A few weeks ago, Vicente was sitting inside a photo booth taking cheesy professional photos for his student ID for language school.  It was cold and wet and windy outside when I received a call.  Apparently, we had a short-term team arriving in some two weeks and they needed someone to take care of them.

Our leaders have their hands quite full, and seeing as how I’d done this kind of thing in the past and how the team was a hip hop dance team which would pair well with Vicente, they thought we’d be a good match to host the team.

It was quite a bit of work coming up with a schedule for them on such short notice and making sure they had all the bedding and supplies they needed, and rooms reserved for them, etc.  Communications have changed since I was here last and still being new, it was hard to know what to plan exactly that would work with the direction our church is going and still give the team a chance to use what they had been working with.  But another couple who knew the ropes was gracious enough to help us make the decisions and they helped us get the answers we needed and viola!  Here we are two weeks later.

The team is very gracious and kind– most are in their 20s, with a couple in their 30s.  They’re pretty talented and one has a voice that literally made me want to fall on the floor when she sang Happy Day.  Oh my goodness.  Chills thinking about it.  Chills.

But they arrived on Friday and we took them on a walking tour for food, on Saturday we did an outreach at two local stations which yielded some fruit (please pray as we follow up!!) and Sunday we held a Fuse Dance Party after church.  They had their devotion time and lunch at our apartment, which we discovered then that we can fit a total of 14 people in our living room.  Of course, everyone is very squished, but it can be done.  So, whenever in the future, Lord willing, we’re cell group leaders, we can have 10 people in our group before we need to multiply.

Exciting times!  We have a break for today and tomorrow and then there will be another burst of activity as the team comes back from Osaka on Wednesday morning and departs Friday afternoon.  So, we’re excited to see what the Lord will do.  Please keep praying for Japan!

Triumphs- A Glimpse of Practical Living Overseas

When we lived in the US, Rosalyn’s bottle preparation was simple.  5 ounces of water, 2.5 scoops of formula.  In Japan, for nearly the same amount of water, you add a whopping 8 scoops of formula.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect illustration of what it’s like to live in a foreign country: 5.5 new steps for every. single. thing. you. do.

While “triumph” as the title for today’s post might seem like an exaggeration, I guarantee you that the feeling I have when able to accomplish simple things is nothing short of triumph.

For example:

-Getting a cell phone.  We went to two places and were turned down for cell phone contracts because of the length of our visa, although I can name 4 other families of the same visa status who have the same plan we applied for. Recollecting my confidence and disappointed motivation, we went to another shop a few days later and got hooked up with a contract!  It only took about an hour and a half.

But later that night came the real fun: trying to set up our email account through the company in order to use sms.  2.5 hours excruciating hours later (in which I went into the “zone”– a place where I shut out all other distractions and Vicente knows not to bother joking with me).  It was the Lord who helped me through that!

-Registering at City Hall.  2 hours.  4 windows.  Soooo many forms to fill out.

-Internet and Wifi.  PRAISE THE LORD– He seriously helped me out on this one.  Setting up both of them, I made simple mistakes.  But in both cases, the Lord led me through random steps to figure out how to make it work, just as I began to think I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself.

There were cheers of triumph in our apartment a couple days after we had moved in when we figured out that our tiny 2 burner stove top needed a battery in order to keep lit.  Anything to do with gas lines scare the bajeebers out of me, but when we were finally able to light our stove and keep it lit to cook, we cheered.  Randomly.  Several times.  In fact, I still cheer randomly.

But anyway.  I won’t bore you with long lists of what we’ve had to do.  Though it took you maybe just a few seconds to read it, none of these were as simple as the 2.5 scoops of formula or the 15-30 minutes it may take you to accomplish at home.  They involved many extra steps, many challenges, times where I’ve pulled out my ipod to use a translation tool and asked the person on the other side of the counter to type in the word for me.  I’ve received many papers in receipt of my transactions with information that I’m sure is pertinent, but I can’t read at the moment.   They’re sitting in stacks and when I have questions, I pull them out and go into the zone to attempt comprehension.

Sometimes, sometimes, maybe 8 times later, there are cheers of triumph.

What We’ve Been Up To

So, it’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve last posted.  3 very full weeks.

First off, we’ve moved and settled in to our new apartment.  One of the major last steps to settling has been getting internet in our house and installing a wifi router.  Check.

There are only a couple of things left, and then that will be all accomplished.  That is saying a lot considering we bought almost all of our furniture and furnishings from Ikea, which means hours of manuals, packages of screws (we have some left over…), TONS of cardboard, and teamwork.

But we are all set up and ready to go.

Vicente is now 2 weeks into language school.  The first week they work on simple phrases and hiragana (the simplest of the Japanese writing systems).  The second week they start the actual text.  But going to school meant buying the necessary books, notebooks, pencils, etc., and setting up a commuter pass to save $10 a month on travelling back and forth on the train, helping Vicente to figure out what trains to take, which side of the tracks he wants to be on to go the right direction, actually getting into the jam-packed rush hour trains, etc.  And then the 10 minute walk to school once he arrives at the station.  So, there’s more to “Vicente started school” than just “Vicente started school.”

We’ve gotten a million other practical things accomplished, which I will enumerate in my next post entitled “Triumphs”.

But some of the more exciting, less mundane (but necessary) things that we’ve been up to are meetings with the leadership here to discuss their models of ministry and discipleship, etc.  We’re pretty stoked– Fuse operates with cell groups, which sounds simple enough.  But cell groups are a great place to get newcomers involved and a place for evangelism.  Within the cell groups, people engage in one on one discipleship relationships, where their goal is to obviously become more like Jesus.  When you bring someone new to the cell group and they get saved, then it’s your responsibility to disciple them.  Once the group gets big enough, it multiplies.  Fuse has a vision to see the groups multiply to form 10 new groups this year.

The main focus of our team is to take very, very good care of everyone who comes through the door.  We don’t want to see anyone escape through the back door, but want to take very good care to produce healthy, reproducing sheep.  🙂

So, we’re a part of 2 cell groups right now (we’ll be just helpers in one), one is a English and Japanese group, another is a Portuguese/Spanish/Japanese group.

Vicente and I have been able to connect with lots of people and we’re excited to serve these groups.  Our goal is to be leading a group by the end of the year for sure.

We’ve discovered that things can get really busy really quickly, so we are trying to be wise in protecting our study time and our family time.  We don’t want to sacrifice our long-term usefulness for short-term effectiveness.  There’s got to be balance!

So that’s what we’ve been up to.  Getting set up.  Study.  Church.  Cell groups.  Prayer meeting.  Communicating with people in the States.

Well friends, we will connect with you later this week!  Take care!