Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prayer Items

May was a month of effective connections with churches in person and via phone. I heard "No, We can't support you at this time," a few more times than was comfortable but I was thankful for clear communication. Monthly support amounts are at 63%. I realize that if support is going to be at 100% by September then it's God that is going to stir up the hearts and minds. I'm just knocking on doors to discover those stirred up people.
  • Pray for the decision process for churches I visited in Chicago and those in MN soon to vote on partnership.
  • Praise for a new church partner, First Baptist Church of Fulan, Siren, Wisconsin, and many new individual partners.

(TCK) / missionary kids (MK) and their families as many are facing huge transitions this time of year. With the end of a school year and graduation, many students will be moving soon to new schools and countries. Pray specifically for:

· A former student of mine, Sarah, an MK who is graduating from Christian Academy of Japan and moving to Tennessee for college (Above Photo)

Missionary Training International
May 29-June 29 in Colorado Springs, CO; a pre-field training program where the focus is on strengthening skills for cross-cultural life, ministry and language learning.
· Pray that God would work in my heart and mind through the training to prepare me for transition & adaptation to Japan.
· I would also appreciate your prayers for a time of rest and refreshment while in Colorado.
· Praise God for Bethany Baptist, Roseville, MN, who have donated funds to cover the cost this training as well as transportation to and from Colorado.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hey Everyone - It's C-Day!

Do you know what and when C-Day is?

It's an event that occurs once ever 17 years. And I was in the right place at the right time to see it happen. This year C-Day was May 22! I was in Chicago when it happened.

It was the day that billions of Cicadas invaded northern Illinois.
Cicadas—insects that spend most of their lives as nymphs, burrowed underground and sucking sap from tree roots—emerge once every 17 years. They live for 30-40 days, lay eggs and then die. They are famous for the noise they make - which can be heard a half mile away and sounds like a sizzling skillet, or a rotary lawn sprinkler. I've heard that Cicada's make good eating as they are low in fat and high in protein. But they weren't selling any Chicago style Cicada pizza while I was there.
I felt like it was my C-Day - in Chicago. I emerged after a 23 year absence from this city, (I had lived there for 6 years). After a fast visit, I felt exhausted (but not dead) when I reached Minnesota again. I hope my voice wasn't as annoying as the Cicadas - but I did want people to hear about the awesome ministry in Japan that I have the privilege to be part of.

In 3 days I visited 3 friends, 4 churches, 5 relatives, and met with 6 people in the Headquarters of the Baptist General Conference (my mission sending agency).
A Big thanks goes out to my ministry partners - Tonia & Ron - who hosted me for this visit. It was fun to renew a connection with people who knew me when I was 8!
I rented a car for this trip and was not very thrilled to learn that Chicago ranked #1 in gas prices for that week! $3.69 for unleaded - beating Los Angelos! But I enjoyed the trip nonetheless. And was thankful for gas prices at $3.19 when I returned to St. Paul!

Between my church visits on Wednesday, on the south side of Chicago, I was driving down 95th Street in Oak Lawn when I realized I had lived in this neighborhood. I couldn't recall the address of our house (we moved when I was 8) so I was surprised when I recognized a library and realized this was within walking distance of my old house. As I prayed for help to find it, I kept my eye out for the street names and when I saw 53rd court I knew this was it - But didn't know which way to turn.
So I just went right and followed the road looking for a yellow house. It wasn't much longer before I saw it. I parked the car and saw the home owner, who was unloading her car of groceries. I explained my history with the house to her and she graciously allowed me to take pictures of the house. Then I drove around and close by I found the elementary school I attended - it seemed such a long walk when I was little- and visited the library - where I remember reading books on big red cushions.
It is amazing to think that in the last 6 months I have visited all 3 of my childhood homes - Nebraska, Minnesota, and now Illinois.
So C-Day for me was about Chicago, Connecting with people, and Coming "Home" - not so much about the Cicadas.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Saying Good-bye

My departure target date for Japan is September 2007. So it may seem a bit unusual to start the Good-bye process in May! But saying good-bye can be a long process (especially for Minnesotans!) and with the schedules that most people keep these days it takes effort to find time to do a proper farewell. (Especially when the schedules involved include a move to Mississippi, a pregnancy, and a 5 week out of state orientation!)

May 18-19 I had the rare treat of a weekend getaway with 2 former college roommates. We came from 3 different cities to enjoy a girls only weekend in Stillwater -- deep conversations, great food, crochet projects, lots of laughter, fabulous weather, an art festival, and a time of prayer. I thank God for such amazing relationships which transcend geography.

Graduation from Bethel '98

The surprise visit in Japan '99

Girls' weekend in Stillwater '07

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Designed by Giichi (Part 2)

In January I wrote a blog entry about an post card I had received from my former host family in Japan. (Click here to read Part 1). It shows the plans for the new building of Yurigoaka Baptist Church, (where I attended for 2 years). On May 15, I received an email from the Kimuras that stated . .

