Monday, December 24, 2007

Hey guys

This is an extract from a book I was reading. It really convicted me, and I hope it does the same to you.

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Why the cross?

Because sinners have no other hope.

Why the cross?

Because it is the unassailable proof that we can be forgiven.

Let's gaze on it together. As we draw close, don't assume that you already know and understand what happened there. Come to the cross as if for the first time. In the book When God Weeps, Steven Estes and Joni Earackson Tada give this account of Christ's death. As you read, refuse to let the scene be familiar. Let its reality shock you.

The face that Moses had begged to see - was forbidden to see - was slapped bloody. The thorns God had sent to curse the earth's rebellion now twisted upon his own brow..."On your back with you!" One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier's heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner's wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier's life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to the lungs? Who gives energy to the cells? Who holds the molecules together? Only by the Son do all things hold together. The victim wills that the soldier live on - he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings. As the man swings, the Son remembers how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm - the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless - the nerves perform exquisitely. "Up you go!" They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can barely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl on the spotless being - the living excrement from our own souls. The apple of his Father's eye turns brown with rot. His Father! He must face his Father like this!

From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise those eyes.

"Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped - murdered, envied, hated lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten - fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you EVER held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk - you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolution, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp - buying politicians, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, abused slaves - relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, I loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?"

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamenessless itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed. The Father watches as his heart's treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. The Lord's stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.

"Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?"

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, will not, reach down and reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

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Yes, we have been rescued. We have been saved. Too often the church neglects to mention what we have been saved FROM. We have been saved from an eternity of suffering and enduring the wrath of the Almighty, Holy, Just Lord of the universe, for the sins we have committed. Remember this Christmas what the birth of Jesus means for God's chosen people - salvation from God's wrath. Thank the Lord. Give Him all the praise and all the glory which He deserves. The gracious, merciful Lord saved us unregenerate unworthy sinners from His wrath, through repentance and faith in Christ. Lord, for Yours is the power, the kingdom, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Alex

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hello!

Well Mission Megumi for 2007 is now over and I’m back on Australian soil once again. Thank you to everyone for praying for me and supporting me for my time in Japan!

The last few weeks of my stay in Nagoya flew by, everyday packed with amazing opportunities and fun times. One morning for example, I went to uni expecting to be going through a Christianity Explained course with Ayumi and Pamela, but instead, I had the chance to share the Gospel, through a Knowing God Personally Booklet with Shizue. On top of that, Sachie, a “baby Christian” helped me and got to share her testimony with her friend! Praise God!

Our farewell party on the final Friday night had a mixed crowd arrive. People from our Churches, Gaidai, AMU and friends of friends alike all came to Nishin Church for one last time with the Australians. The Gospel was shared twice that night and surprisingly all the Australians (despite Shiho’s best efforts) held their tears, even though we knew that we might not be seeing these special people for a while. Andy was possibly the happiest person that night, because he was able to share with everyone that he had decided to come back on a STINT (Short Term International Mission Team) for a year in 2009.

Over all for the trip we had so many spiritual conversations and gospel presentations it was clear that God was blessing our work. Thank him for the amazing harvest we help to feed. Three girls prayed to receive Christ in our time there which is amazing. They are all surrounded by other Christians and people who can help them on their walk with Christ.

God is so good and has done amazing things. Thank you for your prayers again, please continue to pray for the young Christians in Japan, that they would be connected with the family of Christ and be able to grow strong in their faith.

In Christ
Paula

If you want to read the long and happy adventures of what God did with Paula in Japan – please visit my online journal at www.ostinatoseaker.blogspot.com. And feel free to email or contact me if you have any questions.
Friday 21-12-07

Back in Australia!! AHHH!!

Tuesday I went to meet Haruka. She was late, but when she came through the crowds of people at Ueno Station, I was so happy to see her. She hasn’t changed one bit. Hooray! I love my best Japanese friend. It was so good to see her. We went out to lunch and talked like crazy. I love the way she still uses basic Japanese to talk to me – it’s so much easier.

Then we went to Akihabara and got model buildings to furnish my dad’s model train set. ☺ it was fun. Later on we walked around and talked more and more. We ended up walking past a heap of temples and things so I asked her about Buddhism.

After that, when we were eating bagels at a place in the station, we talked about Christianity. She said she can’t understand people who believe in things they can’t see. I said that even if we can’t see God, we can feel him. I asked her if she wanted to know more, and took out a KGP.

Reading though the first point, “God made us and loves us” she said “God doesn't make people, people are born from their parents.” So I explained that God makes that happen – or that God thought of that…

“So God made us?” she said. “I don’t want to think that God made us, because people make things all the time and then use them.” She picked up the plastic bottle in front of us and said; “people make this – there is nothing special about it”.

“For sure,” I said, “but God didn’t just make us like people make bottles. We will use this bottle and throw it away, but God made us with Love. He made us special and individual and he loves us – he doesn’t want to use us and throw us away.”

“So God loves us?” she asked.
“Yes” I said
“All people?”
“Yes, all people,”
“Even Japanese?”

Honestly my heart broke so much to hear her ask that. I wanted to stand up and yell to the whole shop – God loves all people – he loves YOU!!

Then she asked; “What about the bad people?” So I said, “Well, your mother loves you yes?” (she looked doubtful, but I continued) “Your mother loves you, and wants the best for you. If you start doing things like stealing and smoking, she will still love you, but she will want you to stop. It’s the same with God – he loves everyone but he wants them to stop doing bad things.”

We had to stop there because we had to go meet up with my homestay sister and get going home, but please pray for Haruka!! She said that she wanted to come to Australia this year, but had a fight with her parents about it (they didn’t want her travelling alone) and couldn’t. Then she promised that she would come next year. I can’t wait to see her again.

That night, Kana and I slept on the train back to Abiko and met Okaasan and Yuta for dinner. Then we cruised home for one last night. I went to bed early, and for once slept until 6:00, when I had to get up and get ready to go. Okaasan drove me to the airport and dropped me off. Check in was fine and George and Esther were even almost on time for their check in too.

We sat together on the plane – watching movies and what not as we flew to Bangkok and then on to Singapore. At Singapore we separated and I caught my final flight of the day home to Brisbane.

Yay – I’m home in Australia again! Hooray!

Thanks to everyone for praying for me and reading along with the fun journey of what God did in Japan while I was there. ☺

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saturday 15-12-07

(Graduation Day) I’m already forgetting what happened on Monday – that’s what happens when you get busy I guess. So today we are going on our retreat. We are supposed to be packed and out of the houses at 9:30 to walk to the boys. I don’t see it happening (and I can’t say I’m helping the cause by typing this) but that’s what life has been like for the last 4 weeks and oh well. Besides I’m packed. I’d like to clean something, but Cecilia’s stuff is still everywhere and I’m not sure what ministry stuff we need to put away. Oh well.

Monday – the last day on campus – was the same old same old Monday that we usually have. I’m not sure anything in particular happened of important significance (and even if it did, this just goes to show I can’t remember it now anyway :P). Monday night was free to meet up with contacts and while the girls didn’t have any appointments, the boys did – they stayed out till 1am with Disuke and Peipo and their mates from Aichiu.

Tuesday we had a goodbye breakfast at Jody’s place with all the Nagoya staff (and their families (or the members who weren’t in school anyway)) so we left home at 20 to 8 (challenge for us, but I went around and knocked on doors at 7:00am to make sure we were all awake). Riding to the station to take the train to the other station where Jody would be picking us up from I managed to crash my bike into a pole. I’m ok – I stood back up (the bruises on my leg now form a smiley face) and we kept riding.

After breakfast we had prayer and Seiji shared with us a vision he had had. He took a cup and he asked Takeshi how he would make it better. Takeshi used to be a potter, so he said he’d have to smash it first to start again to make it better. Seiji said that that’s what God does with us. We look good to start with and we serve the purpose, but we can be better. Sometimes he has to break us to make that happen, but once we are back together, we are a lot better than before.

Seiji encouraged us to not be afraid of God breaking us, because if we trust him, he will make us better.

After some more prayer, we gave presents and took lots of photos. My hand (which was a little sore after falling of the bike) started to be very painful, so Jody got me a bandage (which was too long) and they wrapped up my arm so it almost looks like I’ve broken the whole thing – which I haven’t I just sprained the wrist. ☺ whew.

