And continues….

“You go where you’re sent and stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got until you’re done.” -Jill Briscoe

I got to hear Jill speak at a conference I went to recently with some of my Bethel family. I had never heard of her before but she quickly became my favorite speakers. She’s a British woman who I’d venture to say is in her mid 80’s. The above quote is one she gave at the conference. I had forgotten that the IF conference had given us little card reminders from our weekend. I found this card yesterday as I cleaned out my purse for the trip, it the was perfect timing and I put it right with my passport in my snazzy passport holder that Chelsea got me.

I’ve read it a couple of times already and I have to say I find such comfort in her frank and to-the-point words. Especially coming from a woman who has spent so many years devoted to Christ. Here’s this woman in her 80’s still traveling the world, diligently going where she’s sent and doing what she is called to do.

Inspiring. Truly. Godly advice and encouragement seems to be so much more impactful when it comes from the lips of someone who is producing fruit. Who is living it in an undeniable way. So as we sit here, waiting to board our third and final flight that will bring us to our destination, I can’t help but hope that our little family is just as devoted to God and willing to go where we’re sent for the rest of our lives, not just this one trip. But a lifetime of “yes, Lord”.

Another thing Jill said was that when you get where you’re called- unpack as if you’ll never leave. 

That was huge for me. For the past 3 years since we’ve felt called to Japan, I’ve felt in between. We wanted to go, we were trying to find a way and  yet at the same time we started a family and bought our first home in America. It didn’t seem to add up. But I’m learning to be more flexible, well, to try and be more flexible and accept that I just can’t see the whole picture. But Japan is on our hearts, and we’re finally going!

So this week while we’re in Japan, we’re going to unpack like we’ll never leave and give all we’ve got! We pray we remember to be intentional with our time there as it is short. We pray that we make the most of every opportunity and see everyone we meet as God sees them.

Thank you for following along this far and praying with us- your prayers have power! Praying this last flight goes well and passes quickly.  As a dear friend reminded me, we may not necessarily like flying, but it’s part of the job.   -K

(Watch for our next post- Matt will be writing our first impressions of Japan!)

 

The Journey Begins

Today is the day! We’re on our way to the airport for the first step of our journey! As I sit in the backseat soaking up the Florida sun and listening to Oceans on Rachel’s iPod, I’m reminded of the first time I heard it and our call to Japan immediately came to mind. Three and a half years to get to this point. Three and a half years to get here. It seems so much longer and yet so unreal that we’re finally here, step one of our long journey to Asia. We’ve equipped ourselves with entertainment for the flights- though I’m praying that during these flights God prepares our heart and minds for what we will find when we land in Japan.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me- take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

That was my prayer then and I smile as I see just how big of a prayer it was. Bigger than I had ever imagined. We’ll be updating as we go along and we thank you all again for your support and ask for prayer that our hearts would be prepared and our minds focused and open to the task before us. We pray for the Japanese people, that God stirs in their hearts to be open with us even though we are “gaijin” foreigners.

さようならフロリダ Sayōnara Florida!    -K

 

The Final days of February

are filled with anticipation. March is almost here and our departure time is just around the corner. I’ve deactivated my Facebook for the time being, I need to focus on the task at hand, no distractions. I’ve been pouring over my Bible, trying to draw from it every ounce of strength and guidance that I can. I came across a verse over the weekend at a women’s conference and I’ve been holding onto it.

It’s in Acts-  Chapter 9 verse 6, when Saul is being transformed into Paul. Jesus says to him,
“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 

That’s how I feel about this trip. I feel like we needed to just get up and go, and I am p.r.a.y.i.n.g. God tells us what to do when we get there. If I may ask my friends who are reading this to lift Matthew and I up in prayer. I pray we have ears to hear, eyes to see, and renewed minds to understand God’s beautiful will. Pray for our hearts as it will ache us to leave our son behind for these 9 days (though he will be in the loving care of his grandparents). Help us to trust that God will keep him safe and comforted while we are away as this will be his first time without both of us for more than a weekend. And lastly, I ask for prayer through our preparations. That we remember to not only pack our bags, but prepare our hearts and minds for this journey. I pray we are in the Word and praising and trusting God so much leading up to this trip that the week we are gone is just an overflow of all the love we will have stored up, just an outpouring of God’s love on the Japanese people. Help us to spiritually fill up for this trip so we can spill over into them. Thank you for your prayers dear friends. I’ll post with some more requests and praises soon. We’re praying for you all too and thanking God for you faithful hearts!   -K

It’s Official!

