Rebekah Dugan Photography

Happy New Year! I think it’s safe to say this statement will resonate with many- this year has not been what anyone expected. Who knew pandemic would strike halfway through our first year abroad? Just as we began to settle in, we were ordered in. Though we are grateful for how Japan has handled this pandemic. We’ve increased our prayers for America as well as our prayers for the world as a whole.

Christians, I wanted to encourage you in reminding you that our goals as the body of Christ remain the same. We are still here to share the gospel. We are not called to fear, but to shine a light for Jesus. Maybe this current season of darkness in the world can be used for good in that way? Our lights will appear even brighter in contrast, right? Our strength is not the strength of this world, nor the strength of men. We find strength in something much deeper, transcending time and circumstance. Our strength is in God Almighty. As is our peace. We are to have peace that surpasses all understanding. Only in the good times? If that were true it would be within understanding, not surpassing it. No, even in times like these we are to have peace. Will our hearts still ache for the world? Of course. Will we shed tears as we are continually separated from those we love and for what we wish life to be? Often, I’m sure. But our peace is foundational. Unshakeable. We aren’t to be unfeeling, unmoved by these events, but we are not to be afraid of them. 

Our purpose is higher than survival, than being comfortable. Our purpose is to share His love. To bring His hope to as many as we can. What better time? When has hope been more needed in our generation than right this very minute? We pray that Christians won’t shrink back in fear, nor allow themselves to become tainted with bitterness by these events- but that they will make every effort to spread hope through them. We pray that the hope and peace that surrounds us is so unmoving that people just have to ask. How? 


My heart is pointed Heavenward as I am full of thoughts of Him, I find that the sorrow of losing my “normal life” is lessened when I see Him clearly. To see Him face to face, I can only imagine. In the meantime, you better believe I plan on being useful here. Sharing as much joy as humanly possible, as Godly possible- and of having the honor of introducing others to the Savior of the world. We, as Christians, have a job to do. In America, in Japan, in the entire world. Yes, we should mourn the loss of life as we knew it before all that has happened. Mourn it, it will be truly treasured in my memories always.

But our mission remains.

As for practically, our family is well. January 7th 2021 Archer out of the blue told me he wanted Jesus to live in his heart. Under the warmth of our Kotatsu, Matthew and I led him in prayer as Archer asked Jesus into his life. I have no words to describe the joy in mine.

As for language studies, Mia and Archer are growing more confident in Japanese. Archer doesn’t even realize how much he knows, it just slips out here and there. As for me…. I’ve succeeded in becoming un-fluent in English instead of fluent in Japanese. A couple of bilingual friends here have mentioned that happening to them as well. I suppose since Japanese is spoken backwards… A simple sentence like “Where’s the puppy?” in Japanese when translated literally is “Puppy is where?”. So I speak a mix of broken Japanese and backward English… but I’m still choosing to see it as progress in some form or another. 

We are hoping to return this summer. We have yet to purchase tickets due to many factors that we’re taking into account and prayer. So your prayers that we can in fact return and see all of you again would be appreciated!

Know our hearts ache for you all and we have tears of joy just imaging seeing you all again. Until then, be found always on mission for Christ, ready any moment to give an account of that hope that still lives in you. That hope still lives in you.

