Sunday - August 4th, 2019

On Sunday, we had our church service and there were families who came back for church from Vacation Bible School. The other church members and vacation Bible School families were so nice to us and most of them mentioned that they wanted to see us again next year. We will all miss them so much! After lunch, we had to travel back to Tokyo to get ready for our trip back to the United States on Tuesday. I am so thankful for God for keeping us healthy and safe. I would also like to thank everyone for their prayers and support for this mission trip. I hope everyone keeps praying for our missionaries, parents, and most importantly, the children!

Elaine

Friday - August 2nd, 2019

August 2, 2019 - “VBS is Over”

Thursday and Friday, we provided the VBS for the elementary aged children. We felt we needed to be even more vigilant because of the younger ages. We found to our joy and amazement that the children were very capable and better behaved than their older counterparts. They were very engaged in the songs, crafts, bible stories and recreation and only one small girl shed tears for a short while until she played with the parachute.

Highlight of this VBS: Pastor Abe shared when he asked the children if they wanted Jesus as their friend- 90% of the kids said Yes!

-Tom-

Thursday - August 1st, 2019

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.

Jeff

Wednesday - July 31, 2019

Today was a rest day for the team after day 1 & 2 vacation bible school (VBS) at Saiwaicho church. In the morning, I shared my devotion with the team about finding rest in god and shared the passage from Psalm 62:5-8.

Yes, my soul, find rest in god, my hopes come from him, truly he is my rock and salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken, my salvation and honor depend on god. He is my mighty rock and my refuge, trust in him at all times, you people. Pour out your hearts to him, for god is our refuge.

The team has been very busy with traveling, trip planning, coordinating, building relationships with the local church and kids in japan. We focused on the administrative and logistics work, but sometimes we forgot that our body and soul need to rest. We need to remember that god is our rock and fortress, trust and rest in him. This passage was a good reminder that we need to rest and recharge our body / soul so that we can be mentally and physically prepare for the next two day of VBS.

After the devotional time, the team took some time to reflect and discuss what went well and what could be improved from the past two day of VBS. We went through each program activity and discuss if there was anything could change or do better. There were many great ideas and feedback from the team. The team worked really hard and did an amazing job during VBS. It was a good reflection time!

After we finished our VBS reflection meeting, the team took a break at a shopping mall 40 mins away from the church. We spent some time to see and experience the city. The team was relaxed and enjoyed some quality time with each other.

Please pray for day 1 and 2 younger elementary VBS tomorrow and May god give our team the strength to finish strong this week!

Kacie

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Tuesday - July 30, 2019

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Amazing Day! Today was day 2 of VBS and also the last day of the first group (4th-6th grades). We had so many wonderful things that happened today. More friendships were built and everyone had a blast. 

Today we did pretty much had the same schedule without the water balloon fight.  There were several highlights that I saw today. 

First, we had a child that was dropped off almost 1 hour before our start time (on both days) because, his mother had to go to work. He happened to be in my group so I was able to hang out with him as he waited for the rest of the group to come. He arrived so early, that he was there for our devotional and prayer time. Today he joined us during prayer and I was able to pray for him.  During lesson time, we were talking about what we are afraid of and he said, he was afraid of bees, but after hearing the story, he said he was not afraid anymore. He also hit it off with our youngest, Kiyoshi. Since he is an only child, he really adored Kiyoshi. 

Secondly, we had an opportunity to meet the kids’ moms and the children got to sing two songs for them. I love the kids’ willingness to sing and participate. Cameras out and smiles on their faces was priceless. They asked if we were coming back next year! 

And lastly, I was able to see my (Christine’s) aunt and uncle who brought their granddaughter to the VBS. We had not seen their granddaughter and her mother for over 10 years. Although the granddaughter was very shy, she participated in every activity and enjoyed herself. My aunt and uncle were also able to help us with snack time on both days which was a huge help for us.  

Tomorrow we will have a day of preparation for the next group of children, laundry and rest. 

Please pray for us as we continue to bond with each other and prepare for our next VBS on Thursday & Friday when we serve 1st and 3rd graders. Please also pray for this church. 

Thanks for your support and prayers, 

Christine

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

Kick off! Today was the first day of our Vacation Bible School at Saiwaicho Church. We feel absolutely blessed to be a part of God's plan to build relationships for Saiwaicho Church and the surrounding community through VBS. God is good and most worthy of our praise!

