Saturday, July 21, 2018

Final Post

     The video montage for July 19 and Sims' testimony have been added to the July 19 blog entry.  The pictures for 7/18 were out of order and have been corrected.

     Well, we are all home now after a very long day.  It was sad as we did not all travel together.  Paul stayed with 3 girls and traveled separately from the rest of us, who took a train and a bus to the airport in Hiroshima for a "puddle-jumper" flight to Tokyo.  Since Paul was not with us, we relied on Ayaka to make all the connections.  I don't know what we would have done without her.  She has been such a valuable member of the Seahorse team since 2009.  We lost one more in Tokyo who had a different flight.  Then at LA, we still had three who had to get connections to the east coast.  It is always sad to leave, but we have the reunion to look forward to.  Final notes, on the plane, Autumn (who is from Bangladesh) actually had a chance to sit next to a couple from Bangladesh.  What are the odds.  Then, a flight attendant who had been kind to her and brought her a gift, she was able to give a Japanese Bible to (leftover from Tokuyama).  The attendant asked to be friends on Facebook and promised to read the Bible.  Pray for that contact with Autumn.

     This was a fantastic trip.  Thanks for your prayers.We had so much prayer on the trip too, and no major injuries.  We did have two fairly serious health issues (which those involved know by now--if you don't know, it wasn't your child), but God provided wonderfully by having just the right person there.  Thank you Sims (little did you know that these times would be a part of your trip).  Keep the Japanese people in mind, and continue your prayers for Hasui & Keiko (Iwata), BJ & Mary (Osaka), Masa & Chie (Osaka--who could use your financial support if God leads), Pastor Glen & Pastor Keegan (Iwakuni) and Ayaka (for her seminary studies).  Also, for all the contacts we made, for the Tokuyama girls who received Bibles, and for all the Facebook/Instagram connections made that they would bear fruit.  Thanks so much for your prayers.  We couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sharing Time, Tokuyama game, July 19

     This morning we had our traditional "Ebenezer" time where we put our stones of remembrance of the trip.  We spent 2 hours of everyone sharing their highs & lows from the trip, cultural experiences they enjoyed, and a verse that they would put on their stone of remembrance.  It was a very precious time.  That went from 9-11.  At 11 we went across the street to Missie's restaurant for lunch of her BLT sandwiches and curry rice that someone had donated.  We had a little time of rest and then were picked up by a bus from Tokuyama, where we will be playing our game tonight.  It was about an hour bus ride south from Iwakuni.  We usually take the train, but the track apparently had been damaged by the recent floods.  Two Tokuyama students came with the bus to escort us down.  After Paul finished talking with them, then he had Kelly talk with them as they wanted to practice their english, and Kelly also knows some Japanese.  When we got to Tokuyama, we had about an hour before the game and it was wonderful to see how well the girls mixed.  We played 2 15 minute games (shortened because of the heat and humidity) and then 1 15 minute game with mixed teams.  After the game & showers, we had more time of spontaneous mixing.  The girls couldn't have done better establishing relationships.  Another interesting event that happened before dinner, was there were some people from the church of the local missionaries, Jonathan & Dorothy Luethy, who came to pass out Bibles to the students.  This is unheard of, but the president, who was in attendance at the gathering, had given it the OK even though he himself is not a Christian (but his wife is).  We saw many of the girls looking them over.  Pray that after the testimonies of our songs, and Sims' actual testimony, that they will be led to read the Bibles to see what this is all about.  Another interesting experience was that after the church members passed out Bibles in our room (successfully), they went outside to pass out Bibles to those outside.  A member came back in and grabbed Sims and said they wouldn't take them.  Sims went out to help and they did take the Bibles from her.  This illustrates perfectly why what we are doing is so important as a bridge to reach the Japanese people in a way that those here initially cannot.  Well, after the program, there was a lot of mixing and then it was difficult goodbyes.  We have established great ties here and they want us back. Not only are we having an impact but we are allowing others to do so.  Pastor Glen and pastor Keegan at Calvary Chapel Iwakuni have said that they want to partner with us even more next with when the Biola mens team comes.  Pray for all these continuing relationships and the new ones we established with the Iwakuni Angels football club.
     We did another hynack session in the bus on the way home and finished it back at the church.  It was hilarious and just what the team needed to finish their time here.
      It is already 11:30 as I write this.  I have to pack and we have to be out of here at 7:45am as we have many connections to make.  Therefore, this blog will not be the usual.  I will upload todays pictures, but with no explanations.  I also will not be adding the video montage for the day.  Check back in a couple days and I will have the pictures labeled and the montage up.

Video Montage--7/19
Testimony Sims--7/19

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Kintai Bridge & Iwakuni Castle Sightseeing, Special Lunch, Disaster Preparedness Center, Game, July 18