– K

7 Tips for Future Long-Term Overseas Missionaries

  1. Language. Everyone tells you that it’s easier to learn a language once you get to the country in which it’s spoken. True. BUT. It’s not if you know absolutely nothing. The easy part is when you arrive, all the pieces you’ve studied start coming together and begin making sense! IF that is, you’ve studied. I moved to Japan knowing barely any Japanese. I looked at one of the alphabets a couple years back and only knew “hello”, “thank you” and “excuse me”. That’s it! When we arrived in Japan it was all a jumbled mess and nothing was making any sense. My husband, Matt, on the other hand was learning a ton! He had studied Japanese in school. It all came back to him and he was able to link things together. SO while yes, it is helpful to learn the language in the native country- I still would encourage you to do some serious study beforehand.
  2. Learn to cook from scratch. This may depend on the country you’re moving to. But most countries have flour, water, and salt in some form. If you can whip up a homemade tortilla, or some fresh bread, roll out some homemade noodles- you have just saved yourself a huge headache trying to translate everything at the grocery store on an empty stomach. Different countries have different flours, so it won’t always be exactly like “home”, but let me tell you, knowing how to make homemade tortillas is a coveted skill in Japan where they are imported and super expensive, if you can find them at all.
  3. Learn from the pioneers! This goes along with number two, think 1800’s, everyone in America going west. They had only what they could fit in their wagon and they did just fine. Just little things like knowing how to sew  (because your mom won’t be there to fix it for you), knowing how to cook basic things a variety of ways- we didn’t have an oven our first 7 months here, so I made plenty of skillet meals. Knowing basic vehicle maintenance and repair, or bike repair depending on your lifestyle and country. All of these things are great skills to have in general, but also when moving to a foreign country where everything is just a bit more difficult. 
  4. This one is a little obvious, but definitely make time to learn the culture. I’ve met missionaries who haven’t and it can unintentionally hinder the gospel if you’re unknowingly insulting them at the same time as trying to share Jesus’ love. God can work through and with anything, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to learn a couple of cultural do’s and don’t’s.
  5. Pray! This was huge for me. I prayed so hard for community and friendship and a body of believers to help us through this transition, and God answered above and beyond what I expected! He has truly placed us exactly where we are meant to be and I am so grateful He gave us that confirmation.
  6. Find a transportable hobby. So before you hit the mission field, it’s kind of expected, at least it was for me- that I’d be so busy with the kids, or ministry, or language learning, or time with God. And this is true, all these things keep me quite occupied. But sometimes at the end of a long day, you just need to rest. But being in a new place maybe you can’t go grab some ice cream with a friend like you normally would, or do what you would normally do to fill the time. So hobbies are really helpful for this suddenly not busy but yet really busy transition time. Especially if you’re in a different time zone then all your family and friends and can’t just pick up the phone and call them.
    Knitting has been really helpful for me, to pass the time productively, and it’s really relaxing. I’m going to try embroidery next! I know luggage space is often tight, but I’m glad I made room for my super lightweight knitting needles and yarn- to pass the time and keep me from being idle (aka when homesickness strikes the worst!)
  7. Read “The Lifegiving Home” by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. Seriously. I’m reading it now on my kindle and it is WONDERFUL for this transition. Wonderful. The daughter, Sarah, describes leaving the lifegiving home she grew up in with SUCH relatable detail. It’s encouraging, comforting, and inspiring. It motivates me to turn this foreign structure we occupy into a home where laughter, love, and memories are made. All things which are needed during such a time.

    *I also read “Love Comes Softly” by Janette Oke while getting over jet lag and being awake at odd hours. That book actually helped a lot too. The main character moved west, but was also overcoming a loss- her grief was a lot like the loss of a home country (aka homesickness!) and it was really actually quite helpful to see how she overcame it. 

[Bonus] 8: If you have kids- find some good read-alouds. Like I said there will most likely be more downtime on the field than expected, at least at first. Take the time to seek God and pray as a family. Get in the habit of doing that from the get go in your “new life” so to speak. But something that has unintentionally helped my son- is books! He’s always loved books, but since we moved here we have read through The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I think it really helped him to adapt. He was able to hear how the characters in the book adjusted and moved west and made new friends, just like he was. We also read The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. My son was able to imagine facing every day as a new adventure like that shipwrecked family did. He’s only four, but I think these books helped him to go from “Why did my parents have to take me here?” to “What an adventure God has us on together as a family!”.

