So I know I only blogged a couple of days ago, but it's been pretty busy!! And more importantly, I have some stuff that it would be cool for you to pray for… So… Here we go! 🙂
Yesterday was pretty snowy. When I say 'pretty snowy' I actually mean it was some ferociously-heavy-snow that saw me take advantage of a house-bound study day.
Actually, pause there. I guess that's prayer point number 1. Please pray that even in the midst of moving and settling into life in Hokkaido, I can still get some decent MTh study time nailed. I have an essay due in just over 2 weeks!
I did actually brave a brief trip out in the afternoon to do something that had been on my heart to do. And in the approximately 4 minutes it took for me to walk from my house, to Mister Donut, to the bank, I had at least 3 inches of snow frozen to the top of my hat. Not the greatest of looks I must admit… 😉
But here's prayer point number 2. As I blogged earlier this week, the guys at Hokkaido Bank had been really patient and kind with my complete incapability to a) speak articulately in Japanese and b) then try and act out that I wanted to open a bank account. So I just wanted to say thank you.
And what's the best way to say thank you? Like, ever?
So I went and brought donuts for all the bank staff yesterday and (as my written Japanese is considerably better than my spoken ability) wrote a wee note to thank them for generally being cool and helpful and all that jazz.
And then I swung by the bank mid-blizzard to be a donut-delivery-girl. Which genuinely made some bank staff pretty stoked! And actually gave some good openings to chat. As baked goods often do.
So, I'm really glad to be banking at that particular branch, and it would be cool if you could pray for the people that work there.
Ok. Where am I? Prayer point number 3? So, this is just a continuation of the other day, but last night I went and hung out with the young adults and 20s/30s group at Fukuinkan Church for the evening. Which was a whole lot of fun, and a whole lot of food and some really great, encouraging chat. I mean, I'm super thankful!! But I guess generally, the whole church/meeting other Christians/getting into a small group is a big deal for prayer for me just now! Because I'm living, working and studying with non-Christians so there's no shortage of opportunity there (that's a different issue for prayer!) but I do long to be grafted in and able to serve and bless a community of believers, and for it to be the right one!
I actually got back in last night just before 11pm and Kayoko still made me eat more food before I went to bed… 'Kayoko, you're going to make me fat…' I lamented, as she 'Fufufu' laughed her way into the kitchen… 😉
Which leads me onto today.
And prayer point number 4. The ladies that I am living with have a combination of Shinto-Buddhist beliefs. Like most Japanese homes, they have a household shrine which is a really big deal to them… Here it's actually in the biggest room in the house upstairs, which is next to my little bedroom wing. I'm still trying to figure out totally where they personally are in the spectrum of their beliefs through conversations… And as Kayoko's Mother-in-law (who will only ever be known to me as 'Obaa-san', which is like Grandmother in English I guess) doesn't speak any English, my conversations have been mainly with Kayoko.
And she has very politely just listened to me explain about being a Christian and my heart for young people. Saying little (in that area only), simply nodding thoughtfully.
And I've been doing my devotional times and prayer times upstairs and then playing some worship on their piano in the lounge.
But today, I woke up pretty late, and as we normally eat breakfast at 8am, I took my Bible downstairs with me and was just reading the Word over tea as we finished. Which led to some really interesting conversations.
Firstly with Obaa-san. Who wanted to know whether I read and prayed each day and what made it 'Christian'. She shared how she prayed each day and took it very seriously, so I felt like we were at least building some understanding! And, 96 year old lady Japanese is really hard to understand…
Secondly with Kayoko. Who sat with me after Obaa-san had left and said that she actually owned both an English and Japanese Bible and read them sometimes. And she said she didn't understand the verses or know many, but sometimes she just liked to open the Bible and read. And so I showed her my Bible, covered in messy scrawl and highlighted notes and personal prayers, and it began to open up a conversation that I pray will continue over these next weeks.
And I would simply ask you to pray for these two ladies. Because Jesus loves them more than I ever could.
So they're my four main prayer points.
I'm actually just back through the door (it's almost 6pm here) and about to hit the books. My plan for today had been to do a bit more study, and maybe just chill out after a pretty full week. But Kayoko invited me on a road trip out to past Naganuma (maybe 90 minutes drive away) to visit her Mother (who I will fondly refer to as Obaa-san Two!) And it has been such a wonderful day!! The scenery out there is perfect-snowy-beautifulness, Obaa-san Two was just the most incredible lady (she lives by herself at 94 years old!) and she presented me with a vast array of pretty stylish knitted goods that I will no doubt actually wear! So we drank coffee (stronger than the strongest espresso) and ate pineapple and had a lovely time.
And then we went for lunch in this restaurant that I will be taking you to if you ever visit me!! Harvest Farm Restaurant is this log built cabin which the owning farmer built himself! Stunning views, stunning food, stunning everything!!
So yeah, thank you for praying!! Let's believe in faith for each other!! I was reading Psalm 103 this morning and it just floored me in my tracks. That the Lord is gracious and compassionate and has removed our sin from us. He didn't make allowances for our sin, He paid for it! And that floored me afresh this morning. Like the song says, 'I deserve nothing, I deserve hell, I deserve nothing, but He's given me mercy…' And so in that so-beautiful-it-changes-everything reality, let's pray for each other with steadfast faith in our Beautiful God.
Sending you all the love I can!!
Oh, and here are some pictures of today… 🙂
Me wearing my new gifts!! Style queen I know 😉
The strongest coffee in the world!