Thursday, May 26, 2011

May Newsletter

Newsletter #12
April 26, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

We received our clearances; we booked our tickets; WE’RE GOING TO JAPAN! As you can imagine, we are excited, astonished, happy to be going, and sad to be leaving. There are many details to work out… please pray for us in this very busy and emotionally draining time! We have included a number of practical details related to our going in the “nuts and bolts” section of this newsletter.

Since April, we have been like the cliché pastor and pastor’s wife:  Keith has been doing a lot of preaching, and Celia has been playing a lot of music. We’ve been everywhere from preschools to retirement homes sharing about our ministry. A lot has happened in the last month; here are photos of some of the highlights.

Keith has preached at many different churches, including Hosanna Church, the Japanese church we attend. Takahashi-sensei translated for him. 

One perk about all this travel: sometimes we visit beautiful places! We were in Burlington on a sunny day during tulip season, and in West Seattle during cherry blossom season.

We have a new sister! Celia’s brother, Colin married Jiayun Chen on May 21.

One of Colin and Jiayun's engagement pictures
At the beach after the wedding
 We were commissioned on May 22 at Newport Covenant Church.

We shared at our church’s preschool about Children’s Day in Japan.(Celia is an alum.) We made kabuto (samurai hats) and koinobori (fish windsocks). Here are the finished products, after we put them together!

We spent 5 glorious vacation days in Long Beach, WA, where we were joined by our friends, the Janssens (future OMF missionaries in Taiwan). Celia taught the kids how to make sourdough bread.

Celia has been involved in the quilting group at church this year. (The picture shows the group on coffee break.) She is hoping to finish her quilt before we leave!


Learning to Trust

For the last several months, we have been walking the difficult road of learning to trust God. We had initially chosen the target date of February to go to Japan, but when it became clear that we wouldn’t make the December deadline, we prayed again for God’s direction. Both of us felt like the July was the right time to go. However, at the time of our last newsletter (April 16), we were still at 55% of our financial support, and we hadn’t yet received medical clearance.
On March 31, we had started “40 days of prayer”—each day, a group of our faithful prayer supporters received a quick email with something we were thankful for as well as a prayer request. We prayed for all kinds of things—family needs, the people of Japan, our financial needs, and for encouragement and strength to get through our daily activities and to trust in God’s provision. I (Celia) think that last item was what I needed most. While I’m fairly certain that God would have provided us with financial and medical clearance even without the “40 days of prayer,” I needed to spend those 40 days learning to lay my burdens daily at the feet of Jesus. God will certainly provide—but it’s my choice what I do with that knowledge. I can spend my days fretting and worrying, or I can go about my daily activities in  peace, full of joyful anticipation. I have to say, I spent most days doing the former.

On May 7, two days before the deadline, we were still at 93%. Keith was filled with excitement and anticipation to see what God would do; I was not so excited. Usually I don’t fast (lack of food makes me very cranky), but that day, I felt like I needed an attitude adjustment. With each hunger pang, I prayed a simple prayer, something like this: “God, thank you for providing for my needs. You have faithfully provided food for us to eat every day, so I know I can trust you to provide for us when we’re in Japan.” God provided—we were invited to a delicious meal at our neighbour’s house when it was time for me to break my fast. Then the next day at church, several church members made pledges. Later in the afternoon, we heard about the final pledge which put us over 100%.

When we officially got our financial clearance (the morning of May 9), I just felt tired, worn out by the mixture of emotions, like the adrenaline letdown I sometimes experience after concerts. To some extent, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to be more like Keith, eagerly waiting to find out how God would provide. Why couldn’t I just let go? Through this process of waiting on God, I learned that his provision does not depend on me. I suspect this will be a life-long learning process.

Nuts and Bolts

There’s a lot of information in this section, so please talk to us if you’re confused. Feel free to talk to us even if you’re not confused.

Our Schedule
If you’re in North America, we’d love to see you before we go back to Japan! More information about many of these events (and a few more which aren't set in stone just yet) is forthcoming on our blog.
    Until June 3: in Iowa and North Dakota visiting Keith’s family
    May 29: Grace Lutheran Church, Fort Dodge, IA (Children’s message)
    June 6-11: in Boston and Connecticut visiting friends and family
    June 18: OMF Day of Prayer in Vancouver
    June 19: Vancouver First Christian Reformed Church (Keith will preach)
    June 25 and 28: Goodbye parties at our home in Seattle (more details will follow mid-June)

About Pledges and Donations

How do I fulfill my pledge? Thank you to everyone who has made a pledge to support us. We leave for Japan in July, so please start your monthly gifts in July if you have not already done so. If you have made your pledge “officially” through OMF International, you should have received a letter from them explaining how to fulfill your pledge. If you have told us you wanted to pledge, but haven't told OMF International yet, please go to this website to sign up.

