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

Language & Culture Studies with a Toddler

 

This is what language & culture study looks like with a toddler!

My imperfect quest to fluency has done an amazing job of reminding me to have grace for myself.

As I said in my previous post, it is hard for me to do things halfway so I either do or I just don’t! And the last few months I haven’t been! Granted it has been a very busy time as we transitioned our sweet foster son to his forever family (so many bittersweet tears!).

But what helped me to integrate Japanese into our lives (as opposed to taking over our lives and making us useless stateside) was oddly enough, a book that had nothing to do with languages.

Women of the Word.

(You can get your copy here or head into your local Lifeway if you have one and pick up a copy there!)

I love this book- I could write a whole post just about how helpful it is, but I’ll settle for a quick paragraph. It has been revolutionary in my personal Bible study time. Especially answering the question of “where do I start?” in Bible Study. Incredible.

In it, Jen talks about building Bible literacy. She goes over how Bible study needs to be approached with patience, you’re not going to understand everything you read in your first read-through. I’d venture to say no one will ever fully comprehend everything in the Bible. God is that awesome. But there is one quote I got from this book that really stuck with me and has seeped into all other areas of my life.

“By all means build.” 

The author was talking about building Bible literacy. Even if it’s slow-going, keep going! A little is better than nothing! “By all means build” has become sort of a life-motto for me since I’ve read it. It’s changed the way that I approach, well, change. I know it’s silly but for all of my twenty-seven years I’ve just expected change to happen and stick fairly quickly- leaving little room for grace for myself.

But that phrase, “by all means build”, has helped me to realize that even if I’m sowing small seeds, and just a few at a time- it’s something- and it’s sure better than nothing.

So… in my approach to fluency: “by all means build!”

I am so grateful to live in a town with a wonderful public library system. (I actually take advantage of the library systems in two counties since we are very near the county line!). This is one thing I will surely miss when we move to Japan. My boy and I load up the van with last weeks’ library books and head off to get some more on an every-other-week rotation. He’s unaware as of yet that we’re moving to Japan someday. But he does enjoy learning the culture and language (and honestly having it simplified for children helps me so much too)!

So, this is me building- one picture book at a time, haha! But even though missions as a family can be a little more complicated, I know God intended us to do this as a family, to be there for each other as we live out this calling and prepare for whatever He has planned.   -K

Undertaking Fluency

Okay friends, I’m going to need your help with this one.

Languages.

Most Americans would agree they are pretty tough to master. Being oceans away from the natives who speak most of the languages we want to learn make the best way -submersion- a bit difficult. Many people, myself included, use this as an excuse to not even begin trying.

I have often thought of how easy it will be to pick up Japanese once we live in Japan. But as more time passes before we actually make the move, I feel a sense of urgency to use this time to learn the language. I don’t want to get over there and resign the first couple of years to language studies. We can’t be certain of how much time we will be given in-country, so why would I want to waste a moment trying to learn the language when I could be studying it here and now?

To my surprise when we were over there this past spring I discovered how hard it was to just “pick up.” Spanish is a lot easier for me to “pick up” because I’ve spent years in study of the language and culture. The last formal course I took in Spanish my professor said I was nearly fluent. Anytime I went to Guatemala or Spain I easily fell right back into my Spanish. I think my studies of it in America made “submersion” easier; all the parts that didn’t make sense clicked once I got there- but I don’t think they would have clicked had I not spent the time State-side.

But in Japan it didn’t become easier… because I knew absolutely nothing. I was dismayed at the thought- we’ve had this call on our lives for 4 1/2 years and I still knew absolutely nothing. Well, I could say “hello”, “excuse me” and “thank you”. That’s still all I can say, and “Domo Arigato Mister Robato”….

Another layer to my longing for fluency- Missionaries not only need to get by in the society but we need to be able to convey life-changing deeply moving Truths that can change a persons life. While translators are available, the impact of sharing the gospel with someone in their own native tongue is astounding and irreplaceable. So would you come with me on my journey to fluency? I’ll share tips and tricks that I learn along the way and you all can be my accountability!

