Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Amazing Race

The last 24 hours in America (Nov. 18 & 19) seemed like an episode on reality TV show -
the Amazing race.

I had my bags ready to go, had directions and plane tickets to the pit stop (Tokyo, Japan). But the night before my d-day, I was moving my computer from one side of the room to another and when I went to plug in the cord again- I saw sparks, heard a sizzle and a loud pop.

Thankfully my cord was not connected to my computer yet - so my computer was fine, and I wasn't hurt - but I had one blown fuse and burn marks on both ends of the cord. Not sure how what the cause was but I did know I had 7 minutes of battery power on my laptop and no working cord. With stores closed there was nothing I could do to fix it that evening.


The next day I called my computer company (ordered a new cord) and then called the IT guy for my mission (got instructions on where to get a temporary cord).









So Tuesday, morning with the knowledge that I should be at the airport at 11am for the 1pm international flight - I made a detour to Best Buy at 10am to buy a cord, and had the "Geek Squad" test it to make sure it worked before I flew with it halfway across the world. I came in the store with my "camera crew" and teammates and left with the goods within 10 minutes.


Once we got to the airport we had some time to relax, take pictures, have a bite to eat and take more pictures.



As God planned it - Pastor Jonathan and Lois Larson (North Isanti Baptist Church, MN, a partnering church of mine) were on the same flight as I was, just 3 rows apart. They were on their way to the Philippines. Great to have some familiar faces on the flight and friends to talk with!

The flight went really well - filled with lots of great views, no motion sickness and the blessing of an empty seat right next to me providing both a window and an aisle seat!

Lakes of Minnesota


(Maybe near Brainerd? Any fishermen out there recognize those waters?)


The Alaska Mountain Range



What looks to me to be Icebergs off the coast of Alaska or Russia.



When I landed my first pit stop was John & Elaine Mehn's home, Machida, Japan, (Western Tokyo.) Left at 1pm Nov. 19, arrived 4:30 pm Nov. 20 - a 13 + hour flight. (Ahh, the joys of losing a day crossing the International dateline.) Then about 45 minutes going through Immigrations, baggage claim & customs (no problems!). This was followed by a 3 hour car ride from eastern Tokyo to Western Tokyo to my temporary "home".

Stayed at Mehn's for one week (actually 6 nights). With various orientation tasks, detours and meetings before moving on to my next pit stop with my Japanese homestay family, also in western Tokyo. I'll be here until March and then see where the next clue leads me. Stay tuned for the next episode.

Pack, Ship, Save

If you were to move overseas for the next - oh say, 35 years - and you knew for the first 9 months you would only be able take with you what could be contained in 2 suitcases, and a carry-on case - What would you take? What would you leave behind? If you had a homestay opportunity for the first 4 or 5 months would it change how you pack knowing you have one bedroom and very little, if any, storage space.

Friday, Nov. 16, after hours of sorting, packing, running errands deciding needs to go in two suitcases, and what to leave behind - my brain was fried! Thankfully, my sister, Lisa, and my mom were there to help me sort through things. Basically we divide things into 5 piles.

  1. Pack in my suitcases now
  2. Ship to Japan when I have my own place
  3. Save in America until it's known if needed
  4. Give away to a friend/church/goodwill
  5. Throw away


Basically all of my things were either in bins, boxes, trash bags or suitcases. Getting from room to room in the house was like walking an obstacle course.

I needed frequent breaks, so -Friday morning I enjoyed going out to breakfast at Swede Hollow Cafe with my mom on last time. After taxing my brain with so many decision all week long - I enjoyed a night out with Lisa at the Univ. of Minnesota Gopher Women's Basketball game, out for Coffee and then a drive through St. Paul at night to see the sights and beginning of the Christmas lights.


Saturday more packing - Sunday evening was our "last super" out as family, before my departure - it was a fun time trying some great food at a local restaurant!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Commissioning Service Photos (Part 2)


Now that I'm a bit more settled in - here in Japan (I've been here 9 days!) and before my Japanese language classes start (next week) - I thought I'd add more photos of the commissioning service before I update you with photos of Japan. For Part 1 (click here). Part 2 - includes photos of friends and family who attended. The above photo is a map showing (with pushpins) where my ministry partners and partnering churches are located. Click on the photos below to enlarge it.


