Thursday, November 12, 2015

November Newsletter

Newsletter #30
November 10, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

We’re already four months into our home assignment, with only six months left! Time flies. This time we thought we would give you a home assignment update and answer the question:

“What are you doing, anyway?”

We get this question a lot. To be fair, we didn’t really know what to expect when we were planning for our home assignment--we’re figuring things out as we go along. Really quick, though, I’ll tell you what home assignment isn’t: a year-long vacation. Nope. We work six days a week.

At our pre-home assignment workshop last January, I think there was some sort of mnemonic device for the tasks and purposes of home assignment with words starting with “re.” We can’t actually remember which ones, but as a joke we started writing down as many “re” words as we could think of… including words like reeking, regurgitating, and recomposting--is that even a word? Surprisingly, a lot of the other words we came up with applied to our situation. So, what are we doing, anyway?

Reconnecting: This is probably our highest priority this year, since four years away means a lot happened in our friends’ and families’ lives while we were gone. As we are living with Celia’s parents, we are enjoying lots of family time; we’re looking forward to Thanksgiving with Keith’s family. Meanwhile, we are meeting up with lots of friends and people who have been praying for us, and making new friends as we connect with people who are considering their involvement in missions.

Relocating: We had to move out of our Ishikari home to come “home” to Seattle… and while we’re here, we’ve been all over the place to meet up with people.

Having high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada... a break in the midst of attending conferences and visiting friends...
Leading worship at the OMF 150th Anniversary celebration in Victoria
Retelling: We have a lot of stories to tell from our first term in Japan; telling them is probably our biggest task this year. God is at work in Japan, and it’s exciting how we were able to see this. We want to share these stories with people in the US and Canada who have been praying for us… and we’ve had lots of opportunities, both informally over a meal or coffee, and in presentations and preaching. Presentations and sermons both take lots of work to prepare--since we know from experience that well-crafted stories tend to stick better than lists of prayer points or general overviews of our ministry, we put a lot of effort into preparing presentations that will engage the listeners, and hopefully encourage them to praise God for his goodness and pray that his glory will be known throughout Japan.

Keith tells stories at our Newport Covenant Church presentation
Our friend, Pastor Kyota Takahashi helps lead a game at the NCC presentation introducing English loadwords in Japanese.
Rehashing: We call this the elevator speech--not nearly as nice as “retelling,” and we have to do it all the time. The elevator speech is the answer to the question, “If you had to explain to someone during the length of an elevator ride what you were doing in Japan and why, what would you say?” Usually I (Celia) say, “I work at a Japanese church.” That might get me a wide smile from a fellow Christian, polite disinterest from a salesperson or server at a restaurant, or a glare from someone who has baggage with Christianity.

Replicating: Many of our friends and supporters are interested in our Japanese Culture studies, especially tea ceremony. We’ve already had a few chances to demonstrate tea ceremony and Japanese music, and to show practically some of the ways we use the traditional arts for God’s glory. Recently we also replicated one of Wakaba church’s youth group movie nights for friends here to experience.

Celia teaches high school students about tea ceremony.
Celia performs Japanese folk songs on the shamisen at the NCC presentation.
Restocking: Back in summer of 2013, we went on a hiking and camping trip to Rebun and Rishiri, two remote islands in the sea of Japan. On the very first hike, the soles fell off Celia’s 15-year-old hiking boots, and we discovered that they were completely rotten. When we got back to Sapporo, Celia went shopping for new hiking boots… and discovered that there were no women’s boots to fit her (rather average) size 8 ½ feet. So she bought men’s boots. But for most other clothing needs, men’s clothing doesn’t work so well. Thus Celia, who dislikes shopping, is in the process of replacing four years worth of threadbare, faded clothes.

Relearning: America has changed a lot in the last four years. We are finding that things are not the same as when we left, so we are experiencing some of the same kind of exhaustion that came with culture shock when we went to Japan. Don’t expect us to know any recent TV shows, movies, music, etc. We haven’t even heard of them, let alone seen them.

Reconquering: Inbox overhaul is in progress. Celia is finding many emails she should have answered years ago. Sorry.

Relinquishing: We’re busy, so we’re learning to drop the stuff that can get dropped while keeping our priorities straight--people and relationships are the most important.

Reading: While in Japan, there was rarely time to read. So, we’ve been catching up on a stack of books we’ve been wanting to read, while also continuing with Japanese study.

Relishing: Mexican food, good cheese, eggnog, and other delicious foods that are hard to come by in Japan.

Refreshing: We try to get some rest. Wednesday is our day off. That’s when a lot of the reading and relishing takes place.

Rekindling: Even while we’re in the US, we are also preparing for our next term of service. Part of this task is to refresh our hearts--to hear sermons and attend Bible studies in our mother-tongue, and to spend more time privately reading and studying the Bible. We have been learning to lean in--to listen closely to the Holy Spirit’s voice as he convicts and comforts. We hope to go back to Japan next May rekindled with holy fire to serve God and his church in Japan.

Prayer Points

  • We thank God for the pledges of support that we have received for our next term. Many people have re-pledged from our first term, and we are also blessed with some new financial and prayer supporters. We have 62%; please pray with us for the remaining 38%.
  • Pray for opportunities for us to share about Japan and raise awareness of Japan’s prayer needs.
  • Our second term placement seems to be coming together. Please pray for good dialogue between us and the OMF leadership in Japan. We may come to a decision later this month.
  • We were blessed to reconnect with many friends during our trip to Canada in October. Pray that we can continue to have quality time with friends and family during the remaining 6 months of our home assignment.
  • We are excited to take the train from Seattle to Grand Forks on the way to spend Thanksgiving with Keith’s family in Iowa. Pray for safe travels and good time with friends and family.
  • Please pray for wisdom in determining an appropriate balance of work and rest.


Tea Bowl: We have 62%!

The money jar from five years ago has a new look. This time we’re filling a tea bowl (chawan) with tea! We need 100% pledged monthly support for our second term before returning to Japan. If you plan to continue your support from our first term into our second term, thank you! Please be sure to let us know again in person, by email, or through the OMF website: (go to “update info,” and enter “re-pledging” in the comments). Our deadline for 100% pledged monthly support is March 23, 2016.

Home Assignment Schedule
November 16-December 3: North Dakota and Iowa trip
November 29: Shamisen and Tea Ceremony, Grace Lutheran Church, Fort Dodge, IA
December 6: Celia preaches at Newport Covenant Church
December 26-31: Urbana missions conference
January 10: Keith preaches at Newport Covenant Church
February 28: Tea Ceremony for Newport Covenant Church youth group
… and we’d love to see you too! Please contact us.

Language Corner

We’re living in native-English-speaker-land now, so thankfully we have a backlog of interesting signs and such from Japan. This one was found in a rest area bathroom. It reads: “Troubling a janitor lady is like troubling your friend’s mom.” And you wouldn’t want to trouble your friend’s mom, would you?


Thanks again for praying for us. May you also be rekindled with God’s love.

Love in Christ,
Keith and Celia

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Here's to you re-turning soon!