I truly hope this list is helpful! I read a ton of expat and missionary blogs before we moved looking for any information on cross cultural overseas moves with little ones. It can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be… it can be an adventure, the one God has planned for you. -K

“Too Tired to Think of Thought-provoking Title” so just used a lot of T’s

Something unexpected God has been showing me here, is how much God answers prayers. I mean, we all know this. It’s nothing new, but maybe it’s because here we are forced into a humble position of dependence on Him and on His body of believers here, that I’m more aware of it. But I wanted to share some of it to encourage those praying and those feeling prompted by the Spirit- go to Him and follow His leading! He just might be using you to answer someone’s prayer.

Like when I realized we’re going to need heaters, and baby gates, and fuzzy blankets. And oh my that’s adding up fast. Yet all within 24 hours a friend who had no idea I’d just mentally made this list, texted me and asked me if I wanted those specific three things. She was cleaning and felt prompted to offer them to me. The Spirit at work.

Or when Mia woke up this morning crying with cold hands and feet and I realized fuzzy jammies alone weren’t going to cut it. Later the same day, I went to a different friend’s house. I barely set foot in the door before my earlier prayer was answered as she told me she had a sudden realization that I’m going to need fuzzy sleeper blankets for Mia and gave me some.

These are just two of the many ways God has been answering our prayers almost before we can pray them.

He listens. He cares. And He provides. 

-Let me put in a disclaimer here. I have prayed many big BIG prayers that I have yet to see the answers to. I know He’s answered, but I can’t see it unfolding yet. But I’ve learned not to let a seemingly unanswered big prayer keep me from praying the little ones. It’s not a “pray this, wait for an answer then move on to the next thing” type of system. No, pray continually. Without ceasing, the Bible says. Prayers of praise, of heartache, of thanks, and requests. Sunday I was reminded that Jesus is referred to as “The Word” (John 1). So I’ve decided to give Him all my words and give this pray without ceasing thing a try. (So far only one person has looked at me strangely as I suddenly remembered to pray for a friend’s wedding on my morning run and threw up my hands as if to say “oh duh! Caleb and Bridget!” Only to look up and see a lady walking her dog right in front of me….. Pray continually WITHOUT gesturing to yourself is a good start…)

But let me tell you, that verse is in there for a reason. Pray without ceasing.

And friends in Japan, thank you for being sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting and being generous enough to give of your time, talents, and things. He is humbling us to receive, something my pride usually keeps me from doing.

Kristen vs. The Bees

This post is absolutely ridiculous. I’m just letting you know now. There’s no Spiritual relevance, or actual update, but if you need a good laugh- maybe this will help…

So Florida has bees, right? Yes. Plenty. And they’ve always kindly left me alone. I don’t know what it is about bees in Japan (other than they’re GIANT), but they love me. And it is most definitely a one-sided love. We have been here for 3 months and FIVE TIMES I’ve had a “moment” with bees.



We’re heading out. I buckle the kids in the van. Matt is still inside so I leave the front doors open so the kids don’t get heat stroke. I go inside and grab my things. I guess I should explain “things”… Everywhere we go I bring my phone, Bible, pencil pouch, additional book I’m reading, and sometimes my journal, and my favorite pen for my journal. (Matt thinks this is a silly habit, but you never know when you’ll have a chance to read and write!) But anyway- back to the bee. 

So I’m carrying all these things. I sit down in the front passenger seat and close the door with my stack of books and things on my lap. I look up. EYE CONTACT. I make EYE CONTACT. With the BIGGEST BEE I have ever seen! He’s sitting on the dash. 12 INCHES from me. Just staring at me. In a small enclosed space and I’m getting heebeegeebees just typing about it. ANYWAY. I calming and quietly exited the vehicle and shooed him away. 

No. No, I didn’t. I SHOULD have done that. But I didn’t.

I chucked all of my supplies into the air and lunged into the door, opening it so fast that I kicked over the little trash can in the van, sending its contents flying along with my books and things. Leapt out of the van, sending my phone and one of my books… to the ground. My shoe flies off into a nearby bush… 

I ran inside one-shoed and flustered screaming- OH NO MATT!!!! MATT I LEFT THE CHILDREN IN THE CAR WITH A GIANT BEE AND YOU HAVE TO GO SAVE THEM NOW!!!!!!!

