8/14/09: Inochi No Izumi Retreat

Hi everyone! It’s Shelley again. I think Ray and I are the only ones with easy access to both the internet and photos. We have returned from a two-day retreat with Inochi No Izumi church in Hyogo Prefecture, about an hour away from Osaka. 53 people gathered to hear God’s word, share testimonies, enter the ofuro (communal bath), play sports, watch and do fireworks, and fellowship during a BBQ at a nearby river. For those who have been there, we were at the same Japanese-style hotel as always, but the interior was completely redesigned and is more modern-looking, and there is a nice outdoor bath. The first day Doi-sensei preached on Romans 4, and the second day Mr. Koujima preached about Joseph from Genesis. Gabe, Sarah, and Jennifer stayed with the adults and taught Christian words as an English lesson (Bible, faith, etc.). In the children’s program, the kids learned about the wise man who built his house upon the rock (which represents those who believe in Jesus) and the parable of the seeds that fell in different types of soil. Ray and I led a couple of English songs (Awesome God and Whatever You Do — thanks Mel and Wayne for teaching us the hand motions!) and also learned a couple of songs in Japanese.
Last night, we were supposed to do fireworks at a nearby field but because of the rain, that plan was canceled. However, God stopped the rain just long enough for us to do them in the hotel driveway (with the hotel’s permission, of course)!
Around 9:30 p.m., we joined the church members in a large tatami (straw mat) room for a time of sharing. Gabe shared his testimony, then Jennifer and Sarah were asked to share their impression of Japan. I’m sure they will share in more detail later, but they talked about how encouraging, hospitable, and loving the church members were, and how touched they were by the testimonies and interactions they had with everyone. The sharing didn’t end until midnight, at which point most of the church members, Gabe, Ray, and I went to sleep. But Jennifer and Sarah stayed up with some of the women until 3 a.m.! Mrs. Bansho shared her testimony in the Osaka dialect, which Doi-sensei’s wife Akiko translated into Japanese, which Jennifer translated into English for Sarah. Wow! Or as we have been saying a lot here, “Sugoi!” The fellowship is ongoing!
John 3:16
Now for some photos:

2009 Inochi No Izumi Retreat
The children learned about the wise man who built his house upon a rock
Playing volleyball in the afternoon
More Volleyball
With Mr. Bansho, Kaori, and Ayano
Gabe shared his testimony in the evening
Jennifer sharing her impression of Japan
Sarah sharing her impression of Japan 

Manna and a water gun… watch out!
The Tanaka’s at the BBQ