Shino-san and I played 3 concerts at Christmas time... but that wasn't enough for us, so we decided to do one last concert on March 21! We played Bach, Beethoven, and Faure at Shino-san's church. The church has a cute little organ, which we used for the Bach. I also told a bit of my story (in English with Japanese translation projected on power point), and we sang a couple of songs together. Altogether, that brought my concert total for the 8 months to 10 concerts and many other smaller engagements. :) I'll just add too, it was such a pleasure to play with Shino-san! I'm really going to miss her!
For your reading pleasure, here is the story I told about my life during the concert. I started by introducing myself in Japanese, so you can read that bit if you like; I recommend using Google Translate for a good laugh. :) In any case, this story will give you a good idea of what we're thinking about at the present moment.
証の前に、少し自己紹介をします。 私はアメリカのシアトルで生まれました。 大学で音楽を勉強しました。 ２００５年キース・オルソンと結婚しました。 それから、 キースと一緒にカナダのバンクーバーで神学校に入学しました。 私は礼拝の音楽を専門に勉強しました。 神学校の時、 私達はパットとトニー・シュミット先生に会いました。 そして、日本人の友達とよく話しました。 日本人が大好きになりましたから、日本へ来て決めました。 もうすぐ国へ帰りますが、日本へ戻りたいです。 どうぞ私達の為にお祈りして下さい！これから英語で証をします。 パワーポイントを見て下さい。
Some of you have already heard my testimony at our concert at Kibou no Oka church. Today I’m going to tell you a different story, about how I learned to trust God. I grew up in a Christian family, and I invited Jesus into my heart when I was about 5 years old. At that time, the most significant challenge I had faced was when my younger brother stole a toy I wanted to play with. My life was very safe, so I believed that God, and my parents, were completely trustworthy. As I grew up, and as I began to face real challenges and make difficult decisions, trusting God became more difficult—and more necessary. Over the 23 years that have passed since the day I invited Jesus into my heart, I have been on a journey with God, learning how to trust him and follow him.
I’ve been thinking a lot about trusting God lately. Right now my future seems up in the air, since my husband and I will soon leave behind many precious friends here in Sapporo and return to Vancouver in Canada. In Vancouver we have no home and no job, many of our friends have moved away, and our church has changed. We don’t want to leave Sapporo, but we must. Can I trust God to provide for my needs over the next several months? Can I trust him to provide a job, and a home, and new friends? Can I trust him to bring us back to Japan, if that is his will?
Every transition in my life comes with a crisis of trust: can I trust God to provide for my needs in this new situation? Can I rest in the belief that even if there is a lot of work to be done, God has already gone ahead of me? Do I believe that he will do as he promises—that he really does know the plans he has for me, and for each one of us—plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future? These words, which I have borrowed from the prophet Jeremiah, were written long ago to encourage the people of Israel, but many people today still take comfort in these words. The God who promised to bring the people of Israel home from exile is the same God who sent his son to the cross for our sins, and the same God we worship today and call upon in prayer. His power and his love for us are far greater than our fear, or our suffering, or anything that the future holds.
One time in my life when I was particularly aware of God’s provision was when I was finishing up at the University of Colorado. I felt like my life was falling to pieces all around me. A year before, I had had a dramatic renewal of my faith, my studies had been going well, I had started dating a guy from my church, and we had been thinking about marriage. Suddenly, within a few months, the relationship fell apart, my summer job plan fell through, and I was struggling to prepare for graduate school auditions. In addition, I was about to leave my church and my friends behind and start a new life somewhere else. I felt completely helpless, and had no choice but to depend on God to provide for me and encourage me. My prayers at that time didn’t have too many words, just “help me, please!” I didn’t even know what to say to God or what to ask him for, since all my plans had come to nothing. All I could do was cry out to God from deep in my heart.
God heard my cries, and he provided for me, according to his own timing and his own purposes. I found out I had been accepted to study baroque cello and viola da gamba at Boston University, with a full scholarship. God provided me with wonderful teachers and classmates there. Shortly before the term started, my parents unexpectedly met one of my future classmates, Tess, when they were traveling. When they found out we would be classmates, they gave Tess my email address, so I was able to meet her my second day in Boston. We became friends and supported each other as we got adjusted to our new life. Regarding my summer job, my viola da gamba teacher invited me to work at Interlochen Arts Camp, where she would be teaching, so that in addition to working, I could also continue to study with her through the summer. On my first day there, I met my husband, Keith!
God has done many things in my life. As I look back on how God has been faithful to me, to my family, to his people in all places throughout history, my faith becomes sight in a small way. The God who has sustained us in the past will continue to sustain us in the future, even in the hardest of times. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”