Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Closing to All That is Good

Dear Beloved,
It was a good Sunday today.   

The Evergreen Sanctuary was filled to capacity with Evergreen members, guests from last Saturday's J.O.Y. Club Christmas Party, and lots of children.  The worship was very lively with the Evergreen members raising their voices in great praise to God.   Michael gave his personal testimony and Yuriko delivered the morning’s message.   It was good.

After the service, our guests retired to the first floor salon for appetizers while the church members set up the sanctuary for the Christmas lunch and program.  As food goes in Japan, and at home, there was a lot of it – more than we could consume.  Then it was on to the party where Stan MC’d (Michael translating) the program filled with fun and games.   Sorry, again, we missed getting pictures of the festivities due to the busyness of the party.  But rest assured, we had fun!   It was good to see the first timer’s to church truly enjoying themselves.  Tsuguru shared a short homily on how God was faithful in his time of need as he encountered the trials of being a college student on a strict budget.   It was heartwarming and Tsuguru had the attention of everyone there.  Thank you for your prayers.
Dinner at the Matsushima's

Our Sunday ended again with good food and great fellowship.  Hiromi Matsushima and her husband, Nori, invited 13 of us to their home for Nori’s home cooking.  He is a very good cook at night and a high level business executive during the day.  Nori prepared an assortment of dishes and they were all delicious.  Our tummies overflowed, again. 

So our time and mission in Machida comes to a close.  We’ll have a debrief meeting with Joy in the morning and spend the rest of the day cleaning and packing.  Yuriko will head to Yokohama; Michael will travel to Chino; and Diane and Stan will catch an 11:00pm flight from Haneda.

It has been a good trip.  Our team is forever grateful for your support and prayers.  Your generosity has flowed on to Joy, the Evergreen Chapel, and the people whom we visited and ministered to.  Thank you, dear family, for keeping us ever mindful of the love of God, the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

And we will praise Him,

Your Machida Team  

Food, Food, Food

Christmas Party

Christmas Party
Welcome by Pastor Uchimura

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Arigato Gozaimasu

It’s Saturday, and we getting ready to leave for Tama Hillside Church which is about 45 minutes by car.  Our team is anxious to serve here as Pastor Minegishi has been confronted with many challenges since moving to this new location just over a year ago.  She had earlier declined to have a Christmas Party for the neighborhood children since she had no helpers from her church.  This small congregation of 12 had lost some key members and it was a great discouragement to Pastor Minegishi.  We are ready to serve her church and bring hope and encouragement to them.  Thanks for your prayers.
Yesterday, we made our annual stop at the Wakakusa Pre-School and were greeted by 2 classes (28 students in each) of active, “ants in the pants” 5 year olds.  Joy has been doing weekly visits to this school for the past 7 years.   Her faithful work is recognized by God and the seeds that she is planting here will blossom to full bloom.  Thank you, Lord.

On Thursday night, we celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with the Uchimura Family.  It was a very good time and Yuriko added in a fully decorated cake with candles for Miho’s birthday.  Thank you for your hard work, Yuriko.  On the menu was Japanese turkey (AKA chicken), mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry, baked yams, freshly baked rolls (thank you, again, Yuriko), chicken salad, and what appeared to be a lot more.  We’ll share more when we see you.

And while we’re on the subject of eating, Miho’s Mom, Eiko, invited us to a very unique and special restaurant – buffet style, all you can eat of Chinese and Japanese food.   Mike made sure that we did not come off on the short end.  That was a lot of food.  Eiko and her husband, Teiji, always share a meal with the teams from America.  They were instrumental in getting the Evergreen Church started over 28 years ago, and have been very generous and gracious to us.   Praise the Lord.

OK, we’re off to Tama Hillside.  The blog will take a break and continue upon our return.  Thanks for your prayers.


