I was tired…and not sure I could muster the energy it would take to be reacquainted with many special friends in Sendai (northern Japan) this past weekend. We had lived there for two years (2001-2003)… a relatively short amount of time, and yet an amazing time in our lives in which God blessed us richly with many friendships. I went back for our dear friend Hi-chan’s wedding (Eric couldn’t come because of other commitments here) — and I’m so so glad that I did.
The wedding was wonderful… Hi-chan was our nearest and dearest partner in ministry in Sendai, and is one of those friends who openly shared over our years of friendship that she really wanted to be married. (Some of you might remember her from a visit she made a number of years ago to Pasadena before we had moved to Japan). We often prayed together that God would bring just the right man into her life…and He did! Pastor Fujimoto (our Sendai pastor) arranged a meeting for her with the member of another nearby evangelical church, and, as they say in Japan, it was “love love” after that. The wedding was beautiful; the bride and groom glowed (and cried); we the witnesses were all united in our joy at this wonderful couple.
In addition to participating in this joyous occasion, it was also so great to reconnect with many friends whose lives have touched ours, and vice versa. Here are just a few “pictures” of people who are now far away, but still mean the world to us. God so clearly did many wonderful things during our two years there.
We thank God for Fujimoto Sensei, the Senior pastor(top photo), and Chie Sensei (teaching children on Sunday morning), the assistant pastor. They are both so committed to seeing God’s Kingdom come to Sendai through their work in discipleship training and reaching out to kids.
Kazue (above left); and Mai (right, center) were two of our neighbors in Sendai who believed in Jesus during our time there. They were both discipled after we left Sendai by Hi-chan (the bride above). They are now integral parts of the church, serving and using their gifts for God’s glory. It’s so amazing to see how God changes lives!
Kumiko (above) and her husband became friends when they called us in Sendai to find out about our adoption process with Owen. I won’t retell the whole story…but through our friendship and their desire to adopt, they visited our church, and Kumiko began studying the Bible with me and Hi-chan (she is an amazing discipler!). They both came to Christ and were baptized, and now are also serving in wonderful ways in the church and finding joy in their relationship with Jesus. In answer to all of our prayers, God brought them a little girl to adopt, Megumi, who is the same age as Annie.
God ordained our time. Olivia and I stayed with them this weekend, and they shared that they had recently received a phone call that Megumi’s birth mother just gave birth to a baby boy, and would they like to adopt him? (Sound familiar?) There are some concerns –the birth mother has some mental illness, and his family is somewhat opposed to another adoption (although foster care would be ok). Friday night the three of us stayed up late sharing our experiences and how God has been speaking to us through the Word, and praying together.
Kumiko is really trying to sense God’s timing and will in all of this. I shared Irene Webster-Smith’s favorite verse with them: “As you go step by step, I will open up the way to you.” (Proverbs 4:12, Syriac version). We don’t know anything about what will happen a year from now; but we can trust that God will faithfully open up the way for the NEXT step. What a great promise. We claimed this together, and are trusting God for the future of this new baby boy. Tonight I called and they are moving forward in bringing Megumi’s little brother into their family! Step by step…
Eric did a great job holding down the fort with Owen and Annie, attending Owen’s yochien open house on Saturday morning with both of them, and attending a gospel concert with them on saturday night in downtown Osaka. Despite a dead battery after the concert, and getting home around midnight, he was still cheerful when they picked me up at the airport on Sunday afternoon. The greatest joy in the world is coming out of baggage claim and hearing two little voices screaming “Mommy’s home!” and being bowled over by leg hugs from a 2 and 4 year old. This, perhaps, was the best reunion of all.