Hey guys! Sorry for the long wait but as time passed by and I reflected even more on myself and the trip, God revealed more and more things to me and I’m blessed to be able to finally share it with you all!!
Before the Trip:
The reason why I wanted to go on missions was because I felt like God was calling me to ministry. I wasn’t sure if it was more towards missions or not, so I decided to go and take whatever opportunity that was given to me, and through DCF, God provided. Initially, I had signed up for the missions trip to Korea, but because there weren’t enough people signed up, the trip was canceled. I was given the choice between Central Asia and Japan and I decided to go to Japan!! (Wonderful decision by the way)
As Francesca mentioned in her post, our team hosted a Japan Tea and Sharing Night to share a little more about the trip. One event we did was a sort of “passing the baton” activity where members of previous teams would give us each a word of encouragement that they received while praying for us. Serena told me that at first, she had the word “MIGHT”, but instead gave me the word “MIGHTY”. She encouraged me to not be unsure and hesitant about doing things, but be more bold to do what God calls and wants me to do and to walk more boldly with the Holy Spirit. I thought it was crazy because everything she said was what I was going through and what I have been praying for. So, going into the trip and throughout it, I kept that word in my mind.
The trip provided a diverse range of ways to serve and love on the people of Japan. I got to lead bible studies, share my testimony, dance with people, talk with random students in a cafeteria, and do 1-on-1’s with students. It amazed me just how differently I would be used and how different parts of me would come out to help serve and lead. Being a introverted and quiet person, I wondered how I would be able to talk to people for hours and have eyes on me everyday. I needed my alone time to recover and gather myself. However, I found myself enjoying spending time with people and speaking up a little more than I thought. I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be while spending several hours talking to different students (I still felt super tired at the end of each day though). During that time, I continually remembered the word “MIGHTY” and wanted to just follow what God was telling me to do, and what he wanted me to do was love on the people there because He loves them SO SO much. He wanted me to love out of the overflow of His love for me and pour out His love to everyone I met. That allowed me to step out of my comfort zone more and engage in conversations without burning out as much.
Another thing that amazed me was how I began to partner with the Holy Spirit and really listen to His voice. Through that, I was able to receive words and images from the Holy Spirit to give to people to encourage them. A lot of times, I was very skeptical about it and whether it really is God or just me, but it surprised me how some of the words I had for people were spot on to what they were going through and how others had the same words for them too. As the trip went on, I really began walking more boldly in the Spirit just like how Serena told me, and it’s still crazy how God spoke through me in those moments when I had no words or thoughts. I learned to trust Him to give me the words to say to people and to pray when I wasn’t sure what to pray for.
One thing that surprised me was just how often we had to dance!! Beijo and I put together a few moves simple enough so that everyone could watch and follow along. I expected to do it maybe a few times during the trip and not ALMOST EVERY SINGLE DAY!! Even though it was tiring, it was so worth it. Seeing everyone, little elementary school kids, college kids, and even adults dance and not care what they looked like and have genuine fun doing it was a HUGE blessing to witness and be apart of. It really brought people out of their shells and helped them open up a little and have unhindered joy. Since I am a director for Agape, a Christian-based dance team, I was able to see what dance does and how God can pour out his love through it and how we can worship him with simple movements of our bodies.
One of the more admirable things I witnessed was after meeting with some Japanese Christians, I realized just how powerful and solid their faith is. Every single one I met had this burning desire to learn more and to try to share their faith with friends or family even if they were still new to it. I couldn’t see a hint of lukewarmness in them and wanted to know why. I found that because of the huge sacrifices that they make for their faith and the hardships they go through because there are so few Christians in Japan, their faith grows so much stronger and allows them to get that much closer to God. Around them there are barely any Christians, so they have that much more reason to go straight to the source in God and develop a much more intimate relationship. I truly admired that aspect and want to strive to have a courageous heart like them.
After a LONG time of reflection (once again sorry haha), I feel like God has done so much during our time there not just in Japan, the people we met, and our team, but also with my life.
The first thing I came back with was a heart for Japan. Spending 3 weeks there and encountering people of different ages and backgrounds allowed me to see that although we are different culturally and in other ways, we are all the same in that we need the Father’s love. We need someone to fill the hole in our hearts that nothing and no one else can fill. Just like me, they are DEEPLY LOVED by God and being able to show that love to them is nothing like I have experienced before. Through my interactions with the little kids in Utsonomiya and Nozomi that we ran around and learned English with to the college students in Tokyo struggling with finals to the students in Shimane who wanted deeper relationships and answers to their questions about faith and to even all the missionaries who devote their time, money, and energy to serving the people there, I began to see them the way God saw them. As children. HIS children. Sons and daughters that haven’t fully experienced His love and desperately need it.
As the trip went on, I fell more in love with the people and country and wanted to pour out more into them even though I was drained of energy. Coming back home, I wanted to go back the next year and see growth and change in the people I connected with. I want to see how Kousei, Masaki, and others in Tokyo are doing in their walks, how Nozomi Sunrise and Utsonomiya Glory Church is growing, how Chi Alpha is extending to other campuses and reaching even more students, how Scott and Carmella are having to create new programs to fit all the students interested in their Florida programs and Bible Club, and how all the students and friends in Shimane are growing in their curiosity of Christianity and as young men and women. All of these interactions and conversations changed something in me. God used every little thing to change my heart to love and see all of them the way He does.
I remember Preston telling our team that our mission is a success if we return home with even more of a heart for the people of Japan. There is little I can do to create change, but one thing I can do is pray here in the US for God to encounter everyone there and just to bring that wave of love and grace and crash into their lives. Through the use of Facebook and Line, I can keep in contact with them and continue to develop our relationships. I pray for more intentionality and to continue to deepen my love for the people I met there.
After a few weeks of being home, I realized that God did more than just give me a heart for Japan. He also softened my heart to have more of a heart for people in general. I think God gave me new eyes to see the people around me the way He sees them and not in the sometimes judgemental and skeptical way I did. I felt this the most when I staffed a High School retreat at my home church in SoCal. The same students that I saw as troublemakers or annoying became students that I saw as my younger brothers and sisters that are loved by God, just like the students I met in Japan. Although they still got on my nerves, I was able to see just a glimpse of the love that God had for them and how precious they were in His eyes.
Even with Agape, I started to have a deeper love for the team and the members, especially my co-directors, because I began to understand on a deeper level just how special and important this team and community is. My team members are no longer just friends on a dance team, but people that God loves dearly and wants to have a personal encounter and relationship with. Just like in Japan, I want to develop relationships with them and share God’s love with them through my actions and words.
