Our God, Eager to Save

Posted January 10, 2010

Tomohisa had reached a coveted status in Japan’s vertically-ordered society: medical doctor. Along with the status came wealth, which he used to buy the affection of women…and lots of booze. His selfishness blinded... [Read More]

The Humbled Tsunami

Posted December 2, 2011

When the warning sirens went off, residents in a south Sendai neighborhood fled to the local school. Together with panicked children still in class they climbed to the rooftop. Some 600 altogether... [Read More]

Japanese Get "Bach" Hope

Posted September 21, 2011

Who would have thought Bach would be involved in 21st century mission work in Japan? I have frequently read with interest of the strong connection between classical music (particularly J.S. Bach) and Japanese interest... [Read More]

Tsunami Ground Zero

Posted April 7, 2011

I still haven't returned from tsunami ground zero. That is to say, although I've been back several days already, the reality of the scene is still with me. The incredible amounts of mud in once beautiful homes... [Read More]

"Nice Try, Kevin" File

Posted February 9, 2011

This one goes into the "Nice try, Kevin" file. I just thought it was a nice-looking bunch of flowers in the storefront and, on the spur of the moment, decided Kaori deserved to enjoy them. Chrysanthemums, however, are... [Read More]

The Gulliver Complex

Posted November 9, 2007

I'm a giant again. Well, not really. But it sure feels like it again since returning from the States. The first sign was bumping my head in the shuttle bus from the airport. By habit, I normally duck my head through any... [Read More]

Foreigners Don't Get the Point

Posted January 31, 2010

I'm standing in line at a drugstore with other shoppers. The woman in front of me has just pulled out a business card file. Hurriedly she flips through at least a hundred or more cards searching for the right one. It's a... [Read More]

More Powerful than Bombs

Posted July 5, 2008

Fuchida grew up loving his native Japan and hating the United States, which treated Asian immigrants harshly in the first half of the twentieth century. Fuchida attended a military academy, joined Japan's... [Read More]

Ready?

Posted September 14, 2010

I'd been putting it off. Although I knew it was important, taking inventory of our earthquake and disaster gear just wasn't getting done. Japan rests along the "ring of fire" in the Pacific ocean, a stretch of area that is... [Read More]

150 Years Later

Posted March 17, 2009

This spring marks the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. The first protestant missionaries set foot in the port of Yokohama back in 1859. Now they were real church planters -- overcoming all... [Read More]

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I for Japan. Japan for the World. The World for Christ. And All for the Glory of God.

— Kanzo Uchimura, Japanese Evangelist

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Rambling Notes from Japan

Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.

Last Day of School

Remember that last day of school feeling? The day finally came that you knew your debt to school was fully paid...at least for the summer. The last report was turned in. The final test was written. Books were returned. Your locker cleaned out for the last time. It took my dad an extra 40 years, but he's finally reached that point in his life as well. His retirement party after a long ministry of teaching (it really is a ministry, not a career) was last night at Illiana Christian High School. The last bell finally rang.

"I never really left school. It's just part of what I've always done. It doesn't seem possible this is really happening!" I heard him repeating. He was well roasted by his fellow teachers. They even sang a special number, a parody of "At the Hop" with the same familiar tune and entitled "At the Shop." But all his colleagues also very sincerely complimented his dedication, faithfulness, sense of organization and neatness, love and care of his students, and skill as a teacher. 40 years of teaching "shop" class, and no lost fingers or blinded eyes. That in itself is an amazing feat! But to have made an impact in the lives of generations of students, to teach even their children's children, that is even more amazing. It was fitting to end the evening with "Amazing Grace." Congratulations, Dad, on your 40 years of ministry.

Meanwhile, another generation of Lavermans was celebrating his last day of school...at least for summer. Kaori and I pulled up to his elementary school today to pick him up. I knew I was in for a great show, so I was careful to park the car in a way that we got an unblocked view of the school exit doors. Then we waited for the last bell.

We weren't disappointed. The kids literally came bounding out of the doors, dancing on air, skipping, leaping and swinging their school bags about them. It was written all over their faces: LAST DAY OF SCHOOL! Oh, what a feeling! Three months to daydream outside, swim in the pool, read a book of your own choosing, play with friends, vacation with family, and the list goes on.

Although Justen's school year was at Lansing Christian was a bit abbreviated (just 6 weeks as we returned to the States in mid-April), he was also thrilled to be finished. But he really enjoyed being with his classmates again (spent 1st and part of 3rd grade with same kids), and he loved his teacher, Mrs. Furlong, pictured here at the left. Mrs. Furlong is another teacher with a long impact as I remember her well from MY school days at Lansing Christian some 30 year ago.


Time Travel Again

We went time traveling again last week. The trip to the States from Japan is always a very literal trip back in time. We arrive at our destination in Chicago at an earlier time than we left from Japan. This is possible because we fly east and cross over the international date line. In the case of last week, we left at 6:30pm on a Wednesday and arrived at 4:20pm the same day. Witnessing two sunsets the same day is very odd. It's enough to put one's body into a jetlag tailspin. And it did. And so again this past week we've dealt with the problem of being wide awake by 3am, and ready to crawl into bed by 4pm the same day. Our bodies do not handle time travel very well apparently. Our bodies grumble at the new schedule, the new and sudden change in diet, the new surroundings and climate.

The physical adjustment of coming to the States is one real challenge. Still another challenge to this time travel is the mental adjustment. Big and small changes that have occurred in our culture and lives of people may have been easily absorbed if meted out one by one over time, but when you have been gone for a while and suddenly are met with all these changes at once, your brain begins to hiccup. You feel a bit of the Rip Van Winkle syndrome. You wonder if you really belong in this country. When exactly did people begin doing this (i.e., walking around talking to themselves with things stuck in their ear, self-checking their groceries, etc. etc.)? This neighborhood has changed. That person is no longer alive. Those familiar faces have grown older. A thousand and one little changes all around make us feel as though we have time traveled into the future.

This adjustment is perhaps the harder one to make, because there is a sense of loss and estrangement. While we don't expect things to remain the same, we do expect to feel at home when we return. But this feeling of moderate alienation with one's own culture should not be unique to missionaries. Scripture reminds all of us as believers that this world is not our home, that being uncomfortable in the world culture about us should be normal, that we are all sojourners looking toward a heavenly home. That "Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." Phil 3:20

I will always be a traveler in this world as I look forward to the next. This is a good reminder as we begin our home assignment back in to the States.


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We serve with WorldVenture, an evangelical faith mission. Our sending/home church is Cornerstone Church of Lansing, Illinois.
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