Welcome back blog!! I have just landed in Kyoto to amazing blessings, but I’ll write more about that at the end 😉
So this morning I waved goodbye to my latest host family as I’ll be staying in Kyoto tonight ready for meetings this weekend.
I was praying for them this morning, and wondering if my limited Japanese would allow me to share the Gospel with them in a more profound way. So I have a bilingual Bible and translated the blessing from Numbers 6 into a thank you card for them, and then was reading my Bible downstairs this morning. And actually, lots of questions followed. Firstly, they describe me as a ‘young person’ so the fact I give time to read the Bible was something they found unusual. Secondly, they then asked me if I spent time with God each day, and I was able to say about knowing Him there all the time, and also explain that I prayed and read the Bible each day. They asked me how long I prayed and read the Bible for, and when I told them they were very moved, and kept saying that they couldn’t do that. But I could share that I enjoyed prayer, and this was very different for them to hear.
My 95 year old honouree Japanese grandma told all her friends at her day centre about me yesterday, and she said as I left, ‘Please come back and stay here. Then I can live even longer!’ So please pray that in some miraculous-only-God way, Holy Spirit draws these ladies to Himself.
I also was presented with more gifts and handmade cards this morning. Honestly, these people are generosity personified. I have received 10 gifts in 3 days. Eek!
My day then became the most tiring one yet! I was visiting a farm project today that offers support to hikikomori and young people with mild learning disabilities. So I spent a good few hours outside, in the boiling Nara heat, before joining some of the staff and young people for a leisurely bento lunch. Check it out… and check me out in the great fashionable sun hat they made me wear. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been so hot in my life!
I know I keep saying it about these projects, but I was so inspired. The Director of this farm is a retired teacher, who invested most of his retirement money into this project and brought the farm. The room that we are sitting in to eat is the downstairs of his house, and his wife works in the bakery that they also run which makes bread and biscuits using flour from the farm. This is like care farming, social enterprise stuff at its best if you want to place it in a UK context. Only there has been no government or grant funding. This family have invested their own money because they saw a need to support hikikomori young people and they saw that there were no places in this locality reaching out to them.
I met two of the volunteer teachers who also work at this project and some of the young people. The adult workers are volunteers, mostly they are also retired teachers who are friends with the Director. The young people were also brilliant. One young man told us how he became hikikomori when he dropped out of university, but that attending this project helped him to gain confidence and feel valued. He now goes every week. It was just brilliant to see. And to hear the big dreams of this farm. They are currently renting more fields with the hopes of becoming self-sustaining in the next 2 years. Their dream is to be able to employ hikikomori young people as a half way route back into employment and engagement with society.
And so now as I write, I have just arrived in Kyoto. I was checked into a beautiful hotel, right at the train station for easy access for two nights. My meetings tomorrow do not start till lunchtime. And I was just looking forward to some quiet time with God this evening and an early night. But I got here to find they had given me a free upgrade. Seriously. I had booked into the cheapest little solo occupancy room I could find to save money, and they have put me pretty much in the penthouse at no extra cost! With baskets of free products that I also just checked… Are free cost. This is the view from my balcony! Thank you Jesus for these kinds of blessings!!
Thanks for praying everyone! Even in my blog absence! 😉