FAMILY


My immediate family, Jennifer, Lisa, Mom, Me and Dad

(Erik & my nieces were in Canada)

My Sisters

My Uncle Steve, Aunt Donna, Cousin Erin, her daughter Grace, Me and my Grandma Harrison
Baptist General Conference Friends



Dennis & Barb Danylak - BGC Pastors to Missionaries


Don & Sharon Copeland & Kids, missionary friends on home assignment from Ethiopia


Peter, Ellen and Philip Ellison - Missionary kids from Japan


Friends

Paulette, Brooke - My accountability partners for many years!


Marie - friend from college -


who I wrote about in September (click here)


for prayer healing after her aneurysm and craniotomy.


Alfred & Naomi, she & I met in Jr. High at Camp

Friends from other Churches

Elaine Evan, Friend from Ridgewood Church, Minnetonka, MN


The biggest surprise of the day was the number of friends from
New Life Community Baptist Church, Ortonville, MN



- This group includes my church youth group director, former Sunday school & Awana teachers, prayer warriors, & high school teachers.


(Obviously there were more photos taken than I can post and not all the photos were taken on my camera - so if you were there and have new photos to share please email them to me.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lori is in Japan

Thank you for your prayers for safe travels.
I'm in Japan.

I didn't get sick on the flight (a first!)

And thankfully - all of my luggage arrived with me.

I'm now enjoying Japan. I have a few stories to write about my last 24 hours in USA - and my first 48 hours in Japan. But right now, with jet lag, it's past my bed time! My futon is calling me.


So here are the basics . . .

I'm staying with fellow missionaries in the Western Tokyo Area.

Tomorrow, I'll leave for Shizuoka via shinkansen (bullet train) for a Rengo annual meeting. This is the Japanese church association with whom our denomination partners. The meetings will provide a chance for me to be officially introduced and meet many, many pastors. I'm most looking forward to seeing my host mother - who will be at the meetings representing her church which is without a pastor right now.
O-yasumi nasai. Good night.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Are you packed yet?

Just wanted to let you know that my suitcases are packed! My carry-on is ready!
Check your clocks & calendars folks - it's Saturday evening Nov. 17 - I don't leave until Nov. 19 - Monday morning. I think this is a FIRST! The often repeated (and slightly annoying) question "Are you packed yet?" - Can now confidently be answered, "YES!"

Typically, I'm up all night packing the night before my plane departs. But last weekend my good friend, Tiffanie, challenged me to have my bags packed by Saturday evening so that I could enjoy the Sabbath. What a blessing it will be to breathe deeply tomorrow and enjoy each moment knowing that I don't need to panic about packing!

Now, before you think amazing thoughts about my packing abilities, you should know that my mom has been here for 2 days. And today my sister, Lisa, has been helping also. So we've multiplied the rate of checking things of that "to do list". It was great to have some fresh brain cells to consult when I hit a brain freeze early in the day-seemingly unable to make even one more decision - pack, save, ship, throw, repeat (like 1,000 times!). Wonderful to have some empathy for the fact that this packing process has been, at times, very difficult and often emotional. Great to have some comic relief and reminisce about the memories - when we find an old photo. (The tomboys - Lisa and Jennifer - in cheer leading skirts - we were howling! -Unfortunately, due to sibling restrictions I'm not allowed to post that photo.)

You should also know that since I'm moving into one room of my host family's home I don't need to finalize all my packing TODAY. My household goods, kitchen stuff, school supplies, and books (lots of books) will be shipped at a later date. And some furniture and household things are already waiting for me in storage in Japan (gifted to me by another missionary) - when I take a look at what is there - I'll know a bit better what else I'll need. So while my bags are packed there will be a bit more sorting tomorrow and continued communication with my family after I leave - of what to send.

I'm also very thank for all of the prayers, notes of encouragement, and emails I've received from people around the globe telling me they are praying for me and my family during this time! I've had some fun times with family the last few days - despite my inability to coherently complete sentences! Yesterday Mom and I enjoyed breakfast at Swede Hollow Cafe (Happy b-day MOM!) in the evening- Lisa and I went out to a Minnesota Gopher Women's b-ball game (Gophers won!) (Mom - warned me not to practice driving Lisa's Jeep in my current mental state) and tomorrow will be time with my Bethany church family in the morning and then my traditional "Last Supper" out to eat with my immediate family.

Keep praying for me during this process - I'm sure I'll be even more exhausted in a couple of days when I'm not only dealing with decision making - but also jet lag, orientation to a new position, meeting new people, interacting with a different culture and trying to interact in Japanese, while trying to survive spiritually.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confessions of a Bookworm!

