One highlight of our week was celebrating our friend and ministry partner Mary’s big 5-0 birthday. We planned a surprise and invited eighteen Japanese friends from our community and church who all love Mary as we do. I loved seeing how much THEY enjoyed the surprise as much as Mary did. In later discussions, they shared that they’ve never participated in a surprise party before…
We had a potluck lunch, and then – presented the birthday cake. This one was appropriate for a ladies-only party. The two boys who had come with their moms giggled and giggled (I hadn’t been thinking about them when I designed it!). It was fun making the lace- that was a new first and a great reason to learn how!
Mary was a great sport – receiving her first braziere (sp?) cake. And she and I got the greatest kick out of watching the party participants – every single one of them — pull out their cell phones and start snapping photos of Mary with her cake. I’m sure their families that night all were privy to this unique cake!
In lieu of gifts, we asked all the ladies to bring a coupon — a promise for an activity they plan to do with Mary over the next few months. It was so fun and touching to hear the different ideas: going to acupuncture together (Mary’s been wanting to try it); bowling and movie dates; a friend offering to help Mary clean her house (I quickly told that friend when my birthday is!); and activities to do with these friends’ families as well. Mary has done a great job in her two years here at building one-on-one relationships, so I know these “gifts” will be great means for her to continue doing what she does so well.
One of the most effective means of leading people to a genuine relationship with Jesus is through the layering of various relationships with believers — North Americans and Japanese. As I watched our friends from church, community, and English classes interact, I felt so thankful for the always-faithful ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in the room. And so thankful for God bringing Mary to Japan to live out Who He is to these dear friends.