Service with a Smile

Monday here in Japan started off with our team hosting a special day for the kids that attend Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa. It is a small group of girls, so the team planned some really fun things for them. We played games with them, did worship, created an awesome cross as a craft, made tasty treats and talked to them about the history of Calvary Chapel and how God can work through people who are willing to listen and obey the Lord’s leading on their life. The highlight for the girls was the scavenger hunt around the church. The girls were so excited to find the next item as the clues were read off! It was such a sweet day as we have gotten to spend time with these kids at the Summer Fun Program and at church as well. Hopefully they felt loved with this time we had for them.

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Monday evening we went to Shibuya, the busiest intersection in the world! It is absolutely crazy. Once the light turns green for the pedestrians, people are walking in every different direction. It’s so easy to be swallowed up by the crowd. Our team had fun crossing and watching people, and the Alvarado’s got to spend some time taking some family pictures in the city. One of the really cool things about this part of Tokyo was the official Olympic store! We stopped by the store and picked up some souvenirs for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics!

Tuesday morning, the girls spent time with Janine and the girls and the guys went off to breakfast with Pastor Travis. It was a great morning for both groups as the girls got to just spend some quality time together and the guys got to talk to Pastor Travis about life here in Japan as well as talk a little bit about our time and experience here.

In the afternoon, the guys helped move stuff out of a home of a man who just recently lost his wife. We got to meet this gentleman at church and it was a huge blessing to him to have our guys help him to move stuff out of his home.

Tonight, our team went off to Ikebukuro to have dinner. We went to have sushi, but both restaurants we checked had a 2 hour wait! A lot of people are off of work this week due to Obon, a Japenese Buddhist custom that honors the spirits of their family ancestors. Due to the large crowds of people, we ended up at a different restaurant with great delicacies such as Chicken Nuggets, Big Mac’s and french fries…the Golden Arches…aka McDonald’s! It’s all about being flexible :)

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Tomorrow is our last full day here in Japan! The time has flown by and the Lord has taught each of us so much. We are so thankful for this opportunity and grateful that you have followed along with our trip and kept us lifted up in prayer! We can’t wait to get home and share all the amazing things that the Lord did in and thru us.

Not sure if we will have a post tomorrow night, but in case we don’t, we just wanted to say thank you for all of your love and support!

In His love,

Mission Japan 2019

Japanese Culture

Sorry for no post yesterday!

Saturday was a free day for our team and it was spent taking in the culture of this beautiful country. In the morning, the team met at the Alvarado’s and one of their neighbors came over to help dress the girls. Each of the girls bought or borrowed a yukata (a summer festival outfit), so this neighbor was kind enough to come over and help each of the girls get dressed. Janine did each of the girls hair and everyone looked incredible! It is festival season here in Japan, so there are many people out and about in their yukata’s.

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After everyone was getting done, we headed off for a cultural experience with food. We had some incredible ramen! Even though it is crazy hot and humid here, ramen was the perfect meal! One thing that has been said by a couple of the people on the team has been how good all the food has been!

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Although a nap sounded great after a big lunch, the team headed off to Kawagoe. This is an old city that has really old buildings that were so cool to see! We got to walk around, do a little shopping and partake of their tasty food! The city is known for their sweet potatoes and snacks. The team shared a bag of thinly sliced fried sweet potatoes (basically chips) that are to be dipped in butter before being eaten. Then almost everyone got ice cream at some point! It was such a fun experience!

To cap off our cultural day, we had dinner at…McDonald’s! We did a lot of walking and just grabbed something quick so we could get back to the places we are staying at a decent hour. Sundayis a big day for us as we have invited all the kids from the Summer Fun Program to the Summer Festival. We are praying many show up and can get connected to the church here at Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa. Also, tomorrow night, our team will be spending some time with the youth of the church and that should be a really fun night!

Sunday Recap:

We had a great Sunday here in Tokorozawa! Our team went to church this morning and most of our team helped put on a Summer Festival for the kids. 3 kids from the Summer Fun Program came to church, so that was a huge blessing!

We had a great time of fellowship after church. It is really cool to see the people hang out after church and just spend time talking and eating and being together.

Following church, the team got to spend some time with the youth of Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa. We had another cultural experience as we went out for karaoke! It was so fun to sing and be together. There is something about the experience of being in a karaoke room together that really lets people’s walls down. 2 hours of karaoke went by so fast!