Hello, my name is Lori and I am a bookworm.

When I read a book - I feel like I'm transported to another place without needing plane tickets or having the effects of jet lag. I love learning new things! In my 4 years as a teacher I built a collection of children's books. In pursuing my master's degree, I accumulated quite a library of some stellar seminary and missiolocial books. Since then, however, I have recognized my soon approaching packing dilemma, so instead of buying new books, I've been taking advantage of my local library. (The librarians recognize me now when I come in.)

Having books is such a blessing! And at the same time - what a curse! How does one decide which books are worthy of packing in a box that is heading to Japan and which books to pack in a box to be donated? Which books I'll need in the next 6 months and which books to ship after 6 months?

Saturday, while my friend Tiffanie was in town, she helped me make order out of the chaos.

I had 3 book shelves (floor to ceiling) to sort through as well as couple of boxes of children's books for my classroom. It is especially hard to part with books when I know that libraries in Japan will have a very limited supply (if any) books in English, I don't know what books will be in the school where I teach, and the cost of buying a book in Japan is perhaps double what it is in the states.

I'm glad to say - we made progress (mainly because of Tiffanie's stick-to-it-iveness!) We had our system - I pulled the books off the shelf stacked them in various piles depending on their final resting place (Japan now pile, Japan classroom later pile, Maybe Japan later pile, donation pile, or give to a friend pile). For the "Maybe Japan later pile" Tiffanie catalogued the books for me into the computer so that I have some time to see if there is a need for these specific books in Japan before I pay to transport 200 or 300 pounds of books.

In the end the only book left on the shelf was "How to Pack" (Something I think I need to review!) And the boxes of books were moved out of the living room to storage with the help of Tiffanie's husband Mike, and my sister, Lisa.

Commissioning Service Photos

Photos of the Commissioning service follow . . .








Hannah -one of my "Wednesday night girls". I've watched her grow from 3rd grade to 9 grade developing a passion for Christ and the world. She is also a TCK from Eithiopia. She gave the opening prayer.






Tannie - One of my Home Encouragement and Resource Team (HEART), a member at Bethany (my home church), fomer missionary to Eithiopia and the new chairperson of the BGC Board of Overseers, read a letter of greetings and congratulations from Steve Doggett.





Ken, missions chair at Bethany and former missionary to Portugal gave an update on my support and the pouring out of blessings from God in the last month and a half. He also recognized the many other congregations represented by the visitors in attendence for this service - Including Wooddale, Eden Prairie, MN, Bethel Baptist, Galesburg, IL, North Isanti Baptist, MN, New Life Community Baptist, Ortonville, MN, Ridgewood, Minnetonka, MN. The BGC was represented by Dennis and Barb Danylak - BGC Pastors to Missionaries, and the many friends & family that attended traveling many miles to be there - including Ottawa, Canada and Biloxi, MS.



Phillip, Peter, and Ellen, BGC Missionary Kids and TCKs from Japan and students at Bethel University, shared about the importance and impact of TCK teachers. Their presentation was filled with first hand experience, fun and serious stories and only one embarressing photo of me.


Pastor Albert, Outreach Pastor at Bethany and member of my HEART team introduced the guest speaker . . .



Rev. Frank Doten, gave the message, focusing on the example of Phoebe as mentioned in Romans 16:1-2. He reminded us of the many influencial single female missionaries that have made a difference for the Lord all around the world and encouraged me in joining in the work. Frank was my mentor for 3 years while I persued a Masters degree. I've shared many memorable afternoons at his table drinking tea, eating Ginny's homemade cookies, discussing missions lessons, and praying for Japan and my role there. What a huge honor and blessing to have him give the message!


The charge to the congregation was given by Rev. Virgil Olson, former director of BGC World Missions. He has deep ties with Bethany Baptist and also reminded us that I am being sent out as the 31st missionary from Bethany Baptist.

The charge to the missionary (me) was given by Alma Bjork-Olson, retired BGC missionary to Japan and dear friend.


Then the elders of the church, representatives of other churches, friends and family came to lay their hands on my and pray a prayer of commisisoning.

The service was followed by a potluck dinner (also called a feast outside of Minnesota) with a Thanksgiving theme - turkey, mashed potatoes and I hear there was even pumpkin pie - although I was talking with so many people I never made it to the dessert table.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Commissioning Service

Nov. 11, 2007 was a Commissioning service for me at Bethany Baptist Church, Roseville, MN.

