Mary Elizabeth Yoshiko Somers-Harris

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

With all our other children, Rhonda and I had already decided on their names before their arrival.  However, with Mary the decision was still out, partly because Mary was the name of her grandmother, Rhonda’s mother, and Rhonda had some hesitation about calling our little girl by that name.

It was the above story from the Bible that brought the realization that Mary was to be her name. As with all our children part of the process of choosing a name involved asking God, “What will the character of this child be?”

With David we felt “Peace”

With Jonathan “Friend”

With Sarah “Love”

For Mary it was “Joy”

The passage from the Bible above tells of the time that Mary, while pregnant with Jesus, went to visit Elizabeth and, upon entering the house, Elizabeth’s baby, who was to be John the Baptist, leaped for joy in the womb of his mother.

This story was so impactful that our baby girl was named Mary Elizabeth in English and Yoshiko in Japanese which means child of joy.

That was 23 years ago.  Look for my next post for what Paul Harvey would call, “the rest of the story”.

Tohoku Vision Trip Day 4 Post 2

After completing our prayer assignments, we took time to enjoy the beauty of the area.

Some very nice waterfalls.  Must be time for selfies.

Got to love those glasses.

All in all the Ayashi and surrounding area is very green and beautiful.  I am looking forward to returning for many pastoral visits after the team moves up to this awesome place.

I was awed by the depth of colour in this flower.




Tohoku Vision Trip Day 3 Post 2

The afternoon began with the long awaited visit to the onsen.  For the guys that meant Gary, David and me. It was a great time of relaxing and getting to know each other better and soaking in some kind of chemically enriched water.

While we were in the onsen, this bright young university student came in and sat next to me.  We had a great conversation and I met him again in the park adjoining the onsen where he was with his mother.

I had a hard time at first believing that she was really old enough to actually be his mother.  His Japanese name was Joey; this was the first time I had met a young man with that name here in Japan.  Joey seemed quite interested in trying out his English so I introduced him to Mosese.

This evening we also went to a church in Sendai started by the FCBC church in Singapore.  We had visited this church  on one of our earlier Tohoku prayer trips so it was good to renew fellowship with them again.  The pastor was very kind and very happy that a YWAM team was coming to Sendai.  We discussed ways that we could work together with him and his church in the future.

Here is Gary with one of the church members whose connection to YWAM goes back to the Ome days.  She remembers welcoming the McDaniel family when they first came there many years ago.  Her family went to Grace community church along with Sakura and Satsuki Smith.

Tohoku Vision Trip Day 3 Post 1

This is the Baptist Bible college where we have been staying every night.  I think this is about the third time  that I have stayed at this facility, either on a previous Tohoku vision trip or on visits to Tohoku after the tsunami.

Today Alisa, who lives in Miyagi and was a student on our second bilingual DTS, came to join us and be our tour guide for the day.

We drove to this temple which is very close to an impressive waterfall.  It turned out to be a very big drop so we could not get down to the water.

Pretty flowers were everywhere.  Hope you like this one.

Tohoku Vision Trip Day 2 Post 2

After parking and eating lunch we again split up.  This time Gary, David and I enjoyed a coffee at Starbucks, then Gary and I moved on to the 31st floor of a building at the station that had an observatory.  From this vantage point one can see all the way to the coast and somewhere in there is the Rakuten stadium.

Somehow the 31st floor observatory was deemed to be a primary evacuation point in case of earthquakes and Tsunamis.  I guess that at least a tsunami would never reach that high.

I ended the day with loads of pretty flowers. Meanwhile Laura is moving ahead with her video report of this trip.  I am excited and looking forward to the final result.


Tohoku Vision Trip Day 2 Post 1

It seems that tradition is proving to be an important part of this team.  Another thing we always do when visiting Sendai is to go to the site of the castle, pray over the city and take pictures of us at the statue of the samurai who founded the city.  Here I am pictured with Gary, the team leader.

It was rather hot that day; we split up into twos, spent about thirty minutes praying for the city of Sendai, and then gathered together again for our team photo.

Yet another tradition is to eat at Otoya near to Sendai station.  Here is Rosa, awesome woman of God who will be a member of the pioneer team.  We amazingly meet two Christian ladies at the restaurant from the church we would be attending on Saturday evening.

Oh yeah!  I got to eat, too!!!

Here is my flower for the morning!