     Today was a relaxing day.  It was our traditional day to do some sightseeing and shopping.  After breakfast, we gathered about 9 to take taxis to go see the famous Kintai bridge and Iwakuni Castle.  The original bridge was built in 1673 and was entirely wood--even the nails.  It was destroyed by a flood the following year.  It was rebuilt and lasted until 1950 when it was destroyed due a typhoon.  The bridge we saw today was rebuilt in 1953.  Just last week, because of the flooding they experienced here (many people died), the water in the river had been almost all the way up the stone columns (see pictures) and the bridge had been closed for safety.  We traditionally take our picture in the riverbed, and in less than a week, the river bed was back to normal.  I found some pictures of what the river looked like on July 7th of this year and put them in for comparison.  After we took our team picture, we had a couple of hours to cross the bridge, shop, eat ice cream, go to the castle, visit the white snakes (some of us), and see the place where Paul used to live growing up.
     After the visit, we all got taxis again and went to lunch.  This was a very special lunch as a treat for the girls.  It was not on the original plan.  It is a style of Japanese eating called Shabu Shabu.  Meat and/or vegetables are brought to the table and cooked in a pot of boiling flavor base.  Eat pot had two sides, so the base that the meat is cooked in is two different flavors (it can just be water too).  There were also sauces that the meat could be dipped into after the cooking.  The water was so hot, and the meat provided is so thin that it only takes a couple of "swishes" for the meat to be cooked thoroughly.  It was a lot of fun.  The meat was two containers of bacon, with each container having about 8 pieces---bacon heaven.  After lunch, we were shuttled by car back to the church, had a little time to rest and then off at 4 to go visit the Disaster Preparedness Center, which is just across the street from where our games (last night & tonight) have been.  It was very interesting.  They had a room where you could experience various levels of earthquakes (we did from a 2.0 to a 7.0 earthquake), practice escaping a smoke-filled room, practice using a fire extinguisher to put out a fire (on a screen, but it actually simulated putting it out), and calling 911 (but in Japan it is 119).  They had a see-through floor to view the structure of the foundation and the mechanism used to help the building ride out an earthquake.
    We then had some time to kill until about 6:15 when it was time to go over to prepare for the game at 7 against the Iwakuni Angels, the same team we played yesterday.  The game was good, and after the game, the post-game mixing was good, and you could tell that they were a little more relaxed after our time together yesterday.  They even sang us a song in English ("Let It Go"), and since they didn't have much time to practice, we joined in with them.  Our spectators also included several city officials.  They were probably observing how all of this was working to see if it was worth continuing.  I think from what they saw, it was a huge hit (see pictures and videos).  After the game, it was showers at the facility, then back to the church.  We have only the one car (which can hold 6 and was leant by Pastor Glen) and would've meant at least 4 trips back and forth, but we received a call from Pastor Keegan who said he and another would come to help drive us back.  Calvary Chapel church as been such a phenomenal blessing to us with housing and driving.  It has saved us time, money and in general been a huge blessing and comfort for us.  The ladies have a room where they can spread out too.  So, thank you Calvary Chapel Iwakuni!!

Video Montage--7/18
Testimony Amy--7/18
My God Is So Big--7/18
Let It Go, Their song to us--7/18

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Iwakuni Minami Yochien Kindergarten, Game with Iwakuni Angels, July 17

     This morning we were picked up by the buses from the kindergarten.  They are called fun buses, and you will see why from the pictures and videos.  It was a lot of fun, but squeezing into those seats were quite a challenge.  What else do you do on a kindergarten bus, but sing songs, which is what the ladies did on the way.  When we arrived, we were ushered into the auditorium to participate in their birthday ceremony.  The whole program started off with a Buddhist priest leading the ceremony, and altar and the kids repeating something.  It looked a lot like a worshipping of a god. Lots of other songs and numbers, special recognition of the birthday people and their mothers.  The Seahorses were introduced and sang their Japanese song, presented a gift to the principal, but we didn't do anything else.  Since this is our first visit their, they want to be careful about coming on too strong and not getting invited back.  It is all about relationship building here, and slowly at that.  After the program, we did a Seahorse tunnel to have the kids go through as we passed out gifts.  We took the buses to a sushi bar, and you should have seen the eyes of some of the girls who had never seen one before.  It was an enjoyable experience for all.  We walked from there back to the church and had a very low-key afternoon.  We were supposed to be picked up at 5 to go to the field for a 7pm game.  It is very hot/humid again today, so it is a good thing we are not playing until 7.  However, the bus was not available, so we had to arrange cars.  It "just so happened" that months ago, Paul could not escape the nagging feeling that he should get his international drivers license as he was planning to take a trip next year with Ken-Chan's father--but, he felt he should get his license this year anyway--which he did.  Well, the pastor at the church we are staying at loaned us his car for the time we are here, so Paul was able to drive it, which meant we had two cars to ferry people.  It still meant a couple of trips, but doable.  Just another way God started planning months ago for what he knew we would face.  

Video Montage--7/17
Kimi-Wa-Kindergarten version--7/17

Monday, July 16, 2018

Travel Day, July 16

    Where did the time go?  We have to leave Osaka already.  We were visited this morning by Masa & Chie, and Shizuko.  We said our thank yous and goodbyes, presented gifts and then it was off to the bus for about a six hour ride to Iwakuni.  One person who is helping set up our time in Iwakuni is Missie, who was led to the Lord by Paul's parents during their time in Iwakuni years ago.  2 years ago, we stopped at a random truck stop, by chance stopped at the Starbucks, and ran into Missie's daughter.  Today, we stopped at the same Starbucks, but didn't even know if she still worked there.  She does, and even though she works only 3 days a week, she was there and even on her break when we got there.  Not a real big deal, but a blessing that God gave to let us know he is here, especially needed as yesterday was such a rough day.  We arrived at the church and after unloading the bus, we went directly across the street to Missie's restaurant to meet with her students from her English class as she wanted us to meet them.  Then back to the church to organize our rooms, and then back to Missie's for dinner--her famous BLT with avocado sandwiches.  At least they are famous among the servicemen at at the base.  After dinner and a little fun with a local young soccer player, it was back to church, sharing for the ladies and Paul & Steve off to do laundry for the team.  We have a light schedule tomorrow, so it will be helpful for the ladies to have some downtime.  The heat was still really bad today, but since we were traveling, it didn't impact us too much.  Tomorrow hopefully will not be as hot, but our game is not until 7pm, so that should help too.  We are nearing the end, but don't stop praying now.  We want to end well.  Particularly here in Iwakuni as it is our first year doing what we are doing here, and we want to start it well.

Video Montage--7/16
My God Is So Great, Missie's restaurant (great acoustics)
Kimi-Wa, Missie's restaurant