Hello from Sakata, Japan! We are visiting our mission church on the west coast. We are with the mission team from our sending church, First Baptist Church of Arlington. All the team members are great and it has been a blessing to serve with them! Please pray for all of us as we share His love with many people this week.
We want to say thank you to those who prayed for us as we took a trip to Yamagata. We had such a blessed weekend. About 20 children came to the event at the mission church. We taught them English and Michael shared a short story from the Bible. Many of these kids come from broken families. We just wanted them to know that they are LOVED! It was great seeing their sweet smiles and we pray they will remember the story they heard that day.
The kids and moms decorated cupcakes.
They all looked so happy!
On Sunday, we attended the Sunday school and worship service at Sakata Mission Church. Even though this church is small in size, everyone has a big heart for the Lord! We enjoyed our fellowship and learned so much from them.
Children’s Sunday school.
After we left this church, we drove to Zao ski resort. We decided to stay there for one night to have our family time away from home! Even though the weather wasn’t great, we enjoyed staying at the hotel with a hot spring and skiing/sledding on the mountains.
On our way to Zao!
Dinner time at the hotel. Luke loves to eat!
View of the mountains and trees. They were so beautiful!
Mommy and Luke!
Daddy and Luke!
This trip made us realize how blessed we are. We have a supportive church family that sent us out, great church family to serve with, and wonderful family that God has given us. Thank you all for thinking of us and praying for us.
Back in October, we were invited by Sakata Mission Church to help with their children’s event. Sakata Mission Church is about 3 hours from Sendai and Yu’s parents helped started it over 15 years ago. Now they have a wonderful pastor and the church is growing. We were so thankful to be a part of their special program. We decided to have a fall festival and it was a great hit!
We are going to Yamagata prefecture this weekend. On Saturday, we are going to host an English class for the kids at Sakata Nozomi (hope) Church. They host a special event for kids in the community twice a month and the pastor asked us to teach them English. We are going to play games, sing songs, do some silly dance, and eat something sweet! Many of the kids are from broken families. We hope they will have fun and feel God’s love through us!
On Sunday, Michael is preaching, Yu is playing the piano, and Yu’s dad is singing in the worship service. We are thankful for the opportunities to serve in Sakata. The pastor’s family ministered to us and encouraged us while we evacuated to Sakata right after the earthquake last March, and we pray God will use us to encourage them this time!
On Monday, we are going skiing! There is a famous ski resort in Yamagata and Yu’s family used to go there all the time. It’s Michael and Luke’s first time to go there and we are all excited! We have been busy ever since coming back to Japan and we are ready to take a short break and have some family time.
Please pray for us as we drive 3-4 hours each way. It has snowed A LOT in Yamagata and the road condition is not good. Pray that God will protect us as we drive and use us in many ways in Sakata! Thank you!!!
A few weeks ago, some of our church members and our family went to Misawa in Aomori prefecture. It’s about 4 hours north of Sendai and Misawa is famous for the US Air Force base. I remember going there to see the air show with my family when I was little and I always felt like I was in another country since there were so many Americans.
This time, we went there for the Tohoku (northern Japan is called “Tohoku area”) Baptist Union’s annual meeting. We thought it would be a great chance to get to know people from other churches and to find ways to partner with other Christians to reach out to the lost.
When we got there, we were welcomed by the members of Misawa Calvary Church. This church was established to minister to the people in the Air Force and their families but they also have some Japanese believers. It was such a blessing to meet all of them!
During the opening worship service, I had a chance to play the piano which gave me so much joy. The pastor shared how important it is to work together for the Kingdom of God. During the Tohoku Baptist Men/Women meeting, we all shared how each church had been helping with disaster relief efforts. It was encouraging to know that they are all working so hard to help those in need, but it was heartbreaking to hear about what the kids in Fukushima had been going through after the power plant’s explosion in March. Since radiation levels are still high in many areas, they can’t play outside. Many kids are wearing a mask to cover their mouth. Teachers and parents have been cleaning the schools and parks so that the radiation level would go down. Everyone is tired emotionally and physically. We asked them how we can pray and the first thing they said was to pray for people who live there. Pray for their physical and emotional health. Also, pray that the Japanese government would make the right decisions to help and protect those who are suffering.
They also asked for toys, games, DVDs, and books for the kids. Since they can’t play outside, these items will make the kids smile and help their parents. We will be spending some of the money many of you have donated to send some of these items to one of the churches in Fukushima. We have already sent them some children’s clothes that were sent by our sending church, and they really appreciated them. Thank you all for your prayers and support!!! You are touching so many lives!
