Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Japan Mission Trip: Week 3

Day 1

This day I got up early again, and packed my bags to go to Kuriozawa, Japan which is a small town about a half hour or so north of Tokyo via Bullet Train. (Bullet trains go 300km/hr). Mrs. A's father gave a ride to the train station in his car. I would be in Kuriozawa for about three days to help with a language school ministry with whatever they needed. Katie decided to go and help me. It was definitely easier to have her guide as opposed to walking around looking at the signs alone! We arrived, ate some lunch, looked around, and walked to the language school. Kuriozawa was like Aspen, Colorado in my opinion. It had the appearance of a rich resort type town.

I do not have many pictures from this day. But I do recall that I immediately started to help the language school with their project which included moving a lot of things out of a building so that it could start the process of being demolished to be turned into a parking lot. So, some of the time on these three days would be spent clearing out stuff and destructing the building. 

Day 2

This day I recall doing work for about half of the day. We spent some time demolishing the building as well as removing items that were on the inside. Katie even got in on the action!

Later on the in day we went to see some waterfalls in the area. This area is really like a tropical type forest. Katie also go the opportunity to speak with two women who were visiting from Tokyo, and to invite them to church.

During that night a Typhoon occurred by Tokyo, so we got some rain from it. I think the bullet trains were shut down for a few hours as well. 

Day 3

This day we got up early and again helped with the project for the language school. We then went out to lunch with some Christians from Singapore and heard of their story in detail. I was able to learn much about Singapore and what they were experiencing there as Christians. I really appreciated these people as they spent the previous day praying for Japan. I think that it is almost unheard of in the West for people to spend an entire day praying. Later on in the evening we then went back to Tokyo. We made it in time for the church prayer group. I recall that I was tired, and was able to pray over a lady in the church. Turns out later that I offended her because I touched her shoulder while praying. (even though we asked ahead of time) She apparently did not like to be touched. I later had to make it up to her the next day. I also recall speaking with a lady named Miyuki about belief from Mark chapter 9.  I do not recall what happened the rest of that day as I had no pictures.

Day 4

This day we again got up early to go visit the lady who I offended at the hospital. She basically takes care of her elderly mother who can not do much of anything but sleep as she is bed-ridden. We went to a gift store and purchased a gift for the lady. We met up a woman from Takiyama Bible Baptist, then took the train over to the section of Tokyo where this lady lived. Before arriving we practiced a formal apology, where each of us said a respectful apology in Japanese followed by a deep bow on my part. It was a good/humbling experience, as cross-cultural mistakes are bound to happen in other countries. So we arrived at the care facility and made our way upstairs to meet this woman. We quickly prayed, then entered the woman's room. She was watching TV and her mother was sleeping. She told us to wait while she finished the TV program. After that was finished Katie began the apology process, followed by my own apology. At first the woman would not take the gift, but eventually decided to do so and was happy. We then spent some time singing a hymn to the woman's mother, praying, and reading some scripture. This woman was so happy that she made us an offer that we could not refuse: she was going to buy us all lunch at a traditional Japanese style restaurant. We went to the restaurant and enjoyed her company for about an hour.

I have to take this time to mention something interesting about Japanese culture. In Japan they are crazy about their toilets. So, in this restaurant I went into the bathroom and was met by one of these high tech toilets. It immediately opened the lid and said something in Japanese upon entry. It also started to play classical music. When I sat down the lid was so warm that I did not want to leave. Oh my. Ok, thats enough.

 notice side panel with options

We then started to head back home. By this time it was about 3:30pm, so we decided to see a tourist area of Tokyo with some neat old buildings. I can not recall the name of the district, but it had some great sites and I was glad that we went. Along the way we could see an idol shop and a Buddha statue. It should be noted in Japan that there are some kind of Shinto or Buddhist style icons in practically every building or public place as everything is intertwined. There is no real idea of separation of religious and secular life in Japan. 

 Buddha Statue

 Ancestor Worship Box

 Shinto Shrine

Day 5

I do not recall much of the morning on this day, but I do remember that we went to go eat lunch with Miyuki at a Vietnamese restaurant and spoke with her about her life and Christianity. I remember the pictures of Vietnam's communist leader dancing with children.

She also took us to her brother's house to give us some fruit.

We then went back to Takiyama Bible Baptist church and helped with two English classes for children in the local area. A ministry here is inviting children from surrounding areas into the church to learn basic English for free. The ages were about 4 to 12. The hope is to make contact with them and their parents so that they would consider attending the church. 

Day 6

I do not recall a lot of what happened this day as I did not take any pictures. I believe that I took my host family out for lunch. We then came back later and helped one of their neighbors get some persimmons down from the tree for the church meal the next day.

The A's also took me to some local stores for some tourist shopping. I then went to the Canadian missionary Ray's house for a dinner, which was quite good. I remember hearing some stuff about Canada. We had a good time of fellowship hearing life story.

Day 7

This day I recall waking up early and starting my packing. I then went to T Bible Baptist church for the morning service. After this I was able to attend the teen group again. After the message to the teens was given, we split up into two groups: men and women. I was able to go to the men's group and give a short 15-20 minute devotional about the previous week's work in Sendai. 

I then later ate lunch with the same group. I remember the rest of the day I packed for home, spent some time talking with Katie, and ate a going-away dinner at A's. They made a traditional style sushi dinner, which was very good. We also watched a movie. I have to say that I am thankful for the A's hospitality and willingness to take me into their home as a complete stranger. They were a major blessing from God, and made the mission trip a lot easier. Thank you A family! 

Day 8

On this day I recall getting up early, packing, praying with Katie, then driving off to the bus station. It was about 30-40 minutes to the bus station. From there I said my final goodbyes and headed out. The bus ride to the airport was about two hours. Upon arrival at the airport I went through security and ticketing in Tokyo with great ease and was even able to each lunch there. I will say that security in Japan is way more lax than the USA. I recall boarding the flight which was about 9 hours. This time I sat next to a man from the Philippines that was going to a church conference in Arizona. I spoke with him briefly, but he did not speak English well. I recall that this flight was difficult because I could never get into a good position to sleep. After the flight I landed in LA and it hit that I was in the USA because I had to go through three security check-points and speak with various customs people about the nature of my trip and what I was bringing back. Such a vast difference from Japan! lol! Before I got on my next flight to Salt Lake City I could feel heavily that I already missed being in Japan. Fortunately, the next flight I was seated next to a Christian from Hong Kong and was able to talk with her a good portion of the trip. She was apparently in the USA for 8 days on a business trip. I then boarded my final flight from Salt Lake City to Missoula and was sat next to a man who was going to Montana for the first time ever. He was also in a transitional point in his life about what to do next, so I was able to speak with him about the five big questions (as presented to the college class in Japan) as well as the gospel. He had a lot of questions, and a lot to think about. His name was Assad. Pray for him as well. I arrived home and met up with my parents for dinner, thus ending the mission trip!

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