Sunday, July 19, 2009

Last Tokyo Post!!!!

Ok, so we got back to California and had our debriefing for the next couple of days. The days were filled with storytelling, memories, personal triumphs, and a resolve for when we were to go back home. We prepared for reverse culture shock, telling our stories, and for the possibility that people wouldn't always want to hear all the parts of the stories that we would want to tell. In our free time we spent wrapping up loose ends with teammates and preparing to say our goodbyes. On a lighter note, we played a ton of card games and laughed a whole bunch in a relaxed friendly peaceful setting.

We then had to say our final goodbyes as we left our team (the three Michiganders) and headed back to Detroit. It was freekin' sad, but of necessity for sure. Looking forward, we all made resolutions towards the rest of the summer and the next school year. Some of my resolutions are to:

Have quiet times every morning; no exceptions.
Be in prayer for the lost more, at least daily.
Be more intentional in conversations, especially towards building up/edifying people.
Be bolder in talking about God, in all situations and in every opportunity.
Be intentional about meeting with someone for mutual growth in our faith.
Be way more relational with all people.

And so, I'm back at home and trying to work before I head back to college and get pictures and letters compiled to supporters.

Thank you very very much for reading this blog and for taking this journey with me and/or supporting me. As a final request, I pray that you would make a point to pray at least once for Shinji, the guy I was blessed to witness to unto salvation, and for all the Japanese students we met, for nothing we did over there for the Lord was in vain.

Thank you!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Final Weeks

Hi everyone! I realize that this is coming late, but I wanted to talk about the last big things that happened in Tokyo while we were there.

Ok, week 4 came and it was a bit different, but good nonetheless. This week the theme was perseverance and team unity. The focus was using all of campus time for conversations and not on anything else. Also, each one of us traded to go with the other campus team at one point during the week. I got to trade and go to the "Joyful Cafe" (it's an English lunch) at Gakugei and man, I really missed my campuses after that day! It was great going sharing with people I hadn't ever gone out with, but it was hard and uncomfortable being at a place that I was totally unfamiliar with. The whole theme of perseverence lasted all week and the next week as well. In that way, campus days were harder and more intense.

The most notable things to me were with Shinji. We (Jack, Shinji, and me) got together on that wednesday and it was just great. We talked about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and how it can be hard and we looked at tougher passages...but Shinji wanted to be a disciple still, so we prayed with him for a bit and then answered some more questions and just hung with him. We next met with him that next tuesday and me and Jack gave him some gifts to keep with him in Japan. We didn't talk as much that day (I didn't, Jack did) but we got to get together the next day and just talk, laugh, and recieve some gifts from Shinji. Since then, me and Jack have remained in contact with Shinji and I have just enjoyed his friendship and it's so encouraging to see his progress towards God; it's awesome.

A couple of fun things also happened in this time. One of them was the guy's "creative date" to the girls in which we cooked dinner, wrote a poem, performed a skit, and aimed at showing the girls that they were special, in our eyes and more importantly, in God's eyes. We also went to a "shabu shabu" eatery. What you do in a shabu shabu place, is you take thinning sliced beef and pork and you hold it in a thin pan of boiling oils until it is cooked (kinda like a type of fondue). It is all you can eat and it is good! There were also vegetables that we put into it and raw eggs we could dip the meat into. We also did karoake, which was interesting, as all the songs were higher pitched than most of us could sing and also the music videos to accompany the songs were so awful and not descriptive at all of what the song was saying. Finally, that last weekend in Japan we went to Harakone and basically had a little getaway/retreat before we had to leave. We relaxed, did lots of spas, and all around just enjoyed hanging out with the team. During the retreat we did gondolas and say the beautiful natural beauty of Hakone's woody hills and then rode on a modern day pirate ship before resting on the lakeside for the day. The next day we went to a spa palace and stayed in spas that were filled with water, yet also had the smell and a bit of the feel of things added to it; for example, there was a strawberry spa, a chocolate spa, a coffee spa, a saki spa, a honey spa, and then they had some water slides and then a wonderful buffet.

After this, we packed up to go home and we navigated our way to the airport and embarked on our ten hour flight and said our final goodbyes to Japan.

One more post to go!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hey everyone!

We're now done with our third week and I think this was the best yet! It was the hardest week yet, as we decided to be on campus another hour every day and also had our outreach party that Friday that we had been inviting people to since we've been here (or so). To be sure, it was a tougher, more draining week in a physical and spiritual sense, yet it was also the most rewarding.

