53 Days!

Definitely packing travel size Jif!

We’re coming down to the wire now! It’s becoming more and more real that we’re moving to Japan in a month and a half! I cannot wait to be there, but it’s very surreal to think of living somewhere other than here.

We’ve been sifting through clothes to pack this week. I never realized just how “Floridian” my wardrobe was until I took stock of how many bathing suits, flip flops, tanks tops and jean shorts I own! We found some great Clearance deals on warmer clothes as stores clear the shelves for Spring. Due to being a Florida girl and owning 2 long-sleeve shirts… this was a good thing!

It really hit me that we’ll be leaving soon when I went to Publix this afternoon. I just ran in real quick for a few things. But as I walked down the peanut butter aisle, I found myself thinking- ‘hmm, I should get the small one, I’m not sure we could finish off the big one before we move.’ Then I just stood there thinking how easy it is to just run to the store to pick up some milk. In Japan we’ll have to drive on the opposite side of the road, read foreign signs, try and figure out the food and how to cook it and count out yen to pay.

Everything will be new there. The smallest everyday things will become adventures. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be going on this adventure with Matthew and our two little ones! I pray that with every new thing we try- we share the gospel by our actions and with kindness on our lips… and of course learn to laugh at ourselves.

Thank you everyone for praying! We can feel your prayers and are so impressed with the body of Christ coming together for the Japanese people. Our hearts are full!

2 Months!

Starting to pack!

As June draws near we’re getting more and more prepared everyday. (Mostly due to having two small children- we only have time for a little each day!) But I’ll take any progress I can get. Today I set out our luggage in my old room at my mom’s house. So many memories. I remember dancing around that room as a kid (I was going to be famous you know 😉 haha). And here I’m getting reading to move to Japan with my family of four.

So basically. I just lined up the suitcases and sat there staring at them. I have lists. I have things sorted. But where to start? What’s most important? I’ve received a lot of very helpful advice from friends state side and those already in Japan- but when it came down to it- I just stared at them. Everything cherished and necessary to four people- in those six bags. More stares.

So as I prayerfully considered how to fill them and with what- I found myself feeling very blessed. I always imagined myself as an explorer when I was younger. But I never imagined God would bless me with a family too. I’m so grateful I get to go and share His love, not on my own, but in the company of some of my favorite people on earth. When I came to that realization suddenly those suitcases I’d been staring at became full of just stuff. Stuff that belongs to those I cherish most on earth- my little missionary family.

So I still don’t have a starting point per say, I’ll probably just do a little at a time as with everything else we’ve done so far. But the pressure to think of every last need and want that can fit in those bags is off. We’ll have each other and we’ll have Jesus as our guide, protector, friend, and travel companion.

And He promises that He’s got the rest covered.

So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” -Matthew 6:31-32

3 More Months!

Countdown Calendar in Archer’s Room

Today marks exactly 3 months until departure! And I can already tell you it’s going to go quick! We’re almost halfway to our monthly support goal and coming up on crunch time!

Our preparations have slowed a bit as we’ve settled into life as a family of four. But with three months remaining before we embark on this adventure- we’re ready to get back to work! (More active preparations and probably less of me justifying watching Japanese Dramas as language studies….)

Thank you everyone for keeping us in your prayers! I’ve been reminded recently of the importance of prayer and how trying to accomplish anything without it is just, well, hard.

I have to be honest, my first reaction when I see that we have 3 months to raise 60% of our goal- I get a little apprehensive. But in the next instant I remember how far we’ve come and that God has called us to Japan. We’re not just going on a whim- we have a purpose there that He’s already laid out for us. I fully believe that He’ll get us there, and I’m thanking Him in advance for it!

So we’ll continue life as usual, keeping our days simple and prayerful as we look forward to what He has waiting for us. Thank you for your support, we couldn’t do this without the Body of Christ supporting us.

Soaking in the Florida Sunshine and practicing our Japanese

PS- Sorry we kind of fell off the grid these past couple of months. Having two little ones vying for my attention has been an adjustment. I want to be a present mama to them, and sometimes that means scaling back a bit and slowing down. It also means multitasking- for instance I just typed this post one-handed because Amelia is asleep in my other arm.


She’s Here!

She’s here! Amelia is here. Our sweet baby girl was born on January 25th! And what have I been doing since then? Giving her snuggles and daydreaming about Japan.

Eight months ago, when we found out we’d be moving to Japan there were so many things that needed to be in place before we could move.

Amelia’s birth was the last thing on that list! We’ve sold our home, moved into a transitional space, which has proved to be such a blessing, and now we’ve officially become a family of four!

I am longing to be in Japan, to be in our new home, and begin our lives and ministry there.

