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

Really, Japan??

I admit, I’ve basically ignored the Eastern part of the world. I’ve always been very much into Europe, Africa and South America- but as for the rest of the world…. It was just too different for me- I couldn’t relate. So when, 5 months into our marriage, Matt tells me he thinks God is calling us to Japan, my jaw was in our downstairs neighbor’s apartment. Japan? I’m sorry, what?? I “prayed” for a month- which consisted of me telling God all the reasons why we’re not called to Japan. I was in the middle of ranting to one of my closest friends about how we absolutely need to stay in America, because we’re living in such a materialistic world, and I feel like Americans are forgetting their need for God. It hit me big- right there at the intersection of Cortez and 41- as I ranted on the phone. It was almost as if God audibly spoke saying- open your heart Kristen- Doesn’t Japan need the same thing? I felt God gently telling me, enough-child, are you going to go where I send you or shall I send someone else? That’s when I knew. Matt was right. The last place I’ve ever wanted to go- just became top priority.   -K