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!