Japan - Being Flexible & Trusting God

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you" (Ps. 9:10).

Coming on this mission trip takes, what feels like, a huge amount of faith and trust in the Lord. To know that some things may go wrong or not as planned but to be able to stop and say "It's okay, The Lords got this". As a team, I have found that no matter what has been thrown our way we have been willing to follow wherever The Lord and Pastor Bob takes us. 

I found that while doing missionary work we can often become so distracted with what we're doing or by our own exhaustion that we forget to have our own time with The Lord. We then lack the spiritual "food" that keeps us strengthened and protected during our ministry. It is up to us to keep each other and ourselves accountable to spend time with The Lord daily. Through these study's together and individually we are able to feel the presence of The Lord no matter where we are or what is going on. He guides us our steps and protects us as long as we stay faithful and seek after him.

Hannah Arenales

Japan - Being Used by God

Being the youngest on the team, I went on this trip not really knowing if I would be able to minister to the people of Japan. I doubted my ability to speak to people and my knowledge of the Bible. But so far, during this trip, God has proved me wrong. I handed out flyers, and some people even came up to me to get one. I was at J's Cafe, and I got to teach English to a Japanese girl who was my age. I think God is showing me that you only need a willing heart to do His work, and He will take care of the rest. God is really the one who is doing the work through us, we are just His instrument. It doesn't matter what age you are, because God can use anyone who simply wants and is willing to do something for Him.

Natalie Tanaka

Japan - Ministry in Ishinomaki

Time in Ishinomaki has gone well.  Having a team that is flexible is of great enjoyment and this is one of those teams.  

The week was not without some disappointments.  Some team members were prepared to teach children English.  Our missionaries handed out flyers and spoke to moms and expected a strong attendance.  But this was not the case with only a few children attending.  The team still put their heart into it and ministered to those children that came.  

Another point of adjustment was the day we were to visit the temporary housing for a BBQ.  We had to move the day and this caused some time conflicts due to other ministry. I fear this maybe hindered our effectiveness.  However, we trust the Lord that his Spirit will still use the time we had. 

Ladies Event on Grace

 

The women’s event was well attended with Cosima teaching on God’s Grace using the song Amazing Grace. A wonderful discovery was that this song is well known throughout Japan and so those Japanese ladies that attended had a basic knowledge of the song. Cosima teaching on the meaning and purpose of Grace was well received. Several women  missionaries brought Japanese women they have been ministering to the meeting making for a  special experience.

Hannah & Nick preparing walls for painting 

A couple of the young members on our team said they were expecting to do some manual labor type ministry.  Well, they got their wish as there was patching needed on the cafe walls to prepare for painting.  These walls were repaired by a team who came last year but had not yet been painted.  

There are always things you wish you had time to do or wish could have gone better but I am very pleased with this team and the ministry we accomplished.

 

Blessings 

Pastor Bob

Japan Team Returning home

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All but two members of our team has never been to Japan before.  Most of the team has never been out of the country.  Hannah Arenales came for the first time last year, so this is here second trip.  My wife lived here in 1990-1991 when we served here and later came back over 10 years ago.  Traveling can effect people in different ways especially when it is across the Pacific ocean.  This team all did well. 

Returning from a mission trip can effect a person even more.  Now having given of themselves to serve others in a foreign land there is a new perspective on the world.  A perspective that is alien to most Christians unless they have taken a similar trip. 

Having taken over a hundred mission trips the response of my fellow Christians typically fall into two camps.  Those who ask, "How was your trip,?" only to change the subject as soon as you say, "wonderful" or "it was awesome," There there are those you ask and follow with attentive eyes waiting to understand and maybe get a hint what it may be like for them.  There is a third camp consisting of people that didn't realize you left though they were made aware you were leaving on a mission trip.  This camp asks, "Weren't you going on a mission trip somewhere?"  "Yep, that was a couple weeks ago,"  I'd  respond.  "Oh," is the usual embarrassed response. I once got that question after my family and I had been gone for a year in Japan.  

