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Japan Update - the Last from Tokyo

Ohayou gozaimas everyone,

It's Friday night here and as usual, I'm staying up pretty late. I suppose that's what partly qualifies me as a campus minister.

This will probably be the last major update from Tokyo.

Schedule from Here:

Tomorrow is our last working day, which will be followed by church and our farewell party on Sunday, then a little trip on a big metal bird on Monday. Tuesday morning is our endmeeting in Dallas, and we (or, me at least) will be back in Manhattan Tuesday night. But then - off to Colorado for National Campus Ministries Seminar on Thursday morning.

Expect the Unexpected:

We are fully in the mixed up throes of looking forward to coming back but not wanting to say goodbye to the people here either. Reaching the final weeks of a project is always frustrating in a way because it is then that things really start to happen with your readers - people start to truly open up, you are just starting to get to know some of them really well, and you have found your personal groove with the readers, the sessions, and life in general in a foreign land.

Let me tell you about something I learned several years ago but always surprises me when it happens: the Holy Spirit shows up at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. As soon as you think you can control the work or presence of the Spirit, you have lost touch with God. But never fear, that's usually when he shows up and shows you that he's still in control. This happened in a powerful way today with one of my readers who I did not expect to be responsive to spiritual things and it was prompted by a portion of scripture that I usually try to skip past in that particular lesson. I believe a heart was pierced powerfully today - open tears from a Japanese person is pretty unheard of. What's frustrating is that today was our last session. But, I believe God is completely in control of things like this and is going to use the right people and circumstances to help her continue to grow in her budding interest in the things of Jesus. The Christians here are intensely interested in connecting with the readers who are spiritually intrigued.

God has operated in other unexpected ways. I went to the house of one of my readers for lunch on Wednesday and ate with her and her sister-in-law. Her sister-in-law speaks no English, but with my reader as an impromptu translator, I soon found out that she had purchased a Bible some time ago and began reading the Old Testament. Not surprisingly, she soon grew frustrated with her inability to understand many things that she was reading and quit. But she has always remained interested, so we spent a full two hours discussing the stories that she remembered, which led to big questions about the nature and story of God and the place of Jesus. All of this revealed a large interest in the work of Christ in both her and my reader. We scheduled a third session for tomorrow in which both of them are going to come.

So, never think that you can plan or dictate or strategize the presence of God. Just get to work and let him use you in whatever way he decides - whenever he wants to do it. I even experienced this yet again a couple of months ago when I suddenly turned my car around in the middle of Claflin Road in Manhattan to go to the Dusty Bookshelf, where I ended up meeting a guy I am now studying the Bible with. But, I digress. I've said it a million times - the right things happen at the right times. If you let the God take control.

Other Happenings:

Now, back to the goings-on around here. Tomorrow the city of Tachikawa (which is where we are in the prefecture of Tokyo) has a montsrously huge fireworks display that is shot from the nearby municipal park. So, not ever missing an opportunity to get people together, the church here is having a big party on the roof of our building, which is near the park. Now, this is no shoot-some-fancy-fire-into-
the-sky-for-a-few-minutes kind of deal. This fireworks show is going to be over a solid hour. They don't do things halfway here in Tokyo, unless you're talking about the width of the streets. And Tachikawa's show is just one of many just like in all throughout Tokyo in the summer. Now, the real attraction is that all four of us ridiculous American foreigners are going to be wearing traditional summer kimonos (called yukatas).

Last weekend we had the Tachikawa Church's summer family camp. This was an amazing time of camping out in the mountain country west of Tokyo. The mountain scenery was beautiful, the camp was really nice, and we had a lot of great activities that helped us get to know a lot of people in ways that we wouldn't have otherwise (see onsen). We hiked out to a big waterfall on Sunday afternoon and had a massively ginormous BBQ glutton fest on Sunday night - consisting of rounds and rounds of BBQ chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and yakisoba. Unbelievable.

In Conclusion:

It's getting pretty late so for now I'm going to say, that's all folks. Thank you a million times over for your support, encouragement, and continued prayers for what God is doing here.

If you absolutely have nothing else to waste your time on, check out these photos:

Japan pt. 1
Japan pt. 2
Japan pt. 3
Japan pt. 4
Japan pt. 5
Japan pt. 6
Japan pt. 7
Japan pt. 8
Japan pt. 9
Japan pt. 10
Japan pt. 11



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