Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coming Soon . . .

Hello my faithful blog readers!
Just want to give you a head's up - you need to be prepared for some good news,VERY good news coming to a blog post soon.
I can't give out any details yet - but it should put a smile on your face. (it did mine)

In the meantime - I'm heading to Phillips, Wisconsin today, where I'm speaking at the evening service of First Baptist Church. I'm hoping that the thunderstorms this afternoon are mild (or non-existent) - as I'd love to enjoy the view of fall foliage along the 3 hour drive.

In other news, I had a great meeting with the international Missionary Ministry Team at Wooddale on Wednesday evening. I look forward to joining their Wooddale Worldwide Week Oct. 27-Nov. 4. I'll be attending a variety of meetings and brunches and Tea's. I'll be leading a session on Third Culture Kid Care Nov. 4 at 10:15am.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pop Quiz

Pop Quiz

Which of the following is NOT a recent import to Japan?

  1. Ice Cucumber Pepsi
  2. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
  3. Christianity
  4. Cold Stone Creamery

Answer: 3. Christianity.

God has been revealing Himself in Japan since creation.

The first missionary, Francis Xavier, a Spanish Jesuit Priest, is believed to have arrived in Japan in 1549. To learn more click here.

Check out this line for Krispy Kreme in Japan

Click here for the scoop on Cold Stone

Want to learn more about the newest Pepsi product, click here

Causing Problems

We need you out here right away.

Any more delays cause problems!”

- John Mehn, Japan Field Coordinator

The most frequent question I receive is . . .

“When do you leave for Japan?”

The vague answer is, “as soon as my monthly support and start-up funds are at 100% and I have received my missionary visa.”

Determining the precise answer, however, is like calculating an algebra problem with multiple variables. How are your problem solving skills? Are you ready for some real world math?

t = Time

My initial goal for departure to Japan was September. This would have allowed me to arrive in Japan and dive into language study for at least a year before teaching. We are now in September and it looks like the timing will be a bit different than anticipated. So the “when” of the equation is unknown, but what is known?

m = Monthly Support Needed

Monthly support amounts are at 85% of the total $7,650. Therefore, I still need15% of the total. m = $7,650 x 15% m ≈ $1,150

s = Start-up Funds

Start-up funds cover one-time expenses like language study, a vehicle, relocation to Japan, an airplane ticket, etc. Any special donations and/or monthly financial gifts received before I depart for Japan helps to reduce this number. The start-up budget is currently at $35,000. s = $35,000

v = Missionary Visa Approval

In early September, my Certificate of Eligibility (COE) paperwork was submitted to Japan. This is the paperwork which needs to be approved before I am eligible to apply for a missionary visa. Processing the COE typically takes two months. The visa itself typically takes only one day to process. From the date that the visa is approved, I will have a three month window of time to enter Japan. If I am unable to enter Japan during that time (due to support not yet at 100%) I would need to start the COE application process again. v 2 month and 5 months

j = Japanese Language Study

Language classes have already begun. It is my hope, upon arrival in Japan, to take private lessons until the next rotation of classes start in November. The Japanese family that hosted me when I taught English in Japan (1995 & ’96), have offered to host me during part of my language study time, if I am accepted into the language school in Tokyo. However, due to their upcoming family events this homestay opportunity is only available for a limited time. j 5 months

r = Rate of Growth in Support

I am thrilled to report support amounts are at 85%! That’s a 33% increase in the last five months with momentum growing the closer we get to September. Yet the question still remains:

When will I leave for Japan?

You Do the Math

What is the rate of growth in support needed for Lori to reach 100% of her monthly support and 100% of start-up funds if she is to leave for Japan at the earliest point after receiving her visa?

Extra Credit: How many more individuals and church partners will it take to reach 100%?

While many of the variables in this equation are unknown to me, if God is doing the math, I know that no problem in life (math or otherwise) is too difficult for Him.

Join the Team

Some of you have been a part of this team from the start, some are new to the team. All of your responses to God’s leading in finances and prayer have been an encouragement. The goal of 100 prayer partners has been achieved and surpassed. Support amounts are up to 85% thanks to the commitments of 23 churches and 41 individuals.

September and October are crucial months for me in terms of finalizing my financial partnership commitments so that I might depart as soon as the visa is approved. I am asking you to pray and consider joining my partnership team. If you have been thinking of giving toward my one-time start-up fund or wonder when to start your monthly giving, now is the time.

You may donate online at, set up a direct withdrawal from your checking account, or mail a check designating “Lori Harms” in the memo line to the BGC (2002 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005)

Once I can show evidence of 100% of the need being met to the BGC International Ministries I will get the green light to go. Thank you for praying!