Mom of the year.

He saved them. He escorted the bee out. They are fine. We are fine. Freak bee sighting…. No big deal.

Bee: 1  Kristen: 0


I’m walking in my kitchen minding my own business when I look down and there’s a bee on my floor!!! This one was darker… possibly a hornet? I have no idea… but less yellow. But definitely with a stinger and giant and flying, and that’s really all you need to know. SO I run out. Naturally. Such grace. I tell Archer we’ve got to trap the bee until Matt gets home. But how…. In the closet is a large plastic storage bin… I empty the contents of one of them and decide- being almost the same height as Archer- it was big enough for the job. I inch into the kitchen holding the giant bin almost like a shield… Bee looks at me. I look at bee. Inch a littttlllee closer. Bee looks at me. I look at bee. AH-HA! He’s trapped- under the bin! I put a bag of rice on top JUST in case he has superhuman strength. (FYI Bags of rice in Japan weigh about as much as Mia). 

Bee: 1   Kristen: 1

Bee Number 2…. Successfully Captured…


We decide to go for an evening walk in the park. Lovely, right? Lovely… So Mia is in her stroller gazing about. Matt is looking on as I blow bubbles to Archer who is karate-chopping them with his legs as he swings. Giggles abound, it’s a great time. Until… suddenly, I look down and there’s a bee ON MY ARM. WE HAVE CONTACT PEOPLE. Now, this bee is significantly smaller- I’d say American bee sized. BUT STILL.

So, naturally, as any civilized person would do. I fling the container of bubbles- swat it away and run screaming to Matthew. Who calmly states “He’s still on you.” WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?! I run. Now swatting at the bee who flying next to my ear and getting tangled IN MY HAIR!!!! I hear Matthew from behind me remark nonchalantly, “Oh, he likes you.” NOT HELPING. I’ve lost visual now, but I still hear the buzzing… Finally the buzzing stops just as I run by Matthew for a second time. So… oh Lord, I’m ashamed to even write this. I think “OH! I need to hide my head because he’s CHASING ME and getting stuck IN MY HAIR.” So… I did what anyone would do in this situation and hid… in Matt’s shirt. Yes. I did that. We stood back to back both under his shirt, except I’m shorter than him so my head was hidden. (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.) So here we are, in a (thankfully empty) neighborhood park. Just standing there. Together, under his conveniently baggy running shirt. About this time is when Archer started crying because his bubbles are gone… I did eventually come out. And we did make it home…. My pride… not so much…

Bee: 2   Kristen: 1


I load the kids up in the car. Matt is at work and we’re heading there to pick him up. I learned my lesson the first time. I strap the kids in and then turn the car on so I can close the doors and no giant bee flies in. So I run inside to grab my purse with my things for Japanese lessons. I come back out, walk around to the driver side and there he is, BEE. Flying RIGHT at me. So, as you can probably predict by this point, I scream and throw my things down. Trip over the step and stub three toes… in my haste to open the front door I knock my glasses off with the door…. Hide inside peeking out. He’s literally hovering in my path to the driver’s side. The other side is blocked by a GIANT spider web (why are there so many bugs here?!). So I wait a second, but I don’t want to be late… So I make a run for it- grab my strewn about things and then there he is! He flies right at me and then UNDER MY SKIRT. MY SKIRT PEOPLE. I do a little turn around (while screaming of course) so he doesn’t actually go UP my skirt and then JUMP into the car PRAYING he’s not in my skirt still. He wasn’t. Everything is fine. Hope of ministering to immediate neighbors… maybe not as impactful at this point… I’ll just be the quirky American. It’s fine.