It’s 6:00pm and we just returned from Tama Hillside.   It was a very encouraging time with Minegishi Sensei and her church.  Besides our team, there were 7 members of Evergreen Church to help with the party.  This was a praise to see the Evergreen members stepping out in ministry to serve others.  Also helping were 2 members from the Tama Hillside Church.   Thank you for your prayers. 

Minegishi Sensei welcomes children

Tsuguru, Hikari, Sanae, Aina
There were 15 children who showed up for the party.   Even 1 child would have made it worthwhile.  The children and their parents had a great time.   Yuriko and Mike presented the Gospel and we thanked the Lord for the fruit that will come for all that happened today in this little church.  Minegishi Sensei was so grateful and could not stop thanking our team for putting on the Christmas Party.  Your prayers lifted the spirits of the members of this church.  We laid hands on Sensei and prayed the Lord’s blessing onto her.  We anticipate great things here at Tama.


Sanae Yumoto and her daughters, Hikari and Aina, arrived here at Evergreen along with Tsuguru (Yuriko’s son).  We had a very nice dinner and a fun time of fellowship together.  Sanae and Hikari came by train (2.5 hrs) from Chino and Tsuguru and Aina came in from their University in Chiba.  It was good to see the Yumoto’s again and it brought back fond memories of the ministry at Chino Christian Church.   Tsuguru was very happy to see his Mom and will be sharing a heartfelt testimony at the lunch tomorrow.

It’s 11:00pm and it has been a long day, but a good day.  We thank God for all of you who have stood fast with us over the past several weeks.  Our final event is tomorrow’s Christmas Lunch with the members and guests of Evergreen Church and we are ready to serve them.  Your prayers sustain us.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.”  Philippians 1:3-5


Your Machida Team

Wakakusa - Lots of energy!!

But they listen.

And want to learn.

Emily at Tama Hillside.  She just join the
church to teach English.  She hails from
Illinois  and is learning Japanese fast

Tama Hillside - The Winner is Rei !

Tama Hillside - Yuriko and Mike teach the Gospel

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

It’s Wednesday evening in Machida.  The church is quiet and we just returned from a dinner at a very fine restaurant where Evergreen Chapel expressed its appreciation for our team.  The food was excellent and the way in which it was presented made it taste even better.  And we ate enough for all of you.  Thank you.

Last night, our team served the pastors and their families at a dinner here at Evergreen.  In total, there were 15 pastors with their wives and children.  Best of all, Pastor Uchimura’s wife, Miho, was able to join the party.  Although she could not speak, she was alert, laughed and had a very good appetite.  These pastors are from all denominations in the area surrounding Machida.  They were not shy and had a joyfulness that came from way down deep. 

After the pastors enjoyed a time of worship in the sanctuary, they moved to the salon for dinner.   They were very gracious and our team, along with members from Evergreen, were privileged to serve them.  After the dinner, each pastor was asked to do something entertaining – there was singing, story telling, trivia quizzes – they performed very well and much laughter filled the room.  Your team was also asked to perform and we lead the pastors and their families in a lively game of Bingo!!  They really got into it and had a great time.

We prayed for them in our quiet time this morning, knowing that each one has a story to tell of how God guided them on their journeys in ministry.  We honor them and hold them in high esteem.  They are called blessed.  What a privilege to share in a small part of their lives.  We wish them God’s speed.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8

With thanksgiving and prayer for our pastors

Your Machida Team


Pastor Uchimura and Miho
Pastor Goto
He rides a motocycle at 83

Kyoko entertained with
her harp

Monday, December 5, 2016

With Thankful Hearts

Beloved of Japan,

It’s mid-morning on Tuesday here in Machida.  It’s another beautiful, sunny day.  It’s hard to believe that it snowed here just 2 weeks ago. 

Our schedule is relaxed this week so we have some time to organize the J.O.Y. Club storage room that is packed with supplies and party materials which have accumulated over the years.  We’ll be preparing to serve 30 pastors and wives who are coming this evening for a time of fellowship.  Pastor Uchimura (Evergreen Chapel) is hosting the gathering and our team will help in serving the dinner.  It’s a privilege to support these humble servants of God.

