First, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as we celebrated our Lord’s birth! The year 2022 was a fantastic year for our family, and we are looking ahead to 2023 as another year of amazing things that God will do.
After returning to Indiana at the beginning of November, we participated in two Missions Conferences. The first was in Illinois, and the second was in Tennessee. Both churches were so amazing to our family. We always feel so incredibly blessed to be able to present our ministry at any church. While we always have the intention to and pray that we can be a blessing to these churches, I feel that they always end up being a far greater blessing to our family.
We had our final Exit Interview with the FBMI staff between these two meetings. This meeting was a time of rejoicing as we considered all God did for us during our deputation. We finalized many things for our move to the field! That same week, we began packing up the house we had been living in to get ready to move back to California to be near family until we move to the field. We had one last meeting in Indiana and then celebrated Thanksgiving with fellow missionaries living in the same housing.
After loading all of our belongings into a U-Haul trailer the following Saturday, we took off towards Michigan, where we spent that Sunday with Grace Baptist Church in St. Clair. This church was just started earlier this year. We had the honor of being the first missionaries to present at the church. They also voted for our family to be the first missionaries they took on for monthly financial support! It was a great blessing and encouragement! We were also blessed to present our ministry that evening at Community Baptist Church of Smiths Creek, which is the ministry that started Grace Baptist Church of St. Clair. It was an excellent way to spend our last Sunday in the Midwest!
The following day, we drove across the U.S. and headed back to California. God protected us the entire time, and we made it safely to California that Thursday evening. We had the joy of presenting our ministry to the wonderful people at Bible Fellowship Baptist Church in Sacramento in the morning and then spending that evening in our home church—all this while my wife and I got ready for our trip to Japan!
As an update to our last prayer letter, our paperwork and visas have been approved! This opened the way for our December trip to Japan and to becoming lawful residents. On December 10, after a 12-hour plane ride from Los Angeles, we arrived in Tokyo! Finally, my wife and I could be in Japan for the first time! It was overwhelming to think of how God answered such a big prayer of ours! We were processed smoothly through Immigration, receiving our Zairyū Cards (residence cards), which are our primary form of identification in Japan. We hopped on one more flight to Osaka, where Go and Danielle Oishi, our fellow FBMI Japan missionaries, picked us up from the airport. Even though we have known each other for over two years and talked for hours on the phone, this was the first time we had met them in person!
The Oishis, as well as the Senri Newtown Baptist Church, were so incredibly helpful during our trip. Due to their assistance, we were able to apply for a home rental in Japan, register our residence in the
city, register our official seal (Hanko), open a Japanese bank account, and take trial language-school lessons! We were also able to apply for our children’s Certificates of Eligibility (which they will need for their visas). While this was an incredibly busy week, it was enormously fruitful and profitable for our future ministry in Japan. We received word just before flying back to the U.S. that our application to rent the house in Japan was approved!
Throughout our trip, we participated in church services for two Sundays and one Wednesday at the Senri Newtown Baptist Church. I participated in two men’s work days on Mondays, and my wife was able to attend the Ladies’ Bible Study on one of the Tuesdays. On Saturday, we worked at the church, stuffing chocolates into bags as Christmas gifts for people visiting the church on Christmas. The Japanese people know Christmas as a time of festivity, but they do not understand WHY we celebrate. Because of this, Christmas is the best time to be able to share the Gospel with people in Japan. We also got to go out the last Monday to put tracts in mailboxes (which is entirely legal in Japan!) to invite people to the Christmas services.
We had an amazing and profitable trip to Japan and are excited to move back in March to begin our ministry there! Please pray for our final few meetings in January and February! We have about 95% of our support, and we need to close that gap before we move to the field!
May God use all of us in 2023 in a greater way as we yield ourselves to His perfect will in our lives! Thank you for all you do for us and for the cause of Christ!
For His glory,