Grapes on the Vine

Today is a national holiday in Japan (Respect for the Aged Day), so our family took advantage of two free tickets we had received to go grape-picking. Owen had gone with his kindergarten sev
eral weeks ago, and brought home some of the most delicious grapes we’ve ever had. So today was our chance – we took our family and our friend Yasko, and thanks to our car navigation system we were able to find the vineyard about 25 minutes away.
We left just before lunch, so on the way we stopped at McDonalds’ drive-through and took our lunches with us to the vineyard. When we got there, we paid our admission fee and then sat on the outskirts of the vineyard and ate our lunch. Just as we were finishing, one of the staff came over and said that we should take our lunch into the vineyard and eat there. Since we were already mostly done, we packed up, threw out the trash and then started to enter the vineyard.
It was SO beautiful. Once we ducked our heads and started walking into the vineyard, I was so amazed at this new world that we entered. It felt like a surreal environment as we walked up the pathway with huge bunches of grapes dangling on our shoulders.
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For our admission fee, we could cut, rinse and eat as many grapes as we wanted, but any bunches that we took home we needed to pay by the gram (one bunch cost about $4.00). Ooh- they were delicious.
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The funny thing was realizing that everyone else was picnicking inside the vineyard- we hadn’t realized that we could have had such beautiful surroundings! We still enjoyed the grapes, but were sorry that we couldn’t have eaten our Happy Meals in the vineyard.

*****
Yesterday, our house church met at our home. The name of our house church is called “Vineyard.” We also had four Americans visiting on an Envision trip with Asian Access. They are exploring whether God might be leading them to longer term ministry in Japan. It was neat to have them with us, and hear one member share his story, as well as to have our friends Aiko and George share her story with the group. We all got teary-eyed as George shared about his recent salvation (see George’s story).
Afterwards, there was wonderful fellowship over lunch… and games (David is enjoying playing with Owen and his remote-control insects).
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Today, as we were strolling through the vineyard with the sun flickering through the grape leaves and the huge clusters sagging on the vines, I could not help but feel so thankful for being part of the vineyard. Yesterday as we fellowshipped over crockpot pork it was such a joy to know that being American or Japanese wasn’t important – rather, we were all grafted on the same vine, made into one body by the master Gardener. Grapes – they really are a good thing.

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