Big Words

So a lot has been happening lately.  It’s been such a mixture of everything lately– you know those times?  There are times when everything is on a roll and the baby sleeps soundly… and then there are times when everything gets rescheduled and adjusted a million times until the last second and the baby wakes up every night.

I guess I rolled into a different subject there.

Anyway, so sometimes working in a country that is not yet reached, it feels like you start from scratch.  We’ve been feeling that way.  We have been talking hours on end together and with other Japanese and praying and searching Scripture and thinking: “How do we reach these people?… Where are those moments I can jump on with these people?”

Well, we’re still trying.  And praying. Fasting. Working. Learning.

And little by little we see small cracks.  Small little holes that we press our wide-open eye to and peer into the other side.

With one of my contacts, I’ve been reading through a book for Japanese practice.  And of course, it’s about the Bible.  It’s a great study for both sides of the partnership.  But this weekend, I was able to touch base and move into a little more personal space with her on something that came up.  THAT in itself is like a HUGE step into the inside of the circle. And beyond that, she keeps referring back to the book that we’re doing even when I think we’re done with the subject.  I try not to press her, and let her feel comfortable warming up to it.  This week she said that maybe she will change the way that she thinks because she is reading this book.  Inside, of course, I was stoked.  But I kept a straight face and said “Oh,” nodding my head.

Later that day, I was at a dinner party to engage some elementary girls in their English studies.  The invitation was from a very challenging but open contact we’ve been working with.  He had been doing a Bible study with a guy from our church who is American but speaks pretty good Japanese.  He’s not a fan of that, and so he wants to switch to having a Bible study with Vicente.  He asked me if Vicente currently has many people that he’s discipling.  I said not yet.  He answered, “Well, maybe I will be his first disciple. Vicente will play a big role in whether or not I decide to become a Christian.”

Woah.

Talk about pressure. Bible study is scheduled now for this week.  Please pray for both of us and the contacts and that the Lord and His love clearly speaks through us.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You…

Soooo… GREAT news.

Several months ago, we received an official looking email from our mission World Indigenous Missions.  WIM informed us that they had selected our family as movie stars for the upcoming… ok, that’s exaggerating it a bit.  But they kindly selected us to be directly involved in their new promotional video they are working on.  Only one other couple would be participating in this way out of the WIM family.  So, you can imagine what an honor this was!

Ok, a promo video.  That’s great, you’re say in a flat tone.  Well, turns out it’s a pretty rockin’ project!! This is not your typical promo video, people. Besides some creative geniuses we have running around at WIM, they are also partnering with a ministry called Creative Impact Ministries to put together this promo.  If you haven’t checked out their stuff– do it!  They put together docudramas that help you really see the lands that missionaries are working in and get to know not only the missionaries themselves, but the people to whom they minister and the lay of the land.  We’ve watched many of their films and you should too.  Your world will be broader for it.

One of the awesome perks of the job is that we will receive our very own docudrama of the Alvarado Story (title to be decided.. we don’t really want our name there). Not only will you get to see Japan, but you’ll get to see stories and meet people and really visit this wonderful country!!

It’s been a bit of work so far.  Our brains have been creatively wracked.  We’ve come up with filming locations, interviewees, written letters and translated them into Japanese requesting permission for filming.  I have pages and pages of notes from homework they’ve given us.  And lots and lots of questions they’ve asked us on our several Skype planning sessions.

Anyway, CIM is traveling with WIM (there’s gotta be some joke there, I just can’t come up with it) right now and will return to WIM headquarters in Texas.  Then in October they will come stay with us for two weeks.

So please stay tuned on the project.  We’re excited to see what God will do, but we know that it’s going to require a lot of prayer protection, ne. Speaking of prayer, we are expecting an answer from Vicente’s school about permission to film there.  When he turned in the packet we put together, he got a “muzukashii” answer (“it’s hard”) which is usually a prelude (or otherwise outright) to “no”. So, please be praying with us for favor and a “yes!!”

More to come later!  This is a GREAT opportunity!!

