Category Archives: Japan Trip

Earthquake Report from Friends in Japan

I am happy and relieved to report that our church’s missionaries in Japan, Leon and Cheryl Hill and their two adult children, are safe after experiencing the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit northern Japan last night. It appears that all of their fellow missionaries and church families are safe as well.  Most of the devastating damage is north of them, but the greater Tokyo area (where they live) has experienced wide-spread, major damage.

Cheryl reports that “things are all over the place” in their neighborhood, house and in the church too, but all of them are safe. She also reports that “We have some roof damage as do most in our neighborhood. Leon was about an hour away at a seminary graduation. He is home (now). Abi is ok. Jeffrey is ok. We have a mess in our house, and the aftershocks are numerous, but we sit safely in the Lord’s hand.” She later reported that “things are fine for us, but not so good for others. We are headed to bed. I guess God will just rock us to sleep tonight.”

Junko Ito, the church administrator at Midorino Chapel (the Hill’s church) writes, “Most of the rooms in Midorino chapel, especially the sanctuary are a mess. Nobody got injured.” I told her that we are praying for her and her church family, and she wrote me back saying, “Thanks Mike. Still have small shakings but no major stuff here. But ugh, in Tohoku…. Your prayers for Japan are really needed and appreciated!!! Thanks again!” Tohoku is the region north of Tokyo that sustained the most damage.

Deborah Trotter, a missionary that lives in the same region as the Hills said that she is “shaken, but not stirred. It’s amazing how God’s Spirit can keep a person calm and peaceful even through something as severe as a major earthquake.”  At 9:30AM (MST) this morning she said that the aftershocks are finally becoming less frequent.  Another friend, Joshua Hari, who is a pastor of one of the Hill’s sister churches in the town of Karuizawa (west of Tokyo) reports that all of his people are safe as well.

Would you please join me and my church family in praying for the Hills, the Midorino church family, and for all of Japan as they clean up from the devastation of the earthquake. Pray that God would use the Japanese Church – especially the churches in the Kaisen Church Network (of which the Hills are a part) – to be agents of God’s love and mercy during this time of crisis.

Foothills Church Family:

THE HILLS ARE SAFE after experiencing the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit northern Japan last night.  Most of the devastating damage is north of them, but the greater Tokyo area (where they live) has experienced wide-spread, major damage.

Cheryl reports that “things are all over the place” in their neighborhood, house and in the church too, but all of them are safe.  She also reports that “We have some roof damage as do most in our neighborhood. Leon was about an hour away at a seminary graduation. He is home (now). Abi is ok. Jeffrey is ok. We have a mess in our house, and the aftershocks are numerous, but we sit safely in the Lord’s hand.”  She later reported that “things are fine for us, but not so good for others. We are headed to bed. I guess God will just rock us to sleep tonight.”
Junko Ito, the church administrator at Midorino Chapel (the Hill’s church) writes, “Most of the rooms in Midorino chapel, especially the sanctuary are a mess. Nobody got injured.”  I told her that we are praying for her and her church family, and she wrote me back saying, “Thanks Mike. Still have small shakings but no major stuff here. But ugh, in Tohoku…. Your prayers for Japan are really needed and appreciated!!! Thanks again!”  Tohoku is the region north of Tokyo that sustained the most damage.
So, please pray for the Hills, the Midorino church family, and for all of Japan as they clean up from the devastation of the earthquake.  Pray that God would use the Japanese Church – especially the churches in the Kaisen Church Network (of which the Hills are a part) – to be agents of God’s love and mercy during this time of crisis.
Blessings on you and your family,
Pastor Mike

The Hills of Japan

IMG00280-20091014-2206The main purpose of our trip to Japan was to see and experience firsthand the ministry of Leon and Cheryl Hill.  Many years ago, the Hills lived in Albuquerque and were faithful members of Foothills Fellowship.  As a young couple, they were sent to Japan from Foothills 24 years ago.  Over the past two years, Leon and I have talked monthly via Skype and his words and descriptions of the people and ministry taking place there served to heightened my desire to go and see things for myself firsthand.

The Hills have faithfully served the Lord in Japan now for almost a quarter of a century, and this longevity coupled with their relentless engagement in missional living has – and still is – producing great fruit among the Japanese people.  Michelle and I witnessed firsthand some of the fruit of their labors, and we heard many unsolicited testimonies of how they have – and still are – making a great impact on the people with whom they live and serve.