I went on this trip because I saw an opportunity to do ministry and decided to take it. I thought that I would just be giving my time, energy, and knowledge to love on the people there. Coming back, I realized that I received so much more than I gave away.
I gave three weeks of my summer and received more clarity about my future and a heart to serve.
I gave my blood, sweat, and tears to serve the people there and received a love unique from any other love I’ve received.
I gave my testimony and knowledge of the Gospel and received a deeper understanding and perspective of the Father’s love.
Thank you to everyone who supported me financially and prayerfully!! It was such an amazing blessing to have served there and I would love to share more stories about it, so HIT ME UP!!!
Autumn leaves fell at the turn of last November,
A floating question flew gently across my mind,
"Preston, would you lead the trip to Japan this summer?"
Would I, should I, or could I?
I pondered, wrestled with God, and sought counsel,
Did I have the leadership, the determination, or the calling to give it a try?
The laughter and the high-pitched cries of babies and children echoing,
The churches would love to have us back in their preschools.
The loud murmuring of the crowded metropolis - Tokyo,
The cramped trains and the melodies playing at the opening of the train doors,
God's heart yearns for the 99% of this nation.
The scenic, serenity of rural Shimane,
Where trees are abundant and cars are few,
God made this nation fertile for deep, intimate relationships.
The green chalkboards in the small, yet intimate classrooms at Shimane University,
The pastry-smelling cafe where we had our one-on-one's with students,
I missed presenting students with pondering questions about our Creator.
Imagining the faces and brighten smiles of familiar Japanese students,
Feeling the warmth of hugs, handshakes, laughter, and prayer,
We had to come back.
Imaging the faces of my teammates all gathered in Japan,
Feeling the warmth of their excitement for what God is doing in them and through them,
I felt called to build and empower a team of DCF students here.
Winter came. Preparation had begun.
First, scheduled interviews and received applications of potential team members,
Second, scheduled meetings and planned bonding events,
Third, scheduled prayer workshops and required the team to learn some Japanese,
Fourth, scheduled fundraising days and encouraged our team in their fears and doubts.
Fifth, scheduled talks with the missionaries and bought the flights.
Sixth, scheduled additional assignments and sent out a packing list.
Seventh, scheduled newsletters and prayed constantly.
Spring ended. Japan here we come.
Summer opened with the booming sound of airplanes taking off,
Our team members strapped in tight,
But our hopes for the trip held loosely in our palms,
Our petitions in prayer: God use me on this trip and please make this worthwhile.
Nervousness turned into restlessness during the cold turbulent flight,
But as soon as we landed in the warm grounds of Tokyo,
We received a relieving welcome from a tall, lanky man named Shane.
Arriving at the Chi Alpha student center,
My feet (in socks) met the hard wooden floors,
All while breathing in the warmness of home as I entered.
All team members gathered around in Japan,
We all had something unique to share:
Each member gave their own form of grit.
No, I want just you two to do it.
Ryan and Beijo, lead tonight's XA Live gathering with a dance!
Lead it together first, then teach the dance to everyone as they glance.
Beijo, can you share your testimony at the Gospel Night?
I know you need help - let's go over it tonight.
You came to the faith merely 2 years ago - a beautiful story to share.
I know you will bring passion and fire into the air!
Susanna, can you sing "How Great Is Our God" in Japanese?
I think it'll feel like a breeze.
Oh yes, I know you're the only one singing,
But God is using you mightily in all the talents that you're bringing!
Francesca, can you share a message for the outreach event?
It's okay to spend a lot of hours preparing - feel free to vent!
You have a powerful voice and a story that needs to be shared!
God knows you well and there's nothing that should be spared.
David, Takama speaks Portuguese,
God is using your Spanish overseas!
And He has gifted you with the ability to paint anything,
Would you draw something for the missionaries as a thank you for everything?
Our team supporting one another in our unique ways of ministering,
championing each other in our speaking,
flowing with each other in our group conversing,
laughing with one another as we feel our hearts tickling,
encouraging each other through word about everything,
praying with one another for Japan and for what God is doing,
talking to students with Christ's love together.
A proud Dad *I mean Leader* that I am,
Smiling among them and beside them,
Holding each other's hands in prayer,
Feeling His Spirit working in each of them.
I see tears falling on their faces,
As they bravely share their insecurities in these safe spaces.
Even through their difficulties and fears on this trip,
God spoke to them individually and used them powerfully in their leadership.
Japanese friends made and Jesus felt within them this summer,
Deep friendships forged and God made known a little more here forever.
This team did over and above any of my expectations that I could have held ever.
But besides the results of this mission,
Stripping away the number of students reached - if I have permission,
Or the amount of prayers given,
The hours spent with students or how we were driven,
The success of our outreach party,
Or the amount of time we each spent in preparing our testimony,
One thing that I have and will always hold onto:
God's heart for Japan that now resides in Ryan, Beijo, Susanna, Francesca, David, and me.
In the dreaming of this trip,
the committed preparations,
the grit, the tears,
the many conversations with students,
the deep prayers we shared,
and all the encouragements we cordially gave to each other,
May God continue to deepen our hearts for Japan within each other.
May He form in us something so deep that will forever burn.
That from within - it would ignite our lives into a posture of:
intercession for Japan,
celebration of our Japanese friends - who are always growing,
excitement as we share our stories and experiences in creative ways,
and thankfulness that God could even use us powerfully there.
And may God continue to use us beyond this trip in our lives, in our communities, in our friendships, and in our families.
Lastly, in every season that we walk into,
May God use Japan as a reminder of the beauty of what he can do, has done, and will do in us and through us forever and ever.
Hi Everyone!! It has been a while since I write a post and this past month has given me a lot of time to process. From the beginning when it was announced that DCF was going to Japan, I had a curiosity to go and experience Japan. As time past and our schedules developed, my heart for Japan also developed. I remember going out to eat at Yakitori Yuchan and watching Your Name to start getting a taste, if you will, of Japanese culture. But nothing could have fully prepared me for the amazing experiences that I got to share not only with Japanese students but also with the incredible team that was with me through it all.
Earlier this year in March, I went on missions to Mexico also with DCF and experienced the love of God in a way I had never experienced before. I was born in Mexico but serving the Japanese children and students was not much different than serving the Mexican children, but obviously language was not a barrier then. I learned that children both Japanese and Mexican can be very timid at first, but when I played like a child myself and just had fun with them, they held nothing back and loved on us all. In Japan, I was even called Mario and Messi!!! Looking back, I can see why people say that God’s love is a fatherly love. We are His children, and He wants nothing more than to love on us and have us hold nothing back either.
