Monthly Report #3 from Joel Osborn in Japan - October 2002
There are those rich moments in life where we think to ourselves, “If only I could freeze this moment so that I could keep it.” Every sense, every thought, every feeling…we are afraid it will be lost in our memories. I have had many of those moments recently. Perhaps I am just learning to enjoy what God gives and does each day. Let me share just a few.
Noriko turned to me minutes before the devotional began and I knew something was on her mind. I met her for the first time last summer, but over e-mail we had the opportunity to discuss more deeply about the character of God and the nature of prayer. She sent me notice of her marriage this last year, too. “Joel,” she said, “I have some songs in my heart.” I asked her what she meant. She replied “My husband told me that I am singing these songs all of the time and seem so happy. They are the songs you are teaching us in the devotional.” I smiled. The Lord is accomplishing His purposes.
One of the men I have the utmost respect for, stood behind the pulpit and opened his notes. There was an air about him of mixed emotions satisfaction, accomplishment, sadness, true joy it was the bittersweet mixture that comes at the end of anything. For almost 25 years (as long as I have been alive), Mawatari-sensei has been faithfully reading a chapter out of the Bible in the evening worship service on Sundays. On September 15th, we completed Revelation 22. So much of life had happened for him personally, and for the life and ministry of the church in Sendai. When he began this project, he had already been praying for almost 20 years for missionaries to join him. He was able to read the last nine chapters of the Bible with the new, young missionaries. Now, even more would change.
He was free of the responsibility of preparing a sermon for Sunday evenings because Jon, Ben and I would assume it. Throughout the entire sermon, I devoured each word with respect for his faithfulness, joy in the shared sense of celebration and completion, and a touch of sadness realizing that this man is just a few years away from his retirement. We have been so blessed to have such a man in these initial stages of our involvement with this ongoing mission. I smiled, knowing that the Lord continues to accomplish His purposes.
I am finding these moments which I wish to “freeze” on a regular basis.
People encourage me to keep a journal, but time doesn’t permit it. For now, I just have the time to smile and recognize that these “freeze-able” moments are God’s way of showing me that He continues to accomplish His purposes.
1) Guests - two weekends this month, we had guests fill our home. Four of our friends who teach English and assist in the ministry of the church in Mito, travelled north to see us and to see some of the work we are doing here. It was a lot of fun! At the end of the month, Dwight and Josephine Albright stayed with us while Dwight spoke at our gospel meeting and our devotional on Tuesday night. We were able to take them to see Matsushima Bay, had a Japanese barbecue and spent time with them in discussion about our developing curriculum for EBC. It was so encouraging to have these mentor/encourager/past missionaries here with us.
2) Weather - it has been getting much cooler, especially at night, and we have had a fair amount of rain. I am so excited that Autumn is upon us - this is my first Autumn season in Japan. A few trees have begun to change colour, and each day I watch keenly for more change.
3) Ministry - our devotionals continue to go well, with attendance ranging from 16 to 27. Ben will take the responsibility from me for coordinating devotionals in October and November. We had an orientation meeting for EBC on Friday, Sept 27th. We currently have 30 people registered, and I'm pleased to share that we have at least one Japanese christian in each group to work with us. Bible studies continue to roll along. I have begun a Bible study with Hanako, who was baptized in July. We are looking at some foundational principles of christian life. I have prepared meals for several people this last month as a way for them to spend time with our team and continue relationship building.
4) Language Study - my "plateau" ended, and I'm on an upward swing again.
I realized that I am beginning to understand/hear more and can listen for prolonged periods of time, even though I'm not at the point of being able to express myself. I've also begun studying Kanji.
5) David Moon - David, former LST worker and friend from York, has been offered a job by James English school. He will begin teaching later this month, pending his visa process. We are thankful he is able to stay here and provide valuable support and additions to the ministry here.
6) Birthdays - David (Sept 6 - 23rd) and Ben (Sept 20 - 24th) had their birthdays this month.
1) Finances - in addition to being short on funds, Bramalea informed me that some of my pledges have not been coming in. This is an additional stress factor. Please pray that the Lord will continue to provide for daily and monthly needs as well as blessing congregations and individuals in this "budget season".
2) Yuko Kawamura - will travel to York and Colorado for 2 weeks. Please ask the Lord to bless her with safe travel and will use it as a way to continue strengthening her faith and her searching.
3) EBC & Gospel Singing Class - as we begin these new ministries, please pray that God will give us wisdom and that He will accomplish his purposes through these efforts.
4) Nagakura Family & Day of Prayer - may the Lord bless this important ministry of prayer.
Thank you all for your encouragement and faithfulness.