Incredible Language Ability

love-unframedI don’t care what anyone says…learning a foreign language is a difficult task.  I took six years of German in high school and college and have very little knowledge of the language to show for it.  The German classes I took were some of my most difficult classes and provided me with some of my lowest grades, in spite of the fact that many English and German words are similar.

What I quickly discovered with the Japanese language is that there are NO similarities to the English language at all.  The sounds, inflections, and symbols are very different.  Michelle and I found ourselves feeling mentally exhausted listening to the language being spoken because our brains had nothing to grab a hold of.  There was no framework or context in our brains for processing the sounds we were hearing.  Japanese is an incredibly difficult language for English speaking people to learn, understand, and speak.

However, the Hills have done it!  They are quite savvy with the language, especially Leon who often serves as a translator for poor English speaking saps such as myself!  Both Leon and Cheryl said that learning the language was an incredibly difficult process, but because of the great spiritual need in Japan, and because of God’s calling on their lives to love and serve the people of Japan, both have been passionate about learning the language, and both have become quite fluent and are able to clearly communicate verbally the Good News of Jesus Christ in the Japanese language.

Ministry to Those with Special Needs

IMG00736-20091016-2302As many of you know, the Hills adopted two precious Japanese children as infants.  Jeffrey is now 22 years old, and Abi is now 19 years old.  The bond these two share is sweet and a blessing to observe.  Jeffrey is autistic and has many special needs that Leon, Cheryl, and Abi lovingly and faithfully work to meet every single day.  And – as the Lord often does – He has not only given the Hills the strength they need to care for Jeffrey, but He has given them the strength – and the burden – to help others who find themselves in similar situations.

Once a week, Leon and Cheryl drive over to the home of a special needs young man in order to help his parents (and other volunteers) with his daily rehabilitation regiment.  Michelle and I were able to tag along with them and see them in action.  We watched as both of them rigorously helped this rather large young man with little arm and leg control crawl and walk.  Leon got down on all fours and lifted the young man’s legs back and forth helping him take wobbly steps across the family’s hardwood floors.   The way in which Leon and Cheryl lovingly interacted with the young man’s parents and sacrificially worked hard to help him was touching to watch.

IMG00088-20091012-2108The story of how the Hills connected with this young man is quite amazing.  14 years ago, Leon felt a burden to share Christ in a creative way with some of the young teenage boys in his community.  So, he invited several of them over to his home for games and Bible study.  There was one particular young boy who stopped coming, so after a few weeks passed, Leon did some checking only to find out that the boy had been hit by a truck on his bike and had been severely wounded.  Leon described him as going from a vibrant boy to a “blob in a wheelchair.”  Because of that “missional” connection, Leon and Cheryl were able then to offer their assistance to the boy’s family and be the hands and feet of Christ to them.  For the last 14 years, the Hills have faithfully served this family with the hopes – and prayers – of one day seeing them come to faith in Christ.

IMG00361-20091015-0103Another place where God is using Leon powerfully in the special needs community is at a group home for the severely handicapped.  Every Thursday afternoon, Leon visits a group home that is buried among several low income, poor homes and apartments.  He goes in with his bright smile and youthful energy encouraging the workers by helping them and encouraging the young people by playing soccer with them.  Leon knows that his son, Jeffrey, knows a lot more than he is able to communicate and has the ability to know and love Christ.  Because of this, Leon is confident that these handicapped children can know and love the Lord as well, and so he spends time with them weekly, communicating the love of Christ to them and praying for them. Leon is gifted by the Lord to connect with kids and young adults, and as Michelle and I watched him interact with these young people, we became confident that the Lord will use him to make disciples among them.

A Big Role in The Keisen Church Network

As I stated earlier, Michelle and I received several unsolicited rave reviews of Leon and Cheryl’s ministry from people – not just in their church – but also from the ten-church Keisen Church Network.  The people who spoke to us said that the Hills have been an incredibly valuable asset to them personally and to the building of the church network as well.

The Hills arrived in Japan in 1985, just months after their church, Midorino Chapel, was planted.  Shortly after they arrived, Leon connected with a young pastor named Masahiro Okita and offered his services.  Pastor Okita accepted his offer, and Leon has been serving alongside of him ever since, helping to bring people to Christ and discipling them.  Leon also has become a trusted adviser in the Keisen Church Network offering guidance and direction as other churches are planted and established.

