Monday, October 26, 2015

Worldwide Week

Wooddale Worldwide Week! Looking forward to interacting with Wooddale and the many other Global Partners at this celebration of what God is doing globally! Saturday Wooddale hosted a breakfast and prayer time for all the Global Partners and the international and national missions ministries team. So stimulating to hear about how God has called us all to love him and serve others around the world in so many unique and excited ways.  Saturday afternoon there was a training session on stress management for the Global Partners. In the evening we attended the Saturday evening worship and had some pizza and fellowship. 
Wooddale Church with some fall colors

Sunday morning 11/25 I had the opportunity to speak with the student ministries, 5-9 graders, all total numbering over 200. I shared the stage with Kate, a Global Partner who is working with International Justice Mission, South Asia. Kate and I had met about 3 years ago -so it was fun to catch up with her and how God is using her.

Student Ministries 
After church on Sunday we had the opportunity to hear from Curt Rhodes,  who works with Questscope, regarding the crisis in Syria and how transformation in these communities can and is taking place.  Brilliant, resilient, creative, authentic, caring, and forward thinking - are words I'd use to describe Curt. What a privilege to have heard his perspective on this situation and gain a better understanding of the Syrian people. Really excited about the ways Wooddale is partnering with Curt and Questscope.

International food  
The food served at the meeting with Curt Rhodes was provided by the Wooddale kitchen as well as a Somali catering enterprise. 

 Next on the schedule, Lunch with the Wooddale Staff on Tuesday and the women's luncheon Wednesday11/28.

 Wooddale always does a stellar job of caring for their Global Partners, so grateful for the team that organizes it all! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall in Minnesota

This week I got to spend some time with my family near Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.
(The town has a fishing bobber shaped water tower!) 

We enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather for October,
 and went for a bike ride to enjoy the fall colors which were at their peak. 
Here are a few pictures from the ride. 

Minnesota has a lot of bike trails - 
 We rode on the Paul Bunyan Bike Trail. 
At a 120 miles, this one is the longest in the state!
 But we only went for a short afternoon ride. 
(The trail is used for snowmobiling in the winter.)

The bike trails here are often wider than the streets in Japan!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Little Japan in Minnesota

What do you do when you find yourself in Minnesota between meetings, 
missing Japan, and wanting a quiet place?
It was a beautiful day to visit the Japanese Garden!
And enjoy the beautiful flowers in bloom.

Monday, October 5, 2015

ING - What I've been doING?

So what have I been doING since I've been stateside?
    (Besides struggling to upload photos and keeping you waitING for my next post?)

EnjoyING the green spaces around the great state of Minnesota

WatchING the leaves change colors

my most recent jogging path

VisitING ministry partners 
Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN
         SoakING in the Word with two midweek Bible studies 
BikING on trails in nature parks
Hyland Lake Park, Bloomington, MN

saw 5 deer while biking through the "city"

ExplorING new ethnic restaurants in town with my parents

Andale Taqueria Y Mercado

 ReunitING with college roommates and local friends

in Duluth, enjoying the views of Lake Superior


Lift Bridge in Duluth

ChattING and textING and SkypING with global friends

TalkING with Mission leaders about next steps in Japan

ReflectING on God's unpredictable but not unforgettable ways
          LeanING into His unfailing love 

ReconnectING with family 

Crowds of people at the MN STATE Fair

Mini Donuts! + All you can drink MILK = perfect start to the fair!

Can't leave the Fair without a heaping bucket (or 3) of Sweet Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Boating near Lake City - the fish were napping so we switched to tubing.

Watched the MUSIC MAN at the Guthrie theater!
dressed up for the theater translates to a perfect chance for a family photo

So, what have YOU been doING?  
Drop me a note in the comments and let me know people are still out there reading this. =0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Visiting Ministry Partners Begins

In September I began visiting ministry partners. 
My first stop was my sending church, where I shared a brief update and got to "travel to Japan" with the children in their World Traveler series. We had fun exploring different cultural centers, trying on Japanese clothes, playing games, using chopsticks, discoving origami, and learning some Japanese language. 

Here are some photos from Bethany Baptist Church, Roseville, MN

Pastor Kevin and the worship team

While the children were occupied with activities
 the adults decided to join into the fun, too! 
Jane, trying on some Japanese items

Martin and Dick attempting origami making a folded paper cup.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sinking Deep

One of the joys and challenges of returning to USA after a time in Japan is returning to American churches.  Adjusting to the size, the format, the language, the people, the programs, and the music.  Last Sunday I attended 2 different churches connecting with friends along the way.