After that we went to Lunch (another goodbye thing) and I ate my rice doria with my left hand using chopsticks – so proud right now ☺

Then, the Megumi team caught the 3 or 4 trains home and did some more prayer (singing accapella because not only are we not allowed to play guitar in the apartments (no instruments clause in the contract) but I couldn’t strum and it was raining). Then the boys went out again, this time meeting up with their neighbour Julius, who is from Tanzania, married a Japanese woman he met in England. They now live in Japan, while 3 of their 4 children are in Holland, their youngest (maybe) lives with them here. Sounds like a pretty hectic life. They stayed out late and then the boys also met up with Kaji and went to karaoke and didn’t get home till 2am.

Wednesday. This was the day I aimed to meet up with Yurie and share the KGP with her.


Sunday 16-12-07

On the Sinkansen.

Wednesday we went to uni at the usual time. Had lunch at the usual place. I talked with Yurie over lunch and we arranged to meet up after her class at 3:00 in the Com Pla (short for the Communication Plaza). When she left I talked to Esther about trying to share the KGP with her. Esther wasn't sure she was able to, but Sachie was hanging around, so I set her up with Sachie to practice with, before Shiho and I went off to confirm stuff with Andy.

I’d been working on a power point for the goodbye party and I needed Andy to get the photos off everyone’s memory cards onto his computer and then on to mine for the power point. After talking for a while, Esther went missing, so Shiho and I went to meet Yurie.

Our conversation was pretty fun, just chatting. Actually I’ve been quoting musicals and movies and songs all mission and then saying “Where’s that from!!??” and no one ever knows. Today when I said it – “yep yep yep! Where’s that from?” to Shiho she said “The land before time!” AHHH! I was so shocked!! Someone knew the answer!!! Anyway back to conversation with Yurie.

I threw in heaps of moments to lead into Christianity, but nothing seemed to be taking – my sisters, my church, everything! AHH!! It was frustrating to be trying to get something deeper going, but have nothing happen. Eventually, I just said: “Hey Yurie, you know we are Christians and I know you want to know more about Christianity, so do you have any questions you could ask us? Because we leave soon…..”

It did the trick in that she asked a question, but it wasn’t really what we were expecting: she asked about Campus Crusade. I felt like she has questions, but she doesn't know what they are. After a while more, I was about to pull out a KGP, but we had to go! Ahhh FRUSTRATING!

We arranged to meet up with her again – on Friday, and then headed off. George and Andy had another night of contact meeting, hanging out with the Frizbee people, but the girls had a night at home. We made sushi again, which was really fun. Probably some of the coolest times on project were the nights I had with the girls. Wednesday night I also got to talk to Steve, which was really good considering the long weekend that I had coming up.

Thursday morning I cycled over to Andy’s place in the rain to let him and George know we were catching a bus and also to grab photos off him (on the USB). Turns out that George was out until 3am with the frizbee guys – playing pool and darts and then to Karaoke, but Andy had come home around 10 for an earlyish night. Shiho, Wai Ling and I all caught the bus to uni to be there by 10:30 for the CE’s (Shiho and Wai Ling with Mika, and Me with Ayumi (or so I thought)) and everyone else came later (supposedly for lunch, but not arriving until 12:30).

Shiho and Wai Ling started their CE with Mika on time, but there was no sign of Pam or Ayumi for me. It was strange, but I just prayed a read a bit of bible and then Shizue turned up. She wanted to hang out and chat, and we ended up talking about Christianity – she has an Aunt in England who is a Christian. The conversation was so unexpected, but it flowed naturally to a KGP.

I was struggling through reading a Japanese one to her (so much Kanji that I couldn’t read!!) and looking over at Shiho and Wai Ling (who were joined by Kahori and Sachie – that was 3 Christian native speakers at their table!!) and praying that I had someone to give me a hand, when Shizue stumbled across a word she didn’t know (possibly sin or sacrifice or something that’s not used much in Japanese). The first thing she did was look up, see Sachie and then call her over to help out! Praise God for answered prayer!!

Sachie came over, saw what we were doing and then went back to get her lunch. It was really cool to see Sachie take over and help Shizue through a KGP. Sachie only became a Christian in August, so this is something she’s only new at but she was so willing to share it with her friend. Hooray!!

Over at the Mika-CE table – Wai Ling asked Mika if she thought she might be able to pray to receive Christ now, knowing what he went through to save her (they had just finished CE 2 – all about the death of Christ and why he died) – She though about it and then said yes!! Praise God!

When everyone started turning up for lunch we all sat around together. Some guys came and hung out for a bit too – which was really cool. Then, we all caught the bus to Aichiu with Pamela, who told us some more exciting news – Ayumi (Kaji’s Girlfriend) had bought another friend to her CE lesson on Wednesday and after going through a KGP, had prayed to receive Christ!

At Aichiu, things were pretty quiet – Andy and I ate our “Mega Tomato”’s from Maccas – 3 beef patties, bacon, tomato, 2 slices of cheese, lettuce, 3 pieces of bread and this strange mayo with pepper in it (who’s crazy idea was that?) – which was pretty good. Everyone at Aichui is in exams, so we only had 6 people at ESS which was a bit sad, considering it was our last one, but it was also really good to see those who did come.

There weren't many coming to the Immanuel meeting, so Jody, the boys, Disuke and I all caught the bus and the train to Kamiyashiro, while Ibuki drove the girls. At the Immanuel Meeting – it was a Nabe Party – because it was the last meeting for the year. Nabe is pot – like a ceramic pot. We Australians thought this meant bring a plate, so we had bought 2 containers of rice (left over form the sushi Wednesday night ☺). This actually meant pots of water which was boiling and you cooked things in it – veggies and meat etc. :D

It was pretty fun. I talked with Ayumi about her friend receiving Christ and just how she’s going generally. She’s done hip-hop dancing for 4 years so she’s really good. I think Fiona would like her ☺ After that I went around chatting to other people and just generally having a good time.

The IM people had arranged a good bye for us, so after Shiho gave her testimony (a first for her in front of such a large group) Andy (as team leader) made a speech and then they gave us all presents – diaries for next year (with a helpful reminder in the front cover “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” :P). Jody laid it on hard for us in his goodbye speech – “in these Australians who have given up so much to come to you – you have seen God – who gave up so much to come to you as Jesus” intense!!

It was really nice to hang out that night, Shubo, a Nanzan student, and I ended up jamming a bit which was really cool. After Shiho’s testimony and a KGP, a girl called Yuki who we had met in our first week and had come – it was her first IM, prayed to receive Christ. It was exciting because Ayumi, who is doing the CE with Pamela and Shizue were both there as well. So good to see our contacts who were interested in Christianity getting connected into this community of believers who can encourage them and help them grow! Yay!

We walked home and went to bed pretty late, but still phyced for our last day on campus.

Friday morning we left home early – almost on time too in fact – the boys came around to sign cards for Jody and Pam and then we cycled together (just like our first day) for the last time to meet them for breakfast at a coffee place near Gaidai. Breakfast was fun – boiled eggs, toast and a drink and then it was campus time!

Our last day on campus – so many students came to the Gaidai Lunch, the most boys we have every had. Kenji came along – which was a highlight for everyone – it’s so good to see him coming back to God. He says that he has been missing something ever since he cut ties with his Christian friends and now he’s getting it back, and he’s going to start a bible study with Jody every week as well. Hooray! Andy also got talking to another of the guys, Takayuki, who is going to go to Tasmania on a tour and hit Sydney for a couple of days – they are going to meet up then.

I sat around with Yurie for a long time this day, and she asked more questions about the bible. Eventually I pulled out a KGP and asked her if she had seen it before and explained what it was. She was eager to have a read with me, but then she had to run off to class!! AHH!!! We made a date to read it that night at the farewell party. I kept praying that God would make it happen.

Soon after we all headed over to Nishin to set things up. Andy and I worked on the power point – getting the timing for the songs right and what not, only to put it on the church computer and find that while my Mac couldn’t count to 2, (for 2 seconds between each slide) the church computer did, so everything was out again. We ended up scrapping the sound on the power point and using Andy’s iPod instead. :P (more mac products).