But I know God has a purpose for these next four months leading up to departure.

Just because there are no major milestones in sight and all our big items are checked off- does not mean we are prepared and ready to leave just yet.

These next 4 months are a beautiful gift of time.

Time to grow spiritually and prepare our hearts and minds for the work to be done in Japan. Time to grow together as a family of four and find our new normal before jumping into an even newer normal! Time to sit at the feet of Jesus and still our hearts for the unknowns up ahead. It is a blessing. There is so much spiritual preparation that goes into a move to the mission field. Life kind of slows down, we give ourselves time to reflect, to dig into the Word, and to be even more diligent in praying together. Yes, I am definitely grateful for this time and I can’t imagine moving overseas without Matthew, Archer, and Amelia. God knew what He was doing when He put the call on our hearts but delayed the sending until our little family was complete. His timing never ceases to amaze me.

End of Year Update:

Thanksgiving at the Church at Braden River 2018

Here’s a quick 2018 recap:

  • Our foster son is happily settled into his adoptive family and we’ve transitioned to Aunt Kristen and Uncle Matt. We’re so grateful to still be a part of his life and for all the friendships made through him!
  • I’ve spent 8 months of 2018 pregnant and can’t wait to welcome our new little one in 2019!
  • As of today our home is officially SOLD! Praise God; He was in every aspect of that sale.
  • We’re comfortably, gratefully, settled into our temporary home for the next 5 months and preparing for the arrival of baby Mia.

Plane tickets have officially been purchased!

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far so we were able to buy our tickets this far in advance and secure a good deal! We’re humbled by how clearly we can see God walking us through this journey and are grateful He’s been so present through so many changes! 

Mission Goals for the first six months of 2019:

  • Get all our papers in order to move overseas! [Passports, International Driver’s License, etc.]
  • Find devoted prayer partners to pray for the Japanese people- prayer changes things!
  • Help Archer adjust to all these changes in a healthy and positive way
  • Pack!

Mission Goals for the last six months of 2019:

  • Adjust to everyday life in Japan
  • Get Matthew settled into his new job
  • Establish a new routine for me and the kids
  • Make relationships and begin building a community
  • Improve language skills to better communicate in general and to explain the incredible gift of Jesus Christ

Thank you so much for your prayers and support as we come down to the last few months before departure! -K

Will You Pray With Us?


When we were in Japan last year, I’m telling you, I could feel the prayers of our faith family back home. We were keenly aware that God was with us and I know a large part of that was due to your prayers. And we were so blessed by that.
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A few Sundays ago our church was going over Acts 13. Specifically verses 2 and 3.
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“As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.” -CSB

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These verses really stuck out to me and have been on my mind ever since. I love how they fasted together, prayed together, and laid on hands to send them off!
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It reminded me all over again of the importance of prayer in this season of preparation. As well as fasting and preparing spiritually for God’s ministry in Japan.
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In the moment we’ve been immersed in the details of preparing to sell the house and what to keep and what not to keep. Packing, and then repacking all the things my helpful little three year old decided to unpack and play with.
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I’ve found myself forgetting to let my knees hit the floor over the whole reason we’re doing this. Between planning, packing, and preparing I’ve missed the most important of all: praying! Of course we pray often for Japan. But I’m talking the earnest seeking of the Lord on the behalf of the Japanese people, this journey, and our little family that’s about to undergo quite a few big changes to life as we know it.
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As a family, we’ve recommitted to not let ourselves get too busy in the details and forget to lay them all at our Father’s feet. To just be with Him in the midst of all the preparation that goes into an overseas move.
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If you’d like to pray with us we would be so grateful! Prayer is incredibly powerful and we know this transition and mission will go so much more smoothly if it’s covered in prayer.
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Will you partner with us in prayer?
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-K
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Current Prayer Requests:
*For God to prepare the hearts of the Japanese people, only He can open their ears and eyes to see the love of Christ we hope to show them. Only He can make the seeds that we hope to plant grow.
*Quick sell of the house
*Smooth and peaceful transition to our new living arrangements for the remainder of our time State side
*Praise that we have already raised 10% of our goal!!
*Prayer for the remaining 90% needed

The Where: Heguri

We’re going to Japan! I know we already announced that, but it’s still pretty exciting. It’s amazing to see every day how God has planned and provided for us. We wanted to take a moment to give you a little better look at where we’ll be in Japan and what it will be like.

Heguri is a relatively small town located on the southern end of Japan’s main island, Honshu. It is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s big cities, which is a blessing for us!

It is a farming town which deals a lot in rice, one of Japan’s main goods.

It is still quite modernized. Houses are usually thinner and taller in Japan, the same is true for Heguri.