Tomorrow (Monday) we are having a day for the kids of Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa. We have some games and crafts and snacks and songs planned for them! It should be a really sweet time with these kiddos!

God's Power Saves

Today was the final day of the Summer Fun Program, a day that our team was both looking forward to, but also had everyone feeling a little sad. We have grown to love these kids in these 5 days that the Lord has given us here. We looked forward to this day from the time we talked about what we would be doing here in Japan. From the beginning stages of planning, even before we had our theme, we knew that we would be sharing the gospel today and giving the kids an invitation to receive Christ in their hearts.

Today’s lesson was God’s Power Saves and the verse of the day was John 3:16. Mikey got to teach the lesson today to the kids and gave them all an opportunity to pray Jesus in to their hearts as they were at his and Michelle’s station. At the end of the day, Pastor Ryan gave a second invitation to the whole group. 15 kids made a decision to receive Jesus in to their hearts today!!! Our prayer is to connect them with Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa and that they would continue to go to church and grow in their faith!

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After such a great day closing out the Summer Fun Program, our team had a great night as well. On Friday nights at the church, the people gather to have dinner, a Bible study, and fellowship. Tonight, Janine cooked a wonderful meal for everyone and Vicente shared a great word on being a reflection of Jesus by how we are to serve in every aspect of our lives.

Tomorrow is an off day for the team! One of the Alvarado’s neighbors will be coming over in the morning to dress the girls in yukatas, summer festival clothing. We will then head out for a ramen lunch and then walk around an old city, Kawagoe. It should be a really fun day and I know our team is looking forward to it. Everyone is pretty drained from all Summer Fun Program, and the heat, but we are all looking forward to getting to see a little Japanese culture in this old city.

Our Healer

We had another incredible day at the Summer Fun Program! Today we taught the story of Jesus healing the blind man as our theme was God’s Power Heals. Every morning we open with a skit that is like a teaser for the day and today’s opener was a home run. Mikey came out wearing a blanket wrapped around him and as Chellie was sharing, he interrupted her by sneezing really loudly! Hiding under his blanket was a spray bottle and every time he sneezed, he would spray the bottle and the kids went crazy!

This led right in to our station work and the kids were off for a fun filled day of learning about Jesus’ power to heal. The craft that went along with our story today was making slime, representing the mud that Jesus put over the man’s eyes. The kids absolutely loved the craft and it was a perfect way to remind them about the story at this station. Today’s game saw the kids blindfolded and touching different objects with the blindfold on to try and figure out what they were. The snacks were super cute! The team put raisins inside marshmallows and then stuck them inside a plastic cup so when people look at the cup, it looked like eyeballs! At the lesson station, kids got to make sunglasses which was really fun!

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Some of the kids missed the day yesterday and when our team reviewed the lessons over the last few days, the kids who missed Wednesday wanted to hear about what they missed. It was so sweet to hear the kids wanting to know the story that they missed.

We are so excited for tomorrow as we get to teach God’s Power Saves. We are also sad that the week has gone by so fast, and that our time with the kiddos is almost over!

Tonight, our team was treated to an incredible meal! One of the Alvarado’s neighbors came to the church and cooked us a homemade meal. She brought fresh sashimi, noodles, a beef and potato soup and we finished our meal off with all kinds of vegetable tempura. This was such a sweet night for us, but also a time to be a light to their neighbor. She is not a believer, but is so sweet and helpful. Her daughter has been attending the Summer Fun Program, and both of her girls will be coming on Sunday to our Summer Festival. The opportunities God has been giving us to minister to people has been such a sweet blessing!

Inquisitive Minds

Today was our 3rd day of the Summer Fun Program and we have seen the Lord moving among the kids who are attending! Many of them are shy and timid on Monday, but today we saw a big breakthrough! Some of the children, even through the language barrier, are much more comfortable with our team members. Pastor Travis even told us tonight that he sees that the kids are comfortable with our team.

Our lesson today was God Provides, and we taught through the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. The kids are loving the stories we have been teaching them, and being able to see the character of God through our first three lessons. God’s Power Overcomes (David and Goliath), God’s Power Protects (fiery furnace), and today, God’s Power Provides (feeding the 5000).

A couple of praise reports!

