Eric has arrived – I hope!– in Ishinomaki by now. He called after arriving in Sendai, so he was close, at least. It was a hard night without him. Ian, who has been battling the same flu that got three of us, took a bad turn shortly after we dropped off Eric at the station. Eric went to church with the girls in the morning, and then I brought Ian and Owen for just the afternoon annual meeting. Ian seemed somewhat better today, and it was really important that we both be at church to say thank you and goodbye after eight years of ministry here….
But when we got back he seemed really listless, and his eyes began to look funny and sunken. He finally fell asleep, but his temperature went quite high – 40 degrees C – and his breathing seemed a bit strange. Eric and I were texting back and forth, and I was debating whether to try and find an open ER tonight or not, and what to do with the other three kids if that needed to happen. Thankfully, after I gave him a suppository for his fever, it began dropping. And then he wanted to drink – yeah! – and actually ate a little rice before he asked to go up to his bed. I am going to watch him closely tonight- maybe put him in my bed – and take him to a doctor in the morning. We would appreciate prayers for our little guy! He has asthma and that can quickly lead to bronchitis and pneumonia, as has happened in the past.
I was so encouraged by the time at church this afternoon. At the end we had been asked to both share something. Before that, we rose to sing a song, and it was one that I hadn’t heard or sung in a long time – God Will Make a Way (in Japanese, of course). I couldn’t make it through the chorus… As we navigate our housing up in Ishinomaki, it is now just one month from when we plan to depart Sanda. We are still waiting on word as to how finances will work out if we buy a home through our mission. Several of the properties that we posted several days ago turned out to not be available. Our Japanese business manager called some real estate offices for us and was told that there are people buying up all the available land up there and selling it at double it’s value (hard for us to believe!). Moving companies are not able to commit to us if we don’t know where we are moving to, and yet say we need to decide by the first week of March or they will be too booked to move us…We are really praying that Eric will be clearly led by God these next two days.
And then this song: “God will make a way, when there seems to be no way; he works in ways, we cannot see, he will make a way for me…” I immediately remembered a story that our friend Dori V. told – they had been close friends with us in Japan– they were moving their family up to Hokkaido but could not find housing. A friend called her and started singing this song to her… then she got in their car to cry and this song came on the radio…and of course God did make a way, and gave them a great home for their family…
Right after the song we were called up to the front to share. I had written out what I wanted to say, but found myself in the embarassing situation of having a runny nose and no tissue while I was talking! It was very emotional. But I thanked this congregation for how they have stood by us these past eight years, and shared how much I have learned from the pastor, Makio Sensei and his wife. Even though they live about fifty minutes away and we see them only once a month or so, they have truly been models to Eric and me on many levels. We have seen many unforeseen challenges come their way the past eight years, and they have never flinched but continued to be leaders who walked with integrity, often at a sacrifice to themselves.
One of the things I have loved is watching them raise their three children, who are now in their young twenties. Since their kids were little, they always had family time around the table before bed. Someone would read a devotion, they would each share a prayer request, hold hands, and pray for each other. Megumi Sensei said sometimes when the children were younger and didn’t want to be there, they would hold each other’s pinkies and pass on the prayer time (can’t you picture it?). But they always sat there and were a part, and it has remained an important family ritual that they all look forward to now when they are home. I love that.
When I finished my tearful speech, Eric started his, and he couldn’t get through the first line because he was so full emotionally. At the end of his sharing, people laid hands on us and Makio Sensei’s father, the founder of the church, prayed over us. His deep and earnest prayer in formal Japanese, asking for God’s care and protection and guidance for us, touched me deeply. We were then given an amazing bouquet of flowers. I’m not a big bouquet kind of person – but these were so beautiful….
And the last song? “Let your Glory Fall…” It was the one that was sung at our commissioning eleven years ago as we were sent from Los Angeles by our church there, Hope Christian Fellowship. Our church in Sendai sang it to me when I received my PhD. It is such a beautiful “sending” song: Let your glory fall in this room, Let it go forth from here to the nations, Let your fragrance rest in this place, As we gather to seek your face…
I was so reminded that God knows just what we need. He will make a way where there seems to be no way; He is sending us and He will give us the privilege of letting his glory shine in Ishinomaki.