Thursday – August 1, 2019
Our team was very thankful for our rest day yesterday, but now we are back at it! Day 3 of VBS is now over, which was day 1 of our second two-day VBS. This one is for younger students, 1st through 3rd grade. We even had a couple kindergarteners and a younger sister who was only 3 years old. But everyone participated! I was amazed at how quickly the kids warmed up to us. We only have two days with each group, so I wanted to get the most out of our short time together. It was such a blessing to witness the happy smiles on their faces as they jumped and sang along to the songs. I wondered how the switch from the older kids to the younger kids was going to go, but it went so well. The kids don’t start studying English in school until 4th grade, so these kids haven’t even started that yet. But I was amazed time and time again at their pronunciation and willingness to practice English.
Of course, while teaching English is part of our program, our long-term goal is to build lasting relationships with the kids, their parents, and the Chikusei city community. And while our team is only in Japan for a short time, our prayer is that those we reach will get connected to Saiwaichō church. One of the boys was curious and was asking questions about the cross in the sanctuary, which was a nice opportunity to talk about Jesus. I was so encouraged to see one of the girls from the first VBS return during today’s VBS to drop off a gift of origami cranes. It included a note that read “Thank you very much, it was very fun.” We were told that in Japan, folding cranes as a gift means you are praying for that person. I’m touched to see that we have indeed been able to make an impact in the children’s lives, even in this short time. I often hear how Japan is referred to as the “graveyard of missionaries” due to the lack of a fruitful harvest and what appears to be infertile soil. But I can see that seeds are being planted, and I have hope. I pray for a bountiful harvest, whether we are able to witness it or not.
We stayed in tonight to eat, with wonderful dinner prepared by a deacon of the church and his wife. There was onigiri, karaage chicken, and a “noodle river” made out of a bamboo track. Everyone had fun fishing in the noodle river for somen noodles, tomatoes, cherries, and cucumbers. As we were finishing up dinner, another family from the first VBS returned to drop off a gift of delicious roll cakes. She had also brought a gift of donuts for us earlier in the week, and had nicknamed herself the “donut mom.” We invited her and her three kids to stay for dinner, and had great conversation with her. More seeds being planted!
As we head into our final day of VBS tomorrow, please be praying for continued energy to keep up with the kids, and for focus on why we are here and who we are serving. Please also pray for lives to be changed, as the name of Jesus is proclaimed. This is many of the kids’ first experience inside a church, and we thank God for this opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.