We have been in Japan for a week now, but it seems longer. Thanks to the help of wonderful friends, old and new, we have been able to accomplish much in terms of getting settled into our new home. We now have official residency in our city, health care, child welfare (it seems everyone gets this in Japan, regardless of income level), a bank account, mobile phones, bicycles (as seen above) and a pending installation of home phone and Internet service. Each one of these things has been an investment of time and effort from a friend on our behalf.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, getting things done here take quite a bit of time. If the old adage for America is “Measure twice, cut once.” the Japanese equivalent would be “Measure 10 times, cut once.” Japanese quality is legendary, but the price of getting things done right the first time is a quagmire of process and rules. As our friend explained to us, “Japanese people seem to find emotional comfort in following the rules.” Well said.
This past Sunday, we were able to attend the church we will be calling our own, Biblical Church of Tokyo, for the first time in five years. Though our friends the Nakamuras were out of town, we were able to spend time getting to know Kathy, who co-pastors the church with her husband Seiji. We learned about their strategy for reaching the community around the church which is unusual in that the population is growing by birth where the vast majority of Japan is the complete opposite. We feel confident that God has provided us this church as a place to serve, be spiritually nourished, and to learn how to be effective ambassadors of the gospel to Tokyo.
Our friend John G. came over for dinner last night. It was a great time to catch up with him personally and hear about the many things he’s involved in. Since he lives just a few stations down from us, we plan to get together with him as often as our schedule’s allow. John told us about some of the local churches and movements going on around Tokyo and he will be a great help in getting us connected with them. He’ll also be joining us for a couple of days when we meet our team from California in Chiba in a couple of weeks.
This weekend, we will attend a conference for the 4/14 Window Movement Japan. This is the movement that is forming around evangelizing the age group between 4-14 years old and teaching them how to share the gospel with their peers and families. Less than 50% of traditional Japanese churches have any kind of ministry for children, meaning most children have minimal exposure to the gospel and therefore little interest in hearing about it later in life. With our interest and experience in ministries like VBS and orphanage outreach, we hope to be able to contribute as well as learn from this group.
And of course, we are excited about meeting our team from California in Chiba later this month to help with VBS and outreach at two children’s homes, including one for special needs children. We’ll spend 3 weeks out there, 2 weeks with our team and an extra few days to catch up with our friends and fellow ministry workers in the area. We’ll be in no hurry to leave the cooler Japan coast for our home in inland Japan where August is brutally hot.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for lifting us up in prayer during our transition; we definitely know we are in the loving hands of the Lord!