Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
~ Mark 10:28-30 ~
Dear Friends -
As Jeremy and I talked together about this prayer update, we thought it would be good to write a more personal newsletter this time. In doing so, we want to invite you further into our lives and the daily struggles we face as missionaries in a foreign country. Please know that as I share, I am not complaining or trying to invoke your pity, but we truly value your prayers and want you to know a little more about our hearts and desires during this season of life.
Last week, we put our 2nd boy, Josiah, on a plane to travel alone to America for the first time. We knew he was nervous about the trip, but he showed such a positive, brave, and adventurous spirit. He’s also excited about this new transition into college life at Appalachian State University. As for me, my mind was full of thoughts about COVID and how much social & political unrest is happening all over the world right now (even in America). My heart was also heavy because we couldn’t go with him. I want to drive with him to campus and see his dorm room. I want to help him settle into his new home, but if we leave Japan right now, we are not allowed to return.
Saying goodbye is definitely one of the most difficult things I do as a missionary. For me, it looks like crying off and on for two weeks (the week before and the week after). It means seeing the emptiness that Josiah (or Joshua) leaves, and missing his laughter, his easy going spirit, hearing him whistling or playing the piano in the next room, and many other things (I’ll spare you my longer list)!
Of course, I know we’d experience all of this even if we lived in the USA. Our friends in America are also grieving the loss of adulting kids. But I think goodbyes have an even sharper edge when you live overseas. Yes, I’m very thankful for FaceTime, but it is such a loss for us to send our boys home for college and beyond while remaining here in Japan. So, we are naming our tears, grieving, and looking to Jesus as best we can during this time.
At the same time, there’s Gospel beauty even among the ashes of our grief. It brings us so much comfort to know that our Father knows how we feel and even grieves with us. In an amazing, beautiful, tangible way, I felt him with me that day Josiah flew out. It is the rainy season here, and it was pouring buckets of rain the day he left. Sometime in the middle of the day, I realized how the rain was mirroring my tears: the downpours with my weeping; the mist of the rain with my misty eyes; and the clouds with my gloomy heart. My Father was with me. He wasn’t leaving me alone in my sadness, but he was sitting with me in the midst of it. It was really surprising to be so sad and yet full of hope at the same time.
As I share this area of sorrow with you, let me say here that I love working in Japan. Jeremy and I absolutely love working alongside our Japanese friends and leaders. We love sharing the Gospel with our nonChristian (and Christian) friends. We sometimes feel like we have the best job in the whole world! But all of that comes with a significant cost. The Good News cost our Father. It cost our Savior. And it’s costing us as we bring that Good News to our friends in Japan. So, please pray for our hearts and our boys and our parents as we lean into what God has called us to do in the “here and now” and look with expectation to Glory where there will be no more tears and no more goodbyes!
(left/above) Pretty sure we'll never get used to this scene. It's a lot easier to be the one walking through security than the one waving goodbye!
(right/below) And then, there was one! Garrett now has our undivided attention! Pray for him...and us! :)
FINANCIAL UPDATE AND THANK YOU!
Our support account looks GOOD right now, and monthly giving has continued to be largely uninterrupted as a result of the world situation. None of us knows what the future holds, but today we are in good shape. We'll trust God for tomorrow! Thank you for your continued generosity even in the face of difficult times. And thank you for being true partners together with us in this important work!
ANF - During June and July, both campuses have been meeting together for worship. We all wear masks, sanitize our hands, and have the chairs spaced further apart than any of us likes. But we're together, in the presence of the One who sees through our masks and bridges the space between the chairs! Pray for strong community, unity, and Gospel zeal at ANF during this time.
Japanese Leaders (husbands, wives, families) - Pray for strong marriages and soft hearts. Pray also that God will stretch, grow, and develop these couples into leaders for the Church in Japan. And ask God to raise up new leaders for this country that is so spiritually dark. Here are some names for your praying: Yu & Asako, Paul & Yu, Hide & Yasuyo, Toshi & Machiko, Atsushi, Mitsu & Kristin, and Nozomu & Shoko.Hide and Yasuyo are expecting their third child sometime in the next few weeks, so pray for a healthy delivery!
Relationships in our Community - Since we moved to our current apartment, two other missionary families have moved in nearby. Maybe God knows that we need one another! We truly love our location, but this continues to be a difficult neighborhood to "break into." Will you continue to pray for friendships with our neighbors?
New Teammates - Please remember to pray for Daniel Mitchell as he raises support to join us in Nagoya. If you have contacts in the Chicago area, we'd love to put you in touch with him! Additionally, we are talking with another prospective couple from the Nashville area. Pray for the Spirit to lead all of us as we consider whether we should serve together in the future.
Future Goals - Pray for God's clear leading as we continue to wrestle with our vision for the future parts we should play in helping raise up and support Japanese leaders for the growth of the Church in Japan.
Our marriage, our parenting, our hearts, and our walk with Christ. Our patterns of working, resting, and playing. If you're praying, always remember this! If you want to focus on 1-2 bullets this month, pray for this one (and the next)!