Tohoku Vision Trip Day 1 Post 2

Ayashi station.  From here it is a twenty minute trainride into central Sendai, the biggest city in the Tohoku area.  We had a beautiful day in which to prayer walk around this city where Gary is feeling they should begin their journey in the Tohoku region.  Our first impression was a fairly quiet area, very green, open people and quite peaceful.

This is Mosese, a native of Fiji who joined us on our second prayer trip to Tohoku and is back again for this our final vision trip before we send out the team to pioneer the new location.  Mosese and I were paired up for prayer today.

My eyes were caught be these awesome purple flowers so I took a quick break from the prayer time to capture this picture.  I love it when I can find flowers in my favourite colour.

Ayashi has many wonderful features.  High up on the list however is that there is a McDonalds there.  Not just an ordinary run of the mill McDonalds but a McCafe where they make a serious cappuccino.  Here the nice sales lady is drawing  a bunny on the protective sleeve of my drink.

Tohoku Vision Trip Day 1 Post 1

On the drive up to Tohoku it has become a tradition to stop at the very first rest stop on the Tohoku expressway and take a team photo in front of the beautiful flowers laid out there especially for such occasions.  A kind Japanese man took this photo for us so these are all the members of our team.

Another tradition we have always faithfully observed on these trips is to purchase a cup of coffee from the Excelsior coffee shop, especially to enable the driver to stay focused on the road.   Laura and I took advantage of the extra big cups to keep us going.  Laura is the official videographer for our final vision trip to Tohoku.

Of course, wherever I go I am looking for beautiful flowers.  Today I found this Iris in the city of Ayashi.  In Japanese Ayashi is written using two Kanjis and looks like this. 愛子 The first kanji means “Love” and the second one means “Child”

東北 Tohoku

This car number plate is from the city of Sendai in the Tohoku region of Japan.  While Sendai is not the capital of the Tohoku region, it is the biggest city there.  I will be a part of the final vision trip to 東北 before we send out our long term team to this region later this year.

My first trip to Sendai was as a wedding pastor.  I was requested to perform a wedding at Saint George’s Chapel.  It was nowhere as big as the Saint George’s church where the royal wedding just occurred; neither were there as many people in attendance.

This Wednesday we will return to 東北 and also Sendai, however, not in as nice a vehicle as the one in the picture above.

This is a picture of the Seddon family – Gary from Liverpool, Naoko from Japan, and Kai their son.  They will be the leaders of our 東北 team.  It will be one small step for Gary and his family and one big step for us here in YWAM Japan as we stand with them in the first of several planned new locations to be pioneered.

Harry & Meghan

Our Father who is in heaven

Yesterday, along with countless others and thanks to  modern technology, I sat in my front room with one of my favourite people in the whole world (Rhonda Lee Somers-Harris) and watched the wedding of Harry and Meghan.  There were 600 guests in Saint George’s Church to witness the ceremony.

One of the highlights for me was the look of pure joy on the face of this guy, right before Meghan entered Saint George’s Church.

It was a rather nostalgic moment for me, as when I was younger, I used to be a choirboy in an Anglican church, St. Peter’s Church in Brighton.  There were the familiar robes, real candles, and of course the power of the liturgy.

When they recited the Lord’s Prayer, memories flooded back of the times we recited it at assembly in school as well as at every service in St. Peter’s.  There were 600 people there saying together, “Our Father.” Some were rich, some were famous, some were old, some were young, yet in the presence of God our Father, none of these distinctions mattered; they were all the same.  From the Queen to the pageboy, all had the same access to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Now, Harry and Meghan are married and carry the title of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the same county where I was a choirboy  in the parish church of St. Peter’s in Brighton.

I am so grateful for the technology that enabled me to watch this historic event and feel one with so many others who pray to “Our Father”. However, I glanced up from typing this and quickly noticed that this same technology that had just last night enabled me to feel one with so many different people, can so easily trap us into our own little insular world and prevent us from moving on from “Our Father” to seeing the fulfilment of “Your Kingdom Come”.

As Michael Curry shared at the wedding, there is power in Love.  I pray that everyone who reads this and acknowledges God as their Father, will take time every day to step out of our technological bubbles and share the power of love to the people around them and see lives changed and transformed as more and more we seek and see His Kingdom come.

Hallowed be your name;

your kingdom come;

your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins

as we forgive those that sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory

for ever and ever.