I think I’m still in shock. There’s no way we just raised every single penny needed for this trip. Even the pennies I didn’t think to account for, like traveler’s insurance and little costs that crept up here and there.

I have to admit I’ve had some doubt about the trip. Who are we to think we can afford to do this now? We’ve been waiting more than 3 and a half years, trying to find ways to be in Japan, and here we are, pinching our pennies as it is.

Was it arrogant to think we could pull this off? But waiting for the perfect conditions wasn’t working. Waiting for an easy way to just fall into our laps wasn’t working either.

This had to be a leap of faith. A big giant, cross country, cross pacific leap. And I was reminded this as my son played with my necklace from a sweet friend of mine, that in my necklace was a tiny little mustard seed. And as I ruffled his hair and told him not to eat it, I shared with him, more to my encouragement than his, that that was all the faith we needed to move mountains.

So even though our leap will be big, my faith wasn’t much bigger than that mustard seed. But the overwhelming support we have received and just being in a position to watch God provide for us through our community has made my little  mustard seed of faith swell.

I still have to keep my eagerness to plan every single detail at bay, so as not to plan God right out of this trip. But knowing that we can go, that we really can spend a week in prayer in this beautiful country with these beautiful people has reassured me that God will use this trip. It is in His hands and I know it’s what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to go!

Thank you all so much for every ounce of support. Every prayer, every monetary donation, every hug and word of encouragement. We cannot wait to finally be there and love you all for helping make it possible. Honestly my heart is so full!

I’ll continue posting prayer requests and hope you’ll join us in lifting up every aspect of our trip. Today it’s all about praising God and thanking Him for His provision and His faithful children listening to the tug on their hearts to help support us in bringing God’s love to the people of Japan. Thank you so much!    -K

There’s always Ramen…

Surprise! This is a cooking blog! Not really, though I do enjoy creating colorful healthy meals in my little kitchen. The photo above is from my most recent shopping venture to our local farm market. The image below is a glimpse of the market in Kyoto Japan near where we’ll be staying in March. I’m not sure I’ll find recognizable vegetables or even recipes in english! But cooking will definitely be an adventure in Japan. I cannot wait to walk through the Nishiki Market, smell all the new smells, be among the hustle and bustle of the Japanese going about their day buying and selling produce, such excitement! As for cooking in Japan, if things don’t turn out, I’ve read that there are plenty of Ramen stands so we won’t starve if our kitchenette cooking venture doesn’t pan out! Our food expenses are still un-sponsered if anyone feels led to sponsor our meals for the Vision Trip 🙂 I promise to take pictures (yes I’ll be one of those people who takes pictures of their food- just this once) and I’ll even record the names of the meals- no promises I’ll know what’s in them! But if I can bring home authentic Japanese recipes- I will!

Nishiki Market – Kyoto-no-Daidokoro (Kyoto’s Kitchen) 錦市場商店街 At Nishiki Market there are many old ‘shinese’ shops selling everything from Japanese

Source: Nishiki Market – Kyoto-no-Daidokoro (Kyoto’s Kitchen) | Kyoto Foodie: Where and what to eat in Kyoto

ありがとう (Thank you!!)

Wow, I am amazed at the support we have received after only 24 hours! I know with each ‘like’ comes a prayer and that you’re all lifting us up! I just wanted to address some questions I’ve been getting about how to donate. We have a PayPal link on the righthand side of our blog, or if you’re on our mobile site then it’s all the way at the bottom. To save you some scrolling, here’s the direct link:
https://www.paypal.me/steeleingjapan
Or if you’d rather mail us a monetary donation or a letter of encouragement just comment for our address or message me on Facebook for it! A breakdown of where we’re at right now:

Of the $4,140 we had to raise we only have $1,030 left to raise! That’s incredible! You guys have been so faithful and we are so grateful to be in your prayers and love every bit of your encouragement and wisdom! Both of our flights have been sponsored, we only have our lodgings, food, and in-country transportation left to go! 54 days!! Thank you again so much! I’ll be posting again soon!    -K

55 days and counting!!

Fifty-five days until departure and it still doesn’t seem real. We’ve finally got the budget and itinerary put together and have begun fundraising! I am so excited! But more than being excited about going, I’m excited that I’m excited! I was so defiant about going all the way to Japan to minister to people who have the same problems as we do in America, in our own community! But God has opened my eyes and heart to the unique needs of the Japanese people and the ways that we can and will hopefully touch their hearts and open their eyes to joy unspeakable. I cannot even express my joy, my completely God given joy, which makes it that much more fulfilling!

