Friday, August 26, 2011

Vacation Day

This post will have nothing to do with work, because I am writing about the vacation day we took.

Another missionary kid came to stay with the Kaufmans for about a week, which was a lot of fun. But she did have to return to her family who were staying in a town by a lake on the other side of the mountain. It was decided that we were going to take her back, then spend the rest of the day with her family there in Nojiri. And so one gray morning we loaded the van and took off. It was a stunning two hour drive. The mountains and farmlands stretching out on all sides took my breath away. It was one of the most enjoyable trips I've ever taken.

We arrived at the cabins and decided to swim in the lake before the approaching typhoon hit. So I borrowed a swimsuit and we went down to the water. I don't want to spend forever gushing about the scenery, but the sky was such a perfect mixture of blue and white. The mountains surrounding us were a vivid green that contrasted with the clear, clear water. I am not sure I have ever seen natural beauty to rival that day.

We all took turns attempting to wind surf, at which only two of us were successful. But it was fun to try, and fun to be in the water again. After a picnic lunch Abby, Essie, Caroline, Amos and I walked to the high jump. The high jump is in an isolated area and rests at the end of a concrete dock that is half submerged in the lake. The tower you climb up and jump off of was old and rickety, but still safe enough to use.

I had never jumped off of something so high before. I remember looking down at my toes, so far above the water. It had looked like a shorter distance from afar. But then that moment after you jump, before you hit the water, is a mixture of terror and bliss. Sailing through the nothingness, anticipating the cool water that closes over you completely.

We all spent some lovely hours jumping and talking out there on the dock. Across a curve in the lake there was a choir singing, and their voices drifted across the water in a surreal fashion. There were dozens of dragonflies flashing in the sunlight as they flitted across the lake. Everything about the day was vivid and intense, and remains one of my favorite memories of the trip. Everything from the strong sun to the musical screech of the Japanese cicadas—I loved it all.

No typhoon came that day. It was clear the whole time, so we all managed to get a good sunburn. We finished the day with an excellent meal at a restaurant where you catch your own fish and they cook it for you. The drive back through the dark was spent trying not to touch my roasted skin and staring out at the moon.

God really used that vacation day to refresh my spirits and prepare me with the energy I needed for the rest of my trip. He is so good. =)

In Him,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seed Planters

At long last, an entry! Sorry about the wait. I decided to talk a bit about my adventures passing out Manga Messiah and tracts. I did a lot of it, and it comprised the greater part of my work there. So here it goes.

Manga Messiah= comic book done in the Japanese story that tells the story of Jesus and salvation

Most people who know me will agree that I am not the most out-going person in the world. Therefore, passing out mangas/tracts was quite the stretch for me. We set up our little table on the edge of church property and waited for people to pass. Because our corner was right across from the famous tennis courts, a lot of traffic went by us. I know very little Japanese, so I couldn't get myself to say anything or go out of my way to hand things out at first. But with prayer I gained courage and I learned how to say some simple, essential phrases in Japanese to help me get that literature out there. If you ever want to know how to say, “this is a present from the church, go ahead and take one!” in Japanese, just ask me. It is now engrained.

I found myself questioning the worth of what we were doing several times, although it is embarrassing to admit. “How can just one book or just one tract make a difference in these people's lives?” I thought. But one thing I learned is that we as humans cannot limit the Holy Spirit. If God wants to use those mangas in their lives, He will, no matter what we think. As we stood on that corner, we were seed planters. I learned to pray that those little seeds would find water and sunshine so that they could grow beyond mere seeds.

I think that if you tried to do the same thing in America, you'd have a little more difficulty. Japanese people are utterly polite, so they would not be rude or bellicose toward you even if they disagreed religiously. They might not take what you are passing out, but they are always gentle about refusing it. The missionaries also told me that Japanese aren't as likely to throw it away later, either. God really has used those simple tracts to make an impact. We cannot underestimate Him.

I met a lot of interesting people during those many hours I spent on the street. Learning how to communicate with someone who can speak little or none of your language is exciting and challenging all at once. I met a guitar-playing fortune teller one day who told me that he wasn't a Christian, but he loves Jesus. Then there was the Westerner with beer in one hand and a skateboard in the other who came from California, but had no clue where he was headed next in life. I met Japanese pastors, interested seekers, and young Christians with their dogs. I have to say that probably my favorite people to give a manga to were the little kids, whose eyes lit up as they took the free book.

All in all it was a very good experience for me, and I pray often for those little seeds we planted. I hope that I don't forget the faces of all those people I met.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More to Come

I apologize for not keeping this blog better updated! I am home now, but I plan on doing several catch up posts to talk about my last few weeks in Japan. So just so you all know, more is coming. I just need to find the time to sit down and write it. Thank you for your patience!


Saturday, July 16, 2011


Sorry that I haven't updated in awhile. I haven't exactly been busy, but my time has been quite nicely filled by this and that.

One of the main things that filled up my time yesterday was a festival. This festival was put on by the church and Bible school as an outreach to the community. They distributed ads for it all over and drew in as many random people in as could be. There was free food and drink, games, music from the praise band, and conversations with Christians.

I helped out at a drink/game booth, and managed to get by with very little Japanese. It was really fun to see those little kids get so much joy out of something so simple. It was a long, tiring day out in the heat. But I believe it was completely worth it. I believe that God used it to plant a few seeds in the hearts of the Japanese people who came. And isn't it amazing to be able to loudly sing praises to God out in the open where so many people can hear you?

It was nice to be around the Bible school students and all the cool people involved with the church. They are all very neat people, and helped me not to feel too out of place. I might never see these people ever again—an interesting thought.