As our team returns which camp will you fall in?  Will your question be small talk as if about the weather or will you be interested in the details of what God did in that team member?  Which camp you are in can make all the difference on how the Lord is able to minister to you personally.  You see, a part of the mission is sharing testimony of what the Lord has done.  When Paul and Barnabas returned from their first mission they gave report with those in Antioch who sent them.  So be ready to listen, learn and be uplifted by their testimony.  Be ready to receive.

Blessings

pastor Bob

Japan Mission: MEET XAVIER!

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Hello! I am Xavier and I was born in Long Beach and raised in Carson by my single mother and  grandparents. I grew up with my mom having semi regular low blood sugars since I was five. My grandfather died when I was 11 and I lost my grandmother 10 months later. Shortly after my mother's health began to decline and she died a year later. I moved out to Perris with my Uncle Ruben and Aunt Velia Griego. I started volunteering in the Friday night teen groups and eventually helped as a teen leader in the 2016 Harvest Crusade. I signed up for the Japan mission trip the following year.

Japan Mission: MEET HUNTER!

Hi I'm Hunter Morris I am a 18 year old college student currently attending Cal Poly Pomona as a second year student. In my spare time I am an avid outdoorsmen, I enjoy hunting and fishing. I came to take Lord as my personal savior in March of 2016. I never anticipated doing a missions trip, but after a lot of praying I felt called to go. I have been challenged with some minor health problems prior to the trip. It's made me remember that Jesus is in control of all things and that it's just the devil doing his work prior to the trip. Though nervous about the trip I look forward to the experiences to be gained from this trip. I ask for prayer of good health and that the Lord's work be done while we are over here. 

Japan- Team travels to Sendai

Team waiting for Shinkansen to arrive at Ueno Station

Team waiting for Shinkansen to arrive at Ueno Station

A part of our mission that every team enjoys is the 2 hour ride on the Shinkansen (often called the Bullet Train) traveling from Tokyo or Ueno to Sendai to the north.  

This part of the trip comes by way of a 5-day pass that we use to travel on any JR train line, including the Shinkansen.  

It is an amazingly smooth ride in comfortable reclining seats.  Its cheaper than flying and more enjoyable as the train speeds by open farm land between the few cities it stops at.

Watch the video below for a taste of the ride.  The video is not sped up.  

Natalie Tanaka's photo of team on Shinkansen

Natalie Tanaka's photo of team on Shinkansen

Ride on the Shinkansen for 60 seconds of the typical 2-hr trip it takes to ride from Ueno to Sendai. 

Learning English with Izumi

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While the team was staying at the cafe last night and getting to know the others, a girl named Izumi came in with her mother. After being introduced, Izumi came and sat with a few of us at one of the tables. Though she was very reserved and didn't speak English, thanks to the help of Haruki - a young woman from the church who was sitting with us - we were able to find out a few things about her. She was 13 years old, was in her first year of junior high, played ping pong, and enjoyed listening to the band NEWS.

Over time, some had to leave or were needed elsewhere, and only myself, Natalie, and Nathaniel were able to stay with her. When Rich came over and they began to go over English pronunciation, it was an incredible sight to witness. He had a great way of explaining the correct pronunciation of different sounds in the words they went over and as such she was able to pick up on things even easier. Initially, we felt a little less helpful when Rich left us to it in comparison due to our inability to speak Japanese. However, she was very smart and did extremely well after a bit of repetition, thankfully opening up a bit more as well. Though we had to part when Emi, Rick's wife and Izumi's tutor arrived, we were thankful we got to spend time with her and grateful for how blessed the kids are to have Rich and Emi as their excellent English teachers.

- Nick Viste

Lunch with Yuki and Hikari

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I was presented with a wonderful oppurtunity to meet these two young girls at the school in Kawaguchi. Their names were Yuki Ishita and Hikari Ootsuka. Though initially presented with a tough language barrier, I was able to break down walls through hand signals. The staff at the school did some translating for me so I was able to learn their names and ages. We ate lunch together, and proceeded to build a tower out of a water bottle and a few little juice bottles. The kids are not usually allowed to do this, and I got a few looks from the staff. The girls were excited as the tower got taller and taller and giggled at the finished product. Once our meal was concluded, I tried to get them to play rock, paper, scissors, though they initially shied away from the idea. I persisted and finally broke them down and we played many rounds. These girls were masters of the game and I never was able to actually win. As our time wound down with the kids, I packed up and was waiting in line to use the restroom. While I was waiting, the girls came up to me and presented me with an origami dove representing good luck in future travels. They proceeded to give me hugs, which is normally frowned upon in Japanese customs. When the time came for us to say goodbye, it was tough one. I am currently in prayer about doing a month long trip to work with the school in the future.

