A Glimpse Into My First Month In Japan

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Romans 12:4-5

Hello, everybody! Donovan here. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been a little over 3 weeks since I got here! Thank you to all of you who have been praying for my time here. I believe that there are many ways that God can do work through me while I’m here, and your prayers are certainly a big part of that!

Brian and Mia have made me feel so welcome, and I can’t thank them enough for that. It didn’t take long for me to feel like part of the family. For about the first week I was here, Hannah wasn’t so sure about me; but she has definitely gotten used to having me around. I have acquired the title “niichan”, which means big brother. I am loving my time of having a little sister, even if it is only for 2 months!

This is Natsuki. She is from the city hall, where we acquired the permit for this ministry. She has come to the “Pocket” all 3 weeks we have been there. She is very interested in returning for more English practice! Please pray that her eyes and heart are opened to the Lord through this ministry.

My first 2 weeks here I stayed busy with preparation for the Pocket Ministry (formerly known as the Train Ministry) that we recently started. That involved things like helping with printing out questions and answers, laminating all the questions and answers, and also organizing the different categories and levels. The Pocket Ministry is held every Friday evening from 5PM to 7PM in a passageway leading from the main street to a covered outdoor shopping plaza of sorts. The place we have a permit for to do the Pocket Ministry is called Galleria Pocket, hence the new name for the ministry. We pass out flyers to people walking by and invite them to come practice their English with us. When someone is up for the challenge, they pick a category (vocabulary, general, prepositions, etc.) and a level of difficulty, ranging from 1 to 5. They then read the question in English and try to figure out the correct answer (each question is taken from a Bible verse and has up to 4 choices for the answer). Once they are finished, we give them a gospel tract and a chocolate as a little gift. We have done the Pocket Ministry for 3 weeks now and have had a fair amount of people showing interest in taking a little bit of time to practice their English. The goal for this ministry is to get people like Natsuki (pictured on right) to come back every week so we can spend more time talking to them about Christ. Please pray that those who read the verses and gospel tracts will be able to understand them and, as a result, give their lives to Christ.

Organizing questions for the Pocket Ministry

We were able to join a group of volunteers in helping out at a local orphanage for several hours this past Sunday afternoon. We sang with the children, helped them with a craft, and also played a game with them. Going to the orphanage is a once-a-month occurrence, and this was the first time we were able to go. We hope to continue this ministry of spending time with the children and showing them that they are loved. We had such a good time with the children, even though it did get rather noisy at times. It was so heartbreaking to see their sad faces when it was time for all of us volunteers to leave. Please pray that these children can feel the presence of their Heavenly Father.

Singing at the oprhanage

One of the most difficult things for me so far has been the language barrier. It can get discouraging at times, like at the Pocket Ministry or at the orphanage when I want to be able to talk to people, but I can’t. Romans 12:4-5 has been a good reminder for me though. If you didn’t catch it at the beginning of the post, it says, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” While I’m here in Japan, I can’t necessarily be the mouth since I have a very limited Japanese vocabulary, and I can only learn a fairly small amount of Japanese in two months. On the bright side, I can still serve as the hands or maybe the feet of the body of Christ. Whether that’s behind the scenes work for the Pocket Ministry or playing games with the children at the orphanage even though I can’t really talk to them, I can still have an impact on the ministries we are involved in as long as I do my part. If each part of the body of Christ works together, much can be accomplished. I may not be able to speak Japanese fluently, but that isn’t going to stop me from letting God work through me to have an impact while I’m here.

Suwa Yakata-ato Garden at the Asakura Family Ruins

I have been able to experience some of the Japanese culture and also some of the beautiful scenery! For example, last Saturday, we spent the day out and about. First we went a Shinto shrine that was having a matsuri festival, celebrating the Autumn Equinox. Then for the rest of the day, we visited the Asakura Family Ruins, a castle town that that was thriving way back in the 1500s. It was very fascinating to see a real-life imitation of how they lived when the town was thriving. I look forward to taking in more of the beauty God created in Japan!

Overall, I have been thoroughly enjoying my time here. I can’t wait to see, learn, and eat many more things while I’m here. I look forward to seeing what else God will do in me and also through me during the second half of my trip! Thank you all so much for praying!

All Things (Done) Work Together For Good

And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Jam 2:16

So far this has been an exceptionally busy summer for everyone. With residential updates, paperwork, taxes, paperwork, ministry, and more paperwork, we have a lot to report. First, I guess I’ll start with the things here in Japan.

With having passed the cusp of 1 year of residence, there has been a tremendous amount of things to do, change, and update. First of all was our visas themselves. Normally teachers have 3 year visas – though we were only granted 1 year ones with our school, so we had to get them renewed. Also, we are increasingly left to ourselves to handle local affairs (like this), without the help of a translator. The mandatory help that we were given was also not until one day before our visas expired – increasing the pressure significantly. After going back and forth to two towns about four times in a couple of days, we were thankfully barely able to get out visas extended on the very last day before we would have been staying illegally in the country. With the way that it was handled, we now see why Immigration apparently only gives us at our school a year at a time! – We were again only given a 1 year visa. Next time we hope to take the initiative ourselves to avoid so much of trouble. Phew.

Also because of staying here for over a year, we now are expected to pay Japanese-level residency taxes (in addition to the national insurances). What we have read is true – because of the now-severe age and work imbalance in Japan, both premiums are extremely high, making family life a financially difficult one. We are no longer exempt from this burden.

Our new bedroom. This apartment costs about the same as the old one, but with much more space

To help ease some of the expense, (again, because a year has passed) we have been able to get released from some of our contracts, though with some penalties. We changed cell phone carriers, got a credit card, and also moved to downtown Fukui from Eiheiji. In the long-term this will lower our expenses, but it has incurred a lot of upfront costs. Also, in Japan, changing residence cities is a big deal. You have to take countless steps to prove that you’re leaving in good standing with your current town, show proof of your payments/finances, etc. Then you have to cancel your insurance and registration in that town, shut-off your typical utilities, and terminate your rental agreement. After that you then have to re-register everything in your new town. The Japanese say it’s difficult – and that’s with being fluent in Japanese. This also nearly all had to be done without a translator, and we thank the Lord very much that it is all basically all done with! With that said, if you need it, please see our new address here, or you can find it on the blog menu.

