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.

When Garbage Refuses to Die

Sometimes garbage just refuses to die. And you know the situation is bad when even the recycle shop and trash collectors refuse to give it a final resting place.

The problem is a matter of simple physics. An unlimited amount of matter cannot occupy a limited amount of space at the same point in time. And our tiny Japanese home is, well, pretty limited! Like most Japanese houses, we have no basement, no attic, no garage, not even a large hall closet. Sending an unused item to storage limbo is simply not an option. But eventually things get used beyond usefulness. So we need to aggressively (and continually) sell, recycle, and throw away. And herein lies the greater problem. Sometimes things just refuse to leave you.

After my "generous" offers of such gently used items are rejected by friends, I turn to the local recycle shop for hope. Now, my castoffs are generally of such a pathetic nature that the recycle shop only takes on my case pro bono...out of pity...and perhaps a little amusement. I must say, though, that they are very gracious. And I've appreciated their mission of mercy. But I may have exceeded my limit. These days they want original packaging, instruction manuals, dent-free and scratch-free quality, and (of all the nerve) they want for the item to actually work as it was intended! My humble offerings are rarely up to that kind of scrutiny. And the clerks, in the gentlest Japanese way possible, have apologetically asked me to take the item back when I leave.

On the ride home, my thoughts turn to how to throw the unnamed item away. This is easier thought about than done in Japan. I glance at the item riding on the seat next to me. It's now aware of my intentions for its demise. It smirks at me because it knows that the law is on its side. You see, Japan has stringent rules about its garbage. Like flower arranging or tea ceremony, recycling here is a cultural art form in its own right. You can't just kick something to the curb when you're ready to throw it away. If it's any bigger than a breadbox, you'll likely need to get permission first. This involves going to the post office, getting a sticker which costs $5~10, calling the city for an approval number, then placing the verified item outside on a specified day for pickup...maybe.

The hassle and expense factor often has me resorting to other means of recycling: my little friends, the hammer, screwdriver, and hacksaw. I swoop down on the unsuspecting item and begin to break it down into the component parts and sizes required. It puts up a good fight! But I eventually win the War of Disassembly. Then I sort the battle wreckage into bags for disposal on the set days: plastic, paper, metal, cable, fabric, burnable, non-burnable and so on. Part mad scientist, part exasperated recycler, part cheap missionary...the scene is, no doubt, amusing to neighborhood onlookers.

On the morning of garbage pickup I place one bag of dismantled material out with the quiet satisfaction that comes from sensing freedom. It may take a few days yet, but I will be rid of it. Or will I? Doubts fill my head as the trash collectors approach. They stop and inspect my bag. I hear them discussing it amongst each other. When they drive away the entire bag is left behind.

I try again on a different garbage day. Left again. I take out some things. Left again. Were the metal parts too long? Did I mix in other items unaware? Did it look too much like a bomb? Did I need to wait by the curb to sign something? Should I have been there in person with cups of hot tea or a "clueless foreigner" look? I'll never know. All I know is that this infuriating item of garbage is still mocking me from its dismantled state. It must be dealt with and now! Burial!

I eye my shovel and think of creating my own garbage grave...under the shrub in front of our house...between the sewer line and foundation. This 3-foot-square space is the only patch of dirt we own. I can plant flowers on top and no one would know. Hitchcock himself would be proud of my scheme! Half overcome with sheer madness, I thrust my shovel into the dirt...and strike...metal. Sure enough! Some other hapless recycler reached the point of exasperation, too. The grave plot is already full.

Sometimes garbage just refuses to die. I might need wooden stakes and garlic.


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