Ichinomiya: Second Home

We arrived in Ichinomiya yesterday afternoon to overcast skies and a cool ocean breeze which felt so good after the heat of our Saitama summer days (yes, we technically live in Saitama, by way of some bizarre city borders).

We first came to Ichinomiya almost 14 years ago, with a 4 month old baby boy. It was a time when we didn’t even realize we would be involved in ministry in this town 10 years later, let alone move to Japan as full time ministry workers. I remember walking from the house across the busy highway to the beach, dipping my feet in the cool but not cold water and thinking how beautiful and peaceful this place was.

Today, standing in exactly the same place with my feet in the same water, I felt the same feelings. But the beauty and peace this town brings me is no longer just a surface feeling, but a feeling in my heart. We have so many friends here, people we love and have worked shoulder to shoulder with for the sake of the gospel.

In a few days, our California team will arrive and we will begin another year of summer ministry in this area. It will be non-stop, exhausting days, full of the joy of working hard for the Lord. But today was just another sleepy day in Ichinomiya, a meal with friends, a shopping spree at Beisha, a soft creme cone eaten hastily before it melts in the hot summer sun. God’s blessings are on this place and I, for today, have enjoyed soaking up some of that blessing before the days get a little crazy.

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Things To Miss About America – Half Moon Bay, California

Jumping on the freeway and heading due west from our home, we can be in the little seaside town of Half Moon Bay in less than an hour. As close as it is, it feels a world apart from the busy urban sprawl of the Bay Area. One cloudless Fall day, I decided on a whim to get in my car and take that short drive to the coast, to enjoy the quaintness of Half Moon Bay perhaps one last time before heading to Japan for a few years.

I certainly was not disappointed by my little diversion for the day. In the few hours I spent in Half Moon Bay walking around, enjoying an abnormally warm November day (Half Moon Bay is famous for it’s fog, which can often last the entire day, even if it’s completely sunny 15 miles inland). Strangers gave me genuine smiles as they walked past me on the street, and a few even struck up conversations and offered advice on scenic places I should photograph. Inviting public benches, donated by members of the community lined the streets of the downtown area, inviting me to stop and relax while enjoying a deli sandwich and the warm sunshine.

Half Moon Bay is as famous for its October pumpkin festival as it is for its fog, and there was plenty of evidence that the festival had recently ended. Pumpkins, some decorated in paint, some carved, and some just, well, naked, sat outside shops and houses alike.

A few miles north of the main part of town, an amazing little house/shop called Nest Gallery is hidden just away from the marina. Nest Gallery is filled with little objects d’art, some collected, some created. And as interesting as the art is, the artists who reside there are even more so. I had a wonderful conversation with one of the artists who used to practice architecture, and he regaled me with stories of the days he was involved in such high profile projects as the iconic Transamerica Pyramid and the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

I feel blessed to have spent so much of my life growing up in California, a dash away from some really incredible places. What Half Moon Bay may lack in size, it more than makes up for in spirit.