2Chome13-5 3rd Floor
Bunkyo, Fukui City
Fukui Prefecture, Japan 910-0017

When I said earlier that “everyone” has been busy, I don’t just mean the three of us. We certainly need to acknowledge the very very hard work of the others who have been physically laboring greatly over our affairs in the States! There has been trouble both handling and keeping a reliable tenant in our trailer, and it has been both a financial stress as well as a constant burden for those involved. Though it wasn’t an easy decision, we agreed to sell our home. We want to praise the Lord that it was sold speedily and should no longer be the continual problem that it was on everyone. The sale is also very timely as it will help offset the problems mentioned above. Thank you to all of you who had a part to help with this. By helping us be free of financial and other burdens it frees us to focus much more on doing what we need to to spread the gospel to the lost in Japan. Thank you.

Four varied drawings of a Bible scene

In regards to ministry, we have a couple of updates. We received the first clothing shipment we ordered for outreach. Mia first created these for general evangelism, though we also plan to use them in conjunction with a new train ministry that we hope we can do
very shortly. They simply invite people to converse with us in English, while using the Bible to teach them. There is also a friend in the U.S. who is currently working on artwork for the Bible train evangelism. We are really looking forward to starting these first real evangelistic projects, and we ask for your prayers for the Holy Spirit to draw men unto the Lord through them! We are also in the process of figuring out the legalities required to do this, and we appreciate your prayers for wisdom and an open door. We are also very appreciative to the family who volunteered to pay for this project. We know the Lord will bless you just as much for doing your part for the Kingdom! Some in the Body of Christ are the feet, while others are the hands.

Mia’s long sleeve version of one of the shirts

Additionally, we are very excited to have one of the young men from our church join us for a little while for a missions trip to Fukui! He has a great heart for the Lord, and we are both praying for and looking forward to what God will do through him while he is here! Please pray for him and his journey!

Mia (and Hannah??) sanding and beginning prep for the guest room.

Also as a quick update from my last post: I did have several tests performed at the hospital. It was apparently true that the American doctor performed a surgery on something I never had, and that my symptoms are the result of my muscles not properly healing from a childhood operation. There may not be a way to repair the problem, and I may just have to adapt my life so not to further injure myself. Well, at least it’s an answer. In everything we thank the Lord!

Well, this was a rather long post, but thank you for reading it. As Autumn approaches there are many “spiritual” events coming up (including Obon (See HERE for a report from last year), and we ask for your prayers for the countless here that are deceived by the devil, that their eyes may be opened to the Lord.

LASTLY – below is a copy of the video update shown in church last week, for those who were interested who didn’t get to watch it.



Driver’s Licenses

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” –Matthew 6:26

When both of your international driving permits are about to expire and it looks a little tricky on how you are going to manage to get your Japanese driver’s licenses before the expiration date (which seems to be coming quickly), you wonder how it will ever work out in time. BUT, you remember that you have an AWESOME God who specializes in miracles. BUT, you also remember that you have an AWESOME God that may give you a bit of a different answer than what you were hoping for. Not because He is cruel and doesn’t want you to have the things needed but there may be some lesson in it all that you can get from the experience. Praise the Lord! So here is our experience of getting our driver’s licenses (DL).

Some of the first steps of the process is to send your U.S. DL into JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) so they can translate it. As soon as you get your translation back, you need to call in and set up an appointment to have an interview done. We ended up making the appointments first because we were told it would probably be awhile to get the interviews. So Brian went in and set up two appointments and it wasn’t looking too favorable as they only had a single opening 2 days before the expirations, and one that was open in July (1 ½ to 2 month wait time). Brian needed his license first considering he is the primary driver because of work. So he booked himself for the first one and booked me for the second option. We then sent in our U.S. DL to get translated at the beginning of May, and to our surprise, they came back about 6 days later (generally about a two week process).

Hannah got her driver’s license long before us!

Lets move on to 2 days after we received the translations. We enjoy riding bike and take the chances when we can while the weather is nice. So for some odd reason, Brian decided to take the bike to work. But there were some things wrong with him taking the bike that day (but also some things right.) 🙂

Wrong thing #1: Brian only had 35 minutes to get to work. The bike ride is around 45 minutes from our apartment. Thankfully, he pedaled fast enough and got there in 25 minutes. He also had all this equipment and materials that he needed to strap to the bike which does take time.

After teaching his morning classes, he had his usual teacher’s meeting at an “unusually early” time . During the teacher’s meeting, Brian brought up the concern to our boss (Hiroko) that because of the time that the interview is to be, it would be a problem for him to drive to his classes. Wondering what options there are to help this problem. So Hiroko just called the driving center and by the end of the phone conversation, we found out that they changed his interview to that actual day (5/12/17) not (6/12/17)… but it was in an hour!

Wrong thing #2: Brian doesn’t have the car! He has to get to the driving center but he also needs all the documents that are required for the interview (which were at home with Hannah and I). There was not enough time by bike to get every thing.

So he called me.

Right thing: The car was left with me and so were those documents! (Really not meant to be a prideful statement, promise.) He asked that I’d come pick him up with the documents and we’d go to the driving center for the interview. My problem was that Hannah was still napping and we don’t like to wake her up, if possible. But he assured me that she needed woken up. So just as soon as I hung up, Hannah woke up. I was wondering “Should I get her dressed?”, “I need a shower. Should I take a super quick one? No really, Brian needs this ASAP!”, “Should I put up my hair?”, “What if for some odd reason, they can take me with him? I better take my documents!” So here we are rushing out the door. Get to the school and… Brian isn’t there! Come to find out Hiroko took him just so he could at least be present on time. So Hannah and I made it over to the center and Brian comes out and is smiling walking over to the car. Opens Hannah’s door and I open up mine to give him the papers and he goes, “Just to make it more crazy, how about you join me for the interview.” (Glad I did decide to put on that deodorant!) Because Hiroko took Brian, she was able to talk to the people at the center to let me have the interview with him. But we were definitely NOT preparted. We thought we had all this time to prepare.