Prayer Items

  • Praise God for the monthly support amounts rising to 85% Pray for 15% more to come quickly!
  • Departure preparation: Visa approval, homestay details, language study, packing
  • That through this process I would draw closer to God, relying on his strength and wisdom
  • Purchase of land & building for Kansai Christian School, Japan

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How I Spent My Summer . . .

A typical writing assignment for students the first week of school is to describe how they spent their summer. Besides my “normal” ministry partner development related travel (Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, & Minnesota) what follows are few highlights from my summer, with links to more in depth blog posts and photos chronicling the highs and lows visit.

Lori with Jenny (Verme) Davis: At MTI I met Jenny, an MK from Japan, who attended Kansai Christian School. She was a huge encouragement to me & my role as a teacher in a small missionary kid school. She is now married to Jon, an MK from Pakistan, & going to Uganda!

Summer School

In June, I took part in a five week pre-field training (SPLICE) and language acquisition program (PILAT) through Mission Training International (MTI) in Colorado. A close bond was formed among our “tribe” of missionaries heading to 28 different countries as we lived, learned, laughed, cried, prayed, and played together for five weeks. Holistic learning for all ages and conversations with Sandy Smith, director of youth programming, equipped me and gave me a deeper understanding of how to equip my future students for cross-cultural transitions.

TWANG the feeling one gets when expectations are stretched so far from reality that something snaps. TWANG is illustrated above by ‘Aunt’ Sandy & a group of MKs snapping giant rubber bands against a blindfolded “Mr. Feelings”.

In July, I attended Global Church Advancement’s, week long Church Planting Seminar at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


In August, I embarked on the Harms Family Reunion Caribbean Cruise with 28 of my relatives. As a result of a generous Christmas gift from an Aunt and Uncle, we enjoyed a week of food, fellowship, and fun. It was also a time for healthy good-byes as I will not see many of my relatives again until after my first four-year term in Japan.

More Good-byes

I was also part of a good-bye party for six friends heading to five different countries, loving God and others through teaching, nursing, linguistics and café ministry.

World Travelers - (front, l to r) Amy, Anna, Holly (back) Nat, Lori, Liz

This Little Piggy went to Market

One of the things I love about St. Paul is it's Farmers Market. Everything sold at this market must be grown or made within 50 miles of the market and sold by the grower. Also available are bakery goods, cheese, poultry, buffalo, venison, beef, pork, lamb, maple syrup, eggs, bagel sandwiches, honey, organic plants and produce, flowers, plants, shrubs and many other items. This open air market runs April through October - on Saturday and Sundays.

I have fun memories taking some of the kids I used to babysit to the marked for our Saturday morning adventure. Now the kids are older (and almost taller than I am)- but still love exploring this local hot spot for yummy treats! On Saturday I visited the market with Torsten, Karolina, and Krister (Mks from Ethiopia). And we "happened" to run into my mom (Not a coincidence since she's also a Farmers Market Addict). We had breakfast (peanut butter rice crispy bars, scones and donuts) while listening to live blue grass music, and then explored the funny looking gourds, popcorn (still on the cob), honey sticks (yum!), raspberries and sand babies. (Hmong stuffed animals)

It's the time of year for apples so I pigged out on the Minnesota original - Honeycrisp apples!

I wonder - where the markets are in Tokyo . . .

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Gift of a Letter

Such a sweet gift, a piece of handmade writing, in an envelope that is not a bill, sitting in our friend's path when she trudges home from a long day spent among wahoos and savages, a day our words will help repair - Garrison Keillor

I love writing letters.
Thinking of the person who I am writing to, the memories we've had together and the recent events in my life which they are interested in hearing about, questions I have about their lives since we were together.

I'm also a stationary freak - I go nuts in stationary stores, I love finding the perfect paper for the friend who will receive the letter. And I agree with my grandma - "The postage stamp design is important too!" (I avoid US flag stamps whenever possible!)

It is fun to receive letters - both email and snail mail. But especially that hand written note!
However email is more common - for good reasons - it's faster, cheaper and requires fewer materials. And therefore seems to be the default mode for sending a letter.

Sending lots of Gifts
In my role as "Missionary Appointee" I have the opportunity to write many letters: introduction/cover letters, prayer letters, newsletters, thank you letters, etc. This sometimes causes a delay on the handwritten "personal letters" for others.