Going in, I felt very unfit for the trip. I knew no Japanese, had little knowledge of Japan itself, didn’t have a strong inclination to Japanese food, and looked the least Japanese from the team! What could I possibly bring to the team???!! However, I came to realize that I had more to offer than I thought. It was highlighted to me that every aspect of myself was utilized in one way or another. My art skills, love of bugs, running, cycling, even my Spanish!!! Yes!! I actually used Spanish to help translate a little Portuguese, granted Susanna also spoke Japanese so she was there on the scene (X haha My point is that even without the “qualifications” God still had a personally-crafted plan for each of us, all I had to do was desire to help and hand Jesus the wheel.
Every day in Japan was full of seeking and finding. Seeking opportunities to show others the love of Jesus and finding out for ourselves that we ARE the love of Jesus and through Jesus working in us we share that love. Among the many great friends that I made are some of the hardest working people I have come to know. The Chi Alfa Japan staff and Scott and Carmela showed me that sometimes you have to sow the seeds in hope that others will continue to water and care for it and if God wills it you too will reap the rewards. I definitely felt like a sower those three weeks in Japan, but also like a seed that had been watered with new a refreshing water. As I continue my stay in Davis I will keep in mind that even in my “disqualifications” I am important in God’s plans to bring others to Christ, in my own special kind of way. I don’t feel like going to Japan has fixed my past problems or mistakes, but it did strengthen in me something just as powerful: an everlasting desire to help and love on others. Going back to Davis knowing what I know and feeling what I feel, I can only imagine what God has in store.
Thank you to all my supporters for watching, listening, reading, and praying. Without you our trip would have remained a dream and please own this trip and harvest as it is as much yours as it was ours.
Continue praising God, thanking Jesus, and loving your neighbor!! <3 <3
GOD BLESS JAPAN
Hi everyone! Thanks for being patient with us as we process and reflect on our missions trip! Here's a few thoughts that came up from my debriefing of our time in Japan!
Coming into this trip
Last April, our team hosted a Japan Tea Sharing Night where members from last year's Japan team got to share their highlights and testimonies of their time in Japan. Some members of DCF joined us in support to enjoy stories and sweet memories of last summer in Japan. As we drank some tea and had some small Japanese treats, we listened to each member share of the joys and victories and at the end of the night, the 2017 team surprised us by sharing words of encouragement they had received in prayer and wanted to bless us with!
My "encouragement-giver" (haha) was my friend, Christina Huang. She had prayed for me and she felt the Lord declare the word "refresh" over my experience in Japan. She believed that this trip would be something to refresh my soul, something to remind me of the Lord's goodness in my life. She shared her prayers for a replenishing of joy and reminder of rest and I happily received them. After an academically and emotionally difficult junior year, her words were affirmation of the prayers I had lifted up to the Lord: prayers of rest, restoration, and renewal over my season with God. She put words to the longing of a spiritual refreshment that I had had in my heart for a long time and it only made me more excited to go on this Japan adventure with Jesus!
Looking back, I think it's funny that I got the word "refresh" because I think about our time in Japan was (physically) anything but restful. I described in a previous blogpost of our long hours and packed schedules. And man, it was tough to always be on the move and not have much time to take a moment to recuperate! As someone who really enjoys their alone time and finds rest in getting in touch with herself, my biggest challenge was finding that "Francesca time" to regroup and re-energize in the midst of our back-to-back ministry time. Back in Davis, I'm used to being able to have control over my own schedule and I've learned over the years how to prioritize rest in order to operate at my full capacity in school, work, and ministry. Without that routine, I noticed myself really struggling to stay present and connected during our team especially at the end of the night during debrief time. But, believing that Japan would be refreshing just as Christina had described and knowing that the Lord's grace covered our missions trip encouraged me to allow Jesus to show me how to emotionally and mentally rest even when I'm physically drained!
Take a deep breath and pray.
On day 9 of our trip, I remember feeling especially tired getting up in the morning. We had a big day of prayer, fellowship, and outreach head of us. And I could see our team looking forward to having prayer at Asakusa, a very popular Shinto shrine, meeting new students at different universities, and helping lead bible study with Chi Alpha staff and students. And to be honest with all of you, I did not feel up to the task that Wednesday morning. I had talked to a few of the Chi Alpha interns the night before about visiting Asakusa and I felt the nerves starting to bubbling in me as I listened to their experiences at the shrine. They had described the current spiritual climate of Japan and specifically the warfare happening within the walls of Asakusa. The tiredness from the week and my nervousness from the night was hitting me that Wednesday morning. I was overwhelmed, drained, and really needing my space to breathe... While the team was connecting and sharing insights from the day before, I spent the 30 minute train ride trying to get myself together and calm down the emotions and thoughts flowing in and out of my heart. 15 minutes into the train ride, I felt lost in my pool of emotions and longing for a moment alone in my room back in Davis. I felt panicked knowing time was running out and this was my only time to gather myself... But, it was in this moment where I felt Holy Spirit gently reminding me to pray.
Pray over the exhaustion from the long week.
Pray over this longing for solitude.
Pray over the anxiety for Asakusa.
Just take a deep breath and pray.
So, for the next 10 minutes, I postured myself to pray and lift up all the feelings and thoughts to Jesus. I let go of the instinct to take control of my present reality and let Jesus lead me to a place of peace. In that moment, I felt Holy Spirit gently make His way in my heart and with Him came that familiar comfort that assured me that everything will be okay. His presence filled all the anxious parts of my heart with peace and strengthened my spirit with love. This feeling of peace and connection to the Lord had been one I've been longing to make space for but struggled to do given the busyness of Tokyo. But, re-encountering Him on this train reminded me once again how beautifully magical Jesus' presence is. And immediately I'm reminded of Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He refreshes my soul!
I've never felt those words ring so true before this moment.
The Lord refreshed my soul just like He promised He would to David in the Psalms.
The Lord refreshed my soul just like He told Christina He would in her prayer for me.
He refreshed my soul on this Japanese train car just like He would continue to do for the rest of the missions trip.
From drained to filled. From anxiety to peace. From lonely to known. Jesus met me with His presence and ushered the peace, love, and comfort that only He can bring as the refreshment of my soul.
Thank you so much for reading & supporting our trip! I chose to highlight just one of the many, many wonderful ways Jesus met me on this trip, but there are sooo many more! I would love to share with all of you, so feel free to ask about my stories with the people, places, and powerful moments with God!
With so much love,
Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted here 😊 About a month ago, I came back from Japan and have been reflecting on what happened over the three weeks I was there. I miss the people very much and have brought back many precious memories and lessons God has taught me.
