Today started rather quietly, having bought bananas and tea yesterday I was able to enjoy my regular breakfast and be ready for our morning devotions.
We read a bible passage, meditated on it and then each shared our thoughts. We were encouraged to see God in all our little interactions. Believing that he was already here working and part of our job was to see what he was doing and partner with him. We prayed for our day, recognizing that we had all been chosen for this trip. We also prayed for the Tohoku team, the Hokkaido team and the needs for YWAM Tokyo to be able to purchase their present building.
Our first point of call was Oita Ginko Dome one of the selceted sites for the world cup rugby games next year. Even though it was a very hot day, our team put in a lot of extra effort to make these photos a lot of fun.
We were all pretty excited to see the dome and take time to pray into this significant world event coming soon to many parts of the nation.
Listed on this board were the dates of games that had already been decided along with the teams that would be playing here in Oita. We dreamed of contacting these countries and inviting them to send people to see their country play and to serve the local churches while they were here.
Our team got to walk around the stadium, even get to look inside and took opportunities to have fun whilst doing it.
Jose preaching to the crowds
And Finally me.
I am quite suprised at how easily we have been able to get around in this city of Beppu. Although sometimes we did need to consult the local maps.
The car navi has proved extra helpful is getting us back to the church which is situated in the middle of many one way streets.
On the way back we stopped at a seven eleven to pick up a little cake so we could again celebrate Ellies birthday by singing happy birthday to her.
After enjoying the cake together it was time to join the church in their prayer house ministry.
At the end if the meeting one of their members was travelling to Osaka. It turns out they have the same tradition as we do in Tokyo of praying for people when they leave when they return to the community. So it was very easy and natural us to join them as they paid for this member.
Wow so much that’s happened today I could easily have added at least three more posts but I hope this is giving you a taste feel of a first day here in Beppu City, in Oita Prefecture.
We returned to the church and had some down time before heading out to the store and buying our food supplies needed to eat breakfasts while we are here. I made sure we got bananas and tea!!!
Around 17:00 we drove to a hot spring foot bath where we relaxed and soaked our feet and in that environment took time to pray blessings over Ellie as it was her birthday today.
Then it was time to eat again! Outside the restaurant we posed together in front of a sweet background enlisting a friendly Japanese man to take the photo.
This resturant had you buy the food, then helped you to steam it in a steam tub using the power of the volcanic underlying lava.
Tim and I were the chefs and had to don arm guards and special gloves in order to do the job properly and not get burned in the process.
This was especially fun for me as in all my 30+ years here in Japan I had never experienced anything like this before. Here are the results of our gallant efforts.
Here we are having arrived safely at Oita airport we picked up our bags and got ready to begin our adventure in Oita city. Meanwhile Jose went to the car rental desk to check on on our rental vehicle. Soon we were whisked away in a shuttle bus to the site where we picked up our nice little car.
It took us awhile to figure out he navi but soon we had it squared away, loaded our bags and were on our way to the church.
I quickly settled in my new role as a co-pilot while Jose drove us to the church where we will be staying during our time here in Oita. As we entered Beppu, where the church is located, Jose had us as a team pray for the area, this proved to be a good beginning of our time of learning and praying for this city. At the church we met Mr. and Mrs. Kim, the pastors, Mrs. Kim the associate pastor and Mr. Kim a voulunteer from Saipan.
These very nice people showed us our rooms then took all of us out for sushi. Being very Asian we split up into a ladies table and a non ladies table.
Not too sure how the ladies fared but here is a picture of the junior leaders accomplishments. Although the younger Kim seems to be collapsing under the weight of all the sushi he ate.
Then there were the senior leaders. I think we ate our far share of the meal and represented ourselves rather well.
After church on Sunday Rhonda and I headed to Narita airport and spent the night at the Narita View hotel, where we enjoyed a nice buffet meal and a quite evening together.
This was the view from the Narita View hotel. We stayed there because I have the privilege of joining the very first vision trip to the historic city of Oita, with a view of sending a long term team there in the future.
Having eaten a nice breakfast at the hotel, Rhonda and I headed over to terminal three, where all the discount airlines fly from and met Tim, Julianne and Ellie at the check in lines.
Having sucessfully checked in we were officially prayed out by Rhonda ( sorry Tim, somehow, I left you out of that picture but you all get to see Jose, our awesome team leader)
Last Sunday as I was walking to Daikanyama station from our church, I saw a man wearing a T-shirt with the words “waiting for the waves” I sure wish that I had taken a picture at the time.
