Japan Newsletter, Feb 27, 2011

Hey friends!
It's hard to believe only a month has gone by since I spoke to you last. My first month here has been a very eventful one. My schoolwork load has been a lot larger than I remember college being. It is very rarely that I have had any time to myself. I spoke with those who are coming from the Murrita campus have said that the work load in the states is a lot less, that this is a extremely intensely training oriented campus. This makes me very excited for my two years that I am going to spend here. Intense training is exactly what I am looking for here. I can't wait for what lies ahead of me.
However, don't let my description mislead you. My activities here are not confined to study alone. As I have said previously, there are four different churches connected with the college here. They placed us into teams of four people and will be rotating us to a new church every month to serve in anyway we can. For this month I was placed in Calvary Chapel Okinawa. This church, for the most part, is for the most part consistent of military personnel and their families. Very close to the church, there is a fairly large army base and as such, most believers from that army base come to CCO. Funny how God works, I come all the way to Okinawa and end up ministering to Americans ^_~. But, one thing I have learned here so far is that you have to let God define your ministry. If you go into His work with a bunch of expectations, things you feel are your ministry and close yourself off to other areas, you can miss what God is trying to do. It's kind of like Elijah. He comes on the scene out of no where, right in to the presence of the King, telling him the word of God. But then, God tells him to sit by a river and be fed by birds, and after that he was sent to the house of one widow to work the miracle of the oil and flour... From working with the King, to chilling by a river, to ministering to one widow... The work God wants us to do can change dramatically in a very short time, and we have to keep up with it without letting our own preconceptions get in the way. And this is true, because half way through the month, after not using a word of Japanese at that church, suddenly a whole English class of non-christian Japanese students walk in to practice their english and my ministry changed again. God is awesome in that way.
Actually there are quite a few non christian Japanese people at both the church there and here in Calvary Chapel Ginowan (the church attached to this bible college). But here in Ginowan, they are of a slightly different variety. The unsaved that come here are mostly from TEEN CHALLENGE. It is a christian organization that was started in America, and, unbeknownst to me, is very active in Japan as well that works with rehabilitating alcoholics, drug users, and ex cons. Most of them are from the mainland. And actually, most lived very close to were I lived in Tokyo before they came here to be put into rehabilitation. They are interesting to talk to, and we have had some good conversations so far. Please pray for the work of the organization and my and my fellow students role in ministering to them.
Thank you all for praying for my culture shock as well. It took me a bit of time to get used to the culture here, but God has been helping me quite a bit. One thing that really helped is that most of the Japanese bible college students here are from the mainland. Nobody from Tokyo, but there are people from the Kanagawa prefecture and from Osaka. Being able to talk and be with them along with the Okinawan Japanese at the same time helped me to better understand the difference in language and culture by comparison. It helped me to understand how they differ in there interactions with people. One thing I learned quickly when comparing them is that Okinawan Japanese are so very upfront with there feelings, opinions, and emotional states. In fact, I don't think I have run into a culture more predisposed to wearing their heart on their sleeve. Coming from the mainland Japanese culture were everything is subtext and implied meaning behind what is actually said, I understand completely why I was so dumbfounded when I first got here. I was expecting to be interacting with Japanese people. But this is so different. The more time I spend here the more I realize that this is not really Japan. This is Okinawa. Though this is all considered Japan, these are two different peoples sharing a common language. As different as America and England connected only by words. And the history I have been able to see so far is supportive of this idea. During the war, Japan saw this as a place to control, a good access point for the rest of Asia, but not their own country. They saw the okinawans as less than themselves. And truthfully the okinawans saw the Japanese as much as a invader as a ally by the end of the war and welcomed the liberation the Americans provided for a time. Anyway, I don't want to go all history nerd on you. I am just saying that through the history God gave me insight into the culture I will now be serving in ^_^. Praise Him all the earth.
Anyway, great talking with you guys. Miss you a bunch and am praying for you. I am going to keep trying with the video Blog. I haven't had time to shoot much video so far, but I will try to get into the pace of doing so. Sorry for that.

Much love,