• Mission,  Reflections

    Socially Anxious Missionaries Who Don’t Speak Japanese

    So grateful today! For various reasons, today was the first day the kids actually got to meet some other neighborhood kids. I sent them out when we saw that other kids were at the park, but it was just little boys and so the girls kept to themselves. A while later, some girls around the age of mine rode up on bikes, and Madeleine came back to the house to ask me how to say something to them in Japanese. As I got myself ready to go out and help them communicate, I prayed again for courage and blessing in these interactions. The truth is, I didn’t want to go…

  • Mission,  Reflections

    Meagerness And Abundance

    The building where the Matsudo church meets is rather old. It’s basically a repurposed house, with the downstairs set up as an assembly hall. It’s not much to look at, but it serves the church well and is a blessing to have. While there’s plenty that could use renovation, one feature I love about the grounds is a small grape vine that wraps around the front fence. It has been there ever since I first came to Matsudo, and I’m sure it was here many years before that. The branches usually produce a good amount of fresh grapes each year which you can eat, assuming the crows (or a few…

  • Reflections

    Rose-Colored Glasses as a Gift from God

    In our travels, we have often ended up in sticky situations that could easily overwhelm us and turn super negative. At those times I’m prone to quip, “Bad experiences make good memories!” Whether it’s forgetting to book a hotel for your trip to the most crowded festival in Kyoto and ending up in a roasting rented room the size of your entire bed in what is basically an old man’s house, or hustling the whole family all the way down to Immigration only to find out you forgot a passport and one of you needs to rush home and back before they close for lunch while the other entertains the…

  • Reflections

    One Of The Dumber Things I’ve Said

    I could do an entire blog series on dumb things I’ve said over the years. I’ve got my fair share of cringeworthy remarks that I regret, and while I’d like to think I’ve learned to control my words better as I’ve grown older, I’m sure there are plenty mistakes yet to come. That said, there are certain remarks which, when thinking back on them, produce not only shame but also an opportunity to mature; words that come back and hit you square between the eyes, revealing to you important truths. In 2010, my family moved to Kojima, Japan, where I worked as a vocational missionary with a full-time job as…

  • General,  Reflections,  Updates

    Life Doesn’t Always Fit Nicely Into A Box

    Over the last week, we packed our life into 26 boxes. (Okay, that’s not entirely true. We still have about 8,000 Legos, plus our clothes.) Eight days ago we got our supplies from the shipping company. Seven days ago we found out that the only time they had available to pick up our shipment before we leave is today at 8:15 a.m. Okay! I work great with a deadline, I can do that! I canceled school for the week (homeschooling perks), shipped the kids to my mother-in-law’s for eight hours every day, and called upon my inborn strength and hardiness, passed down from my ancestors who came over on the…

  • Mission,  Prayer,  Reflections

    Sowing With Tears, Reaping With Joy

    Over the course of this year, the importance of prayer has become ever more apparent to me. I think it’s safe to say that I have prayed more this year than I have ever prayed in my life. Of course, I still have plenty of room to grow in this spiritual discipline, but I have learned to lean on God in prayer throughout this year like never before. I am thankful for the challenges that have led me to that deeper relationship with him. Part of what has helped me focus in prayer this year has been reading through a daily devotional book on the Psalms by Tim Keller called…

  • General,  Reflections

    What We Are Thankful For

    With this likely being our last Thanksgiving in the U.S. for at least several years, we’ve been trying to make the most of this year’s special day by tuning our hearts to the many things we have to be thankful for. There are so many blessings we have experienced this year and have much reason for gratitude, but there are a few special blessings connected to our Japan mission for which we would like to take a moment to give thanks. We’re Thankful For Our Partners We started raising funds for our Japan mission sometime around July or August. In less than half a year, we have already secured 83%…

  • Reflections

    Be Ambitious (For Christ)

    The name William Clark probably doesn’t ring a bell for most Americans, but he’s big in Japan – or at least, a few of his words are. William S. Clark was a native of New England, born in Massachusetts in the first half of the 19th century. He went on to join the Union Army and had a meaningful influence in the Civil War. However, perhaps his most meaningful influence came not in physical warfare in the United States, but in spiritual warfare in Japan. During the late 1800s, Japan was intent on modernizing the country and invited a variety of academics from across the globe to help towards that…

  • General,  Reflections

    Learning Grace From The Japanese People

    Often times, when you’re focused on a mission, it can be easy to forget how that mission is perceived by others. What seems obviously true and objectively important to you may appear as questionable and only of subjective value to those around you. For those of us who are saved, we see the gospel through spiritually illuminated eyes as “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:18-25). But for many, our faith is but another viewpoint in a sea of religions. In Japan, there is an old adage that goes something like: “many different roads lead to the top of Mt. Fuji.” As a religiously syncretistic…