Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A little seasick

Every year our group of missionaries takes some time out of our busy schedules for some time of study and refreshment.  Since we are a small group, it is a bit like a family vacation!

Last month, the seven of us on the field took a trip to Hokkaido.  We studied the life of Ayako Miura, a Christian Japanese writer.  Since she was born and raised in Hokkaido, specifically, Asahikawa, we decided to travel there.

On Monday evening we boarded the Taiheiyo Ferry in Nagoya for the two day trip to Tomakomai, Hokkaido.

The first night the seas were a bit rough and five of the seven of us had stomachs that did not react to that well!  We were thankful for the two who did not get sick and their willingness to take care of us-which included sleeping on the lobby floor for one of these helpers!

Morning brought calmer seas and stomachs, some time to relax, and a jazz concert in the lobby.
Our group can be seen in the background
(This is also where a few of our group slept the night before!)
Upon arrival in Tomakomai, we headed to Sapporo for ramen followed by a tour of Hokkaido University, lead by Yuri's dad via Skype!
Headed to the building where Yuri's dad studied
It was a beautiful campus filled with trees and wide open spaces!
We toured the botanical gardens and Ainu museum.  Then we drove to Asahikawa.

In the morning we headed to Shiokari Pass.  This is the name of one of Ayako Miura's books about a young man who sacrifices his life to save a train-full of people.  The book is based on a true story.
We enjoyed some time in nature trying to get our fill of mountain air, flowers, trees, pinecones, etc.
Then we headed back to Asahikawa to the Ayako Miura Literature Museum where we had an appointment with Mr. Miura.  We had a lovely tour and talk with Mr. Miura, hearing stories of their life together as they sought to share God's love through their lives and writing.
Another of Miura's books is called "Freezing Point" in English.  Next to the museum is the woods that were used for the setting of the book.  We spent some more time enjoying nature, trees, the river, animals, etc.  (Since this was the book I read, I was especially excited to visit the woods!)
In the car on the way back to Sapporo we had a wonderful sing-a-long with all the good old songs from Sunday school days, some of the songs were not known by all!

Friday morning we visited with a lady who is a friend of the Miuras and has translated some of Ayako's books into English.  Then we headed to to the Winter Sports Museum where we tried ski jumping, figure skating, bobsledding, and other winter sports.
Then we went to the top of the ski jump used in the 1972 Sapporo Olympics and is still used today.  We also ate the best soft cream in Sapporo at the top of the mountain!  It really was good!

The ferry ride back to Nagoya was less eventful!  We enjoyed some time of karaoke followed by a time of communion together.
 It was an amazing trip with lots of laughter, learning, love and a little seasickness!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


This is the day when bragging seems to be everywhere.  The most common phrase is: "my dad is the best dad in the world."  I love hearing the dad bragging.  Dads are so important in our lives and sometimes they get a bad rap.

For us girls, dads are the first relationship we experience with the opposite sex.  They teach us how to interact with males and how we should be treated by males.  Their presence in our lives gives us confidence and teaches us what love is about.

For boys, dads teach their sons how to interact and how they should treat women.  They teach their sons what it means to be a man and give them confidence.

For all of us, dads can also help us understand our heavenly Father's love.  We learn about unconditional love and how to accept that love.  We learn how to show love, about joy, about laughter, about suffering, and about forgiveness.

Dads are human and sometimes make mistakes.  But, it is through my dad that I have learned the most about my heavenly Father.  I am eternally grateful for the love my dad has for his Savior and they way he lives that out in front of me and our family.  I am thankful for the way he has loved my mom, my sister, and me.  I am thankful that he has shown us how to love our neighbor as ourselves.  I know he has made a couple of mistakes along the way :)  but through those I have learned how to say sorry and ask for and give forgiveness.

God has blessed me deeply with a father who I can call dad.  Thanks for letting me brag a little!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just a thought

My coworkers at Komyo Christian
I recently was introduced to a blog series through a blog that I've been reading.  The series is on women in ministry.  I found it interesting, helpful, and sometimes sad.

I feel like I am a sort of accidental woman in ministry.  When I was in high school I felt called to be a missionary in Japan.  I didn't think of the consequences of this call.  I probably expected that I would go to college, get married and go to Japan, in that order.  I think I figured I would be in Japan not as a woman in ministry but as a family in ministry.

God had other plans.  When He opened the door for me to come to Japan, I walked through, because He opened it.  I didn't think of the consequences.  I never thought I couldn't be a missionary, a single missionary, because I am a woman.  I just walked through the door because He opened it.

I grew up with parents who love Jesus.  They taught me to love, trust and follow Him.  We never talked about what we could or could not do.  We only talked about loving and following Jesus.

My home church supported several missionaries.  One of those was a single woman-who ministered in Japan!  I loved hearing her stories of sharing Jesus' love in Japan.  I never thought there was anything unusual with her ministry.  I just thought that she loved and followed Jesus.

My first year of college I met a gal who wanted to be a pastor.  This was the first time I had ever met a woman who wanted to be a pastor, but I didn't think it was unusual.  I just thought that she loved Jesus and wanted to follow His calling in her life.

As a college student I was in a leadership position at the church I attended in the youth group.  There were other college students, as well as men and women of the church who were also leaders.  We all worked together.  We all wanted to share God's love with the youth as we loved and followed Him.

Almost all of my experiences as a woman in ministry have been positive.  A few people have made interesting faces or comments about what I do.  However, I am thankful that I have mostly been given the freedom to minister as God has called me to minister.

When I was in high school answering God's call to be a missionary in Japan, I never would have imagined that would have included leading a church plant with another single female missionary.  In fact, in seminary I avoided preaching, MDIV, or anything that looked like it might have to do with leading a church because I absolutely did NOT plan to be doing that.  Once again, God has a sense of humor!

So, when I read the blogs by women about their experiences in ministry, I am saddened by the experiences others have had.  I am in no way naive enough to think that their experiences are unusual or that my experience is the norm.  I know that there are those who don't appreciate or agree with what I am doing.  But, actually, what I am doing is loving and following God.  It has nothing to do with my gender or my theological training.  This is the position God has placed me in for this time.  I am absolutely trusting Him to work in and through me because there is no way my colleague and I could be doing this on our own!

These are just some of the thoughts that have been floating around in my mind since I started reading the women in ministry series.