We had about 30 people come – from all sorts of places – ESS, Gaidai, Christians, non Christians, people we had only met once, other staff members, extra friends we hadn’t even met. It turned out to be a pretty good crowd, and after a few fun games we started eating the masses of curry rice. (and then trying to feed people the extra 8kgs of rice that we had cooked (sorry mum – I can’t judge like you can!)).

We had a sharing time – where the Japanese students could say thanks to us and what not – Kahori spoke first and it turned into a bit of a sermon. She is a bit on fire for God that girl. Ibuki cried, and Yuki shared how she had just become a Christian the night before. Kahori’s dad came during this time – which was great considering he isn’t a fan of Kahori’s Christianity. He spent a lot of time chatting afterwards even though everyone expected him to take Kahori and leave.

After that it was our turn to share. The plan was that everyone would say one thing – a thank you or a “my most special moment was” and Andy and I would work a bit of testimony into it. We were running short on time and Kahori had already gospel smacked everyone, so I was the one doing it. Wai Ling however got carried away and started sharing bible verses with everyone and adding gospel in everything she could, so in the interest of keeping things short and not to heavy on the Christian front, we scrapped me too.

After that, the Japanese people had organised a song for us. It’s funny because Jody had been joking with Andy and I about what song we were going to put on the power point and saying “as long as it’s not that soppy friends song by Michael W Smith” (we had chosen Goodbye by Audio Adrenilin and God Sent by DC Talk) and when the Japanese people spoke up, we all got a sinking feeling in our stomaches.

It was the Friends song by Micheal W Smith. Nice a soppy :P


Later on Sunday night – watching Soccer with Okaasan and Yuta.

So after the soppy song, things wound up. Kahori wanted to love on us some more, so we sang shout to the Lord together – it was a bit much though because the non Christians just were outside the little circle we had going being left out – it’s things like that that make me think Kahori might need to slow down a bit, but oh well. After that Shubo and I started jamming again, and then we were joined by John, a Canadian who is here for a year (goes to Nishin Church). Then the coolest thing happened – Disuke and his friend Minami, who are non Christians came over and wanted to jam with us.

We didn’t have any other chords but the church songs that were lying on the piano, but Disuke (who picked up a bass) and Midori, were really cool about it: “we’ll just join in!”. So we played one song, then did Grace Like Rain – which went down really well. After that we ran through One Way, but it was a bit harder, I was sight reading the chords for piano and trying to sing and project, John didn’t know the words and it’s a very guys song, so yeah. Still it was super cool to be jamming with them and praising God. ☺ hooray!

It took ages to say good bye that night. Everyone was just hanging around and around. I don’t know why people can’t be more perceptive, but eventually it got to the stage where you’d say goodbye to people you had already said goodbye too. I was thinking “we have to get up early, we should go” but everyone else was living in the here and now and was only worried about saying goodbye over and over again.

When we finally got home, it was bed by about 12:30. I got up at 6:30 and woke up C. It didn’t take much for me to finish putting things into my suitcase and get my backpack ready for the weekend away. I was ready by 8:00 so I typed some stuff and then at 8:30, walked some stuff over to the boys. The plan for the weekend was that we would leave Friday night and go away to a retreat to wind down.

Because we were having a party Friday night, we weren’t’ going to leave until Saturday. When we left, we had to put all the girls suitcases had to be walked over to the boys to leave for the weekend (our apartments were only rented until Saturday, the boys have theirs until Monday) and then we would go from there. We were supposed to leave at 9:30. I knew it was going to take more than one walk over for some of the girls (Cecilia had 4 bags) so I took mine earlier so I could help out.

After walking back, I then loaded up my bike and took Esther (also loaded up with back packs) over on her bike. Then we left our bikes there and walked back to help with more stuff.

The other girls had been packing ministry stuff, and they still were. Ibuki had come over and was waiting for us to come back. So cute to see her again. I will miss her. Just when I thought we might make it on time Wai Ling tells me that she’s called Seiji (who was coming to get the keys at 9:30) and asked him to come at 10:30. *sigh* for once I thought we were going to make it – but no.

Anyway then I loaded up another bike and rode it back to the boys (for the 3rd time that day) while the girls walked their big suitcases over. Seiji met us at the boys and from there, he drove the 2 girls with no bikes back to their place and the rest of us started biking (via the girls place) over to Kamiyashiro.

We parked at Kamiyashiro and caught a train to Fujigaoka. From there we caught a the linimo to some other station and then another train to somewhere else – Asuke? – and then a bus. The idea of all of this, was to get us to a cultural villiage where we could relax and be cultural.


Monday 17-12-07

By the time we did all that bussing and training and what not – as well as leaving an hour late – we got to the cultural place with about 5 mins to go in before we had to start walking back to the bus stop so that we could make sure we got to the next place in time for the shuttle bus to pick us up to go to the youth hostel. Can you see me rolling my eyes at this?

In any case we didn't go in, we just walked back to the bus stop. It dropped us off at a hotel place, so we went into the lobby to wait for our shuttle bus. Everyone was so tired, so while most people slept Andy and I had a gruelling game of take two (my first 5 letters were Z X Y Q and E – make a word with that :P).

Just as we finished this little old man came in and loaded us into his Tarago. I have to say that the “Youth Hostel” we arrived at was amazing. It was an old school, now run by a family for people who wanted to hike up to the top of the mountain to see stars. It was clean and there were loads of blankets to keep warm. Hooray!

Dinner that night – which was only $10 – was this amazing piece of marinated chicken, fish, beef, veggies, misso soup, rice, tea, salad and a mandarin – how great was that!! Also the place was only $35 a night which is a bargin!! I’d love to come back there!! Breakfast the next morning – only $6 – was Japanese style with English bits mixed in. Salad, eggs, sasuage, fish, rice, veggies, misso soup, nato and apple. Pretty fantastic if you ask me ☺

It was cloudy so we couldn’t see the shooting stars (apparently you get to lie on a heated table to watch them so you are nice and warm) so that night we spent a few hours just chilling and playing cards and take two (Shiho and I had a Japanese bath! Yay!) before heading to bed at about 10:00.

The next morning the girls got up between 6:30 and 7:00 and got ready for breakfast at 7:30. Breakfast was stellar and then we hung out some more before having the little old man drive us back down the mountain to catch the bus. Then we caught the bus for another 40 mins, just missed one train and had to wait a half hour for the next (which was the one we were aiming for, but it was frustrating to have just missed the first one). Then we caught the linimo back to Fujigaoka and hung out in Mr Donuts for a while just doing “best and worst” moments and more personal evaluation.

Then we did a quick trip back to the boys place, the girls stopped at there’s and left the bikes there and walked on to the boys. Then one of the missionaries Takeshi-san took all our luggage and George to the train station. I took Andy’s back pack (which weighed a ton) on the spare bike while Andy finished off the photo burning to the CD’s on his lap top and the girls walked.

I met George at the train station and we matched up suitcases with back packs for everyone. As soon as they got there we grabbed tickets and caught the train. On the train it was goodbye time. George, Esther and I were going to Nagoya to catch a Shinkansen to Tokyo and everyone else was dumping stuff at Masayoshi and Pamela’s apartments and then going to Karaoke one last time, before Shiho and Cecilia went off to Gifu for the night to stay with Shiho’s brother (Andy and Wai Ling were staying with Pam and Masayoshi for the night before their early morning flights today).

No tears – even then!! – and all of a sudden the rest of the grew were gone and it was just me, George and Esther. We got to Nagoya, found the Shinkansen ticket place, grabbed tickets and made the train with about 2 mins to spare. Pretty good timing. The trip to Tokyo only took 1 hour and 4 mins and I made the 5:03 train from Ueno station out to Fusa! Hooray! I was going home!!

After my long train trip, my homestay dad picked me up from the station – there is a new carpark! Everything is just like it was at home though, except maybe Yuta – who is a lot more talkative. :D He poured a tea for me (yuck) and I was going to drink it anyway, but as soon as Okaasan noticed she’s like “No no! Paula doesn’t drink that! I put a water in the fridge for her today!”

