Sunday, May 31, 2009


This year I have been learning, or re-learning, how to play the piano. I took piano lessons for a good chunk of my childhood. However, once I moved away from my parents' house I didn't play much. In an effort to help out at church, I decided it would be good to dust off the keyboard. Our gospel choir director teaches piano seminars and restarted one in Osaka this winter. What a great opportunity to learn how to play for church!

This picture is a joint class to prepare for the concert. But, this is our usual set up, keyboards lined up around the room and our director up front. We gather around him for direct teaching and then go back to our keyboards, which we usually share, to practice what he just taught.

In the past 5 months I have learned an amazing amount of information-some of it I understood and some I didn't! Two of my friends from choir also attend. The class is divided into beginners (me) and experienced players (my two friends from choir) and they meet on alternate weeks. If you had time and the desire, you could attend both classes, which I usually did. I figured the more I put into my head, the more would stick.

Yesterday, May 30, was our concert/recital. 26 of the 29 members were able to attend and play. Since everyone is learning to play for the purpose of accompanying a gospel choir or at church, we basically had a 3 hour praise and worship time. My voice is a little tired today! It was a wonderful time!

I chose "You are My All in All" to play for the concert. (Pretty much the only song I can play right now:) Tomoko Shimada, from AGC, sang the verses in English. The choir sang the chorus and then the whole thing in Japanese.

After the concert, two friends from choir who came to sing and one of the friends from choir who also is learning piano and I went out for dinner and dessert. One of the ladies is a Christian and the other two are listening to Jesus knock on their hearts' doors. We had great conversations!

My dessert!

(I still haven't figured out which flash setting to use on my camera in that kind of lighting so the pictures didn't turn out all that good. Therefore, I only included one picture from the concert.)

**Update: The lady who stopped by the church last Thursday came to Bible study on Wednesday night and is planning to come back again!

Monday, May 25, 2009


About a week and a half ago I saw some sobering statistics on the news. The Japanese national police agency has released their suicide statistics for the year. I had just turned on the TV and was preparing to watch a movie with a friend. We were talking about other things so I didn't catch the whole story-plus it was in Japanese. But, last week as I was preparing to talk about hope in church on Sunday I remembered that news story and started hunting for the information on line.

Hunting for information in Japanese takes me a while so I started by searching in English. But, since these statistics have just been released, I couldn't find them in English. So, I did a search in Japanese and found exactly what they had shown on the news.

Here are just some of the basic statistics:
Number of suicides in Japan in 2008
percent male
top age group
top two reasons
health (which includes depression)
number of children

I talked with my Japanese Christian friend about these statistics and hope. She said something that really stuck in my heart. "We cannot exist without hope." As I look at this list, the last number, especially, hurts my heart. What could happen to a child, to that many children, that would cause him/her, them, to lose hope? Aren't the children our future? If children are losing hope, what does that say about our future?

There is hope! Jesus is our hope. Paul says in Hebrews that 'we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.' A ship in a storm is safe when it has a good anchor. Just like a ship in a storm, when we go through storms in our lives, if Jesus is our anchor, we are safe. This doesn't mean that because we have an anchor we will never go through storms, but that when we are in the storms, if we trust in Jesus we can be firm and secure. We have hope.
If our anchors are things like money, family, work, material possessions, then what happens when we lose them?

We closed, yesterday, with the hymn "The Solid Rock."
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' Name

On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my sould gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand

The challenge is, how do we share this hope?
How do we share this hope before more people take their lives?
How do we let children know they are loved and give them hope?
These are the questions in my mind today, and, hopefully, always.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sweet Day

We have started having Bible studies at church. So far no one we have invited has been able to come. But, we show up and have times of good fellowship. This morning, again, no one was able to come. However, Melissa and I had such a sweet time of prayer. We both had things weighing on our hearts that we wanted to talk to God about. He was real and present with us as we talked together and with Him. What a blessing!

I stayed at church working on my message for Sunday and practicing piano. During the afternoon I watched the pottery class next door working on their creations. At one point I looked up and a lady was walking toward the door. She just came right in and started asking questions about the church, what we study, picking up books and papers, and generally just looking around. Pretty amazing to me. It seems that here in Japan, people don't just walk into anywhere and just start looking around and asking questions-except possibly department stores! She seemed interested and said that she would think about coming next Thursday. She said that she lives nearby and passes by often so just wanted to come check us out.

It has been a sweet day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Digs

Today was the signing of the contract to buy a condo for me to live in while ministering here in Izumi! I am really excited! At the moment I do not have a picture, sorry.

It is so cool how God provided everything. Our mission was able to sell the mission house in Nagoya which we are not using any more. The earnings from that sale are just the amount we need to purchase the condo! I thought we were going to have to look for a cheaper place because we were going to have to pay some taxes on the house in Nagoya, however, the tax office there said we were not required to pay those taxes. Plus, two weeks ago the owners lowered their asking price to a range we can afford.

The condo is a 4 minute walk from the station, still in the same neighborhood where I am living now. The outside was just repainted last year so it looks nice on the outside. The people living in the condo we are buying remodeled it after they moved in three years ago, so it is lovely inside, too. They installed bookshelves in the living area and a nice shoe closet in the entryway which they are leaving for me to enjoy. I am looking forward to finding out even more about how God has blessed me by providing this place.

Moving day will be July 1. Flight to the U.S. for home assignment will be July 3. June will be a whirlwind!

Thank you for faithful prayers. Please continue to pray!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

where to start

It has been so long since I last posted and so much has happened that I don't even know where to start! Plus, there are some things that happened before going to Hawaii that I had wanted to post about but haven't yet. So, I will just start with what is on my mind right now and maybe get back to the other things, or maybe not!

I noticed that I have recently talked a bit about books I have read and don't mean for this to be a book talk blog, but some of the authors I have read this year have some thought-provoking things to say.

One of my friends asked me where I found out about all these books. Well, from other blogs, actually. A couple of blogs I read regularly had readers post comments about books they were reading. I read through the comments with a pen and paper and made a list. I found out that a lot of books can be ordered through amazon's Japan branch-saves me huge amounts of money on shipping costs!

Well, last week I finished reading two more of those books, Crazy Love and There is no me without You.

The first book is by a pastor named Francis Chan. There were so many things he said that made me stop and think. One thing that has stuck in my head and challenged me is: if you didn't believe in Jesus how would your life look different? (paraphrase!:)

The second book is by Melissa Fay Greene written about Haregewoin Teferra. The book tracks Haregewoin's life from middle class life in Ethiopia to losing half of her family and becoming a 'mother' to AIDS orphans. I hope by reading it others will also become educated about the crisis and figure out a way to help out. We in the western world are rich. There is no reason we should not be helping out our fellow humans in poverty around the world.

In an attempt to keep from getting on a soapbox I will stop there. In an attempt to keep this post from becoming too boring, I will stop there. But, along with other books I have written about on this blog, I recommend these books-the first to those serious about learning to love God with their hearts, minds, souls, and strength and then to love their neighbors as themselves. I also recommend it to those who wonder why it is we love God. The second I recommend to anyone who cares about others, especially children and those living in poverty.

What books are you reading/have you recently read that you would recommend?