My weekend was filled with blessings. Unfortunately, I didn't capture any of the moments with my camera. Still, here's what went down:
Friday night, I got to "lead" our youth group, as our regular leader (Zach) wasn't there. In fact, our regular worship leader (Hannah) wasn't there, either! So Ayu filled in on guitar, and me and Halleluyah provided the vocals. It was blessed. Then, since it was just me and Halleluyah, the teaching was very laid back. I taught out of Mark 14, about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was supposed to get into Peter's denial and more, but time got away on us. It was cool to do a one-on-one teaching, because I got to ask personal questions and answer some of his questions, too. Good times!
Then Saturday morning, I got up early and made bentos with Josh and Joe... this time it was chicken cutlets... they tasted good, but I think the ones from 2 weeks ago were better. In the afternoon I went over to my buddy Eric's place to try and help him with his internet problem. He's a computer wizard, so it wasn't the technical side I was there for, but rather the language part. Despite our best efforts, no progress was made. But it was still good time spent with a brother that I really want to get to know better. In the evening, I went to a dinner function put on by the PTA from Bito, my old work place. They had a "farewell" to old teachers and "welcome" to new teachers. It was a lot of fun! Two major blessings from that evening: 1) I got a gift from them - a Ryukyu Glass plate, it's really pretty. 2) One of my former co-workers, who grew up going to church, expressed an interest in coming to Calvary Chapel Ginowan sometime! I didn't even prompt him to do so - so I know it was all God's goodness and the Holy Spirit working in his life! Finally, the night ended with karaoke. My buddy Josh is leaving for Australia (some sort of military training) for 6 weeks starting tomorrow, so we had to go one last time. Unfortunately I lost my voice after one song, but I still persisted for an hour. Good times!
Sunday was "the usual" in a sense. Church in the morning, chilling in the afternoon, and church in the evening. This Sunday I got to share on 2 Samuel 9. If you want to check out the notes, click here and then under "documents" you will find my notes. It was blessed... I'm not sure how people felt about the message, but I got quite "heated" at the end as I talked about poverty in this world. Let's be obedient to God's commands, and help one another - showing no favoritism or bias towards the more affluent.
Monday, May 21, 2007
This morning, I got to drive down to Naha International Airport once again. I dropped off Matt Davis this time. Matt came to us a little late in the semester, but grew spiritually throughout the semester. I enjoyed my time with him a lot. He may not have been the most studious, but he certainly grew to love the Japanese language and people by the end of his stay here. Matt is on his way back to the States right now (he's probably on a bus from Haneda Airport to Narita Airport up in Tokyo as I type this), and will spend the summer there before returning to Okinawa for another semester at the Bible college, Lord willing! I hope he can come back! See you soon, Matto!
Wow, this Saturday night I got together with some teachers I hadn't seen in 7-8 years. In fact, of the people who were at the dinner party, I had only seen 2 of them in the past 7 years, and they're both current co-workers! It was awesome to see my old Ie-jima friends again. They're all teaching in different schools across the island, and occasionally get together for food and drinks. When they heard that I was still on island (through my current co-worker, Masashi Tamaki), they invited me out with them. Here we are, after a delicious dinner. Pictured (L to R): Hiromi Tanaka (English teacher), Aaron Toussaint (current co-worker), Takeshi Chinen (English teacher), Hiroshi Nakasone (P.E. teacher), Trevor (Canadian), Masashi Tamaki (Social Studies @ Okisho), Yasushi Asato (Japanese teacher).
Saturday, May 19, 2007
No, no no! It's not "sayonara" (goodbye), it's "mata ne" (see you again)! Matt Gaston has been an amazing blessing in the lives of many people in Okinawa. He came here as a Bible college student in late January, but is leaving as a missionary to Calvary Chapel Iwakuni. Matt is a skilled guitar player, singer, film maker, and even Japanese speaker! He was probably the student who spoke the most Japanese outside of class, among my guy and gals I taught this semester. It was such a blessing to know him closely, and I know we will be in each other's prayers. We will likely even visit each other, Lord willing!