Bee:  3 Kristen:  1


Today. I’ve decided to switch my second cup of coffee to green tea. Head into the kitchen early afternoon to make tea. Grab the tea kettle with boiled water and head to Mia’s thermos to pour it in… Except I didn’t make it that far… First, I heard the buzzing. Loud. INSIDE the kitchen buzzing. What do I do? You guessed it, ran out of the kitchen, yelling, tea kettle still in my hand. I set it on the printer (because where does a tea kettle go outside the kitchen?) and peek inside. Yup. He’s in there. In vain ramming himself against the closed window trying to get out. WHY. WHY THE KITCHEN. It’s 3 HOURS until Matt gets home. We can’t just not eat or drink for three hours (we’re hobbits)…. Except… Mia is a baby. She drinks formula. Her formula AND the boiled water are in the kitchen. (Japanese water makes her spit up a ton for some reason if we don’t boil it…) She wakes up hungry. But wait! I’m really bad at putting things away and FOR ONCE this has came in handy- I left one portion of baby food on the table, measured out. AND WAIT, I ran out of the kitchen WITH the tea pot! I have water for her. Hooray! Mia gets her bottle. Archer and I grow hungry… There’s a package of popcorn in the cabinet. The microwave is about 6 inches inside the kitchen. Archer and I inch toward the door. We open it. Peek in…. I reach in, body still completely in the hall, open the microwave and shove the bag in. Turn it on and close the kitchen door. Once it’s done I quickly stick my hand and arm only into the kitchen and retrieve our snack! Success! We made it the three hours- go pick up Matt- and… the bee is gone! He comes home and it’s gone! Where is he? My guess is he’s knocked out from ramming into the window so many times… Hoping he doesn’t wake up when Matt’s at work tomorrow…

Not sure who gets the points on that one… 

So this is my ridiculousness… On the plus side, I am no longer afraid of butterflies. They are actually a welcomed  (and often) sight in my little front garden. So that’s good. But if you feel like praying for something so super random. Pray for my battle with bees. I’ve even switched shampoo and they STILL find me (not because of this, I just happened to buy another brand… haha). Anyway, hope this post gave you a good laugh or at least made you feel better about yourself!


One Month Update: Defining Goals

Konnichiwa Family & Friends in the States! Thank you for following along on our journey! Read on to hear about the Church we’ve been visiting and our Ministry Goals!

-We’ve been in Japan for a month already, though it feels like time is flying! We are grateful to be over jetlag and on a normal sleeping routine (even if that normal is our kids waking up at 5am….).

Our Home:

We’ve moved into our new house and we love it here! We’ve spent the past couple of weeks deep cleaning due to my [Kristen] allergies. Because of all the cleaning we’re not quite unpacked yet, but we are definitely feeling more settled and I’m very grateful we were able to come in June! Just getting the house in order and getting into a rhythm is taking quite a bit of time. I’m so glad Matthew is home to help with the little ones while we transition.

Japanese Church:

Twice we’ve gone to a Church about thirty minutes from us. We have really enjoyed our time there. Everyone is very kind. The Church is in Japanese and translated into English for a few of the missionary families who attend. We have not yet decided if we’ll visit other Churches or stay with Hope. But we would love your prayers on where God would have us be and where we’d be most useful to Him, not just where we’re most comfortable and we’re it’s easiest to fit in.

Mia hiding from the rain. Taken by a new friend at ホープチャペル -HopeChapel-八尾福音教会 on Sunday.

Ministry Goals:

Before arriving in Japan, Matthew and I discussed a lot of what we might do and how we’ll serve God here. A lot of prayer went into our discussions and a lot of prayer has gone into it now that we’re here. Now that we’re here it’s easier to see where the needs are. Now that we’re here we can feel God putting people on our hearts as we meet them. It’s amazing and we’re so grateful. There are many different routes we could take:

  • Fill the gap left by previous missionaries in the retired community
  • Discipleship through KCS
  • Local Mom’s Group with Japanese Mamas

As we pray over the above possibilities, Matthew and I have both felt God putting Language Learning on our hearts. To do any of those things well, we need to be able to communicate. We haven’t felt a certain direction or “do this specific thing!”. But we have both felt a need to really spend time learning the language well.