We went in and had our interviews. We find it a bit strange though that they didn’t ask us about any accidents while in the U.S. because they were suppose to. But in a way, that made it much easier because to remember all the dates and such things aren’t that easy. (Not that we had THAT many.) So we get a call a few days later to let us know that we passed! Hurray!

We both had our written and driving test May 31st. While we both passed the written test, we failed the driving test. The test isn’t like in the States where you have to drive logically but rather, they give you a series of irregular rules that they just want you to follow. But when you have all these rules, you have difficulty with doing everything just right. But they told us what we did wrong. I won’t embarrass anyone but someone drove one-handed and drove over the speed limit as soon as they left the parking spot. The instructor instantly failed them. (We both drive one-handed a lot of times and do our best to stay under the speed limit.)

So we both took our tests again on June 14th. I passed but Brian failed. He was going to have his own personal driver for at least the next two weeks until he cou

ld take his test again and hopefully pass. But wait!

Hiroko has a way of pulling strings! She was able to get him to take his drivers test on the 16th. Such a rare exception! Only God could have worked that out! But Brian passed on June 16th. Only 15 hours of him not being able to legally drive.

While in some ways, you feel a bit defeated and can’t figure out why someone wouldn’t pass, you later realize maybe why. During the days that we failed, we got opportunities to talk to someone about Jesus and/or just give them gospel tracts. Also, a while back we met a girl, “R” (we’ll say “R” as we didn’t get permission from her to use her name), who is with one of the churches that we are in connections with and she actually helped us understand what the process wo0uld look like to getting the licenses. She works as an ALT teacher here in Japan. We don’t get to spend much time with her as she is usually very busy with work. “R” had to take her test a few times before but she was there taking her (hopefully) last test. She was very nervous, and of course just wanted to pass. Brian and “R” talked and she expressed the concerns about the testing and also the fact that she was also here for ministry purposes. So Brian prayed with her. Both took their tests. And yes, she passed as well. 🙂 Later, while we went out as a celebration, “R” said that she felt it was a time from God. We would not have had this good time to connect if it wasn’t for the two failures.

So thank you again to those who prayed for us in getting our licenses. I’m not sure if we’ve said this before but we certainly mean it when we say that we can’t do the things here if it weren’t for the prayers of you to our Father.

Again, we truly have an AWESOME God! We just want to praise Him for the things that we ourselves truly can’t do without Him. The only reason we can drive in the first place is because He gave us the bodies to move. To see. To understand. Praise the Lord!

That ye might know our affairs

“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.” – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)


If you read the quotes before my posts, you’ll usually find a quote from Scripture. This time, however, I’d like to look at Japan from a different perspective than from our usual viewpoint. Other quotes I could use for this post could perhaps be, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes”, or “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”. Jesus teaches us not to judge according to the outward appearance, and I want to share a little bit about our shoes/beam/thoughts here that you might not yet understand, just as there are many things that you experience that we don’t understand.


What I mean to say is, it’s sometimes impossible to quite understand someone else’s situation without actually going through them. That’s one good reason why a bishop has to be married and to have raised children well- he could no way understand someone who he needs to counsel, if he himself didn’t have experience! It is certainly true – you have no idea what it’s like to be married unless you are actually married, or what it’s like to raise children unless you actually have some (some of you might say amen to that one)! But likewise, the same is true about being on a mission field. Getting to the point, that is what I want to share with you this time – a little of our real struggles and obstacles.


One of the main reasons that we are here is also one of our bigger difficulties: there not being many Christians. Within the greater Fukui area there are only three-or-so churches that we are aware of – ours, a Catholic church, and one that has women “preachers and elders”. One of America’s christians’ weaknesses is good doctrine. Paul said to earnestly contend for the faith, and to take heed to sound doctrine. Here there is barely any doctrine to contend for in the first place. There are hardly enough people to carry a/the church, and there is rarely someone that we can go to when we need help. Going to church service here is rarely strengthening, and often times the opposite. We often find ourselves alone in our problems, which at times, is extremely difficult. Most of those that we trust, can communicate easily with, and understand us, are oceans away. This is perhaps Mia’s greatest battle here: not having someone else to console in. There is rarely a reprieve for her from this.  As we think and pray for others facing this on the mission field, this problem is certainly a realer struggle than many might realize.


Something else (that we’ve slightly mentioned before) is a problem specific to Japan – an extreme workaholic system. We recently shared an article on Facebook (http://www.businessinsider.com/japan-fertility-crisis-2017-4) that does a decent job at describing a little of its effect. Japan’s outlook on work not only creates several other problems, but also fuels itself. Because the majority consensus expects employees to work often without days off or sometimes even allowing time to return home for the night, people have less time (as well as interest) for getting married – much less having children.

Takashima Shrine we visited on our Kyoto trip

Japan’s work nature is also perhaps the leading reason why Japan has nearly one of the highest suicide rates in the world. These two things jointly have started putting the country in an increasing population shortage – which also means that there are less employees available, forcing current ones to work even more. This is not a problem that we ourselves have been exempt from. At the times that I am needed most for family or to be available for ministry is when I am sometimes required away for work doing extra hours. Especially in light of the previous paragraph, not having much time is one of the bigger problems that I face. Just this past weekend we got our first (and only) vacation day for the contract year, so we got to spend three days in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Practically the entire city is devoted to the gods (or to the aspiration of becoming one), and I expect that we’ll share more about it in the next post.


