Rio Day 1. A day of Contrasts. Qatar to São Paulo

imageI had a five hour layover in Qatar.  It took me awhile to find the gate as the flight was not yet listed.  When I arrived everything was closed and no one was there.  Slowly by slowly people arrived.  One of them was from Roumania and had just completed a business project in Nagoya, so I added him to my list of random people.

Then the changes began to happen.  They changed the gate on me with a little more than thirty minutes to go.  Fortunately while it was in another wing of the airport it turned out to not be too far away.

When I got to the boarding gate I found out they had returned me to the economy section but did give me a front row seat so I was content to have the extra leg room for the 14 hour flight.

Arriving in São Paulo for the first time ever, we all had to find and show our boarding passes as we left the aircraft.  Next came finding immigration, the baggage claim, then the check in counter for the local flight to Rio.  I don’t think that I have ever done as much walking in one airport and there was more to come.

The line took forever as people needing earlier flights were moved up the line.  When I finally got to the front of the line the nice guy took so long I knew that something was wrong.  It turned out my ticket had been booked for Tuesday and today was Wednesday.  Arrrrrrrgh!!  Not the best news to get when you have already been travelling for over 24 hours, you are supposed to be meeting a Japanese friend on the same flight and friends are going to be waiting for you at Rio airport.

I had to go to the airlines service counter which involved changing floors and walking through through three terminals.  Waiting in line again. They don’t speak English!!!  I don’t speak Portuguese!! However, I finally end up with a new ticket an hour later than my original time.  I find wi-if after like forever and am able to message Tatsuya, the Japanese friend and Ricardo who is already waiting for me at Rio.

Time to check in. More waiting in line.  When I receive my boarding pass the nice man tells me where my gate is, only one terminal away! He also informs me that they have already began boarding!!!!   Next security check, even more waiting in line and you guessed it the gate was as far as you can possibly get from the security gate.  I rush though the terminal to my gate and everything was closed, fortunately the was a nice guy guy there who when I showed him my boarding pass told me that boarding would not take place for another thirty minutes so I should relax and sit down.  That was the nicest best thing that I had heard since arriving in São Paulo.

On the plane I sat next to two delightful young kids from Texas.  We had wonderfully, relaxing, fun conversation but I am sorry I was too tired to try and take any pictures.  At Rio I rushed of the plane picked up my bag and went to the exit and Tatsuya and Ricardo were waiting right there along with Raphael, Ricardo’s son whom I had baptized while there were ex-pats in Tokyo.

imageRicardo drove us to the church where we are staying, gave me a great tourist guide and a box of chocolates so overall the day ended rather well.

Rio Day 1. A day of Contrasts. Narita to Qatar.

I am awed an amazed at the people that have been or have just become a part of my life, that make a trip like this one to Rio a very special time.

imageIt began with Tim Needham who the night before I left came over just to pray blessing over me and this trip.  Then there is My neighbour, Mr. Miura who took our plant that needed watering over to his place to care for it while I am in Rio.

imageThe time came to leave and Ken Itoh picked me up and drove me to the airport.  Different people, with different parts to play each contributing to make this trip begin well.

imageCheck in went smoothly and the nice lady moved me to an exit seat so that I would have extra leg room.  Jennifer Gracy had prayed for and upgrade to first class.  Not exactly “First Class” but I was thankful and improvement for which I was very happy.  On the walk to the gate I met my first random person of the trip 🙂

Just as I went through the boarding gate  they called me over and said they were very sorry but because the flight was so full they would have to change my seat.  They put me in Business Class.  Jennifer.  You and Jesus are awesome!

imageI sat next to me second random person of the trip, relaxed and enjoyed the first leg of the journey.

One of the benefits of flying business class is the food.

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Tohoku Prayer Trip Part 2 Day 6

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Zao Baptist Church

Our final day in Tohoku.  We had slept at the Zao Baptist church where we stayed on our first prayer trip to Tohoku.  They rented futons pillows and sheets so we could sleep at a the back of the church.

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Since our last visit Yamagata City had build its very first drive through Starbucks.  Only a couple of  minutes from the church.  So after helping the pick up lady get the bedding into her vehicle we headed on over to begin the day in style.

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We had already accomplished our mission of praying in Iwate Prefecture, Aomori Prefecture and Akita Prefecture so our time here was mainly to relax and build on the relationships we established last time we visited and to break our journey back to Tokyo.

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Kazuki. Man of God

Meet Kazuki!  Last time we met he was a bible student.  Now he has completed his studies and is on staff at the church.  Today just happened to be his birthday!  Really?  I love these God moments along the way!  We gladly took time to pray for him and his coming year!

