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

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