Things we do, but don't normally write about!
Our email updates are typically centered around the two larger focuses of our ministry - (1) our church planting work in Yokohama (Azamino) and (2) shepherding our growing team of missionaries. So, I thought it might be good to highlight other ways we stay busy.
Kids English Club
This ministry has evolved quite a bit since it's start 3 years ago. What began as Lindsay meeting 1-on-1 with a Japanese classmate of Clark's has morphed into 5 neighborhood kids (not counting our own who participate). Additionally, we've really enjoyed the teamwork and support of fellow WorldVenture missionary, Abigail. This provides ample opportunity for the local moms to have more connection with Azamino Chapel. This is a 2 sessions/month commitment.
One of Lindsay's Core Values (ask more about CVs sometime!) is "Creative Connections". This is most clearly expressed through using our home and hosting different events. Creating spaces for people to connect. We're grateful for the many ways the Lord has allowed us to host folks - cooking demos, English events, Christmas cookie making, fall crafts. In addition to our home being a place folks often come in and out, we've enjoyed park outreach times, too. We've met at larger parks and utilized picnics as a way of deepening relationships.
A more recent ministry development (less than a year ago) has been a monthly breakfast gathering for men who have passed through Azamino Chapel. Sometimes it's just Addison, our WorldVenture colleague/friend, and I and other times the table is jammed pack with coffees, toast and egg paste (ask about egg paste some time...). It's been a joy to be part of men's lives in this way as we seek opportunities to raise future leaders.
Truth be told, we have a lot of meetings. And sometimes, our meetings are talking about future meetings. Moving in groups is the way of life here in Japan. Communicating and over-communicating is necessary. And it takes time. Our support staff for Azamino Chapel, Azamino Chapel leadership, Denen Grace Church leadership, our church association and our missionary leadership team and team-wide meetings & fellowships keep us engaged and the coffee pot on. It's also a good way to practice Japanese!
Lindsay and I have had two very different paths in learning this very complicated language. For me, I studied 2 years at a local language school. And have bounced around self-study, language exchange opportunities and intensives since graduating from language school 3+ years ago. As for Lindsay, she has met with a language tutor the entire 5+ years we've lived in Japan. This is a regular part of life for us! And necessary.
Reading and Preparing
I typically do not recycle messages. I like to write them from scratch both for the people I am preaching to and my own benefit. It keeps me and hopefully others fresh and engaged with God's Word. But, it takes time. I read roughly 2 books/month and this, too, keeps my mind and heart stimulated with good gospel truths when I teach and prepare.
Apart from preaching monthly at Azamino Chapel, I'm in a preaching rotation with our partner church - Denen Grace Church - Mizonokuchi Chapel. I'm also invited to preach at other locations within our church association or otherwise. I find much enjoyment and blessing from contributing this way.
It's been a blessing to serve in these ways and we're grateful for to do these events with our local partners from Denen Grace Church and other Christians who are supporting the Azamino Chapel ministry.