The young man sat down in one of his favorite chairs and reached for the laptop. The old beast sprang to life with the touch of a button, and he surfed his way over to his website. Many people had been promised a debrief on his recent trip to Japan, and he knew he had to write it soon. Tonight was as good a night as any. Pressing his fingers to the keyboard, he began to write.
For those of you who were unaware, I recently returned from a mission trip to Japan. Twenty members from our church, including my two younger brothers and I, visited Yokohama and Saitama in the course of 11 days. We spoke at New Hope Church in Yokohama, a Lutheran School in Saitama, and New Life Family Church Saitama. We shared our testimonies, preached, and shared the love of Jesus Christ through sign-dance and dramas. Our main purpose was to form relationships between New Hope Hawaii Kai and the churches in Yokohama and Saitama. The day after we got off the plane we were already busy, travelling from one area of Yokohama to another for youth welcome party the church held for us. Travelling is pretty awesome in Japan, even during rush hour I liked riding the trains. We never had any instances where the men in the white gloves were pushing people on the train, so I guess that'll have to wait for next time :D
The people at both churches were pretty awesome. It was always an encouragement to go from the train system where everyone looks super tired and depressed - absorbed in their own world - and jumping into a church service where the people really enjoy being there. At both churches, the congregants come together only once a week, so they arrive early for the service, and then stay later so that they can spend as much time together as possible. At the after party for both Yokohama and Saitama's church services, one of our team members taught the members of the churches how to line dance. This is a picture of a combined service from both churches doing the line dance at an after party, with one of our team members learning and helping out at the same time. Thanks to Mel for this photo.
It was also a chance for all the interns at our church to get to know one another and grow as a team and individuals. Our team of 11 interns spent a lot of time in crowded conditions with each other, and there was a little bit of friction. I think all of the interns really learned a lot from the experience. We learned the necessity for accountability, letting others know where we are at all times, and also what it takes to get a large group of people from point A to point C through crowded conditions... while changing trains. Everyone on the team is on the team because they are wanting to become involved in full-time ministry. It was an honor and privilege to work with such an amazing group of people. I hope I have the privilege to serve with them even more in the future. Here is a picture of the whole group waiting for a train. We certainly look like a goofy group, eh?
While the people at the churches were amazing, the other people around us on the trains or in other places were a bit intimidating at times. The first night we were on the last train heading from the airport to Yokohama a man was growling at our youth pastor and a couple of our chaperons, and despite most of the people being extremely polite, there were a few other unsavory characters. We got an extremely cold reception at one of the two chapel services we did at the school, and the head pastor at our church had to remind a sleep-deprived and discouraged team of young adults that it wasn't our love for them that they were rejecting, but Christ's. He then proceeded to remind us that we cannot judge how many seeds were planted in the minds of the High Schoolers.
The best part about the trip was getting to leave the US for the very first time, and serve God while doing it! Here are a few more pictures from the trip that I took.
Ryan, Chris, and Myself at a restaurant
Me in front of a nice Sushi shop in Tsukiji
Sushi at aforementioned Sushi shop
We performed a skit teaching the power of Christ over temptation at two services.
All in all, I think the trip was a complete success, and I pray that those who saw our outreach would be moved to seek what we showed, the love of the one true God. I definitely plan on going back to Japan, there is so much work to do there.