We will also be pretty close to one of the largest cities in Japan, Kyoto, where we stayed during our first trip. It is an easy day trip by train.

All in all we’re very content with where the Lord has placed us, we couldn’t have picked a better location or community ourselves! Please feel free to respond with any questions or curiosities you have! We’ll be glad to answer.

Prayer Update: Preparations are under way! We are currently in the process of vacating and selling our house so prayers for a smooth transition and quick sale would be great! We’ve had many people reach out with love and support for our mission in Japan, we are so grateful for how God has been working. Continue to pray that we can reach our financial support goal in a timely manner, we’re hoping to have everything prepped and ready to make the moving to another country process as smooth as possible!

How you can help:

I cannot stop thanking God for His incredible timing. He has truly put the pieces together.

He’s provided the vision. Five years ago, Matthew felt called to lead our family overseas. Since then we’ve doubled in size, but He’s done nothing but reinforce that call.

He’s provided the passion. Matthew has always loved Japanese culture. But God has grown our hearts for the Japanese people. So much so that I feel close to tears imagining their smiling faces and the holes in their hearts where their Savior should be. I cannot wait to be there and love on these beautiful people.

He’s provided the way. After many closed doors, He has truly worked everything out in His own timing. He’s provided Matthew a job that will sponsor all of our visas! Not only just a job, but the kind of job we never thought possible for us in Japan. One that mixes Matt’s teaching skill with his background as a youth pastor. I’m overcome when I think about how much this particular job is an answer to so many of our prayers. I can see now why He closed the doors on all the other ways we tried to get over there.

He’s provided the place. Heguri. A town in the beautiful Nara Prefecture that captured our hearts last year. It is a town of a little over 18,000 people. We have never been there before, but the few pictures of it we’ve found show it to be a beautiful place.

He has provided the people. For whatever reason, God decided to put our second child on our hearts at the same time as this transition. (Perhaps He put her there earlier and I’ve just been stubborn. haha.) But either way, it’s clear that this new little one was meant to come with us and make us a traveling family of four!

So you can see why I have no doubt that He will provide the means. Matthew’s school is a small missionary school and they are able to pay their staff a modest stipend. It is very generous and will go a long way towards supporting our family as we minister in Heguri. We are praying and seeking the remaining support from those who believe in what God is doing in Japan.

As you would expect we have initial moving costs, home set-up, and travel expenses for getting to Japan that we’ll need to raise. Our biggest mountain though, will be establishing monthly supporters. Our hope is to have partners who are willing to sponsor our family on a continual basis. This will allow us to make due in our day to day lives and ministry and maintain our presence in Heguri as we build relationships with the people around us.

We feel blessed that so many people are for us in this move. That so many people have affirmed that this is where God has called us, for however long He wills. My heart is warmed every time someone shares that they are praying for us, or that the are behind us in this leap. We can feel those prayers, and they have power.

 

If you feel at all led to become a monthly supporter or would like to know more about what we’ll be doing we’d love to communicate with you. Please feel free to contact us through this blog, Facebook, or Email. (Or in Person!) Any recurring donations set up between now and before we leave will go a long way towards helping with the initial amount needed for the move. Thank you for all the support you have shown us so far!

The What:

What will we be doing in Japan?

Of course our main purpose for going is to share God’s love and make disciples. Comfort the Japanese people, who are very self-reliant, and let them know they don’t have to do this alone, they don’t have to have all the answers. They can take their weary over-worked selves to the feet of Jesus and just rest knowing He is in control.

The way we hope to do this varies!

Matthew will be teaching at a K-12 Missionary School that teaches an American Christian curriculum. (As a mom I am so excited that Archer will be able to go to school with his dad! I’m sure that will outgrow it’s coolness at some point, but for now it’s the coolest thing ever).

The school has about half Japanese students and half missionary kids. I believe somewhere around 9 nations are represented. Investing in the children of Japan is one of the easier ways of sharing the gospel. They are much more open to it and Matt will be teaching from the Bible in addition to his regular subjects.

Some other things we are praying about is the fact that there is no church in the town we are moving to. We took a “Timothy Initiative” class at Bethel and are praying about possibly implementing some of those strategies in Japan as well as all we have gleaned from Braden River meeting in homes for the last few years. We’ll have to wait and see when we get there. That one needs a lot more prayer.

We’ve also been praying about an opportunity that has come up for us to teach English through Bible Study. The leaders of this group will be heading back to America for home assignment the same month we arrive and have asked if we’d be willing to keep it going while they’re gone. It’s not in the same town, but nearby. We’re praying about taking that on with two little ones at home and how the logistics of that would work.

We are so excited to be a part of what God is doing in Japan and will continue to pray about home church possibilities and leading the English Bible Study.

