Friday, June 05, 2009

Japan Newsletter

We're going to Japan... pretty soon! Here's our "support letter" for OMF. Enjoy!

Dear Friends and Family,

We would like to share with you some exciting news. First, both of us have graduated from Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada with Master of Christian Studies degrees. Keith’s concentration was in Biblical Studies, and Celia’s concentration was in Christianity and the Arts; Celia completed an “arts thesis” project, titled “Praise the Lord with Stringed Instruments: Instrumental Music as Participation and Contemplation.” Both of us served as teaching assistants in Biblical languages (Keith in Greek and Celia in Hebrew). We have greatly enjoyed our studies here at Regent, but we are also glad to be finished and moving on to the next stage in our lives.

Over the past several years, the people of Japan have been weighing heavily on our hearts. This is not really a recent development; both of us have been blessed throughout our lives with Japanese friends, teachers, and colleagues, and we have come to greatly value Japanese hospitality, food, and culture. The Japanese language we also find fascinating, and we are excited at the opportunity to learn it. That being said, the next stage of our lives will take place in Japan. We will be leaving North America for Japan in late July and returning at the end of March.

We have been accepted to take part in an “Individual Placement” short-term mission trip in the city of Sapporo through OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) International. We chose this particular organization because of its emphasis on the indigenous church—missionaries from outside Japan are there to serve as supporters, with the intention of uplifting the Japanese church so that it can stand on its own. We want to be part of this work. Our specific tasks will be to join in the work of a local church in student ministry and in worship music ministry, and to give concerts. Celia is particularly interested to continue the work she started in her arts thesis and to see how instrumental music can be a bridge in cross-cultural situations. Keith is particularly interested in the possibility of teaching Biblical studies in the local church and in ministering to those on the fringes of society. We will work under the leadership of long term missionaries and leaders in the local church. Our desire in going for this short time is to learn more about the needs of the Japanese church and the Japanese people, and see if our gifts are well suited to meet any of those needs. It could be that God will call us to work in Japan for the rest of our lives!

How can you participate with us in our work? We are looking for people to encourage us and uphold us in prayer. We will be sending out periodic email updates as well as making posts to our blog to keep you informed on our adventures, our work, and our prayer needs. Our current prayer needs and contact information can be found on the reverse of this letter. We are responsible for our own finances, amounting to about $34,500 (US) for the eight months we will be in Japan. If you would like to contribute, please see the instructions below. (We understand that many of you are already heavily burdened by the financial crisis; please do not feel obligated. Please do support us in prayer even if you choose not to support us financially!)

We are very excited as our date of departure draws near. Please keep us in your prayers, and contact us if you want to hear more!

Keith and Celia

How you can be praying for us:
  • For details in all sorts of areas to work out, including flights (Celia will need to book a seat for her cello) and visas.
  • For minds that are ready to learn and hearts that are ready to serve.
  • For energy to keep working even when we are tired.
  • For our hosts, Pat and Tony Schmidt and Alaric Dunsmore-Rouse, and for the work of Satsunae Lighthouse Church, our host church.
  • For the people of Japan: Christians make up about 1.5% of the population. Japan is famous for its intense work ethic, and the pressures of society lead to high suicide rates, withdrawal from society, and troubled family life.
  • For many fruitful conversations, meals, concerts, and worship services, and for the patience to keep trying even when we cannot see the fruit of our work.
  • For our Japanese language skills to blossom, and once again for patience when we are frustrated at being more or less illiterate and unable to communicate.

How to Give:
You can give a tax deductable donation to OMF for the benefit of our work. There are 2 options to do this.

On the internet by credit card
Be sure to designate your donation for
“Serve Asia (OMF USA): Keith and Celia Olson.”

By mail:
Send your check, payable to OMF, labeled "Support for Keith and Celia Olson (Serve Asia, OMF USA)."

In the US, mail to:
Serve Asia—OMF International
10 W. Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120-4413

In Canada, mail to:
OMF Canada
5155 Spectrum Way, Bldg 21
Mississauga, ON L4W 5A1

**Note: If you want to give, please do so before July 10. We need to have all our finances in order for the entire trip before we leave for Japan!

Enjoying a meal at home with some Japanese friends...

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