1 - A mom came in and asked what “The battle is the Lords’s” means. This was our memory verse on day 1 and her son went home and told her. She even looked up the Scripture reference, which the boy memorized as well, online! She also had questions about why 3 men were thrown in to a fire!

2 - One of the kids asked what the name of the songs are that the team is doing hand motions to. Vicente not only gave him the name of the songs, but also recommended Hillsong Kids worship to him.

This has been such a huge boost for our team as we see the Lord working through us, even if sometimes we feel like the language barrier is keeping us from being as effective as we would like to be! One of the things that both Vicente and Pastor Travis have encouraged us in is how we love on these kids. He said that when we go home, they will still talk about us and the time they had with us. They might not remember the stories or lessons or the crafts or the games, but they will remember how they were treated and loved. Our prayer is that we love them as Christ does and we are a picture of Him to these kids!

Tonight we had a prayer night at the church. It was such a sweet time of worship and prayer, a time of recharging as we head approach the final 2 days of the Summer Fun Program! It is incredible how fast time is flying by here in Japan, but we are all so thankful that the Lord has called us to be here. Our heart is that we would finish the Summer Fun Program well, and that these kids who came during the week would come on Sunday to church!

A Firey Tuesday

Today was day 2 of the Summer Fun Program and it was an awesome day! Our theme today was God Protects and we taught the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The kids seem to be having lots of fun and are learning a ton!

The kids made a fiery furnace using a coffee cup and had 3 people and a flame on the inside and a door that they could open and close. It was a really cute craft that was perfect for our story! At the lesson station, the kids had different colored tissue paper that were colors of fire and they got to throw it over Mikey at the end of the story!

Although it has only been 2 days, it has been so much fun seeing the kids become more comfortable around our team! A big praise report is that a lot of these kids are new to the Summer Fun Program, as they have been invited by kids who have come in past years!

One of the sweetest moments of the day was when one of the kids told Pastor Travis that he was going to be too old to attend the program next year, but that he would love to come back and help out!

After all the kids left, we had a really good debrief time. This time allows us to talk about what went well and what we can improve for the next day. We already saw the fruit of this time as we implemented some ideas today from our debrief on Monday after the first day.

Tonight, we split off in to two groups. We had a girls night out and a boys night out. Janine took all the girls, including the 3 kids out to dinner for tonkatsu, shopping, and dessert. Some of the girls bought yukata’s, a summer type of kimono that the Japanese ladies would wear to a festival. The girls will be rocking these on Saturday as we go out to an old Japanese town.

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The boys went a different direction and went to see the local baseball team, the Seibu Lions. It was such a fun experience as we got to ride the train to the stadium and experience a Japanese baseball game. The fans and the overall atmosphere of the game is incredible. Drums and other instruments being played, and the fans just completely invested. We can’t imagine what a game would be like if they were winning!

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Needless to say, we all had such an incredible day and are so excited to see the kids tomorrow for day 3!

Kick Off of the Summer Fun Program

Today was day 1 of the Summer Fun Program at Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa! The program was filled up to max capacity, and 30 young kids would be entrusted to us as they walked through the church doors!

The theme of the program is Power Up and we used a Super Mario Bros. as an inspiration. Today’s lesson was on David and Goliath. The kids loved the story and our team was so creative in the ways that we were able to teach the story, but also reteach the story as they went through each station.

We have a total of 5 stations: Writing, Speaking, Reading, Lesson, and Craft. We also have worship at the beginning and end of our day. The kids go through 3 stations after worship, then have lunch. After lunch, the kids play a game before going to their last 2 stations.

For today’s craft, the kids got to color and decorate their own paper slingshot. In the speaking station, they got to practice their theme verse which was part of 2 Samuel 17:47, “The battle is the Lord’s.” After practicing speaking their verse, they got jellybeans which represented David’s stones! The game was a hit today! Kids got to shoot marshmallow’s out of homemade shooters! Their goal was to get them in to bowls that were placed on a table. It was such a creative way to remind the kids about David’s slingshot!

We had a great first day, and after all the kids were gone, the team had a really sweet time to debrief and talk about some things to make tomorrow even better! It is such a blessing to see how hard our team is working and how much energy and love are being poured out on to these kids!

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Janine made our team an incredible fried rice dinner tonight! The food here has been excellent, but having a homemade meal was such a huge blessing!