Hunter Morris

Japan Team - Tokyo

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Pastor Chizuo preparing team.

The few days in Tokyo were for the support of two pastors and their ministries.  The first was with pastor Chizuo of Calvary Chapel Kokubunji.  We joined with members of his church to hand out flyers for a Saturday evangelistic outreach and concert at his church that is less than 50 yards from the train station.  There was opportunity for some sharing of the faith and Hunter got into a conversation with a Jehovah Witness couple.  

Teamwork

Puppet Witnessing

The team brought puppets which Pastor Chizuo said was effective in getting the people's attention.  Japanese will typically not look at you when you reach out with a flyer, but because they first see the puppets their focus is disrupted for a moment opening a window to hand them a flyer.  Since kids love the puppets, their parents are more willing to receive a flyer.  

Kawaguchi

Pastor Kaz sharing with children

The second opportunity was a new one with a long time friend, Kaz Sekine, a pastor in Tokyo who is the chaplain of a private Christian daycare, pre-school and kindergarten located in Kawaguchi, an area northeast of Tokyo by 40 minutes.  The school has approximately 180 children who are loved and taught the Bible and given a stable environment in their early years. 

The area of Kawaguchi has a high amount of broken homes, parents with drug and alcohol abuse, and other family related issues that can and have affected the children.  At times some parent(s) have even failed to pick up their child for a couple of days, so the school offers facilities to care for the children. Ministry to these children gives them stability and an introduction to Jesus. 

Pastor Kaz, the team and the puppets started the day off with morning worship for the kids. When the team and puppets went amongst the kids there was a uproar of excitement.  What a joy it was to see these children smile and get so excited to touch the puppets and interact with the team. 

 

The team was then invited to participate in a Japanese traditional Tea Ceremony. Because many of the children have unstable homes they lack many of their cultural traditions.  The school ensures these traditions are passed on.  We will be sharing some of the team’s testimonies in the next post and the special experience this was to them.  

This new opportunity has opened a door for our teams in the future to return and be blessing as well as being blessed. There is also an invitation for some longer mission work at the school in the future.

Travel Japan - Trains

As Californians trains are a seldom used mode of travel, but in Japan and especially in Tokyo it is the way of travel.  Yes, cars are well driven here but it is the commuter train that keeps the city moving.  

While in Tokyo for three days our team will be traveling to our Air BnB house on the east of Tokyo in Iriya to Kokubiunji station to the west.  

The Team waiting for a train take time for a photo.

The Team waiting for a train take time for a photo.

Train travel can be relaxed and comfortable at times but during rush hour can be as uncomfortable as a sardine can. 

Train travel can be relaxed and comfortable at times but during rush hour can be as uncomfortable as a sardine can. 

Escalator in train station take you through the multiple levels with the station.

Escalator in train station take you through the multiple levels with the station.

Trains in Japan are amazingly efficient and always on time.  At first it seems confusing and maybe even  scary but with a little time the confusion reveals a well thought out and negotiable way to travel Japan.   Hunter has an iPad with a JR Train Line map as we traveled our route from Iriya on the west side of Tokyo to Kokubunji on the west side of Tokyo.  This entailed a one-stop computer train, a 10 minute 4 stop ride from Ueno to Tokyo station and then a 60 minute ride on the "Rapid" train to Kokubunji.  

The team did very well keeping together and attentive to the changes.  They each have a 5-day train pass that allows them on all JR trains and even the Shinkansen (bullet Train) for when we travel north to Ishinomaki.

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Ventures in Missions

The Team

The Japan Mission Team caught their morning flight out of LAX today.  It was not without a little tension as there was some error in the ticketing that did not allow the team to check in online and was an issue when we arrived at the ticket counter at LAX. This error became an issue at the counter as they had to override the ticketing for each one of us though all were on the same conformation number.  