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Yep! Eating again

After coffee we went to Naoko’s Grandparents house to pick up some gifts they had prepared for Gary and Naoko. Their grandfather was just about to go for a hospital visit so we arrived at the right time to pray!

We were joined by Ken the Pastor of Zao Baptist Church, enjoyed a soba lunch together, then he took us all to a nearby  Onsen. We took time to pray for Ken in the next season of his life and he in turn prayed for our trip back to Tokyo.

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Onsen! Let’s do it!!!

We got back to Tokyo around 22:00 a little tired but full of awe at how much we had accomplished in such a short time.  We travelled 2,250 kilometers, achieved our goal of praying in the three northern prefectures of Tohoku and were even able to make it to the most northern point of the region.

Tohoku Prayer Trip Part 2 Day 5

Today, like yesterday involved lots and lots and lots of driving.  However, we only visited one place so there are not so many pictures.

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Praying at Akita station

First we drove to the third and final prefecture of our trip, Akita.  Unfortunately it rained most of the day.   One unusual and fun thing for today was that we actually set foot on Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi  Prefecture. Akita Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture. Four prefectures in one road trip.

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Looking for food

Like I said it rained most of the day.  Here is our pitiful party in search of a place to eat with only one umbrella between us.  We were looking for a Matsuya but for whatever, reason there were none to be found. We ended up eating at a Udon restaurant followed by paying homage at the local Starbucks where we were warmed and filled ready to press on to Yamagata where we would be sleeping for the night before returning to Tokyo.

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Eating at Coco’s in Yamagata

By evening were safely arrived at our destination where we wee met by Kazuki who helped us get our stuff to the place where we would be sleeping.  We also met Ken the Pastor who came over for the evening prayer meeting.  Fortunately he was very understanding and allowed us to go out and get something to eat and find a local Onsen, after which we slept soundly through the night.

Tohoku Prayer Trip Part 2 Day 4

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Nice place to stay

This is the beautiful guest house where we stayed last night in Misawa City.  The nice lady, sorry no photo, likes to receive Christians as she desires people to not smoke or drink while staying there.

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With Junko’s sweet mother
We were invited to meet Junko’s mother, a very  jolly lady who enjoyed our visit immensely, serving us tea, coffee and snacks.  Junko had us worship with her; it was a privilege to share in her desire to see God honored in her house.

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At Aomri Station
A couple  more hours of driving saw us arrive at Aomori station. These times of praying for the prefecture from the station at the centre of the capital city have also been times of receiving direction and understanding for the future work of YWAM in Tohoku.  Looking forward to seeing the answers to these prayers in the not too distant future.

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We look so serious when we are praying
Fortunately Amori is a very civilized city and there was a Starbucks coffee shop right there in the station. This proved a necessary part of preparing and fortifying me for the long drive to the most northern point of the main island of Japan, Omazaki.  This is also of course the most northern point of the Tohoku area, too.  I found and inherited a hat that was on the ground and as there was no one around looking for it and it was about to rain heavily, I am giving this hat a new lease of life.

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Me and my hat at Cape Oma!
Like I said it was cold and beginning to rain so there was no friendly person to ask to take a team photo.  We were supposed to be able to see Hokkaido from here but the inclement weather made that impossible.  We did pray for tje Tohoku region and all that we had learned from this trip but also prayed for Greg & Rachael and the future work up in Hokkaido.

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Should have seen Hokkaido in the background
After our prayer time we celebrated Communion together in the car asking that The Lamb would receive the full reward for his sufferings in the Tohoku region.

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I had promised Samuel who lives in Hokkaido that I would wave to him from this point.  As we could not actually see Hokkaido today, I had to face time him instead.  I love technology!!!!

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A fish kissing Mosese
Mosese is from Fiji; he joined our team in Tokyo just three months ago and has already developed a heart for Tohoku.  He is an interesting brother and brings lots of joy and laughter every day.

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Ask Mosese what is written on these stones. He will tell you later
On our trip back to Misawa  we drove up to the temple on Mount Osore, which translates to Mountain of Fear.  It is one of the three most sacred places in all of Japan and is supposed to be the gateway to hell.

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Buddhist temple on the mountain of fear
They have blind mediums here who are supposedly able to bring you a message from a deceased person in the voice of that person.  There was no one there to actually try it out, so we were not able to confirm that possibility.

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This place was not on our original schedule but due to information we received on the way as to its spiritual significance in the nation of Japan, we made the slight detour necessary to intercede and pray here, too.  The daylight was just enough to take these three pictures.  Still raining though.

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When we back at Misawa, having been on the road for over twelve hours, we thankfully found a hot spring to soak in and relax.  Unfortunately, this meant that the grocery store was already closed and we were all starving!  Especially Mosese!!!!!

