Japan Short Term Missions Trip: Update #1

Hello church family, greetings from Sakai City, Japan!
Thank you so much for your prayers, God has been good! We arrived safely at Kansai airport yesterday afternoon, and we just finished up our first full day in Japan. Since arriving, the Lord has blessed us with a great time spent getting to know and fellowshipping with some of the Hatta-Nishi Church members. Yesterday, Doi-sensei and a group from the church picked us up from the airport and took us to Ario, a mall in Sakai City.

We did some shopping and grabbed dinner at the food court, which, incidentally, served some of the best ramen I’ve ever had.

Look how excited Eileen is for her ramen! The guy sitting next to Ray is Aoyang, one of the members at Hatta-Nishi who graciously came to pick us up. He’s actually getting baptized later this month!
After dinner, we split up to go to our respective homestays so we could rest up and get ready for a day of sightseeing. Today, we went to Nara Park, which you guys probably know as the place with all the deer roaming free.

Here’s Doi-sensei and his son Koki getting up close and personal with some deer.

I made a few new friends! You had to be careful though; those deer could get pretty aggressive. A couple of us got nipped by some of the overly-friendly ones…

Eileen and the deer got along really well. This is my favorite picture of the day!

We also visited Great Buddha Hall at the park, which, as the name suggests, houses a really large statue of buddha. Only about 1% of the Japanese population are Christians, and that number includes Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons. Seeing the big buddha served as a sobering reminder of how much this country needs the gospel.
After Nara Park, we made a pit stop at Daiso (the Japanese equivalent of a dollar store) before heading to dinner at Goshi-san’s restaurant. Goshi-san is part of Hamadera Bible Church, and he fed us some seriously delicious Okinawan food.

Tomorrow is Sunday, which means we’ll be heading to Hatta-Nishi Church for the first time. We’ll be teaching the kids some English songs during Sunday school and Eileen, Daniel, and I will be sharing our testimonies after service. Please continue to pray that we’d be able to encourage and serve the Hatta-Nishi church members as we’ll be meeting a lot more of them tomorrow!