I will also be using this blog to keep anyone interested informed on what is going on in our family and with our ministry as we head to Japan in January. The month of November was crazy hectic for Beth, Bradley and me. As we got nearer to the day that all of our stuff was to be moved out of our house in Escondido California and into storage to await transport to Japan, we began to realize just how much you can accumulate living in the same house for 8 years. I know for many that does not sound like a long time, but for us that is the longest we have lived anywhere in nearly 20 years of marriage. Since we were trying to take as little as possible with us to minimize moving costs, we ended up getting rid of a LOT of stuff. When it was all loaded on the truck, it was 465 cubic feet, which is not nearly as much as you would think – but more than we had planned to take!
This packing, moving out, and now preparing to drive across country to visit family before moving in January to Japan, would not have been possible without the amazing help of many friends from our current church, Valley Baptist Church in Valley Center CA. If there was ever a place that demonstrated community in a way that Christ truly intended for His church, it is VBC. We had 15 people show up to help us clean our house and yard and get it ready for the tenant to move in once we left. They were a huge help! Now, we are currently staying with our pastor and his wife, Gunnar and Anna Hanson, who have graciously opened their home for us to bunk with them and add another toddler to their already 4 children. God has greatly blessed us with a hugely supportive and loving church family! We will miss all of our friends at Valley Baptist when we leave.
In the midst of all of the stress of trying to get packed, we also completed our Visa paperwork on the Japan side and then got our final 3 year Religious visas in Los Angeles. In addition to the stress of moving and Visas, it also seems like there is spiritual warfare that happens when you are following the path God leads you down. Beth has faced months of dental issues that have caused her a lot of pain and visits after years of no issues, cars that would not sell, and our house in South Carolina that appraised at far less than we had hoped and then took a long time to sell. We also saw the awesomeness of God’s sovereignty in the midst of these seeming attacks to discourage us in our pursuit of His plan. While my natural inclination is to worry, and the house and the car situation allowed me plenty of reason to to do that, God’s timing proved absolutely perfect on two car sales and a house. All of these happened in such a way that I was saved a lot of headaches at the DMV and realtor fees on a house. Every time I see one of my worries answered by God at exactly the right time, I am convicted of my own lack of faith and sin of worry, when our God has it completely in his control.
We are heading back to South Carolina for Christmas, since we haven’t spent a Christmas with our families since 2004; and the grandparents are already preparing to spoil Bradley to death. We are driving so we can store a few larger items in South Carolina, and would appreciate your prayers for our travels. We do have everything set now for our flight to Japan on January 13, and thank you for your prayers as we make the move and start our ministry at Yokohama International Baptist Church. We are looking forward to a great final day of fellowship with our church family at VBC on January 10th. Our church in Japan has been busy preparing for us, and we are already feeling their love as they have an apartment ready for us, and we are eager to get to Japan and begin our ministry with YIBC.
On a final note, we have had a number of people ask about our financial situation during this transition to Japan. I find that this is one of the hardest questions to answer. God has provided for us in amazing ways through the transition, but it is definitely a walk of faith for us! Yes, I will receive a salary in Japan, but will continue to serve in the Navy Reserves in order to make ends meet. Between dental bills and moving expenses, our budget has been tight. We are not comfortable raising support, but have been so humbled by the many friends who have expressed an interest to come alongside and financially help us through this transition. If you would like to like to help supplement our income, you can give a tax deductible gift by sending a check or giving online to Valley Baptist Church (just designate it to “Japan”). Again, we trust God has called us and he knows better than we do what our needs are and already has a plan to meet those needs.