In Line at LAX

So delayed we were at the ticket counter and getting to customs which was smooth but for one of our team members  that had to have his bag looked at.  This is not an issue typically but when you have a number of people ahead of you to have their bags checked and you are already delayed due to ticketing, this becomes an inconvenience that can test your patience.  Then there is the added surprise that though we were at the new Delta terminal 2 we had to take a tram to catch our flight at the Bradley Terminal at the end of the airport.  This adding more time to our present delay.  No fears, the team was composed and we all got to the plane just at the tail of the boarding.  

Traveling can have its moments and this was a minor one. Yet it will be a learning opportunity reminding us that we must always be ready, flexible and trusting the Lord.  Continue to pray for us and keep watch as the team members share their experiences and thoughts on this blog.  

Japan Mission: MEET HANNAH!

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Hi, my name is Hannah Arenales and I am 19 years old. I was raised in a God fearing family with parents that focused on being planted in the Word and living as true followers of Christ.

Since I was very young my parents have always been a part of the Mexico mission trips, translating, and fundraising to support the teams going. Their participation with the Mexico mission trips have heavily influenced me to want to reach those in foreign countries and show them the love of The Lord. I have always felt a heavy desire to go to Asian countries and doing whatever The Lord wills for me.

I don't know how The Lord will use me during this Japan mission trip but I would like to continue what has been started by the missionaries and the work we have done over the past few years. I hope that I will grow a deeper and stronger faith, as well as, more of a dependence in Him than in myself. I don't know what's going to happen during this trip but I'm excited for the things we have planned so far. Any prayers for the team and the people we interact with would be greatly appreciated.

Japan Mission: MEET THE TANAKAS

Meet the Tanaka family: Tom, Dianne, Nathaniel (17) and Natalie (13). We have been attending and serving in Calvary Chapel churches for the last 20 years and Calvary Chapel Perris Valley for about a year and a half. Tom works in the medical field and Dianne has been homeschooling for 12 years. Tom and Dianne have served in a divorced & separated group support ministry, in children’s ministry with preschoolers, missions support, and in prayer groups. Tom has always had a heart for missions. We originally found Calvary Chapel Perris Valley on the internet and were specifically interested in their focus on missions. Tom has had opportunities to participate in medical missions and short term mission trips to the Philippines and Mexico. More recently, Nathaniel participated in his first mission trip to San Vicente, Mexico and he thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve along with his dad.

In Japan, Pastor Bob has assigned us to work along with the team in teaching English to the Japanese children. Dianne is very excited for this opportunity and especially for the opportunity to experience a mission trip with the entire family. We ask that you pray that we would be fully equipped by the Lord to minister His love to these children in His Spirit. Tom’s first language was Japanese but he has forgotten most of it over the years. Please pray that the Lord would bring to his remembrance the Japanese language that he might use it as needed for ministry. Nathaniel requests that you pray that we would touch the lives of the Japanese people we meet. This is Natalie’s first mission trip and first time traveling out of the country. Please pray for faith and courage to trust in the Lord throughout the trip. One of our favorite verses is “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15. We are thankful the Lord has opened this door for our family to serve together.

Japan Mission: MEET COSIMA!

My greatest joys are serving the Lord along side my husband at CCPV, being a grandmother and spending time with my horse. I came to the Lord through a series of what I call Jesus encounters.  His “fingerprints" were all over my young life.  After marrying, my husband started attending a small home bible study group where he gave his life to the Lord.  I followed a few weeks later when I realized that I had met Jesus so many times before.  He was there all along so it only seemed right for me to surrender my life to Him completely.  That was about 40 years ago.  Since then missions just kind of became the next step for us.  I went on several short term mission trips to Mexico, China and Japan and later with my family for a longer term of about a year in Japan in 1990 and ’91.  After returning home my husband was led by the Lord to pastor at CCPV and we’ve been serving there now 20 years.  

I pray about going on every mission trip our church takes but the Lord doesn’t always send me.  He has a plan for each trip and hand picks each participant.  I knew it was His plan for me to go on this trip when He gave me a specific purpose for going. Of course I’ll be open to however the Lord wants to use me but specifically He has led me to bring the message of Grace to women who will attend a small day conference. I look forward to watching it all unfold.