Here’s the plan: I’m going to attempt to learn Japanese with fluency as my goal. I’m going to try and see what works and what doesn’t. (I already know quite a bit of what doesn’t.)

This will hopefully be helpful to other missionaries who are aiming for fluency or anyone who does not have access or funding to take classes conventionally. The advice and lessons will be easy to fit into an active schedule. Many people are called into missions as singles, that makes it quite a bit easier to devote large blocks of time to language studies. What I’m attempting is meant to be added into everyday ministry in a country that is not of the language you are attempting to learn. I.E.- yes we’ve been given time in America to learn the language, but I don’t think the study of it should be so encompassing that we are completely useless where God has us here and now. So balanced dedication is what I’m aiming for. Which is hard for me. I like to go all in, but I have a family of four to take care of and I can’t compromise my job as a Wife & Mama.

Who’s in? Anyone want to learn Japanese with me? I hear it’s helpful in the business world! Or want to apply these principals/methods to learning another language? Think of all the doors that can be opened, lives that could be changed, and friendships yet to be made!

Let me know so we can keep each other accountable on this journey!   -K

Boldness.

I’m reading a Beth Moore book. Not a huge surprise, I love Beth Moore. We share a common love for Jesus, His Word… and studying. Man I love a good study. I’ve done her studies, read some of her devotionals- but this time I’m reading a book by her- called Audacious.

It. is. wonderful.

Coming upon one of the first few chapters I came across a paragraph that spoke right to me- not in a soft “Kristen focus on this” kind of way- but like a SMACK right in the face!

It was one of those painful truths. I finished reading the paragraph- put the book down and came right here to write. It was that powerful. I love how God can use a good book opened at just the right time- so does Beth Moore, she said so in the beginning of this book actually!

For some context, we’re talking about boldness. Not obnoxious boldness- but being bold in Christian humility and love. She said:

 

“Boldness says that we don’t see every little obstacle as some big hindrance. We’re not too fragile to adapt and too finicky to accept. Boldness says that each circumstance is up for rent as opportunity. What we’re willing to do with the room we’ve been given is up to us. Boldness makes the best of it.”

 

Immediately Japan came to mind.
It took me forever to accept that Japan is our mission field. It’s not what I had in mind, not what I had planned – at all! But here we are- getting ready to move there within the next few years. The phrase that really got me in that paragraph was “too fragile to adapt”. Ouch.

I want to have the faith of Abraham and just get up and GO (Genesis 12:1).   I want to say “Here I am Lord, send me!” as Isaiah did. (Isaiah 6:8)

But I say no, or wait… let me think about it.

Jesus talks about this very thing!

“Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.'” (Luke 9:61)

Yah know what happened to that person?

Jesus left! He missed it! That person missed out on the most incredible journey of a lifetime!

He said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61)

That’s pretty serious.

Though people don’t get turned into pillars of salt anymore (Genesis 19) for looking back- think of all the missed opportunities.

Think of all the people who could have been reached but weren’t. Or I think of all the satisfaction and growth that could have happened within my own life that didn’t because I was “too fragile” to adapt.

Boldness.

I need some of that boldness. Boldness to adapt- to trust. To know that God has my best interests at heart- so if that means jumping on a plane and moving 7,440 miles away- then I’m not just going to drag my feet and submit.

I’m going to get on that plane with purpose, with joy, with thankfulness that I, of all people, was chosen for this particular journey. I’m going to use every opportunity because life is hard and people need Love. (Ephesians 5:16 sort of)

So next time any of you hear me complaining about the distance, or how hard it is to learn the language, or yada yada stuff- tell me to go back and read this post and get on my knees and thank God that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) – that I can always come back into His loving embrace no matter how many of His opportunities I miss. And to thank Him, from the bottom of my heart, that I do not have to stay as I am. I do not have to remain “fragile and finicky” because that doesn’t have to be “just the way I am”. In Christ I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17):

 

A Fairly Long-Winded Update:

Sometimes one of the hardest things a person can do is : admit they’re wrong. I think at times this is especially difficult for Christians. I have a hard time with it, I assume that whoever I tell with think “well she must not really know God or else she would have known His will to begin with”. I know it’s silly, but it’s true. Yet I don’t think we should be like that. God uses everything for good. I recently, well actually a few months ago, watched a sermon by Francis Chan. Not out of the ordinary for me- he’s one of my favorite speakers. But what he said in this particular sermon really stuck with me, it’s something I think back on often. He was explaining how Christians often don’t do anything unless they “hear from God” to do it. He challenged to err on the side of doing instead, until God tells you to stop. Especially when it’s something the Bible says to do. If the Bible says to do it, then we shouldn’t have to wait until God specifically tells us to- He kind of already did. For example, caring for orphans and widows (James 1:27). It’s in the Bible. It doesn’t say, care for them IF I tell you to- it says care for them. This may look different for different people. It may take the form of bringing baked goods to a widow you know personally, or mentoring a fatherless child in your congregation. Or it may be something more radical like going to a third world country and loving on the orphans who are not only fatherless but stricken by poverty as well. But either way, we were given the word that something is to be done by each one of us to care for our neighbors.

For Matt and I, it looks like becoming Foster Parents! How did that come about? Read on and see!

When we got back from Japan, I was so ready to live “Mission Hearted” as my last post explained. I was ready to pour myself into preparing to move to Japan and into the community we have here before we leave. So I applied and got accepted into an amazing Seminary and I took a job with a wonderful organization. Thus, leaving myself with no time to actually study Japanese OR invest in my community in the ways that I wished to. I was on the right track though, or so I thought, that’s what people do right? Go back to school and get a higher paying job. Right?

That was my comfort zone anyway. I love learning and I love working. Working brings me a ton of joy and fulfillment, I’ve been working for over a decade (which is a long time for someone my age), sometimes even juggling three jobs at once. This is what I know.

Work and study. Work and study.

Throughout this past summer working full-time, I was grateful for my job. I loved the people I worked with. But little things kept popping up that really tried my heart.

We’ve always wanted to adopt. I remember Matt and I on one of our first dates sitting on the beach talking about how we’d both love to adopt. I remember when I was a little girl on my way home from dance class, telling my mom that I wanted to adopt when I grow up. For years I’ve been looking into adopting from Japan, trying to at least form a timeline or figure out what is needed.

I learned a lot. Adoptions in Japan are difficult. Though there are tens of thousands of children living in orphanage type “institutions”, most never to see their parents again, and yet they are NOT up for adoption. The parents’ rights are not terminated. The children are stuck in a system that they cannot be adopted out of. Some of it has to do with the fact that many of the Japanese worship their ancestors. It’s just the norm there. But raising a child in an institution with no chance of having a mom or dad ever tuck them in at night? Heartbreaking.

I found this out a couple years ago and check back often to see if things have changed. My last check revealed that Fostering is taking hold in Japan. Though the parents have to agree to let their child live with another family before the child is approved to be in foster care. So one can see how that would be a rare occurrence.

Ministering to women and children are what God has put on my heart to do in Japan. I am hoping Japanese parents agree to let us foster their children. We have a chance- it would be a free english lesson for their child. That’s valuable over there.

Until then Matthew is building his teaching resume so we can move and I’ve been praying about what God would have us do here while we prepare for Japan.

I was convicted of my “work and study” tendencies. What about the doing part? What about showing what I have learned, instead of insecurely comparing myself to people who have grown up in the church with rock solid foundations of faith? What about the sometimes mess of a town that we call home here in America? What can we do here with the time we have left before we move overseas?

All of these things were swirling beneath the surface all summer long, most of the time, I was blissfully unaware of that. I didn’t take the time to put it all together. It wasn’t until the week before putting Archer into school, a wonderful Montessori School, that I put his little backpack on him to send him off and I just couldn’t do it. He’s only two I said to myself. My little boy. I reasoned that most mothers react this way and I just needed to get over it. After all, we needed me to work. Didn’t we? No. Literally the only reason I needed my job was to afford grad school and Archer’s daycare.