Shiho, Aoi, Kosuzu, Kyo, Yuna

Last night, we welcomed 5 of J.O.Y. Club's junior high students and their moms.  It was all about engaging them with English while their mothers looked on - certainly a lot of pressure for such young hearts.  The students did a good job, but were so painfully shy in expressing themselves.  They also had a fun time doing a craft and having some good ole American snacks and cider.  Each team member also provided a response to “what Jesus means to me”.   We pray that this Gospel will be planted permanently into their hearts and the hearts of their mothers.  We give them to almighty God.  Thank you for your prayers.

For the reminder of the week, we’ll be preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for Pastor Uchimura and his family.  His wife, Miho, is wheel chair bound and unable to speak.  As a result of her illness, she is able to eat only tiny portions of food at a time.  Beloved, this meal is from all of you, and this family is forever grateful for your support and faithfulness.  Please be in prayer for them – Pastor Uchimura, Miho, daughters Megu and Hana, parents Teiji and Eiko, and sister Mizuki.  Thank you.

We’ll be ministering at a pre-school on Friday, at Tama Hillside Church for their Christmas program on Saturday, and the big, “American” Christmas lunch on Sunday.   Thank you for your prayers as they have sustained us in all that we do. 

“Give thanks, with a grateful heart, give thanks unto the Holy One, give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, our Lord.   And now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us, give thanks,”

With thankful hearts,

Your Machida Team

Students interacting with those scary Americans

The Moms had fun too!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Great Expectations - Greater Outcome - Awesome God

It’s Monday morning and we’re reflecting on the wonderful Sunday we had yesterday.  It was awesome, and we thank you, again, for your prayers lifted up for our team (Evergreen, SBJCF, Crossway) and the members of the Ichikawa Church.

The van and car were all packed up from the night before and we left promptly at 7:45am, Sunday morning.  We arrived in Ichikawa well before the church service which started at 10:30.  The name of the church is “The House of Liberty”, and it was recently renovated to its present “newlike” status.  The building includes a tiny coffee shop (or café) just inside the entrance of the building.  This café was the idea of Pastor Kei and it is starting to draw young people from the area.  Half of the children who attended the Christmas Party was the result of this café.  Praise the Lord!

The Older people were seated
Pastor Kei is to the far right
The church service was simple and very orderly.  Pastor Keiko (Kei’s wife) gave the message and played the piano and so many other things.  Pastor Kei was on the base guitar and Shohei (Evergreen) had an impromptu guest spot on the drums.  There were a dozen members present, plus our team of 10.  Stan felt very comfortable with this elderly congregation most of whom were in their 70’s…..but “genki”.

After a nice bento lunch, we began preparing for the Christmas Party which started at 2:30pm.  Now here comes a “God Moment”.  The church did not have parents pre-register their children.  So they had no idea how many were coming and made a very conservative and hopeful guess at 30.  In other words, if 30 children showed up, they would be blown away.  Well, 36 came and we were not really prepared (gift bags, name tags, game items) for that many.  But God was.  We made do with what we had, the children had a great time, the parents were very thankful, and the church members and our team were truly blessed.  Awesome God!  Thank you for your prayers, dear friends.

The Christmas program was packed (literally).  The 36 children, plus their parents, and the staff were “wall to wall” in this small church.  It was great!!  And sorry, we were all running around so much that we didn’t get pictures of the kids playing the games – again.  And the elderly members were right in there, some on their knees, playing with the children.  It was a sight to see.  Our cup of blessings just overflowed.   Amen.

One thing about thankful people is that it’s always hard to say goodbye,especially in Japan.  When it was time to leave, both the members and our team stood outside of the church, shaking hands, bowing, saying “arigato” a  thousand times.  We were all thankful and blessed.  Really wish you were here to experience it.

