Hey everybody! We’ve been trying to keep all of our family and friends updated on our lives in Japan by sharing some of the highlights of what we’ve been eating, doing, and experiencing over here through our blog and social media. But we want to share more of not only what we’re doing, but also how we’re doing. There are so many things the Lord has been doing in us since coming to Japan! Hopefully in the future these posts will become more frequent as we feel like we have so much to share about what He is daily teaching us or how He is pruning different things from our lives.
First of all, it’s been absolutely incredible witnessing first-hand how constant the Lord is in the midst of change. Pretty much everything we knew about our lives has been turned on its head over the past several months. We graduated from the University of Oregon 4 months ago, got married 3 months ago, and moved to Japan over 2 months ago. But God has been so constant and faithful in the midst of all this transition! We’ve gotten to experience for ourselves how the Rock of Ages truly is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Heb. 13) no matter how our earthly circumstances may change. We know there will be plenty of challenges down the road, whether it’s with our marriage, being let down by the people around us, or going through trials together. But so far, being completely reliant on Him for everything has made the move into married-life and to a new country relatively simple. Please pray that we would continue to look to the Lord alone for our joy and contentment!
None of this is to say that marriage hasn’t been at all challenging for us so far. You always hear people talk about how being married is like constantly seeing yourself in a mirror. We’re both learning this lesson quickly. Through being in such an intimate relationship, you start to see what you really look like for the first time. Everything even remotely self-focused in you, that you used to be able to hide or maybe didn’t even know existed, is exposed to both you and your spouse. For the first time in our lives we’re seeing this side of ourselves and it’s not necessarily an enjoyable process, even if it’s necessary.
But there are also so many things we love about being married! Just to name a few: the companionship, always having someone fighting for us in our corner, struggling together when trials come and supporting each other in discerning God’s will for our lives are all things that make it worthwhile. All in all, we’re having a blast on this incredible journey of being hitched and more importantly, Jesus is already using our marriage so much to make us more like Him. And He undoubtedly has a lot more in store for us.
The biggest struggle for Makaya is the inability to communicate who she really is with people. There have been so many instances of people showing us kindness and hospitality, but she hasn’t been able to express her gratitude in ways that she wishes she could. With the language barrier, it is difficult for Makaya to get to know her coworkers, whom she is with for the majority of the week, and the people in the community. She is praying that God reveals opportunities to get to know people and communicate in ways when words fail. It is lonely and discouraging to go throughout the days without the ability to have a deep conversation or to understand a co-worker’s feelings. Please be praying for Jesus’ love in her would overcome these language and cultural barriers!
Jon’s biggest struggle has been being patient with trusting the Lord’s purpose in placing us where we are. Both of us have realized, in the short time since moving here, that teaching English isn’t something we’re super passionate about or what we feel called to do long term. That isn’t to say that we aren’t amazingly thankful for His provision of these jobs. Door after door after door was opened for us to come here so we have no doubt in our minds that we are exactly where the Lord has called us to be in this season of our lives. But it’s challenging not feeling like we’re doing something with our lives that gets us out of bed every morning.
In the midst of this struggle, Kaya got a word from the Lord from Ruth. Just as Ruth spent time gleaning in the fields, a job that was less than desirable, so do we also go through times of gleaning in the fields. Like Ruth, God places us in situations that may not feel exactly what we were put on this earth to do, but for the time, they are exactly where he wants us to be. We believe this is a time of gleaning for both of us. We may not feel like we are called to devote our lives to English instruction, but we remind ourselves every day that we were called for this purpose for this season of life. We remind ourselves that God has a reason and a time for everything. He has a purpose for us right here, right now in Japan, even if it’s simply learning to trust Him when we feel useless or unable to work to our full potential. There are many things God can do in a time of gleaning. We are learning to sit back and wait and watch. And of course, pray. Hard.
We also love this quote He gave us from the biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, who was a Scottish minister in the early 1800’s. “The arrow that was yet to wound hundreds was then receiving its point; but it lay in the quiver for a time. The Lord seemed to be touching his own heart, and melting it by what he spoke to others, rather than touching or melting the hearts of those he spoke to.” The Lord is clearly working in us right now, readying us for a season when He will use us to work in the lives of others. We have absolutely no idea how long this season of preparation will last, but have absolutely no doubt that He is using this time to prepare us for the work He has laid out for us. Although we want to see the Holy Spirit work saving souls, we are instead experiencing His daily work inside of us, renewing and transforming us. Our prayer is that we would learn to wait patiently on Him to work all things in us according to His timing.
At the same time, we know the Lord’s will for us is to bear fruit right now, exactly where He’s placed us, and there are so many people around us who have never heard the life-giving message of the Gospel. This has been an amazing season of growth, pruning, and humbling, but we’ve found that it’s really challenging to know how and where to pour out His love to others. Makaya can’t speak the language and Jon isn’t sure how to approach the subject. We need to rely on it to be more the Lord’s work.
But, in spite of all the challenges, the Lord has been faithful to provide opportunities. Just the other day we were sitting in our new church, which we really love, when the pastor asked if anyone had any prayer requests. For a few minutes, Jon was sharing with the pastor about our desire to be used more. In the mean time, Makaya, who still doesn’t understand too much Japanese, was daydreaming about how perfect the church space would be for an English conversation night. After Jon finished sharing, the pastor suggested the idea of hosting a weekly English conversation night at the church. While on the surface we’re just inviting people over to practice their English for free, our ultimate goal is to share Christ with people in our community. Please be praying for fruit in this endeavor and that it would be completely His doing and not ours!
Another encouraging event happened in one of Jon’s classes. After he finished teaching, a girl came running up to him with a big smile on her face. “You’re a Christian! I’m a Christian!” At first he thought maybe she was trying to say something else in English. But she was, in fact, eagerly wanting Jon to know that she and her family are fellow believers. We hope that they can attend our English conversation nights!
The future remains a big uncertainty.
There are many things that the Lord has put on Jon’s heart as a possibility for the near future. Kaya still doesn’t know exactly what she is called to. She is passionate about many things in the realm of business-as-missions and is looking and praying for opportunities and contacts. (Please DM us if you want to give advice/are curious about more details.) Ranging from Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Texas, Hawaii, Japan and Canada, our horizons are vast. Please also keep this in your prayers!
He is our lighthouse, the author and perfector of our faith. Love you all!
P.S. Just wanted to give a shout out to our crazy talented cousin Keely Hatfield! She’s an amazingly gifted singer, but an even better person so you should probably buy her new EP on iTunes! Here’s the link to it just in case anyone is interested. WWJD, that’s all we’re saying…