How beautiful is my homestay mother! God thank you so much for giving me such a blessing. Kana is the same – she has hair extensions, but was wearing less make up than I expected. She’s working in Harajuku now – also something that suits her. Yuta has braces and was wearing the wallabies jacket that my mum and dad gave him - apparently he wears it all the time. ☺ My homestay dad was really funny, so good to see him again. God thank you for my lovely family. Happy is getting old now – she’s 9. Her gold fur is turning a little grey-white, but she’s still jumpy. When Obaasan (grandma) stays she usually sleeps with her in the tatami room (where I am) but I was worried that she would eat my teddy bear so I closed the door (Okaasan suggested it) but then this morning she was barking like mad. *sigh* I woke up at like 5:30 when Okaasan came down and ended up crawling out at 6:30 to lie on the couch. I went back to bed around 7:30 when Kana had left, and I was hoping to wake up before Okaasan left for work, but I just missed her.

She had left me breakfast though ☺. I zipped up all my things – including Fred -and let Happy into my room. After having a sniff around and finding that Grandma was indeed not there she left again. ☺ then I weighed my bags – Ottosan thought it might be too heavy, but that’s because it was badly packed because of the retreat. I took out Fiona’s heavy coat, which I’ll wear on the way home, and reorginised a few things and then weighed it and said it was 16.6, so (given I was holding it a bit) it is probably about 18 kgs – yay I’m under!! :D

Today I’m going to go see Kiyose for lunch and Michiko for dinner. I wonder if a day train pass would be cheeper, because I have to go all the way to Tokyo with Michiko… humm. I’ll see. Anyway now this is done I should probably get on to emails. ☺ I love being home again in Japan, but I’m glad I’m coming back to Australia soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday 13-12-07

I had the weirdest dream last night. Actually I had two. The first one, I forgot to leave on Christmas Day to go to Bundaberg with Steve. So it was 3 in the afternoon and I was still at home lying around – having completely forgotten to go! How awful!

Anyway I woke up in the middle of apologizing and tried to find Fred to give me a hug, when I couldn’t find him! So I looked off my loft – and he was sprawled out on the floor below! Oh no – Fred had tried to suicide during the night! So I roll over thinking about my poor Fred and I end up falling back asleep and dreaming again.

This time I dream that I did get out of bed and go down to get Fred, but the moment I get off my ladder from my loft, I’m not in the apartment any more – I am at Wishart – and there are all these children running around. So I look for Fred but I can’t find him. I think one of the children has stolen him, so I start questioning them, but then their parents come!

Turns out it’s actually Christmas, and the school is putting on a nativity play. That’s when I notice all the farm animals running around (like the chickens – who I thought were pecking Fred to death at one stage, but it was just a child) and the sign that says “this area has been converted into a barn to house the animals for the nativity for tonight”.

Then, Carter and Curtis Bennet’s Mum (who has another baby with her (her other child (not Travis, the oldest, but the youngest) who’s name I don’t know)) says “come over here”. So I do – and in the alcove under the stairs (where the Sheep are being stored) she’s sitting on a bench with Carter and the Anon. Baby.

And she says “I hear you are looking for a teddy bear – the boys found him and thought he’d be safer with the sheep, because he blends in”. (which is true because Fred is white and furry). And so I look into the sheep pen and there by the rail is FRED! Hooray!

So I take Fred (who is slightly wet from being chewed on by sheep) and start to go back to my loft – and as I pass the toilets there are all these dads there arguing about things. Anyway I wash my hands and ignore them and then go to my loft – which just happens to be above the toilets.

When I get up there though, it’s no longer my loft, but a huge dorm room with all different beds and these anon people I don’t know. Seems like we are at a uni, but we also are supposed to be team building – I don’t know why. So I walk past all these people to my bed, but as I do some crazy people come in and start to be crazy.

We eventually kick them out, but they were saying stuff about me, and it turns out my room mate has been recording my conversations – when she plays it though – I’m like “oh that’s just me talking in my sleep” and then she’s like “it doesn't matter – it’s evidence!” and I say “but it doesn’t make sense – it’s sleep babble!”

But it turns out half of the dorm has been spying on me because of the crazy people who came in, but the other half of the dorm think I’m alright. ☺ *whew*. The next thing I know we are locking the doors so that the rioters outside can’t come in and get me and we are sitting down to a prayer meeting/team bonding time/figure out what to do with Paula time.

At this time, there are 2 distinct groups formed. Now I also start to recognize some of the people in the room – most of the people on my group are people I’ve met once at MYC type events and the other people all have black hair and remind me of the people you see at Harajuku, although they are led by one of the big guys from my vocal rep class.

So we are sitting down for a while talking about things, when more people come in (how they got through the barricaded doors and rioters is beyond me). One guy joins my team and says I’m an ok sort of person, and for some unknown reason I start promoting Andy to him. “He’s a great leader” I say :P then he comes in and I remember that Fred was the start of this whole dream, so I stand up to go to my bed to get Fred, and that’s when I roll over and remember that Fred is actually still suicided on the floor in our room.

So I wake up and go down and get him. He’s ok, because even though he tried to suicide – he’s a stuffed bear and he can survive falls like that. ☺

The End.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday 10-12-07

Woah – the start of our last week! Exciting!! Saturday night I went to an onsen with Ibuki. No one else from the team was game enough for it, and the people who went to the “Returnee’s Party” were pretty wiped out anyway. Ibuki being the legend she is, picked me up and drove us there. If I had been thinking I would have planned it better so she could have had dinner with us as well, as it was, she had dinner alone at her house first before coming. Oh well.

The onsen was super cool. It was packed, and a lot of mothers had their children with them. Everything is blurry once my glasses are off, so it was all wonderful. My most favourite bath (there are many different types) was the outside one. You sit in 40 Degree water, but the air around you is probably only about 14 Degrees. It’s the perfect balance.

We spent about an hour there and then drove home. Ibuki came in and hung out with us for a while (Shiho and Cecilia were still up) and then went home. Again if I’d planned it better she could have stayed over instead of driving back home and then having to drive back to pick us up in the morning, but oh well.

Sunday morning, Esther and George were almost on time for church! Ibuki picked us up at 10:15 and we drove to pick up Stephanie, who is a Canadian teacher at the Christian school that Jody’s children go to. Then we went to church. On the way there, we realised that the strange smell in the car was actually George’s finger. So we rolled down the windows and he put it outside for most of the trip. Ibuki asked if he had been disinfecting it every day and when he said no she was pretty horrified. (she is studying to be a doctor!) When we got to church she took him to the bathroom and disinfected it all for him.

Apparently 2 weeks ago, when the pastor had asked us to do our testimonies I said I would play and sing something. I can’t for the life of me remember saying yes to something like that, but since George had done his testimony 2 weeks ago, Esther and I were up.

Esther was pretty nervous, but she did a great job. The funniest part was when she said “I got distracted with guys” and the pastor who was translating didn’t understand “guys”. So I’m translating it to Japanese to him and then he’s translating my Japanese to the congregation.

I didn’t end up telling my testimony, I just said “I became a Christian in Japan, so Japan has always been a big part of my walk with God. I’ve been so encouraged to be here working with Japanese Christians at universities and seeing you here at church. It is fantastic to know that Japanese people are reaching out for God and there are places they can find him.” Or something like that.

Afterwards I played Grace Like Rain (when I sat at the piano, the pastor was trying to bring a mic over for me to sing into, and I said “oh no, I don’t need that, my voice is really big” :D I’m so glad he believed me).

The sermon was given by one of the older people from the church and it was on Mark 10 and Luke 2. Both stories about children. He really challenged us to think about how we are going to come to God. Are we going to cover up and put on a show and wear badges saying we are number one, or are we going to come like children, who know nothing and have nothing to offer?

After church we said goodbye to people and then headed off to Ramen. Ibuki wanted to take George there because she knew that this was our last Sunday. The Ramen place was super cool, and the chef’s where so funny when we walked in. We had pork Ramen (noodles in soup) and giyousa (dumplings) and then were off again to go meet Andy, Shiho, Rita (girl from Nishin Church) and Amiee (Jody’s daughter) at karaoke!!

Something Stephanie said in the car was that she had been listening to a sermon on the “Dog and Cat principle”. Dogs get taken care of, fed, washed, looked after and they think “you look after me – you must be God!”. Cats get taken care of, fed, washed, looked after and they think “you look after me – I must be God!” It’s important to make sure that we are remembering to think like dogs, not cats, but then also to take it further and think “you are looking after me – how can I show people that you are great?”. So taking it one step more and realising that not only is God the main character in the story, but that everything is for his glory.

