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Japanese pastors gather for a new season of partnership

Asian Access Japan leaders

Asian Access Japan leaders

On January 20, I participated in the first “JCGI New Project Coordinators Planning Meeting.” Leading pastors from all across Japan gathered in Tokyo to discuss next steps for the six working groups launched last November at the annual JCGI Network conference.

Two of us from the Asian Access missionary staff were at the table with these Japanese pastors, taking another step toward enhanced partnerships in our Asian Access ministries in Japan.

Pray for the development of a digital media strategy that helps Japanese pastors resource each other for a new season of accelerated ministry!

Stressed out

stressed_outIn a recent print prayer letter we wrote about an agonizing conflict we’ve been working through in a Japanese situation.

But did you know that one of the most frequent reasons missionaries leave the field prematurely, never to return, is conflict with other missionaries?

Too often, as ministry starts to blossom, minor disagreements or misunderstandings somehow explode into major disputes, and in time another missionary family decides the pressure is too much.

As I serve on the leadership teams of both Asian Access Japan and the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association, recently God has placed me in the position of mediating or intervening in several challenging situations in the missionary community.

Serving as a go-between has been emotionally draining, at times worse for me than for those within the situation—who are either unable or unwilling to see what they have done to contribute to the difficulty.

When we experience stress, we are reminded again how important you are as our prayer partners. Situations like this require our attention, but the Enemy is delighted to see our energy deflected from our primary purpose.

Please pray that we will:

•  Have wisdom to deal effectively with challenging situations and difficult decisions.

•  Have insight when trying to mediate in the healing of damaged relationships.

•  Act decisively when there is a need for intervention.

Come to the hospital!

Our good friend Katsu had suddenly started feeling heart pain as he and his wife were on the expressway. So he called the hospital and his doctor said “Come in right now!” What would you do? Hear Katsu’s surprising reply in the second half of this three minute video clip.

Katsu Shares from Gary and Barbara on Vimeo.

Squid sushi

Squid Sushi

People around the world use various memory aids to remember important information. When I was a third grader taking piano lessons, I learned “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to remember the names of the five lines on the treble clef (E-G-B-D-F). The four spaces were even easier (F-A-C-E).

In the US, some children are taught to handle dangerous situations by remembering the short rhyme:

No!
Go!
Yell!
Tell!

(Say no, run away, yell as loud as you can, and tell an adult what happened as soon as possible.)

The other day on a bicycle ride I happened across a sign posted on a neighborhood fence with the Japanese version of this. The simple mnemonic is Squid Sushi, and the fun illustration makes it doubly memorable! The way to say the mnemonic is:

Ika no o sushi

Ika (ee kah – “squid”) no (“no” is a connecting word that functions somewhat like a possessive apostrophe in English) o sushi (a polite “oh” followed by “sushi”)

Here’s the translation of the phrases on the sign based on the mnemonic:

(If it’s someone I don’t know . . .)
Ikanai – I won’t go

(If it’s a strange car)
Noranai – I won’t get in

(If something happens)
Oki na koe o dasu – I will yell loudly

Sugu nigeru – I will immediately run away

(An adult . . .)
Shiraseru – I will tell

In Japan, peer pressure and the reduced availability of dangerous weapons (it is illegal for the average citizen to possess a handgun, for example) are undoubtedly two key reasons for the reduced incidence of crime that so impressed the world after last year’s tsunami.

But as Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (NIV)

So even though crime is reduced, it definitely exists. Just like parents everywhere, parents in Japan are concerned about the safety of their children.

29th wedding anniversary

Our first day of vacation was yesterday, August 27. So for a week I’m away from all the pressing items that face me when I’m at my desk. But not surprisingly, this evening I’m still sitting at my laptop… reviving our dormant blog site rather than editing the next issue of Japan Harvest magazine. Barbara is relaxing by doing a crossword puzzle across the table from me.

Ironically, now that it’s cooled off in Tokyo, we’ve left the Tokyo area for “Fujigoko” (the “Five Lake Area” near Mt. Fuji) for a week’s vacation. We’re staying at a SEND International missionary cabin next to Lake Yamanaka and finding ourselves wearing sweaters in the evening.

For our anniversary today, a friend recommended a restaurant on the other side of the lake…

Looks like something out of a fairy tale.

First came the hors d’oeuvres
Left to right – Deep fried cheese, honeydew melon under raw ham, mashed potato under salmon under grapefruit – all tasty!

Ready to dig into “mountain soba” noodles (Gary) and ravioli (Barbara). Had a couple of nice conversations with the owner-wife/waitress. (I think her husband was cooking.) She took our pictures for us, and shared a bit about the construction process last year… having daily discussions with the carpenter as their ideas for the details of the building constantly developed (changed?) for this unique structure!

Ravioli close up and on parade

Across the room from us.

The adjoining room.

Down the stairs to the restrooms.

Twenty-nine years today!