I'll be adding a 6' by 22' addition to this cabin in order to enlarge the bedroom, bathroom, and add a proper genkan entrance. I spent this last week getting the design details ironed out, getting tools ready to go, and gathering materials. Finding materials is quite the task here. 2x4's and 2x10's are not common materials and home centers that sell lumber are few and far between. Cliff and I spent a long time driving from store to store to get all that I'll need.
But now I have most all of the materials and I've already replaced the rotten wood on the existing cabin and am almost finished with the new floor deck. So I should be ready to stand some walls soon.
I spent last weekend in Tokyo, so Saturday morning I hitched a ride to the train station here in Karuizawa and jumped on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) headed to Tokyo. I met a friend in Tokyo Station...well, after a little waiting, wandering, scanning of faces, and a couple of phone calls, I eventually met my friend in Tokyo Station. It can be hard to find someone in constant waves of hundreds of people who all know exactly where they are going.
We spent the day seeing parts of the city, using the trains and subways to get around. Luckily she had been living in Tokyo for a few months and knew her way around. Every once in a while, actually
quite often in Japan, the train car will be quite full, and so you just have to smash yourself in. It's impossible to get a photo of how this really feels, but here's what I got:That night we went to a lively, young, contemporary church that is a part of the Hillsong family. It was good to see some Japanese youth worship with energy and passion.
On Sunday I went to church with the Scott's and spent the day relaxing and reading and writing. Then on monday I went to the main TEAM Japan office for their monthly prayer day. Many of the TEAM Japan missionaries came and we prayed together, heard about what has been happening with their ministries, and shared a meal together. There are a lot of new and creative projects underway right now to try and reach the Japanese people more effectively.
God has been teaching me many things since I've been here, but the one on my mind now is how important fellowship with other believers is. We need other believers in our lives to encourage us, challenge us, hold us accountable, worship with, study with, pray with, serve with. Having left a couple bible studies, Sunday morning worship service, and Sunday school class back home, it's hard to adjust to jumping around to a different church almost every week, most services being in Japanese, some services not translated.
Having met many missionaries here either at prayer day or passing through the camp, I realize that most of them don't have all the opportunties for fellowship that we enjoy back home. It's hard to have a good, deep bible study where everyone learns from eachother when there are no mature Christians around with a solid Bible background. It's hard to find an accountability partner to share all your problems with when you barely know their language. It's hard to raise your kids to follow God instead of the world when they are the only Christian kids at school and have very few, if any, kids their age at church. Now, all these things are more difficult to do, but thankfully God isn't limited by circumstances, and the missionaries here are making it work.
One major weakness of mine is self-motivation. I can't motivate myself to do hardly anything. I need other people in my life to challenge and push and encourage me. And so it's great back home, being involved with different bible studies and things. But, I know there will be times in my life when I am alone, times when people let me down, times when I leave the country for a few months. And I so I want to have a faith that thrives from being motivated by the body, but also thrives during periods where I may be less connected to the body. And so my prayer request right now is that God would enpower me and give me the motivation to stay in the word and to seek Him in all that I do. Always giving the glory to God.
And so, when I get back home, I resolve not to take forgranted all the different opportunities for fellowship with the body, but to take advantage of them for all they're worth. And I thank God for the blessing of growing up with so many other believers in my life. And I pray for all those who have given up that blessing in order to go to a new culture with the purpose of building up a body of believers there. I pray that God would bless them as they have made that sacrifice for his call.
While I was finishing up these last four paragraphs, just editing and cleaning them up a little bit, there was a knock on my door and Tim, a missionary here studying at the language school invited me over to dinner at their cabin with him and his wife. Fellowship. (although I have been getting plenty of fellowship over meals while I've been here, it's the deeper stuff that's been lacking) After we ate I was talking with Tim and I mentioned the desire to find a small group or bible study for while I'm here. He exclaimed "I've been wanting to start one up!"
Hm, could this be God's way of enpowering me and giving me the motivation I need, which I asked for above? Could the other missionaries who are here at the camp have the same needs I have? Now I don't know if we'll actually be successful in getting one going. BUT, God ought to be careful in answering my prayer requests so quickly or else I might not feel the need to give them out for others to pray with me! Haha, seriously though, I ask you to pray that if having a small bible study among the few men that are here at camp would be beneficial, then God would place the desire on their hearts to get involved, and that we could find an open time in everyone's busy schedule to meet.
I hope all is well back home and I am looking forward to returning, but not before my time here is up.