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 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.
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.
- 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