For the first few years in Japan, life will probably look much like it does now. Matthew teaching and me at home with the little ones. Once the they are older, I’ve been told there is always a need for substitute teachers and teacher aids at the school Matt will be teaching at. Until then I’ve been preparing my heart to be sensitive to do what the Lord would have me do. Whether that be befriending neighbors and inviting them over for an “American dinner” or just taking the best care of my family that I can while we all find our footing in this foreign land. We’ve been told Japan is a “spiritual vacuum” of sorts so making our home a light in that community will take more of an intentional effort than it does here. We would love your prayers as we seek to honor God in all of our decisions.

-K

Going to Japan!

Guess what team! The Steele’s are finally going to Japan! This is coming much sooner than we anticipated, but God has paved a way for us that is undeniable. (More details to follow.) As many of you may remember, Kristen and I visited Japan last year to seek what God wanted for us there. We spent a week in the city of Kyoto and surrounding area, it was amazing. (In both a spiritual sense and a traveling sense.) God showed us that Japan is a beautiful country with amazing people, but also a place where He is desperately needed. (See ‘Prayer and Ramen’ for some of the break downs and stats.) During this trip we also met with a missionary who has lived in Japan with his family for 20 years. He was kind enough to talk with us about his experience and give us advice as we prepared ourselves.

Fast forward to this year. Kristen and I began to notice that many houses were going up for sale in our neighborhood. (I promise this is related!) We looked up a couple of them to find that the housing market in our area had gone way, way up; which is why so many people were selling. Just for fun we started to look at how much our house was worth and muse about what we would do with the profit we could make from selling it. One of our questions was obviously ‘where would we live if we sold out house’. To which I jokingly responded ‘we could just go straight to Japan’. Though it was in jest, both Kristen and I really started to think about it, and we thought ‘why not take a look?’

We (and by ‘we’ I mean Kristen) began researching opportunities to teach in Japan, at first without much success. But she decided to search specifically in one of the areas we visited, an area called Nara, where we had met the missionary. She found a listing for a teaching position at a missionary school in the area. We looked over the requirements and they matched almost almost perfectly for my experience. Without wasting any time I put together my application and sent it in. After we had sent it, we remembered the missionary we met with talking about a similar school he had sent his children to while they lived in Japan. We emailed him to ask about it, turns out not only was it the school his children went to, but he was also on the board of the school.

So long story short (I know, too late) through several emails and Skype ins, the principal, board members, and the Steeles all agree that this is where we should be. Starting in Aug 2019, I will be teaching in Japan!

If you’re not tired of reading yet, below is a brief overview of the ‘Where, What, Who, When, Why, and How’s’ of what we’re doing. We will be putting up posts later going more in depth with each of these subjects, but wanted to make sure we pass on the basics first.

Where
We will be in a town called Heguri in the Nara Prefecture. It is on the southern end of the main island of Japan. It’s a relatively small town but is about an hour away from two of Japans largest cities.

What
I (Matthew) will be teaching at the Missionary School and Kristen will be responsible for the household. There are many ministry opportunities for us both, and we are very excited about it. (More details in the later post.)

Who
The school itself is called Kansai Christian. They teach all grade levels, in an English curriculum. (Which is good since I’m still working on Japanese.) It has been in operation for a few decades now and has recently updated to a corporate status. Which means they are able to sponsor work visas. (Which is very helpful to us!)

When
I am slated to begin teaching in the 2019 school year, which begins in August. The Steele’s will be moving to Japan around June of next year to give us time to adjust and get everything set up before the school year begins.

Why
As mentioned before, Japan is a wonderful country. But it is also a country to has very little of God in it. Our desire, the one that God has put on us from the beginning, is to be among the Japanese people and show them God’s love. We are going to be living in a town there and be a part of the community. Our focus will be on building relationships with the people around us and show them what God has done in our life and what he can do in theirs.

How
There are a lot of preparations that need to be made to move to another country. Some of the major ones include selling our house, finding living arrangements in Japan, as well as planning the trip that will move an entire household there. Kansai Christian generously provides a salary to its teaching staff. However, they are not able to provide enough for a living wage, especially for a family. WE WILL NEED YOUR SUPPORT. We will be entering into the process of raising support for our family as we live in Japan. We are seeking those who believe in us and more importantly, what God has us doing. We highly recommend you sign up on our email list (The little envelope button) so we can keep you up to date with our preparations as well as send updates while we are in Japan.

 

Thanks!
For all the love and support you have shown in this process. We ask you continue to pray for us and thank God for what He has done and will continue to do. Please feel free to reply with any questions you have! Again, we will be putting up more blog posts in the future that go into more of the specific details.

-M