The above calculation may be pretty simple for most of you to do
that are reading this. But there is a reason it is there, and this most
of you probably don’t know… That is the temperature that we have
been experiencing over the past couple of weeks. Why it is not so
surprising back home in Sunny Florida, the area we live in is known
to be very cool in the summer. In fact the Emperor of Japan even
has a summer palace up in the mountain nearby for the very reason
of this being known as a cool summer place. Yet along with the rest
of Japan and much places in the world right now, it is very hot.
As we are organic at ARI, and in general Japanese do not use AC,
we have no air conditioning to help us through the heat. So we
have fans running, including our hand fans that everyone carries
with them where ever they go. We also eat lots of cold things and
try to stay in shady places as much as possible. A couple of weeks
ago Jonathan went out into the field in the middle of the day. While
the whole community joins farm work in the morning and evening,
usually Jonathan is spared from the heat of the day. But recently
he joined friends that were weeding soybeans and filling in the missing
places. It has been a long time since he so appreciated the cool wind
that sometimes blew through the soybean field.
The longer we are here, the more we realize how the weather and
food have such an affect on our lives. Living on a farm especially
helps you to be aware of the importance and prominent place of
food in our lives. It also helps us to understand the importance of
weather and how much our life depends on enough rain, sun, and
wind. We are reminded that the heat and the cold, the wind and the
rain have their purposes. But as a place known for it’s summer
coolness reaches 95 we also feel that the weather and environment
we live in is not quite what it should be. This makes us think again
about our ministry and what it is we are doing. What is it that God
has called us to do in the world. Jesus teaches to pray that the
kingdom of God will take place on earth as it is in heaven, meaning
that we should not yet be content with the way things are, but
continue to have hope of a better world, and take part in making the
Kingdom of God more real in the lives of people here and now.
One part of our ministry that has continued to blossom has been
the gospel choir at ARI (Asian Rural Institute). It began 2 years ago
with just a few people out of conversations of people at the local
church and the school wanting to form a choir. Our main purpose
has been to sing at what is called ARI Sunday, which happens once
a month at this same local church. One of our students will preach
and the choir will sing and there is wonderful fellowship after
worship. But the choir has grown and attracted more and more
local people who had previously not been connected with the
church or the school.
About 1/3 of the regular members are local people with no previous
connection. Last year we picked a name, Minngos. Minn is from
Minna, meaning everyone, and gos is from Gospel. We also have
continued to connect with other local groups and events. Last
year we were able to sing for evacuees and local people and join
in a charity concert. This year we joined another charity concert
singing with a choir of over 800 and had our own first workshop,
calling a gospel singer from Osaka to come and teach and share her
talents. Our group almost tripled it’s normal size at the workshop.
The vast majority of these people had never had a connection with
ARI and were not Christians, but they learned about our ministry
and about the Good news of Jesus Christ that day.
Some have continued to join us and recently a staff member
approached Jonathan and said he had heard people in town talking
about Minngos. He didn’t know that we were becoming so
connected with the local community.
We have come to realize more and more how God is using these
seemingly small ministries to reach out in ways unexpected. When
the gospel choir began there were no grandiose ideas of connecting
with so many people, but only a desire to share the good news with
the ARI community and connect more with the local church.
Once again we have learned that God has His own plans and asks us
to be faithful in small things.
This summer as been full of events and activities happening at the
school. Along with all the fun activities of the gospel choir, we have
had many opportunities to learn about Japanese culture through
participation in local festivals. In fact we danced in one and took
home a handsome cash prize! A ice cream party is in the midst of being
planned! The students of ARI also had a chance to share about their
biggest learning over the past 4 months. They shared about things from
organic farming to garbage sorting to leadership, spiritual growth and
learning to live in a community. As our students come from countries
that have so many problems, we learn more and more how important the
training we are doing here is to the lives of hundreds of millions throughout
Asia and Africa. We’d like to share with you just one of the learnings that we
heard on that day. Our friends Adarsh from India who is the only Hindu
among us shared about his understanding of the Japanese concept of Mottainai.