Weird Cravings

Nope.  Not what you’re thinking.

The other day I was in our living room and I had the weirdest desire.  I really just wanted to go to Walmart.

I know.  All the cars in the world just came to a screeching halt.  Even I did a double take at that one.

To be fair- I do appreciate certain aspects of Walmart.  I can get glasses there for pretty cheap, for example.  But the floating islands of merchandise.  Seriously.  Unless its $2 dvds, I’m not interested.  The congestion… aisles. people. products.  Sigh. It’s just not for me.

Give me Target any day.  Spacious aisles.  Style. Pretty competitive prices.  Clothes that last more than one washing.  And Clearance.  You know what I’m talking about.

I guess the desire was just for familiar territory. Even if Walmart is not my number one choice, I can still navigate it and get out of there faster than at Target… unless there is a back up at the registers.  Which there always is.  But I don’t have to think.  Everything that I would expect to be there is there.

Living in a foreign country is fun.  It’s adventurous, especially when you get to see the fruits of your labor.  I read a book recently that said that there are some people who are just wired for travel.  And that’s me.  I recognize it and feel it… a foreign language, signs I can’t read, an extensive train system and most of all, being able to communicate that message of hope to people who have never before heard it. Being able to disciple people in a challenging language, and see growth.  Worship in other tongues.

This is where my heart really connects and all the Christmas lights on my inner house come twinkling alive.

But sometimes, the familiarity of home is good too.  And I’m totally putting the family issue aside, because that’s a completely separate compartment in my mind and soul.  Familiarity is ease. But it’s deeper than that.  It’s associated with those warm-fuzzy-sweaters-on-cold-days feelings.  Drinking hot apple cider on a fall day.  A book on a rainy day.  And while I find familiarity here in stages and times, it doesn’t have the roots that a drive with the windows down on a sunny day has.

There are certain things I like to do when we go home that help connect me to my other self.  Like browsing Barnes and Noble with a coffee in my hand. Making meals that remind me of good, hearty home with all the smells of Christmas excitement in the air. Drive. Use real liquid flavored creamer.  Drink Diet Dr. Pepper.  Wash laundry with fabric softeners I’m used to. Use a drier, the blessed machine.

And walk every single aisle of Target. As many times as I can.

Baaaaaaaaccccccck

Sorry for the MIA.  Occasionally it happens that things get so very busy there’s little time to think, much less write about it.  I know you know the feeling.

We have various things going on that I hope to be able to share with you over the coming weeks.  But as it’s nearing 11pm and my to-do list for tomorrow is ever lengthening, I’ll share a snippet.

One of the people I’ve been sharing with recently came to two events we had in one day– a baby shower (that I was hosting with another person) and a barbecue our cell group sector was throwing.  I was to share a short word that would connect the baby shower with the Gospel.  There were going to be nonbelievers so we didn’t want to have them leave without planting a few seeds.

I had very little time to prepare it.  But as we were walking to the store less than 24 hours before the event, Emily, our summer guest, suggested Psalm 139 and I agreed that of course! That would be a great idea.

That night, I typed it out and it seemed to come together.  The next day, I shared.  It worked– it had the awh-sweet moments and funny moments and truth moments.  No particular response from anyone though.

Baby shower ends.  A very sweaty hour later, we show up to the barbecue.  One of the Japanese young men shared his testimony during the course of the evening.  Lo and behold, he shared on the same verse that I shared from!

Later, I was chatting with our contact who had come to both events.  She brought it up separately to me and another friend that the same verse had been shared.  She said that because she had heard it twice in one day, it must be something that she needed to hear or that needed to be communicated to her.  She planned to try to find the verse later that night.

So, it’s those moments.  Those moments that even though I don’t particularly see what’s happening, under the surface the Lord’s word is at work, germinating.  It’s really, really encouraging– because the Lord wove so much together to tell one heart that she was knit together by the Lord. He is the after all the master Artist and weaver of people, times and places.  For His glory.

I’m happy I get to be a thread.