(Pictured: Natsuki, Matt, Trevor, and the stuff Matt wasn't allowed to take on the plane - old WWII bullets found in a cave on Okinawa)
The Bible college students start leaving in about, oh, 5 minutes. Last night we went out for karaoke one last time. For some, it was one first time! We had an amazing good time. Here are some of the pics of our fun. The first pic is of Matt and Nate. Then we have Gerson and Gen. Lastly, Erin and Amber. I didn't get Cacie, Josh, Michael or myself in any good pics, so you'll just have to imagine us belting out the tunes!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Last night the Bible College students and all those involved in the college gathered at On Dish in Urasoe City for a delicious meal and great fellowship. Pastor Tom delivered a short message about how we all have to conquer the city of Rabbah that the Lord has given us. Summer is not a time to slow down, relax, or lose vision for ministry. Also, each student was given a unique "award", basically for being themselves and blessing us. For instance, Matt Davis won the "Walk all over this island" award. Daniel Sedota won the "I love Romans class award" ('cause he sleeps through it a lot). And so on. I won the "I'm hot" award, but I'm not quite sure what that means! It was a blessed evening. We're gonna miss this bunch of students. Pray that the Rabbah set before them would not go unconquered. God's got great plans for these guys. Mark Starr is going to China. Matt Gaston is going to mainland Japan. Michael Snider might be back in Japan, too. Keegan's going to Israel. World-wide missions! Praise the Lord!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Last night at W2 (Worship and Word) we were blessed to have a special guest singer come from Tokyo and perform in our little cafe for a half-hour. Her name is Migiwa, and she has an amazing testimony and a beautiful voice! She played something like 4-5 songs, shared her testimony, and afterwards signed CDs and posed for pictures. Being the shy guy that I am, I didn't get my pic taken with her, though I did take her picture with a friend of mine, Captain Mark Davis. Migiwa will be in Okinawa for much of the remainder of the week. Pray that her music and life would be used by the Holy Spirit to touch the people of this island.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
This morning, my buddy Josh and I did something a little out of the ordinary. We woke up early and got together at my place to make bentos. A bento is like a "boxed lunch" type of thing. Usually its main section is rice, and it also includes a main "meat" along with some side greens. Josh is fairly new to Okinawa and the idea of bentos, so unfortunately I shot down most of his American ideas. But he and I did put together some mean meals on wheels! The meal consisted of rice (sprinkled with double-roasted sesame seeds and pickled radish), a mini-hamburger steak on a light bed of whole-wheat spaghetti, go-ya champloo (basically a stirfry of go-ya -- bitter gourd -- and tofu and spam), and steamed spinach. Given that it was our first foray into making boxed lunches, I would say they turned out quite good! Stay tuned for more details next time 'round - we plan on doing this more than once!
Monday, May 7, 2007
I went up to Tokyo for the latter half of Golden Week. The trip was somewhat spur-of-the-moment, but it was well worth it! I do not care for the city itself - so big, busy, and impersonal. But the purpose of my visit made the whole thing worth it. Calvary Chapel had a pastors' and leaders' conference, which I was blessed to be invited to. Pastor Tom has more pictures and even a video of the trip, so check out his blog. But here is the breakdown of the trip, as well as a few pictures of my own. We arrived in Tokyo on Thursday early afternoon, and went to Shinjuku, one of the major hubs of Tokyo. We went to the Japanese Twin Towers, where we got to see the city from the 45th floor. It's amazing how many buildings there are - practically as far as the eye can see in all directions! Then we met up with Tom's aunt Ayuko. She took us out for dinner to a really fancy tempura restaurant. The food was so good! At night, we stayed at Pastor Travis Takamiya's church in Tokorozawa, which is just outside the Tokyo area. The next day was a full one, with 3 messages and one workshop. The messages came out of Ephesians 1-3, and were given by missionaries from the States. But the last one was actually delivered by a local pastor, Chizuo Sakurai. He is filled with the Holy Spirit, and I really felt the Lord speaking to me through his words. The workshop I attended was entitled "Practical Christian Living" and also kind of kicked my spiritual butt. Pastor Katsumi Santo of West Tokyo is also a man filled with fire, and I really enjoyed sitting in on his teaching. That evening we went to Costco and pigged out. One of the missionaries from Australia almost polished off an entire 18" (45cm) pizza by himself! Lucky he's still young and burns that stuff off really easily! The next day we only got to attend one session, which was on Ephesians 4. The entire trip was so blessed, and I believe that myself, Pastor Tom, and Michael Snider (Bible college student and future missionary to Japan) grew immensely those 2 days!
Last Monday was the beginning of "Golden Week" for me in Japan. Golden Week is a string of consecutive national holidays, allowing people to travel or just relax with their families. (Sadly, I had a work day during the week... but it was a fun day.) To celebrate Golden Week, I went to Ie-jima, my old stomping grounds. I spent the entire day with Pastor Fumio Nomura and his wife, Mariko. I also got to meet their daughter, Yui, for the first time in 7 years! Last time I saw her, she was 7 years old... so you can imagine that she's grown quite a bit since then! It was a blessed day, and I am hoping to return there to share the Word of God with the people one of these weekends. I have much love for the people of this island, but not nearly as much love as God has for them.