I was blessed to see so many friends and family there praying, committing to support me in my ongoing ministry and praising God for what he has done and will do in the future.

I know many of my friends and blog readers were not able to come. I'll try to post photos on the blog after I have time to download some. Meanwhile . . . You can view the whole service online at Bethany Baptist's website. Just click here and then click on "Nov. 11". The service should be available online for the next 2 or 3 months.

Participants in the service included (in order of appearance): Worship team, Hannah Eshenaur, Amber Krueger, Cathy Phillips, Tannie Eshenaur, Ken Phillips, Phillip, Peter, & Ellen Ellison, Pastor Albert Botchway, Frank Doten, Virgil Olson, Alma Bjork-Olson, and Pastor Bruce Petersen.

Feel free to leave a comment telling me your name where you are when you watched it. I'd love to keep a virtual guest list.=0)

FYI - Packing and last minute details are going smoothly! Departure date is 6 days away! (Nov. 19) Keep praying.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Last Week's photos

Last week was "Wooddale Worldwide Week". In some free time between meetings at Wooddale - I grabbed some sushi and spent time studying attributes of God in the Psalms. My sister showing off her grilling skills - a Fall Grill Out in the dark. Menu: Sweet potato and roasted red pepper salad, with Mojo Chicken - YUM-O!

Lori at Wooddale with Kim (who works with Wooddale's youth group) dressed as "Wooddale Church". I dressed up as a fully supported missionary to Japan. I had officially reached 100% support that day (Halloween - Oct. 31) and thought it would be appropriate to document where I was when I was at 100%. Below is a photo of the actual church - gotta love Kim's very accurate styrofoam steeple and behind Door #3 is a photo of Pastor Leith Anderson!Below is the Island Roll Sushi - at O-Bento-ya Japanese Bistro. I enjoyed this unique creation (filled with mango, avocado and shrimp) at a lunch I had with my mom at a new Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis. (I give it 4 out of 4 stars!) It was great fuel for an afternoon of some power shopping for those last minute essentials.
Can you tell I've not had time to cook for myself lately? Besides - eating out allows more time with family and friends.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Life after hitting 100%

It has been quite an AMAZING Journey. It's so fun to see friends and tell them about what God has done!

Life seems to have kicked into a higher gear. Since reaching 100% of my monthly support and buying a plane ticket - I have no need for caffeine - the adrenaline rush is going strong. (amazing how a firm deadline can do that!) I feel like I've gotten a lot done - but I have a long way to go. Here are a few things that I've checked off my mammoth "to do list" in the last 4 days.

  • Spoke at 3 Wooddale events (Love those folks!)
  • Went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner with a friend
  • Learned to drive Lisa's Jeep (I need practice driving a stick before going to Japan and switching to the left side of the road!)
  • Got my International Drivers License from AAA (only took 15 minutes!)
  • Had my car serviced and made ready to sell
  • Ate dinner (Chicago style homemade PIZZA!) with my parents
  • Handed over mailing address info to my mailing secretary (aka: my Dad)
  • Researched shipping options and storage containers (My family will be sending things after I move to Japan since living with a host family the first few months requires less "stuff")
  • Confirmed details for the Commissioning Service (You can view the service online (live at 10:45 am or after) at www.bethanyroseville.org - just click "sermons" and Nov. 11)
  • Stopped at the dry cleaners, post office, library, and bank
  • Wrote numerous emails to friends in Japan asking those last minute questions
  • Killed a mouse
  • Sorted through lots of "stuff" (lots more to go!)
  • Crocheted half a scarf (great activity for waiting in lines)
  • Practiced Japanese - (great activity while driving or crocheting)
  • Broke the garage door opener
  • Completed some of the paperwork necessary
  • Studied God's attributes in the Psalms - gave him a pile of worries and felt at peace
  • Crossed off half of the items on my 132 item to do list!!

MOUSE TALES

OK - so the "killed a mouse" - Item was more on my sister's to-do list - I refused to touch it. We discovered the mouse after finding a hole in a bag of Hershey kisses and wrappers strewn around the pantry. The next items she ate were coffee beans. Given this animal's good taste in food and ability to outwit the 3 different kinds of traps we had set (she snatched 6 pieces of cheese off the traps without getting caught) we figured it must be female! It was also very tiny and athletic as we watched it race up a flight of stairs - we figure it has a good 8 inch verticle! However, Lisa found a way to catch the mouse and we are now rodent free! (Before catching the mouse - Lisa called her "that annoying idiot". After the mouse was caught (and dead) she was "kinda cute". Go figure!)