Let me tell you about Shinji. Jack and me, two guys on the Gaidai team had about one hour left of time on campus on Thursday and we decide to go to the cafeteria and talk with someone. We spot a guy and start heading that way when he gets up and leaves. So..we decide to walk a bit and find someone. We do this and spot a guy sitting by himself, so we go up and ask to sit with him. He seemed surprised that we should sit with him, but we then engage in a great conversation, one with real depth and with real heart in it, something that is rare in the average converation, both here in Japan and in America. We three talked for about forty minutes about life, work, college, jobs, etc., and we invited Shinji to the "Discover Friends" party that was the next day. Feeling pretty good about that conversation, me and Jack head to meet the group and then back to Koenji where we live.

The next day, we are preparing for the "Discover Friends" and some of us headed down to the train station to meet the people who we invited. Shinji shows up, we talk a bit, and head down to the Mitaka CCC building. That night we had an icebreaker, dinner, a dance (that we watched) , a testimony story and then discussion groups planned. The icebreaker, dinner, dance, and testimony story was great, but the real meat was in the discussion groups.

We break up into groups and Shinji was in the one I was in. The first question was, "which picture is most interesting to you?" and Shinji picked a picture of a young homeless man. He explained that he had seen a homeless man when he was 9 in LA when his family was visiting and it profoundly impacted his life in how suffering happens and that his parents didn't help the man (who had been selling pencils for $1 with a sign that read "God have mercy, buy a pencil for $1"). (To save on text, I'll just skip to the next questions that he responded to) The next question was "What picture is representative of your life?" to which he responded with a picture of a door with a small window with person looking through. He explained that he was seperated by something but he didn't know what. The next question was "What picture do you wish represented your life" to which he picked a picture of coffee with a smiley face in it and he said that he just wanted to be happy, warm, and filled with joy.

(At this point the door for the Gospel is huge and I grow anxious to share it with him, but the time isn't full just yet...) The next question was "What picture describes your view of God" to which Shinji picked a picture of a spider descending on a fly. He explained that it reminded him of a story about a man who was really evil, who only did one good thing in his life, which was to save a spider from death. This man (whose name forgets me) was sent to hell. God looked down and saw that he was in hell, and sent the spider down to save the man from hell. The spider started spinning a web for the man out of hell and the man climbed it, up and up, until he was nearing the top. Looking down for a second, he sees that many men are climbing up the web and that it is now very weak and he doubts he can make it up without the web breaking. The man starts kicking people (also from hell) off the web and as a result, the web tears and breaks and the man returns to hell. Shinji explained that he felt like that guy and he just couldn't make it out. I explained that the story was true of many people, who try to escape hell through their one good deed and their own strength, yet are unable to do it (also stating that hell was just for the law-breakers). Going further, we explained to him that only God in His mercy and grace rescue that man in the story and in real life, from their law-breaking.

The last question was then asked, "What picture do you wish was true of God?" to which Shinji picked a picture of a regal looking mountain valley scene that is truly awesome. He explained that he wanted to know God. (Now the time for the Gospel was at hand!!) I (and when I say this, let me explain that it the Holy Spirit of God working in all of this and in me as I shared the Gospel with Shinji, this being explained so that God recieves the glory and not I) talked about how Jesus came and took punishment so that we could escape hell and that Jesus was God-man, and therefore could take punishment for humans (being human) and make infinite atonement (being God). Further, how any who would trust and believe in Jesus would be saved from hell and, on the basis of Jesus's blood and name we could personally get to know God. Shinji was quiet and looked to be in deep thought. I asked him what kept him from that, to which he asked what the point of life was if we were to be saved and know God in the end. I explained that life is meant so that we can begin to know God and that in my life, through the events in my life, I've gotten to grow closer to God and I talked about how I was changed by trusting God.

He said that he felt really empty after 22 years and that he felt "funny". We talk a bit more about how we trust God and know we are saved by trusting God's Word. He then said that he felt like he was "changing". That was about the depth of the conversation that we had spiritually and it was awesome. We talked some more and then he left and I left. When I got home he had emailed me thanking me for the invite and for the conversation and times to meet next week.

Now, if I could convey everything that I was feeling I would because I think that Shinji was saved that night and that his life will soon be changing and different. In this I now feel that this trip was totally totally worth it in every way and I am so thankful to God for including me in His work. I'm also pumped about meeting with Shinji next week and talking to him more, about God and about life. Prayers would definately be appreciated!

I also just want to thank anyone reading this for supporting me either financially or spiritually or both and to say that this was a team effort that couldn't have worked without you thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

More next week@

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Second week highlights!