My parents grew up in Japan and they taught me how to speak the language, so Japan has always had a special place in my heart. Knowing that the Japanese Christian population is less than 1% stirred in me the desire to one day go and do something, and DCF gave me this opportunity to do so.
Living amongst the Japanese people truly opened my eyes to the painfully sad truth- that all these people are living in such darkness and loneliness without God. What was also challenging was standing in the midst of thousands of people walking past me feeling so helpless because I wanted to reach out and love on every single one of them but knew it physically wasn’t possible. BUT! The connections that I’ve been able to make at XA Live, the churches outside of Tokyo, and at Shimane University have been so special and it’s been so great being able to keep in contact with them via LINE (which is basically like FB messenger but with cuter stickers!).
Ever since last December, God has been teaching me the importance of loving people and showing others His love through us, and I felt Him highlighting that during this trip as well. Just the fact that students from Davis were able to make connections with people thousands of miles away still boggles my mind. Everyone comes from such different backgrounds and beliefs but every person we interacted with is a precious son or daughter of God that we couldn’t help but love on!
And through interactions I had with people, God also taught me the importance of me just being me! In a world that’s full of competition and comparison, it’s extremely easy to want to be or act a certain way, but God has made each person uniquely with their own personality and gifts so that they can use them to glorify Him in ways that only they can! The way I loved on, interacted with, and cared for the students looked different than the way that Preston, Beijo, David, Francesca, and Ryan did. But when we came together as believers to just love on all the people around us, I learned that God can do crazy powerful stuff through us and His love can reach so many. The people in Japan are so ready to experience God’s love and are hungry for Him, whether they know it or not.When we love ourselves and see ourselves the way God sees us, we’re able to share His love to everyone around us!
During this trip, God taught me that He works in ways that to Him make perfect sense but may be extremely unexpected for us. Things on this trip were very different than what I was expecting- I was a bit surprised at our schedule as going to different campuses each day in Tokyo and doing outreach on the campuses was a lot harder than I thought. But just because the results weren’t the same as what I was expecting doesn’t mean that I failed- it just means that God has other ways of using me and my teammates! This trip taught me that even though I can’t see the reason for things happening the way they did, God knows the reason.
Thank you to everyone for supporting us both financially and through prayer. It really means a lot to us and we love you so much. I would love to go back and see everyone and continuing watering seeds that have been planted. If you ever get the chance to go to Japan I would love for you to see what an amazing place Japan is! ^_^
There are so many people we met who are whole-heartedly serving the Lord in Japan. Their hearts to serve the people around them is just so amazingly beautiful and inspiring. They all work so hard in their ministries and it was such a privilege and honor to work alongside them. They are all amazing people whom I love very much! <3 They’ve taught me and challenged me to really give God my all and put 100% into serving Him and glorifying Him, because He is worth it.
Hi everyone!! I've been back in America for a few weeks now, and finally getting to process all that's gone through my head from Japan. Here's a few things that has changed and humbled me from this trip.
Japan has moved my heart in a new way. A humbled way.
I initially wanted to come to Japan because I love traveling and learning about new cultures, but my heart was pulled in a different direction when I realized I wanted to come to love on people and to share my testimony.
I love people. I love connections. I love having deep talks.
I feel like everyone has that craving of connection with people and being loved. I didn't realized I needed it until I acknowledged it myself. I love talking about Jesus and what God's been doing in my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without the guidance and my faith in His goodness. I didn't know sharing about my faith could impact so many people around me, and that's why being able to share my testimony is so needed. It reminds me how blessed my life is every time, and I am encouraged to further the goodness of Jesus!
A sermon I once heard stuck to me for a long time...
"you can just be a good friend, but a great friend leads one another to walk with Jesus"
I am so encouraged to live a life to lift others up to their fullest potentials. I have always strived to love others. Especially after knowing how loved I am, I want others to be able to experience the unconditional love of God.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
And...after this trip, I gained a heart for ministry!! I finally understand it. It's all about love and loving your neighbor because the world needs more of that. And if you don't do it, then who will?
My heart can't even explain the excitement of knowing a person's life is forever touched by God's love. It's so beautiful. They get to live a life experiencing everything God has for them!!
Arriving to Shimane, the next day the team got to attend Kazu's baptism!! What a treat we got. Kazu's testimony is sweet and simple showing God's goodness in his life! The DCF team met Kazu 2 years ago when he was still new to Christianity, and they poured love, kindness, and hope into him.
Look at him now!! I get to witness the progression of students like Kazu! Wow! Lives don't change overnight, but knowing that God's plan is so good, we are here for such a divine purpose.
I love Japanese children !!
God has really opened up my eyes and mind about kids ministry. To be quite honest, I am not too fond of kids... and I was afraid that none of them would want to play with me.
We did English camp at Utsunomiya Glory church/ played with pre-schoolers at Sonrise Nozomi Church. I ended up having an amazing time being with these little Japanese kids. It surprises me because they are so respectful and well behaved. They were the sweetest and cutest kids too!! Although there was a language barrier, that didn't stop them from wanting to have fun and interact with us. We bonded through dancing, playing tag, and making origami. Not much talking, but lots of laughter!
I love being able to love on them. They are the most precious things life can offer. So pure, innocent, and full of joy. And that's how I want each one of these kids to live the rest of their lives! Knowing who our father is and being loved by him.
I came here to love others but they loved me right back.
In my lifetime, I've served in so many different capacities, but I've never been loved back in the way that these students at Shimane University did. My goodness. This has been the most precious and fulfilling thing I have ever done.
For us to be only here for 1 week... and the amount of students who showed up to the farewell party is more than I could imagine. And you can just tell that they were definitely impacted by our presence. All we did was love on them for a week and they received that love so well.
The students hugged us, gave us gifts, and even prepared a song to sing to us. I've never felt so appreciated in my life. Some students were tearing up knowing that we had to leave so soon.
I never expect to gain anything from serving others, however, the way they showed their gratitude towards us makes my heart so full. To know that they felt loved is all I needed to hear.
Don't hesitate to follow up with me, I have so many great stories to share! Thank you for reading and following the blog, I hope you get to receive as much as our team did.
Until next time! I will for sure come back to Japan one day!!
* "Mata ne" meaning "see you again" in Japanese!
Our time in Japan has flew by and it's sad to say goodbye.
Taking three flights from Izumo -> Narita -> LAX -> SFO...
It's been a long day of travel for us!! This must've been the longest Monday we've ever experienced (considering it's like time traveling when we head back to the United States).
We woke up bright and early to leave the hotel at 6AM to catch our bus from Matsue station for our flight to Tokyo. We met up with our friend/Chi Alpha Staff member, Shane, at Shinagawa station to say our goodbyes!