Suddenly I just could not come to terms with being a working mom if it was just so I could go to school for a degree that wouldn’t guarantee a job in Japan. (Disclaimer: There are many parents, noble and brave parents, who work so they can go to school to better provide for their families. Their kids do great in daycare and thrive amongst their friends. And I am proud to be their friends, you guys are GREAT parents! And your little ones are proud of you, I know it.)

But seeing Archer with his little raccoon backpack and realizing I wasn’t going to be the one to teach him his ABC’s, absolutely broke my heart. Especially because it wasn’t necessary for our family to survive.

That’s when it all started coming together.

If I am working 40 hours a week and getting my Masters, when am I going to have time to do all of the things that mean so much to me? The things that matter? When will I have time to spend with family before we move? To put James 1:27 in action? Having my Masters would greatly enrich my life, I’m sure, but if I want to Foster when we get to Japan and I want to minister to neighbors and friends there… I had to ask myself…. is it necessary?

A mentor of mine suggested perhaps I made the decision to go back to school out of fear. Fear that my faith foundation is not strong enough to withstand a cross-cultural, global, move away from my faith family. When really I should be trusting God and focusing on learning Japanese to effectively communicate what I do know- to communicate how God has changed my life and is in the life changing business.

So I had to take a step back.

Before we made any decisions, we talked over the budget. Ironically (or I’d claim Divinely) we had the exact amount of money, (if I withdrew from school), to become foster parents- right now! I had been praying about this for quite some time but could not figure out how to work it in with everything I thought I needed to do to prepare for Japan.

What better preparation for caring for the women and children of Japan than doing so right here and now? My heart BURST with joy. This is it! I’ve been trying to find a way to impact our community and I can think of no better way!

I wrote this post for many reasons.

There are some of you following this journey of ours who are wondering when on earth we are moving to Japan and why we would commit to something like fostering as it will keep us here for a couple of years. All I can say is- we’re following God as best as we know how and we’re trying to follow His will the best that we can.

Though we long to be in Japan, we’re grateful for this time here to prepare. To learn the language so when we get there we’ll be able to effectively communicate our faith. So we can live life alongside the Japanese.

I can see, even in our twists and turns, how He has used every decision in our lives to bring us closer together and closer to Him. I am grateful I went back to work full time this past summer, our family needed me to do that. I’m grateful I was able to choose to go back to being a Stay at Home Mom; I feel less resentment as my “work and study” mentality is slowing turning into “slow down and show love” discipleship. And I love it.

Lastly, I could not write this post if it were not for my husband. Matthew has been nothing but supportive and I am endlessly grateful that the words “I told you so” or “I knew better” have never crossed his lips. I am so grateful that he has supported my decision to go back to work and my longing to stay home again. I cannot express how amazed I am at his humble go-with-the-flow attitude. He always leaves room for me to grow and never judges just how much growth I need. Thank you, Matthew for guiding our little family and adapting to whatever God has for us here and now and in the days to come.

Prayer Requests:

If you’d like to join us in prayer, these are the areas we’re specifically lifting up:

-As always, the people of Japan. (Specifically the children living in institutions. We pray that their government will be convicted of the injustice of their adoption process).
-The families of the little ones we’ll be fostering here in America. (Healing, Restoration, Reuniting with their babies, finding Salvation and the Freedom of Grace).
-The children themselves. (Healing, Comfort, that God brings people to guide them on their walks with Jesus after they leave our home in case we are no longer in contact with them).
-Matt, Archer and I (To love as Jesus loves).
-That we get through this process of taking foster parenting classes, getting everything ready for the foster baby, and pass our home inspections.
-That we remain diligent in our language studies.

Thank you again, for all of your support as we try and follow God’s will for our lives. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

-K

Mission-Hearted

We’ve been back in America for three months now. Much has happened in that time. Many decisions have been made that bring us closer to Japan and prepare us for ministry there.

Yet it worried me how quickly we fell back into the day to day “American Dream” mentality when we got home. We were going through life with the Mission in mind, but not always in heart. My heart still longed for that little house with a white picket fence where I could sip sweet tea on my front porch and read books. There may be a time in my life where I’ll be able to live in such a way, but as for now, that is not what we have been called to.

