Monday, October 22, 2012

When it Rains it Pours

Before coming to Seattle I attempted to get in touch with friends in the Seattle area but gave up when I learned that her family was out of town. 

I spoke at North Kitsap Baptist Church Sunday morning (Oct. 14), and after more than a week of travel to 3 church in 3 timezones my energy tank was close to empty.  I had a meeting scheduled in Seattle for Monday with friends - but the introvert in me was looking forward to a quiet evening.

The Call
 As I was leaving NKBC church and riding the ferry toward Seattle I got a phone call at 4pm from Pastor Derek inviting me to the evening service at 6pm at Philadelphia Church, Ballard, Washington. (Derek's mother was the friend I was trying to get in touch with. I’d heard a lot about the church from her and was eager to make the connection.) I hadn't yet gotten to my hotel and realized the hotel was 30 minutes away from the church. 

I said I'd love to go but didn't have a car, if I had a ride I'd go.
He said he'd ask someone to pick me up. And then added- "maybe we'll put you on the missionary panel discussion if you're able to come." 

 At this point I was so amazed it may work out that I said, “Sure - why not.”
  (I am strongest when I am weakest. - 2 Cor. 12:10)

The Text
I just finished speaking in 2 church services, leading 2 sunday school classes and had lunch with a missions team.So from the ferry I sent out a quick text message to Minnesota. Explaining the situation and saying. "Wanna go but I'm exhausted. I'm just hoping I can speak in complete sentences. Please pray."   

The Conversation
So I got to the hotel at 4:45.  Roger and his friend Lois,  picked me up at 5:15.  We arrived at church at about 5:50 where I met Pastor Derek. I was told YES - we really want you on the panel. 
 Me: OK then, any idea what the questions will be? 
Them: Nope. 
Me: Anything I should know before we start?
Them: Oh, yeah - if you go over 2 minutes to answer a question Roger will get out the samurai sword.  (I'm not making this up they had an actual samurai sword as the warning you've gone over time!!) 

Pastor Derek making announcements
The evening turned out to be great. God gave me more extroverted energies than I naturally hold. I was able to speak (in complete sentences) on the panel representing teachers and Japan. And they graciously didn't use the sword.

The questions asked . . . and a summary of my answers.

When did you feel called to missions? 

  First overseas trip to visit missionaries: Age 10
First short term missions trip: age 15
First realized perhaps God could use me overseas long term: age 20
How is technology used on your field? (
Others on the panel answered this one but my answer is below.)

We use email, Facebook, blogs, Skype and cellphones to communicate. Japan is often ahead of the US in terms of technology. Working with students, Facebook is very helpful to create groups, events and stay connected with students who’ve moved away or graduated. 

Describe a time you could sense the power of prayer.  
Last spring our teaching staff was meeting before school in prayer focused on one particular student and at the same time elsewhere in the city that student was in a motorcycle accident. As we heard details of the near fatal accident and watched his recovery, moments of God’s grace shined through the tragic accident.

What advice do you have about short-term mission trips?  
It’s not just for junior high youth groups!
I’m in the states now because a teacher took a leave of absence from her job for 1 semester to fill in at Kansai Christian School in 1st and 2nd grade.  Teachers, nurses, principals, counselors, etc. thinking creatively about how you can use your expertise to help spread the gospel overseas! 

What is the biggest challenge you face on the mission field? 
(Side note: The last question was the one I’ve been asked multiple times.  Typically I answer, “learning the Japanese language is one of the biggest challenges.”  But this time I felt an internal nudge to talk about the loss of hope in Japan among the Christians.)

  Working in Japan can be isolating with so few Christians, the process is SLOW for Japanese to turn to Christ and there is a high attrition of missionaries. Its hard to watch the field of labors shrinking (with retirements and resignations) and the task increasing. Its a challenge to focus on what God’s story is and not let our focus rest simply on the story that we see, the human side of events.  

The Encouragement
After the panel we enjoyed desserts from various nations. I enjoyed talking with people from the Philadelphia Church.  I learned of unique connections to what I said and how God had been leading in this church. There were a handful of people at this church with ties to Japan, lived there, worked there, grew up there, did missions there, etc.

 It is so encouraging & energizing to connect with people on fire for missions. People who have a passion for the gospel to spread and with a burden for reaching Japan. I enjoyed hearing their stories and seeing their photos of missions in Japan.

God is so good to fill so many moments while I was in Seattle with great connections and conversations. Thanks especially to Pastor Derek and Krista, Roger, Raymond, Lois, and Pastor Bob and Sue!  Can’t wait to see you again - perhaps in Japan next time? 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Visiting Poulsbo, Washington

 Oct. 12-16 I was in the Seattle area.

^Thankful to be in a city with public transportation.  - No rental car this trip!

The Light Rail from the airport to the ferry.

The view of Seattle from the Bainbridge Ferry.  (Check out the new ferris wheel!)

Here's the Skyline with the Seattle Space Needle on the left.
Its been almost 6 years since I was here last.  Previous posts here,  here and here.