But when it comes to newsletters it is a long process.
Here is a list of some of the steps along the way -

Brainstorm ideas
Gather photos
Write a rough draft
Adjust the layout
More prayer
Proof read
Write another draft
Have someone else proof read
Print it at home and check for mistakes
Take it to a copy store and
Print lots of copies
(typically right after 300 copies are printed is when I notice more mistakes=0)
Then it's done, right?! Nope . . .

Then comes the other part 2 - made more fun with the help of others.
Assuming my address book/mailing list is up to date . . .
Print address Labels (check for doubles and incorrect addresses)
Fold the letter
Stuff it into the envelop (with prayer cards and brochures)
pray for the recipient as it passes through my hands
adhere the address label
Add return address label
throw on a stamp
Then seal the envelop

Next visit the local post office to mail the stack of letters (smiling and chatting it up with your post office friends, after all I'm a frequent visitor!)

The email version is done via PDF and then sent out via email - saving lots of stamps, labels and time spent stuffing envelops. And providing immediate feed back - (some good - "Praise the Lord your at 85%!", Some not so good, "delivery status notification - Failure")

I'd love to write notes on each of the letters - but with about 300 on my snail mail list and even more on the email list - its a bit cumbersome.

On Friday - I finished the process with my September newsletter, if you're on my mailing list (and I have a correct address) it'll be coming soon to a mailbox near you. If you're not on my mailing list I will soon post it online. (Email me at, if you would like to be added to the mailing list.)

Big "THANK YOU!" goes out to . . .
  • my Heart Team for helping with the stuffing of the envelopes,
  • my mom for help with labeling
  • Bethel University Print Services for the quality print job at a discounted price
  • Lisa for letting me hog the dinning room table for over a week
  • Jennifer who helped me track down addresses

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Please Pray

Let me tell you about Marie,
a friend,
one of my sister Lisa's roommates for many years,
a preschool teacher,
early childhood coordinator at a local church,
and a daughter of God.

Her favorite flower is a daisy. When I think of daisies I think of joy and life. They make me smile. Marie is a source of joy to those around her and full of life. (When I first came back from 2 years in Japan, I remember asking her to speak more slowly because I couldn't understand her fast English =0). She makes us smile.

Today she's the focus of my prayer request -
I received word today that Marie was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a local hospital. A friend took her in this morning complaining of "the worst migraine ever" and after doing some tests they found that she had a bleed in her brain. She was in pain but alert and talking to family and friends around her. After more tests it was found to be an aneurysm in her brain behind the right eye. Because the bleeding had collected in the ventricles this caused increased pressure in her brain and they had to put in a drain tonight. This took away her severe headache pain and she was joking and smiling tonight.

Tomorrow, 9/20/07 at 9:30am she is scheduled to have a craniotomy (opening the skull to operate on the aneurysm). They are going to clip it off. The surgery is scheduled to take 4-6 hours. Her recovery time for this and the impact of all of this on her brain will not be known until after the surgery.

Please pray for God's
  • Peace for her and her family, close friends and the little children in her life
  • Wisdom for the doctors and care givers
  • Healing for Marie
Thank you!

Update: 9-21-07 One day after surgery doctors are saying that she is doing extremely well! Her caregivers have asked her not to talk for 24 to 48 hours to help the recovery process - well - Marie LOVES to talk and decided it'd be torture to stay silent. Her strong will and wonderful sense of humor are definitely intact! Thanks for praying!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One Great Lake and Two Churches

On Sunday I visited Duluth, MN, and enjoyed the views of Lake Superior as I drove into town. It's changed a bit since I drove through in April (on my way to Bayfield, WI). See for yourself as the landscape around "The Gate" sculpture changes.



While it looked very green on Sunday - as a result of a drought this summer many of the trees have already started to change colors and look more like fall than summer (although you can't see it in this photo). After a year of traveling in the Midwest visiting various churches - I'm realizing how each church congregation is as different and as distinct as the seasons are in Minnesota. While the message and foundation is the same they each have found a niche in the community where they exist.

I began my day presenting the "missions moment" in the morning service of Emmanuel Baptist Church. I was amazed at the number of people at this small church that had Japan connections, most common were veterans who had been stationed in Japan. The afternoon was a fun time hanging out and discussing various topics with Pastor Dave Mork, his wife Shirley and adult daughter Megan, with free entertainment provided by Georgia, Megan's 11 month old bulldog.

I had the opportunity to speak again at the evening service at Emmanuel. I shared my vision for educational ministry in Japan, background in missions, and information about Third Culture Kids and Japan. Pastor Fred Lund of the Eastridge Church (just 5 minutes from Emmanuel) attended the evening service and then he and I went out to eat and talked about ministry and missions at Eastridge.