I also still have the strong conviction that I’m to live my daily life, as usual, raising my kiddos to love the Lord and investing in the people around me. No, it’s not a step-by-step Ministry Initiative. It’s not a Church Planting, Discipleship Training Program. It’s not any of those important sounding things. It’s just me, loving the Lord, loving those around me, and praying for every person brought to my mind. (Currently a lady I’ve seen twice on the train, an employee at the grocery store, and some fellow Americans who live here.)

The kids hanging in there while we try and translate just about everything in the store…

So as much as I feel like many expect a really cool sounding plan. That’s it: Love God, Love Others. We just reside in a different country, that’s all. But I’ve learned His amazing power and love works through simple obedience and faith. Isn’t that really all it takes? We so appreciate your support and I hope you know how much it means to us to be supported from the States. It helps us find our footing here. So thank you, for investing in God’s Love for the Japanese People. For investing in what He’s doing here and making an impact in Japan. -K

2-Weeks in Japan: Trapped in a Train Station and Other Misadventures!

We’re finally here! It has been an amazing two weeks getting used to a new culture, eating new foods, learning Japanese, and driving on the left side of the road! We’ve been documenting much of our new life on Facebook, (Kristen is our documentor: Kristen’s Facebook.) but I wanted to take a moment to share some stories about our adventure so far. Because, while there have been many new and amazing things, there have also been several ‘learning experiences’ where things did not entirely as planned! So here are a few of those stories:

Flying Passports

There are bound to be things that go wrong when travelling across the world with two children, right? Right. We actually managed to get along pretty well, moving 12 bags through airports and hotels, up until we got to Japan. It was the final customs line that got us. We arrived with a compliment of about 200 Chinese passengers, all standing in line together to enter the country. From my vantage point of about a foot above everyone else I could see just how long the customs line was; as a parent I ranked it in regards to our kids, somewhere between an “I have to go potty” dance and an “I’ve been on a plane for 10 hours and now have to stand in line” meltdown. Sure enough, when the time finally came to step up to our customs agent, Archer was not in a mood to move any more. Stopped in the middle of the floor, I reached out my hand to take his and usher him forward when a bag on my shoulder slipped down my arm and over the hand that was holding all our passports. The passports were launched out of my hand by the strap and four passports flew in four different directions, the farthest one reaching a whopping ten feet. What followed was a chaotic scramble of unfortunate passengers caught in the line of fire and polite Japanese Attendants rushing to help me pick up the passports. Needless to say, the Americans made quite a first impression in the customs line!

Stuck in a Train Station

There have been many adjustments for us in Japan so far, some actually have nothing to do with a foreign country, but simply not living in Florida anymore. The primary examples would be hills and mountains, and trains… Being currently without a car, we have been mostly dependent on the train system running through our town; a single line train that runs north and south between two cities. When we arrived in Japan, there were many very friendly people that reached out to us and welcomed us. One such family was kind enough to invite us over to their place so we could get to know each other; which meant we were presented with our first train adventure. It started out well, we managed to figure out how to buy our tickets, and how much they were. We even got on the correct train and made it to the correct train station. However, after exiting the station we realized a fault in our plan. We have left early in an attempt to eat lunch at a restaurant near the station. But we had not mapped our route very well (We don’t have gps yet) and turned out we could not get to the restaurant. Well our friends weren’t going to arrive for another hour, and there were no seats or shade outside the train station, so we did the only sensible thing to do and bought a cheap train ticket so we could get back in the station and sit down. After an hour of waiting, we then attempted to leave the train station, except we couldn’t. The turnstile would not accept our ticket, and there were no attendants at the small train station. We were stuck inside with a machine that beeped indignantly when we attempted to give it our train ticket that we didn’t go anywhere with. After a very embarrassing ten minutes, our new friend finally arrived and was able to use a radio to call an attendant to let us out. Another successful first impression! Complete with an old man walking up to laugh at us.