Throughout the day, we met many wonderful believers and it was encouraging to see them being excited about partnering together. We have been building a relationship with the pastor and his family in Sakata city and we will be visiting them and leading the children’s program on Saturday. Michael was also asked to preach this coming Sunday. Please pray for a blessed time of fellowship.
Here are some pictures from our trip to Misawa:
The sanctuary was full of people!
These ladies cooked a delicious American meal. Michael said it felt like being in American to see the American sized oven and fridge!
Loved getting to know so many people!
I helped the children’s program. One of the American girls taught them how to decorate a cupcake!
They all look happy!!! The cupcakes were yummy! One of the kids said his cupcake tasted like “America”. We all laughed!
Kids (and one of the moms) from the church in Fukushima. They are so precious! They were super excited to be able to play outside.
Another blessing for me was meeting these ladies. After the opening worship service, one of these ladies asked if I was my mom’s daughter since I looked like her. When I said yes, they all started telling me all the special memories of my grandmother and my mom and how much they had meant to them. I found out that my grandmother was a member of their church over 30 years ago and they all enjoyed the Christian fellowship together. One of the ladies said when she lost her son, my grandmother just sat and cried with her. She said that meant more than any other encouraging words that she had received. Another lady told me that my mom had written her so many letters when their church was going through a difficult time. They all had tears in their eyes. This was truly a gift from God and I thank God for faithful Christians like my grandma and my mom.
The youth worship band led music during the closing worship service. We had missed singing English praise songs so it was awesome to worship with them in English. It seemed like many of the older Japanese Christians enjoyed singing (and listening) together! What a blessing it is to worship together no matter what our race, language, and backgrounds are!
Overall, it was such an amazing day. We enjoyed the fellowship with other believers and we came home being encouraged to go out and reach out to others in our community. It was also a special time for our family to experience a “little America” since we had been missing our friends and family back home! We love you and miss you lots!
Please pray for us as we go to Sakata this weekend. Pray many kids will come to the program on Saturday and God will speak to many hearts through Michael’s message on Sunday. Thank you!!!
Sorry it has been a while since we gave you the last update on Japan. Our internet access has been limited but now we are able to post from Korea. Here are some updates:
-The family that lost their home in Arahama was able to move to their relative’s house in Sendai. Yu’s dad was able to deliver food. The girls’ grandparents have been found. Pray for the girls as they go to the new school in April. Some of their friends are still missing.
-Kimura family that lives near our church received food that we had bought in Sakata. Mrs. Kimura e-mailed us saying it made her cry to see her kids have enough food to eat after not having much to eat for a week. Yu’s dad also delivered 70 litters of water. Continue to pray for them as they miss their dad who is in the Japanese Army. He has not come home for two weeks helping and rescuing people. They have 4 kids who are so precious.
-All the church members were able to share food that we had bought for them in Sakata. We talked to some of them on the phone and they said thank you to those who had donated money. You have touched their lives in an amazing way! We will continue to help them with your donations.
-Japan Baptist Convention has formed some teams to deliver food and supplies to the churches that were affected by the earthquake. Each church will deliver food to those in need. They also decided to evacuate the kids, mothers, and pregnant women in Fukushima (where the nuclear plant is located) to their office.
-Some Japanese people are visiting the local churches for the first time. Some of them are there to ask for help, and others are there to ask for prayers. Either way, we know God is bringing them to a church. Please pray their hearts will be opened to accept Christ.
-Yu’s grandparents were able to move from Ishinomaki (where half of the city was destroyed) to Sendai where her family lives. Her grandfather is able to go to the hospital for dialysis without driving for 2 hours every time. We talked to him before we left Japan and he was in tears. Losing his friends and seeing his home city being washed away by tsunami was such a traumatic experience. Pray he will understand God’s love through this difficult situation.
-Water and power are back in most cities. Lots of supplies are being delivered to the shelters.
-Pray for the situation with the nuclear power plants. Pray for the people and workers that have been affected by the damage. Pray for the Japanese government as they decide what to do.
-Pray for the children who have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plants. They are so vulnerable. Some children still don’t have enough milk and diapers. We are coordinating with our church to see how we can meet their needs. We will be asking you all to help us with this important project. More information to come…
-Pray for the local churches that are trying to minister to the people in need. Our church in a suburb of Sendai is trying to serve as the lighthouse for the community. Pray that they will be able to share His love with others by loving and caring for them.
-Pray for the people who lost their homes. Many cities and towns have started a “Host Family Program” that allows these people to stay with the families that have some extra space in their house. Pray many people will be able to leave their temporary shelter and stay with a family that welcomes them warmly. Also, pray for the government as they build new houses for these people. Countless homes were destroyed and the need for housing is great.