Yurigaoka Church completed last Sunday at last without outside. We had have the opening religious ceremony at New Church.We could invite 65 guests in new hall. I sent New Church Photos to you. But outside fence and gate does not finish. They will finish the end of this month. We will wait you coming to us. Ms. Takahashi give us the message on once a month.

Here are some photos of the old building:

Inside looking at the front. (These were some of English students in '95 and '96)

Inside looking toward the back with the kitchen in the corner.

(This photo is from a visit to the church in 2004)

This building could seat about 35. It had 2 floors, 1st floor was the sanctuary, the second floor was a small apartment (originally for the pastor's family) but was used as extra meeting space.

(The former church pastor - Chishiki Sensei and his wife are leading worship in this photo taken in 2000.)

Here is the new Church!!! (Isn't it beautiful !?!)

View from Outside

Looking inside (the view from the genkan)

Look closely on the floor for the handle to the "built in baptistry".

Looking at the inside toward the back

The opening ceremony.

(Ms. Takahashi (who I knew from Bethel Seminary) is standing on the right looking over her shoulder at the camera. Mr.Kimura is in the gray suit with his back to the camera in the middle of the photo.)

The most memorable parts of my involvement in this church was the love the people showed me despite my lack of Japanese abilities, and the time of prayer in small groups after each service. It always brought tears to my eyes when I was praying with a church member who prayed in Japanese and I prayed in English - as I recognized that our God knows and loves each one of us and understands all languages!

May the new building continue to be a House of Prayer and an example of God's light shining on the hill through the lives of these loving people!

Support Update

The following information was sent as a Prayer Note by email to those on my email list at the beginning of the month. I've been so busy I haven't had time to post it on the blog. So before May ends here is a report of what God was up to in April! (If you want to be put on the email list let me know! email me

Praise for support at 61%!

Three New Church partners –

Praise God for the amazing connections with people during April! A specific answer to prayer from last month that was met in many ways I had not anticipated.
· A week in
Canada celebrating Easter with my sister, her husband and their two daughters was such a blessing!
· Career Fair at Bethel enabled me to renew connections with many students, and staff who I had worked with previously and gave me a chance to promote
BGC international ministries. (Check out their new website!)

A visit from former Bethel coworker and friend from my college days - Rebecca - with her adorable kids - gave us an excuse to enjoy lunch at Cupcake with 2 other Bethel Coworkers - Melanie & Christina
· My visit to
Bayfield, WI brought me to a church full of friendly people willing to try new things and ready to stand beside me in prayer and financial support.
· A connection with
Sarah, a student I taught in Japan for 2 years, was renewed via the Internet. She is now a senior in high school (Christian Academy of Japan) and I hadn’t had contact with her since she was in 6th grade!
· My responsibilities chaperoning the youth group at Spring Blitz – youth rally in Duluth brought encounters with friends I have met previously this year from partnering churches -
MapleRidge Church in Maple Grove and Fosston Baptist in Fosston, MN.

· The unplanned return from Duluth to St. Paul late Saturday night (a day early, due to the health concerns of a student) opened opportunity (at 1 AM) to hear from the student’s mother about the spiritual impact my home church (Bethany, Roseville) is having on her child and the neighborhood kids.
· It also allowed me to be at my home church on Sunday where “it just so happened” that 3 Missionary Kids from Japan (Ellen, Peter & Luke) attended that same day.

· That same day I was able to meet with Andrew (a former student of mine when I taught in Japan ‘98-00.) He was in town for a few short days between graduating from basic training and flying to Okinawa, Japan, where he’ll be stationed at Kadena Air Force Base.
· My interactions with a teenage Third Culture Kid I am mentoring have taken a fabulous dive for the deep as her hunger for more understanding of the Bible grows.
· Met with and enjoyed learning of multiple connections at a
First Baptist Church in Forest City, Iowa.

Please pray for the rest of May’s schedule to come together smoothly with new contacts, travel arrangements and clear communication with church leaders. Pray specifically for connecting with the right people within the churches I am pursuing to consider partnership. Connecting with multiple people at multiple churches via phone is challenging and often turns into “phone tag”. Pray that calls would produce opportunities for meeting face-to-face. Update - May has been a bit chaotic of schedule but have made LOTS of phone calls with a higher than average rate for talking with real people rather than machines.

Pray also for wisdom in the next steps of preparation for departure regarding the house, relationships, and priorities. Update - still needing wisdom regarding the house - but have received good advice and found fabulous opportunities for time with friends and family as well as being productive with phone calls.

As reported by fellow missionary – Jeff Chapman – “Kansai Christian School is still exploring possibilities for a new location. So far, all roads have been blocked and there is a greater sense of urgency week by week. Please pray for God to provide a place for the school soon. We also need an upper level math and science teacher for fall 2007.” Update - a teacher has been found for KCS for 2007!

I have been unable to post many entries this month - look at my schedule below for few reasons . . .