Emmanuel and Eastridge are different in many ways, from church architecture to average age of church member. It was a joy to hear that they are both passionate about missions. I'm hoping for an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with each of these churches.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Because of God's Goodness

Have you heard the news?

There have been many things in the news this week regarding Japan:

The Little Prince Hisahito turned 1!
Schools were delayed and canceled Friday as Typhoon Fitow hit Japan
The leaders of Japan, United States, and Australia held Security talks in Sydney
The Wallabies walloped Japan 91-3 in the World Rugby Cup in Paris

But the headline that didn't make the national or international news this week comes from an email sent by the Mission Leadership Team at Ridgewood, a partnering church in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Read it for yourself . . .

Dear Lori,
I just got home from Ridgewood's MLT meeting. We asked for prayer requests for missionaries and Daryl brought up your support needs. After discussion we voted to add $200 per month to your support and also designated $2000 toward your one-time expenditures.

We prayed that other churches and individuals would be prompted to do something similar. We feel God has prepared you in such significant ways to serve him in Japan and want to send you on your way sooner rather than later, God willing.
Because of God's goodness,

With this I'm now at 85% monthly support.
Remember that "little problem" I mentioned a few posts back about waiting for support to reach 100%.
Well - I'm learning that instead of saying - "God, here is my problem." to say, "Problem, Here is my God!"

Yet another example of turning focus from the "big" problem to THE BIG GOD.

Tomorrow - I'm visiting
potential church partners in Duluth, MN.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Life has picked up pace.
I've been working on the computer more than normal this week (letters, reports, applications, spreadsheets, etc.) so my blog updating took a back seat to doing all things "unplugged". Thursday (8-30)- My meeting with the missions leaders at Wooddale, Eden Prairie, MN was a blessing. Carol (not sure what her official title is but she has the amazing ability to encourage and make sense out of chaos while simultaneously juggling multiple tasks) & I bonded over our interest in soccer. Her son-in-law (Chris Klein) had scored an amazing bicycle kick goal for the Galaxy the night before. Check out this video! Click here to watch.

On Tuesday (9-4) I met with Pastor Leith Anderson of Wooddale. I didn't know what to expect, I'd heard his voice many times on the radio (Faith Matters) but had never met him in person. He is a nationally known senior pastor for a mega church, I felt very fortunate just to get a spot on his calendar. We talked for about 45 minutes covering topics from my background to theories of why Christianity has grown faster in Korea than in Japan. We even discovered mutual friends in India=0). He was fascinating to talk with and was interested in getting to know me to know how to pray for my ministry. By the end of the meeting he made it seem like he was the fortunate one to have gotten a spot on my calendar.

There are 3 more steps (out of 7) left on the path to become a Wooddale Supported Career missionary. I'll keep you posted.
Thursday (8-30) I unplugged by having lunch with my friend Holly - at The Chocolate Spoon Cafe, in White Bear Lake, MN. (We didn't see any chocolate spoons but took a photo by a not quite white bear statue).

Sometimes being a missionary on this partner discovery journey makes my life seem weird, odd, abnormal. It is so different from my friends and family who have 9-5 jobs, and others I meet who could never imagine moving halfway around the world - by choice - long term. So when I get together with someone who is smack dab in the same phase of life as I am - its so refreshing. Holly is also preparing to move halfway around the world - her task will include using her linguistic
gifts in oral storytelling. She is also delayed in her departure date. Needless to say we had lots to talk about. She's someone who "gets me". Thank you for helping me redefine "normal"!

Saturday and Sunday (9-1&2) I hung out with my friends Naomi & Alfred and their adorable kids (ages 4.5 & 2). I love hanging out with kids - enjoying their curiosity and honesty, as well as visits to playgrounds.

Monday (9-3) was Labor Day in the USA - And Labour Day in Canada.
"This holiday is made for working." - is my sister's line.

So we spent all of the sunny Monday washing 18 windows and 2 doors. Last year we spent our 3-day weekend replacing the flooring in our kitchen so I was not about to complain about a 1-day project. Plus, I figure washing the windows (storms & screens) should be done at least once every 4 years!

For those who haven't heard yet - we decided not to sell the house. Lisa will continue living here while I'm in Japan. With the housing market slump and 4 houses on our block for sale (among all the advice we've received) we've decided to keep it.
So now that we've put in lots of work to get it ready to sell - we get to enjoy our efforts.
I've also been enjoying some of unplugged things in Minnesota that I may miss when I move to Japan. Like trips to the library (where I can find 1,000's of books in a language I can read) and walks around one of the 10,000 lakes. Above is a a parting shot from a Minnesota sunset walk this summer.