This really struck me. On the one hand I have my T-shirt with the promise I hold in my heart saying “The waves will never stop coming”. Now here is this Japanese gentleman declaring that he is waiting for the waves to come.
This month on the 26th we will commission Gary along with his wife, Naoko, their son Kai, and fellow team members as a team to pioneer our new YWAM work in Tohoku!!!!
The beauty of this is that they will not be moving up as a team but going in waves – Gary, Naoko and Kai in August, Tom and Rosa in October, another couple next year and two others are in the process of applying to their team. They will be gong up in waves and now I have the assurance that the Japanese are ready and waiting for these waves of precious people to come.
I certainly had none of this in my mind when I first saw that T-shirt hanging up in the used clothing store back in Shinagawa all those years ago.
When Loren Cunningham founded Youth With A Mission. -YWAM- back in the 1960’s, he had a vision of waves crashing onto the shorelines of many countries. These waves became young people bringing the love of Jesus to every nation. This story is told in his book, “Is that really you God?”So I wanted to be able to wear the T shirt as a statement of my faith, that waves of young people would keep coming to Japan to bring the love of Jesus. We have seen a large number of them come though our school during the past several years.
This was eary in 2011 and as many of you know that year we had a major earthquake and resulting tidal wave that devastated the Tohoku region of Japan. I was involed in leading many relief trips up to the Tohoku area but for obvious reasons did not choose to display this statement of my faith on those trips.
This is picture of our fourth team and it was an amazing group of people. On the left is David our Base leader, then a team of three from Kona in Hawaii, two awesome young guys from Tokyo Baptist Church, Derick, right in the middle, a key leader on our staff, me – not wearing the T-shirt and finally Gary a new staff member from England with his fiancee Naoko.
There is quite a story that goes with this T-shirt . A long time ago when Rhonda and I were living in the Shinagawa section of Tokyo city, we took time to prayer walk around our neighbourhood, seeing what we could learn about the area we lived in. Each time we went out to pray we also discovered a new coffee shop to relax in and reflect on our time.
On one of the prayer walks we passed by a used clothing store and hanging outside in the front was this T-shirt. I knew right away that I wanted to buy that shirt. Not because of my experiences or passion for surfing. – one little known fact about me is that I went surfing on the famous Bondai beach near Sydney. I’m happy to say that I never fell off of my surf board but then again, I never got to stand up on it either.
I went back to the store a couple of days later fully intending to buy the T-shirt. However when I got to the store I could not see it. I entered and looked around and eventually was able to find this T-shirt and buy it. Probably the most I have spent on a T-shirt in a very, very long time.
Today, as is my custom, I was praying through my prayer app and one of my subscriptions is to the collect of the day from the Anglican Church. It was titled “The visit of the blessed virgin Mary to Elizabeth”, telling of the Bible story that I mentioned in my last post.
It was an amazing moment as I realized that the litugical Church calendar celebrates this day on May 31st. Mary’s birthday!! The very story that was the catalyst for us naming her “Mary Elizabeth” is celebrated all over the world on Mary’s birthday.
I did the spiritual thing and googled this to make sure it was not “fake news” and sure enough May 31st has been Mary Elizabeth’s day for a very long time.
In the Biblical narrative Mary responds with what is known as Mary’s song or the Magnificat, a part of every Sunday service that I attended while I was a choirboy at Saint Peter’s Church in Brighton.
“And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
So as I think and contemplate about Mary Elizabeth Yoshiko Somers-Harris who has reached the grand old age of 23 on this auspicious occasion, I am awed as I recall how, not knowing anything yet in faith and obedience, Rhonda and I accepted this child of Joy into our family. Joy is fully a part of her Japanese name 喜子 and was at the centre of the Bible narrative that led to us calling her “Mary Elizabeth”.
However, due to her life experiences with POTS, which is an ongoing battle, Mary’s life has not been a daily experience of Joy. Somehow though in the midst of her sufferings Mary seems to be able to exude and bring Joy to almost everyone she meets. Her life experiences and hidden illness have given her a heart of deep compassion which results in unceasing efforts to reach out to and stand up for the marginalized and oppressed.
Both of these are deeply entrenched in the story of Mary and Elizabeth from the Bible narrative. In Church history it was first observed by the Franciscians from before 1263 and soon its observance spread throughout the entire Church. The Franciscian order was known for reaching out to the poor and oppressed people of the world.
Then in the song of Mary we read: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” So Mary’s life has in many ways encompassed both the Joy and the suffering that is discovered in the full story of her birthday.
Happy Birthday, Mary Elizabrth Yoshiko.