Praise God we already have our flight to Japan sponsored! So we only need to raise the money for our flight(s) home, the hostel we’ll be staying in, the hotel in California (for a layover), food, and in-country transportation. I’ve got a breakdown at the end of this post if you’d like to sponsor a night in the hostel, some of our flight home, or a meal or two. That’s my favorite part about giving, breaking it down to see that even my little bit helps if everyone pitches in. Because I don’t know about you, but when I see a number like $4140, as good as that is for a 9 day trip across the world to an expensive country, it still makes my eyes a little wide with shock and wonder at how we can get this accomplished. But then I remember how blessed we are with such an incredible faith family, many of whom are on their knees praying for this mission, praying for us, our way over and back, and the Japanese people we long to be among. I cannot thank our prayer warriors enough!

As for some details about our trip, we’ll be staying in Kyoto most of the time we’re there. I know this is silly, given all the big prayers we ought to be praying, but I do so hope that the Cherry Blossoms bloom early this year so we can see them! We’ll be there just before peak season. But back to the details, we’ve looked into some local churches in Kyoto to meet up with while we’re there, but we’ve honestly left most of our itinerary open for God to work. We don’t want to plan every second and leave no margin for Him to move in. We’ll be spending a lot of time in prayer and getting the lay of the land. The mission work we plan on doing in Japan is similar what we’re doing here. Discipleship.

We plan on living among the Japanese people, loving and discipling them in everyday life. To be a light in their work places, their markets, and their homes, not just the church building. Christianity still has a pretty big stigma among the Japanese, it’s associated with westerners and so very “un-Japanese”, thus not widely accepted (just about 1% of the entire country claims Christianity). If living among the Japanese and inviting them into our home there and living out the Gospel leads us to planting a Church, then we’ll do that, or if it leads us to start small groups, we’ll do that. We’re leaving quite a bit of flexibility because we know the Japanese people are going to need a bit of time to warm up to us. We definitely won’t blend in, especially our curly-q, blue eyed little giggle machine.

But before I get ahead of myself here, we’ll be spending this trip praying while we’re over there and looking into how and if God wants us to move there long-term. We’re heading there open to whatever comes, whatever is willed but we know at this point, we just have to physically go. Be among the people, pray on the very streets they walk on and breathe the air they breathe, to know, to really know what it is we are called to do there and how. And we are so grateful for the opportunity this spring to do so!!

So we thank you again for your prayers, they have power, truly. We thank you for whatever form of support you can give; prayers, monetary donations, encouragement, and advice.

Some specific prayer requests we have:

The Japanese people, that God is already prompting their hearts to trust Him
Safe Travels
To raise the funds needed to go this spring
The contacts we hope to make in Kyoto
Health for the trip since we’ll only be in-country for a week and wish to make     the most of it.

Donation Break-Down:

Any donation would be phenomenal and help us toward our goal for the Spring Vision Trip. But here’s a breakdown if you’d like to sponsor a specific part of our journey.

*Our stay at the Hostel in Kyoto for $384
(or sponsor one of the 6 nights for $64)
*Our layover hotel in San Fransisco for $124
*In-Country transportation of $70, (estimated) including bike rentals and train tickets to Kyoto from the airport and back.
*Our food costs of $360
(or $40 a day for the two of us to eat.) -This includes airport snacks, and layover meals that won’t be provided by the airlines, bottled water, and food from the market for nights we cook in the hostel which has a kitchenette.
*Our biggest expense to raise is our flight home which comes to $1600 all together. If you’d like to sponsor part of it, anything helps, I calculated that if every one of my Facebook friends gave $10, our goal would be met! You matter, your prayers, and your support in any way matters so much to us! We love you all and are truly so grateful for every one of you being in our lives and being a part of this journey we’ve found ourselves on. We can’t wait to see what God will do with this trip!! Thank you!   -K

 . . . .

(I thought this post would be harder for me to write, but it wasn’t. I was raised not to ask anyone for money, ever, especially someone outside of the family. But just reading in Acts how the disciples shared everything they had and the love and selflessness I have learned being a Christian has made it easier to ask, and easier to give to others. To be a good steward with what I’ve been given because I know that it’s only what God has given me. Yet I still find myself struggling to hit “publish” and send this out there. But something I’ve been working on is letting go of my pride, and trying to un-learn some of the things this culture has taught me about how life should be and embrace how God would have life be.)

