Summer Festival!

Sofia had her kindergarten summer festival this Saturday.  They dressed up in yukatas (Japanese summer kimono) and danced typical Japanese summer dances.  I must say Sofia looks absolutely adorable as a little Japanese princess in her yukata.  I’m sure you’ll agree.  🙂  The festival was one of the last things to wrap up the school term before summer break.  Sofia has learned so many Japanese words in these last few months of going to the Japanese  kindergarten.  We’ve been so surprised when she just blurts out beautiful Japanese! She’s looking forward to returning at the end of August!

During Sofia’s summer break, we will be making a short trip to Brazil – for the congresso this year in honor of Josiah’s father, Luke – and also to the U.S. for some very quick visits with family and friends.  If we don’t make it to your area this time around, we hope to see you soon!  You’re always welcome to come to Japan to visit us!  🙂

God bless!

Jennifer, also for Josiah and Sofia

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Baptism!

We just had a baptism at our Sunday service, and three precious people were baptized! Baptism is a huge deal for the Japanese, declaring publicly the decision they’ve made to follow Jesus.  Sometimes it takes a while for a Japanese Christian to decide to be baptized, but once they do they are declaring they are willing to be shunned by family and friends for their faith.  If you will recall Takahiro, the young man we met at the bus stop last August, he was one of the three baptized on Sunday!  He gave a powerful testimony showing his gratefulness that Josiah took the risk and spoke to him at the bus stop that day. He says he knows now that God orchestrated all of those events to bring Takahiro to Him.  We are so excited about what God is doing in his life!

baptism

We are super excited that as of September 11 we will begin meeting weekly in our new location in Omotesando.  God truly blessed us with a beautiful meeting place right in the heart of Tokyo!  Please pray for all the preparations heading up to this big move.  We need many volunteers to help set up and tear down the lighting and sound systems, and also teams to go out and do street evangelism every Sunday before the service.  We already have a small group meeting on Fridays in the area, and it’s growing before our Sunday service even begins there!  The work here is exploding, God is moving, and we’re trying to keep up with Him!  Hallelujah!

Fuji: Conquered

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Panorama of the crater at the top

Josiah, along with 9 other missionaries and friends, braved strong winds and heavy rain to scale the most photographed mountain in the world – Mount Fuji.  It stands at a towering 3,776 meters high.  It was an overnight trip, with only a few hours rest in a lodge.  The response was unanimous – it was an incredible and matchless experience.  I have a feeling the pictures do not truly relay that overwhelming feeling of how huge God’s creation is, which I am sure is what all the climbers felt.  Nevertheless, here are some pictures for those of us who will probably never make it up there in person.  🙂

Sleeping in the clouds!
Sleeping in the clouds!
Amazing view!
Amazing view!
Up and up you go!
Up and up you go!
Group in front of the crater at the top of Mount Fuji
Group in front of the crater at the top of Mount Fuji

And They’re Off!

Fun family time at the Tama River near home
Fun family time at the Tama River near home

After taking some time to move in to our new rental house, get settled in, and to figure out how on earth to buy recognizable food at the grocery store (still working on that one), we started Japanese classes!  Our professors are hilarious Japanese women who make the almost 4 hours every morning seem to fly by.  Praise the Lord we are able to study together because Grandma, Christine Huber, is babysitting Sofia for us every morning, Monday through Friday!  What a huge blessing that is for us!  One thing that has also made life more interesting is that we decided to bike to and from school every day, about 21 miles (34 kilometers) round trip.  You’d be surprised how many people bike to and from work here in Japan, but I’m not sure how many bike as farrrr as we are.  🙂  It’s a lot of fun, we get our exercise out of the way, and most importantly we’re saving lots of money by not taking the train!  Japanese school, and life in Japan in general, is a bit expensive, so we’re pinching pennies everywhere we can.  God is so good and we know He will continue to provide for us through your generous and faithful support so that we can continue to serve Him where He is moving!

