Japan Short Term Missions Trip: Update #4

Hello IBC family!
It’s the eve of our departure, and as sad as I am at the prospect of leaving, I’m so thankful for the opportunities we had for fellowship with our Japanese brothers and sisters over the past few days. Retreat started off with a barbecue lunch:

Here’s grill-master Banshou-san making some yummy yakisoba. Eileen took down the recipe so you all should ask her to make you some.

The barbecue place also had the largest, most amazing jungle gym/playground thing I’ve ever seen.

Complete with a zipline-like apparatus!

Our fearless team leader, getting beat up the rope by his wifey.
Free time meant a Ray-Aoyang jam session.
There were two sessions, one Friday night and the second Saturday morning. Eileen, Daniel, and I stayed with the kids during each session and got to witness some seriously good Sunday-school teaching. Akiko-san’s lesson on Jonah was so well-prepared and kept the kids totally engaged. I honestly do not know how they managed to pull off doing VBS as well as preparing for sessions for retreat. Once again, it’s so humbling to see the amount of work they put into this past week and knowing that it all comes from a desire to teach the children the ways of the Lord.
After retreat wrapped up, we got to do some sight-seeing Saturday afternoon. This is Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. There were areas throughout the temple with hanging wooden placards on which people had written prayer requests that they hoped to have answered by the many gods of Japan.
Ray spoke on Sunday morning! Sunday was a sad day of goodbyes since most of the church members won’t be seeing us off airport today. Gift-giving is a huge part of Japanese culture, and man, did we experience it. As Eileen put it, we’re so completely undeserving of their kindness towards us. Lots of picture-taking ensued.
So incredibly blessed to get to serve alongside these women this past week.
We had one last dinner-extravaganza with the church members Sunday night. Here’s Doi-sensei sharing his testimony with us after dinner. We were so encouraged to hear about how the Lord used some really difficult trials in his life to bring him to saving faith. Since there are so few Christians in Japan, God’s sovereignty in and the miracle of salvation is all the more evident when someone does come to know the Lord.
Praise God for the faithfulness of the church here in Osaka. Our missions trip will soon be over, but please continue to keep these precious brothers and sisters in your prayers. We’ll see you all soon.