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Kappa sushi
Thanks to to the Internet we were able to locate a local convenience store not too far away but on the way we found a sushi store that was still open for half an hour.  YESSSSSSSSSSSS.  Perfect end to the day, I say.

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Next best thing to a cuppa tea
When I got home I attempted to write this blog but no way. I was exhausted and just went to sleep.  I am typing this in the van on the way to Akita, our third and final prefecture in Northern Japan.  Don’t worry, I am not driving…Gary is…..

 

 

Tohoku Prayer Trip Part 2 Day 3

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Our sleeping quarters for the night

We slept in temporary housing last night.  Once again the weather turned out to be beautiful in the morning and we were soon on our way to Morioka City the capital of Iwate Prefecture.

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Praying for Iwate Prefecture

The drive was smooth and we even took the mountain pass.  I was glad it was not raining or snowing.  We arrived at Morioka station after about two and a half hours of driving.  As our custom was we went to the entrance of the trains and prayed there.

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We were excited to pray by the poster

I took this picture because I noticed the poster in the background that had the word PRAY on it.  Not too sure what the poster was about but it was there so I had to take it.

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Fellowshipping at the table

Just a a five minute drive from the station was Morioka Bible Baptist Church.  They had a lunch meeting and welcomed us to join them.  It was amazing EVERYONE spoke English.  It was encouraging to hear their stories and spend time praying for them and their desire to reach young people and start new works in the prefecture.  Again we heard of the different churches who were working together.  All of this as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

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People are what makes anyplace special

 

We had way too much fun here at the church and look forward to building on the relationships that were made.  Even the group photo was special.  Our team was encouraged by all that God is already doing in the heart of Iwate Prefecture.

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Praying in the guest house

Next we drove another hour and a half to enter the second Prefecture of our tour.  Aomori Prefecture.  This Prefecture is famous for it Apple industry.  Two ladies Junko and Yoshiko, who had help arrange our place to stay came over for an impromptu visit which turned into an hour of prayer for the Prefecture and the nation of Japan.

Yaaaaaaaawn….time to go to sleep.

 

Tohoku Prayer Trip Part 2 Day 2

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Sendai Baptist Seminary where we spent our first night.

 

Today was a very beautiful sunny day.  For us it began quite early as we had to leave the Baptist Seminary at 06:00, our destination was Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture.  This will be our first new prefecture for these prayer journeys.

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Ready to go

Today’s travel was much shorter than yesterday we were scheduled to meet Mark & Wendy Hoshizaki. Missionaries whom I had met at Tokyo Baptist Church before they were assigned to Iwate Prefecture.

 

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Well met in the car park

We we made excellent time and arrived at our rendezvous spot, snapped a quick photo to remember the occasion then played follow the leader with Mark who led  us to one of the churches he works with in Kamaishi.

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Awesome house church

This proved to be a beautiful house church with a few suprises.  The Pastor is from Peru and preached mainly in Spanish while his Japanese wife translated.  There was a missionary from Hong Kong and a volunteer from Kansai. Altogether a wonderful mix of people.

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The church offered us lunch which we gladly accepted.  During this time the pastor shared his dream to provide something for the young people in the area who currently have little hope as there are no universities or trade schools in the area and jobs are very hard to find.  We took time to pray for him, his family and his dreams.

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Praying at the future site of the Sports Stadium

After taking our leave of the church, Mark took us to the spot where they are currently building the sports stadium for the 2019 rugby World Cup games.  We knew that games would be played at this location and it was on our agenda to pray around the stadium.  However, getting here we realized that it wasn’t even built yet.  Mark and Wendy took time to pray with us before they had to leave.

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Another view of the construction area

It is a cause of big concern for those still living in temporary housing to see the city spending so much money on making new roads and building this stadium while they are still waiting for a house to live in having lost their houses in the tsunami of 2011.

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Next on on our agenda was to visit Sasaki San.  She had opened up here house to us when we were volunteering after the earthquake.  We were all welcomed very warmly and spent a plesent time with her.  Aogu and Kosuke, wish you could have been there with us.

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The banner on the station wall is for the rugby games in 2019.  Mosese is a rugby freak he has only been in Japan a few months but has already found opportunities to play.  While we were praying at the stadium site a bus load of Kiwi rugby players drove by with a Tongan player who has been here for 3 years.  Well when we went to the food court who did we meet but this Tongan guy.  Who knows Kalafi Moala!! Small world.  Keeping this short he ended up blessing Mosese with a donation!

image Well the day ended well and through the kindness of Mark & Wendy we were billeted in temporary housing where we slept very well.

