Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Singles' Fellowship

Love is in the air!

This February 15th, a special fellowship will be held in honor of non-married people who are looking for love, wanting to be loved, discovering to understand what true love is and/or simply desiring to have a unique celebration of love.

We invite everyone out there to join the fun and experience an exciting night to remember!

COST: Only 500 yen per guest (please pay on or before February 13)

VENUE: Assembly Kyoto Church (GATHERING starts at five o'clock)

POINTS OF CONTACT: Pastor Keiko Murakami - 075-311-5193
Mrs. Jo Ann Ricohermoso - 090-1903-1226

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Even though the temperature was chilly, the sun was out most of the day and so an unplanned visit to the famed Kyoto Imperial Palace is justified. Tim and I just finished a Bible class at Doshisha University and it seemed appropriate to give Tim a brief tour of the nearby palace grounds. Actually, I've never been inside the actual gated and guarded palace. I remember going twice or thrice to the pebbled outer area inside the walled perimeter -- something that makes you curious to know of what's inside when you see it while passing by in a vehicle....

We surveyed the map near the gate on the west side of the perimeter wall. We learned that prior reservation is necessary to enter the palace grounds. Surprisingly, my digital camera happened to be in my bag and that prompted us to continue our quest to see the place where Japan's history had its early beginnings.

When we went to the reservation office, we were offered a free tour with an English-speaking guide commencing at 2 o'clock. After signing a form and presenting our ID's we were off with a 30-minute window to have a tongue-scalding hot udon (wheat noodle) lunch. [Imagine waiting 10 minutes to be served and another 10 minutes to conquer everything, letting it through the unsuspecting esophagus. We needed to be at the waiting area ten minutes before the actual tour. Whew!]

Details are better viewed personally or digitally. Words aren't enough to explain the beauty of the site. So, here's a link to the official Imperial Household Agency to find more information:

Here's a miscellany of what I've seen:

1. For security or other reason, there are many areas that remain restricted to the public.

2. A branch of an old tree was cut off to save its life. Apparently, it was infected by a bacterial gall that dried up the tree. Up close, it looked like an ugly devastating cancer that attached and grew on a limb (I might show you the photo some other time).

3. Among other interesting facts and trivia that I've learned, the roofs of buildings were made of pine tree barks, arranged in thick layers and fastened with bamboo nails! Pine trees are in abundance within the palace grounds -- thousands of them! I didn't hear well what the guide said about the pine tree except that it's called matsu in Japanese. The verb form of "matsu" is to wait. The lady guide quickly added that pine trees symbolize "waiting...waiting for the Holy Spirit!"

PRAYER: "O, Lord God of the heavens and the earth, the God of the nations, please pour out your Holy Spirit over Kyoto and over Japan so that the people would hear the Gospel of your Son Jesus Christ and be saved from their sins. Amen."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prayer Request

It usually comes and goes with the season. Cough and cold affect many people, especially children and the elderly, during this time of year. However, there is news circulating recently that new strains of influenza have been detected and they seem to be more dangerous if not outright fatal. In China and in other parts of Asia, cases of bird flu deaths have been reported. In Japan, several deaths were also in the news blaming it on flu, but there's no confirmation yet if it's from the said deadly virus.

I ask everyone to please pray for protection and healing for those who are affected. I hope it's nothing serious, but my son Josh is down today with flu. Likewise, Tim is still recovering from it after having it for a week already.

Likewise, simple hygiene (frequent washing of hands with soap) can prevent the spread of virus. I'm not a medical doctor, but conventional wisdom shows that early treatment of symptoms and seeking medical help could prevent more serious forms of illnesses. Please take care of yourself.

Remember: It's an act of worship to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God! Offer it to him healthy and without blemish.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome Tim!

He stands at 5'11" with curly locks and is 23 years old from the land of jazz, Tabasco and Mardi Gras. I'm referring to our newest missionary-in-training, Timothy Williams II.

Tim arrived last January 12th from Louisiana, USA for an initial stint of three months. Actually, he was here before in May 2007 with the Xi Alpha team led by Pastor Chris Buckle, but only for two weeks.

He is still recovering from jet lag and bad sore throat, but he already delved into some of our activities starting yesterday at Kyoto University and today at the Osaka Medical College in Takatsuki City, Osaka. We have Bible classes at the said institutions.

Please pray that Tim would have a great time discovering his ministry niche here in Japan and that he would make God his only comfort and confidence.

Mabuhay! (Filipino way of saying "Welcome." It literally means, long live).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

South Korean YWAM Team Visits

It's a beautiful sight to see. Over a dozen university students from S. Korea did a ministry presentation of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) before the international congregation of the Assembly Kyoto Church last Sunday, 11 January 2009. Indeed, the passion and sincerity of these young people are infectious.

Changhoon Jung, a fellow missionary who occasionally attends our services together with his family, introduced to us the team as they're doing their short-term missions trip to Japan. I already have prior idea of what YWAM stands for and its creative ministries geared towards the youth way back in college. I have friends who were involved with this organization in the Philippines. So, when Brother Jung mentioned about the team, I was really eager to have them come and minister to us.

The presentation included a personal testimony by a student who had the experience of doing ministry in Jordan. It was followed by a skit depicting broken hearts and the masks people wear to hide them. The message of the skit powerfully presents the Gospel in such a way that visually communicates people's need for God and His supernatural love that forgives and heals them. The group also rendered a heartfelt song in English and in Japanese.

It's a blessing in so many ways. For the believers in attendance, I think the team left us a silent call to be more passionate about God and to never lose sight of the Great Commission to reach the lost for Christ. For the non-Christian guests that day, they had the opportunity to see, hear and experience the love of God through everything that transpired. And, to the lady who went to Jordan? Well, she had the surprise of her life. She interfaced with Mohanad, a Jordanian Christian, who attends our services and is an exchange student at Kyoto University!

Needless to say, everthing went well for the glory of God. Even my children had a great time with the team, gaining them some instant friends. My daughter, Joyce (6), bonded with one of the ladies that both of them welled up in tears before saying goodbye. Oh, how sweet the fellowship indeed!

To my wife, Jo Ann, thanks for the supper that night.

To Brother Jung and family, we will miss you as you go on furlough to Australia.

To the rest of us, arise shine for the Light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Things First

Today is January 9, 2009. I'm here in our little rented apartment in the most traditional city in Japan. Kyoto, that is. The room temperature is cold because I haven't turned on the heater. It's comfortable though, courtesy of my multi-layered thermal clothing. This is my first blog of the year and on this newly created site (in case, you don't know yet).

First, a confession: I feel guilty that I don't write so often to our friends and family. We know that many people do care and pray for us, but we haven't updated them as often as we should. My hands look full and have excused myself for not having the time to do so. Nevertheless, come to think of it, we certainly have time for things that we care about doing. Excuse? Busted!!!

Second, a solution: I don't promise to write everyday to chronicle everything that happens, but I will do my best to update news about us and our ministry as often as necessary. So, I invite you to check this blog once in a while if you want to know the latest scoop about Japan and the progress of God's kingdom-building here.

Third, an appeal: Please feel free to edit my Janglish (Japanese English) mistakes. Otherwise, you may call my attention to it. I specially pay attention to details as to the veracity of the claims being presented. As my model pastor and godfather, Ben Dayrit once said, "Strive for intellectual honesty, social integrity and spiritual maturity."

Finally, a prayer: "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (The Third Epistle of John 2).

Missing you dearly,

Pastor Joseph for the entire family