-Pray for Yonezawa family that is a member of our church. Mr. and Mrs. Yonezawa (our church members’ in-laws and grandparents) are still missing in Ishinomaki.
-Pray for the family of Taylor Anderson, an American English teacher who was found dead in Ishinomaki. You can read more about her at http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/21/6313764-family-mourns-american-teachers-death-in-japan
-Pray for enough gasoline and food for everyone. There are still long lines in front of gas stations and grocery stores.
-Pray for the students who have become orphans. Miyagi Gakuin, a wonderful Christian school where Yu graduated from, has many students who have lost their parents. There are others whose parents lost their homes and jobs and cannot pay tuition anymore. The president of this school, Mr. Yoshizaki, is a faithful member of our church. He has asked us for help. Some of the money you donate through our website will be going to this school so that many students can pay their tuition. If you want to know more about how to help, please e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We found this YouTube video. This shows some pictures of the devastated areas. Please note that the death toll is outdated. As of today, 10035 people died, 17443 people are missing, and more than 200000 people are staying at the temporary shelters. The officials said they believe the death toll would increase dramatically. Please continue to pray for the Hope for Japan.
Greetings from Seoul, Korea! We arrived safely and are doing well. It has been a long journey but we are thankful that God led our way.
After leaving Sakata, we took a train to Niigata. Luke slept the whole time and we were able to get some rest.
On Monday, we flew to Okinawa from Niigata. It was Luke’s first flight and once again, he did great! He was smiling at everyone around him. Our suitcases were overweight (we packed everything that would fit in two suitcases, yet we had to leave so much stuff that we needed), but the airline staff didn’t charge us any fee since they knew that we had evacuated from Sendai. Thank you, God!
When we arrived in Okinawa, we rented a car and drove to our friend’s apartment. She is our friend from DBU who became a believer while studying there. She is teaching at Okinawa Christian School. We are thankful for her hospitality. We talked a lot and were able to encourage each other. We also attended the chapel service at her school. We had an awesome time of worship and God reminded us how great He is. When we sang “Our God”, our hearts were filled with our prayers for the people of Japan. We want them to know our God who is greater, stronger, and higher than any other.
While we were in Okinawa, we went to the US Consulate to apply for Luke’s emergency passport. They closed the regular services due to the recent earthquake, but they were willing to help us after we told them our situation. We applied and waited for a few hours. Thanks to God’s provision and your prayers, we were able to get his emergency passport! Praise the Lord.
After we got his passport, we were able to visit some of the famous places in Okinawa.
When we saw the beautiful ocean, we could not help but think of the same ocean that took so many lives. There are so many that are still missing. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” This verse means so much to us right now. We pray that we can praise God no matter what the situation is.
Our flight to Seoul was smooth and Luke even had his own bed! We were welcomed by the staff of Dr. Billy Kim’s Broadcasting Company and he brought us to the church where we are staying. The guest room is beautiful and we are so grateful that they are letting us stay here. The church staff are very kind and we are enjoying our fellowship with them. The pastor even brought rice, kimchi, and delicious dumplings for us!!! We are extremely blessed and thankful.
The director of GCPN (our sending organization) and our amazing friend are coming to visit us from Arlington this Sunday. Words cannot express how thankful we are for their willingness to come help us. Please pray for them as they travel this weekend.
As we stay in Korea until it is safe to go back to Japan, we pray God will use us in many ways. Right now, we are planning to visit local churches and schools to share the needs of Japan and to ask them to pray for Japanese people, especially for their salvation. We also want to find out if there are any Japanese people who evacuated to Seoul. If so, we want to meet them and encourage them.
We will write more updates on the situations in Japan. As we close this post, we will share one more photo (if you are wondering why we are taking a picture of him with Pluto, we take this every month to see how much he has grown). His smile kept us going during our journey. When we were overwhelmed and tired, we looked at our precious son and were reminded that our responsibility is to protect him even as our hearts remained in Japan. We know God brought us here for a reason and His plans give us hope and future. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We love you…
We have had a wonderful weekend. Yesterday,we went to the grocery store to buy LOTS of food for the people in Sendai. We have never bought that much food! Since the government advised people not to hoard food and buy only as needed, we had to tell others that we were buying them for the people who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Some people gave us food which was a blessing. We have been amazed by the generosity of the people of Japan. When we came home, the pastor’s kids helped us to box them up. We all wrote messages and prayers on the boxes to encourage the recipients. We used some of the money that you have donated. THANK YOU! We are sure they will be used to bless the people who have been hungry. In partnership with the local churches in Sendai, we will continue to buy food and supplies for those in need.
