Thursday, August 27, 2015

August Newsletter

Keith and Celia Olson
Newsletter #29
August 27, 2015

With Celia's parents at Crystal Mountain summit
Dear Friends and Family,

We’ve safely arrived in the US, and things are finally beginning to settle down--it’s been a crazy 3 months since we started the process of disengaging and moving on from our work at Wakaba Church. Although we are excited to see people and places in the US that are dear to us, leaving behind the people and work that we love in Japan was not easy. We’re thankful for all of you who have prayed for us and supported us in practical ways through this time of transition.

We had quite the send-off on our last Sunday at Wakaba Church.
One last Hokkaido hike: Mt. Yotei. We had intended to climb Mt. Fuji for our 10th wedding anniversary… but we got sick. Still, we managed to climb Mt. Yotei, also known as “Fuji of the North,” as our practice hike. Mt. Yotei actually has more elevation gain (5031 feet) than Mt. Fuji.
We’re starting to reconnect with family and friends and to put the routines of our new/old life in Seattle in place. We have met up with several groups of people who pray for us regularly; we are encouraged as we see their excitement at hearing answers to their prayers. We also had our first church presentation last Sunday; we were encouraged as the attendees asked good questions and engaged with us. Again and again, we have encountered God’s goodness in giving us a network of people who pray for us and for Japan--we are filled with gratitude.

Over the next nine months, we will be based in Seattle, living with Celia’s parents. We are currently exploring how to best be involved in our church and community there. Home assignment is not a sabbatical or long vacation, although we will hopefully be able to get more rest than we typically get in Japan. We will be working during this time, and our task is to reconnect with supporters, to meet up with and mentor people in the Seattle area who are interested in missions, and to brush up on ministry skills.

Music is one such ministry skill. Celia made her first public performance on Tsugaru-style shamisen at Midsummer Music Retreat. Celia’s dad rounded up some  minions to support her.
We don’t have too much on our schedule for the year just yet; please let us know if you would like to have us visit your church, small group, Bible study, etc., or just catch up over a meal. Music and tea ceremony presentations are also options. We would love to see you and hear what God has been doing in your life over the past four years.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for Mr. and Mrs. K’s baptism on August 9! Please pray for their continued growth as believers.
  • Thank you for praying for our preparations for home assignment and re-entry into US life. We have been adjusting well, and we are getting plenty of rest.
  • Please pray for us as we make decisions about how we use our time during home assignment.
  • One goal for our home assignment is to make friends close to our own age at our home church. Please pray that God will provide like-minded friends, especially those who are interested in missions.
  • Our designation for our second term is still in discussion. Please pray that God clearly leads our leaders and us to the work he wants us to do.


Home Assignment Schedule
  • August 30: Easter Acres Chili Cook-off
  • October 17-25: Vancouver and Victoria BC
  • Late November: North Dakota and Iowa road trip (tentative)
  • December 26-31: Urbana
  • … and we’d love to see you too! Please contact us.


New Life
Mr. and Mrs. K receiving congratulatory flowers from their small group leader after their baptism
For those of us who have been praying for Mr. and Mrs. K, rejoice with us! They were baptized on August 9. For their privacy, we are not sharing their story here; please let us know if you would like to read the story in our newsletter.

Language Corner

Cleaning up and packing is not our favorite of chores. However, one perk is finding lost treasures. We found this while packing.

Text reads: This is the french mustard with unique taste of plan sourness. Enjoy the taste with hot dog, hamburger, frank frutes.

Garden Update

Keith wrote in our last newsletter about our sorrow when we discovered that the garden of our Ishikari house would become a parking space. Thanks to helpful church members, we were able to move most of the plants into planters and a new flowerbed at the side of the house. Our friends from Wakaba are also looking after our houseplants. We are thankful!


... and after!

New Contact Information

As we mentioned, we are in Seattle until May 2016. Let us know if you need our phone numbers or mailing address.

Thanks again for your support through our first term—we couldn’t have done it without you! We look forward to seeing God at work in our second term and beyond!

Love in Christ, Keith and Celia

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting through the chaos

Today’s coffee… wasn’t adequate… so sleepy… I need another one…

It’s been awhile. I’m sitting in a hammock chair on my parents’ deck. This is rather surreal. I still don’t have a drink-coffee-while-writing place here; I think Starbucks is closest, but it takes about twenty minutes to walk there from here. I’m too lazy to move at the moment.

Things are finally starting to calm down after about two months of constant motion. Here are some stats, since June 30:
  • 3 countries (or 4, if you count layovers)
  • 5 US states
  • 9 planes (Keith: “I’d like to go for a week without getting on a plane.”)
  • 3 conferences/workshops
  • 5 suitcases+2 backpacks+1 cello+1 shamisen (and a bunch of boxes shipped, but I don’t remember how many)
  • 10 beds
Also: 1 lost debit card, 1 expired passport with delays in the renewal process, 2 illnesses, 1 failed attempt to climb Mt. Fuji due to the previously mentioned illnesses (although the weather was great), 2 typhoons in our flight paths… and a bunch of other stuff too. The little stuff really adds up.

We’ve been through lots of transitions already, and we were thoroughly prepped for this one through the Pre Home Assignment Workshop we did in January, but simply knowing that “chaos” is part of the process does little to alleviate the pain and exhaustion that go with that stage of transition.

But we are still alive. We made it through.

I’m quite happy at the moment to be sitting on the deck of my parents’ house. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, really. That’s not to say I haven’t been getting stuff done. There’s a huge amount of catching up to do after the two months of chaos from which we have just emerged.

I’m thankful for signs that things are beginning to return to a new sort of “normal.” Yesterday I had my first tea ceremony class from my new teacher here in Seattle. Then I came home to find my parents and Keith around the table with some family friends. Then my childhood friend, Andrea came over to make tamales with me! (Tamale post coming soon!) Things are definitely looking up.

Note: Now that we’re settled, I’ll plan to resume posting on (most) weekends.