And the "break the garage door opener" wasn't originally on my list but it was easily fixed by my sister.

Tonight - is my last night with my Jr. Highers
Thursday - I have 2 doctor's appointments, dinner with a friend, and a meeting at church.
Friday - some friends are coming to stay for the weekend & help with some of the list.
Saturday night - my sister, Jennifer, flies in from Canada, and we're celebrating my mom's birthday.
Sunday - is the commissioning service.

So - It may be awhile before I get time to post things. Hopefully, I'll be able to post some photos soon.

Please pray for all my preparations for departure - I'm so excited to be heading back to Japan. But with only 12 days left till my flight - things are a bit crazy.

Pray also for blessings on the people who are getting ready to receive me in Japan - especially my host family and the missionaries doing my orientation.

Ps. 138:8 - The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever -
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's Official!

I'm at 100%!

What an AMAZING week! My start-up funds are at 100%, and my monthly support went from 92% to 100% with all major paperwork (VISA & Plane ticket) in place!

Last week Thursday (Oct. 25) - Received news of Wooddale's Partnership. Moved from 92% monthly support to 98%.

Friday (Oct. 26) - Learned that North Kitsap Baptist in Poulsbo, WA, and Bethel Baptist in Galesburg, IL increased their monthly support - raising support to 99%

Saturday/Sunday (Oct. 27-28)- at Wooddale Church, I spoke about my ministry in a "Big group" Sunday school class (was prayed for). I met Steve Saint - Adult TCK from Ecuador - was blessed by his message and later talked to him about his years at school in Quito at Alliance Academy.

Monday - (Oct. 29) - Went to Wooddale for Staff Breakfast (was prayed for) and meeting of prospective and current Wooddale missionaries (more prayer). Arrived home to find I had received my passport complete with a "religious activities" visa and Certificate of Eligibility. Learned I had three new individual donors partner with me. One in Japan, one in Minnesota and one in Washington. Now 99.5%!

Tuesday (Oct. 30) - Received news that with more donations - I was about $15 a month short of being at 100%! Called (again)to check in with churches who met last week. Connected with church in Phillips, Wisconsin-

They apologized for only being able to give a "small amount" and explained they hoped to increase it in the coming months.

"What was the small amount," You ask? $20 per month!
Unofficially at 100% - proving once again that every "little bit" helps!

Went (with a huge smile) to Wooddale for the Women Near & Far Luncheon, heard a panel of missionary women speak and had more people pray.


Wednesday (Oct. 31) - Received official news from Baptist General Conference - "You're at 100%. You may now purchase a plane ticket. Well Done - Amazing to see God working so clearly!" No longer a "missionary appointee". Spent the evening dressed in a Japanese Yukata (summer kimono)celebrating at Wooddale with elementary kids at their Trunk or Treating party.

Thursday - Nov. 1 - Blur of a day - ran errands, made LOTS of phone calls, lots of emails, tried to look for a plane ticket to Japan - found a one-way, non-stop ticket for $1900 - not happy with the price - looked for other options. Went to an eye doctor's appointment. Ended the evening by hosting "Girl's Night" at my house enjoying time with friends.

Friday - Nov. 2 - Purchased a one-way, non-stop ticket from St. Paul to Tokyo found by a travel agent for $650! (the exact same flight I had looked at online.) There seems to be a special discount for "missionaries"! YEAH! Went to a time of "coffee/Tea" with Wooddale Women. Shared with them that my departure date is Nov. 19. Just 17 days away! (Blessed by more prayer) Spent the afternoon crossing off 3 items from my do-before-departure list. Added 15.

THANK YOU!! to each one of you reading this who have prayed, encouraged, and gave to make this ministry possible. I truly could not have done it without you! There will be many children, families and churches touched through my ministry because of your faithfulness! Thank you for sacrificing so that others may have the opportunity to hear of Jesus love. I thank God for you! I'm also thanking God for the opportunity I have to spend parts of this week at Wooddale with people overflowing with prayer.

I have many more stories (and photos) to share - but will leave that to anther blog post. (I can't wait to tell you about the events scheduled for the first week in Japan! - More God Sightings!)