Then when we got to the Narita airport and we met up with our friend Takama (from Utsunomiya Glory Church). He greeted us and gave us presents for the road! He traveled all the way from Utsunomiya and took a day off work just to hang out and get lunch with us before our flight. So sweet of him! We definitely impacted his life in some way during our stay at the church. Thank God that we're able to lift our brother's life and give him hope in God's goodness. May God continue to work in his life and bless him!!
We gave him one of our DCF Japan team shirts and he had us all sign it for him.
After hours of traveling, we finally arrive in San Francisco, CA!
We have a few days to debrief our trip and catch up on some rest/sleep that we missed before we have to resume our regular life again.
I didn't think we were able to meet/connect with so many people in our short stay in Japan, but that just showed me how great God is. He's connected us with so many brothers and sisters in Tokyo that have the same desire to love people and serve God. It was powerful being able to pray over them and bless the churches and ministries there.
Then having such an AMAZING week with the students of Shimane University has been the biggest blessing yet! By the end of our stay, we had a farewell party and so many students came! My heart felt torn to leave all of our new friends. We've only got a week with these students and some of them attended every event we hosted/ outing we went on just to hang out with us. We got to spend a lot of time with them, and they're so precious! Our days were long, but this week went by so quickly. It's hard to believe that we have to go home...
Some even told us that they want to visit us in California for their senior trip! Which is so exciting to see how far they're willing to travel just to reconnect and spend more time with us. My heart is so full knowing that they've received our love this past week!
We hope to see our friends again in the future!
Susanna's Testimony & Church, prayer TIME, & FAREWELL PARTY
Church & Susanna's Testimony
Today was the last day being in Matsue, Shimane! We were feeling almost every emotion: sadness that this was the last day with the students; gratitude that we had the beautiful opportunity to not only meet the students, but also really dive in genuine friendship with each of them; homesick as we've been longing to see our friends and family at home; tired as we've been nonstop working and ministering for the past 3 weeks; and best of all, joy as we've had a fulfilling and rewarding trip in Japan.
At the guys' apartment, the day began with us waking up to the humid heat and the daylight in our eyes. It's 9:00 AM and we had to take a 20 minute walk through the streets of Matsue to get to church service.
For service today, Susanna prepared a personal testimony about her friend, who had committed suicide 5 years ago and how his life had impacted hers. Additionally, she had led the congregation in a worship song, "How Great," all in Japanese! Since Susanna was sharing her story, many students that we've been connecting with during this week decided to come, support her, and listen to her story.
I watched Susanna share her story vulnerably, openly, and courageously. In fact, she shared it all in Japanese, and though I did not understand what she was saying per se, I could feel the heaviness and depth in the atmosphere as she shared. I know the students and the church members were deeply impacted. I am so proud of her!
Lunch & Prayer
Following service, we made our room into a lunch room and made sandwiches together! As our last meal with some of the students (like Masahiro, we miss you!!) and the church members, we all made sure we knew everybody's name and had said bye properly before we left!
Then we headed back to the apartments to pack up, clean our apartments, and pray together with Scott over the campus, Matsue, the students, and for Japan one last time! Every time we pray for Japan, I always seem to feel God's heart for this place, and I found myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to come to Japan 3 times now. I find that knowing and feeling God's heart is what brings us closer to Him. And I'm grateful to be able to feel God's love for Japan, and I feel like every time I come back, my heart for Japan just gets bigger and bigger...
We also had the opportunity to pray for Kazu and Narumi! We gathered together, our team and them, and we as a team able to lay hands and share words of encouragement and love to each of them! We felt God's love overflow from us towards them, with our words and prayers. For our last day, I'm satisfied feeling full that we were able to fill the day with prayer for the Japanese people and for Japan. Through prayer, I feel like I'm able to draw more near to God's heart.
"Preston. Ryan. Susanna. FAREWELL PARTY Beijo. David. Francesca."
I read these words immediately as I opened the door of one of the classrooms as I walked into the party, where a bunch of students turned their heads smiling and shouting "welcome!"
I felt excitement and joy bubble in my heart as I greeted and met every student there. Today was the last night being able to see these students, and I felt the rapport, the trust, and the depth of conversation I was able to build with them each.
I turn and I could see sushi, tako-yaki, udon, salad, chicken, O'nigiri, and other foods all lined up, placed on tables near the door. There were drinks and a bunch of snacks on the other sides of the room, and I felt ecstatic to eat with everyone.
Once we all got our food, our drinks, and our snacks, we all sat together, ate, and had our last group conversations at each table. Dialogue flowed naturally as I heard laughter and chatter all across the room. I knew people were eager to talk and share as we all were going to say good-bye soon.
As our last time together, we played some games with each other in our individual tables, rapped together (I beatboxed), sang songs as a group (see the video!), and got dance together as a group as well!
At the end of the party, the students got together and as a gift to us... SANG A SONG, "ARIGATOU," which means "Thank You" in Japanese! This was such a sweet song to watch, listen to, and feel as they sang their good-bye and thank you to us. Many of our team members were crying (EVEN RYAN WAS) and at this moment, I could feel not only the weight of what we've done in Japan, but also the beauty of these precious students! God surely used us to touch these students on this trip... but more importantly, God showed us the gold and beauty of these students to begin with. God loves these students so preciously, and I was able to see a glimpse of the love God has for them on this trip.
P.S. Lastly, as a gift, we as a team gave Scott and Carmella a hand-drawing of our team and of the UC Davis seal. (David did this all himself...THANK YOU DAVID.)
We love you Scott and Carmella, Shimane University Students, and Matsue, Shimane.
Gomen Nasai (Sorry) for the late post, but here is my recap and reflection of Day 19 in Shimane!!
Today, we were in for a treat as we got to tour a soy sauce (Shoyu) factory with some of the students! We were able to learn a little bit about the process of making soy sauce and even got to stir some of the HUGE basins. Watch the video to see us struggle haha. It was really interesting to learn that the factory still follows older methods like how they cap the bottles, but it was a little sad to hear that they are not sure how much longer they will be able to stay open. But for now, we really enjoyed the tour and learning so much more about soy sauce production and learned to appreciate things while we still have them.
After, we went to eat some BOMB ramen for lunch before having even more 1-on-1’s with the students. Since it was ridiculously hot that day (the hottest during our time in Japan), I got some shaved ice and ice cream for my first 1-on-1. In total, I had 4 1-on-1’s with Mizuho, Hitomi, Kaho, and Akari. It was truly awesome to be able to get to know more about them, their families, and some of their future plans. Just being able to talk,laugh together, and show love, God’s love, to them was a huge blessing. I loved how open they were to share with me part of their life and wanting to know about mine and my experiences with God. Just amazing conversations and fellowship time!!