Hey everyone! This is the highlight post for week two of our Tokyo Summer Project!!


Go to Gaidai University from 11-5 (Travel time about 1 hour a day)
Emily Niemond (one of our two group leaders) talks to a Japanese girl and gives her a Bible...which she then proceeds to read until she finishes the first 8 chapters of Matthew! Awesome!
Tim Daugherty and me get to talk to a guy who is very excited about the upcoming "Discover Friends" party (hosted by the Tokyo team) and he asked all the questions and was a Godsend!

We had a date night with Jesus in which I continued going through Hebrews and contemplating how Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant and how we are saved in His blood to the "uttermost"...this was great.


We got to ICU University (International Christian University)
Matt and me get to share the Gospel with an American from Pennsylvania who was studying abroad in Japan. It was a good conversation and he seemed genuinely pleased that we talked to him about Jesus...we'll be praying about him.

This night we have (and had) guys time and it was absolutely awesome in that we got to really shed some of Christ's forgiveness on some old and still painful wounds and see healing come; so awesome to see!


We went back to Gaidai University and honestly, this was a tough day for me personally. Gaidai is a bit more closed off then ICU. Anyhow, we got there and had an English lunch and had a decent turnout with several good conversations. Later that day we had a board and card game outreach...that no one attended. So while it was a good day of not so intense ministry, it was still hard on me because I didn't see results; but really, that's a good lesson to learn, that we don't always get to see results of our work.

This night we had family time and we went and saw "Star Trek"....and being a Trekkie, I loved it (for the second time!). It is nice to have time to sit back with the team and just enjoy a movie.

Later that night we find out that ICU has been putting pressure on Student Impact (Campus Crusade for Christ in Japan) and that we are no longer to go there...basically, we're kicked off. While that kinda sucks, we are confident that God can (and will) use it for His Glory and anytime He wants us back on that campus, He'll get us there.

Also, the other half of the team went to Hitosubashi campus and one of the members, Joe Gudobba, had the priviledge of sharing the Gospel and having the person want to make a profession of faith....yay!!!!


Instead of going to ICU, we have the opportunity to go to ICU High School (coincidently, right next to ICU) and give two stories of how people in our group (Jack Mitchell and Traci Lawrimore) came to trust Jesus Christ. Afterwords, we broke the class into groups and got to talk to them about the stories and about Jesus in general (this being "Christianity Week"). As a group, we got to share the Gospel to quite a few students in our groups. After this, we watched a "Gospel choir" (composed of few to no actual Christians singing Gospel music...interesting!) and then left.

This night we....did something but I can't remember it right now as I write this post!


Our team goes back to ICU HS and gets to talk in two classrooms with another pair (Amy Ledin and Sammy Cunningham) give their personal stories. We get to share the Gospel with quite a few students (as a clarification, we also get to know them...we are to share our LIVES as well as the GOSPEL). We then have an English lunch where the students can come and talk with us (we had let them know on Thursday and that day that we were open to talk more and that they could come and practice their English with us). It was a good turnout overall, with several good spiritual conversations and regular conversations happening. Some of the students I was hoping to talk to more did not come, but honestly, God's Word does not go out void and I cannot save people, only God can; therefore, I take rest in what God is doing while praying and seeking to talk with the students again while leaving it ultimately in God's hands.

This night we go to bed early after hanging out for a bit.

Saturday (today!)

Early early early! We wake up around 3:45 AM and prepare to go to the biggest fish market in the world, Cg's! (spelling?? dunno, but this is what it sounded like!) And it was worth waking up early for. Giant fish, whale, smoking fisherman, and bustling boxes of sea creatures being moved around! Very exciting, very cool. Watched a fisherman cut up a 110 lb. fish into, it was too cool! Afterword, we ate fresh (I mean, very fresh!) sushi, that is, tuna, salmon, salmon eggs (salty!!!), sea urchin, mussel, and crab....very...different. Good...but I'm all set on sushi for awhile now!

Later that day, Jess Jury (my girlfriend and fellow Project member) went to the doctors for her appointment (she had a sicknesss flair up that she had to get dealt with; nothing too serious, but prayers for quick recovery would be appreciated!) and then met the team in a park...the name of which I can't remember right now! Anyhow, we ate after playing frisbee, soccer, and volleyball. It is now late at night and I'm at the end of this week.

Prayer requests:

For the students that we've talked to so far, that God will draw them unto Himself for salvation.