Up Coming Events
May 3:
Dinner with the mission team at North Isanti Baptist, Cambridge, MN (New Partner)
May 9, 16: Finishing strong with the Jr. High Youth Group, at Bethany, Roseville, MN
May 20: Speaking at Country Roads Baptist, Stacy, MN
May 22-24: Visit with a churches in Chicago, IL

May 22: HEART Prayer meeting
May 29-June 29: Cross-Cultural Training/Linguistic Training at
Mission Training International, Colorado Springs, CO

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Planting Seeds

On April 28-29, 2007 - I visited my new ministry partner at First Baptist Church in Forest City, Iowa. I first met Pastor Larry Kidwell in Denver, CO, at the 2005 Baptist General Conference meeting after the commissioning service where I was appointed as a BGC missionary to Japan. So I was looking forward to meeting him again and partnering with this church.

It was a delightful visit. The activities for the weekend included a dinner with the missions team on Saturday night, sharing about my ministry in both services Sunday, and teaching Sunday school to youth and adults. Then I had a scrumptious lunch with six couples from the church, including the charming couple who hosted me for the weekend. By the time I drove home Sunday afternoon I was overwhelmed by the number of people I had met but feeling very blessed with the new friendships and prayer partners. It was Youth Sunday at the church and the youth group did an amazing (ROCKING!) job leading us all in worship.

Sunday school was a fun time to introduce to the congregation the my case study lesson.

In groups of 5 (including adults and youth), the class is given details about a missionary family, which came from a variety of true scenarios which missionaries I've known have faced in Japan. In each group the members must make decisions for their family, such as where to live (near the ministry site or by the school), and how to meet the varied educational needs of each of their three children (learning disabilities, athletic abilities, multilingual challenges, etc.) with the educational options available to them (Japanese public schools, international secular schools, missionary kid schools, or home schooling).

They have a budget to work with and are encouraged to think outside the box. However, they need to discuss their decisions with the mission board (a role played by me for the lesson), at that time they hear what others have decided and their reasoning behind the decision and I am able to ask deeper questions or share information on some of the implications their decisions may have.

It never fails to amaze me how each "family" group comes up with different options for the children, and how many of their choices are based on how they were educated, or raised. My goal for the activity is to build understanding of the complex decisions which missionary families face and how each decision impacts the family. As well as plant seeds of thought that being a missionary involves more than "just ministry", showing the need for teachers overseas, care for the kids, and prayer for missionary families.

I've found that when the missionaries families which the church partner with visit, they spend a majority of their visit/home assignment reporting details and information about their ministry and tend to share very little about the educational complexities they face. Yet, the #1 (preventable) reason which missionary families leave the mission field is inadequate educational options for their children.
  • If you are a missionary family or Third Culture Kid I'd love for you to comment on the educational decisions your family faced and the impact they had on you!
  • If you are part of a church that cares for Missionary Kids in a unique way I'd love to hear your story too!

Can't end a post about a visit to IOWA without a picture I captured just outside of Fertile, IA, of a cornfield in the making.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm privileged
to have a mom
on both sides of the ocean.

My mom, Carol - who gave me life, lead me to Christ and has continued to support me in pursuing my passions to follow Christ as a teacher in Japan.

When I first told my mother more than 10 years ago, that I would like to go to Japan for a missions trip I remember her reply being, "I can really see you doing that!"

My second mom, Michiko - who was my host mother in Japan and became my friend. She taught me more about Japanese culture, family and the life of a Japanese Christian than anyone or any book! When someone asked me why I returned to Japan for a second summer of teaching English Bible classes - she answered for me, "I think God catched you."

Thank you, ladies, for living lives of example. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Canada, Eh!

Chicks RULE!

Olivia - just turned one and is turning on the turbo - learning how to crawl.

While visiting Canada, my sister and I took the girls to the children's museum and the museum of civilization (Ottawa is known for it's great and numerous museums!)

After eating lunch at the museum, a young girl (about 5 years old) started a conversation with Kara Grace (age 2.5).

Girl: Do you live in Canada?

KG: No

Girl: Do you live in Australia?

KG: No

Girl: Well, where DO you live?

KG: At Home!

Gotta love her simplicity - Home is where you live - not a country.

All dressed up in our Easter outfits ready to going to church to celebrate.

Because "Auntie Lisa" had visited Canada in February, when I visited in early April I was mistakenly called "Auntie Lisa" by Kara Grace. After trying to explain "I'm Auntie Lori!" with little success, I started calling her - Olivia. This resulted in a little game where she purposefully called me "Auntie Lisa" and I called her Olivia. The above photos are from an evening of name teasing and lots of laughter!

Lori, Olivia, & Kara Grace the day before I returned to Minnesota - reading "Carrot Soup" AGAIN!

After I returned I learned that Kara Grace woke up from her afternoon nap and asked for me -
"Auntie Lori not here?"
To which Jennifer replied, "No, Auntie Lori went back to Minnesota."
"Other Auntie Lori not here?" (So now Lisa - the "other Auntie Lori" - is scheming for ways to get her name known.)

Click here to see my Christmas photos with the girls.