Mottainai is usally translated as ”what a waste,” or ”That’s still usable.” He
shared that this idea of Mottainai was very important for him. He said that
there are so many things in his country that people could reuse or use better,
but that they just throw away. Especially things like animal waste, wasted cooking oil,
rice husk or wheat stalks. These can all be reused as fuel or fertilizer or feed
for little to no costs. He said that either from ignorance or a lack of effort,
there is so much that is wasted in his country. But he also challenged us in the
many things that are wasted in our developed countries. He said that in his
country, you don’t throw away a shoe or a suit because it has a hole in it, you
repair it. You don’t throw away a tire or a whole bicycle, you repair it. You
don’t get rid of an electronic device just because a new one has come out.
You definitely do not throw away perfectly good food because the expiration
date has come. He challenged us that we too, in our daily lives, there are also
many things that are mottainai. He said he will go home and surely teach his
people about not being Mottainai.
This presentation was a wonderful reminder of the life we are committed to live
at ARI. A live that values all that God has created and given to us. A life of
responsible stewardship of our time, talents, tithes and the local resources and
material things around us. But actually there is an even deeper meaning to the
mottainai then what a waste. In the US we also probably thing that it is wasteful
not to recycle and just throw things away, but if someone accidently drops their
drink and it spills everywhere we probably don’t grieve in the same way that
someone in Japan might. Although it is sad that we dropped the drink, mottainai
takes the sadness even deeper. Mottainai does not only say the person who was
going to drink that has wasted the drink. The materials gone into making the
drink, the time of the person that was spent in making the drink along with the
loss of it’s use makes the whole situtation mottainai, or such a waste. There is a
sadness because the use of something has been destroyed.
Mottainai reminds us of the situation of humanity and our world. Because of sin
and it’s ongoing effects we live in a world of waste. We also waste much of our lives
in things that do not glorify God, but that create more problems. Whether they
are problems for ourselves, one another, the environment, or our Creator, that
is such a waste. Jesus challenges us to live a life that is not Mottainai. A life that
remembers it’s purpose and lives in such a way as to make the most of the time
and resources given to it.
What is mottainai in your life?
What are you going to do about it?
We invite you to join us, people at ARI and the graduates throughout the world in
living a life that is not mottainai, but that is used for the Glory of our Creator.
Please Enjoy the pictures below!!!
Some of the participants pose with their newly donated Yukatas (summer kimonos). They had many chances to where these throughout the summer, looking their Japanese best!
Our latest community event. Some of us are not afraid of heights! As you can see Satomi and Jonathan are not in the picture, they are staying down low
We like to laugh at ARI. So those who lost the game we played were rounded up and punished!!! They had to walk like the ARI ducks waddling through the paddy looking for nice insects and weeds to eat! Yummy!!!!
We also went to the beach. Quite a trip. 2 and a half hours one way!!! But for quite a few of our community it was worth it as it was their first time to ever see the Ocean. One man from Uganda said the water is really salty! :)
Construction continues. Here the contractors are explaining the progress to the staff in mid July.
As of mid July this is what the new Dining Hall and Classroom building looked like. Progress has continued and is due to be complete by the middle of September!
Some fun photos!!! Go Marta Go!!!Satomi joins friends from the Congo and Sri Lanka as they try to escape the heat of the beach!!!
Jonathan and Gussan go at chicken fighting. Since it was Gussan’s first time (along with both supporters down below) and Jonathan grew up in Florida the unfair advantage led to a complete victory for Jonathan!!!! You have to be good at something, chicken fighting it is!!!! When we come home for home assignment Jonathan dares anyone to challenge him to a Chicken fight!!!
Finally, we ask for your continued prayers and as you pray for us consider whether God is calling you to support our ministry financially. We are beginning to plan our home assigment for the coming Winter (January-March) and would love to visit and share about our ministry. So we are still looking for supporting churches or individuals that feel a burden to financially support what God is doing here in Japan. If you do feel that tug, go over to the Advance webpage and donate or sign up to enter into a covenant of your support to us.
Thank you as always for taking your time to learn about what we are doing and we pray that God would continue to strengthen us all so that His will be done and His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.