I don't actually know what Redux means, but I know it has something to do with doing things a second time. (EDIT: according to the "Princeton.edu" it means "brought back or revived". So I guess really this title makes little sense unless our team was headed up there to revive the volcano) Anyway our team with the help of about a dozen Japanese students will be leaving Shizuoka on a trip to once again ascend Fuji-san, the highest point in Japan. A lot of memories are created on this trip for the students, times we've often reminisced about together since my return to Japan. The climb up Mt. Fuji is almost purely a bucket list type activity, something people in Japan should do at some point in their lives just to cross it off. The view from the top is incredible, but the 6 hour hike to get there is absolutely barren. Also it's a volcano so the ground is really loose; like trekking up the world's largest improperly built sand castle. All that to say, basically our entertainment for the 11 hours we're on the mountain is each other. Which for this group of students is very promising entertainment. They are so much fun to spend time with. My two roomates G an M are going, neither has climbed it before so they're pretty excited. Please pray for safety, and that over the 11 hours some walls would continue to fall and relationships deepened.
I'm actually really encouraged about the walls God has been slowly shrinking. We had sports fest last weekend and one of my roomates, G, ended up on my team, "Kaba" (The Hippopotamuses), as my translator. Sports fest is a
huge relational building time, your team is together all day, eats together, talks together and gets to know each other really well. So G and I got to hang out most of the weekend, and since we got back to Shizuoka he's actually been really talkative and open. A huge answer to prayer. Hopefully it will lead continued deeper conversations.
God has also encouraged me through a discussion during a Wednesday night hang out time. Our activity for the night was to get in 5 groups of 4 people and come up with discussion questions for another group, at which point we'd swap questions and discuss. Some of the questions were pretty surface-y "what do you usually drink with dinner", or "what is the slogan for your life". Some of the questions however were really tough like "what do thing about people who believe in God?", or "What happens to you when you die?" One of the students "T" who I had gotten lunch with and spent some time talking to at past hang out nights was in my group. He was actually really interested in why Bryan and I were Christians, and why of all the religions in the world, we felt like Christianity was different. So we explained that we're Christians because we see in the world evidence of God, in creation, and in our sin. We chose Christianity because there is a ring of truth about it, and as a religion it's different because the power of salvation or improvement comes from outside the world. From God the creator of the world, not from man a creation. It's unique in that way. "T" seemed thoughtful about our talk, which is absolutely a huge step. For him to be asking those questions and continuing that conversation at all is big. And he will continue that conversation, one of the nice things about this trip is after I leave Japan, the work doesn't stop. The Bri(y)ans keep meeting with guys pursuing a knowledge of God for the guys just like they were doing long before our team got here. I think probably the one who was most impacted by the conversation was me. It was so encouraging after spending 3 months in Japan cumulatively, to see a Japanese student who had no interest before, express some interest in God. It was something I actually didn't think I would see during any of my short visits. Thankfully I serve a grace filled God.