We got to Karaoke at about 2:30 and booked the room out until 4:30. Amiee showed up a bit late, but it was really fun over all – probably the last time I’ll get to go!

After that Ibuki was dropping me home (listening to a worship CD I’ve lent her (honestly, she’s only got one from the 1980’s!! it’s SO old!!)) and she asked if we could go by a drug store and get George some disinfectant. She’s so funny, I think she’ll make a great doctor because she’s so caring.

We got home and had fried Asian style Pasta (soy sauce) which I put cheese on, for dinner and then hung out before our team meeting.

After our team meeting and a few games of take two, we wound up and went to bed. Now it’s Monday again! Last Monday on campus! I feel like there is lots to do, but I also feel like I’ve got more time to do it in. Crazy! I’ll be home in just over a week. Weee!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday 08-12-07

Something funny I keep forgetting to write about, is when the girls have a girly night, we still put the ladder up and then jump down. The hard part is getting back up to the loft to get the ladder back down again. We usually send Shiho up, I’m the base person who gets stood on. But Shiho isn’t so good with heights and takes ages to work her way up to it. She’s getting a lot better.

Today, we pushed her up, but then she got stuck between the 2 bars and wouldn’t let go to push her self up and out of the situation. It took lots of encouragement for us to get her to trust that we weren't going to let her fall if she let go. Good times.

On Thursday we were having our usual kind of day at uni – hanging out in YA for lunch. I was making friends with one of the English teachers over here (he’s from … somewhere in the states) and things were winding down with the students when i noticed someone go up to Andy and ask him something. Luckily Seiji (the Nagoya Director) was with him and said something in Japanese and the guy went away. A few moments later a security guard was circling our tables. Warning signs everywhere!! Then someone came up to me and asked if I was a student. *sigh* they always pick on the gaijin (forigners).

Anyway I said no I'm from a club in Australia, and he asked me if I was a registered club on the uni and I know we aren't so I'm humming and thinking and I grab Jody, and ask him to take over. So he does. The guy was from Admin, and was just checking up on us. Jody asked if someone had complained about us and they said no - so we think we are clean - but even so. They talked for while - Jody said we are here with Mr Kimura - who is a Christian professor who takes care of us if the admin step in, and they were ok about that, and then Jody offered to give him his number, but the admin guy was like, "no it’s ok..."

When he left, I saw him talking to a lady who was having lunch next to me and Pamela as we did a CE with Ayumi this morning - so maybe that's who said something - I dunno. After that, we split up and spread out a bit. Lunch was over, so we looked ominous all sitting together. I left campus all together but everyone else just tried to blend in. Jody went to see Kimura sensei, but he wasn't in. Apparently he was followed when he tried to do that. We all left fairly soon after though.

We got together and prayed at Nishin before biking over to Isha (where the Christmas party was going to be held that night) and then walking to the train station and getting the train and then the bus to Aichiu. We had a 5 min wait at Fujigaoka for the bus and so Andy and I decided to go to maccas. So he starts and I run to catch up with him but for some reason I’m unco today and end up compleately stacking it on the cement. My hands were all grazed and my knees (which were already bruised from falling off bikes) got new bruises! Hooray! We wiped my hands with wet tissues on the bus (I did make it to maccas and back in time hooray!) but some of the dirt is stuck in my hand making it quite painful. My knees look stellar at the moment – the bruises have come up nicely. ☺

English club at Aichiu was really fun, not as many students turned up because they all have tests this week, but we talked about Christmas – what it means and what different cultures do for it and then we headed over to the Christmas Party!

The Christmas Party was held at Isha church – apparently the 90 year old female pastor is currently in a coma, so prayers for her. It was the biggest church I’ve seen yet in Japan. All the Student Impact Students from Nagoya were there as well as a heap of Gaidai and Aichiu students! Hooray! After some fun games, the Christian artist Migiwa performed a concert, which included her testimony. It was about the same stuff that I’d heard on Sunday when she performed at Parkside. I think her testimony moved a lot of the students though.

We left the Christmas party (late) at about 9:45. I was really wanting to dance and so I did for a bit. I looked physco by myself dancing and pulling random Japanese people in with me. But it was fun. ☺ A whole group of us walked down the street to a Maccas and hung out there for a while. I was pretty tired, but biking home alone was not a suitable option (especially since when I was waiting outside with my bike (in a stationary position) I fell over :D) I just hung with everyone.

We rode home – yay for down hill! (honeslty God has blessed us so much in that area – whenever we are riding home late and night and everyone is tired – it’s always been down hill) and made it just before midnight. ☺

Friday we all slept in, aiming to organise Australian party stuff in the morning before heading to uni for lunch at 12:00. I took 3 Christmas puddings which was super heavy – ended up walking way more than I usually would. Andy and George took the 5 kg’s of spagittie and the other 2 puddings and the girls took all the light plates and soft animals and stuff.

We dropped the stuff off at Nishin and then headed to campus. I was still a bit worried about yesterday as we still hadn’t heard anything solid about our position on campus, but it looked so sus that I was the only one on time for lunch. The guys were hanging out in the Atrium anyway, but I was the only one there at 12:15. The girls didn’t turn up unill 12:45. Honestly.

Still most of our contacts turned up and we had a good lunch. Afterwards we got a text from Jody. Mr Kimura had seen the admin guy and assured him that we were no threat to the students and we were safe to continue our mission – hooray! It was really good to know we weren’t in danger of being kicked of campus. ☺ *whew*

After that, Shiho and I went hunting for a chemist to see if I could get ear drops (my ear is really sore – I think it’s infected) and after 2 different pharmisicts told me to go see the doctors at the hospitial and all they could give me was pain killer we gave up and headed to Nishin. Andy and Shiho were the MC’s for the night, Andy in English and Shiho in Japanese (although they started by swapping ☺ it was funny) and so they ran through some things.

Everyone else turned up at 3 and we prayed for a half hour before starting preparations. I’m glad we started early, because we had a few technical difficulties, but everything was fine. Shubo and a Singaporean missionary along with Masayoshi turned up to help out, and ended up doing a great job with the cooking. It’s great to see Japanese guys wanting to serve. We made spaghetti and had Christmas pudding for desert.

It took ages for the night to get started, hardly anyone turned up until 6:30, but then things got rolling. We had introduction games and Australian Bush Dances (Amy you are a legend for giving me that CD ☺). All up we had 16 students come which was a pretty good turn out considering a lot of them had been out the night before too and all of them have exams.

For dinner I was at a table with Ibuki and 2 of her Aichui Med School friends – Emily, who I’ve met through English Club and Yukako, her friend, as well as Masayoshi (Nagoya missionary). The first thing Emily asked when she sat down was; “At English Club on Thursday we talked about Christmas – what is the real meaning of Christmas?”

How great is our God who just hands us spiritual conversations like that! Both girls were really interested in knowing. Emily also used to go out with the guitarist of Nishin Church (who’s parents are both missionaries). She said that she has noticed that a lot of people have faith and that she thinks it’s good and she needs it. The sad news is that she also thinks she needs to check them all out (Islam, Buddhism, Christianity etc) before she can choose. We had a lot of discussion with both girls.

Later on in the night, (our discussion was still going) we played a song about identity. The plan was that from this we could discuss about our identity and where it comes from. Our table was still stuck on the bible and Christianity so we ignored it for the most part. I used the chance though to go and grab my bible and a couple of KGP’s from my bag to bring out later. When I got back to the table I flashed the KGP’s at Ibuki just to let her know I had them and the next thing I know, she’s bringing them out and asking her friends if they want to see them.

It was amazing, both girls were really interested. Ibuki starts running them through (a little too fast maybe) how God loves us and how we are sinful and we slow up around the third point – Jesus. We did a lot of back tracking there and going into who Jesus is and how it works and what the bible says. Yukako actually went to a Christian school, so a lot of it for her was stuff she’d heard, but never really understood. I got the feeling she really appreciated actually knowing what Jesus was about for a change.

Both girls were really intellectual, so there was a lot of good conversation. Masayoshi also helped out heaps too. It was really good spiritual conversations. The next video was a Casting Crowns song, “Does Anybody Hear her?” and this one the girls did want to talk about. So we took a break from Jesus and talked about how people can judge us from our outside appearances. This lead on to Christianity again, and then Shiho gave her testimony as a conclusion to the discussion and then Kaji gave his testimony.