The Hills role in their community is invaluable as they are fully engaged in missional living, looking for any and every opportunity to share the love of Christ with their neighbors.  Whether it’s counseling a young married couple, taking food to a sick neighbor, teaching English to children in order to build relationships with the kids’ parents, or filling the pulpit when Pastor Okita is away, the Lord is using the Hills mightily in Japan.

After spending eight days shadowing the Hills as they went about ministering to the people of Japan that God has called them to, Michelle and I are convinced – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that the Hills are right where they are meant – and sent – by God to be.  We wholeheartedly support them in their ministry there and encourage you to do the same by praying for them, supporting them financially, and considering the possibility of one day going to Japan on a short-term trip that – Lord willing – will be sponsored by Foothills Fellowship.

The Japanese “Missional” Church

IMG00166-20091014-0001I sat in awe during the Sunday service as I listened to Pastor Okita of the Midorino Chapel in Japan preach his message to his congregation.  Listening via a translator through headphones, I quickly discovered that Pastor Okita was preaching on the exact same topic and challenging his church in the exact same way I had with my church right before I left!  His message was taken from Acts 13, and he exhorted his small congregation to engage in missional living right where they live.  I could hardly contain myself.  A fellow pastor 6000 miles away, speaking a completely different language, and living in an entirely different culture was giving the same exact message to his congregation that I had just given to mine!  I was blown away.

The Keisen Church Network

100_7020Midorino Chapel is one of the more established churches in a network of churches called the Keisen Church Network.  The network had its humble beginnings 50 years ago when a man named Pastor Chida started a small church in the northern part of Japan.  He had a missional mindset and a vision for church planting.  Some 25 years later, he sent one of his star disciples, Masahiro Okita, south to plant a church in the Tokyo metropolitan area.  Pastor Okita, along with his son, Masatoshi (pictured above), now lead a vibrant congregation consisting mostly of first generation believers, many of who came to faith in Christ through the missional living of church members.

Michelle and I went to Japan just at the right time as the entire Keisen Church Network met for their annual festival and were celebrating 50 years of God’s faithfulness.  Over 300 believers representing the ten churches in the network gathered in the mountains of northern Japan at Pastor Chida’s church for two days of celebration, prayer, encouragement, and vision.

Everything was graciously translated for me and Michelle during the festival, so we were able to celebrate and pray along with them.  I was even invited to speak for a few minutes and was able to share how much my church (Foothills Fellowship) and the churches in the Keisen Church Network had in common the focus of missional living.  I closed my comments praying that God would make the words of Acts 11:21 true for them: And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. Please pray this for them as well as the network desires to  expand in order to bring God’s Kingdom to new Japanese communities.

Japanese Believers

Michelle and I were struck by how much our hearts meshed with the believers we met in such a short period of time.  We discovered that even though we live thousands of miles apart and speak different languages, we have much in common.  Maybe this is due to the fact that they are wrestling with the realities of living missionally in their local culture just like we are.  Maybe it’s due to the fact that they are people just like us struggling to live lives of holiness in a spiritually dark culture.  Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that the same Holy Spirit that resides in them resides in us!  Whatever the case, our hearts were moved by the brothers and sisters we met there.  Especially dear to us were the times of worship we experienced with them.  Knowing the difficult journey each one has taken to come to the place of surrendering their hearts to the Lord, to see them raising their hands in worship and singing their hearts out to the Lord was moving.

During our stay, two young believers approached me and Michelle to thank us for the ministry we’re doing in the states.  Both of them came to faith in Christ while visiting the states and wanted to let us know how much they appreciate the work of the church in the U.S.  This was so encouraging to us, and reignited my passion to continue to develop the ministry of Foothills Fellowship to the international students that come to Albuquerque each semester.

Highlights of Our Interaction with the Japanese Church

Interacting and worshiping with the Japanese church was such a rich experience for both me and Michelle.  Three highlights stand out in my mind:

1. At the close of the Keisen Church Network Festival, a choir consisting of members from all ten churches sang a powerful rendition of  “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”  They sang in Japanese, and Michelle and I sang along with them in English.  It was beautiful, moving, and heaven-like.