If I were to use one word to describe the first day, it would be "fun". There were smiles, laughter and excitement among the kids and volunteers. We welcomed 24 kids, 4th through 6th grades and we did crafts, a Bible story and song/verse, recreation and music in the morning. In the afternoon we ate lunch with the students and then did English games, choice time (where students could choose between arts & crafts, card games or dancing) and a large group activity involving water balloons. The large group activity was a great way to end a hot and humid day, though we spent most of our day indoors. Needless to say it was a full day but a very good day.

Tomorrow is our last day with this first group and then on Thursday and Friday we receive a new group of younger students. Please pray for us to continue to build relationships with the kids and the parents tomorrow. Please pray for unity and focus for our team. And please pray for opportunities to represent Jesus to the kids tomorrow.

Thanks for your love, support and prayers.

(Pastor Joe)

Sunday - July 28, 2019

Sunday - July 28, 2019

This morning at around 3:00AM, we experienced our first earthquake in Ibaraki. Thankfully, it only lasted for about 20 seconds and no one was injured. Apparently, it's normal in this area to have small earthquakes, so the locals are all used to it. 

The team prepared breakfast together and helped set up the church for service. As people start arriving to church, they were eager to meet and greet us. There were non Christians who came to church for the first time because they wanted to experience the American culture and language. It was a great opportunity for us and the church to welcome them and get to know them more. Pastor Abe preached the sermon on the parable of the prodigal son, and I believe the message was very well received by everyone. 

After service, we all had lunch together at the church and the team later had a final preparation for VBS on Monday: planning out the logistics, assigning roles, and practicing our dance and skit. We ended the night with an amazing multi-course meal at a local seafood restaurant, graciously offered by Saiwaicho Church. 

Please lift us up in your prayers as we will be starting our day 1 of VBS tomorrow. My prayer requests are that we will have full energy as we're still fighting the jet lag, and the relationships we want to build despite the language barrier. 

Alvin Lee

Sunday - July 28, 2019 - Email Update to Supporters

Hello from Japan!

Thank you to all of you who are supporting our Lighthouse Japan Mission team. We wouldn't be able to serve the Japanese people without you!

The majority of the team arrived in Japan on Friday afternoon without any major hiccups in our travel plans. We spent the night in Ueno then traveled to Ibaraki Saturday morning. Once the team reunited, we were able to experience some of the local Japanese culture by attending the Chikusei matsuri (Japanese festival). We are still adjusting to the time zone and are figuring out some daily nuances of living in Japan but are grateful for God's protection and provision to safely reunite us in Ibaraki. Today we will attend Saiwaicho Christ Church where Pastor Abe from Lighthouse will be giving the message. We are excited to meet the church members as well as a few non-believers from the community who are coming to church to meet "the Americans."

Please pray that God continues to go before us preparing the way for time and cultural adjustments, safe travels and open hearts. Pray also for divine appointments for all the individuals God has planned for us to interact and build relationships with. We feel excited to see God work in the lives of all involved, including our own.

Thank you again for your support and please continue to join us in prayer!

Blessings,

JMT 2019 (Chloe)

Sorry Alyssa, you got cut off!

Sorry Alyssa, you got cut off!

We are here (Japan)

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Hi all. Pastor Abe here! It’s 5am in the morning here in Japan. After almost 9.5 hours of being on an airplane, getting out of the airport and through immigration, figuring out all our transportation logistics, shipping our luggage/VBS materials to Saiwaicho Church, getting everything together, while keeping the kids close by, we were able to make it to our hotel in Ueno - Tokyo. We were all pretty exhausted by the time we got to the hotel to get settled in. Alyssa and I were getting sleepy pretty quickly. We all went off to get a quick dinner and then try to get some rest. Alyssa and I fell asleep at 7:30pm and both woke up at 3am. Been trying to go back to sleep but haven’t been able to. So instead, I (Abe) thought I might as well give an update. So in a few hours or so, we will be gathering together to eat breakfast. And then make our way to Saiwaicho Church which will be about 2 hours to get to. The last 36 hours feels like a blur and it feels like the next 24 hours will continue to feel that way too. Through God’s protection and provision, everything has gone smoothly. And we have faith that everything will go smoothly as we get to Iberaki and begin preparing for the VBS for the week. That’s a quick update from us. We appreciate the prayers for us as we continue to travel.

Welcome to our Japan Missions Team VBS Blog

Welcome to our Japan Mission Blog. We’ll try to give updates on what’s going on as we go to Japan from July 25 - August 6th. As I’m writing this introduction post (Abe), I’m getting even more and more excited about our trip. In just 2 days, we will be flying out to Japan! Please come back to this blog page to see what’s been going on with our team.

Each day before our trip, we’ve been praying for a different topic. If you could also join us in prayer, in lifting up the different things. Thanks!

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