Monday, August 19, 2019

Day 15, August 19, Miyajima, Hiroshima & Sushi (Final blog)

   Today was a much needed day of rest and not having to be "on" for ministry.  It was a day free to do some sightseeing on the island of Miyajima (known for its famous Torii Gate & free-roaming deer).  It was time to do some shopping, enjoying the culture and another team picture in from of a Pagoda.  After Miyajima, we went to the Peace Park in Hiroshima.  While it rained on and off, it was mostly off and even the times it rained was not too bad (as opposed to today--as I write this it is pouring outside).  The visit to the Peace Park was very moving to everyone.  Seeing actual pictures, and particularly reading the stories of actual survivors brought many of us to tears.  Reading about it is one thing--seeing it is another.  After Hiroshima, came the long awaited trip to a sushi bar.  We had had to postpone it twice due to unexpected schedule changes (what else is new on an outreach trip), but we finally got it in and the guys loved it.  After dinner, one last trip to the sento and back to the church.  While this was a day not to be "on", we had many, many opportunities to pass out brochures, Paul's life story and generally meet and engage a lot of people.  Pray that these contacts, as short as some of them may have been, will spark something in them to follow up and ask questions.  The brochure and the life story have contact points should the readers want to find out more.
    This will be the last blog entry as today is just the trip home, and by the time an entry could be done, everyone will be home and can report personally.  It was a great trip and I am sure that it will change many of the guys.  We had a lot of chances to share, continued building old relationships, broke a lot of new ground, and enjoyed meeting people who were the fruit of prior trips.  Continue to pray as you think of Japan, for those faithful people working here (including Pastor BJ, Masa & Chie, Pastor Hasui, and Pastor's Glenn & Keegan) and that they may have plenty of opportunities to continue and further the seeds that we helped plant & water.
      If you feel led to support this ministry, you can do so by contacting MAI or the Seahorses, or if you want to specifically support Japan, there is a link on the blog to support Masa & Chie.  Also, consider supporting next year's trip as it will be the Biola Women's Team.  Thanks again for all your prayers.  We couldn't have done it without you.

Pictures (8/19)
Pictures (Complete)
Video Montage (8/19)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Day 14, August 18, Church, Games


     We woke up at 7 to eat breakfast and then clean up for the church service.  All of our stuff had to be packed up as if to leave and carried downstairs to a storage room until after church.  At 12, we had lunch across the street again at Sako's.  Darn, BLT's again.  Oh hurt me.  Then we had down time until 4 when we began the shuttle service to the field for the games tonight with F-18 pilot Russell Davis' new soccer ministry.  We got there early and had about 90 minutes to kill until game time.  The facility is just a few years old and beautiful.  When it was finally opened, it just so happened that the Seahorses were in town for a tour and had the honor of playing the very first game there.  There were six teams that played, so we play short 20 minute or 15 minute games so everyone could play each other.  The team from our host church, Calvary Chapel Iwakuni won the tournament. JMac and Axel played for them.  After the game, Russell Davis closed the time with an encouragement for those who came tonight, to keep coming to the pickup games that they have every two weeks.  The turnout tonight was great, which was exactly what we had hoped our presence would do to give Russell's new ministry a boost.  After Russell spoke, Todd did his testimony and we passed out the team brochures and Paul's life story in both English and Japanese.  Then we were shuttled to McDonalds for dinner.  The ordering got really messed up and it took almost 2 hours to get out of there.  We didn't get back to the church until almost midnight.  Tomorrow we get to go to Hiroshima and Miyajima.

Pictures (8/18)
Pictures (Complete)
Video Montage (8/18) (3:05)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Day 13, August 17, Slow morning, BLT's, Kintai Bridge, All Testimonies


Summary version
     This was a slow relaxing morning for most of the team as we did not have anything to do until lunch at 1pm.  Breakfast was at 9 and then Paul, Kousei, Daniel & Leo were off to do an interview at a local radio station.  They joined us for lunch and then we took taxi's to the Kintai Bridge area for some general sightseeing and the traditional team picture.  Then it was home by taxi again and a pizza dinner.  We all needed the down time.

