Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Adopt a Family Project

Christian Academy in Japan's three core values are "God is the author of all truth. God created humans in his own image. God created humans for community."  Our mission statement is, "Equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.
So, how does one work these core values and mission statement out in a school during day to day activities of education?  What sorts of things does a teacher or group of teachers do to reflect our core values and equip our students to serve?  Today our grade 6 and 7 teachers and students participated in one activity that equips our students and also is related to our core values.
For those of you who have followed my ministry, you have heard about the Middle School's Homeless Outreach at Ikebukuro.  This year, the Middle School teachers decided to pursue a different avenue of service by connecting with Second Harvest and with Dr. Bennett who has a Sidewalk Chapel.  In a previous post, I wrote about the experience of going with some grade 8 students to Yoyogi park and participating in the Sidewalk Chapel.  Other grade 8 students went to Second Harvest on a Saturday and participated in food preparation, distribution and clean up.  Today the grade 6 and 7 students participated in another Second Harvest program, Adopt a Family.  This morning each of the homeroom classes were putting together a box of food for a low income family.  Students were decorating boxes and writing notes to the family and filling the box with various food items.  Students were excited and looked like they were enjoying the activities.  Here are some pictures of the various classes.

Figuring out how to write encouraging note to the family in Japanese.

Today CAJ's grade 6 and 7 students were given the experience of putting a box of food together for a low income family.  We shared that people are important, created in God's image, no matter how rich or poor.  Students experienced that we are community, we care for each other.  This activity gave the students an experience of service for those who live in Japan.  Students wrote encouraging notes to the family, some notes were simple statements of love and compassion, a way to share God's love.  God has blessed me with a great place to work and a great place where we can be a blessing to others.  It is enjoyable to watch this happen and feel the excitement in teachers and students, showing how the core values and mission statement play out at Christian Academy in Japan.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sidewalk Chapel

I have not been posting regularly or even posting so quickly, but I wanted to share this new adventure we tried at Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ).
CAJ's mission is, "Equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ."  Quite a task if you really stop and think about it.  How does one equip students to serve?  What does that look like?  Is this equipping only related to academics because we are a school?  We at CAJ, see this equipping as more than just academics.  Equipping includes all aspects of life, it can be a daunting task if we are doing this on our own, but we are partnering with our parents, providing varying experiences for our students.
Middle School has always had a Homeless Outreach program, where the students define homelessness, what it looks like here in Japan, culminating with going to Ikebukuro station early in the morning and passing out lunches for the homeless who sleep in the station during the night.  It was a great way for us to serve those who do not have homes or have regular meals.
This year, the Middle School teachers were looking at different opportunities to interact with homelessness or poverty.  We have one of our parents at CAJ, Dr. M. Bennett, who coordinates with various organizations who help Tokyo's homeless population.  The grade 8 teachers communicated with Dr. Bennett and one event that he organizes each week is Sidewalk Chapel at Yoyogi Park.  The grade 8 class plan to bring small groups two times in February to help with the Sidewalk Chapel.  Today was the first time our students went to meet Dr. Bennett and help out.
CAJ and others who came to help.
Getting instructions on the program

Carrying supplies from the van to set up on the sidewalk.

Setting up to put together bags of dry food

Beginning worship

 I know this song was sung in Japanese, but do you recognize its English version?

Dr. Bennett talked about the Parable of the Sower. 

 The talk was in English with Japanese translation.

Breaking up into small groups. 
Serving hot coffee and tea while in small groups. 

Getting ready to serve dinner
Large pot of delicious soup

Assembly line working well

Our students interacting in Japanese.  

The meal consisted of rice and a hearty soup with many vegetables.  They also had an option of having crackers.  Each person was given a bag of bread consisting of buns and croissants.  We had pastrami sandwiches donated for distribution at the end of dinner. 
It was a delight to watch our students willing to do whatever was asked of them.  They wanted to participate in serving the food as well as a group made a special effort to engage in conversations with those whom we served. 
 I believe this is one tangible way we can equip our students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.  What a great opportunity! 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

My Brother John

During much of the last 23 years, I have not lived near the place where I grew up and where many of my family lives.  For those of you who do not know my family, I have four older brothers, who are married and have children and grandchildren.  Two of my brothers live in British Columbia while the other families live in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Having family spread out like that, makes visiting times quite special.  I enjoy watching how the dynamic of each family is different even though we are all related.  I also appreciate how a number of them really make an effort to stay connected in various ways.
My parents have passed away, mom 20 years ago and dad 17 years ago.  That puts my siblings and I, in the first generation of our family.  It was a bit weird the first while, although I will point out that there is a 13-year difference between my oldest brother and me.  Still, visiting was good, and I always try to stay in contact, especially now that I live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.  
As I go through life, I am always amazed at how things happen.  I can attest to the fact that randomness of events is not how I see things.  I see God's hand in how things unfold, only realizing God's hand after the fact.  This came to light again the last little while.  
On October 3rd, God called my oldest brother, John home.  In August, John had been told by the doctor that there was a mass in his lung and it probably was cancerous.  I still remember the Saturday afternoon, September 2nd, he called me via Skype to let me know what was going on.  That was the last time I talked with John.
Where was God's hand in all this?  Well, as I was getting reports from my other brothers on how John was doing, I kept thinking about that last Skype call, as well as the visit I had with John and Nel this past July.  It was a short visit, I arrived in Edmonton on Saturday, July 1st and flew out again on Monday evening, July 3rd.  Even though I was fighting a cold and would take naps because the cold medicine put me out, I had an enjoyable visit.  John and Nel hosted a BBQ at their place, and their sons and daughters-in-law came.  The Sunday I went to worship at New Life Fellowship CRC with John and Nel and that evening drove around Red Deer to see some of the areas affected by the wind storm they experienced earlier in the spring.  On Monday, we went to Fort Edmonton.  I had never been there, and it was a fun day wandering around the different buildings representing the different time periods in Edmonton's history.  It was so relaxing.  That evening John and Nel brought me to the Edmonton airport.  This would be the last time I would see John on this side of heaven.  These three days were a precious gift.  
When I go overseas, one of the things I do to prepare mentally is to think about what I would do if someone dies while I am overseas.  The last year or so, I hadn't really thought about that so much because I never would have anticipated that one of my brothers would be called home.  Again, God's hand was putting the pieces together.  The arrangements were not set yet, but there was a possible date, and I thought I would just explore the cost of flights to Calgary.  It turned out that a direct flight was quite reasonable, so I went ahead and booked it.  In the end,  the date shared was the date the arrangements were made for.  God had put all the pieces together.  
I landed in Calgary on Canadian Thanksgiving day, Monday, October 9th.  It was the first time in 20 years that I was in Canada for Canadian Thanksgiving.  I admit I didn't really think about that much though.  I rented a car, which would make it easier for me to navigate to and from Calgary as well as the time I was in Red Deer.
Driving from Calgary Airport up to Red Deer.

The car I rented. 
John's celebration of life service was held at New Life Fellowship CRC in Red Deer on Tuesday, October 10th.  It was truly a celebration of who John was.  Highlight stories were about how he lived his life for God, and his optimistic, generous, and friendly personality. 

There were some family members and friends who traveled to Red Deer for the service, and I was able to chat with them after the service, some of whom it has been years since we last saw each other.  That evening we reserved a room at the hotel and had food provided for dinner for some of the family and some of those who worked at Langelaar Transport (John's trucking company).  After dinner, we shared stories about John.  It was a special time and a special day. 
Hotel where Nick, Myrna, Case, Anne and I stayed and those are snow flurries. 

I am sad that I no longer will have those Saturday afternoon chats via Skype with John.  Even though I am on the other side of the "pond," I miss him a lot.  I would never wish John back on this earth.  His last few months were not easy, and the road ahead on this earth would have been difficult for him.  That too was God's providence.
I am so grateful for the many people who have prayed for and been a comfort to my family and me during the last months, as we learn to live on this earth without John.  God has called us to be a community, and we felt that community support from around the world.  Thank you.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

API Cross Country, Guam

This year I had the privilege of chaperoning Christian Academy in Japan's Cross Country team to the Asia-Pacific Invitational meet in Guam.  There were seven females and seven males along with the 2 coaches.  A few moms also flew into Guam watch the races.  The days are generally very early wake up times and the races happen right after the sun rises.  It warms up significantly once the sun rises.
 We arrived at the hotel, Pacific Islands Club Hotel before midnight.  The moon was quite clear. 

The following day, the students had the opportunity to run/walk through the course.  That evening before the first race, we went to a great pasta restaurant.

 The Pacific Islands Club Hotel was a great place to stay.  They had a variety of pools and activities as well as some beach property.

The view from my room.

 The wake-up call was by 4:30 am, and we arrived at the field while it was still dark.  We were using flashlights, although you could see the finish.
 The John F. Kennedy High School hosted the API meet on their school grounds.  This year, they were doing some renovations, and we were unable to use one of their fields, so the route was marked out with flags.

Good morning! 

CAJ team after the first race
The beach by the hotel
The following day, was the relay race.  Each team was one female and one male. The females started on the first circuit which did include running on the beach.  They would pass the baton to their male partner who would run the same circuit.  Each runner ran the course two times, with the males finishing the race.

Starting line

An interesting plant.

Baton exchange area

Finish line

Waiting at the finish line.

That evening we had a banquet where trophies and awards were given out to the runners.  CAJ did well at this cross country meet.  Our students are able to build relationships with fellow High School students from International schools in Asia. I am grateful that I can chaperone CAJ's cross country team.