Sorry that it has taken me a couple of weeks since I last updated my blog. Things have began to really pick up and start to become very busy. Once again, I will only be explaining most of the things that you have not heard before in previous updates and small pieces of information from things you have already heard.
On the 9th, the one month exchange students from OC who are on their study abroad trip known as Pac Rim started their time here in Ibaraki. In the group there are about 22 students plus the teacher and his wife and children. I ended up going to Omika Church where I attended when I was an exchange student to try and meet some of them. After church was over, I headed back to Tomobe where we had the memorial for Usami san's one year mark since her death at the cemetery. This is very common in Japan to do for Buddhists funerals but we had a Christian one for her. You can read more about Kimiko Usami in the previous post.
Everyone who showed up for Kimiko's 1 Year Memorial
On the 10th, I went with a couple of members from the Tomobe church to have lunch because it was a holiday. It was a couple of the younger members which turned out to be a great time of encouragement for one another and resulted in me getting a cheap $30 used guitar so that I can connect with some people who are really into it and try to learn how to play. We will began the guitar classes next week.
On the 11th, I began had a Bible study again with the man I mentioned in the previous post. He had already answered all of the questions from the text book we use and didn't take long to get through. I don't think he is all to interested in the Bible so hopefully we can get him more into the Bible part. I also started to study with a new woman. It is very difficult to teach her the Bible through English but I hope gradually things will become more interesting for her.
On the 12th and 18th I went to IC again to do my normal Bible Studies. With the Pac Rim students being here, they have also started about 30 more English Bible studies with new students. I am hoping to pick some of those students up when they leave next month. I also tried to get a couple of guys to come with me on the 12th, but they are scared of the religious building on campus so I decided to go out with them to the ocean and just try to not study the Bible, but question them about why they hate Christianity so much. By the time I had finished they both said they may consider coming to one of my Bible studies. However, this past Wednesday, without even asking, one of them said they planned on joining it. I am hoping that I can reach to him really well and give him a better idea about how great Christianity is and also get his friend to come with him. In Japan, it is harder to convert a man more than a woman.
Over the past couple of Thursdays and Fridays, my elementary classes have become much easier and my students are finally starting to cooperate and try to learn. They have really been more of a joy to work with than they were before. After my elementary classes on Thursday and Friday, Toru and I did our normal learning about the Bible class on Thursday. However, after one of the other members claimed they wanted to learn more about the Bible too, I decided to make Toru's English classes on Thursday and Bible classes on Tuesday so that we can have more of a Bible type study with more people and the Christians have a better idea about what Christianity is about.
On the 14th, we had our second youth group activity at the church building which was ping pong. It was the best turn out we have had yet when we went from having 4 young people at the activity to 6. Toru invited a couple of his friends to come and he ended up talking about the existence of God. Toru is the teen who wants to go to OC that I have been telling each of you about. The friends he invited are not Christian and I was impressed that he decided to talk about the topic he did. After Toru spoke the guys ended up staying around for another 2 hours hanging out at the church and playing different games which turned out to be a great time. We also have a few other people who have started to become interested in the community and I hope that next time even more people will come.
Pictures of the people who came to play Ping Pong and our Bible Study for our 2nd youth group activity!
On the 14th, the minister and his wife and I went with Toru and his mom to the Oklahoma Christian Eagle Bash which is the way the International Office at OC promotes the college for International Students. Its also kind of a way for all the people who have been involved with Japan/Oklahoma Christian/Ibaraki Christian to kind of have a reunion together which allowed me to see some old friends of mine who came to OC as exchange students when I was at OC. While it was a great time, after seeing the price of OC, it kind of made a lot of people feel that Toru does not have a chance to go to Oklahoma Christian because it is so expensive. If any of you have any way that you could help Toru, or know a way that he could get to OC, please let me know.
Pictures with some old exchange students and OC Pac Rim students.
On Monday and Tuesday, I went to the Ibaraki Preacher's (and some of their wives) Retreat. We spent time learning about the different ways people have been helping with relief work up north, and praying for them as well. We also spent time in worship together as well. On Tuesday we spent time planning for the National Japan Preacher's Retreat that takes place every year in Japan. Next year, it is the Ibaraki Preacher's job to plan the retreat so we spent a lot of time planning for that as well. It was another great experience for me to have a chance to become better friends with some of the preachers in the area.If you look in the picture however, you can notice something. About 60-70% of the men in the picture are probably going to be unable to be minsters in the next 15 years and Toru is the only one who is in high school interested in becoming a minister that anyone is aware of. This percentage makes up most of the ministers in Japan which makes it vital that people like Toru can go to OC next year so that the church will not die in Japan. This is also why if I plan to stay as a long term missionary next year that I am going to need as much support as I can get. I want you to consider contributing to this great cause as I close this post. Japan really does need missionaries and Japanese ministers even more so because they can connect with their own people better.
Well, that is a look at what has been taking place over the past couple of weeks. If you have any questions about things that are taking place, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can answer any questions you might have. Please continue to pray for the prayer request below. Thank you all for your support and may God bless all of you.!
1. That Toru and I will be able to work together well enough to get him prepared to go to OC and that he will get the funds to go.
2. My Bible studies at Ibaraki Christian will be a success.
3. The Tomobe Church will find more ways to grow spiritually and numerically.
4. I am considering wanting to stay longer as a missionary rather than becoming a teacher and need to make sure that it is what I need to do. Last night I read about Abraham having a strong faith in God and was rewarded and I feel that as long as I trust in God he will provide the funds I need, however I need to make sure that I am spiritually willing and financially able to do these things.
5. Kimiko's husband may come to know God.
6. Kawasaki san may become more interested in Christianity. (The man I studied with on Tuesday) as well as the woman I started to study with.
7. The woman's husband who comes to special worship may become interested in Christianity and have the desire to become a Christian
8. The guys I go to the ocean with will be more open to Christianity