For the team that we won't get too tired doing ministry (20 hours a week is alot for us..definately for me) or discouraged. Also, that we would be bold to tell of Jesus's Gospel.

For our Project leaders, Joy-Gen Nakamura and Heather Brainerd, to keep us going and that they keep well rested in the Lord and otherwise.

For the Japanese believers here as social pressure against them is considerable and they are few in number.

Thats all for now, thanks for tuning in!!!


Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Week Overview!

We've been in Tokyo for now over a week and it has been a blshat! Some cool highlights:

Waking up at 6 because of jetlag...and not being able to go back to sleep.

Getting to know the railway system as led by a kind old lady who spoke no English.

Going shopping and saying "Hai" (yes) to everything they say at the checkout

Going on different campuses and praying for the students.

Eating with students in cafeterias and tlaking to them about thier studies, interests, and about American culture (a subject always good for conversation).

Exploring Shibuya, a major shopping district in Tokyo, and eating an omelet of squid, octopus, shrimp, and fish. Also, trying pearl tea, which is a milk tea with tapioca in it (both were really good!).

Praying, praising, traveling, playing, planning, and getting to be around the team; they are great to be around and definately people I want on my side to share Christ with.

Running for over an hour as we got lost...this one I'm still feeling a bit.

Meeting Japanese Christians and listening to them speak about Christ and hearing praise and worship in a language indiscernible to me; this was simply awesome, just awesome.

And there are more stories to tell if time would permit.

For myself, this trip has been a cool look at a people that are foreign yet have all the same needs and hopes as I do. They treasure family, friends, good food, and hard work; yet, they do not know Christ and their lives are given meaning by their jobs, by their fashion, or by their interests. Many Japanese are superstitious (they don't think it's a religion) and go to shrines to worship, give food or money, and pray for success or items they desire, but they do not go to worship the Living God, in fact, they don't even hear about Him. And even when some Japanese do want to come to Chrsit, the social pressure to conform to ancestry worship and to be in harmony with the Japanese culture is tremendous. So then, we need to pray, pray, pray and provide spiritual intercession for these people. And then we need to send people to tell them the Gospel of what Jesus has done. And then we need to be sent to Japan for awhile to come, long after our team's work is done here. People need to come and live here and love these people with the love of God in Christ Jesus. Ok, I had to get that out, but seriously, the call to be missional is for all Christians, whether it be in our neighborhoods, our schools, or in another country, we are to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) for God's Name's Sake, for God's glory, and for the people who need to hear and by hearing recieve faith unto salvation.

This upcoming week, we'll be going back to campuses (Team 1 to Hitosubashi University and Gakugai University while Team 2 (that's me included!) go to International Christian University (which has more to do with "University" than "Christian") and Giadai University) and talking to some students taht we've already met and to meet new people as well. The goal is true friendship in which the Gospel can lovingly be shared by the Word and by our lives (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

If you've made it all the way through this, bravo!, because I know I can get long-winded. As a final note, any and all prayer would be appreciated greatly as, if it according to God's will, it will be done. Thank you if you've taken the time to read this and I hope you are well in the Lord.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Whew! We're here!!

Konnichiwa! (Or Ohio Go Zye Moss! (Phonetically at least!))

Our team had a wonderful briefing and a great plane ride and we are now safely in Tokyo! After a wonderful night of sleep, we woke up and got plans around and traveled about around in our nearby area (eating at a great seafood restaurant!) and relaxing a bit before we hit one of the nearby campuses on Tuesday. All I can say is, praise our Lord Jesus Christ for getting us all here despite all the support and all the travel and for His future work through us on campuses in Tokyo. Hope to write more soon!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ok, just some final info before we leave for Tokyo....

We will be leaving at 8 to leave in the air by 12:55 pm. We hope to arrive in Japan around 5-ish and get to our apartments by 9-ish pm. This includes a 14 hour plane trip and then traveling in a big group with luggage in Tokyo; should be a great time for real!

A spectre haunts missions trips, the spectre of support raising, and I am pleased to report that all of our group is going to go to Tokyo and that even though we are $1,400-ish away, that the people who have support left to raise are writing out personal checks and hoping to bring in that money before the end of the trip. And I just want to say that for me, this has been such a way to grow and test God's will for my life and my summer and I am so so so so happy that you all have supported this trip and me and that God is calling me to Tokyo and has shown this with His abundant provisioning and even through days of unfaithfulness or uncertainty, that God has done it. Praise the Lord!

Next stop Tokyo and I hope to write more encouraging news when we are established there!