Are donations and pledges still welcome? Yes, you can still pledge or donate. Although we have met the minimum financial requirements to go to Japan, we will eventually have “second priority” items to add to our budget, such as a car, which will likely be necessary for Celia’s concert ministry. We might also have children (an expensive prospect). If a missionary receives more than 100% support, OMF keeps the surplus for that missionary until it is needed.

Giving information is also available on our blog.

Prayer Points
  • Praise God; we have our financial and medical clearances to go to Japan!
  • We are in the process of finding a moving company; please pray for us as we pack and as we choose what we need to take, leave, and get rid of. 
  • We thank God for all of our friends and family who are supporting us as we go to Japan. In this last month before we leave, especially during our travels and in saying many goodbyes, please pray that this will be a very rich and fruitful time.
  • Please pray for the Peter and Janet Dallman and for Alaric Dunsmore-Rouse who will oversee our language studies and will help us in our transition to Japan. Please pray especially that the Dallmans will be able to find an appropriate home for us in which Celia can practice her cello.
  • Before we arrive at our final destination in Sapporo, Japan, we will go to Singapore for orientation course (OC) and then do some relief work in the tsunami hit area of Japan. Pray that our time in OC will be refreshing as we meet with other missionaries and the OMF staff and as we learn more about the organization.
  • We are still planning to do relief work. Celia would like to play concerts to encourage people who have been affected by the tsunami, and Keith would like to do manual labour, but we don't know yet where or with whom we will work. Please pray for the details to be worked out.

Money Jar: We have 100%!

The Lord has provided! Shortly before the May 9 deadline, we made the minimum financial requirement for our first term (5 years). We are so thankful to God and to everyone who is supporting us. We will continue to keep you informed of any changes to our financial situation while we are in Japan.

We are overcome with God’s faithfulness to us. Thank you for sharing with us in our rejoicing. Please keep praying with us on this next leg of our journey.

Love in Christ, Keith and Celia

Visit to Vancouver

Just wanted to give you a heads-up... we will be in Vancouver the weekend of June 18-19. On Saturday, June 18, we will be at the OMF Mid Year Day of Prayer. We will be leading worship and sharing about Japan. The schedule is below.

Then on Sunday, June 19 at 10:30 a.m., Keith will be preaching at Vancouver First Christian Reformed Church.

We are also hoping to hold some kind of informal gathering to say hello and goodbye to our friends; more details will be coming in a couple of weeks. We hope to see you soon!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Going to Japan

God has done it! Celia and I are going to Japan on July 1, 2011, with 4 one-way tickets (one for me, one for Celia, one for Celia's cello, and one for Celia's viola da gamba) for our initial four year term. Today is the day we were supposed to meet all of our deadlines, and we were nervous and excited at the same time to see how God was going to supply for our financial clearance (we were at 90% a week ago and 97% yesterday morning). By yesterday night, we received the final pledges needed to meet the minimum financial requirements to go to Japan, and this morning our OMF boss gave us the green light to go to Japan!

So what do we do from here? We pack, move, travel, say goodbyes, cry (a lot), fill out paperwork, and leave. When we get to Japan, we will deposit some cellos and other luggage, and then head over to Singapore for our month long orientation course (OC). Singapore is where the OMF International headquarters is, and OC is meant to train OMF missionaries about procedures of OMF and allow us to get acquainted with the OMF staff supporting us and the other missionaries entering the field with us. After OC, we hop back to Japan where we will hopefully do some initial relief work for a few weeks (Celia playing cello concerts in the shelters and Keith doing manual labor). By mid-August we should be moving into our new home in Sapporo, Hokkaido, and starting language study.

Right now we feel like this: dancing to the jukebox in the basement of Keith's parents' house with long hair


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Money Jar

We have 92% pledged support!
We have a little less than a week left before this whole money jar business is behind us, and as much as I (Keith) enjoy creating these MS Paint  money jars and filling them with MS Paint coins, I will be glad when we're through. As of today, May 3, we have about 92% pledged support. God has done some amazing things to get us this far, so we are hopeful that we will get a full 100% pledged before our May 9th financial deadline. We will definitely keep you posted :)