My dad rode a bus to Sakata to see us and also to pick up my brother’s car which was filled with food that we bought for those in need. We had a very special time together. We laughed, prayed, and cried a lot together. Seeing my dad hold Luke makes me smile and cry at the same time. We are thankful for the time that we had together. Before my dad left, the pastor led the devotional time. He read Psalms 121 and it comforted and encouraged us so much. As my dad drove off, he told me to be strong like my mom. I have been crying a lot but I know I have to be strong for my baby boy. Please continue to pray for God’s strength as we continue this journey.
Today was such an amazing day. We were able to be a part of the worship service in Sakata. It is a small house church, but they all have big hearts for God. I played the piano and Michael shared his testimony. Praise God for using us in the midst of difficult times. We shared that many of you are praying for Japan and Japanese people. We spent some time to pray for the people of Japan. It has been a very difficult week for many of us. Earthquake, tsunami, and now radiation… But we still believe God is in control and He will use these situations to open the hearts of the Japanese people.
We are sorry we could not update yesterday. It has been a very difficult few days. As we monitored the threat of radiation, we realized that it was getting worse. After much prayer and counsel with our sending church and organization, we decided to evacuate. As much as we want to help the people of Japan, God has entrusted us to take care of our son. And we have to be healthy and well to be able to continue our ministry in Japan.
At first, we didn’t have enough gas and all the buses were full so we didn’t think we could get out of the city. However, my brother waited in line for 6 hours to get enough gas to get to the west coast of Japan. He also waited in line to buy enough food for us to eat. As much as he needed a car and food, he said our job is to take care of our son.
Another concern we had was my 81 years old grandmother who needed help. She has been so gracious to provide a place to live and everything else we needed. We told her that we would be leaving and asked her if she wanted to come with us, but she said no. She told us that she would be praying for us all the time and waiting for us to come back when everything is safe. We could tell that she had tears in her eyes.
Before we left the city, we stopped at my dad’s office. My dad has been so supportive from the beginning, and he kept reminding us that God would take care of us. We know our son has brought so much joy into his lonely life without my mom. It broke our heart to take away his joy. We had a short farewell in front of his office. He wanted to pray for us, and he cried as he asked our Father to protect us. He reminded us of I Corinthians 10:13, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedbeyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” He held our baby boy one more time and we left with such a heavy heart.
We drove to Sakata city which is on a west coast. We are about 230 miles from the power plant, and since the wind is blowing to the south, we believe we are safe for now. There is a mission church that our church has been supporting for a long time, and my dad asked their pastor if we could stay with them. His family welcomed us warmly and it has been such a blessing to spend time with them. They have treated us like their family and told us that we could stay as long as they need to. Their three children take such good care of our baby. We have been having meaningful conversations about the ministries in Japan, and it has been such an encouragement for all of us. Once again, God is faithful.
So what’s next? We are working on getting Luke’s passport to evacuate to South Korea. Our pastor and his wife have good friends there and they will be taking care of us. We also have Korean friends that we met at DBU and we know we can rely on them as well.
As of now, we are hoping to come back to Japan when it is safe enough. We don’t know when, but we pray that God will bring us back here to make Him known in this darkest place. Even though this situation is devastating and hopeless, we believe he will use this time of challenges to bring a revival to Japan.
We know so many of you are praying for us. We apologize for not being able to write/call you back, but please know we feel your love and prayers all the time. Our church and sending organization have been so supportive and helpful. We know they are not getting enough sleep because they have so much to do to help us evacuate. We are blessed to have such a strong and wise leadership. We know they are praying for God’s wisdom as they help us to make important decisions. THANK YOU!
We are leaving soon to apply for an emergency passport for Luke. Please pray that they will be understanding and helpful. Also, pray for our baby boy as we take a train for 2 hours. He has been such a trooper and we can’t ask for more.
Before I close, I want to ask you to spend the next few minutes to pray for the people of Japan. Many people are still fighting to survive. Many people are still crying because their family members are gone or missing. Many people are still trying to get enough fuel to evacuate. And there are others like my dad and brother who are staying in the dangerous areas to ensure the safety of other Japanese people. Please keep praying.
We are heartbroken to leave the people we love so much. God has called us to love and minister to the Japanese people, and we still believe it is His calling for us. We trust that He will bring us back here so that the people of Japan will know that He is the only God and He loves them so very much.
Many of you have already donated, and we want to thank you. Please be assured that it will be used to rebuild this country. The country that needs Jesus. Please pray that He will bring us back here soon. We love you…