Serious Updates, Learning Japanese Hospitality and Thoughts About the Future

Exploring the outskirts of Nobeoka! Scroll down for more.

We want to begin with a few life updates:

1. After months of prayer, pro/con lists (by Makaya obviously), research, wisdom, and advice, we have decided to stay in Japan another year! We signed our contracts to officially continue our jobs as JETs here in Nobeoka and look forward to seeing how God leads us through the rest of our adventure here in this wonderful place! It’s a big relief to just be able to focus on the present and be faithful to the Lord’s leading every moment.

2. We’re finally getting the hang of being teachers and really learning to find joy in our work! Jon has officially helped start an English culture club at his school. He will do various fun activities with students every Thursday to share different aspects of English-speaking cultures with his Japanese students.

3.  Makaya has especially connected with her teachers at Shiroyama (the special-needs school she teaches at once a week) and has enjoyed discussing some meaningful topics lately. A few weeks ago she even had the opportunity to engage in conversation about the Bible story with a coworker, while other teachers joined in the discussion!

4. We have continued to be blessed with opportunities through our church and the English conversation night we started up. Recently we’ve been given the opportunity to share several messages and lead worship in English and Japanese! Our tiny, countryside church has become a surprisingly international hub…

5. Makaya signed up to run a marathon! But before you get too impressed, it will be a relay-style marathon with 15 other people. She is nervous, but it will be a fun experience with new friends.

6. We’re only about a month out from Kaya’s dad, Al, and her brother, Jacob, visiting Japan for the first time! Jon’s brother, Stephen, will join us in Hiroshima and we will road trip on to Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and the island of Shikoku. Talk about a whirlwind adventure! #thegreatjapanroadtrip

7. LASTLY, this update wouldn’t be complete without sharing our plans for our next trip (or two or three…): THAILAND! No we don’t ever work and yes we spend all the money we make traveling… Plans are still in the works, but this is totally happening around the first week of May. Let us know if you have any recommendations or connections! We’re also looking at the possibility of going home at some point this summer, but that one is still a long ways off.

Those are all the updates we have for now! But we also want to share a little bit about one thing we’ve both been learning over here:

One fundamental aspect of Christianity, seen throughout the Bible and the early church in particular, is hospitality. We read somewhere that the New Testament word for hospitality literally means ‘love of strangers.’ What an amazing picture of what it should be!
Through our experiences here, we’ve learned there aren’t a lot of cultures that better embody true hospitality than Japan. We have been on the receiving end of countless peoples’ generosity in welcoming us into their homes, providing for all our needs, and giving selflessly without expecting anything in return. Especially on our winter break trip to Tokyo and Nagano, the people we saw (including the American families!) went far above and beyond to make us feel welcome as they cooked us traditional Japanese dishes, wined and dined us at fancy restaurants, and arranged the most comfortable places to lay our heads. But we haven’t just encountered this willingness to give visiting old friends on our travels; we have also experienced it here at home in Nobeoka from complete strangers.
Even people our age are incredibly generous!
Jon’s old kindergarten buddy Ken-chan took us out for delicious Yakiniku.
As we reflected on how ridiculously giving Japanese people are and wrestled with our inability to return their kindness, something struck us as a little bit backwards. We, as Christians, are the ones called to model this sort of self-sacrificing hospitality to the world. In Luke 14 Jesus teaches that when you host a banquet you should invite those who will be unable to return the favor such as the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. By doing so, we become imitators of Christ in His love for us; a love that gave itself up and withheld nothing from us, all the while knowing our utter inability to ever repay this debt (Rom. 5:6-8).  
Yet in this season of our lives, we are the ones learning what Christian hospitality is supposed to look like. Without even knowing Him, creation reflects the image of its creator. Japanese hospitality has been a lesson on how God uses every person or group of people to reflect specific aspects of His character. Both His care for the needy and willingness to give His best for us are manifested in His Japanese children, whom the majority even know Him yet.
Though we’ve come to acknowledge that we will never be able to repay these people for all they’ve done, we are grateful for the lessons they have taught us and are looking forward to passing them on! Their hospitality has had an impact not only on our lives now, but also how we will love people in the future.
To close, we have both been convicted by our lack of true ‘hospitality’ towards God. As His dwelling place (1 Cor. 3:16), shouldn’t we be more hospitable towards Him? Do we give Him our very best or just the leftovers? Our prayer is that all those who know Him would willingly give up all of themselves to Him! Love you guys and we’d love to hear from you too!
P.S. If anyone wants to put all this to the test, come stay with us or send some strangers our way! We would love to practice what we’ve learned here 😉

Kaya’s Christmas lesson at Shiroyama

Kotatsu (heated table) + Gyudon (beef over rice) + cucumber salad = Heaven
Our tiny, 93 year old pastor friend! She’s a firecracker! 
Taco party at church!


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