Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dramatis Personae

Here we go. I realized that any story I've ever really, really enjoyed had this grandiloquently named list of characters at the beginning. Not wanting to create a story I wouldn't read, I figured I'd follow the model.

Gabe: Me. I'm sure you know that unless you stumbled onto this blog by accident or possibly my Mom directed you to it even though you and I have never met. Either way, I'm glad to meet you.

Brian and Bryan: These two guys are long term staff in Shizuoka. They both have families with 3 kids apiece, speak fluent Japanese, and are guiding our team through the next 5 weeks.

Nagai-San: Describes himself as The Last Samurai...Which is probably an understatement. If Dos Equis ever needed a Japanese "most interesting" spokesman Nagai-San would probably be overqualified. Also he began the Shizuoka ministry over 30 years ago.

Laura: Our Shizuoka team leader. She's full time Navigator Staff at Kansas University, unbelievably organized, came to Shizuoka back in 2007 (the year before me), and a great strong believing woman.

Rachel and Kathryn: KU students and the rest of the Shizuoka team. It's their first time to Japan, but they're handling it much, much better than I did so far. Together with Laura have a kind of "Three Amigos" thing happening with Rachel, Kathryn, and Laura as Ned Nederlander, Dusty Bottoms and Lucky Day respectively.

Martina: A mid term Navigator staff (down for about 2 years) woman from Germany. Helps the Br(y)ians on the female student side of things. That's about all I know about here so far.

M, S, G, and U: My Japanese roomates. (They're pretty careful about privacy over here so we're going to go with initials for these guys, I mean I could give them placeholder names like "Frank", "Jerry" etc. but the possibility of that confusing me is pretty high) M is a senior at the university, solid leader in the Club I'm working with and speaks great english. G is a freshman speaks incredible english for his age, talented artist and always quick to laugh. S is the head of the house and Nagai-San's 2nd in command. U is a pretty big mystery to me. He's not a student and doesn't seem to speak much english. There's a good chance you won't hear too much about U this summer and a lot about M and G. So really just remember M and G.

Best Club: The circle of people from the local university we plug into. The club is an acronym for Bible, english, sports and travel these are the things the club is about, and these are the things we do together. The students in Best are very close, there is an almost family type atmosphere the pervades get togethers.

I believe that's about it as far as main players go. I'll post soon about how this first week in Shizuoka went and some prayer requests going forward.

The team:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"We have to go back!!" -Jack from Lost

We just finished 3 days of orientation in Japan. Orientation is probably being a bit generous, in actuality we collapse in Tokyo for a couple days after flying around the world while the staff here in Japan encourages us, gently instructs, and slowly gets us rolling on the Island. I forgot how overwhelming it is to be here. Crippled by illiteracy, poor language skills, and bad manners it's hard to think we can make any type of impact over here. The staff describes the situation using a football field analogy. If the goal line was salvation, most Americans would be around the 50 yard line or so, familiar with the Bible, the idea of one God, living near a church etc. The Japanese are probably at about the 2 yard line...with 98 yards to go, churches are hard to find, there is no general familiarity with the Bible, and even the idea of one God hasn't been a serious consideration. I mean, to me, it doesn't really sound like they're on the 2 yard line; It sounds more like they don't know we're playing football. There's a lot of work to be done, and patience to be had.

And it starts tonight with a welcome to Shizuoka dinner with the students. Be praying!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Return to Shizuoka!!

3 Years ago God let me take part in 8 weeks in Japan that changed my life. It opened my eyes to the beauty of Christianity in other nations, and had a large part in my choice to spend two years as full time staff.

Today I'm headed back. Right now I'm about 15 hours away from touching down in Tokyo, Japan. God could do anything with this next 6 weeks, I'm unbelievably excited, and as you can probably tell, running on about 45 minutes of sleep over the last 48 hours :)