So anyway. It was a good day, and a long day. I hope that any seeds that were planted will get enough water and sunshine to grow. Pray for these people that the church is reaching out to.

Here are a few pictures. The rest will go up on Facebook eventually.


In Him,


Friday, July 8, 2011

Dare We?

I felt like it was time I did a serious post that reflects some of the thoughts I have been having over the course of this trip. Everyone expects these kinds of adventures to spark some sort of deeper thought, so I wanted to share a bit of mine with you. If you don't like this kind of post, that's fine.

One thing I have learned about the human race is that as a general rule we don't like change. Even good change can cause us to struggle. In different seasons of life we may react better or worse to change, but we are always going to have difficulties with it at some point.

I have also learned that often we not only don't want our scenery or situation to change--we don't want what is inside us to change either. I, for one, fight against what God is trying to do inside me all the time. I don't want to give up my bad habits. I am scared to change.

Now it boils down to my point.

Dare we willingly walk into a situation we know will have to change us? Dare we face the risk of everything moving around inside our hearts without ever being able to go back to the way we were before?

As hard as it is, I will be honest. I was a little scared to go to Japan all by myself. Not really because of the language barrier or the travel or being alone. It was largely fear of change. I knew I would have to go to Japan, then go back to Texas a slightly different person.

I am not saying this to praise how brave I am. No, it is the opposite. I have been weak and scared. But here is what I have been learning:
We truly can do the impossible if we are following God. We can dare to change, and to be changed. We can even dare to change those around us with His help. We can do nothing alone, and everything with Him. Even though I have struggled, He has been helping my stubborn heart change.

I am not going to walk through the doors of my house as the exact same person I was when I left it. A strange thought, but I believe that at last I am starting to think that it is a nice thought. Through God the change can be good, and it can change our lives for the better, I think.

So just some food for thought. Dare we walk down a path we know will change us, all for the glory of our Lord? It will be hard, but not impossible, and it will be worthwhile. That is what I believe anyway.

Thanks for bearing with me. God bless each and everyone of you--I truly mean that.

In Him,
Mercy M. Burklin

Update from the Mountains

(Hopefully no one is tired of my updates yet!)

It is so beautiful in Karuizawa! I'll just start with that.

Going from Tokyo to a smallish mountain town is a bit strange, but it is a refreshing sort of change. The bus trip up here was so lovely. I couldn't sleep at all because everything was so interesting and stunning! God truly has made a lovely world. He is so creative. I loved getting to see farmlands and small little towns.

Up in Karuizawa I am staying in a cabin with the Kaufmans. The area we are in is called Team Center (Team is a mission organization), and it is a very shady, secluded place. But if you walk just a little bit you enter the town. So you get the mountainy, treeish place with rustic cabins and missionaries, then you get quaint, touristy town full of history. A lot of the history of this place was founded on the work and influence of missionaries. It's fascinating! One of the churches here is one-hundred years old.

People come up here to get a break from the bustling city life. Also, they come to escape the heat. It is nice and cool up here! So basically Karuizawa is a vacation spot, and a great place to meet people and share the gospel.

The Kaufmans just made a huge move, so they are understandably feeling worn out and unprepared. So my work here will be less steady. I'll get to do plenty of relaxing, while still helping them transition and whatever else they may need me to do. Tomorrow we are going to pass out Manga Messiah to all the people coming up for the weekend. I am working on learning more Japanese so I can be more effective.

That is all the news for now. To sum up:

Karuizawa is as beautiful as they say. I don't really know what all I will be doing here. And the Kaufmans are a wonderful family.

If you have any questions, please ask! I may not always write as clearly as I should, or I don't explain things enough.

In Christ,

Mercy Burklin

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wrapping Up

I am sorry that I haven't posted here in awhile. I have either been busy or suffering from writer's block. This won't be a post with any specific story or theme—it will just be me talking in general about my time here in Tokyo in light of my transfer to Karuizawa tomorrow.

Well, we almost almost got everything done in the SSS office. It will now be ready for when school starts up! I have done so many different tasks that I never got bored. I loved the quiet of the office and the being able to occupy my hands and mind. But most of all I enjoyed working with Mrs. Epley and getting to help her out in what way I could.

That seems to be a big theme of my trip, actually—the people I've met. It's funny. I came here to try and do my best to bless the missionaries here in some way, but they are the ones who have blessed me a hundredfold.

The people here are busy. Very busy. It is not easy to be a missionary in Japan, nor is it easy to just be a Christian. But despite that, everyone found time to be so kind to me. For the most part they even remembered my name without being reminded.

Whether it was at MCC (the church I went to here), or CAJ, or at the Epleys home, or just randomly on the streets, I met so many incredible, incredible people. I am going to miss them when I leave Tokyo, even though I look forward to meeting all the people up in Karuizawa.

I also got to do more plain fun things than I expected. I went to an amusement park with a Japanese friend, did Karaoke (which is way better than in America, for the record), ate daifku, went shopping, saw the overwhelming sights of Tokyo, and on and on. I cannot believe how blessed I have been on this trip. And I honestly love the work I get to do as much as the play.

If you can, say a prayer for the amazing missionaries in Japan. They need all the encouragement and empowerment they can get, for the harvest is ripe but the workers comparatively few. I heard a Japanese man say “God is in Japan.” I believe it is true.

I have three more weeks in Japan. I can't wait to go home and share my experiences with everyone, though I know I will miss being here quite a lot. Thank you all for your prayers and support! I am excited about what I will get to do (even though I have no clue what I will be doing yet) in Karuizawa. Look forward to some pictures and updates!

(I have uploaded all five weeks worth of pictures on Facebook now, if anyone is interested!)

To God be the glory, great things He has done. =)

In Him,