Journey of a Lifetime
Quezon City, Philippines
- you've never heard of sushi
- you've heard of anime
- you've heard of manga
- you've heard of Toshiba or Toyota
- you've heard of sakura or cherry blossoms
- you've heard of Jesus
Up until the last category, you guys were more or less similar to majority of the people in the country I went to. It's just that most of the Japanese, well, they never heard of Jesus.
How I ended up there
Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to go to Japan. When we were studying its history in high school, I got hooked. I promised myself I would go there someday. That was ten years ago last year.
When Cebu Pacific, shameless plug, had one of its promo fares, I saw that the price for a Japan trip was unbelievably cheap. I didn't want to let it pass. After a few days though, God placed a thought in my heart, "Am I going to let this be just another trip to another country?" From then on, I worked towards going to Japan as a mission trip. I went to a couple of Missions Sending agencies, and was inclined to partner with OMF.
My journey to Japan
I can't say it was a smooth preparation to Japan. There were some issues going there.
First was the schedule. The person I was in contact with in OMF had asked me maybe three months before the trip to consider going there for a month, instead of just two weeks. It was an issue because I couldn't rebook it unless I was ready to pay the standard price plus rebooking fees. If not, I'd have to buy another ticket, and that wouldn't be so cheap.
Another concern was finances. I didn't know about OMF's stand on solicitations early on. As Hudson Taylor, their founding father, had done, the concern of money was lifted to God in prayer, and He will provide. A single entry is not enough to summarize the groans I had lifted to God on the matter. Japan screamed of BIG MONEY to me.
Lastly was the visa. I was scared to death with the visa. I wasn't that scared when I was getting a visa for the US, but Japan was like being in front of Roman armies or something.
How did I resolve these? Well, prayer. I can't say there was anything else that caused me to decide aside from the peace God gave me in prayer.
God put in my heart not the desire to stay in Japan for a month, but the desire to see Him at work there for that amount of time, and the restlessness of doing so for only a couple of weeks.
This decision involved more money, and that scared me. I cried many times to the Lord for this. But, all He said in His Word, and in the life of Taylor which I went through, was that He is in control, and He is faithful. Without having to give out letters or begging from people (and believe me, I wanted to do just that), God provided the money to buy a new set of tickets to come back home, give the money that was asked for me to raise, and buy the other necessary tickets for me to get to Tokyo from Osaka.
As for the visa: this was actually for the deciding factor. I just prayed to God, "Lord, if this is not what wanted for me, just close the door through this visa application. It'll be hard to take in, but I will take that as something from you. But if it be your will, I ask that you let me see your grace in this application." When I finally did hand out my application, a friend of mine mentioned to me of a decision they gave just that week that they will be inviting more foreigners, including Filipinos, in the country by giving out more visas. *sparkofhope* An even greater surprise was that the agency contacted me just the day after I submitted saying that the results are out and I can get my passport. Of course you know the decision, and that's why I'm writing this.
What I did there
Before going to Japan, one of the questions I had asked myself was, "What are some things I would like God to teach me during this trip?" I asked God at that time, "Lord, I want to know your heart for the Japanese, and what is my place in it."
After a almost a year of planning, laughing, and crying, here comes July, the whole month I would be in Japan.
I praise God for the different ways He allowed me see Him at work there. He first brought me to Tokyo.
My first day in the field I joined a singing group rehearsal called Roppongi Gospel Choir. It was led by a Japanese man, Nobu-san, and he ministered using African-American music or gospel music. He'd teach them songs and then explain to them the meaning of the songs, as well as what the Bible says.
That day, we sang one of the songs I actually learned through SVCF, "When I Think About the Lord". Singing this song with them made me cry. I felt so selfish that I could think of the Lord my Saviour that day and recall His goodness, but they knew nothing of the sort. They didn't know God, they didn't know Jesus, what he did on the cross, how he saved. They don't know what it's like to actually want to shout, Hallelujah!
For my whole trip, that was the song that was stuck in my heart. I said to the Lord, I want to sing Hallelujah and invite others to do the same!
Other places I was able to go to were Bible Studies (for Christians, for a mixed group, for young professionals, for students with KGK), big group fellowship with KGK, English Cafe, park ministry, and Japanese worship service.
After spending two week doing these things, I was then sent to Ajigasawa in Aomori Prefecture, a little farther off Sedai. That area is in the north part of Japan.
From the city life, I got to experience the rural part of Japan. And no, it's not at all like Quezon City. It was here that I had a bit of trouble getting used to, but I really grew to love.
Unlike the ministry in Tokyo, in Aji we did more family ministries. These include pizza parties, campus ministries, tea time with friends, teaching in kindergartens, teaching kindergartens English in church, and leading worship service aside from attending them.
The huge difference in experience for me in Ajigasawa is actually seeing the daily life of a missionary family having lived with them in two weeks. I was blessed to see them handle the very difficult situations in their lives in complete surrender to God. It's not easy to be in joyful service when your family is going through hardships.
The highlights for me are the:
Max was able to bring me to a couple of Bible studies with the people attending GCT. I was really blessed being there because I got to hear their different questions: questions that are simple and yet are so honest in the desire to know more about God.
Young Professionals' Bible Study
I was blessed by the admission of one person there that it was hard for him to see what God's plan is for his job, how he can different from the rest. For me it's a simple answer, but I was so intrigued at why they couldn't see the simplicity of it all.
I've honestly been praying about working when I got back here. I want to submit to my parents' request, yes, but I also want to know what it is like to be in the 'workplace'. There are a lot of people telling me that it's different out there. I can't really know the difference until I work there.
I got to meet people here of different ages. It was encouraging for me to see this kind of ministry in Japan, much like what we do here without the food, being able to reach out to this diverse lot. It gave me hope for our welcoming ministry in FIS. I'm also excited for how the Lord can work through this ministry in Japan.
There are so many things one can do with a simple event such as this pizza party. I was blessed at how smoothly they incorporated the making of contacts through this pizza party, and yet not failing to share about who God is in their lives with their simple stories, special numbers, and singing of songs.
To actually see a family serving in missions has been quite an experience. The things that they went through are so diverse: ups, downs, moments of stretching, moments of rest, etc. And in all these times, they see how the Lord is working in their lives together in prayer, reading of the Word and fellowship. I believe that it can be really hard to keep a missionary family together because of all the demand in time, and emotions. It is good to see God at work, and to be able say, it's all worth the wait after being with this family.
Pray God really works through prayer!
Mobilize I have been blessed to see people praying back home, may it not cease even when I go back!
Learn There's still so much I need to know about God, Japan, and His work there.
For the Mission
For the Missionaries
The song from that time still lingers in mind once in a while after the trip. I really do pray that from here on in, I would always things about the Lord, and everything else in between, so that I'd continually find myself in awe and worship, dedicating my whole being for the glory of His Name to the ends of the earth.
Soli Deo Gloria!