Life in Japan will be very different from my Southern Living dream of comfort, ease, and lemonade. But God has been reopening my eyes to His Mission; to why I’m here. There’s too much at stake. There are too many lost people for me to sit back as if I’m already in Heaven. There’s a war to be a won and I’ve only been given a short time here on earth to do my part to help win it. I cannot justify such dreams of comfort and ease now that I’ve been reminded of all the lost in this world. All those who don’t know that they’re loved, who have never heard that they were made with a beautiful purpose, who are unaware of a beautiful Savior that can break chains, bring healing and bless them with unspeakable joy.

It’s actually kind of sad. I’ve been to third world countries, I’ve seen poverty first hand. Yet how quickly I forget. I needed to see first hand the of the toll of the spiritual poverty that wreaks havoc in Japan.  It’s not as obvious to the eye, but the heart can see that it is undeniable.

So as we prepare for our departure, though it seems a lifetime away, we will be diligent. We won’t lose heart. We will be mission minded as well as let the mission live in our hearts.

In preparation we will study the Word, we will study Japanese and we will live as if we’re already there. The time we have in Bradenton/Sarasota is just as vital as the time we will spend in Japan. There is brokenness running rampant in our very neighborhood. There’s so much to be done if only we’d open our eyes and hearts to see.

Lord help us see. And help us love. Help us love deeply those who washed their hands of “love” long ago. Help us show them Your love and the restoring indescribable difference it makes on the souls of man.

Help us love as You love.       -K

Hello from China :)

One flight down- two more to go! Our next one is 16 hours, we’re hoping we’ll be able to sleep on that one.  Matt and I don’t really have that “fall asleep anywhere” knack. But we’re hoping that it’ll kick in just this once. Well we’ve got about 5 and a half hours until our next flight- so I’ll post some pictures.

Below is a picture Matt took just moments ago when we landed in China. He said it still doesn’t count as being in China because we’re not leaving the airport. (Totally counts).

Now rewinding back to the last few days in Japan:

Below is a picture I took as we were exploring Kyoto. It summed up Japan for me- here’s this little old wooden building and they built this shiny modern building around it. Japan, at least the part we saw, is an interesting mix of old and new.

 

Below are some more pictures of our adventure in Nara 🙂

Well it’s taking about 10 minutes per picture, so we’ll post some more later!

Sayonara Japan, また会うまで

Our last three days in Japan went by far too quickly! We spent a day riding bikes around Kyoto and exploring the area. The 5 story Bookstore downtown was AMAZING and inspired me to try harder to learn Japanese so I can someday read those books! (They had about an 8 foot section of books in English).

Then the next day was by far my favorite! We managed to figure out the train system to get about 45 minutes north to meet with a missionary who has lived in Japan with his family for 20 years! We got to know each other over Green Tea Lattes and Coffee. His stories were inspiring and convicting. His advice was challenging and encouraging. We definitely found a kindred spirit in Japan!

He shared with us some of the different ways of getting to Japan- with an organization like the one he is with (Converge), verses being a “tent maker” missionary and getting a job in the country. There are positives and negatives to both.

Then afterwards we had a very sobering lunch at Subway (we thought we were doing pretty well with Japanese until we had to make 45684756 decisions about a sandwich in Japanese). We’ve got a lot to learn. (Rephrase- Matt has to brush up and I have to learn more than the 27 words I learned in Archer’s Japanese alphabet book!).

We then hopped on a train to Nara where we walked around the beautiful deer park! They were everywhere! I loved them 🙂

It was a refreshing break from the city life of Kyoto to spend time in the hills and mountains of Nara out in the fresh air. Since our trip to Nara we’ve been letting all of this new information sink in and “counting the costs” before we build in either America or Japan. We’re so grateful to have had the chance to come to Japan and see firsthand what God is doing over here and what the needs are. We appreciate every one of you for helping us to get here and even though this trip was short, it was so valuable to us and we’re beyond grateful! I’m not sure how the wifi will be in China (8 hour layover), but we may post from there too with some more pictures of our travels 🙂