With the new year well upon us and things moving forward for our return to the work in Japan, we wanted to take a moment to update everyone on what we are currently doing, and what the process looks like as we look towards our upcoming transition.
First, earlier this month, sister Sanpei and brother Aikawa did us a huge favor by putting together our paperwork and submitting it to the immigration office in Tokyo so that we can receive our work visas. This first step actually only gets us what is called a Certificate of Eligibity (there’s a fun Japanese word: 在留資格認定証明書 [zairyushikakuninteishomeisho] – say that three times fast. Or just once!). Once they receive the COE in Japan (Lord willing), they will mail that to us, and then we will exchange that by mail at the Japanese embassy in Miami for our actual visa. We will need to have our flight to Japan planned in order to make that exchange, so once the visas are in hand, we will be just about ready to leave. Our plan for some time has been to return to Japan in March. If God continues to bless us in this as we expect he will, we will be able to keep that schedule and return around mid-March. We are thankful for God’s provision!
Before we leave, however, there is a whole lot of work to be done to prepare for our return personally. First, starting in February, Leslie will be stepping back a bit from his preaching and teaching responsibilities where he is currently filling in in Florida, so that he can focus on preparing lessons for when we first get back to Japan. He hopes to have at least 2 months worth of sermons prepared before we leave, which gives a nice buffer as we get settled in back in Japan. Obviously there is still a lot to do on that end – getting an apartment, getting utilities up and running, getting phones, etc. – so that buffer will be very helpful early on.
In addition to this, there is a lot of preparation for the move itself that is needed. We have lots to pack, lots to get rid of, and various other responsibilities to take care of here in the U.S. before we leave. That will occupy a lot of our time moving forward over the next couple of months. Thankfully, we don’t as much to deal with as we have in the past, but there’s still a whole lot to take care of before we go. We also plan to take one more trip to visit our sponsoring church in Texas before our trip. We are looking forward to spending time in prayer with them and being encouraged ourselves and being sent off with their blessings.
If all goes as we anticipate it will, we should be almost exactly 2 months away from our departure date (possibly less). Of course, a lot of things can change in that time. If there is any extra paperwork needed for the COE, for example, that could set us back a couple of weeks. But God has been providing for us amazingly so far, and we trust he will continue to do so for the glory of his Name and his Kingdom. Nevertheless, we entrust every step to his sovereign and good will.
As we this process really gets rolling over the next couple of months, we ask for your prayers for several things:
- Pray for our family as we prepare for this transition. There is a lot of stress that comes in this process for our whole family.
- Pray for our children as they prepare to adjust. Pray for us (Leslie and Sara) as we try to help them with that.
- Pray for our extended family as they say goodbye. This is very hard for them, and they will need the Spirit’s comfort.
- Pray for the church we have been working with. They will need help moving forward and will need God’s provision in that.
- Pray for the church in Matsudo, that God will be preparing them for our return and for the work ahead.
- Pray for those we will come into contact with. Pray for God to put us in the right location to have the most impact.
- Pray for us as we continue to raise support. Pray thanksgiving for God’s generous provision, and for us to reach our full goals.
There are other things we could request prayers for, but these are some of the big things on our hearts.
Thank you all so much for your continued support in every way. We are so thankful, and are excited as we start looking ahead to this work. May it all be to the glory of our wonderful God and the name of Jesus Christ and his gospel!