Recently we met (re-met?) some folks from our home church in California… but on this side of the globe. It turned out to be a series of interesting surprises on both our sides.
I say re-met because we actually met this Japanese family briefly on our trip home over a year ago. We chatted for a while after a service, but then that trip was so incredibly busy that we never were able to connect again.
Our home church has been featuring a different missionary every month, which has been pretty fun to see. We were able to skype in at like 1:30 one Monday morning for us, to attend the 9am service back home. It was really refreshing and we were able to chat with some folks in between services via skype out in the courtyard.
Anyhow, the wife of the family stopped by our table and asked if we would be attending a certain event in Japan. We had heard about it and she was going to be a translator, so of course, we definitely wanted to make sure we showed up!
A month later– My husband went to the event (I couldn’t with the kids) and connected. Turns our this great Japanese couple had gotten saved in America and then when some natural transitions happened in their life, they began searching for a home church closer to home. They were looking around but hadn’t really decided anything.
They visited our church and upon walking in the door, our names/faces (?) were on the screen: Missionaries to Japan. It was very striking to them, and their expressions telling the story are always big each time. For them it was a sign, that this church had a heart for Japan. That night there happened to be a night of prayer for the missionaries and they decided they wanted to go and participate and after that night, for them, their new home church was decided.
We had no idea this was going on. We weren’t even in the country. Anyway, Vicente and I were amazed to hear the story! Praise God they were able to connect to a wonderful home church!!
The next Sunday, I show up to church and Vicente helps me with getting the kids down the stairs and tells me that their family is here. EEhhh? (It’s a Japanese sound of surprise and questioning). Well, we chatted a bit after service and invited them for a meal at our place later that week.
The wife was still translating at events, but her husband and daughters came. He told us another amazing tale. Apparently this is his hometown. Right? Of all the places in Japan! A few years ago, he was on a visit and attended a small fellowship of a few people some stops over on the train line. He looked for it again when visiting this time but couldn’t find it. So, he decided to check if there was any Calvary Chapels in the area and was surprised to find one in Tokorozawa. He and his daughters showed up for the service.
What they didn’t know was that we are working at the same church! They knew that we were in the Tokyo area, but weren’t sure where. And we only just recently updated in the info on our home church’s website. So, they were able to connect with us, we had dinner and fellowship and a time of encouragement together as we shared testimonies.
This week the husband will return home, though his wife and daughters will stay on in different places in Japan. Today they came to church again and said their goodbyes. They waited for Vicente, who had run to the store after service, to return.
He left us with some words of encouragement– I know Japan can be a difficult place. It can be hard. But keep working hard– keep persevering!
After such a story of connections, our heart is amazed at how God works things. Neither of us were aware of how God was setting things up and maneuvering things to lead us to where He wanted us to be. The words from this couple who we feel like God has obviously connected us with are one of those things that we’ll put aside in our hearts as a mile-marker along the path we walk.