So we're one week in and God has definitely doing some big things here in Japan. I'll give you the highlights of our first week, and then there will be a photo gallery at the bottom of the post. =D
Wed 6/17 - Machida Church We did our best to bridge language barriers and we were able to share our testimony in an adult (50yrs +) small group. They were very patient and kind. Kano Sensei did a fantastic job translating for us as well. Then over 20 children (kodomo) came to an after school club where we played games and I lead worship in Japanese (nihongo) and English (eigo).
Thurs 6/18 - Machida Church We led our first English conversation class at Machia church for kano sensei and a wonderful man named Mr. Hiro. Felicia used her gifts teaching to plan activities for the class and Mr. Hiro had a wonderful time. Then we explored a park and the joys of Japanese grocery stores.
Friday 6/19 - Machida Church In the afternoon Elaine Mehn (an American Missionary to Japan) came to Machida Church to teach church members how to make biscuits. It was nice to get to speak a bit of English again =D. One attendant had never been to church and she had such a good time that she plans on coming to church this Sunday. Elaine and her husband John encouraged us, gave us priceless pointers, and helped us practice our sermon.
Saturday 6/20 - Machida/Niiza Church What a crazy day. In the morning we meet Bond Sensei, who is an American missionary who also works as an English teacher. We walked through our sermon with him because he will be our translator at Machida church next week. Then Kishio sensei (pastor of Niiza Church) met us in Machida and taught us how to navigate the trains to Niiza. Its quite complicated but a lot of fun. We spent the remainder of our night rehearsing worship and our first sermon. Then we slept like a rock!
Sunday 6/21 - Niiza Church Worship was amazing. Felicia helped me sing in Japanese and kept me on pace. I played acoustic guitar and we played 4 songs which were: Blessed Be Your Name in English Blessed Be Your Name in Japanese and English With Everything in Japanese Blessed Be Your Name in Japanese The members of Niiza church are very kind and they continued to encourage us when I played wrong notes on the guitar. Then we gave our first sermon, which was on Hebrews 12:1-2 about finishing the race. Kishio sensei did a fantastic job translating for us and we could tell that the church was very receptive to our worship and preaching. Then we had pizza, potato wedges, and green tea flavored Kit-Kats for a church lunch in. Felicia led getting to know you games and we had a fantastic time.
That brings us to Now and the Future. There are some big things coming our way that we would love you to pray for!
For Niiza Church God has opened some incredible doors for us in the community. Mr Denura who teaches English at a Buddhist College is inviting us to enter his classroom and help his students with conversational English. Additionally he is taking us to a daycare to help with kids and letting us spend a few days interacting with college students. Additionally Kishio Sensei was able to work a connection so we can spend time at a high-school practicing English with them. Niiza church currently has about 10 members with no one ages 15-26 so this is a huge oppourtunity for us to get a youth/young adults ministry off the ground. Please pray for us to make genuine connections with students. We will be inviting them to an American Party next week at church where we will sing popular English songs, play pictionary, teach them how to cook chicken Parmesan, and lead a small bible study.
For Machida Chuch We have two more small groups left at Machida church where we will be working through all of Hebrews 12. We also have two more after-school club days that we have to lead. Two more English conversation classes, and we are leading worship as well as preaching next Sunday. Pray that God will help us make an impact on all of these ministries. At last weeks after school club 4 senoir citizens loved on 20+ kids which is insane. Pray for God to provide for them.
For Misono Church I have not yet gotten in touch with the head pastor of Misono Church but we will be preaching at his church two Sundays from now. Please pray for this to be a smooth God glorifying experience.
For Tamagawa Church We will attend two of their evening services as well as their church BBQ. Fukui Sensei is the pastor of this church and has spent a considerable amount of time orchestrating this trip. He is also the leader of the Rengo (Group of 18 Japanese Baptist Churches). We will be leading a 3 day kids camp in August. Pray that we can serve his church well, and enjoy our time with his congregation. Pray that we can prepare our messages and materials for this camp asap!
For Shingu Church We will be taking a 7 hour bullet train to Shingu in two weeks. We will be leading lots of English conversations classes, bible studies, worship, preaching, and playing basketball with Shingu's basketball team. Pray for God to open doors in Shingu. Also we are pretty bad at basketball so pray that we don't get to schooled by japanese kids haha.
Thank you for all your love and support, Joe and Felicia