95 degrees is not something you often see here in Nasu at the Asian Rural Institute but it has been a staple for the past week! Although Jonathan is from Florida and high humidity and 95 is not all that unusual in the summer, it is hard to deal with it when you have no air-conditioning to run to. But we are continuing our work at ARI, come rain or shine! Of course to deal with it we have to make a few changes. Recently those whose main assignment is on the farm are doing a split shift sleeping in the early afternoon. Those of us in the office have put up bamboo shades that are helping with the heat coming in through the windows and those in the kitchen have been eating lots of Popsicles lately! 🙂
It makes us think about the heat that many of the farmers throughout Africa and Asia face on a daily basis. Yet in the midst of that, they continue to work to survive. That is the reality of so many people in the world and yet when you visit these people and talk to them, they can laugh about their situation and find small reasons to rejoice. It reminds us of two things. The Beatitudes and the hope our training produces. In the beatitudes Jesus says that the poor, the weak, the innocent they are blessed. It can be hard to understand that and It seems the opposite in our world, but it is these people who often understand where true joy is found. The hope of our training; it is a hope that the leaders we train can bring transformation to those of the world that struggle without forgetting who Jesus calls blessed.
We also think about this as we reach out into the local Japanese community. Last week we had the joy of taking 20 young people into the mountains to think more deeply about God, their lives, and what they are living for. It was a joy to communicate with these young people and to see them think about who Jesus is and their own lives. In Japan, the culture pushes people to fit the mold and many times in the midst of this people lose any sense of their own calling and even the existence of a Creator who has given them gifts and a role to play in the world. Helping them come from that and to think more deeply is a joy and helps us to remember the need for Jesus that so many people have.
As we move to the middle of the summer, please keep the church in Japan and our work at ARI in your prayers. Lift us up so that we can continue to do the work God has called us to, so that so many others can achieve their missions throughout the world.