Hello Everyone! It is the middle of August and this is supposed to be the hottest time of year for us here in Tochigi, Japan. But the weather isn’t getting out of the 70’s much at all. Depending on who you ask, this is a blessing or a curse. Many people escape to our area in the summer to run away from the hot temperatures in Tokyo or other cities. For them this is the blessing they were seeking. But Jonathan was talking with the farm manager the other day and was told, hmmm I’d like a little more sunshine and heat for the fields! And we, Satomi being from Okinawa and Jonathan being from Florida were waiting in anticipation for the heat to come. I guess we will have to wait till next year.
As the summer begins to wind down and we head towards Fall, we here at ARI begin to look at the second semester of the training. In another week the Participants (Students) will head up north for their annual Rural Community Study Tour and most of our visiters and summer interns will be heading home. Our community becomes smaller and thoughts of the end of the year slowly start creeping in.
But as we are still in August, it is good not to let our minds get too far ahead of us. In fact, August is a month in Japan when a lot of recollection is happening. Just now many Japanese people are welcoming home their ancestors. In this Buddhist tradition of Obon, people put up candles at the shrines in their homes or at the graves so that the ancestors can find their way home to meet and commune with the living. While Christians do not keep this tradition, it is a very important part of Japanese culture, a time to remember your ancestors and come together. It’s also been a time when many farmers traditionally harvest their rice. So rice harvest begins and the smell in the air and scenery slowly begin to change.
August is also the time of year when Japanese remember the end of WWII. There are many memorial services for the bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and of course the announcement of the end of the war which was August 15 in Mainland Japan (Okinawans who bore the only land battle that happened in the war remember the end of the war on a different date. A sad history itself). At this time of the year there are always pronouncements that Japan should never go to war again and prayers and wishes and speeches for world peace.
Now as missionaries, when we look back, being in mission challenges us to also look forward. Learning from the history of our people and the people we serve, we are asked how we will live, what we will do. How can we our hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ help to make a difference?
As many of you know and have followed, recently Satomi was Commissioned as a missionary with the UMC mission board, Global Ministries, and Jonathan was commissioned as a probationary elder (pastor) with the Florida conference of the UMC. We were both told that our work is very much needed as such a time as this. Missionaries and ministers are people who look at the world and what ever was in the past and thinking on the future remind people that God is still in control. God’s reign is here and will one day fully be realized. As much hate and many unsettling things happen the world over, we seek to hold on to the promise that God is in control and proclaim that the reign of God is already here, and one day His Kingdom will fully be here as it is in heaven.
And so now, in prayer, through financial support or through encouragement we seek you as a partner to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ that God is in Control and his Kingdom is coming.
Won’t you walk along side us on this journey?