At the end of the day I realized every one of the worship songs that were sung in both churches were new to me. Sometimes its hard to join in when music is unfamiliar but I found it wonderful to worship in English. Perhaps because I was able to sing the words and know the meaning without having to translate in my head it sunk in deep to my heart.

Here is one of the songs, by Hillsong Young and Free that I have continued to play on repeat all week. Give it a listen.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

airport - hellos

Arrival at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport

Aug. 18

Ellison/Harms group

Here is the Ellison Family reunited - 
Tom, Peter, Grace, Kristi, Mary Lou, and Philip
The first sign reads, "Welcome Home, Mom, Dad, and Lori"

The second sign says, "Happy Retirement Mom and Dad" 
on the back of the retirement sign it said, "NOT YOU LORI"

Here is my family -
 my parents, nieces and nephew
 with their colorful signs that said, 
"Welcome Back!" 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

airport - good-byes

Aug. 17-18.

After all the packing and sorting, and visits to the city office and cell phone company we moved out of the Ellison's house and spent our last night in country with others. I stayed at the neighbor's home and enjoyed a delightful evening with them.

 I had met the family a few years ago and in the last week their 6 year old son (Yuwa) and 13 year old daughter (Chisaki)  had been at the Ellison's house helping with the move. Chisaki has been attending church with the Ellison's and is growing in her faith. We're praying for the whole family to grasp His love. 

When I stayed with them Yuwa-kun was super friendly and took it on as his job to keep me entertained for the evening - teaching me how to thumb wrestle, arm wrestle, play board games, and feed his pet beetles.  (photo by Chisaki)

Tuesday was a fairly quiet morning. After reading some Pokemon books with Yuwa, Chisaki went to Volleyball club and Yuwa to preschool.  Since packing was finished I enjoyed some relaxed time writing postcards before we left for the airport.

At the airport there were almost 50 people (and one poodle) who had showed-up to say final good-byes to the Ellisons. Mission co-workers, church leaders, church members where Tom & Mary Lou had ministered, and neighbors. We had lunch together, had a time of prayer and singing and a group photo, then friends lined up to say their  good-byes.

After getting through the initial security check at Narita Airport there was a glass overlook where the group of friends waved good-bye. 

After all the good-byes, and packing we were a bit tired when we entered the plane. But praising God for all the little and big evidences of His grace along the way and the many different packing angels that helped bring us to this point.  

It was such a blessing to have been able to be with the Ellisons during their last 2 1/2 weeks in Japan. I've learned so much of God's love through their lives, their family, and their ministry. Thank you Tom and Mary Lou, for letting me join you in this part of your journey and enveloping me into your family!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mind the gap

Thank you for your patience while I was offline for the last 2 weeks. I'm now in Minnesota, USA. I'm in the process of readjusting to life on this side of the ocean. Remembering to drive on the other side of the road and not to stop at empty railroad crossings. My sleep schedule is getting set to this time zone, and my stomach is adjusting to new foods. I've been focused on reconnecting with family and had some time away on a mini-retreat. I'm now moved into my new place, with my new roommate and thoughts are starting to focus on plans to reconnect with ministry partners and friends who I haven't seen since my last home assignment. 

In the gap of time with no blog posts a few drafts have been in the works.  Still trying to add photos to some. So the next few posts may not appear in chronological order according to the events as they happened but I'll try to include the dates with each post.  In the meantime - thank you for sticking around to hear/read more of the story.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New missionaries join the team

Japan Converge Worldwide celebrated lots of exciting events this week.
Tom & Mary Lou (far right in photo) celebrated 30 years as Career missionaries in Japan.
Ian (far left of photo) celebrated the 1 year anniversary as a career missionary in Japan.
And on August 11, 2015, we all celebrated the arrival of new missionaries to the field.
The photos below are of the party we had at the airport - greeting the Wrights.

Celebrating that all 10 pieces of luggage arrived with them - and then sending the suitcases to their new home via "Kuro Neko" or the black cat delivery service.

 We celebrated the Wright's arrival by eating dinner together at the airport with a Tonkatsu - or pork cutlet dinner.

The Missionary Kids on the field - 2 of the Ellison girls and 3 of the Wright girls. 

And here is a photo of the missionaries currently on the field.
(Left to right: Ian, Lori, Tom, Joanna, Lydia, Rebecca, Jane, Christine, Rob, and Mary Lou)
Photo by: Ellen & Grace. Not pictured as they are in USA:  John & Elaine, Jeff & Barb. 

Thank you for praying for the new team He's building 
and the many transitions going on at this time.
Some coming back from home assignment, 
some going to home assignment, 
some retiring, 
some adapting to a new location, 
some in language school, 
some preparing to move. 
All trying to seek God's will 
in each step of the way 
and love the people around us 
in his strength.