John & Tomoko Armagost with Rev. Tanno, General Secretary
Personal pictures found in rubble of Shichigahama by volunteers waiting to be claimed
The Lord continues to guide and direct me through the tasks he has given me to do. However, it seems like waiting patiently is a big part of it all. You all are probably saying the same thing in waiting for communication from me! “If I could just get an answer about this or complete this task, then I could make a report to my friends abroad.” This is how my thinking seems to run. Then, I wait! Once I get it all together, then my computer or internet is down. How we handle these tensions day in and day out reflects our Christian character. God continues to mold me and remold me as I deal with daily trials, frustrations and joys.
New Opportunities and Saying Goodbye: Over the recent holidays in early May, our J-Team got together. J-Team means International Ministry missionaries serving in Japan. The Hwangs, Armagosts and I had a good time visiting and finishing up some mission business. We spent a lot of time discussing volunteers as well as requests from churches about projects that VBS can work on this summer. We’re putting together a few proposals now. One of the main purposes was to say our goodbyes. John & Tomoko are leaving us. How sad it was! We’ve been colleagues for nearly 20 years. We are really going to miss them.
I did want you all to know about an opportunity for two volunteers to join a team of two others to do some “cosmetic” work around some churches and church member’s homes cleaning and fixing up their gardens! The ultimate purpose is to help lift their tired spirits. It is a way to connect to some of the church members who would perhaps just like to talk about their experiences on March 11, or just bring them a little cheer. This will take place in safe areas of disaster struck north east Japan, first in Kesennuma and secondly in the Shiogama area. There will be a translator in the group, too. I will take the group up by car. Presently two people are registered. We need two more. This is your chance if you enjoy gardening, meeting other people, give an encouraging smile, or handshake (with dirty garden gloves! There will also be a chance to play with pre-school children who have gone through this disaster. Dates are July 23-August 9th. Please check out this link and make contact immediately. http://www.internationalministries.org/read/35798 There is also a poster available at this site, or contact me.
Work at Kanto Gakuin: I continue to go to the kindergarten nearby to enter the kid’s world. Recently, I had the opportunity to give the Bible study for 35 mothers of elementary school students. We had a lot of fun studying and doing some interactive learning about how the Bible was put together. My style is different than Japanese teachers and I think they truly enjoyed it. Three women whom I taught Bible to for a few months in my home last year were there because their child is now in first grade! They were very supportive and kept flashing their encouraging smiles my way. I don’t know for sure, but it seems as I meet some of the women in other settings, that a few are Christians and most of them are truly interested in Christianity.
I told you about my job as auditor at Kanto Gakuin. On Saturday, I left that job and became a member of the Board of Directors. This was due to the Armagosts vacating their positions. Now I will be required to attend the chaplin’s meeting of Kanto Gakuin. I don’t need more things to do but welcome the opportunity to perhaps become acquainted with the Christian endeavor on campus.
Great East Japan Earthquake/Tsunami: Although it may be “off your radar” it is still very much on our radar. Much of Japan is gearing up for the hot summer months when every household and company must cut electricity usage by at least 20%. Some companies are starting to move, lock-stock-and barrel to southern Japan where there will be no electricity limitation. Some companies like iron works are shifting all their work hours to night-time only. This means more uprooting of people outside the disaster zones. Volunteerism is slowing down. Volunteer coordinators both here and up north, including pastors hosting groups are becoming very exhausted. They really need your prayers. Progress is being seen in many areas. But while there is progress, I’m learning of people who have fallen-through the cracks, so to speak. People on the edges of the disaster areas who did not loose their homes are now lacking food! There are no stores open in their areas, and disaster relief trucks have stopped coming around with supplies to receive or purchase. Supplies such as bread and rice are available in the main areas of disaster but people must line up for hours again for just a loaf of bread. As I hear of these people, I am trying with my friends to see how their needs can be met. In the meantime, we continue to pray and shed no few tears for our acquaintances who face such difficulties each day.
Personal prayer requests: Next week our JBU (Japan Baptist Union) women will hold their annual meeting. I am giving a workshop there on the subject of Quiet Time or having a time of meditation. I really need your prayers for this. Looking ahead, I’ll give the message on Children’s Day at Seiro church. Special invitations are being sent out for this service. The church is very small but Rev. Toda is making a great effort to bring in the younger children, and God is blessing. June 29th I’ll bring the Bible study to mothers of kindergarteners. July 5th and 12th I’ll give a message during chapel at KG university. Each Friday night, I share the Word with three teachers who live across town and who come to the Hwangs to study with me. Mark these dates on your calendar for me. Thanks in advance for your prayers.
Your gifts in terms of support have been meaningful. March showed a large increase in individual giving. April, well….fell far below normal. However, my monthly commitments remain the same, about 30% short of my goal. I do need your increased prayer for new people who are willing to invest in my ministry. On the other hand, we’ve had a tremendous response from American Baptists for relief in Japan. Our partners, the Japan Baptist Union are absolutely overwhelmed with your generosity. Your dollars are being put to good use. People here are weeping with those in the USA who have been hit by various natural disasters. It does truly seem “that the whole creation is groaning as in pains of childbirth, right up to the present time” and will continue in this way until the Lord comes….”But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Oh, there’s that word “patient” again. Please join me in ‘waiting with patience’ yet may our ‘waiting’ be active and not static.
Your fellow-servant in Christ,