And, of course, to be expected is the language. For my age I have a lot of (often humorous) amount of health issues – some of which are minor and some of which are more significant. However, what things are trivial in the States is very different here, and trying to get medical treatment is not so easy (did I mention not being able to get time for things?). One thing that is nice, however, is being in a country with advanced technology, education, and standards. I have had some sort of problem in my abdomen for a couple of years now, but it has been getting worse over time. I had several examinations and an hernia surgery performed in the U.S., however it turned out that the doctor did the surgery in a completely different area than where my problem was, and did not actually operate on the correct thing. Since having moved to another country, my problem has only gotten worse and we still receive more bills to pay for the malpractice. I made one visit to a general practitioner here in Japan, had the same kind of test on the same area, and he found an abnormality that none of the doctors found in the U.S. Though we’re doing our best to communicate, it certainly is nice that the medical system is superb. I have an appointment with the surgical department of a local hospital at the end of June, and appreciate your prayers for these things as I don’t know how difficult it will be to communicate and understand.


Lastly, I want to mention one other burden that we face, but not actually here – the affairs in the U.S. It perhaps goes-without-saying, but I’m going to say it anyway – it would be impossible to do what we are doing if it weren’t for the many who are doing what they can back in the States! From handling our finances, property matters, and other decisions, there is a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes to help make everything happen. Just like how Mia takes the “supportive” role in the family, she is irreplaceable, and without the countless things that she does, our family would not endure. In regards to ministry, your support, without a doubt, functions the same way for us in Japan. For us, it sometimes feels like a large, looming burden that things need dealt with, not just in front of us, but also all the way in the U.S. There are current challenges that are on-going, some financial, some family related, and some managerial. Thank you so much to those of you who are physically doing what you are, and to all we ask for your continued prayers, for us, and for them as well.


We often lose some of the meaning of Scripture because of the time and culture that we live in. Jesus said that “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”, and that is a truth here. The strain and obstacles are the reason we need to serve here, and the more reason that we can’t do it without your support and prayers. The Japanese people are blinded by their ideals, religion, and even their goals. We plead for your prayers for the 128 million people here without Christ, and for us to be able to reach them, in Jesus name. Below is a song Mia and I have enjoyed over the years and we highly recommend you to listen to it. “A lifetime of labour is still worth it all if it rescues just one more soul“!


From the Beginning to…

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time… so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. -Ecc 3


This has been a month of new things and possibilities, from the weather to classes and ministry. The refreshing Spring weather has been, well, refreshing. All of us have been going on so many outings recently – so much, in fact, that I`ve discovered yet another health problem – my knee! Several years ago I was involved in a motorcycle accident that damaged my right arm and leg. I think it may be beginning to finally catch-up with me. Hannah`s cough is also still there, but it seems to (very) gradually be getting better. Thank you to those of you who prayed for her! Mia also has the occasional health troubles, but I suppose all of this is just what age brings. We may be saved from the “law of sin”, but not yet “the law of death”, I suppose. But moving on, here are the ministry updates.


Also, thank you so much to all of you who recently sent both Easter items and future items to us! We are extremely appreciative of your help to spread “tidings of good news”; the things sent have already had quite an effect! Hannah has also been greatly enjoying the things many of you sent for her! We have been able to share the gospel with many people using the sweets that you sent us! The chocolate crosses, candy and plastic eggs, and other items were all used to introduce the concept of everlasting life to children and adults. One of my adult students, after hearing about how Christ died and resurrected, said that she “never heard that before”. This is a woman who is almost in her 70`s saying that she has never heard the gospel before in her life. We are frequently reminded of truly how big the void is of Christ in Japan. We are so blessed to be a part with you to reach so many that are without the Lord.

A young child reading a gospel tract at Pencil Park

As mentioned in the last post, we did put in the order for the motion gospel tracts from Moments With the Book (http://mwtb.org). We received two types, one which has three images when tilted, and tells three short messages that first, God created us, second sin separates us, and third that Jesus died for us (along with supporting graphics that change with each tilted image). The other tract is a two-image tract that changes from saying “NO JESUS NO PEACE” to “KNOW JESUS KNOW PEACE”. They are made quite well and they have been of great use already! We have gone from rarely being able to give the gospel to strangers because of the culture, to needing to restock the tracts we take out with us daily because they are such a great tool to talk about Christ! It looks like we will need another (bigger) order of them sooner than later! We are so thankful that the Lord lead us to these tracts! Above is just one picture from Mia and I getting a recent opportunity to talk to children about the Lord. They are already intrigued that we are not Japanese, on top of not expecting to talk to us in Japanese, they then are very open to see and hear what we have to say. Japanese adults also have an…. interesting fascination, I`ll call it, with English, and love to use it in small ways (even when it`s incredibly wrong)! This interest also works very well with these tracts, as we are able to explain the mean and give it to them as an “English resource” – and they are usually very eager to receive. Please keep praying for a continued open door to utter the gospel in this way and more!

The Japanese love to delve into the English language… this attempt can be found on a wall at the city shopping mall.

We recently had a meeting with our pastor here to discuss a possible church English lesson during the summer. It would involve an outreach to school students in the form of a Bible-based introductory English class. There are still details to be determined, but we will plan to give an update on this soon.


As you probably already know, we have been looking for a place to relocate to that would be better for several reasons. Moriai-san has been our primary helper in scouting-out places. The most recent of rental house seemed perfect – great size, good area, affordable, and pet friendly. However, someone else signed a contract before we could. Agreeing to trust the Lord for a better place, ironically, Moriai decided to move into one of the houses we looked at some time ago. Previously he rented an apartment above the school – an apartment that we actually have a lot of interest in. I spoke with the landlord (who happens to be one of my students) and we took a look at it today. It would be quite extraordinarily orchestrated from God if it turns out to be the right place to move to. We are asking for wisdom on this and will again plan to give an update in the next post.


Hannah got her “official” license from the JAF driving agency already!

Lastly we want to ask for prayer in regards to getting driving licenses here. We currently have international permits which allow us to drive in Japan for a year, but they are expiring soon and we are starting the (complicated!!) process of “starting over again” here. America is one of the few countries that Japan does not accept a simple license transfer, so we have to take two tests, as well as perform an actual driving test all over again. Japan is also notorious for failing international drivers the first several times on purpose (for a reason we are not exactly sure). A fellow missionary here even said that she had to take the driver’s test over ten times! Please ask the Lord to allow us quick approval for this, if you would.