Saturday I attended Mission Fest Seattle with my hosts.
An informative and encouraging day filled with new connections and lots of great worship! 

^Seattle Cityscape from the ferry at night.

Sunday, Oct. 14, I enjoyed the fellowship with ministry partners at North Kitsap Baptist Church.

The morning looked like this . . .
*Shared about missions with the senior high youth group & answered lots of questions 
*Shared about my ministry with the Adult Sunday School group
*Gave a greeting in both worship services.
*Ate lunch with members of the Mission Team and Pastor Duncan's family
       Duncan's adorable kids reminded me of my nieces and nephew!
          Thanks for the amazing artwork & awesome conversation! 

We were deep in conversation inside and it was raining outside so, unfortunately, no photos at church to share.

My gracious hosts for the weekend, the Thayers.

After visiting Poulsbo the Seattle visit took a turn toward the unexpected.  Stay tuned.

Visiting Salem, South Dakota

Oct. 10, I flew from Ohio to South Dakota. 

^I had a layover in Minnesota - Land of 10,000 lakes.

^Even had a clear view of Minneapolis on take-off.

^Landscape changed as I got closer to South Dakota. 
Can you see the windmills?

^ The fields look like a patchwork quilt.

A "Welcome, Hunters!" sign greeted me as I stepped of the plane. 
Yes, pheasant hunting season has begun in South Dakota. 

^My destination for Wednesday evening:: Sun Prairie Baptist Church.

^Love this church!
It was a short visit but we packed the time with activity!

Arrived about 5pm and the evening went like this . . .
*Dinner with the church family,
*Showed a video and shared at the Adult Bible Study Group.
*Spent an hour with the Children's program Grades 1-5, 
         We had fun with chopsticks, origami, writing Japanese, and playing games!
*Shared about my ministry with the Deacon/Deaconess. 
*Talked with a young lady who is considering a future in missions.
*Hung out with Pastor Mark & Dee and their adorable yellow labrador, Rowdy.

^This is Mildred, a kindred spirit who has prayed for me faithfully over the last 6 years!

Pastor Mark & Dee Dickson, my wonderful hosts for the 15 hour visit.

Wide open spaces driving back to the airport Oct. 11.

^Even saw Buffalo on the range! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Visiting Columbus, Ohio

Q: What do Leather Lips, Giant Corn and Dancing Rabbits have in common? 

Falls near Scioto River

A: They're all in Ohio! 

Oct. 5-6 I flew to Ohio and started my time there with Bob and Nancy Sorley. Dear friends and retired Converge Worldwide Japan missionaries.  They lived and worked in Saidaiji, Japan. In fact they even lived in the mission home where I now call home in Japan. They served in Japan planting churches, including the I attend in Japan. What a delight to look at photos, share stories and enjoy fellowship.  We also went sightseeing around Columbus. 

Loved the fall colors in Ohio

Dancing Rabbits - Random objects (camera, clothes pin, hose, etc.) where placed in the sculpture and created a hide & seek game like feel as we discovered them.  

Leather Lips Sculpture -Chief Leather Lips was a friend to both Native Americans and white settlers. He was a member of the Wyandot tribe. He was given the name "Leather Lips" by the white settlers because he never broke a promise that he made to anyone.

Field of Giant Corn Ears  -  "Maybe it's supposed to be ironic, this former corn field, sprouting 109 people-sized ears of concrete corn in a large oddball art display. But it's also a salute to Sam Frantz, an inventor of hybrid corns, and a very weird sight along the highway." 

Oh- And Nebraska Cornhuskers were in Ohio this weekend to play Ohio State Buckeyes.

First Responder's Park - A Memorial which includes three granite walls inscribed with the names of all those who lost their lives on 9/11, and steel pieces from the Twin Towers that were transported to the Park by an escort of police officers and firefighters.

Thanks for the hospitality, Bob & Nancy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Aim Lower, Think Smaller

While working in children's ministry I've heard people say to me,

"If you teach kids overseas when do you have time for real mission work?"


"Shouldn't you be focusing more of your energy and time reaching the adults in Japan?"

This weekend I watched a video that spoke to these questions.

So to those asking questions about the importance of children's ministry I say . .

If you don't want to mess up the great commission too much . . .

Watch this video and see what its all about.
Video available for free download here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Visiting Mansfield, Ohio

 "Sorry about the license plates, Mam." That's what the rental car guy said when I got the car - I had no idea what he meant. No dents, looked fine.

The rental car had Michigan plates, which I later learned is one of the biggest rival states for Ohio.
Thankfully the Ohio church members didn't hold it against me.

Trees are everywhere in Ohio and they were at their peak color - it was a great time to visit this state!

I had the blessing of staying with Pastor Bill Heaton and his wife Julie while in Mansfield.  I also got to practice my Japanese with Ryohei and Kazu, Japanese exchange students studying in Ohio. 

