Day 1: from tokyo to morioka

God, 

The team is exhausted. 

Grace almost scratched the church van while heading out to get supplies. 

Rosie tripped over a luggage strap and landed on her knees and hands. Thank You that there was no permanent damage. 

Clement had a profusely bleeding nose twice today, the second time lasting for almost 5 minutes. He dripped bright blood all over the sink. 

One heartstopping moment- my luggage was missing from the back of the express train, just as we had one minute to exit the train. My first wild thought: Chelsia’s food stuff is in my luggage and they are now all gone! With my heart thumping like a rabbit, I walked down the length of the cabin, just in case someone mistakened it for theirs. It was in the middle of the train cabin, with the boxes of bengawan solo cake that were tied to it scattered on the floor, cake bags torn. Pandan chiffon cake we brought up for pastor Kondo’s wife. 

Everything else was intact. Thank You God for answering prayer so immediately. 

The cake made it to Chioto-san intact!

Thank You for sending two Texan missionary-students here too. Addison bought Clement something for his bleeding nose, bless him for his kindness. He had to eat ice cream for dinner after that because he had no more funds. Give us an opportunity to bless him too. 

Thank You for providing a good sushi meal for my brother. It was his first encounter with uni and I’m so glad we got it at a fraction of the price. 


Thank You that the aircon has been fixed in the church building, in this sweltering 36-degree temperature. We don’t need to sleep sweating and ruining the church’s futons.  


First shinkansen, first matcha latte, first prayer answered

Lastly, 

We ask for Your grace for tomorrow’s plans. We set off at 7am latest for the first public housing. 

1. I ask for Your protection against the evil one’s schemes when we travel. May fatigue never win the day. May we persevere in joyfully serving despite tiredness. 

2. I ask that Your favour rest upon us and establish the work of our hands. 

Amen. 

Omotesando street

Dear Father, 

Narita city is stunningly beautiful. 

It is the perfect town to experience the way Japan savours beauty. Delicate china cups lining the streets, fresh flowers, exquisite fans. The reverence for beauty, a form of common grace, permeates the aesthetics. 

As our first experience of Japan, it was a blessed time to have the afternoon to explore this city. We dragged our luggage through clusters of hydrangeas, a Japanese cemetery and a winding alleyway to find physical peace. 


Our first taste of Japan was the matcha milk gelato by the wayside. What a discovery! 


And I recall the psalms –  For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light’ 

(Ps 36:9)

Lord, we ask that the rest of the team will join us safely tomorrow morning, and that we will be ready to launch into a busy schedule of three mobile cafes at various temporary housing on the 13th. Pastor Iwatsuka does not speak English and we do not speak Japanese, but You are Lord of languages. Open our eyes to what You are doing in the little waysides of Japan. 

Help us to be good hands and feet to the locals. May smiles radiate from within. 

I ask this is Christ’s Name, Him who says that as we abide in Him, to ask anything and it will be done. 

Amen. 

Approaching Day 0

Father,
The mind and heart are in a little of a mess after the weekend in Koh Samui. The event was beautiful but exhaustion is real and unabated. 

Please let not the gifts Thy love bestows, Estrange our hearts from Thee. 

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”‭(‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5)

Amen. 

Ko samui 

This private villa is the largest the bridal party has seen, much less lived in. 

Yet, oddly, despite the many rooms and extravangant crannies, it is difficult to find a quiet spot to read and talk to God. The mind is simply distracted by things and views and events. It was that easy? 

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy‬) 

Father, I am Your child and blessed with power and ability to obey You. These novel experiences speak very loudly, yet, Your Word clearly says- but among Your believers there should not even be a hint of sexual immortality or any kind of impurity or of greed, improper for God’s holy people. 

The brokenness around me is hidden behind a beautiful veneer. We do not worship Creator as we should, but created things and toys and people. It is a folly that is tempting and distracting. I do not pretend to be immune if king Solomon himself fell. 


I do, however, turn to You for wisdom for each day. That I may be true to who I am in Christ, and that I will permit no foolish talk. I pray for my fellow villa-dwellers. They can’t see You amidst the distractions. 

But You so loved the world, even those who may find it easier to step through the eye of the needle. 

Show the broken that You see them, Jehovah Rappa. 

Amen. 

Prayer points from our last training today!

  1. We were told Typhoon Nanmadol slammed into eastern Japan (including Tokyo) yesterday, but thank God that there are no reported deaths.
  2. Satan is working overtime. Two of the team is down with a knee injury and stomach flu (that’s me). These are weaknesses for us that cause us to turn our eyes from Jesus towards our little pains. May we not so quickly be robbed of our joy, or become frustrated with the circumstance.
  3. We have asked the Lord to provide supernatural unity for the team – we are truly different and come from different church backgrounds – Prinsep St, Saint Andrews Cathedral, ARPC. May He enable us to put on love and count the other person better than ourselves.

 

Finally learning the craft we’ll have to teach
Half an hour later – it is not as easy as it looks..

Prayer for the pre-trip

 Nothing can be done without prayer. The EPJM leadership from have mentioned that we need to form a community of praying people at home because Japan is spiritually dark, and the evil one is out to thwart the work. Our Saviour Himself says that “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and since He says we ought to pray, hooray, pray I shall!

 

So here it is:

Dear Father, Great God of Highest Heaven,

“Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it matters not,
It leads me to Thy rest.”

