It isn't often that missionaries and pastors can coordinate their schedules to spend time together just for fun and fellowship. So it was a treat to spend time with Pastor and Mrs. Iwagami and their family on Thursday evening! Our main food was Indian Curry! Mmmmmm, we are thankful for the variety of foods that the Lord created. Desserts included pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate pie. A rousing game of team pictionary made for a lot of laughter and fun. Our son, Josiah, and his family are also good friends with the Iwagami family, and they were able to join us for the evening. Good times.
On Saturday, we had our English Cafe for November. This continues to be a very effective outreach. It turned out that MORE people were able to attend BECAUSE it was a 3-day holiday weekend. And yes, this is when I decided to cook up a storm for our Japanese friends. I wanted them to enjoy some of the traditional foods that often show up at our Thanksgiving table in the midwest of the USA. I didn't bake a turkey but rather a chicken and stuffing casserole, along with corn casserole, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, 7 layer salad, and traditional pumpkin pie for dessert. Here are a few photos:
|That is one giant shrimp in the middle!|
|Carl, on the far left, is here for a short-term mission, helping at the church plant of a Japanese pastor. It was our first time to meet him. Karen, Miyu, and her mom are on the top row. Kenta is in the middle of the front row.|
It was exciting to have two university students attend for the first time. Karen spent a year in Norway as an exchange student and Kenta spent almost a year in New Zealand. So they were both happy for a chance to speak in English again. Miyu and her mom and brother were a part of Agape Church quite a number of years ago. When Miyu was in about 3rd grade she read a book in her school library about Jesus. She was so interested that she asked her mother if they could visit church. Her mom found Agape on the internet. Miyu believed and was baptized several years later. But then school life took over and she quit attending during junior high and high school. She is now a sophomore at a university about 3 hours away. We were thrilled to hear that she found a church there and has been attending quite frequently. She is studying to become a nurse.
The older folks who attended talked about how they felt energized by having young people there who are just starting adult life and starting to follow their dreams. It was a very congenial group and we all had a good time. They all enjoyed tasting the various foods, many of whom had never eaten anything like it before. This was a good chance to share with them about the months leading up to Jesus' birth from the Bible. We learned that Kenta developed a special friendship with a man while in New Zealand who just happened to be a Christian pastor. So he was quite interested in learning more about Christianity. We pray that God will lead us into friendship with other adults like these. There are so many of them in Japan that they have become a new segment of Japanese society called, "returnees". People who have lived abroad and then returned to Japan. Why are they so unique? It is because once people have experienced life in other countries, it makes it more difficult for them to fit in when they return to live in Japanese society. This often leads to an openness in their hearts to friendships with others like themselves, or with foreigners who also don't fit in. Returnees are often much more open to the Gospel because they have seen or experienced life with Christians in other countries.