It was really good to flow from Kaji’s testimony, where he talked about how we all have a door in our hearts and we need to open it to God, back to the KGP. Masayoshi pointed out that the door doesn't have a handle on God’s side, we are the ones that have to open it.

With this we went to the 4th point of the KGP – our response to God. Yukako was very definite about wanting to move from a self directed life to a God directed one, and Emily was of the same mind although more hesitant, but when it came to praying the prayer, and actually asking God to come in and committing their lives to him they were both reluctant. Both girls said that they were not at a point in their lives where they needed God and said that maybe later on, when they have work and family and stress, then they would be able to pray. Emily went further with this and restated that she wanted to make sure she was signing up to the right religion before she did anything.

We kept talking to the girls and sharing with them our testimonies, and they were both excited about reading the bible and understanding it more. Ibuki and I ended up giving them both English-Japanese new testaments and both girls poured over the pages with great interest.

After Emily left, Jody and Ibuki talked more to Yukako, and challenged her to do a Christianity Explained course. She accepted which was great news.

Overall the night had 16 students come, everyone had a spiritual conversation, 5 KGP’s were shared and one CE has been initiated. ☺ hooray! Praise God for a great night.

We didn’t leave until 11:00pm and so we all enjoyed the long sleep in after our busy week. Today, the girls had lunch together (salad and ham sandwiches) and then Andy, George, Wai Ling and Shiho went to an event for Japanese people returning from being overseas for long term. Cecilia went to do a bit of relaxation shopping and Esther chilled in her room. I’ve been catching up on sleep, prayer and general Steve time. ☺ yay!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hello!

Well now it’s December and the cold is settling in. The Nagoya weather is still beautiful – cool sunny days, but if that wind picks up watch out! Everyone on the team has taken to bringing extra layers to uni just in case, and Andy has even pulled out his Grandfathers coat with the 10 plus pockets.

This last weeks ministry has been amazing. There are so many open doors. I was talking to a girl at church and she said she knows what I mean. Because we hang around Christians all the time, and are used to other people having a relationship with Jesus – we forget it’s something to be desired! We forget that it’s an amazing privilege to be able to know we are saved and loved by the creator of the universe!

I have so many great stories about Japanese people wanting to know about God from last week that I’ll just tell you about Friday. We have a group lunch on Friday and Sachie, one of the young Christians at Gaidai bought two of her non Christian friends to hang out with us. Their names were Ayumi and Shizue. Pamela was at the table with me and we got talking about our hobbies. Ayumi said that she liked reading books on life, so Pamela asked her if she’d ever heard of the bible – because that’s a book with a lot of wisdom about life in it.

Ayumi said she had heard of it, but that she was Buddhist, so she didn’t know if she could read it. The conversation flicked back and forth between us all, and I got the feeling that Ayumi had the desire to know more about Christianity – especially when Sachie told her that she was a Christian, and Pamela shared that her family was a Buddhist family, but that she was also Christian, but she was torn inside because her family was Buddhist.

Shizue also expressed a great interest in knowing more about what the bible said and having a relationship with God. It was a really good conversation and the girls didn’t notice the time until they had to leave or be late for class. Luckily though, they came back to find us after class so we could talk more. We invited them both to the Friday Night Live event that night, and although Shizue couldn’t make it, Ayumi said she really wanted to come! So exciting!

After that, I was simply waiting at the table for Esther to come to have a meeting when another Japanese girl – who had been sitting at the table next to us at lunch and had overheard our conversation – came over to me and asked if I was a club on campus. I explained that I had come from Australia, and asked why. She replied and said that she wanted to know more about western culture so she tried to read the bible and didn’t understand it. Her neighbour is a Christian and was telling her more about Christianity and so she wanted to read the bible and know more about Christianity, but didn’t know anyone who could help her!

What a blessing that she had over heard our conversation and that we were not afraid to be proclaiming Christ just hours before! Her name was Yurie, and we have met with her again since and Shiho and I have both shared our testimonies with her. She has decided to begin a Christianity Explained course so that she can know more about Christianity. Our prayer is that as she discovers more about God, she will also desire a relationship with him.

Later on that Friday, as Friday Night Live was winding down, Ayumi and Sachie ended up talking with each other. Sachie shared her testimony with Ayumi (praise God! As a baby Christian, Sachie is growing!) and they talked for a good hour about Christianity. Later on, Kaji, another young Christian, also share his faith with Ayumi, and Pamela also had the opportunity to share a Knowing God Personally booklet – which has the four points of the gospel inside.

Ayumi said she is a person who never cries, but that night she was so overwhelmed by God’s love in that place and in the people she was talking too, she couldn’t stop crying. She is also starting a Christianity Explained this week.

God is just opening up the harvest field here for seeds to be planted, watered and grow.

Praise God for all the work he has done so far in the lives of these Japanese people.

Praise him for raising up young Christians to help in the harvest, praise him for the workers he has called.

Praise God that he has answered prayer, and has shown us the people to meet. Praise him that he would be using us in his plan.

Psalm 8 says; “Who am I, Lord, that you would be mindful of me?”

It is so amazing that God cares about us, and chooses to use us to reach his lost people. Thank you for your prayer support – God is working wonders!
Thursday 06-12-07

The rest of Sunday we had a team meeting and hung out for a while playing take two. I smelt so badly of hamburgers (because I was helping Cecilia find songs for the identity party and ended up swapping with Andy and helping Shiho with dinner) that I left pretty early for a shower.

Monday, back on campus. More freeish time in the morning before people come out of classes and then lunch with the usuals – Ayumi and Shizue came as well as Yurie – pretty cool. More Christian talk and gospel smack down. It was raining on Monday too, so we took the bus from a stop about 10 mins walk away and then walked from the convenience store to uni.

Coming home, Andy, Shiho and I went via the “Home Center” to get Andy an extension chord so he could shave and caught the bus by ourselves. Turns out that even though we told Cecilia and George we were going they didn't know, and so Wai Ling and co were all stuck at uni with no way to get home.

We were like … umm take the bus…. They made it home ok, but were a bit annoyed that we had left them (despite that we told them we were going) *sigh* miscommunication. :P oh well. Dinner that night was marinated chicken by Wai Ling and scrambled Eggs made with whatever is left in the fridge by George. Pretty tasty.

Monday night was also team night, so we watched another movie – Gladiator – under the condition that I wouldn’t talk the whole time. I didn’t. It was tough but I didn’t. I think because no one was talking and making jokes the whole movie was a lot more serious and time consuming than it needed to be, but oh well. Good movie though.

Tuesday we had prayer at Kamiyashiro Church again, I played piano with Taka on guitar and Ma-chan singing. It was fun. We also had a warning that there is a no musical instruments clause in our apartment building, so we’ve had to stop playing guitar. :P As a result we walked to the park for our prayer time on Tuesday and sat in the freezing Nagoya wind singing to God. It was pretty nice time.

I also told Esther that she was going to have to practice a KGP with me, either today or tomorrow, but that she would do it, so yeah – laid it on a bit hard for her, but I think she needed it.

The rest of Tuesday was slow. The boys went to an Aikido demonstration at Aichiu (I wanted to go and only found out later that I could have gone!) and I left at about 7:45 to go meet up with Yukina and Ibuki at 8:30. Cecilia, Wai Ling and Pamela were all meeting up with Chisato.

Yukina, Ibuki and I went to a funky cafĂ© place called “FuZi” – Fun Food and Zippy Drink. There we ordered a heap of different things and shared. The first thing that Yukina asked me was “So what do you do at Christmas time?” yay for instant Jesus conversation. We talked about a lot of stuff and I shared my testimony with her. Later on I was reaching for my bible, and Ibuki whips out a KGP and says “have you ever seen one of these before?” and starts sharing her faith then and there. Go for Gold Ibuki!! It was the most fantastic thing to see Ibuki running through a KGP with her friend. Yukina didn’t pray to receive Christ there, but I’m going to challenge her to do a Christianity Explained today ☺ weee!!

When I got home – at 11:30 at night – C and Wai Ling were hanging out in Wai Ling’s room. Chisato did pray to receive Christ which was exciting, but now we need to challenge her to follow through on that decision. Hooray for a new sister!