Aside from a great first day at the Summer Fun Program, today was a big day for the Alvarado family! Today, they were blessed with a brand new electric bike! Having 2 little girls and living 20-25 minutes away from church by foot, this bike will allow them to get not only to church, but around town much more efficiently. It was fun to see how much the girls loved their new bike!

Sunday in Tokorozawa

This morning our team went to Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa for church. Michael and Amy helped with kids church out at the park and pastor Ryan had the opportunity to teach at the main service.

After church we had a sweet time of fellowship with the people of the church. We ate lunch and hung out for a while before spending time preparing for the start of the Summer Fun Program tomorrow.

Tonight, we ate dinner at a really cool Japanese restaurant where we sat on mats and had traditional Japanese food! It was on one of the main streets in Tokorozawa that is super bright and filled with shops. Next door to the restaurant was an arcade

We are looking forward to the start of the Summer Fun Program tomorrow! Can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us!

Hitting the Ground Running

Our team met at church on Thursday at 630 AM and headed off to LAX! After a long flight, we arrived in Tokyo a little after 3 PM on Friday. After hanging out at the airport for a few hours, we took about a 2 and a half hour bus ride to Tokorozawa where Vicente was waiting for us, arriving just after 9 PM. It was a long day!!!

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Today we took a trip down to a shallow river/stream where we had an all church picnic and one of the youth’s from Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa got baptized. It was a great first day for the team as we got to experience the weather (it is HOT and HUMID) and meet some of the people from the church.

Here in Japan, the Alvarado’s walk, ride their bike, or take public transportation everywhere. With our team here, it is no different and we got to experience the each mode of transportation today. The girls are all staying at the church with Pastor Travis’ daughter, Erika. The boys are staying at Pastor Travis’ home and the Young’s are staying with the Alvarado’s.

Each day we will be meeting at the church, so the guys, the Alvarado’s and the Young’s are going to be putting some miles on their legs!

Tomorrow we are off to church! Pastor Ryan will be teaching at Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa and Amy and Michael will be helping out with the children’s ministry. After church, we’ll spend some time with the congregation and have lunch together before we spend the rest of our afternoon preparing for our Summer Fun Program (VBS)!

Off to Japan

Tomorrow morning, our team will be headed off to Japan!

We would love you to join us in prayer! Here are our prayer requests:

Andrew:

- boldness to share my faith personally

- protection from spiritual attacks

- strength and energy to get through the days 

Michael:

- be used mightily by God

- not be discouraged by failure, but instead be flexible with Gods plans

- be an encouragement to others

Rachael:

- for unity across the whole team! 

- that the Lord guides me and helps me to be able to fully communicate and translate in Japanese

- for the people in Japan that they don’t disassociate themselves from Jesus bc our God is the same there in Japan and here in America 

- for my paternal family to visit Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa and come to know Christ

Stephanie:

-pray for patience ( for myself, the team, the kids)

-pray for flexibility 

-pray against spiritual, mental, and emotional attacks from Satan

-pray for a willing heart to follow God’s will for the team and the ministry 

Amy:

- that we would be filled with the Spirit and bold in sharing 

- that the kids would feel the love of Christ through us

- travel mercies

- that Janine & Vicente would be blessed by our team

Michelle:  

- jet lag/ that we'd have energy to minister effectively

- for boldness to share with others and start conversations

- for seeds to be planted

-for God to show up in ways we're not expecting

Chellie:

- That the Gospel would go forth with boldness! That each child who comes to the Summer Fun Program (and anybody we come in contact with) would not only hear about Jesus but understand they NEED Him in their hearts and accept Him! 

- Protect our team and church from spiritual attacks!

- That our team would be united in one body, mind and spirit on this trip. 

- That each and everything I do glorify God and be an offering to Him! I want people I interact with to hear about God, know His love, feel His presence and receive Him! 

Kenley:

- That I would point people to Christ! 

- That I would transition well to the new time and schedule. 

- That I would glorify Christ in all that I do! 

Ryan:

- That God would protect our team spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.

- God would be glorified through my teaching on Sunday morning at Calvary Chapel Tokorozawa

- Salvation of souls!

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We will be posting daily updates from Japan and cannot wait to share all the things that the Lord does in and thru our team!

In His love,

Our Mission Japan Team