100_7189100_70582. Michelle and I were able to meet several of the pastors from the other churches in the network.  In addition to meeting the founding pastor, Pastor Chida (first picture), we were also able to meet some of the younger pastors in the movement as well.  The man in the middle of the second picture is a pastor in the network who has a heart for taking the gospel from Japan to “the ends of the earth.”  He reported at the festival on the trip he and some of his church members took to Nepal.  How cool is it that the young and growing Japanese church is already going global?!

3.  The Hills invited me and Michelle to their home for lunch with Pastor Okita and his wife.  I had met Pastor Okita years ago when Leon brought him to Foothills but had never “talked ministry” with him.  We spent about three hours exploring the concept of our two churches partnering together in the years to come.  Both of us are unsure what this looks like, but it may involve members of Foothills going to Japan for short or mid-term trips and members of Midorino Chapel coming here to assist us with our ministry to international students.  Not sure, but the prospect of partnering is something that excites both of us.  Please pray for God to make clear what he would have us to do.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the incredible ministry the Hills have in Japan, including the ministry God gave them 14 years ago to an unbelieving family that is still having a powerful impact today.

The People of Japan

IMG00442-20091015-2148Japan is a country that is about as big as California.  In California, there are 37 million people, and if you’ve ever been to Southern California, you know how crowded the state can be in spots.  In Japan, there are 127 million people…and 80% of the country is mountainous.  That means that most of the 127 million people are jammed into 20% of the country.  To say that Japan is crowded would be an understatement.

Leon and Cheryl Hill live in the greater Tokyo area where 35 million other people reside, making it the world’s most populous metropolitan area.  They happen to live in an area where there are still some peanut and rice fields scattered around, making it feel a bit more rural than urban.  Nonetheless, where they live is still considered a part of the Tokyo metropolitan area and is connected to the heart of the city by the train line.

Because of the Hills’ many relationships, Michelle and I had a unique opportunity to interact with a variety of people including pastors and missionaries, several church members from the ten churches of the Keisen Church Network, and several non-Christian people.  Only 2% of the Japanese people are born-again Christians, so unchurched, non-Christian people were not hard to find.

Their Religious Beliefs and Practices

IMG00588-20091016-0057Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions. They have been co-existing for several centuries and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist or both, but religion does not play a big role in the everyday life of most Japanese people today. The average person typically follows the religious rituals at ceremonies like birth, weddings and funerals, or they may visit a shrine or temple (like the one pictured here from our Tokyo visit) on New Year.  They also may participate occasionally in local festivals that have a religious background to them.

With Shintoism and Buddhism so deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture, it’s not hard to see why so few people have converted to Christianity.  Michelle and I asked one Japanese Christian young lady how she came to faith in Christ.  She said that hearing the gospel message in college (yea Intervarsity!) was the first step, but she told us that she had to first be taught which God the Christians were talking to her about.  For most Japanese people, coming to faith in Christ requires a major transformation in their thinking, and this is one of the reasons why the process to faith in Christ is so slow and so rare.

Their Hospitality and Kindness

It didn’t take long to begin to benefit from the hospitality and kindness of the Japanese.  I’ve flown a lot over the years and never have I been treated as well as I was on the Japanese airline Nippon.  For ten hours, I was showered with endless smiles, service, sustenance, spirits, and shows.  The Japanese flight attendants were incredibly kind and worked tirelessly to make sure that the trip was as enjoyable as possible.  Unlike airlines in the U.S., this airline offered two full meals, desserts, and all the beverages you could drink (alcohol included).  Each seat was equipped with a personal television with over 30 current movies to choose from.  The “flavor” of the flight was just the beginning of the hospitality and kindness we would receive from the Japanese people.

IMG00085-20091012-2021Leon and Cheryl took us to the home of a young man who is confined to a wheel chair.  I’ll tell you more about him in an upcoming post, but he was hit by a truck on his bike 14 years ago.  Twice a day, volunteers come over to his home to assist his parents in several exercises designed to help him regain some of his mental and physical abilities that were lost in the accident.  When we arrived, Michelle and I discovered that the young man’s mother was in bed recovering from surgery.  Unbeknownst to us, she got up from her bed and prepared a traditional Japanese snack for us.  After the exercises were completed, the entire group sat around the table and asked us questions (with the help of Leon and Cheryl’s fine interpretation skills!).  This young man’s parents are not followers of Christ and are in daily need of being served, yet they insisted on warmly serving us.

