Just returned from our annual Asian Access retreat in the mountains, near where the Nagano Olympics were held. It was great to be together with so many people we love dearly! It is always a very special time for our children, as they play and play and sing and play some more. The first several days they had a wonderful time playing in the snow; during our times of meeting there was a great team from Kings’ Harbor Church who put on a wonderful program for them.
One of the hallmarks of this year’s conference was working through the nuts and bolts of our new mission partnership with SIM. We really appreciated the three SIM leaders who came to be with us and guide us through the process. They brought these groovy t-shirts!
One highlight and emotional time for us was a commissioning that was held for those of us who will be relocating to the Tohoku region in the next couple of months. There are four families, and one single – our good friend Ray! Our group makes up one-third of the mission, so it is a significant happening for all of us. It is a joy to be the team leaders for this neat group of people!
This was not a time for dry eyes! As our friend Peter prayed for our family specifically, the tears flowed as his prayers reflecting his special understanding and love for our family and each of our children. And then a friend, Barb prayed for all the children who will be moving (ten children in all), as well as for Peter and Wendi’s children who won’t be going but will be separated from their friends who have lived here in Sanda. It is not easy to go; it is not easy to be the ones staying either. We really appreciated the care taken in saying goodbye, recognizing how important these times are for all of us in preparing all of us for the leaving as well as for what is to come.
The deployment has begun! Ray and one of the other couples have already arrived at their new locations in Tohoku. Praying for them to have good beginnings… good initial times of bonding with their Japanese partners.
This Sunday we will be our big house-moving day- moving most of the things from our home into a storage unit near here to wait until we have our real housing up there secured. Then next Wednesday, March 28th, we will be driving up and officially moving to Ishinomaki. We will be staying with two different families here in Sanda in the in-between time.
We have an application in to purchase some land in Watanoha, and are continuing to explore options for building a pre-fab home and guest center. We have been dialoging with our ministry partners up there about what would best serve our church’s vision for ministry. We are still praying that another house will present itself (it would be a lot less complicated!), but will move forward with this if nothing else surfaces. We have two potential options (?!) for short-term housing as well, and are praying that God clearly opens one of these doors for us between now and next Wednesday.
I was reminded from Eric’s video (see previous post)- that God has invited us to join him up in Ishinomaki. At one point when I was about to indulge in fretting over our housing, I thought about this idea. If God has invited us to be His guests up there, He certainly will not leave us homeless! He will take care of us and give us what we need. I was thinking about the birth of Jesus- he wasn’t born in an ideal location, but he was visited by local shepherds who had just experienced the miracle of a heavenly host on the hillside, and then by out of town dignitaries who brought special gifts. I know the way God provides housing for us, while it may not be ideal, will be unique and chosen just for our family. As the time to our departure gets very close and we still do not have housing, there is part of us that becomes even more curious about what He is up to! I was especially grateful for a great reminder tonight when our friend Aiko gave me this special hand-made treasure that will go with us wherever we end up living: