Cherry Blossoms are now falling over us, the sun is shining and it is finally warming up here at the Asian Rural Institute. After one last hurrah from winter last week that saw snow falling on top of cherry blossoms and plenty of people from the tropics trying to bundle up, we are now enjoying the training and each beautiful day. One thing that we love at ARI is the change of the season from Winter to Spring. With Jonathan and Satomi both coming from warm climates, we are always amazed at the wonderful feelings of hope and happiness that come as spring blooms all around. The colors, the warmth, the sounds all bring hope of new life.
As we prepare for the new life of Easter, the Asian Rural Institute has also come back to life. This year we have welcomed 26 students, whom we call participants, from some 15 different countries throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific. With all of their beautiful culture, we are learning daily what living together across our diversity looks like. We also are blessed with the support and wonderful presence of 11 full time volunteers from Europe, North & South America and Japan. These wonderful volunteers along with the rest of the ARI staff are now relearning what it means to support a training program, making sure that our participants have what they need to succeed in their studies.
We were reminded yesterday in our daily morning gathering of what success looks like. Rev Ban, a missionary from South Korea shared with us about his childhood and the prayers his mother would often say. She would often ask God to let her children fail a test or not make a team. He said the reason was always that her family was too poor or
too incapable to support her children and so she did not want to let them down. But he said the prayer did not end their. She also told God that if He would allow them to pass that he would have to provide her the strength to work hard and see her children succeed. He went on to tale us how he did pass the tests and how much he and his mother had to continue to work in this midst of feelings of incapability and the difficulty of making things happen. He said that God not only provided strength, but always provided the means and the grace to go through each situation.
As Easter comes and a new season begins, we ask that you remember that Jesus` success over Satan, death and the grave did not look like it would end in success. Yet Jesus prayed not my will but your will be done and his success became the hope of hundreds of millions of people throughout history until today. God did not fail at the cross and provided the grace and the means to overcome!
Pray for ARI as this year’s training begins. Pray for Nasushiobara Church as we try to share the hope of Jesus to more people in our community this year. Pray for us, that we will be a means of grace to someone and a ray of hope that failure is not the end.
May God Bless you all this passion week, as we look out excitingly towards Easter!
Jonathan, Satomi & Yuka
P.S. Jonathan’s mother also says hi! She has spent much of the winter with us as Yuka transitioned from Preschool to Elementary School!