Yesterday we were at uni again – Esther did meet up with me in the morning and run through a KGP. She was really nervous and kept trying to over do things, but I was like “just stick with what you know”. She managed to get through it – she said that she can never see herself using a booklet, but did realise that it is a good start to know the 4 points of the gospel. I think she just needs practice now. I shared with her 2 Timothy 1:7 “For you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind!”. I really encouraged her to know this verse as her own, because people can encourage her, but unless she know for herself that this is true nothing will happen.

Lunch time Ibuki came to visit with Masato – George and Andy had left their phone in the car the night before :P. and we all hung around for the ususal lunch. Two new guys – Yuki and Takayuki were there and we got talking about Christmas and Jody ended up sharing a KGP with them. Afterwards, Momo went through a CE and Jody and Kaji had their DT.

I hung out with Kahori for a while, she shared that last Friday her devotional was on “Grace like rain” and how she feels like God is just pouring out his Grace on us like rain. ☺ yay!

I almost fell asleep after that, and then the girls came by. Shiho, Cecilia and Esther all wanted to go to Karaoke, and I said no for a change. I have an ear infection and my throat kills. My voice has been working overtime lately, so I don’t want to make it worse. :P The girls ended up going and I went to check on the frizbee guys.

Only 3 guys turned up, and so with George and Andy – that made 5. It was a freezing day so I don’t blame the rest of the team. With them all going out to dinner though and no girls for me to chill with, I went back and met up with Wai Ling and cycled back home. We went past max value and got food for “hand rolled sushi” but then realised the other girls had the keys for the rooms with the cooking stuff in them! So we just lay around in Wai Ling’s room until the other girls got home and then had a late dinner.

I called Steve last night, I miss him heaps at the moment.

Sunday, December 02, 2007



Pamela, Shiho, Cecilia, Wai Ling, Esther and Paula
Saturday 01-12-07

Woah I’m getting sleep deprived. ☺ Wednesday we had a day at Nanzan university, which is actually a Catholic university. Second and Forth years, I think, have to take “Bible Classes” as part of the curriculum! But as with most places like that, only some of the students are actually believers. We arrived there at around 11:00 and did some praying and met some of the students. Student Impact is actually a registered club on campus so we had a lot more freedom than we do at Gaidai. I went out with one of the students, Yosuko, to do a “Christmas Quiz” and give out invitations (as well as Christmas CD’s with candy canes taped to them) to our Christmas party next week.

We talked to one girl, who was still at high school – and just chilling on campus while not studying – who knew where Santa came from but struggled when it came to knowing about Jesus. Then we talked to another girl, who did know more about Jesus (being a uni student and having done Jesus101 classes) but when I asked her “Why do we remember a day when someone was born?” she answered; “Japanese people don’t, but Christian people do.”

So I asked, “Why do they remember? Why is it important do you think?” and she answered, “I don’t know, isn’t that just part of culture?”. So Yasuyo and I ended up inviting her to lunch with us and the other Student Impact Students and she came along and had a fairly good time. I hope she comes back next week and continues to wonder why we have Jesus.

Also at lunch, I was chilling by the door and a girl came in and said “do you come from Griffith?” And I was like “yep!” and she said “I met you!” and I said “I know! You never returned my emails!” It was Ayumi who I had met at the start of 2006. She had come to Griffith as an overseas student for a year of study. She had only just become Christian and had told Shubo that she was worried about coming to Australia, so he told Joyce and she had emailed Scott Adamson who had forwarded it on to me. I met Ayumi and she had come to bible study, but it was too fast for her and she never came back. I had emailed and said “it’s cool, lets just meet up!” but I never got a reply.

Now she was so surprised. Hehehehe it was funny. She’s still hanging out with Christians (in Australia she hung out with a lot of Korean Christians), but her own faith is pretty shaky.

After lunch, we had “Australian games” where we pushed the chairs and tables aside and played a around of fruit salad. After that, we did some name games and a new game that Andy and George knew called “Signs”. After about an hour of game playing, we wrapped up and started heading out. Wai Ling was spending time with Pamela, so us Megumi-ans were free! We really wanted to do something different, but ended up just hanging out at Nanzan for a while playing Hackysack with random passers by.

It’s sort of a shame we aren’t at Nanzan for more than a day, because we could really encourage the believers there, but as it is, we have our hands full encouraging Christians at Gaidai and Aichiu.

We headed back home on the train and the boys went off to have dinner at their place and the girls and I had a fun relax night together. Shiho and Esther came round and we ate instant Ramen, and just chilled for a while, then all got up and walked down to the convince store to get ice cream. Yum. Then I called my homestay mum and Michiko. I got through to my homestay mum and had a quick chat with her ☺ I miss her so much. I can’t wait to see them. Michiko I got an answering machine for, so I just left a random muddled Japanese message. ☺

When we got back home we stayed up for a while playing Take Two and then hit the sack. Thursday, we had a lot of cycling to do.

We rode to Gaidai in the morning and hung out there for most of the day. I came off my bike riding to uni. There is a patch of gravel when you come down a slope and I was in the wrong gear and off balance so I fell off. My knee is now blue and sore, but otherwise ok! The day was spent meeting up with Students and chilling out. I feel like something significant might have happened, but I can’t remember now :P woe is me. Oh wait – I’ve got it. It was Kaji’s birthday, so Jody and Pamela organised a cake! ☺ The boys were meeting Kaji for lunch, and then Pamela rang and said “Kaji I’ve got something important to tell you about Ayumi” (his girl friend). So Kaji goes off to meet Pamela, and the boys and Kaji’s friends all meet me with the cake and light the candles and seek in behind Kaji and start singing happy birthday.

He was so surprised it was excellent. Hooray!

When I was doing my quiet time though, I had a thought about the Students and the workers here. Pamela disciples 6 girls already, we have a huge handful of students who are so interested in the gospel, and are wanting to meet up and hear it. Jody says to Andy; “The harvest is plentiful and the workers are two.”

It’s so true. I was reading Matthews 9:38 and I was so struck – there is a huge harvest. There are so many wanting to know God! How can we send to them? How can we reach them with the good news?

“So pray to the Lord of the harvest. Ask him to send more workers into the field.”

It would be so terrible to see the seeds of God’s word falling here and starting to grow, but then being chocked by the thorns because there aren’t enough harvest workers to care for them!

Anyway, after chilling at Gaidai, we rode our bikes to Fujigaoka Station and caught the bus from there to Aichui for English Class. The ride to Fujigaoka was pretty long, but it was all down hill so we made good time. ☺ hooray! When we got there though – there was no where to park bikes! We called Jody, because he said he knew a secret spot, but he said it was only for certain hours. Bummer. What to do. Luckily – God was watching out for us, and we noticed a sign that said “Church 320m”. So we figured – lets go park at the church!

We rode our bikes down and stood outside debating what to do and Shiho, Cecilia and I ended up going in and asking. This little old Japanese lady came out and so Shiho said “Hi we are missionaries (in Japanese) and we were wondering if we could park our bikes here?”. The little old Japanese lady went to go check with the priest, and soon enough a western lady came out.

She introduced herself as Wendy, not the priest but the person in charge for now. So I took over and said “Hi we are here from Australia we work with Student Life which is part of Campus Crusade.” As soon as I did the name drop, she was like “oh Campus Crusade? They were at my uni in Canada!” So she came out and met everyone else and said we could park our bikes there and if anyone got in trouble for it, it would be her. Such a blessing. ☺

So we walked back to the station and caught the bus with Jody (who was recovering well from his broken back incident) and Pamela to Aichiu. English Club was really fun, we played the zombie name game and then charades and just chatted to the students. After wards, we all went out to Yakiniku together. It was really cool be hanging out with students. Everyone was really open and happy to be there. I was at a table with Ibuki, Midori (girl) and Humie (boy), and the first thing Humie asked me was “Why are you here?”. Yay for the opportunity to share about Christianity!

We got talking and Midori said she was Catholic. When she explained though, she said “my mum is catholic and I go to church with her” so it’s not that she has a relationship with Jesus, but that she just goes to church. Ahh – how similar is the situation in Australia! It was really tough to explain to her, (as it is in Australia!), because she though that catholic and Christian are 2 different things, when we were trying to say “going to church” and “knowing Jesus” are two different things.

