Day Eight: Heading Home

Yesterday we left our home in west Tokyo and headed back into the city. We put our bags down in a quite nice Tokyo hotel. We then did a bit of sightseeing and shopping. We headed in to see the main temple in Tokyo, where millions come each year to pray and worship. We shopped a bit at the many stores right around there. We then went back to the hotel for a nice Japanese meal. Following dinner, Drew and Meg and their friend Tomoko were kind enough to take me to a multilevel Japanese toy store. I’ve been gone for over a week. Gotta bring things home for the kids, right? We then did some more walking around in that area (can’t remember the name and Drew and Meg aren’t here right now!). We walked down one street where the sex industry was very obviously going strong. It was sad seeing the faces of young women who were likely forced to be in that situation. We then sat down for a Mister Donut, something that was on Tony’s Japan must-do list. As Drew pointed out, it was a bit hard to eat a donut after seeing all of that. The need for the gospel here is so great.

I’m writing this from Tokyo’s Narita airport. We’ll head out soon for the states. Thanks for all your prayers and support. Can’t wait to see you.

 

Day Seven: Chiba

Yesterday we took our time getting started with the day. We did some light shopping late morning and then had a picnic in the local park. The men and I then got on a train and rode in to Chiba City. There we met back up with our old friend, John Evans. We've spent time with him on our two previous trips to Japan. He is an MTW missionary currently in language school. We got to spend a few minutes with his beautiful family. He then took us to the top of Chiba Port Tower. We then took him out for a great dinner. We got on a train and took the long trek (about 1 1/2 hours) back to our apartment. We were quite exhausted, but it was a fun day. It's always a pleasure to hang out with our favorite Aussie and laugh with him. He also brought us a package of Tim-Tams, our favorite Australian treat.

Today we head back into the city. We'll do some souvenir shopping and sightseeing. We'll stay in a hotel tonight. Tomorrow, we begin the long flight back to the states. I may or may not post tomorrow. This has been a fantastic trip. However, I'm tired. I'm ready to see my family.

 

Day Six: Shibuya, Akihabara, etc.

Today we took the train into Shibuya to meet with an SBC missionary named Mark Busby. We enjoyed hearing his experiences in Japan, as well as his vision for the future over, yes, a Krispy Kreme donut. Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s busiest train stations, but the intersection outside of the station is also one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world. Apparently at night it is swarming with people. While there, a man tapped on Tony Hodgson’s shoulder and talked to him about appearing in a fashion magazine. There may be a surge in mullets and mustaches in the next year or so in Tokyo if that does indeed go down.

We then made an attempt to visit the Emperor’s palace in Tokyo, but it was closed. We turned to wander around Akihabara, a popular electronics, “nerd paradise” in the city. There are scores of shops down the streets of this area in Tokyo. Many of them are harmless. However, some aren’t. They’re pornographic. We had to keep our eyes straight ahead for some of the walk, for sure.

Believe it or not, those visits involved some pretty long train rides, so that made for a great, but tiring day. Tomorrow we are going to catch up with John Evans, a church planter we have visited the past two years in Japan. I look forward to catching up with him.

 

Day Five: Missional Community Time

I decided to throw this post up tonight, as tomorrow we’ll have a bit earlier of a morning. Today we spent the bulk of the day with Yoshito and Steve and their missional community. Their congregation is following the model of the Soma Communities, a group of Acts 29 churches that emphasize smaller gospel communities on mission more than the Sunday Gathering. Although we haven’t been formally trained by Soma, their method has influenced the culture of Karis Church somewhat. We have a great deal of respect for them. We also were really impressed with what God is doing in Yoshi’s young plant. We gathered in his home for lunch. We then spent some time fellowshipping together before we jumped into a great discussion of Luke 15′s “prodigal son” story. That small group included both baby Christians and non-Christians. The community was very loving and open to us. It was an encouraging time.

We then returned to Higashi Tokorozawa where we are staying during our time. We went out to what Drew calls a “family restaurant.” It reminds me of an old Country Kitchen in the states. They are one of the few places that has a “drink bar,” meaning you get unlimited refills of soda, coffee, and tea. Drew and I had a great conversation with Yoshi and Steve about possible future partnerships. They expressed an ethusiasm about that possibility. We shared our excitement, as well. I can’t express to you just how encouraged we are. God has really answered our prayers for the trip already. We feel like Yoshi’s team is the perfect place for Karis Church to jump into service in Japan.

Tomorrow we will meet with an SBC planter in Shabuya in Tokyo. We’re not sure what the rest of our trip will look like, but we’re really encouraged by what God has done thus far.