 

Tohoku Prayer Trip Part 2 Day 1

Last year I was privilegded to take part in the first prayer trip to the Tohoku area.  We visited Miyagi Prefecture, Yamagata Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture.  These are the three prefectures that are closer to Tokyo where we live.  This time we are planning to visit Iwate Prefecture, Aomori Prefecture and Akita Prefecture.  The northern three prefectures.

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Stopped for a break at Hasuda

Here is our team from left to right.  Mosese from Fiji, Tom from UK Gary from UK-our fearless leader-Ryan from USA and me from Tokyo!  We left Tokyo at around 08:30 and here we are at the first rest stop on the Motorway.

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Praying at the Central Exit of Sendai Station

We stopped at Sendai to break the journey and also because the team feel that Sendai has a special significance for our work in Tohoku.  First order of business was to eat lunch at Sukiya.  After taking care of priorities we set of to pray.  Here we are praying at the central exit of Sendai station.  The excat place we prayed at on our last trip.

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Statue of Date Masamune

We had an hour to spare so we went up the hill to visit the site of the castle built by Date Masamune a famous Samurai. On this hill we prayed again and Mosese came up with a meaning for “Sendai” mixing English and Japanese.  Send+愛 (ai) which means love.

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Me with super friendly Samurai guy

I ran into this very friendly Samurai guy and managed to persuade him to pose for a photo with me.  Notice he is also wearing a cross.  I asked him about it and he told me that one of the retainers of Date Masamune was a Christian.  Very Interesting!!!  There really does seem to be some kind of Christian heritage in this city.

Well time hurried on and we had to return to the city to attend the regular worship service of the Faith Community Baptist Chuches regular Saturday evening worship service.  This church was pioneered from Singapore by a couple as a result of the earthquake and Tsunami that hit Tohoku in 2011.

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Meeting with Pastor Caleb

Before the service began Caleb, the pastor took time to share with us the miracle story of how they were able to get their current building for their church services.

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Two lovely ladies from the past

When I entered the room I was immediately greeted by these two lovely ladies who remembered me from time I spent in Ome when I first came alongside the training base.  I really am amazed at all the details that can only be God things that are a part of this trip and this is only the first day.

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Me with the ex sports photographer and family

After the service I also go to meet the papa, who used to be a sports photographer and had been to Fiji to take rugby pictures.  Here we are on our second trip with a new team member, Mosese, from Fiji who just loves rugby.  NO WAY!!!!  Now the gentleman is involved full time in Christain Education.  It keeps getting better.  Rhonda is just not going to believe this.

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Final picture before leaving. Pastor is next to Gary and his wife is next to him

Sorry it’s almost mid-night and we will leave here at 06:00, so will have to keep this short.  After the service the pastor took us all out for Chinese food and then we returned to the church and spent time praying for him and his wife.  Their dreams and hopes for Sendai.  I kept getting the words “Yesu Ai Ni” which is Chinese for Jesus loves you, so at the end I prayed out for a release of love in their hearts and in their church that would impact everyone they met and everyone who came to their church.  That is when the pastor told me the meaning of Sendai is to send Love!!!  Mosese.  You nailed it.  Too many God orchestrated coincidences in one day for me I think……

 

 

 

 

 

This month in Japan


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My son David reminded me that it has been awhile since I put anything on this blog.  Well right now in Tokyo it is the height of the cherry blossom viewing season.   Well this one lone cherry blossom tree does not do justice to awesome beauty that can be seen throughout the city, it does give a uniquely simple taste of this special time of year.

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Yesterday was the first time I had seen one of these vehicles.  It seems that seven eleven has added home delivery to their services giving a whole new slant on the term convenience store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chiang Mai – Hospitality House

Dining Room/Kitchen
Dining Room/Kitchen

As the team left on Thursday, I find myself here at the YWAM Chiang Mai hospitality house.  It is an awesome facility.  Teams will usually arrive here when they visit Chiang Mai, get their orientation and then move on to their ministry location.  Our team stayed here when they arrived.

Dormitory
Dormitory

This is what the rooms look like on the second floor where our team stayed.  Just before our team left a team from Indonesia arrived.  They moved on already and a new team from Tauranga arrived at 05:00 this morning.

YWAM Operating Locations in Thailand
YWAM Operating Locations in Thailand

On the second floor there is a wall map of Thailand showing every operating location for YWAM. This is truly amazing.  Quick comparison;

Thailand population 67,000,000 Lovations about 88.        Japan population.    127,000,000 YWAM staff about 88.       PLEASE PRAY FOR JAPAN!!!

Hospitality House Chiang Mai
Hospitality House Chiang Mai

This is an awesome location and I am glad for the privilege of staying here.

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