Well, there are again more things we could mention but we’ll leave for another post. Also, please also take a moment to look at our prayer list for a couple of new areas that need your prayers. Thank you for your faithful support and prayers, and if there is anything you would like to know, we’d love to hear from you!

How are the Spratts?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Eph. 1:3

We are certainly blessed. Not just spiritually but physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even though what I may say might seem to show otherwise. Ha. But that is a part of life. While our bodies are not perfect (ask Brian!), we have a Perfect God who knows all about those things!

This post will be about us. Yikes!!! We prefer to use this blog page for updates on ministries but I’m sure there are some people out there who would like to know some of the things going on with us personally. Not personally like, “I haven’t had a shower in a week” or the popular facebook joke post, “I just went to the bathroom”. But the other type of “personally”. Our physical health. Mental, emotional. How teachings are going, etc.

It seems like the flu has been going around here and a friend church, about half of their members got it. Also, Hannah and I got it. Boy, that wasn’t fun. While Hannah had the flu, we also think that she was teething pretty hard at the same time. She ended up getting a low grade fever for just a little over a day. Maybe two days. I love that she gets clingy and wants to sleep on you during those times. Obviously, the side that I don’t like about those times is that she feels rotten. She has recovered quicker than I have. I’m now just starting to taste my food and drink again. Although, with my taste back now, still being a bit sick, I feel like I’m tasting boogers. Haven’t eaten those in years. But anyways, onto better details.

Brian has been doing well. He continues to have his “prophet” or “visionary” personality. You can read all about the 3 types of men and women from Debi Pearls “Personality Types”.http://nogreaterjoy.org/blogs/preparingtobeahelpmeet/about/personality-types/

While somedays, I think he really has some out the box ideas BUT as long as God is putting them there, I just love the fact that he will follow them. (I mean, WE’RE IN JAPAN!!!) 🙂 As far as his health… where to start? We’re pretty sure for his 30th birthday, he’ll be getting partials. He already has about 4 or 5 teeth missing. And right now, we’re just getting any cavities that we both have filled. (The dentists office in Japan seems to be better as far as the wait time is shorter and they do it in parts rather than all at once.) Another health problem is that he went in for surgery about 2 years ago to get a hernia fixed. We’re actually pretty sure that the doctor just gave him another hernia instead of fixing the original. The incision was actually at his belly button. His hernia was not close to the belly button. So it has never felt right since then. But now these hernias seems to be giving him problem; he is having more pains daily. He calls it his gremlins. They don’t like him sneezing or exercising. We still have yet to navigate the medical field, as in the hospital.

Something else health wise but not personally Brian’s health, is the health of his mother. It is a mess and it is a bigger story to explain everything but it is in the forefront of just daily life. While he is concerned about the outcome of this issue but he is also trying to neutrally help with some problems. Not an easy thing when you’re not there. Otherwise, prayer for much wisdom in all aspects of this would be much appreciated.

But on a better note, he loves teaching. He will tell you that teaching your own language makes you realize how much of your own language you don’t know because “it’s always been that way for us”. Also, he’s using the times that he can to tell his students about Christ when it’s the appropriate timing. American holidays seem to be the best.

Oh, lets see. For me, I’m still teaching a 3 year old. There are days where it can be very exciting because she seems to be understanding and paying attention. Then there are days where she just wants to look into spaces and jump around everywhere and you spend almost the entire class trying to get her attention. So the days that she focuses is extremely exciting (not kidding).

Homesickness has certainly been setting in.

Otherwise, the only other thing I can really say about myself is some emotional problems I have been having. I won’t go into the back story but the days that are hard are, well… hard. Actually, yesterday and the day before were some of those days. But what has lead to having these feelings was when Brian had to put a stop to something. So all of these feelings didn’t come till after we
moved here. One thing that has been consistent through our marriage though is that I see things more as black and white. Like that, in a situation, I feel there needs to be fault somewhere and I feel it’s usually in me. There is much more to it but I don’t care to spend much time on it.

So on to the cutest member of our family! Hannah! Oh my is she growing up fast! I feel so bad for everyone back home that can’t watch her grow up in person. But thank the Lord for technology! She gets many 可愛い (cute). She started walking just a bit before her 1st birthday. She can say some words like puppy, kitty and cheese (She says cheese when she wants the camera on my phone to take a picture). But she absolutely loves animals. Particularly dogs. If she sees one outside, she asks to stand at the windowsill to watch them. And if she gets the chance, she wants to pet them. Which all that makes it exciting that the process is starting for our doggy to come here. Truly, we are so appreciative of our friends Nate, Janae, and their children for taking care of her and for getting her ready to come here.

Hannah and I try to stay out of trouble (sometimes a success, sometimes not). She loves going for bike rides. She can point things out. And since we found a gem of a park named Green Park- we’ll certainly be taking many adventures there. The park itself is so big. Many fun things to do. But if I just want her to run around and get energy out, I can just let her run free (with supervision of course) and I know that she’ll be safe.

Also, she loves music. Almost guaranteed, if she hears music, she’s dancing. She might even sing. We are fully enjoying her. We continually thank God for such a precious gift. And we continue to pray that she will love God with all her heart. God has answered everything else with her so I can’t wait to see how He answers it for her in the future. 🙂

So overall, we’re doing well. One thing we always try to remember is that even when we are going through something hard or we had something taken away, that does NOT mean that God is any less good and we are so thankful for that. Circumstances will not always be perfect. But God will always be. And when we have days when we don’t know what to do next or we feel like we’re falling apart, we just need to keep in mind “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”Rom. 8:28 We’re in this life not to live for ourselves but to live for God. We owe all to him because “he first loved us”. 1 John 4:19

Just One More Soul

Then the master said to the servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind”. (Luke 14)


Blossoming Trees at Green Park

Winter is finally starting to wane here, and with it, the bitter cold nights (and days). The temperatures only go as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit or so, but there are a couple of factors that make cold’s effects more pervious. We are literally surrounded by water, live about 25 minutes from the ocean, and with the lack of westernized heating, it can be a task just to use the toilet in the next room! A majority of the space in living and work areas are usually not conditioned in the winter or summer, leaving sometimes a huge temperature difference between rooms. Even after a certain time of the evening, if workers aren’t done working yet, bosses will completely turn off the conditioning, forcing employees to work faster in sometimes difficult conditions. Actually, that’s one thing I wanted to mention in this month’s post.


