Right now our ladies Bible Study is reading Believing God by Beth Moore. One of the greatest things about this study is the section at the end of each day's homework assignment entitled, "Godstops". It's a time for you to reflect at the end of the day where you have seen God working in and around your life. It's a great practice to build the habit of seeing things through God's eyes... that even in the normal routines of life, God is active, and amazingly, he invites us to join Him in His work.
We've only been doing this study for a month, and of course, God is showing up and doing amazing things! Over the last few days, I have been amazed at the many opportunities God continues to give our family in our place of ministry here in Okinawa. Of course, leading an international congregation is more than a full-time job, but we've always seen that as only part of the reason we're here. We live in Japan and are striving to learn Japanese and build relationships with the Japanese people God puts in our lives. Japan is very different than Guam or the Philippines; it takes much longer to meet people and build relationships, and it can take a lifetime to learn the ins and outs of Japanese culture... but our God is so much bigger than these things! He continues to provide us with opportunities and friendships that don't fit the norm, and daily, He is overwhelming us with His guidance and grace. Here are just a few examples:
*The pictures you see are the daughters and nieces of the wonderful Japanese family who lives next door to us. They have given us such a warm welcome to Okinawa and are always so eager to help us learn how to live in Japan. Even though we saw them frequently, a few months ago, Nami-san asked me if they could come to our house twice a week to work on English and Japanese language skills with our children... not only did God put us next to this family, but they asked if we could have more time together in our home! Please pray that as we continue to share life together, they would see Jesus in our family and seek to know Him.
*As we looked at language schools when we first arrived, we were overwhelmed by the cost. Brian studied on his own for a while, and I was able to take a 3-month conversational class at a local language school, but it was just too expensive to continue. A year ago one of our church members introduced us to a Japanese minister who offers Japanese language classes and gives a discount to missionaries. Brian and I are now both taking classes from him, and the other day I realized that the money I make teaching English every month is the exact amount we need to pay for our own language lessons!
*Our Japanese teacher's nephew has been living in Okinawa the last year to study English intensively before he starts college in mainland Japan. He asked Brian to tutor him, and they have been meeting together every week for the past 6 months. Sho doesn't know much about the gospel, so together they have been studying the Bible as a way to practice his writing and conversation skills. God continues to use this time each week to draw Sho closer to Himself as he learns more about Jesus and what it means to follow Him. Please pray for Sho as he continues to search!
*Just last night our Japanese teacher introduced me to 2 college students who just returned from going to school in California for a year. They are not believers but have previously studied the Bible as a way to learn English. Since they don't want to lose their English skills, they will now be coming over to our house once a week so we can study the Bible together in English. Please pray for Ryoko-san and Erina-san as we get to know each other and talk about the difference God can make in their lives!
There are so many more stories, but I will save some of them for Brian to tell you about. :) Honestly, at times in the last few months I felt like I was in a fog and just going through the motions of life with no real meaning... but as I look back, I know people were praying for me and praying for us to keep going and keep trusting God... thank you so much for your prayers! We are partners together as we seek how God can use us right now in Okinawa. Again, God is doing so many amazing things, and we are humbled that He asks us to join Him. Please keep praying for all our friendships and interactions!
Psalm 1461 Praise the LORD!Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!