There have been a few other instances such as, Kristen trying to figure out how to pay with yen and thoroughly confusing the cashier. Kristen attempting to receive a package (evidently they’re all hand-delivered and not left on doorsteps) and confusing the delivery man. She could write a whole post on her coffee misadventures… We are grateful to have a sense of humor and that the Japanese people are gracious to foreigners. But we’re surviving and getting better every day! Thanks, for your prayers and support.


1 Week to go: Questions about Support

The purpose of this post, which I’ll keep short and sweet, is to provide some clarifying information and answer some questions. As we enter the final stretch, (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?), many of you have been asking how you can support us and/or how you can help. We are so grateful for how our friends and family have come together to help us get to where we are in the process, we seriously could not have done it without you. Many of you have already provided logistic, emotional, spiritual, and financial support.

So, where do the Steele’s stand right now? Well physically, we are a little on the sick side, praying that goes away before the flight. (Please pray with us!) But, logistically, most everything is in place. (Other than the great packing adventure; see: “This is the story of a girl, who brought a pumpkin across the whole world”.)

Our financial support is one of the areas where we are in the most need. We have had many generous donations, and so have been able to afford the move to a whole new country. Praise God! However, we are only about 50% of the way to our monthly goal, which is where partners commit to supporting the Japan mission on a monthly basis. We are not concerned about this, we know God wants us in Japan and so He will have us there one way or another, funds or not. We are not even looking for just anyone to join as a monthly supporter. What this is, is an opportunity for anyone who has seen the plan God has for us in Japan, and seen our hearts, and feels that God is asking them to support it. If that is you, here is your opportunity. I have a link attached to the bottom of this page that will allow you to set up a monthly support to the mission. (Or the “Give”/Support tabs at the top and side.)

For those of you who already have and continue to support us in any form, we are incredibly grateful. Thanks, and stay posted for travel pics!


“This is the story of a girl, who brought a pumpkin across the whole world.”

“Really wife? You’re bringing the pumpkin?”

“How am I supposed to decorate for fall without it?” She defended, rearranging the plastic monstrosity that was taking up a sizable chunk of the suit case.

“It’s too big,” I countered.

At this point our 3-year old, Archer, walks in the room. “What do you think, Archer?” I asked him. “Should we bring the pumpkin to Japan?”

Archer looked at me and brightened. “Oh, yea,” he said. “I already packed mine.”

“You packed a pumpkin?” I asked skeptically, wondering if Kristen had bribed him somehow.

“Yea,” he said again and walked over to his wheely bag. After unzipping it he rummaged around for a moment and, sure enough, pulled out a smaller, yet just as decorative plastic pumpkin.

“You packed a pumpkin,” I repeated incredulously.


Needless to say I lost the pumpkin battle. But there have been many similar conversations in the time since we’ve started trying to fit our entire lives into six large bags. When we step back and look at it, it seems like an impossible task; reducing what was a family in a fully furnished, four bedroom house into a family moving across the world with what they can carry on their backs. How do we decide what fraction of our worldly possessions are the most important and deserve to fly over the ocean with us, and then figure out what to do with the rest?

I’ve been brushing up on my math lately, in preparation for my teaching assignment, so lets see if we can calculate it, shall we?

Each of us are allotted 2 suitcases, each a maximum of 50lbs. 1 carry on, 20lbs. and a personal item, such as a backpack, which will carry most of the products we need to survive the trip itself. So each of us gets a grand total of 120lbs of our possessions to bring with us to our new life.


Lets estimate roughly and say you can fit about 100 items in each suit case and 30 in the personal item. That give each of us approximately 230 items to bring with us, or 690 as a family unit. (Since Mia doesn’t get bags.)


That seems like a lot doesn’t it? We should have no problem bringing everything we want, that’s almost 700 items.

Except the average American family has about 300,000 items in their home.

So of our 300,000 items, we get 690. (And Mia, being a baby, already takes up a good deal of that.)