The Japanese have an incredible work ethic – certainly the greatest I know of in the world. They rarely allow idleatry into their lives; laziness and selfishness as extremely frowned upon. Mia and Hannah have both been sick recently, so I needed to postpone an evening class this past week. This was such a big deal, that Hiroko personally contacted the company’s manager to make an apology, and I also made a formal one in person. Hiroko fell in a convenience store a little while ago and also recently slipped a disk in her back, but has refused to stop working even though she can hardly sit down. Moriai, my Japanese counterpart, has spent a few nights this past month almost entirely without sleep because of work. While the ethic is very admirable, it is also extremely hazardous. Many employees are expected to work six days a week, and over 12 hours a day.


Fencing to help prohibit suicide jumping.

Moreover, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Recently, a man who worked for a well-known company committed suicide. The authorities declared it “death from overwork” – and this is not an unusual occurrence. There is a forest named あおきがはら (aokigahara) at the base of the famous Mt. Fuji, and is nicknamed the “Suicide Forest”, where hundreds of people a year go to end their lives. Japan as a whole, has almost 10 people commit suicide every day. The country has been taking measures to lower the “workaholic” situation, but it isn’t working. They even started a new initiative recently called “Premium Friday”, where workers are expected to go home early on the last Friday of each month. This past Friday I was in a supermarket and they were advertising this over the loud speakers. I asked one of the clerks how they liked it – she responded, “oh, unfortunately, we don’t do that”. I have gotten that response from every person I’ve spoken to in Japan about it.


Perhaps somewhat correlated, many young people in Japan don’t want to get married, and the country has acknowledged that is now in a population crisis as a result. Marriage is practically treated as a handicap (even in our situation), and the family relationship that we know is almost unheard-of in Japan. I have a class of older ladies that I teach, and when discussing the topic of “Premium Friday” as an English lesson, we discussed the pros and cons of being a workaholic. One of their answers was that the husband is never home; he has to spend a majority of his time away from his family and can’t even eat together with them. I was surprised by this answer, but not because it was a con, but because it was a pro. On top of it, they unanimously agreed and further elaborated. They all explained how the family is more like a pragmatic relationship than an affectionate one, and how the marriage relationship is more of a negative burden than anything – it gets in their way. Despite their general acknowledgment of this problem, they are still stuck in a cycle of life with no purpose or goal that they cannot get freedom from. This is a big obstacle for us to break through, but “if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”. Please continue to pray for their hearts to be opened.


Many past missionaries have stated throughout time that Japan is different from other mission fields. The Japanese are persistent, isolated, and driven in their work-related goals. This is extremely true. It is so true, in fact, that it is not rare to be “cut-off” by a Japanese person, both in person (like at a store) or in a vehicle, and they not even notice (this is something that still perplexes us both)! Therefore, missionaries have proposed that you cannot publically reach-out with out-reach ministries, but must take a different approach, to show them Christ. We’ve been told that preaching and traditional, Bible-based methods “just don’t work”.


We’ve prayed about and considered this thought for some time. Against my feelings, I couldn’t help but agree. Even the apostle Paul became like who he ministered to (I Cor 9:19-22). So we’ve conceded to the thought that we cannot reach many for Christ in traditional ways, but must slowly, reach the few through personal relationships. However, with somewhat better Japanese and the coming of Spring, the Lord has given a couple of opportunities to witness to children. It was enlivening. It was refreshing. It was also terribly burdening. Several times thoughts have come to me in prayer about the many that we “cannot reach”. It’s been said that if we try to reach those that we don’t first have a strong relationship with, that it will be a waste of time, and probably not work. This has never stopped bothering me, until a recent conversation Mia and I had.


It may be fact that 98% of the country is on their way to hell without Christ. It may be fact that a majority of our efforts will return unfruitful. It may also be fact that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19), but does that mean we ignore the rich? Absolutely not. It is also true that, “if you shoot for nothing you will get it every time”. If we focus on only our influence on our inner-circle of people, the otter-circle will never hear. But if we obey God’s command to “preach the gospel to every creature”, the Word of God will not return unto him void. If we spend a lifetime in “our father’s business”, and only one or two people ever accept Christ as their Lord, is that a “waste of time”? Men look “on the outward appearance”, and “mega churches” fill the globe. But God is not concerned about numbers. As in the tale of Gideon, or Saul, or when David numbered the people, and it was treated as sin against the Lord; we cannot concern ourselves with the outward probability of “success”. Many a missionary have left Japan discouraged because of the lack of visible fruit, but if God’s Spirit is working on a person’s heart, does it matter what culture or statistics say? Is not God able to break through any barrier, no matter how strong? As we receive courage, we hope that you too will be encouraged to do what you can to actively tell others about Christ, no matter what you see or don’t see. God is pleased to see his children love and serve him. We must leave the results to God.


I have been so grieved lately about seeing people in the park, or elsewhere, conversing with them, and them leaving without sharing the hope of the gospel at all, afraid of what nearly everyone says will be the expected result. I remember walking away from a particular group of young people thinking, “I didn’t witness to them, and now probably no one else in the world will, either”. In Japan it’s really true – if you don’t do it, no one else will – because there is no one else. From this point on we’ve decided to disagree with what statistics say, and do what we can to reach them, even if “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life”. Though, without denying that Japan needs a difference approach, I’ve been asking God for just the right thing. Though the Japanese people may be closed for the most part, they have a large interest in English. Children are especially excited to try their hand at what they know when they see us. It’s not uncommon to hear an enthusiastic “HAlow!!!”, when passing a group of boys or girls.  Young adults and families, too, are intrigued to interact with a foreign speaker. A gospel tract from my youth came to my mind. It was a very simple and tiny booklet entitled, “Smile! God loves you!”, with nothing but a yellow smiley on the front. Each page contained either a spiritual thought or Bible verse. So I prayed and asked God to clearly show me the way if it was his will as I began to search for this long-lost tract. It turns out that it’s been out-of-print for five years, but during my search I came across something different – “Motion Tracts”.

