As we embark for Japan again I wanted to take this last blog from the USA to recap our time here since leaving Japan on June 30th, 2015.
When we were leaving Japan Katie had to change her ticket to Asiana airlines so that we could be on the same one-way ticket to Montana from Tokyo. Unfortunately it was a last minute purchase, so she was seated far in back of the plane while I was seated in front next to a bunch of Sikhs that did not speak English! None of them wanted to change seats! So, I will never forget asking the flight attendant if I could move back to an empty seat to which she said only if the person next to the empty seat agreed to it! Fortunately he did! Not only that, he agreed to switch places with Katie who was only a few rows away so that we could sit next to each other for the flight home! Off to a good start!
From there we eventually arrived in Missoula, Montana only to spend the whole month there recovering from jet lag and the reverse-culture shock of coming back to the USA. I then gave my SUV to my mother in exchange for her old Toyota Camary as we would be moving south and would not need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. We then drove from Missoula, MT to New Market, TN to stay with Katie's parents and plan our wedding that would be in three months on October 15th, 2015. At that time her parent's pastor Mr. McE, generously let me live in their apartment house in TN for 3 months! Thank you Pastor! Soon after we got married in a little white country church in TN with just close friends and family attending. After that we went on our honey-moon which ended in Jacksonville, FL on November 1st, 2015. I then officially joined the mission board, and officially became a missionary.
Next, we decided to go help one of our struggling supporting churches in Water Valley, Mississippi for the next three months while staying at their parsonage. This was an excellent experience as we were able to connect with everyone there during a crucial time and were also able to each lead one person to the Lord from the community. With the help of friends we were also able to get our prayer cards, video, poster board, and power point presentations done at this time. Around January 31st, 2016 we moved to GA to live with Pastor Jackson at our sending church. (for me at least, this has always been Katie's sending church). We also found out in January 2016 that Katie would be expecting baby Mary. For the next several months until May we visited every one of Katie's supporting churches so that they could meet me. This took us all around Georgia, to Florida, up to Michigan, across to Maine, and back down to Georgia. As far as we know all of the churches accepted us. During the end of this time we also took a 12 week Bradley Method birthing class in preparation for a home birth.
When July 2016 came around, Katie was over six months along in her pregnancy, so we decided to have her stay with her parents while I drove out to Montana for a month and a half to visit a lot of Montana churches to speak at the MT Bible Camp camp as well as raise support. At this time we got our first new supporting church as a couple. Thank you Berean Baptist in MT! I then came back in August to help Katie prepare to deliver the baby at our place in October. On October 12th, 2016 our baby Mary K was born after almost two days of labor related events at the Pastor's house in Newborn, GA. Thank you again Pastor Jackson! Our healthy baby girl came at 7 pounds 5 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. Much thanks to our midwife, Debbie, and Katie's mom for coming for 2 weeks to help us during this time! We feel so blessed to be parents to our little Mary! She has brought us so much joy!!!
Before Thanksgiving 2016 we moved to a mission house. Around this time I joined the church officially. We waited until January 2017 before starting to travel to new churches to raise support so that Katie could heal and the baby could grow. From January 2017 to April 2017 we diligently traveled to Florida, Tennesse, and Georgia to raise the rest of our support until we found out that we were at 100% support. We are also thankful for many new individuals who have decided to help us reach our goal. Thank you everyone! It has been a long road with a lot to learn, but the Lord has been good to us in many ways. We were thankful to have our first year married together in the States. Katie was able to to rest and prepare for her new role as a wife and mother overseas, and we praise God that we saw her thyroid issues miraculously healed during this time! I was able to learn to live by faith, study the scriptures, and read a lot of books about both theology and Japanese language as well as culture. We were also able to do a lot of evangelism during our furlough in the form of witnessing, door knocking, and handing out literally thousands of tracts across the country. Please pray for us as we return to Japan as a family for this next term! Thank you for your faithfulness!