming marshmallow.)

When we visited the St.Paul Cathedral, and attended church at Bethany Baptist they seemed to have many heart tugging moments with comments about God and feeling a sense of His presence. Mrs. Kazue attended Sunday school as a child and now studies the Bible in Japan. Sayaka attends Saturday school at Saidaiji Baptist church and although she says she is too old for the program she likes it too much to stop attending. Pray for their continued interest in the gospel.

For me this was a joyful time of meeting my future neighbors (Their home in Japan is very close to where I'll be teaching.) It was a blessing to form friendships so quickly! Their English was much better than my Japanese. But I did practice and found communicating in Japanese a challenge. I felt like I had pulled a muscle in my brain trying to recall Japanese vocabulary and realized how much I have to learn - and how fun it is to use what I do know!

A BIG Thank you goes out to the Eshenaur family and my parents for hosting the Ura's. Thank you also to Jaycelyn, Jane, Kenzy, Janelle & Jason for your tour guide services! Thank you to Stephanie and Aaron for letting the Ura's attend your wedding and reception - they were honored.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Where in the World is Lori?

In this whirlwind adventure we call life, I have had the opportunity to visit every continent, except Australia and Antarctica. In all my travels, I’ve found great joy as relationships with strangers developed into friendships, but only once have I considered a country other than the United States home.


After my first trip to Japan 11 years ago, the homesickness I felt for my host family and Japanese church led me to seek out ways to return. After graduating from Bethel College with an Elementary Education degree, an amazing opportunity opened up for me to teach missionary kids (MKs) in Tokyo for the Baptist General Conference (BGC) and to participate in a local Japanese church. Two years of the greatest joy and fulfillment I have ever known, combined with the greatest challenges I have ever faced, to produce growth in my relationship with God. I realized God’s calling on my life to serve as a teacher in Japan for a career but also realized the need to gain stateside experience as a teacher.

After returning to the States, I took a position as a 3rd Grade teacher, at Heritage Christian Academy in Maple Grove. My heart longed to return to Japan but I also desired to expand my understanding of theology and missions before returning. Therefore, I enrolled in the Intercultural Studies Masters program at Hope International University. While working toward my degree by extension, I took a job as the International Studies Program Coordinator at Bethel University. Where I was responsible for connecting college students with study abroad opportunities around the world and organizing orientation and re-entry programming. In this position, visiting international universities not only added stamps to my passport but introduced me to Christians working to expand God’s kingdom in cultures around the world.


As my graduate program came to an end, I eagerly pursued application to the BGC International Ministries to serve in Japan. The process moved smoothly last year, with a the Missionary Assessment Center in February, an interview early April and the Commissioning service the end of June. This year, I have resigned from my job at Bethel and have started the process of discovering people and churches interested in partnering with my ministry to Third Culture Kids in Japan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is your target date for leaving for Japan?
A: September 2007, or earlier, contingent upon receiving prayer support and 100% of the monthly support. (Currently at 27%)


Q: What will you be doing between now and then?
A: Ministry Partner Discovery – MPD, Discovering people who want to join my ministry team through prayer and finance. It involves meeting with churches and individuals to share my vision for ministry in Japan, and encouraging others in their ministry to Third Culture Kids.

Q: How can I get more information about your ministry in Japan?
A: I have prayer cards, as well as other materials which explain my ministry in more depth. Email me.

So, Where Are You From?

The answer to this question can tell you a lot about a person. But how would you respond if you have lived in a variety of locations, a variety of countries?

Children who spend a significant part of their developmental years outside of their passport culture because of their parents’ work, develop a sense of belonging to both their passport culture and their host culture, while not having a sense of total ownership in either. Elements from both (or multiple) cultures produce a unique blend of cultures, resulting in the third culture. Thus they are commonly referred to as Third Culture Kids or TCKs. These children of business executives, soldiers and sailors, diplomats, and missionaries who live abroad, become “culture-blended” persons who often contribute in unique and creative ways to society as a whole. However, they tend to have difficulty answering the question, “So, where are you from?” Do you want the 3 second or 3 hour explanation?

My ministry in Japan will be to educate TCKs in an international school setting, where I will have the opportunity to equip students with the strategies and tools to adapt cross-culturally as well as encourage multicultural youth in their relationship with God.

HOPE - After 4 Years!


After taking the course, ‘Perspectives on the World Christian Movement’, I was led to Hope International University in Fullerton, California, fall of 2002, and began a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Studies by extension through the School of Graduate Studies. I studied under the mentorship of Ed Erickson and Frank Doten focusing my studies on culture, history, theology and missions relating to Japan and ministry to Third Culture Kids. Four years later, I’m thrilled to announce graduation took place May 20, 2006!

Surrounded by a Crowd of Witnesses


Commissioned to serve in Japan, during the Baptist General Conference annual meeting, in Denver, Colorado, July 1, 2005, the highlight of the evening for me, was to look around and be encircled by prayer warriors and servants of God, who have held special places in my life.

Photos: BGC Missionaries serving Japanese (above)
(below) Missionaries from Bethany Baptist

(far below) Eric Johnson and Lori


BGC missionaries reaching Japanese, my family, and friends from my home church, Bethany Baptist, as well as many others encouraged me. What a joy it was to reconnect with Eric Johnson, former missionary to Mexico! And look back at the impact of the trip my family took when I was 10 years old, to visit his family in Mexico City. From that day on, missions and the lives of missionary kids intrigued me, and my view of God no longer fit into the box I had built.

Hebrews 12:1 talks of the “huge crowd of witnesses” composed of the people described in Hebrews 11. I believe in each of our lives, are people whose faithfulness is a constant encouragement to us, giving them a place among a modern day “crowd of witness”. We do not struggle alone, and we are not the first to struggle with the problems we face. Others have run the race and won, and their witness stirs us to run and win also. What an inspiring heritage we have!

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.