Thursday, February 12, 2015

February Newsletter

Keith and Celia Olson
Newsletter #27・February 13, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings! We’ve just gotten through a busy season of concerts, sermons, Christmas events, and a workshop, and things have finally slowed down a bit. We’re thankful for the many ways we have seen God at work over the last several months. Here are a few pictures of recent events.

We visited Kyoto in November. This is the famous Kinkaku-ji.
On the same trip, we attended an Ochakai (Japanese tea gathering) at a church in Saitama. We found it inspiring as we think about how to use tea ceremony for God's glory.
Movie night and bread workshop (we watched Shiawase no Pan/The Bread of Happiness)
Christmas fondue party
Celia's Osechi, fifth time!
We’re in the final stretch of our first term, so we’ve started making preparations for our home assignment, which begins in July. We recently attended Pre-Home Assignment Workshop, where we learned, among other things, about storytelling our experiences as missionaries. Keith wrote the following story at the workshop, having been prompted to write about “something that inspired you lately.” (There were originally 2 stories, but one was not appropriate to post on the internet; let us know if you would like to get the email or print version.)

I was sitting in the back row in a room filled with people who came for Celia's cello concert. Next to me were the members of the church that were hosting this event including Mrs. Y. Since we were renting a room in the fairly warm and relaxed atmosphere of the Otofuke community center, people were filtering in late and even in the middle of songs. As soon as the door would open, in order to not disturb the concert, Mrs. Y would stand up with a smile, welcome the person, make sure the door closed quietly, and then helped the person to a seat.

Later in the concert, she cheerfully went to prepare tea for the reception. Shortly thereafter, she came back into the room holding a box of snacks for later. Very quietly and with seemingly exaggerated motions she tip-toed to her chair and slowly put it down without making a sound. Then she shoved it rather quickly under her chair, and as it slid, it seemed like she was intentionally making a grating noise, not loud, but certainly noticeable.

If it had been someone other than Mrs. Y, then at that moment I might have justifiably given the look that concert-goers give people to tell them to hush up. But instead, that was the moment it occurred to me that Mrs. Y, who is trying so hard to support this concert, cannot possibly be enjoying the music at all. Not because she is so busy, but because she is deaf. Her servant heart amazed and humbled me. She is serving so that others can more fully enjoy that which she will never be able to in this life.

Mrs. Y’s cheerful service challenged me to reconsider my own attitude. Do I serve out of obligation, or out of love? Especially about humility and service, I have a lot to learn from the Japanese people.

Celia and Shino's Otofuke concert

Prayer Points

  • We give thanks for Keith’s “Koinonia” small group Christmas Carol party--several seekers and neighbors attended, and they were able to hear the Christmas story and enjoy fellowship with the group. Please pray that group members will be encouraged by this experience and emboldened to continue reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors using the gifts God has given them.
  • We give thanks for Celia and Shino’s concerts in December and January. Please pray for each of the five churches who hosted concerts, for good follow-up.
  • Please pray for seekers, Ms. M and Mr. K (and his wife, who isn’t as interested). Mr. and Mrs. K (a different couple) have recently started a seeker’s Bible study with Pastor Takahashi, and we are participating as well, as part of our training.
  • We’re starting preparations for home assignment as well as considering where we will serve when we return to Japan in May 2016. Please pray for discernment and patience.
  • As part of our home assignment preparations, we are considering how to hand our church responsibilities off to others, especially Keith’s small group and movie nights for the youth group. Please pray that our “handing off” would empower church members to serve.

Save the Date: Home Assignment!
We’ll be on home assignment, based in Seattle, from mid-July 2015 until mid-May 2016. We look forward to catching up with many of you! More details to come in our next newsletter.

About the New Banner

We’ve updated our banner in the print/email version of our newsletters with pictures from recent life and travels in Japan. We're including it here, in case you're interested. From the left: bamboo forest (Kyoto), pickled ume plums and cherries drying in the sun, the roof of one of the Imperial Palace buildings (Kyoto—thanks to Sharon Law), a bowl of matcha, Osechi New Year’s feast, Tsuru no Yu onsen buildings in Akita prefecture, and ginkgo trees at Hokkaido University.

Language Corner

Here’s a gem we found recently in Kyoto. Remember to always use punctuation!

p.s. the karintō manjū at this shop were delicious!

Thanks for continuing to support us in prayer!

Love in Christ, Keith and Celia

I'm glad to be inside for the winter.

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