Motion Tract: Is Sin Separating You From God?

Motion Tracts use what’s called lenticular printing. You’ve probably seen something like it on advertising materials or different things, but it is a great idea for portraying a short gospel message while teaching a couple of English words like Sin, Separate, Death, and Life. We contacted the company that makes these, and it looks like it was the perfect timing, for a few reasons. We are currently waiting for the company to receive a shipment of several brand new types of these tracts in the next week or so for us to review, and it looks like we have a green light to order them in a couple of weeks. We are extremely excited to start using these, and we ask for your prayers for wisdom, and for the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of people to receive them.


This has already been a long post, but we thank you so much for your support and your time to read it. I would also like to solicit your prayers for Hannah. Mia and Hannah have both gotten sick recently, but Hannah has something more. She has, what we’ve believe to be whooping cough, for the last two+ months, but it isn’t getting better as expected.  We took her to a doctor and got medicine, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. At brief times she actually has difficulty breathing after sometimes a long bout of coughing, and it doesn’t seem to be the traditional things that most have considered. We’ve been recommended to take her to a specialist if it doesn’t get better once the medicine is used-up in a couple more days. Thank you for your prayers for her, as well!


Again, blessings to you as you serve the Lord where you are, and if you need prayer for anything as well, please let us know here, on Facebook, by phone, e-mail, or however!


“If just one more soul were to walk down the aisle, it’ll be worth every struggle, it’ll be worth every mile. A life time of labor is still worth it all if it rescues just one more soul!”

All Things To All Men

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier”. –II Tim 2:4


The above verse is verse significant to me, as it was a point of Scripture that the Lord first used to dramatically change my spiritual path a few years ago. It was from that starting point that I believe the Holy Spirit did a great work in the life of my family, as well as in another close family. This world is all about temptation, and for a Christian to go on a single day without this on his/her mind is like a soldier forgetting that there may be enemies along his path. The Lord reminded me of this verse today, and it reminded me of where to keep my focus, of which I am thankful. Certainly, our Lord is a God that “keeps your foot from falling”, and knows our needs. The mission field has already taught me and Mia about how God can use totally different ways and ideas to minister, of which we need to be open-minded to, but also to not allow anything to become a stumbling-block for anyone, including ourselves. While praying I wanted to ask the Lord to send soldiers to reach the lost in Fukui, but then had to stop and realize who WE are. WE are the soldiers, and it is up to US to do the work. May we never forgot our role in the Lord’s kingdom, and always rely on the Lord for the strength and equipping that we need to reach the lost. Well anyway, I felt led to share that and I hope it encourages you, as it has me. But I’ll get on with the updates.


Sheffey, created by Bob Jones University. Highly recommended to any christian.

Recently, a new way of reaching-out to my students has been by use of holidays – Western ones. Many Japanese are interested in Western culture, and to share some of the history of certain holidays (Valentines, Easter, Christmas, etc), is becoming quite an open door. In particular, Eigetsu-san, my (now) one-on-one adult student, is still increasingly open to discussions about the Lord. Also, just like Mia and I have been able to use Japanese media sources to supplement our learning, I have also been able to use English media recently in my classes. Eigetsu has shown a lot of interest in Robert Sheffey, an American circuit-riding preacher from the 1800`s, who was known for his extraordinarily answered prayers. I am hoping we can get a copy of the movie and book, Sheffey and Brother Sheffey, respectively, over here soon to utilize, as printable material is hard to come by. Please continue to pray for Eigetsu-san’s salvation!


The weather here is making its first attempts to change to the warmer, spring weather, and Hannah and I got to take a bike ride during a peak chance of warm (enough) weather last week. On the way home, there were about half a dozen or so of some young school students, just finishing school and gathering in the park nearby. It didn’t stand out to me much at the time, but I had to leave for another set of classes shortly after that, and noticed them again while starting to drive away from our apartment. I felt led to witness to them, and I’m very glad I listened! I had extra rice sweets that had been  prepared for my class that evening, and so I pulled the car over and got their attention. I was able to offer them each a snack, as well as gospel tracts. It sounds funny for me to say, but they were kind of in awe of a foreigner suddenly talking to them. I shared a small bit about what the tracts were about, and when I mentioned that they were about Jesus, one of them said, “Kiristo?”, acknowledging who I was talking about. We shared names, and soon after said goodbye. This may have not been much, but it was a milestone for us, as this was a first solo Japanese witnessing conversation, and it was extremely encouraging for me. My heart almost breaks sometime when I see all of the children walking home and thinking that probably not a single one of them knows the Lord. It is a wonderful thing to start seeing our language progress slowly catch-up to our burden.

Tomoka Kawahara playing with Hannah.

Also, there may be another open door beginning to open with a lady named 河原さん (Kawahara), with whom we have had interactions with for several months. She is an amazing (and slightly eccentric) vocal and music teacher, who sometimes comes to our church in Matsuoka or the school to teach/perform. She went out of her way this past week to reach out to me to invite me and Mia to a musical event downtown that she was kind of heading. She was so excited to have us come that she even paid for our tickets in advance. Honestly, it’s been a long couple of weeks and we didn’t feel like going, but while the flesh may be weak, the spirit is willing, and we determined to go anyway. Again, I am so glad we went! We met her after the event, and she definitely wants to join us in practicing music, language, etc. She has shown interest in the gospel, and we are hoping for Mia to perhaps start a Bible-based English class with her, or something else similar. Please pray for her soul as well!


Cards (and drawings) from countless members of Haven Fellowship.

In closing, I appreciate your continued prayers for my mom. And thank you as well to SO many of you for sending cards of encouragement – they were definitely so. My mom isn’t through it yet, and still things are uncertain, but I know our God has been reminded by so many people about her situation, and I trust in whatever decision he allows for her health. I’m turning 30 this year, and we are often surprised by my own health at still a young age (comparatively speaking, I suppose!), and it’s wonderful to know that our God is not just Saviour God, Sustainer God, and Teacher God, but he is also the Creator God, and personally knows each and every part of our bodies, for we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. As we pray for some of you for your health, too, know also that He is IN CONTROL. Praise the Lord for all that he is and all that he does.

