Greetings from Japan!
Things seem to be changing daily. How thankful we are that we serve a God who is never changing! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What a comfort to know that God is ultimately in control of all things; we don’t have to depend on the economy, government, or our own efforts. We are so thankful to have you working with us, through your faithful prayers and support, to share the hope we have in Christ with the lost people of Japan.
In Japan, many stores and restaurants were closed for March and April. The Japanese schools were closed as well. The Japanese school year starts in April, but they only get a two-week break between school years. They extended the break this year and didn’t start the new school year until the end of April. When the new school year began, it was online.
We also had to cancel our English conversation classes for the month of March. We started them again, virtually, in April. The kids were happy to have something to do, even if it was online. At the end of May, the Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools began meeting in person, with safety measures in place. Masks had to be worn, several hand washing times were instigated, and temperature checks took place.
In Japan, mask-wearing is very common. People with hay fever wear them every spring. People also wear them if they feel like they are catching a cold; they normally will wear a mask to school or work to not give anyone else their germs. However, they certainly aren’t used to wearing them all day long!
Since the schools have resumed, we decided to start our English conversation classes in person again after June. We and all of the children wear masks and sanitize our hands before, during, and after class. The kids and their families were excited to meet in person again, though some of them were still fearful. The first book we read when we resumed class was The Miracles of Jesus. The children listened intently to the stories and were amazed at what Jesus was able to do for the sick, blind, lame, and mute. They found comfort and encouragement from the stories, hearing about someone who loved everyone, and had the power to help and heal. Please pray with us that we can bring God’s hope and peace to the people in our neighborhood during this time.
When Tokyo was put in a state of emergency, our church had to switch to online services. Our pastor gave a sermon, and Hiro gave a message for the children as well. Several of the moms commented on how much they enjoyed the simplicity of Hiro’s messages; they were easy to understand and were so applicable to what the kids were feeling and dealing with. Since many of the Sunday school kids’ parents do not attend church, we were thankful that they were able to listen in as their children watched the Sunday messages.
When the state of emergency was lifted in June, we were able to start meeting in person again. We adjusted several things to meet regulations. Everyone wears a mask and sanitizes their hands. We have to keep the windows open for air circulation. Since we only have two small air conditioning units, it can get quite hot. In spite of the heat, everyone is very happy to be able to see their fellow believers. For most of the congregation, their only contact with Christians or anything Christian is in our church.
Though things are not as they normally are, we are so thankful to be able to be here in Japan at this time to share God’s hope and love with the Japanese people, most of whom have not even heard the name of Jesus before. Your partnership is a blessing and a gift! We pray for each of you and thank God daily for you!
Your Missionaries to Japan,
Hiro, Eryn, Justin, Ax, Hunter, and Olivia Bamba