March 2014 - Update

Dear Family & Friends,
Happy spring to you!  This is our very first experience of the Japanese cherry blossom season, when the rhythm of life for nearly everyone changes pace for the sake of beholding the beauty of the Sakura.  Ohanami, or “flower viewing,” is more than just seeing; millions of people embark on picnics with their family, friends and co-workers under the canopy of what look like pink cotton-candy filled trees to celebrate the coming of spring and the life it brings.  For us, this past month has brought much learning as we seek to find our own sense of rhythm of life in Japan.

Thousands gathering under the Sakura Trees in Ueno Park in Central Tokyo.
One piece of this ‘rhythm’ includes attending language classes at the local community center.  Our volunteer instructor, Morito-sensei, is 78 years old and a gifted teacher.  We are so thankful for this dear lady!  She is always ready with a smile and a literal bag of language-learning tricks--a Mary Poppins of the Japanese language, if you will!  Though we’ve only had a few classes together, however, we are already struck by the veiled sense of loneliness behind her cheerful demeanor. 
Last week, we began to learn how to talk about our families.  As the lesson developed, Morito-sensei shared with teary eyes about her husband who passed away about two years ago, as well as the recent passing of her favorite dog.  Oh, how heavy the burden of loneliness can be!  As she is such a blessing to us, we hope it blesses her to be able to pour her God-given gifts into our lives.  Please remember her as we continue to learn Japanese, get to know one another, and look for opportunities to share with her about the Lord Jesus. 
After class with Morito-sensei.
Another element of finding our ‘stride’ in Japan has been learning how to pray and encourage others to pray for the Japanese people.  Twice weekly we travel by bus and train into the heart of Tokyo for an hour of intercessory prayer.  Praying for extended periods of time has proved to be both a stretching and life-changing discipline!  Since our team is still in the planning stages of church-planting, asking God to change hearts and lives (ourselves included) is foundational to all other plans we make.  We continue to grow in this area, and we are excited to see how our living God works in the lives of those like Morito-sensei!

We are so thankful for your prayers and partnership in the Gospel.  God is so good!

In His great love, John & Jo Beth
Ohanami with Yuri at Inokashira Park.

Pray for our friend Morito-sensei and opportunities deepen our relationship with her.

Pray also for our friend Yuri in her time of transition between jobs.  It has been a huge blessing and a joy to be able to spend so much time with her lately and we pray our lives might be a testimony to the grace and goodness of God.

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