The Substance of Things Hoped For

“Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jeremiah 2)

First of all, I want to start by giving thanks. I want to thank the Lord for his compassion, love, and most of all, his mercy. His mercies are renewed each and every day, and our debt of service and gratitude grows with it every day – we are always blessed far above what we deserve. Secondly, I want to thank everyone who has been praying directly for my mother’s situation. There are many details to it, but as of right now, there has been a direct answer from the Lord.


My mom has been in-and-out of the hospital several times in the last couple of months, and still continues to battle an unknown infection in her lungs. Since returning from the hospital this last time, she has been virtually alone, with little or no help. This has put a lot of pressure on us, contemplating some big decisions. If I/we were to leave Japan suddenly for any period of time right now, it would be very detrimental, and likely a permanent decision. With this, and many trials going on at one time, we have gone through a, perhaps expected, trial of questioning our purpose on the mission field. “Were we only meant to be here for a little while?” or “Maybe there is something different we are meant to do”? But we had to be reminded of all of God’s direction, leading, confirmation, and answers he had already gave us. We are such forgetful people. I’m very thankful that the Lord doesn’t forget us.


Many of you have prayed specifically about the situation with my family, and we’re abundantly blessed to give an update. The Lord has allowed a lady named LeShawn to enter my mom’s life – she’s an Aid Worker. She has been able to help my mom with some of the important things like laundry, cleaning, food, etc. But included in the “important” things, is prayer and in the Bible. LeShawn “happens” to be a christian, and is encouraging my mom in spiritual things, as well as the physical. Mia and I both instantly noticed a difference in my mom’s voice when we spoke with her last, when LeShawn was there. While we cannot boast ourselves of tomorrow, we are incredibly blessed by this blessing for my family! It is not only a relief for my mom and ourselves, but my sister/family quite a bit.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers about this! This is one of those encouraging times when God makes his answer(s) clear.

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11)

The Recently Replaced Small Shrine.

Also, in regards to prayer, we have started a very specific kind of prayer.  In a post several months ago, we mentioned that a small local shrine was suddenly found destroyed. At the same time, we had been praying that the Lord would remove the shrines in the area and replace them with Christ’s presence. Well, they have just recently rebuilt it. We are asking of the Lord specifically against that shrine, now. Just like Dagon was destroyed before the presence of the One True God in Ashdod over and over again, we are praying for this shrine-of-a-god to be destroyed once again, that men may fear and consider it, and that the Lord may be glorified. We are now going down every week to one of the shrines as a prayer campaign, and we are publicly letting others know this prayer, as well as asking for others’ prayers, that as many people will be able to glorify God when it comes to pass. It’s a scary thing to “stick out our foot” if such a thing weren’t to come to pass, but we are looking forward to praising the Lord, as we all ask in faith. Please join us in praying. Far too many demonic spirits control the hearts of the Japanese, and we are fervently awaiting to see the devil lose some of his deeply-rooted ground in Japan; we need the prayers of the faithful to accomplish this!


Voice of the Martyrs Newsletters.

One new start of an outreach is actually with an unexpected usage of VOM newsletters. The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com) is a non-profit organization that we support, that works worldwide to help those that are under persecution, and to reach some of the most dangerous people groups for Christ. One thing that they do is mail out monthly letters, highlighting some of the recent events for persecuted Christians in the different countries. We’ve had some interest shown by some of my students, including Moriai, and I’ve begun using it as an “English resource”. Also, partly as a result, I had a very good private class with Mr. Eigetsu today – the entrepreneur we mentioned last year. We spoke a lot about Islam, religion, and specifically, eternity, and that he, with others, need Christ. He mentioned that he is now only a “thin Buddhist”, as he gestured “a little”, and expressed that he may actually consider giving-up his family altar entirely. He is a very kind man, and he agreed today that life isn’t really worth much if there isn’t a better life afterward, and that reincarnation isn’t the answer. Please pray for his salvation! He may be very close!


It’s encouraging seeing the difference between our ability to speak Japanese from when we arrived last year to now, and we are continually looking forward to the more possibilities of reaching the lost. Hannah is also developing her own form of language(s), and is beginning to respond more and more to instructions – soon to be in both English and Japanese, Lord willing! Please pray for more open doors, as there have been more opening with others not mentioned yet, and for God to further prepare the hearts of those here in Fukui. Japan, as a mission field, requires a unique amount of patience, however, we are slowly, but gradually, starting to see fruit.

Prayer Update 1/12

He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whosoever trusteth in the LORD, happy is he. (Proverbs 16)


We have more specific updates for a new post, but this is just a quick update and request for prayer in the interim.


To be honest, it was challenging to leave almost everything behind to come to Japan, but we both knew that it was well worth it – the Lord Jesus left all of the perfect splendor with the Father to serve man, and we cannot but do the same out of debt and gratitude! We also have an adversary, however, and in the last month it feels like we’re under a little extra difficulty. In addition to, I guess, the expected struggles of trying to evangelize in a foreign country, there are very big burdens pulling on us from the U.S.


At some point in time we know that we will have to return to take care of asset-related things in Ohio, which is a difficulty for several people meanwhile. Also, my mother’s health has been failing recently, and family problems are mixed into the situation there, too. There is a big open door for us to stay here in Japan, and both of our hearts are here, but we might have to make a big decision regarding this above – mainly the who, when, and for how long. If we have to leave Japan (for any amount of time) any time soon, it will likely have a big impact here, which we can’t do lightly.


We are asking the Lord for wisdom to not make a big, wrong decision. Please help us in praying about these things, if you would. I also want to take this opportunity to thank our church for a decision that was made for us around Christmas time regarding our trailer home – it was very generous of you and we want to thank you so much for helping in that way! We are continually thankful for everyone’s prayers and support otherwise, and we look forward to updating you soon.