Around 5, we got sushi for dinner before going to Gospel Night. Susanna led us in singing as usual, Beijo shared her amazing testimony, and we discussed her testimony with a partner. My partner was Yuto and it’s awesome to see his openness and desire to learn more about God and I was touched when he asked me to share a little about my testimony too. We also got to teach dance and do it all together after!
The fun continued as we went to Karaoke!! There were almost 20 of us in total and we completely mobbed the place. It was awesome to hear the students sing and have fun without any restraints, especially Hiroki!!! I think it was a great time for all of us to release stress before finals week and relax after a busy day in the heat.
Here are a few pictures from my 1-on-1's and all of us after Karaoke!
After a tiring yet amazing morning run with Hiroki S., a first year student at the university, the day only got better by the minute (and hotter!!) I had a wonderful 1:1 with Hiroki O. at Mister Donuts. After a great talk and bonding over donuts, I met Tomoka, Kaho, and Aika. Among chatting about past experiences and future goals, we talked about faith, struggles, and discerning our calling and what that looks like. We all agreed today that our one to ones were shorter than we would have liked, often only 30 minutes; however, 30 minutes can lead to intense questions, like “How do we pray?”, or “Why is our plan not revealed to us?” GREAT QUESTIONS!!
After the 1:1's in the morning, it was time to go shopping for groceries to make TACO RICE!!! for Bible Club!!! Bible club meets in the Matsue International Community Center (MICC) from 6pm-9pm and tonight the UC Davis team was preparing dinner: taco rice which consists of steamed, rice, taco meat with corn and kidney bean, and salad. I think it’s safe to say everyone enjoyed it and many students went back for seconds.
After dinner, we were led in song by the extremely talented Natsumi!!
After dining and singing, it was time for sharing and Francesca shared her testimony with the group, bringing many to tears. Her story is a testimony that being Christian is all about communion and fellowship with others to create a new home when often the one we have is broken or hurting. Friends in Christ last Forever!!
The rest of the night was full of games, singing, and laughter!!XD
Today was a mix of laughter and prayer, which is a good balance to have. As I get to meet more students and practice my Japanese and them their English, I’m starting to realize that the Pacific Ocean is nothing more than a small lake separating our two homes. There is a love here like no other. Our friend and leader, Scott shared today about a friend that he made over the years. They were completely opposite men, in culture, thinking, and color, but the love for Christ they both shared was able to overcome these thought-to-be obstacles and are still close friends today. I was afraid at the start our trip that the language barrier was going to prevent me from becoming close friends with the students, but that is not even close to what is happening. Although our Japanese is poor, our kindness and desire for friendship has helped us make friends in Christ, and like I said, those last forever!!
Sorry for the delayed post:(
Hello!!! It's so crazy to think that our time in Japan is almost coming to an end, but as we near the end, each day here becomes more and more precious, especially as we have grown such strong bonds and connections with the students here at Shimane! Here is a brief video of what our day looked like!!
On this day we met with around 16 different students for one on ones, which are times where students get to sign up for a certain amount of time to just talk with us individually and hang out with us! As it was super hot again today, most of us spent our one on ones indoors like in the cafeteria or in the beautiful Mister Donut!!! <3 Each student is truly so precious and it's been so fun getting to know them and just learn a lot from them, and hopefully they learn something or find something interesting about us too haha ^__^;
After a packed but fun time of one on ones, we invited students to come eat sushi with us!! Food is best with fun fellowship :)
This day has been such a huge blessing! We're here in Japan wanting to love on all the people we interact with, but we've received so much love back and I give all the glory to God for that :) He's allowed us to make connections with these students that will last long after we arrive back in California. And we're hoping that many of them will come and visit California in the near future!!
Here's some pictures from today's one on ones, lunch, and dinner!!
This is my third and last vlog for this trip, and I just wanted to thank all my fans out there for all your support!! Hehe but yaa it's been so fun getting to show you a glimpse of what we've been doing here! Let me know if you want to here more in person!! And as we still have a few more days here, all your thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated!! Love you all!
HAI. NANDERO? NANKA. KA-RA-O-KE.
YES. How do you say? Let's see. KARAOKE! (but different pronunciation)
Well, it's been 16 days in Japan and I can officially pass as a native nihonjin (Japanese person)! 3 people (so far!!) have asked if I am either Japanese or if I study Japanese! The most convincing thing I've learned to do is to say "Hai, hai, hai" every time someone asks/tells me something:
Francesca, did you bring lunch?
Francesca, I'm going to grab something really quick.
Francesca, do you know where to go next?
I've gotten a lot of laughs and a lot of questions like:"Francesca, how do you know to say that? Who taught you that?!" Hehe, I guess I just picked it up. I love connecting to the students even through small things like saying hai. It breaks the ice a little and they've voiced their appreciation for my effort in speaking Japanese! The Shimane students love sharing their culture with me and I love receiving it!
but anywhere Here's a fun & short recap of today!
Some thoughts from today!
Wow, I think I'm falling more and more in love with Japan and the people here the longer we stay in Japan. In Tokyo, I felt like my heart was brought to a greater understanding of the pace of Jesus' ministry in Japan. Praying for each university and spending time at Tokyo's central sites highlighted this country's spiritual atmosphere and also encouraged me to lift up bolder prayers to cover the ministries already working all throughout Japan.
But in Shimane, I feel like my heart is experiencing Japan in a new way through the people at Shimane University. My heart delights in the conversations, the jokes, and the time we all spend together. Listening to their stories and hearing their laughter makes our ministry here more personal and I feel so much more invested in how God is moving here!
I talked a little about my time with Mari and Natsumi in the vlog, but over the past week, I've gotten to know Scott and Carmella more and more too. And wow... I have so much respect for them as teachers, as leaders, as followers of Christ. In our time of having meals together, attending their classes, and checking in with them throughout the day, I've gotten to see how much they truly love their job as both teachers and missionaries. They are so invested in their students' lives and so committed to loving them well. I love their eagerness to lift their students up in prayer, in affirmation, even lifting their spirits in humor! All of the students I've met so far have voiced their love and appreciation for who Scott and Carmella are as not only their teachers but also their friends. I can see in the way that their students' eyes light up when they talk about them that Scott and Carmella hold a special place in their hearts. And even though it's only been a week, they hold a special place in my heart too.
I'm so glad we got to celebrate Carmella's birthday today and bless her in prayer! The outpour of love that was so evident today reveals to me the beautiful fruit of their consistent and persistent love they have poured all over Shimane University.