We finally returned to the church just after 7pm.  Admittedly, we were spent, but we were not tired.  Does that make any sense?  There is nothing like being energized by doing the work of the Lord.  Nothing like it.  Heck, it was also dinner time and we had to eat again.

So one more day in the life of your team came to a close.   We leave you with the words of Jeremiah as he lamented over the city of Jeresalem, but recalled the great faithfulness of God.

“Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me.   This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.   The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.   They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:20-23

And we will praise Him,

Your Machida Team
Pastor Keiko

Sunday Service 

Winner of the JanKenPo

Yuriko giving the Message
Invaluable team member

Cup Cake Decorating

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Land of the Rising Sun

Blessed Sunday Morning.

The sun will be rising shortly.  The weather has been beautiful, just like California.  Sunny, low 60’s and a little cooler at night.  Wish you all were here.

Nari teaches the children
Beloved, we cannot thank you enough for the prayers raised for the J.O.Y. Club Christmas Party yesterday.  Over 20 Evergreen members were with us to serve the J.O.Y. Club kids and their parents.  Everyone had a wonderful time.   It was such a busy event that we overlooked taking more pictures of the actual activities.  So let your imaginations run wild and know that the Gospel and the love of God were planted in little hearts yesterday.  This is why we come to Machida.  Arigato Gozaimasu.

After the party, we all gathered and consumed the desserts that were left over.  Joy expressed her humble thanksgiving for every helper there.  It was a sweet time.  It was a very successful event.  We were all blessed.  Thanks be to God.

We then visited the local Family Mart (like a 711 at home) and picked up some bento food at around 8:00pm.  On second thought, it is nothing like the 711 at home.  The food here is “oishi”.   Then we packed up for our visit to the Ichikawa Church on Sunday.

The Ichikawa Church is located in the Chiba area which is about a 2 hour ride from Machida.  We’ll be attending their worship service and doing a similar Christmas party with them.  The congregation is small and elderly, but they have willing hearts.  This is the first time they will be putting on such an event and they are expecting 30 children.  Quite a huge undertaking for them.  We’ll be leaving in a few hours  with members from Evergreen to serve this faithful congregation.  Thank you for your prayers.

So another day has passed.  We pray that this nation of the rising sun will one day see a transformation of acknowledging the true rising “son”.  We trust in God and are privileged to be used for His glory.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

And we will praise Him,
Your Machida Team

Joy and Uchimura Sensei Welcome

Pre Meeting & Prayer

How many candies in the jar?

Hi Mr. Snowman.
I'm gong to get this on your nose

The parents were having more fun
than their kids

Hey! How did you do that?
Wow!  Look at all the prizes!!

Takura and his bow and arrows

Arigato.  Thanks for coming.


Friday, December 2, 2016

How Great Thou Art

It is very early Saturday morning.  Thank you for your specific prayers for our preparation activities for the J.O.Y.  Club Christmas Party later today.  The pictures below tell the story.   With a few more details to complete this morning, we will be ready to receive the children and their parents.

The Evergreen Church has been very gracious in caring for us.  Lunches and dinners the last 2 days have been extremely delicious and filling.  They are very thankful, especially Joy, for what this small team can accomplish in a few days.

Happy Birthday, Yuriko!
Last night, we celebrated Yuriko’s birthday and waited for a call from Tetsuo to wish his beloved wife a special day.  We then realized that it was not yet her Birthday in the U.S.   So she gets to celebrate her Birthday with her family again later today.

This blog entry will be brief.  We’ll have a lot to more to share after the party today.  Michael arrived very late last night and it is good to have him with us.

Thank you for your prayers for today’s gathering.  Please pray that the seeds of salvation that are planted in the hearts of these precious children, and their parents, will come to full bloom.  We have a great God and He will do it.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

With thanksgiving,

Your Machida Team

Lots of Stuff to Sort Out
This is really fun!!

Kyoko helping Diane with crafts
The tabernacle look
Hiromi's idea; Stan's labor