Extended version:
     When we got to the bridge, it was too late in the day to be able to visit the castle as it closed so soon that we would not be able to have time to get up there.  So, we just enjoyed the 100 flavor ice cream store, and walked the grounds, which included a visit to the location of Paul's childhood home.  The amazing thing about that visit, is that when we arrived at the spot, there was an elderly man parking next door who was looking at us quizzically (wouldn't you?).  So, Paul walked over to talk to him to explain why we were there.  When Paul mentioned that he used to live there, the man, without prompting, asked if he knew Vince & Virginia Gizzi (Paul's parents).  What are the odds! (actually, where God is concerned, the odds are very good).  Anyway, both Paul and the man were thrilled at this encounter.  The man had lived in this location for 47 years, so of course, knew Paul and his parents.  They exchange e-mails and intend to stay connected.
     Because we were not able to do the castle, Paul said that guys could swim in the river, but upriver from the bridge where the water is calm (they had already been prepared by bringing swim gear).  Ultimately, I think they enjoyed this as much as they would have the castle.  They had about an hour and a half to enjoy the water.
     As we were leaving and crossing the bridge, we ran into a family from the base.  The son (14) recognized Paul from his trip in June where they did a clinic at the base.  The mom is a teacher at the Matthew C. Perry school where Paul went when he lived here.  Again, what are the odds of leaving at that exact right moment.  Love it when God shows up like that!
     Before dinner, Paul shared with us that he had already heard from one of the Japanese guys we met on the train ride to Tokuyama.  He wanted to share pictures and stay connected.  You never know where ministry is going to happen.  After dinner, Paul, Kousei, Daniel & Leo shared about their time (30 mins) being interviewed on live radio.  It was a local station, but you could find it on the internet and a number of people listened to it (we have a copy, and we hope to post it on the blog at some point).  The four gave a generally accounting of what we did, but were able to include some information about that we were Christians and sharing about Jesus. After their interview, they made visits to several community locations for "Meet & Greets".  Just getting to know them and setting up the possibilities of ministries in the future.  This station wants to do another interview with Paul when he comes for his set-up trip in March, and two more interviews next summer when the Biola women come.
     So, a slow day, but still one packed with the Lord at work!  Thanks for your prayers.  Tomorrow our big event is the evening soccer time with Russell the F-18 pilot who has started a soccer ministry, so we are showing up to give it a boost.

Pictures (8/17)
Pictures (Complete)
Video Montage (8/17)
(Testimonies were all translated, but have had those portions edited out)
Testimony, Jake, Kindai, 8/9 (3:19)
Testimony, Alex, Masa's Aft Team (only partial), 8/10 (0:39)
Testimony, David, Masa's Clinic, 8/10 (3:07)
Testimony, Todd, FC Papas (Mr Mizuno's team), 8/11 (2:03)
Testimony, Leo, Tokuyama University, 8/16 (2:05)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Day 12, August 16, Kindergarten (not), Lunch (not), Tokuyama game, High School Meet & Greet (not)

    Well, an unusual day.  We were supposed to start in the morning with a visit to a Buddhist kindergarten, and they were to pick us up in these special buses, but at the last minute they could not get a driver for the buses, so that had to be canceled.  We then just decided to leave early for the train station and hang out there until it was time to leave for Tokuyama.  The train ride to Tokuyama was about an hour and then the Tokuyama University bus picked us up for a 15 minute ride to the school.  We played two 25-min halves, did our cheer, Leo did a testimony, we passed out the team brochure, and Paul passed out his life story and how it relates to Japan (printed in Japanese). We saw a lot of them reading these immediately. After the game there was some general mixing and fellowship time.  We had a quick shower and then finally had lunch at 3:30--the lunch we were supposed to have on the train didn't work out, so Paul had bought some energy food at the station and then we ate lunch late (3:45pm)  That's ministry--flexibility.  After "lunch", we went to a new location.  It was a high school where we were to have a "meet & greet", just generally a time to get to know them, play some icebreaker games and such.  However, this too didn't happen (they do say things come in threes).  They were so excited to play an American team, that our "meet & greet" became two 15 min halves.  They had U.S. and Japan flags to hold for our group picture and wanted us to sing our national anthem and then they sang theirs.  After the game, we did our cheer, Leo gave his testimony again, and we passed out the team brochure and Paul passed out his life story.  Then there was some general mixing and lots of picture taking.  After this, we took the train back home, ate dinner near the train station, walked to the sento and then back to the church.
     Continue to pray for these encounters that the words they heard, many for the first time we're sure, would prompt something in their hearts, and that could be the beginning of many more visits.

Pictures (8/16)
Pictures (Complete)
Video Montage (8/16), 6:08
Singing the National Anthem, 1:22
Japanese High School Boys Singing their anthem, 0:48
Bo-te-le-li, 8-16, (one of their guys came out and joined us the first time)
Bo-te-le-li, Both teams, 8-16 (they love the opportunity to get crazy)
Game Highlights, Tokuyama, 8-16, 2:58
Post-game fun, Tokuyama, 8-16, 2:43 (the first thing we did, "Pen, Pineapple, Apple, Pen" is apparently a YouTube viral sensation (over 278 million views).  We did not plan on doing this, it was just kind of spontaneous)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Day 11, August 15, Travel (Iwata to Iwakuni)

     Wake-up was early at 6:45 so that we could pack and clean up the church before we left.  Breakfast at 7:30-8 and then leave to walk to the bus, so it was a quick morning.  It is always tough to say goodbye, particularly when the stay was so short, but it was good to hear from Pastor Hasui this morning on the impact that we've already had for just this trip (see video montage).  Thank you for your prayers as there was some initial concern that the typhoon would force the closure of the highway.  It did not.  When we arrived, one of the locals told us that the typhoon had come up north from Okinawa, but when it got to this area, it veered off to the west.  Praise God.  We have a great set-up here, and have some great new partners to work with in Pastor Glenn and Pastor Keegan.  In addition to the ground-breaking ministry, there will also be some time for sightseeing--but more on that later.  Thanks again and keep praying.

Pictures (8/15)
Pictures (Complete)
Video Montage (8/15)
Team Skit with Explanation (8/14--not time for it yesterday)
Team Song with Explanation (8/14-not time for it yesterday)