We are headed to Singapore in the beginning of September, from the 1st-10th! Evangelical Presbyterian Japan Mission, EPJM, who sends a team every month to Iwate (since the disaster first happened 6.5 years ago), has invited Pastor Kondo and Pastor Sasaki (coordinators of 3.11 Iwate Church Network) for their leaders retreat. They also invited me to be their interpreter. We will be traveling as a family of four. Please pray for the time there as the pastors share with the church leaders in Singapore. Also, pray for me as I do interpretation, and for traveling mercies.
Short Term Team(s)/Visitors
We have had a few visitors this year. First, we had a team from our home church back in Arizona come and do a vision trip. Then we had Zaza, from Tribe come and be an English teacher's assistant with an English outreach ministry at one of the churches here in Morioka. Lastly, we had some friends visit from our home church as well, and we got to show them some of what Kohei does here and explore the city a bit.
It was definitely a great time having them all come and bring a bit of 'home' to us.
English class in Ippo Ippo Yamada
I have taught an English conversation class at the Ippo Ippo Cafe in Yamada for the last 6 months (twice a month) this year. Currently the class is off for summer break. The class will resume at the end of September after we come back from Singapore. As I reflect on the class, it has been a great opportunity to share the Gospel and the Bible in depth. Maybe I was a little too eager to cover the Bible too much to the point that people may be overwhelmed with too much information. When I resume the class, I am thinking to simplify the content more. Either way, please pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to speak to the people who come to the class.
It's been 3 years...
As we reflect upon these 3 years since we've moved here, I am very thankful for the many blessing. First and foremost, we have added two more family members to the Koyama clan here in Iwate. Though raising children in a different environment is not easy, especially for Linda, I am thankful that I can count many blessing and provision for our kids. We especially love their smiles and the unique personality that God has gifted them. We have to say that some good qualities that they have are definitely gifts from God since we know that they are not from us nor how we raised them. Please continue to pray for wisdom from God in raising our children.
Second, I have been blessed in the mission field that I am a part of. Though there may not be many visible fruit, I know that God is working in this place. I feel privileged to be here. I cannot see the full picture of what God is doing, but I would like to continue to be a part of His work. I am currently praying for specific direction (either to continue to do the same thing or try some new things) for the next few years. Please pray for us as we discern which direction to go and for us to be on the same page. Also, pray that we will seek God's kingdom and His righteousness first as we seek direction from God.
Concerts & Festivals
Summer always seems to include many events and activities. Ippo Ippo hosted a concert for Christian artist, Makoto Iwabuchi. If you are familiar with Doraemon, he was the singer for one of the movies. He and his wife have come to the coastal area every so often to minister to the people who have been affected. The couple shared about their journey to and in faith and the grief they went through with losing their daughter. One of the song they sang was written right after her death. You could feel the heaviness in the room. We had a full house that day and although it was super hot for Yamada, it was a nice intimate gathering. It is nice to see other faces since these concerts attract people other than the regulars who come to visit the cafe.
Here's a link to the version that we listen to on youtube all the time... if your are interested... https://youtu.be/XhVQOVCgPxc
And here is the song that he wrote after his daughter's death - https://youtu.be/vp0dIg8i_7o
It's not actually him singing since I couldn't find a good clear version of it on youtube.
Our church in Morioka also had a busy summer with the usual English cafes that are held once a month, along with a summer kids festival and a VBS held by a team from South California. With all these occasions, Linda has had a chance to invite different individuals and families to these events. Linda started to meet with a Japanese language supporter and invited him to the English cafe as he is very interested in learning and practicing his English. He has attended the last two months. There is another mom here who she met a couple of years ago and her family enjoyed the summer kids festival. That mom was also able to connect with other Singaporeans (that is where she is from), so that was a plus as it is always nice to meet others from your country. A family was also visiting from Nor Cal and the son was in Linda's Japanese class and their family also came to the kids festival. Pray for these individuals and families that they would see a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven through us and be curious to know more about this God we love and follow.
Last but not least, we love this season because of the firework festivals that are held throughout the summer. Although many said that this year's hanabi taikai (firework festival) in Morioka was a bit underwhelming, we still enjoyed going with Won sensei, a new missionary at our church from Korea.