When we arrived in Los Angeles at the end of our trip, Michelle and I were both shocked by the rudeness of the airport staff as they herded the plane’s passengers through customs.  The treatment we received was nothing like what we all received in Japan (and on the Japanese plane we had just stepped off of).  The Japanese culture of kindness, hospitality, and service impacted me and Michelle deeply.  Hospitality is almost a lost art here in America, and – for sure – the church needs to recover it in order to make a difference in a culture where kindness is not the norm because it just might set us apart and give us a platform for the gospel.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the Christians we met and how the Keisen Church Network is making a real difference in the spiritually dark Japan.

Burger Boy In Sushi Land

MollysI was raised on burgers.  My dad owned a fast food restaurant called Molly’s until I was 18 years-old, and during the school year, I’d go there almost daily for lunch.  Burgers, fries, soda, turnovers, and milkshakes.  These were my five major food groups growing up.  My mom tried to get us kids to eat fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately, I was hooked on fast food.

We rarely went out to eat other than to my dad’s restaurant, so I didn’t grow up trying different kinds of foods.  One time, my dad took us to a Chinese restaurant, and I remember being repulsed and angered by the non-burger menu.  This was the condition I was in when Michelle married me sixteen years ago, and slowly over time, she has exposed me to many different types of food.  My food horizons have broadened greatly over the years, but I am still a recovering burgeraholic. And as you know, once a burgeraholic…always a burgeraholic.

IMG00066-20091010-0258This is the backdrop for my food experience in Japan last week.  After a 13-hour plane ride where the flight attendants gently eased us into Japanese cuisine with endless rice balls and optional chopsticks, we arrived in Japan, and the Hills promptly took us to one of their favorite local restaurants for our first exposure to authentic Japanese food.  Having eaten at the Samurai Japanese Grill here in Albuquerque several times, I was confident of my Japanese food exposure.

However, it was clear early-on in the restaurant experience that I was not really prepared for what lie ahead.

Chopsticks, Seaweed, and Raw Fish

First came the chopsticks with no fork option, and second came Leon ordering what he called “noodles with guts!”  Not sure what that was, but I steered clear of that dish.  To my surprise, I did enjoy the other dishes that the Hills ordered for us.  However, I realized my chopsticks handicap was going to present a problem for me.  Thankfully, raising the bowl or plate to your mouth and slurping is acceptable in Japan.  Without this concession, I believe I would have starved!

IMG00104-20091012-2312IMG00106-20091012-2313

Along with lots and lots of rice, there is a common theme that runs through almost all Japanese food dishes: fish – and most of it is raw.  You walk into the grocery, and the first thing you see is a large fresh (raw) fish section.  You walk into 7-11 for a snack (I saw no Slurpees), and you’re immediately greeted by the smell of raw fish.  Yes, raw fish on sale as a snack at 7-11!  And to top it off, many of the dishes of rice and fish also contain a sizable portion of seaweed.  There are even snack crackers available containing shards of seaweed!  Raw fish and seaweed were the hardest things for me to swallow, and as much as I could, I avoided swallowing those two items.

Soup, Salad, Raw Eggs and Raw Fish – for Breakfast

Within 24-hours of arriving in Japan, we found ourselves on a chartered bus heading north for the Kaisen Church Network annual festival (more on this in an upcoming post).  We arrived at the conference in time for dinner, and we were treated to a traditional bowl of Imoni for dinner.  Imoni is a soup containing beef, potatoes, tofu, and cabbage and is quite tasty.  After the evening session, we retired to a local hotel for what turned out to be a comfortable night of sleep.

Jet lag woke me and Michelle up around 5:30AM the next morning, and we hungrily prepared ourselves for the hotel’s breakfast which began at 6:30AM.  The only thing we were told about the breakfast the night before was that there would be no bread served with it.  Other than that, we had no idea what we were in for.

100_7113Natto_on_riceWe entered the dining area just after it opened, and were met with – you guessed it – the smell of raw fish!  We grabbed our trays and proceeded to walk through the food line.  Once my tray was full, I realized that not only was there no bread, but nothing I had come to love and rely on for breakfast was on my tray either.  My tray included a bowl of rice, a cup of brothy soup with mushrooms, a cabbage salad, another bowl of salad-like substances that I had never seen or tasted before, and a slab of raw fish.  Raw eggs were also available at each table to crack and drain onto the rice, and to top it all off, there were packets of fermented soybeans called “natto” on the table that could be added to the rice for flavor and girth.  No Frosted Flakes.  No Pop-Tarts.  No Donuts.  This was by far the most difficult meal for me on the entire trip.