Humie on the other hand, had gone to a Buddhist school and his family, it sounded like, were fairly strong in the belief. He was surprised when Ibuki told him she was Christian too. Exciting days. Later on, Ibuki was having a really in depth conversation with Midori about the Catholic/Christian debate, so I just kept Humie distracted and not interrupting them as they talked.

The yakiniku was really delicious. They bought out meat and we cooked it over a grill. Then they bought out kimchi, pickled stuff, radish, rice and miso soup as well. They also had onion, corn and capsicum to cook with the meat. It was so great!

Almost everyone had a spiritual conversation that night. Wai Ling and Shiho shared a Knowing God Personally book with Miku. George and Esther both had KGP action as well, though on a lesser scale.

Just before we were about to go, Yukina saw Andy’s shirt, which had the sentence: “Who do you say I am?” in Greek in the shape of a question mark on it and asked him about it. I came in just in time to do some handy translating (:P) because Andy’s explanation was “This was a question Jesus asked his disciples when he was on earth”. So we did a bit of back ground about Jesus and who he was and who the disciples answered that he was.

And then Andy asked me, and I said, “Jesus is God, he is my saviour.” Andy says “What does that mean?” I replied, “That I will have eternal life.” Andy says: “Does that mean if I stab you now you won’t die?” So I say “Nope, I will die, by my soul, or my spirit, will live forever with God, because Jesus is my Lord.”

Everyone pauses while we think about this. Then I ask Andy “How about you Andy? Who do you think Jesus is?” and Andy says “I’d have to agree with you. He is my saviour and Lord.”

Then we pause again and turn to Yukina. “What do you think Yukina?” I asked, “Who do you think Jesus is?”

Yukina replies with, “I’m not sure, but I think I need to know.” She said she knew Ibuki went to church and said she might ask to go with her some time. We encouraged her to do so and then later on saw her ask Ibuki to tell her more about Christianity.

So many great conversations that night – praise God!!

Also, after we left Yakiniku, after being there for over 3 hours, a bunch of us went to karaoke. It was me, George, Andy, Shimpei, Nobu and Daisuke and Ibuki came late, after dropping Jody home. I was the only girl for a while but it was fun. We stayed out until 12:30 then had a nice night ride home. It’s good riding with the guys because I can keep up, and that late at night, we had the road to ourselves pretty much, so we were riding next to each other and chatting, and George was practicing riding with no hands, so was Andy (in between practicing Air Guitar).

When I got home at 1:15, Shiho was in our room practicing with Cecilia – they had decided to pull together a spice girls act for the live event on Friday. I smelt really bad from the smoke (no one smoked but you can in the Karaoke rooms, so it was there from the previous people) as well as the riding home and a long day, but I watched the girls give me a preview – so funny.

I hit the sack at about 2:00am and slept in until 8, I wanted to sleep more (and should have) but I thought we had to be on campus at 10:30, so I left at about 5 to 10. George was on campus at 10:35, and everyone else was late. The girls didn’t make it till 11:15 (despite the E-Team having a meeting) and Andy didn’t get up till 10, and wasn't there till 11:30. *sigh* I was so sleepy.

Lunch time, I sat at a table with 2 of Sachie’s friends, Ayumi and Shizue, who were both really cute, as well as Pamela and Sachie. Ayumi said she liked to read books about life so Pamela used that to say “have you ever read the bible? It’s a book about life.”

And into the spiritual stuff we go! Both Ayumi and Shizue were really open to hearing more, and after a bit, I shared Romans 8 with them “nothing can separate us from the love of God!” Then we talked about how if we rely on people, they can often let you down, but when it comes to God we know he’s always there.

Ayumi seemed to be struggling and defending people, because she said “I like to believe in people” but Shizue said “I agree, you can be in a room of 100 people and feel alone, but if you have God, you can be alone, but not lonely.” We talked more about how God is always there, and I shared a bit of my testimony, and we encouraged Ayumi to try reading the bible. She said she was Buddhist, so I think that’s the struggle. She’s interested in Christianity, but she’s got the family background of Buddhism, so she’s stuck. Sachie shared that she was a Christian and both her friends were shocked. She was about to share her testimony (which is great because Sachie is only just learning to share her faith! Way to see a young Christian grow!) but they girls had to go to class!

They left but not before we invited them to the Friday Night Live event. Ayumi could make it, but Shizue had work. Luckily though, Shizue came back at the end of her class to see me, so she got my number. I should be meeting up with her next week. ☺

I was so amazed that God had given us such great contact with these 2 girls and such open hearts from both of them. Everyone else drifted away after lunch, but I waited at the table, because I wanted to take Esther through the KGP (because I found out she had never been shown how to use one) so that she would be able to practice with it. As I sat there and prayed and flicked through a few things, one of the girls at the table next too us (who had been listening in to our talk about the bible before) came up to me and asked if I was with a club on campus.

It was so surprising to see a shy Japanese person be so bold and ask! It turns out she has tried to read the bible, because she was interested in western things (she said) but she found it too hard. Her neighbour is a Christian, and the neighbours husband is studying to be a priest (they are both Japanese) and had told this girl, Yurie, about Christianity. I offered to meet up with her to look at the bible or talk about Christianity, and she was really enthusiastic about it.

Then Pamela and Kahori both came over and met her and we are going to meet up next week. So exciting! I can’t believe what a huge harvest there is here. These people just want to know about God!

The rest of the afternoon I took Esther through the KGP, it took about an hour, just going through it slowly with her and explaining how to use it. My voice (which was pretty raw after Karaoke) suffered for it, but I figured even if I did a bad performance at the Live, at least Esther would know how to use a KGP.

I went outside with George to play around with the hackysac for about a half hour. I’m getting a lot better, but I still need practice. Then we all headed off to Nishin for Friday Night Live!!

I was playing the piano for the Australia “Kookaburra Song”, as well as accompanying Kahori, singing “Hero” (which I only down loaded the Chords to the night before) and playing “Grace Like Rain” myself. Andy and George pulled together a rap/beatbox duo, Cecilia, Shiho and George formed the Spice Girls. Jody’s daughter and her friend played/sang “Porcelain Heart” by Barlow Girl (rock on!!) and Ibuki played Piano. It was a pretty good night – thankfully we had enough time to practice so everything went smoothly enough.

Some girls were making us brownies in the kitchen so I kept eating the dough with the chopsticks I had after my act. Yay chocolate again – no more worries about saving my voice.

When the final act was up (a guy from Jody’s church known as “the Fat Blue Man”) I was so drained and tired I just wanted to lie down, so I went out to the foyer and did just that. Pamela came out after a while and asked to pray for me and then we sat and talked for a bit.

After a while things wound down and everyone was just sitting around talking. I joined Jody’s kids (Amiee, Joel, Nathan and some other randoms) in hanging out. Andy joined to and we all walked to the convince store to get food for dinner. After the ride home I was dead. Sleep sleep sleep. Cecilia and I put on a load of washing and hit the sack.

This morning, I woke up to find I was lying on the phone, and after reading the time: 9:50, and forgetting the phone was on Melbourne time (so that’s only 7:50 here) C and I had a bit of a panic and thought we’d be late to breakfast. When we realised we slowed down and hung out the washing and took our time. The guys made us sasuages and pancakes for breakfast, and wai ling put together a fruit salad. We had a really slow morning, but I’m still pretty dead from everything.

Today is our retreat so I’m going to walk down to the local park and have a sit and a swing I think. I’m glad it’s time to just stop and regenerate. Cecilia says I was talking fluent Japanese in my sleep last night (which is probably why my voice is so raw – it never gets a rest).


Sunday 02-12-07

Yesterday was a good slow paced day. I’m still feeling pretty exhausted, but it’s ok. I don’t really want to talk at all, but I know eventually I’ll have to :P *sigh* I walked to a park yesterday, where there were some kids playing soccer and just spent some time with God. Then I came back home and did a few things, had a sleep and talked to Steve.

Dinner was giyousa made by Cecilia and Esther which was really nice. Andy ate like 2 bowls of rice. He’s figured out how he can pull himself up to the loft now too, so I won’t be going up there much any more.

Later on we did a debrief, and just talked about things that have happened and worked out more things for next week. I can’t believe the amazing things God has done so far. Just seeing people want to know about Jesus is more than amazing. Hooray!

Anyway this day is really short because now it’s 9:22 and I’m going to church soon! Ibuki is picking us up – she’s such a sweet heart. I hope we stay in contact after I go back.