One of my greatest challenges is to be vulnerable and real with people.  I’m really not a people person by nature. The Lord always helps me through that and it is my prayer that I will be less focused on self and more on others so I can be as fruitful as possible for the Kingdom. I’m excited to visit the missionaries, specifically Cherry who was sent out from CCPV earlier this year.

The Women’s Event which I am leading will be held on Wednesday August 23rd. (Tuesday the 22nd for California).  Please pray that the women attending will be touched by the messages and ministry prepared for them and that they will receive from the Lord.  Please pray for any women that have not yet received Jesus and that His message of grace and love would draw them as it did me so many years ago.  Pray that my heart and mind would be filled with His love and Word for them.

Japan Mission: MEET NICK!

Hello I'm Nick. I grew up in a Christian home, though we were never really God driven people. We knew of Him and would for the most part go to church every Sunday, but I never felt like I had a relationship with the Lord, nor did I have any strong attempts in doing so. It wasn't until Hannah Arenales, another member of the team for this mission, invited me to come to Calvary Chapel Perris Valley with her and her family that I started to really seek Him. At some point, I knew He had given me an opportunity to have a relationship with Him through our meeting, something that I am very thankful for and that solidified my desire to know Him. I have previously gone on a mission trip to Mexico to install insulation in housing for women and their children. This experience really showed me just how good God is, how He can use anyone, even myself, for His work, and how He can provide incredible blessings.

When missions was be discussed at church, I was a bit hesitant to be a part of one, as I was still growing spiritually myself. After talking with different people about it, I came to see that a mission would be a great opportunity to grow and to be used in an amazing way. This specific mission to Japan was something that I knew that He was guiding me to and providing me the chance to be a part of as the class that I met Hannah in was none other than Japanese.

I hope that God will help me to do as much as I can to both improve the lives of others as well as bring them to Him. While I don't have any particularly noteworthy strengths, I think this in itself is a positive, as I am willing and eager to do whatever I can, even if that may be providing support for another team member so that they may be able to do His work with a great outcome.

I hope that this mission will allow me to have a stronger conviction in my walk with the Lord. While in the past I knew the Lord and never had any doubts about Him, I didn't do much to seek Him out or to improve my relationship with Him. After I began to attend CCPV and have been able to have a church to go to consistently, I have been getting closer to Him. My experience on a mission trip to Mexico further put in my heart a desire to better my relationship with Him, something that I hope and know will happen again on this upcoming mission.

I am excited for the opportunity we have to bring others to the Lord. Having only recently gotten closer to Him myself, it will be amazing to be able to spread His greatness to those who would otherwise may not have found Him. 

I would ask that the whole team would receive prayers for safe travels, and that we may be successful in our work, whether that be spreading the word to twenty people or to just one.

Japan Mission: MEET CECILIA!

My name is Vilma Cecilia Enderica, I was borne in Guayaquil-Ecuador South America, I came to this country when I was 16. I have two sons Alex the oldest and Ivan the youngest, my son Alex and my daughter in law Virginia and I have two grandkids Desiree and AJ and my mom Vilma, this is my immediate family and love them with all my heart. 

I came to the Lord about 13 years ago, I do have some missionary experience not a long term but we were supporting a little church in Tecate- México and we did several mission trip to La Sierrita Church in Tecate. I enjoyed serving in Mexico it was a great experience to bring not only physical food but spiritual food I did it with so much joy. It has always been in my heart to help the poor and the needy and the only way to do that is to go out and serve to share what the Lord is being teaching me and what he has being putting in my heart is a great responsibility and we are called to share our faith with others. 

I feel that the Lord will use me in a great capacity, all He is looking for is a willing heart I am reminded of Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord "whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, here I am! Send me. 

When I told Pastor Bob about my desire to go to Japan, he immediately said there is a lady in Japan that is married to a Japanese guy that doesn't speak English, only Spanish, and she needs translation, as soon as I took the step of faith the Lord open doors for me to serve, but it took me stepping out of my comfort zone and say send me. 

This is a great a opportunity for me to serve and to grow spiritually. I am going with my heart open expecting to be used by the Lord in mighty ways, there is no limit on what The Lord will do with me and through me. Please pray for strength, boldness, obedience, humility and blessings.