Seeing beautiful cherry blossoms with Grandma and Grandpa!
Seeing beautiful cherry blossoms with Grandma and Grandpa!

We also began discipling a couple this week, as well as getting involved in the worship team at church (I’m singing and Josiah has taken up his long-lost friend, the electric guitar), and we’re finding we fit in very comfortably in the new place He’s called us too.  The Fuse Jesus Community (the bilingual service of Paz Japan’s church, geared toward young people) is an exciting place to be on Sunday afternoons, and we are seeing how attractive it is to young Japanese adults.  They enjoy the contemporary worship, and the opportunity to hear messages in Japanese and English, as many of the younger people are seeking to learn English.  We believe God is going to do amazing things here in Japan.  The rest of the team will be arriving over the next month or so, and we are all looking forward to seeing how God is going to use us to help grow His Kingdom here!

We can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and support.  We know God has orchestrated this exciting change, and we are all in it together!  Stay tuned for more!  God bless you all!

Jennifer, also for Josiah and Sofia

From the Other Side of the World…

ImageWe’ve been so busy sightseeing and taking in all Japan has to offer that I’ve completely forgotten to update all of our wonderful, faithful supporters back home!  You were probably wondering if we fell off the face of the planet on the looooooong flight over here.  🙂  But praise the Lord we did make it safe and sound, and miraculously we did not even suffer from jet lag!  God is good!

We are currently staying in the church building until we move in to our rental home on April 7.  Sofia and Grandma and Grandpa (Baba and Jiji respectively in Japanese) are sure enjoying lots of time together! We are working hard on our Japanese, reading and writing (or drawing I should say) the alphabets and kanji (characters that represent words).  Please pray that the Lord will give us a supernatural grace to learn quickly!  Meanwhile we have been traveling around, mainly by train, taking in Japan’s beautiful mountainous scenery, as well as the majesty of downtown Tokyo with its skyscrapers and vibrant night lights.

ImageAs we were walking the streets in Tokyo, Josiah and I both thought of what a stark contrast it was to living on a boat on the Tapajós River, and how amazing it is that God takes us to places we never imagined and that only He can equip us with what we need to live in each of those cultures.  I feel very at-home here, even without speaking the language fluently. And I actually crave sushi almost everyday!  🙂  Sofia is adjusting perfectly.  She loves the food, the stores, the church and all the people!  Josiah of course is adjusting well, there isn’t ever any question of that!  🙂

ImageWhen thinking of what to write for this first update from Japan, I was reminded of my experience upon first arriving in Brazil.  I had been afraid to fly there, and when we finally landed, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t possibly live there, but I also couldn’t get back on a plane to go home.  I felt trapped with no way out.  I suffered with culture shock for a few months before really feeling at home in Brazil.  Of course I grew to love Santarém, the rivers, and the Brazilian people so much that it was difficult to leave. But I am amazed at the contrast in how I felt arriving in Brazil and how hard it was to adjust, and how quickly and painlessly I find myself falling in love with Japan.  As a small-town girl from Louisiana, all of this world-travel is not normal for a person like me, yet God has constantly shown His infinite care and His fatherly yearning to give us our heart’s desire.  Whenever God asks us to move, to give something up, or to start all over again, He gives us more than we could ever imagine when we obey.  And that is just what I am experiencing here in Japan.  Comparing my first couple weeks in Brazil to my first couple weeks in Japan is like comparing night and day.  And I believe that He can and will use us in an even more powerful way here, and I am excited to see His will and purpose come to fruition in our lives.

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We appreciate your faithful prayers and support.  While visiting friends and family  in the United States earlier this year, we realized how many hearts beat for the lost and how many partners we have in God’s work.  Thank you for standing by us in our transition to God’s newest adventure for us.  Together we will win Japan for Jesus!

In Christ,

Jennifer, also for Josiah and Sofia