690/300,000=.0023 or .23%

So there you have it, our material possessions are being reduced by 99.77%.

When you look at it this way, assuming your eyes haven’t glazed over from all the numbers, it’s a pretty daunting task. So the question is; “What are the most important .23% of our possessions?”

Well, what would you pack? Currently my bag contains clothing items, a collection of tablets for use in my classroom, and several bags of board game pieces. (Which have been disassembled and the actual boxes left behind for space constraints.)

Does that say something about me? I feel like it’s one of those old idioms; “You can tell a lot about a man by what he puts in the two suitcases he’s going to start a new life with.”

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not renouncing our materialistic ways and becoming minimalist hermits for God’s glory. It would be a noble endeavor, but I don’t think that’s what God has called us to. There is a nearly fully furnished house and working vehicle waiting for us in Japan. We will function much the same way we do here, just in a different language.

But this process has put a new light on what God has called us to do. He has asked us to show people in another world how much He loves them. And the truth is, we really don’t need a lot of possessions to do it.


Romans & Rain

The summer rains have begun. They’ve been rolling in late afternoon just at the perfect time to grab a book and a cup of tea.

Hah! That was before children. Now we just run outside right before it starts, feel the wind on our noses and bare feet, hear the thunder, and smell the thick salty air- heavy with the coming downpour… then run back inside to watch through the window.

It’s raining now as I read Romans, and though I don’t have my afternoon tea, I do have three of my favorite people surrounding me, fast asleep. The littlest one with her little baby snores. 😍

I find myself in Romans 15 tonight. Yet another reminder to keep battling selfishness:

Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Romans 15:2

It reminded me of Japan and why we’re going. I’ve had to remind myself more than once lately that we are going there to build His Kingdom, not our own. Matthew has been good at reminding me of that too. Before we had a family, I would have strapped on my backpack, thrown some things in a suitcase and hit the road!

But now, I often find myself torn between trusting God and providing stability for my children through (probably too extensive) preparations. It’s a fine line that I have been walking on lately. But then comes the verse that has captured my heart on this stormy night:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

And there you have it. That is my prayer. I am praying that verse guides Matthew and I so that we can be filled with all joy and peace as we believe so that we may overflow with hope. Hope for our children in this transition. And mostly hope for the Japanese people. I pray that our hope overflows and the Japanese people we meet can’t help but notice a genuine hope in the Lord. Because that is something I feel we could all use a whole lot more of- hope, joy, and peace.

Turn to the God of hope and He’ll fill you up.

Will you join me in this prayer?

Honor the Lord with your possessions: 1 month to go!

“Honor the Lord with your possessions…” Proverbs 3:9a

We’ve been sorting through our things for months now. And now that we’re one month out- we still have so much stuff. It’s overwhelming how much stuff we own.

It reminds me of the first time I returned home after a mission trip to a very poor country.
These people had nothing, they were lucky if they had a tin roof over their heads and 3 of 4 walls enclosed around them.

It was heartbreaking. It was sobering.

Yet those people were the most generous and kind people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They had nothing and yet they offered it all to me when I came to visit. Suddenly their nothing seemed like everything and I had the hardest time accepting it, until I saw how hurt they were at my hesitation to take them up on their kindness. So I gladly received- filled up more by their excited smiles then the food offered to me.

I remember coming home to America. I opened the door to my room. And I just sat down and cried. I had so much. So much. And yet I had nothing. God worked hard in my heart that year.

So now, in the midst of packing up everything we own into 6 suitcases- I’ve come across a very timely verse:

“Honor the Lord with your possessions.” -Proverbs 3:9a

What timing. Thank You Lord! Because just trying to divide needs over wants was not working for me.

Now I can ask myself as I sort through my possessions:

Does this honor the Lord?

Can I bring Him glory through this?

Is this something that I can use with my gifts to aid the body of Christ?

Am I building His Kingdom with this, or my own?

Thanks for the listen and the prayers, friends. 1 month to go!