Part II: Vision Trip

 

It happened something like this: Matthew and I were in the car a couple of months ago and completely out of the blue he says “Hey I have an idea…” and immediately out of my mouth comes, “…lets go to Japan this summer”, and he just looks at me and says, “yeah that’s what I was going to say actually.” It was definitely one of those moments I’ll hold on to, remember that shift in time when things were set back in motion. We hadn’t talked seriously about going to Japan for quite some time. We’d been settling into our new church and spending most of August and September celebrating birthdays, new babies, and weddings. But suddenly, there it was, tangible, real, and exactly what I didn’t expect.

Since that conversation in the car things have slowly started to come together. Suddenly we have dates and locations and an itinerary all beginning to form! We’re both filled with such excitement that this is finally happening!

This Vision Trip will be a time for Matt and I to travel to the place we’ve been longing for and praying about for the past 3 years! The week we plan to spend in Japan this Spring (as it turns out), will be a time of prayer, discovery, and direction. We can’t wait to be among the Japanese people, see their culture firsthand, and find out how God intends to incorporate our story with theirs.

Our plans are currently somewhat vague as I’m still working on the itinerary and budget for fundraising for the trip. But we will post an update soon and ask that you praise God that we are FINALLY putting this plan into motion and ask for His guidance in every aspect of it.    -K

 

 

Part I & a Half : Keep Trusting…

Part I & a Half: (Keep Trusting…)

Lesson learned, and relearned…and then again once more just to be sure. And yet, I still forget. I need a pile of rocks to raise up this monument of trust to remind myself. I think the people of the Old Testament were on to something there. But in all honesty, trusting God with not going to Japan has been harder than I expected. I’m a planner, spontaneous, and forgetful… somehow all at the same time. So my natural urge is to plan every single detail, to research Japan to no end, and leave absolutely no stone unturned. I also impulsively want to go- right this moment. Give me about a week to plan, pack and say my farewells, and I am on that plane. Yet in all that rushing and extensive planning, I would have forgotten about thirty-five basic needs because of my near reckless spontaneous haste.

In reality, we came to find out that evidently it’s just not done that way. (Not surprising, but surprisingly still a letdown).

So we went back to school to go with a wonderful, wonderful organization to do missions in Japan. Unfortunately, the cost was eyebrow-raisingly high to say the least. (And that was before Archer was a factor, an adorable little blue-eyed factor).

By now we’re on Plan C, which is somehow owning a home 7,300 miles away from our intended destination.

My impulsiveness is y.e.a.r.n.i.n.g. to be in Japan now, among the people I’ve truly begun to love. My tendency to plan is wanting time-frames and plane tickets and suitcases to be packed. Forgetting, as I do, that I am not the one in charge here. And sometimes I wonder, if that is why we don’t have a date, even the rough-draft of a date for departure. I don’t even have a destination in the country itself. But in that, I am forced to trust in God. To lean on Him and give it back to Him. Because if I had known ahead of time, if everything would have gone as planned…. I would have missed out on this lesson.

I would have, through ample planning I assure you, been convinced that I was following God, and yet left no room for Him to actually work in.

Stay tuned for the actual Part II…

-K

2 years later… (Part I: Just Trust)

It’s been nearly 2 years since our last post, well… our only post. I’m not sure where to begin other than an overview. Which I’ve divided into three parts. Originally when we felt God tugging us to Japan, we grabbed on and envisioned near immediate departure. Our lease ended on our first apartment and we moved in with family to save money and be able to leave “at a moment’s notice” for Japan. What really happened is we ended up buying our first home in Florida (that’s Japanese for… not Japan) and having a son! His name is Archer and I think he’s just about the cutest little 8 month old there is. So, now we’re home owners and parents. I know, I know, it sounds contradictory to our original plan…

Well… that’s because it is.

Good thing we’re flexible. Rephrase: good thing Matt is flexible. I on the other hand have had quite the internal battle over this whole not-being-in-Japan-right-this-very-second thing. Which is somewhat amusing because I was the one who was endlessly rebellious about going and now I’m incessantly questioning why we’re still here (more on this in Part II). I think of Abraham and marvel at his trust in God’s timing and direction without any semblance of a plan. My husband, Matthew, seems to have a similar knack for trusting God. If I let it, my pride can turn green with envy at his ability to just trust. Just trust. But my heart is ever so grateful for his steady faith as we build our little family, remembering God’s promises, and leaning on the fact that we know He is good.   -K