Berean Baptist Church in Mansfield, Ohio.
It was a blessing to share in a Sunday school class, be interviewed in 2 services, and speak with the 1-5 grade children (seen in the photo below). 

On Tuesday, I was able to meet with the staff of Berean Baptist, and the Mission Board.
 I also had the chance to visit "Kid Zone" which is an after school tutoring program that Berean is involved with downtown Mansfield.  

While we were downtown I got glance at "Richland Carrousel Park"  A wooden carrousel that was created in Mansfield.  Looked like it'd be a fun place! 

And a mural showing the Johnny Appleseed's influence in Ohio was also evident in Mansfield. (I learned he did more than just plant trees. Read more here)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Prayer Update October

Prayer Requests:
1. Pray that God will show Japanese people that he is real and that he created them to love and worship him.

2. Pray for God to work in the lives of students & staff at Kansai Christian School as they enjoy Spirit Week (Oct. 8-12), Sports Day (Oct 12), and All school Camp Out (Oct. 28-29).

3. Pray for safe travels and great relational connections with ministry partners as October is a month filled with church visits near and far. Pray for wisdom for me to know how to show and tell ministry partners stateside about how God is working in Japan.

4.  Pray that I'd keep growing in love with Jesus and His Word.  That I would enjoy and understand more each day as I study Japanese language.

Upcoming Events:
Oct. 5-9 Berean Baptist Church, Mansfield, Ohio
Oct. 10 Sun Prairie Baptist Church, Salem, South Dakota 
Oct. 13 Mission Fest, Seattle, Washington
Oct. 14 North Kitsap Baptist Church, Poulsbo, Washington
Oct. 21 First Baptist Church of Fulan, Siren, Wisconsin
Oct. 28 Becker Baptist Church, Becker, Minnesota
Oct. 27- Nov. 4 Wooddale Worldwide Week, Eden Prairie, Minnesota 

The Month that was

During September I . . .

Bonded: 3 college roommates (and their kids) happened to all be in the same country and state at the same time. Amazing memories were made. I returned at the end of the month to visit one roommate in Northern Minnesota and enjoyed deep discussions by the bonfire, the fall leaves at their peak, and playing outside with the kids.

Started: attending 2 Japanese classes as a student.  One is more review and one is more advanced level. Feel like I've found my "Japan Groupies". We all have an interest in Japan. I feel like I've found a part of myself that I've compartmentalized. Its like I put my "Japan self" in a box in June and labeled it open on return flight to Japan.

Studied: Genesis with a group of  BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) ladies in Woodbury, Thursday mornings.

Checked out: lots of books - fiction and non-fiction - from the library. I feel like I've mastered the online reservation system and streamlined the selection process. Current favorites "The Wedding Dress" by Rachel Hauck and How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Looking forward to watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi on DVD.

Visited and Shared: about ministry in Japan at:
 Wooddale, Eden Prairie, Minnesota;
Bible Baptist Church, Mauston, Wisconsin;
 Emmanuel Baptist Church, Duluth, Minnesota;
New Life community Baptist Church, Ortonville, MN;  and
Central Baptist Church, St. Paul, Minnesota

Worshiped: with the song "Mighty to Save" at almost every church and retreat event I attended this month.  I think God's trying to tell me something.

Forgot: my computer at a church I visited and went a week without access to my calendar and limited email contact.  Twas an interesting learning experience.

Cooked: Japanese curry rice for Bethany Baptist Church, Roseville, MN, Wednesday night Kids Club. I was pleasantly surprised by the young culinary risk takers willing to try a new food and blessed by those that returned for seconds.

Celebrated: my nephew's 4th Birthday. Brendan was born while I was in Japan so this was my first time to attend the party without the help of Skype.  "Computer Lori" was transformed into Auntie Lori in 3D getting to experience all the energy of 12 young children and the fun of a tree house party.

Retreated: For 2 nights at Trout Lake Camp in Northern Minnesota at a Women's Retreat sponsored by Minnesota and Iowa Baptist Conference. Was amazed at how much these women had to say about guns. (Guns are illegal in Japan.) Blessed by conversations with my former high school English teacher.  Challenged to Shine for Jesus by Pastor Steph.

Cleaned: some areas around the house with my sister. Donated unused items, took out a buckthorn tree,  put on gutter guards (I held the ladder she did the hard work),  and took a couple trips to the hardware store for more projects.

Researched: Camera options - so close to making a decision on a new one.

Rejoiced:  with friends in Japan as they dedicated their new church building "Keihana Christ Church".

Explored:  St. Paul with a friend from Jr. High school.  Ate Japanese food at Tonpopo's, and drank Hmong Bubble Tea at the Hmong Village.

Laughed & Traded Stories:  with fellow Converge Worldwide missionaries on stateside assignment in Minnesota.

Relaxed: with family at various occasions including "Girls Night" at The Cheeky Monkey.

Cheered: the WMBA Minnesota LYNX on at the Target Center with my sister. Lynx are now in round 2 of the playoffs for the championship.