I learned many important things on this trip.
First, jet lag is much more difficult to overcome on the return trip.
Second, when your suitcase is too heavy, remember that one pair of blue jeans is more important than all those cute skirts and shorts you packed.
Third, my God is more Amazing than I can ever possibly know.
(Grab a cup of coffee now. This is going to be a long post...)
Tuesday's Karaoke adventure kept us up so late that we decided to sleep in on Wednesday morning. Rebecca and Mr. Yeager met with a friend at 10:00 to visit the store where she works.
Evie and I took a walk around campus before lunch and prayed. We prayed for the students who attend the school - that Jesus would be revealed to them on this campus. We prayed that the instructors would grow closer to God through this school. We prayed that the students would continue to come to the Ogawas ministry at UpTen. And we prayed that the relationships that we had formed during our visit would continue.
Before and during the trip, we prayed for the seeds that God would plant through us in the students' hearts. We prayed for those that would come along after us to water them. And we prayed for their eventual fruit. We prayed that a Bible Study would be formed on Campus, not as an academic class or as a social club, but out of a true desire to know Jesus more personally.
On our prayer walk, Evie and I happened upon the dormitories at the back of campus. We prayed for the students that would be entering those places, that they would feel a peace in their hearts in this Christian place.
We all met the students for one last cafeteria lunch at noon. We had questions about where to go for our last souvenirs, and they wanted us to teach them some American slang (they had been practicing their proper English for two whole weeks, and it was time for some fun). We introduced them to phrases like "Whazzup!", "LOL", and "Are you gellin'?" We narrowly stopped Joe from teaching them "ain't"!
After lunch, they played one last game of frisbee together, in spite of the bitter cold weather that day!
One of the students took us shopping near the train station. We did our final shopping at Selva, a multi-story indoor mall. There, we found treats ranging from hand-made traditional Japanese candy to Starbucks!
Back at UpTen, the students gathered to see Michael and Josh off, since they had to take an evening train to Tokyo in order to make their early morning flight. We were presented with more gifts - coin purses for the girls and traditional fans for the guys.
Rebecca had tried three beans of natto on a previous trip and was determined to eat an entire serving of natto this time. Somehow, she located a container and everyone tried a bite before she finished it off. This article may help to explain the look on her face:
After Michael and Josh left for the train station, the girls went over to our apartment for a Japanese-themed Girls Night. They taught us the proper method for making miso soup.
"Itadakimasu" is a phrase spoken before every meal which means "Thank-you for the meal" or "I will gratefully receive" or "Let's eat". The girls put on an amazing feast for us!
After we were stuffed, the girls taught us some origami, traditional Japanese paper folding.
They also introduced us to calligraphy, a traditional Japanese art form that demonstrates the proper way to write characters. The girls bought us each a new brush and figured out how we should write our names with them.
As Evie, Rebecca, and I were preparing for this trip, we each made several crochet scarves to bring with us to give as gifts. Each girl was given a scarf and a Jesus Film to take home. I hope that the girls watch the film and take it to heart and that they will remember it every time they wear their scarves.
Normally, the story would have ended when the party ended. But God had very different plans.
One thing to know about the Japanese is that they are always prompt. They just can't stand tardiness. But one girl, whom we will call Karen, decided to come to the party that evening, even though she knew that she would be late. Karen is a Japanese Christian and a good friend of the Ogawas, shown here in a photo with Rebecca:
Another friend, whom we will call Sarah, is a girl whom Rebecca began to form a close relationship with at Guys Club last Thursday. Sarah invited Rebecca and Mr. Yeager to a party on Friday evening so that Mr. Yeager could do some magic tricks for them. (His illusions help to illustrate the message of Salvation). Here is a picture of Sarah preparing soba noodles earlier in the evening:
After everyone else had left, Sarah and Karen stayed behind. Earlier in the week, Sarah had been sharing with Rebecca that her Grandfather, who had passed away several years ago from cancer, had accepted Christ as his Savior when he was diagnosed. Her grandmother and her mother had also come to know Jesus. But her father was still Buddhist. Sarah attended a Baptist church, but she had not decided what to believe. "Maybe I will believe nothing," she had said.
Karen had asked Rebecca what her favorite Bible verse was and then wrote it in Japanese on a lovely bookmark as a gift. When she asked Evie the same, I knew that she would ask me too. I always have trouble when someone asks me my favorite Bible verse, because they're *all* my favorite! So I ran upstairs "to get something" and sat down with my Bible and asked God to show me a verse that would bring Him glory. He showed me Psalms 62:1-2. I told Karen that it was my favorite.
Rebecca began sharing with Sarah that we need Jesus because of our sin. She used an illustration similar to the Navigators Bridge to Life found here:
to demonstrate how man and God are separated by a great chasm filled with sin and that Jesus' sacrifice is the only way across. When asked where you put yourself on this illustration, most people put themselves on either the man side or the God side. But Sarah pointed to the bottom of the chasm, filled with sin.
At this point, I realized why God had shown me the verse in Psalms, which I shared with Sarah: "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken."
Evie and I excused ourselves to go pray upstairs. We were nearly bursting from praying silently in the living room. We prayed that God would continue to soften Sarah's heart and that He would give Rebecca just the right words to say to her.
God guided Rebecca to many verses that explained to Sarah that Jesus could take the sin from her heart and fill it to overflowing with His love. One passage seemed to stump Sarah in English, so Rebecca asked Karen to bring her Japanese language Bible over for them to read together in Japanese. After Sarah had read God's Words in her mother tongue, her heart lept. She embraced Rebecca and exclaimed that Yes, Yes, Yes, she understood the verse! Sarah was shown Christ that night.
Pray that Sarah will continue to seek Jesus and learn more about Him so that she will come to know Him personally.
When she prayed (in Japanese), Sarah used the word "subarashii" 6 times - this word has no exact equivalent in English, but means something like "more than magnificent".
Praise God! All this time, we had been praying only for seeds, but God allowed us see fruit! Remember to pray big, fellow Christians, because our God is bigger than anything we can ask or imagine!
Have I told you lately...
how Amazing my God is?
how Magnificent my God is?
how Wonderful my God is?
how 'Subarashii' my God is?
how Awesome my God is?