So thank you, Scott and Carmella, for your beautifully bold and courageous love! I know this love reflects the Father well <3
Here's a few pictures of a new Shimane friends!! They're all so KAWAII (cute!!) hehe
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST
I'll just leave this picture of me and this famous Japanese actress (or maybe comedian I forgot...) here! During dinner, Takuro and a few other students told me I look so much like her! Do you guys agree? :-)
With so much love,
Carmella's Global leadership Class
The team attended Carmella's leadership class and got to pair up with upperclass Japanese university students to have discussion about leadership. We got to share our leadership skills and how different it is from how Japanese leadership looks. This encourages the students to step out of their comfort zone and develop good leadership skills from our experience being a leader.
Carmella gave us deep questions to discuss about, and it really challenges the student's critical thinking and decision making skills.
Scott's English speaking class
For Scott's class, we formed small groups and had discussions with prompts to answer. This class is for the lower class students who are still developing their english speaking skills. We talked about what they wanted to be doing 5 years from now? Who do they want to be 5 years from now? Are they the person they wanted to be 5 years ago?
These are actually pretty deep questions when you step back and think about it!! It's good to push these students to have goals and decide what they want for themselves after graduation, especially because their whole life seems to be laid out for them. They got to reevaluate how they view themselves today and whether they wanted to change in order to reach those goals they wanted.
The start of one-on-ones with students!!
Our team split up in mornings/mid-days to go on our one-one-one with students!! So these students sign up for 30minutes-1 hour time slots to meet up with us to have one-on-one conversations! This is where we get to talk more and get to know the students more on a personal level.
It can get exhausting since some of us can gets up to 4-5 students a day!! That's a lot of conversations in one day! But it's all very enjoyable! We get to make real friendships with these students that may last a life time even when we're only visiting their University for a little more than a week.
Dinner time with the students
We will be inviting students out to dinner for the next few days for more fellowship if they decide to spend more time with us! Surprisingly 6 students came out with us tonight and it was tons of fun with good food and conversations.
Final Thoughts Of The Day!
Our team really felt the connection and bond through just talking to these students during classes and one-on-ones today! Their future goals and values gives us hope that one day they'll get to learn more about Jesus to help them get there! God's definitely setting up these students' hearts to meet him.
Many of them are studying English, and have done the Florida Program (exchange program to University of Florida). This program gives the students the opportunity to experience Christianity and the American lifestyle in Florida. It's really sweet to hear them express their love for the Florida program and how much it has impacted their lives/opened up their views on Christianity. They are very curious about the bible and who Jesus is! It's nice being able to share our testimonies and show them how we are impacted by Jesus everyday! It's exciting to see where these students might end up in a few years in their faith - whether they're starting their walk or already on the path to meet Jesus!
A week more of one-on-ones and bibles studies to go!! Let's go team!!
Wagashi, matsue castle, prayer, & Movie day in shimane
Monday, July 16th, was a Japanese National Holiday, called Umi No Hi, which means "The Day of the Sea," or "Sea Day." I asked Japanese students about the significance of the holiday, but no one gave me a convincing answer to why we were celebrating the sea, other than the fact that it was tradition. However, this day simply reminded me of the fact that Japanese culture and tradition, draws heavily on its Shinto religion, as it appreciates nature and the natural world. And Monday felt like a day of deepening. Deepening my heart for Japan.
It was full of discovery, curiosity, history, culture, tradition...
I felt like we as a team were getting a taste of Japan, specifically Shimane and the city of Matsue. And quite literally, we started our morning with an appointment with a professional "Wagashi" artist. Wagashi is a traditional Japanese dessert that is often served with tea and is made of a type of mochi and red bean at the center of it. It felt exhilarating getting my hands all sticky with mochi, and at the same time, soothing getting to artistically create our desserts! Naturally, David felt the artistic flow in him and made a beautifully shaped flower as his dessert. Even the Sensei, who was teaching us, impressively complimented him!
Following the Wagashi making, we as a group went to get "Dongo," which is also another Japanese kind of mochi, to eat as a snack as we then made our way to Matsue Castle! This is my third time going to the castle, but I always seem to enjoy getting to walk through the ancient door ways, look at the samurai armor, and glance at the Japanese paintings inside the castle. I feel like as I walk through the wooden floors, I get a deeper appreciation for Japan, its culture, its history, and its traditions.
We stayed at the top of the floor for awhile, getting to talk with each other, silently look at the city of Matsue, and talk about the different churches around the city. Sadly, not all the churches are quite unified here in Matsue, and even though there are about 10 churches, each only having 10-20 members, they all are afraid of partnering together because of the fear of losing each other's members... We got to send our prayers towards the city and to the churches in Matsue, Shimane. I believe spiritual unity in this city is key in seeing an awakening in this place!
Following the castle, we got to all eat the famous "Warigo Soba" here in Matsue. It is famous in how they prepare the Soba noodles here in Shimane, specifically originating from a city called Izumo (which is also in the Shimane prefecture). And again, I felt even more connected to the city of Matsue and the prefecture Shimane as I got to taste these famous noodles. Every bite reminded me of the growing fondness I'm having for this place. It's my third time here, but I feel like I get to experience Japan in new and deeper ways every time I come back. I hope we can come back.
After lunch, we came back to pray together at the Univeristy, to intercede for the students, for the faculty and teachers, and for the city of Matsue. We were praying that God's presence would dwell in the University and that students would come to experience God's love and presence everywhere. We went through multiple buildings and floors, all while prayer walking in pairs, declaring and inviting Holy Spirit into every place we went into. I felt God giving me His heart for this city and for Japan even more as I found my heart filled with love for the students of this University.
And to end the night, we along with a bunch of University students watched Sister Act 2 together! Carmella guided us in our conversations by giving us discussion questions about the movie, the characters, and the plot during key parts of the movie! Each of us had a Japanese student to partner with, and we all had insightful and engaging conversations with our partners. I found it fascinating being able to see the perspective that the Japanese student had on watching the movie that I was watching. Seeing, my partner, Kodai's responses, I felt like I was able to further learn more about how a Japanese person would think and feel. To my surprise, we both had very similar feelings, thoughts, and answers about the key parts of the movie! I felt like God was showing me today more of not only Japan and its people, but also more about how much I truly and dearly love Japan and its people. May God continue to give me His heart for this place.
I'm back guys!!
