Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 7, AWANA, 2 Churches, Lunch with each Church, Evening Praise Service

    Fortunately we are not doing anything really early, so we didn't have to be up until breakfast at 7:30.  Since the ladies are sleeping in the sanctuary, all of their stuff had to be cleaned out of the room and stuffed into the room at the back (see picture/video montage) which is Susan's room.  At 9:30, Pastor Hasui's church had AWANA.  Pastor explained that AWANA at his church is for training the youth of his church, while at some other churches, it is used to reach out to the community and draw them in.  Worship at Pastor Hasui's church (Iwata Christ Church) was 10:30 for group 1. Group 2 left at 10 for worship at the Iwata Japan Alliance Christ Church & Iwata Immanuel Christ Church (combined meeting).  Group 2 worship sat in 3 groups near the back of the church so that each group could have its own translator.  We were also given a copy of the program outline in English with the main points of the pastor's sermon (Acts 6:1-15, Stephen the first martyr).  The church had about 50 people including children.  Gil Mellis gave the Seahorse presentation and the main testimony.  During the service, we were called up front to introduce ourselves and asked to sing a song.  We were really unprepared for this, but the girls sang our team song (without hand motions) and did a great job, even though we have had such a short time to practice it live.  Flexibility is the word!
     After church, we rearranged the church pews and
ate lunch with the congregation.  Curry beef.  Yum.  Only here 2 days and already had curry twice.  It doesn't get any better :-) (for me anyway).   After lunch, we again experienced that which all missions trips experience---flexibility.  While Gil had given the testimony during the worship service, after lunch they asked for ALL the seahorses to do their testimonies (short version--3mins).  This caught us off-guard, but the group was great and it worked out well to have a variety of testimonies to share.
     After testimonies, we were privileged to a tea ceremony, which they first explained up front, and then we experienced 3 at a time in the back.  Following the tea ceremony, we mixed with the congregation, building friendships and relationships.
     Group 1 worshipped at Pastor Hasui's church where the Team Mom, Susan, gave her testimony.  After worship, they ate bento lunch with the church members and then headed to the sento for baths/showers.
     The late afternoon was free until dinner at the church, followed by a praise & worship service from 7-9 at Pastor Hasui's church (where we are staying).  The praise and worship team came to start practicing at 3 and then joined us for dinner.  We worshipped from 7-9, singing, two testimonies from the Japanese, and one from our girls (Michelle).  Several of us were commenting afterwords, and also Michelle as an intro to her testimony, that it was SO encouraging to see so many young vibrant Japanese Christians.   Many of the Christians in Japan are older, and some churches have very little youth.  It was encouraging to our efforts to see these youth and encourage them also in their faith.  They even have their own youth network and Facebook page.  And it is not just the youth we are hear to encourage as we also noticed how encouraged the older Christians seemed to be by our visit.  Following worship we ate (again?) dessert and fellowshipped some more.  The ladies are already such pros at mixing and relating to the Japanese youth.
     Tomorrow is a slow morning, so some of us will be up at 4am to watch the World Cup final.  Thank you all for your prayers---keep them going.

Day 7 Video Montage

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