In the last post I told you how I met Ryo. About a week later Ryo came over to visit me at my house. We talked quite a bit about his interests and also few of mine as we go to know each other a little bit better. As Ryo was wearing a hat, I borrowed his hat and took a picture of us together! This is another hobby of mine which has been used to make or enhance friendships along the way and you can see several pictures of the results on my Facebook page, in the photo section, in an album called “Hats” Having taken that picture I also told Ryo about my Jimbe Buddy photo collection – also on Facebook. Ryo gladly donned a Jimbe and joined the club.
Ryo was quite interested in what I do here in Japan, I explained about helping people understand and figure out how to have a relationship with Jesus. Ryo seemed quite interested and so I gave him a bi-lingual new testament which he promised to read some of and come back with his questions next time we meet. Our friendship is growing and next time Ryo will go to Ofro no Oosama with me, where we will get to know each other better and talk more about how to have a friendship with Jesus.
Last week we had an unusually heavy rainfall. When it first started I took a couple of photos and you can already see someone’s garbage bin was floating down the road in the left of the picture.
So I went out side to see how much rain there was and if I could help rescue the floating bin. The water level kept rising higher and higher and several of the plastic ramps our neighours use to help them drive over the curb also came floating down the road. I took time to wedge them into secure places so they would not drift any further.
I did not take any pictures of this because of the rain but did take a few more to show the amount of water piling up around our house. I think I kept this up for about an hour firmly securing several floating ramps and a couple of garbage bins so my neighbors could easily find them when the water receded.
The I decided to take a walk down the side of my house and saw a neighborhood boy coming out of his house, so I waded through the knee deep water and went to greet him. His first reaction was to take a selfie with me coming down the road.
We said hi and then he followed me down the road and took another picture of me taking a picture of the newspaper man overcoming all obstacles to deliver his papers.
Outside my house we took a selfie together. Then I invited him in, offered him some hot chocolate and we talked for about thirty minutes or so. He seemed so happy to talk and told me his name was Ryo. We became Line friends and decided we would meet again and develop our relationship.
I have tried and tried to edit this photo so that it will post normally but for some weird reason WordPress refuses to save the changes. Today I gave up and posted it sideways anyway.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It has been a rather cool day here in Tokyo with the mercury leveling out at about ten degrees Celsius. As a family we have often decided together to give something up for Lent and focus on the coming Easter season with some sort of intentional devotion. This year Rhonda and I are giving up our evening TV show to use that time together for Lenten devotions.
Spring is in the air with trees and flowers blooming. No more frost in the mornings! Not as many layers needed for going out, anticipation is growing for the coming Sakura (cherry blossom) season.
I love daffodils as they always bring nostalgic feelings of the Easter season when I was younger, back in Brighton. Seeing them today on this first day of Lent was a very warming and special feeling for me.
I had, however, just come from praying for some very close, dear friends who were experiencing sickness in one form or the other. Two different families both experiencing the effects of the fruit of sin. Sickness! I remembered that in both cases I had prayed for the resurrection power of Jesus to bring healing to their bodies.
Jesus commanded us to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. I still believe in putting myself in the place where I can see Jesus do these things through me.
On the way home, after taking the pictures of the flowers, I saw this dead sparrow in a bush. At first I just walked right on by. However, I went back and took this picture and wanted to share this thought.
Sin, sickness and even death are daily realities in the world we live in. However, while God does not cause the suffering we experience, He knows and has experienced it all and has made a way for us to endure and overcome in every situation.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7 NIV
I 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.
Ricardo 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.
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.
It 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.
The 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.
Check 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!
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Today, like yesterday involved lots and lots and lots of driving. However, we only visited one place so there are not so many pictures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!!
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.
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…..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Well the day ended well and through the kindness of Mark & Wendy we were billeted in temporary housing where we slept very well.