Today was such a treat and an absolutely amazing day. Gospel Church was awesome because of all the worship and singing and the pastor who was flowing with energy and kept us entertained and following along even though we didn't know what he was saying exactly. But the highlight of the day was our new friend and brother Kazu's Baptism Day!! It was a blessing to have witnessed a baptism which is so rare here in Japan that the church had us go 30 min away to a gorgeous beach, had more worship/prayer, and had a small tea party with pineapples and watermelon!! Kazu's family and friends who weren't even Christian were there and were amazed by how loved Kazu is. He shared his testimony and although it was in Japanese, Susanna was able to share a little with me what it was about.
He did not grow up Christian and did not believe that he needed it and that his life was fine without it, but he was introduced to the idea through Scott and Carmella, the full-time missionaries AND full-time professors here at Shimane University, and their Bible Club. During his time at Shimane Uni, he had his bike stolen three times and he was really stressed out about it, but when he found it, he knew that God had to have some part in it. Ever since, he became curious and wanting to know more. He was surrounded by people who poured love onto him which helped lead him to the love of the Father.
After his baptism, we were given time to hang out with the students and play a few games that got them out of their shells and more comfortable with us a little bit. Then we just chilled and got some food with them.
Shimane is definitely more laid back than Tokyo which gives us opportunities to meet with students 1-on-1 and develop deeper relationships. I look forward to meeting them and talking about life and pouring out God's love onto them!! I can't wait to see how God will work through our team and the relationships that we make!
Keep praying for us!!
Last morning in Tokyo
Today was a bitter-sweet day. We left our great friends in Tokyo and said our good bye's, yet not even the sweet-sugar birthday cake Joyce got could over come the tears. The morning was full of good byes:( It was such an honor and blessing living with Shane for the few days we were here and I know God has a lot more planned for him in Japan. Joyce, Susan, Shane, and Beth were just the most incredible love-oriented people one could hope to meet and their testimony and legacy will be carried with us as we make our way to Shimane.
At first I was(and I speak for others in the team) a bit nervous coming to Shimane. The slower pace and more layed-back life-style seemed to give us comfort in knowing we don't have to literally run out the door to catch the next train anymore. The university we will be staying at is not more than a 20 minute walk away. In addition, the added time with students will mean we get to build close relationships with the individual students. Scott and Carmela welcomed us with open arms. We are all excited to start meeting the students we have heard so much about and thankful for the opportunity to share God's word with them.
Thank You for reading and check out Haruka's testimony bellow!!!:)
Konbanwa!! Today is our last full day in Tokyo, and it's been a day full of friends, food, and fellowship! Here's my recap of today!
Looking back, our time in Tokyo has been such an unforgettable and impacting experience. God has given us His heart for Japan in slightly different ways to each of us team members, and it's been really beautiful to get to share in each others differences. Spending time here has allowed me to reconfirm that God has placed Japan and its brokenness as a holy discontent in my heart and He yearns for me to partner with Him in doing something about it. Throughout this time in Tokyo, God has challenged us, grown us, and taught us many things: from having a tight packed schedule everyday to having to step out of our comfort zones and talk with Japanese college students to finally knowing how to get from the Takadanobaba station back to our home train station. It has been truly amazing to have gotten to create and build connections with the students we meet as well as the Chi Alpha staff and interns we serve alongside!
While connecting with the students and staff, I can also confidently say that during our time at Tokyo, we as a team have gotten closer, and I'm so thankful for that and excited for God to continue to grow these friendships! As a team, we were remembering the pastor's wife at the Utsunomiya Church we were at over the weekend (see David's blog post!) and the phrases that she would frequently say in English including "hmm...maybe!" or "Okay, no problem!" Thinking about it, I feel that God desires for us to have that heart and mindset as we go about serving on this mission trip, and everything after. There have been instances that have not gone as planned or expected during this trip. In these moments it's easy to define the success of missions based on what we've done rather than who we are, sons and daughters of the King that have been saved by grace. When our eyes and lives are fixed on the cross and what He's done for us, everything will fall into place so much more than when we focus on the action of serving and trying to make Jesus fit into our plan of ministry. God has been teaching me to be like Tomoko-sensei and to be able to face whatever comes my way with a flexible, humble, and open heart so that I can look at these and say, "Okay, no problem!"
Kyusoku . eh. OISHI. SUGOI.
Rest. Really?! YUMMY. Cool!
As you can see, I've learned some more Japanese! These are probably the easiest ones for me to bring into conversation and I've found that kids get really excited when you use these phrases, so I've tried to stick to these words around the kiddos. Haha!
Today, we took a break from our ministry schedule and the busyness of Tokyo to take a moment to rest! Rest has actually been a big challenge for our team because of how long our days have been. We usually leave in the morning around 8-9am and end up back at the student center around 11pm-12am but most of us aren’t able to go to bed until 2-3am because we need to either prep for tomorrow or update our blog. The other night, Susanna and Ryan stayed up until 5am trying to edit our vlog (??)!! I know I’ve been feeling the mental, emotional, and physical tiredness from our week, so it was such a blessing from Joyce to have this day off!
We decided as a team that our goal for today was to make space to re-energize ourselves in any way and reconnect with Jesus. Rest looked different for everyone! David woke up early to go for a run to a nearby park where he took these beautiful pictures! For Susanna, rest looked like visiting her grandparents and spending time with them! Ryan enjoyed staying back at the student center, Preston spent his time in prayer, and Beijo took a walk around the neighborhood and listened to music. For me, I actually got to FaceTime one of my really good friends, Serena Chew, when I woke up and she was on her way home from work! It was really sweet to share how the trip has been so far and to feel her support from the other side of the world (and in a different time zone). I really treasure our friendship so getting to hear how she's been doing in Davis was a wonderful way to start our sabbath day! Here's a candid pic of her from our FaceTime hehe:
Around 4pm, our team regrouped to have time of worship and prayer. It was nice not only to have our individual time of rest but also some time to connect with the Lord as a team. We listened to a few United Pursuit songs, but the one that really stood out to me in worship was their song "Let It Happen". They end the song singing:
So take me back, back to the beginning
The guys - Preston, Ryan, David, and Shane, met up with a student named Keisuke and had bible study at the lounge. Even thought I wasn't there to witness their conversations and hang out, through our debrief I heard that he was really interested and asking questions about the bible. He wanted answers for the "essentials of being Christian". Such as how to pray or why Jesus doesn't reveal his plans for us.
A good thing Shane shared:
"Life with God is like walking on a hike, not told of where the end point is, but God tells us to walk with him each step of the way"
Another thing they got to share with him is where each person stands in their faith. They used this image of a swimming pool with people in it and around it. The water is God. Everyone's at a different stage of knowing him. I think that this really encourages people like Keisuke who is exploring his faith to understand it better from our own experiences.