We joyfully commit all Iwate plans to Your good Hands, we transfer the burden from our feeble shoulders to Your strong ones, and You will establish it. (Prov 16) 
  1. I ask for greater wisdom for final preparations and logistics as the team next meets together in Japan.
  2. I ask that the team will be a people of prayer, fully and solely dependent on You as Source of strength.
  3. “The Lord knows those who are His.” I ask that You send the people You desire to know You to the community halls and to the katsetsus. Prepare their hearts, Lord, that any Word from You will fall on soil that will bear fruit for You. I ask for Your strength especially for Pastor Iwatsuka in Miyako. Please send the people You call into the temporary housing in Nishigaoka, and in Nishikouen. We will be the first team to go to the Nishimachi public housing. Please be there before us and prepare the way. We ask that Your Spirit move, and that we will not be discouraged by the gods that line the streets along the coast. Manmade gods cannot stop the waves from destroying Iwate again. Only You can.

In Christ’s mighty Name,

Amen.

First try with first round of craft- I still have some way to go!

Dear God,

The day to Thailand is drawing near, and I admit feeling intimidated and afraid.

You remind me that Jesus Your Son said that when we abide in Him, we can ask anything, and He will give it to us. I choose to take the time now to abide – to draw near to You. To open up the Word that it may speak life into this frightened heart. That I may take courage, and have the boldness to stand up for my convictions, but that I may be firstly and most importantly, loving.

I am only standing in the gap, Lord. Please, help me stand in the gap.

Sunday stopped

It’s been a while since I’ve had a heavy, reflective weekend.

1st July came and went, but there were moments within that challenged personal clarity about what is expected of a follower of the Word, and if He indeed has the sole authority to define what is “right”.

Who dares to argue against catchy phrases like the ‘freedom to love’? Who wants to be the Bible-thumping, overly-zealous fanatic standing on the other side of the park?

Who would like to stand against the intellectual elites and argue for 377A? Is there even a point, and where is the battle truly to be fought?

I am not immune to the charges of ‘Christian intolerance’. I am not immune to my peers’ intolerance of a pro-Bible position. I would like to think that just as I respect they hold certain views about liberal sexual practices, I too have a right to hold my views. But I don’t say this- because if I do, the white elephant in the room gets called out, and no one likes to listen to religious talk based on an ancient book.

So what am I to do with all this heaviness? Should we even be grieving for a loud and polarised world?

At the point when the burden turned overwhelming, I was reminded – take to heart Jesus’ own words, “In this world you will have trouble.” And then to also remember the rest of it: “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I cleared out my laptop this Saturday, and hiding in the pile of old pictures was my Miami beach moment. It was a perfect afternoon with a good friend, and he thought to capture my introvert bubble – the moment when one filters through all the heaviness in the heart.

This afternoon, I had another of those moments in the Kinokuniya bookstore. I never knew that standing among great Literature would bring calm in that way, or provide a form of clarity I needed. But there, with a friend who sifted through my thoughts with me, I realised I did not need to be afraid of broken things ——

“What looks more broken than the Cross — but what wins more than the Cross? the Cross doesn’t look like it’s winning. The Cross doesn’t make Love look like it’s really winning.

The Cross is losing, pouring out, being given — to those who don’t love at all.

The Cross conquers everything —- but looks more broken than anything.

The Cross proves it. In actual fact: Deepest love — may look deeply broken.”

Pre-trip preparation

This July missions trip will be my first trip to Japan.
The timing was right – my Japanese-loving brother finished his last module in university. My sister would be available to stay with the ailing mother at home, and I could safely take two weeks of leave from work.

But why Japan?

I have always felt deeply that there is more to the country than its rich culinary world, beyond the reach of guidebooks or the well-intentioned efforts of celebrity Instagrammers.
By my good fortune, my college roommate in London was a born-and-bred Japanese, and apart from the other lessons she unknowingly taught me about Japanese beauty rituals that I have (also unknowingly) incorporated, the year of rooming together sparked an abiding interest in the culture and heritage that did not abate despite obstacles such as the lack of language ability.

 With who?

I came across the English Presbytery Japan Missions organisation during a prayer meeting at ARPC about two years ago. My dear friend, C, was heading off as a missionary to Japan, and the leaflet for the EPJM fell in my lap during on the the prayer meetings, quite serendipitously.
I have joined a few Japan prayer meetings in OMF, ARPC and with EPJM since. Each time, I grew increasingly convinced that there is much good work currently being done in that nation, yet, more still to do.
Our good Father tells us to ask that the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into the fields – I have seen and heard Him working in the Bible Baptist churches that dot the coastal area in Iwate. I have enjoyed Skype sessions with the pastors who helm these struggling churches, who struggle with the English language, and also with the lacklustre church life, and yet, can laugh and enjoy the little given to them.
This work is beautiful, and Spirit-empowered, and they are truly called. As we are too.
 

 

I am privileged to be part of the work of the EPJM.

Going to another country to support the work of Japanese pastors is a singular privilege because I know we will see His faithfulness. God wants to show us how big He is, so I’m going to see it for myself – how the good Father calls the lost. How glorious He is, how strong and real and loving and faithful He is.

In your hearts, revere Christ as Lord (1 Pet 3). 

Yes Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for you;
Your Name and renown are the desires of our hearts (Is 26:8).

Through the seasons

Champagne and cake to celebrate the changing season.

 

I’ve always enjoyed the colour of champagne – an elegant golden yellow with amber highlights. Its aromas are radiant, flavourful and smooth. I’ve enjoyed it even more with golden friends, over Cedele slices and silverware. Lifetime friendships with lifetime lessons. These are the ladies who were there when things started shaking up in my world, 13 years ago. They brought joy and escape without realising it, so much so that I will always know that these have been angels (yes, angels!) who were brought here.

So it’s not too surprising that we enjoy sweets amidst fairy lights. Or that we could have a bath-full of spotted balloons. Because friendship is magical, and with God’s blessing, friendship is evergreen.

 

And in the freshness of morning, just before we depart-

My command is this: love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no other than this – to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

-Jesus