Burger Boy Meets the Sushi Conveyor

Overall, I really did enjoy the food we ate in Japan.  The Hills made sure we experienced authentic Japanese food while providing us with a nice mix of Western meals as well.  Michelle and I ate well and truly enjoyed our Japanese food adventure.

There was, however, the dreaded sushi meal.  I knew it was coming, and I knew Michelle was really looking forward to it, so I tried as hard as I could to act excited about it when it was announced that Thursday’s lunch would be at a sushi bar.  Praise be to the Lord as His face was shining upon me that day because we began the day with a hearty egg and bacon breakfast at Denny’s!  I made it a point to clean my plate that morning, and I also downed a large order of thick toast as a pre-sushi filler.

IMG00305-20091014-2225IMG00310-20091014-2235The sushi restaurant we ate at was quite fascinating.  Yes, the strong smells of raw fish were pervasive, but to see the way in which the sushi was served was worth enduring the smell…and even the taste.  Conveyor belts ran throughout the restaurant, and a constant flow of sushi, rice bowls, and desserts flowed out from the kitchen.  If there was something that looked good as it rolled by your table, you grabbed it.  If there was something you wanted that you weren’t seeing, you ordered it off of the computer screen on the table, and within minutes, it came to you.  Each plate was embedded with a microchip, and so the screen would flash as your plate approached.

IMG00306-20091014-2226The technology was cool, but what was a burger boy like me to do about all the sushi that rolled by?  What is a recovering burgeraholic to eat at a Japanese sushi bar?

Well, again, the Lord’s face was shining on me that day as around the conveyor belt corner came the perfect dish for one like me: a plate containing two rice balls covered with – yep, you guessed it – hamburger patties!

Jet Lag Has Set In!

Michelle and I just returned froIMG00732-20091016-2301m a wonderful 8-day adventure in Japan.  We visited our friends and missionaries, Leon and Cheryl Hill, who have been living in the greater Tokyo area for the past 24 years.  Over the last two years, Leon and I have faithfully talked to each other and prayed together once-a-month on Skype, so it was a real blessing for me to be able to see first-hand the people and places he has been telling me about during those conversations.

We’ve been back in the states for 40 hours now, and we’re completely messed up!  Jet lag has set in.  Our flights to and from Japan reminded me of my family’s frequent trips to Milwaukee over the years to see Michelle’s parents. When we lived in Ohio, the only way to get to Milwaukee was to go through Chicago.  We tried every route known to man, but inevitably, we had to go through the Windy City to get to Milwaukee…and we dreaded it.  After driving five stress-filled hours with three little ones in tow, we would hit Chicago, and nine times out of ten, we’d get ourselves stuck in a traffic jam that would have us crawling through the city at 10 miles per hour for the next two hours.  By the time we would finally get to the other side of the city, the kids – locked in their car seats – would be sweaty, smelly, and furious for the final one-and-a-half hour portion of the journey.

Traveling to Japan comes with that same dynamic.  No matter how you slice it, you have to cross the International Date Line, meaning your days and nights will get messed up.  By the time you get to Japan (or home from Japan), you’ll be sweaty, smelly, and possibly a little angry as well!  This phenomenon is called “jet lag,” and Michelle and I have it bad!

Over the last 40 hours, even though we’ve slept 14 hours (all at once!), we’re still struggling to get our lives back on the Mountain Time day/night schedule.  Case in point: I’m writing this post at 4AM after trying unsuccessfully for the last three hours to sleep.  Please pray for Michelle as she has to go to work this morning.  You don’t have to worry about me.  I’m taking this week off, so hopefully I’ll get it all figured out before I have to return to work!

In between periods of sleep, I intend to blog this week about some of the different aspects of our experience in Japan: things like the food we ate, the people we met, the work of Leon and Cheryl Hill, the Keisen church network that is winning people to Christ with a missional church strategy, our Tokyo experience, and the lessons we learned.  My writing will serve as an exercise designed to help me process the incredible experience we had, but I invite you to check back daily if you’d like to read about and see some of the things we experienced.

Our hearts were pricked by the sweet brothers and sisters-in-Christ that we met while we were there, and Lord willing, yours will be too as you interact with my blog this week.  In the meantime, I’m off to bed to give it another try!