beautiful flowers in bloom,
but the ones who know
after they’ve fallen.
- a Japanese folk zen saying
As most of you know, Kari, the kids and I are coming back home in mid-June, and we’ll begin transitioning back into life in the US this summer. You might guess that writing this final journal from my desk at Kanto Gakuin—looking out over the hustle and bustle of campus—is a bittersweet feeling!
We thank God to have had the opportunity to serve in ministry alongside our brothers and sisters in Japan during these two terms. It has been an incredible privilege to serve as your representatives here in Japan. Seeing students’ lives change, seeing our own ways of living and thinking change, seeing people grow in friendship and compassion—these are all wonderful memories we’ll carry with us as we move back to the US. Hopefully, through our updates, we’ve been able to share a few of those memories with you along the way. But as the zen poet writes, "the ones who know” visit the flowers even when they can no longer see the blossoms. Perhaps it’s because the flowers are still blooming in their hearts, or because the fragrance still remains. . .
Even when we can no longer see the Spirit at work with our own eyes, we believe. It takes trust to come and trust to go. We're always learning over again that a life lived in joy is one built on simple reliance. But please do lift up a prayer for your brothers and sisters in the Japan Baptist Union—that they’ll continue to grow in faith and understanding, being strengthened in God's Spirit as they continue sharing the shalom of Christ in Japan.
This summer, we’ll be settling down temporarily in central Ohio so that we can reconnect with family while I look for a church in the States. Please pray for us as we settle back into US life. All of us have become about half-Japanese in temperament (I’m reminded of that every time I see one of us bowing even when we’re talking on the phone), so it’s surely going to take some time to readjust!
But we are genuinely looking forward to seeing many family and friends once again. Since our resignation as missionaries will be effective June 31st, we’ll have only limited ability to visit churches after that time. But during the summer we'll be informally visiting a number of churches who’ve supported us, just to say a word of thanks for the part they’ve played in our ministry here.
But the church in Japan still has real needs. The world is changing quickly, and organizations of all kinds (including our churches and schools) need guidance as they attempt to adapt. If your church is committed to directed giving, and if you’re interested in continuing to support American Baptist ministry in Japan, we’d especially urge you to consider directing your giving to the Armagost family, IM missionaries serving in the Osaka/Kobe area. John and Tomoko have been in Japan for many years and have earned the respect of our JBU leaders, who often call upon them to partner in creating new models for ministry to youth in our Baptist churches. For more information about the Armagosts and their work, please see their page on IM's website.
Well, the flowers may fall, but the fragrance remains! Keep us in your prayers, and may God bless you with confidence to serve in your own mission field, remembering that “we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved…”
Thanks one last time for your many years of support.
Dwight & Kari Davidson
Adam, Sarah, and Isaiah