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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Nozomi ImanishiNozomi Imanishi has served with Asian Access since 2001 and has helped to plant three churches in different areas of Japan (Yamagata, Osaka, and Okinawa). Currently, Nozomi lives in the heart of Tokyo, focusing on creative church planting. She has also been spending a lot of time in the tsunami-stricken areas of Northeast Japan.

Her blog "Rosa" is full of fun stories from her unique perspective.{addthis off}

I am returning to Japan in January!  I'm excited and nervous, ready to go yesterday and also sad about leaving home again.  I wish I could take a couple of good friends, some food I can't easily get overseas (the list would be too long to list here), maybe central heating- okay, really central heating- but, I'm glad to be returning to the ministry and call that God has placed in my life.  A new term, and new places and people!  Christmas at home in Canada- no small blessing, and two months of preparation time before I leave.  Good deal! 

I will be heading to Tokyo (my first time ever in the city I was actually born in.)  I'm praying for some final practical things to come together and if you think of it, would you pray for a good apartment for me to live?  A place that I could easily invite others into, and a place that I could call home.

We celebrated two baptisms at the Okinawa City church plant in December.  And by celebrated I mean, they were the first ever baptisms coming out of our church plant!  We were a little weepy and smiley on the beach (you can see our shadows being cast along the bottom of the photo) as we watched and waited.

One of the perks of being on this southern island is being able to dunk people in the sea even in December, but wow! no joke, it was co-old!  We also provided some early morning bewilderment for joggers who wondered what the people singing on the beach could possibly be doing to the people in the water.  Perhaps they thought a bet was lost.  All in all it was a terrific morning.

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This year my fellow Okinawan missionaries and I spent our annual Day of Prayer on Kerima Island, a tiny island two hours by ferry from Naha City.  We spent the night and prayed for Japan, our mission and our churches.   


In addition to prayer, we spent quality time being swept away in the strangely strong surf action along the beach, and snorkeling over the coral reefs.  The water around Kerima is clear as glass and the fish we saw- large and plentiful.  

The impression I'm left with after this year's day of prayer is how amazing the Creator God is.  How beautiful his work, and how lovely to both play and pray in it, in this case it was hard to feel a difference, playing was an act of prayer, and prayer was in fact play.  

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So by far one of the lamest things about life is having to say goodbye. Today I'm saying goodbye to one of my closest friends in Japan.  For the past year and a half Elizabeth has been my sister, friend and confidante. She's also a kick-butt fellow missionary, who's term here has ended and is heading home.

We first met in Osaka, four years ago, she was on her way through with a group called Envision, touring through Japan meeting pastors and congregations.  I remember her because she fell asleep on my apartment floor.  (It must have been a long day.)  The second time we met was three years ago, I was in Seattle trying to convince her family that Asian Access was a solid organization, and that she was desperately needed in Japan.  (Not that we were just questionable missionaries, trying to steal their precious daughter overseas.)  I was grateful for the loan, and for the past year and a half we've been working together here in Okinawa.

The first photo we took together, after dinner at her parents' house.  

And now today, our last photo- for now.

I can't imagine who will take the place of this friend.  Who will listen to me whinge, will tolerate my drama or tell me puns, who else could possibly understand so well what it means to be a church planter here in Okinawa.  I let her go unwillingly, even as I in the same breath, pray for God's blessing on the next piece of her journey.  We love and miss you E.    

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I saw my first solar eclipse yesterday!  It was both painful (because I don't know how to view a solar eclipse the correct way) and also totally worth the eye damage because it was incredible!  Okinawa's peak time to view the solar eclipse was at 10:45 am.  I was in a meeting then, but at around 10:20am we all went out to join the rest of the neighbourhood on roofs and streets to wait.  At 10:20am the sun was still to bright to look at for more than a couple of seconds, but all around the sun was this huge bright ring.  What made the ring amazing was that the edges of the ring were a faded rainbow.  

I know it's hard to see but the ring is actually a thin, round rainbow.  It was incredible.  (This, by the way, is the only picture of the eclipse I'm posting because my camera sucks.)  Around 10:30am it started to get dark.  We didn't experience a total eclipse, so it didn't become night, but everything went dim and became shadow.  The temperature, I later heard, dropped from 33C to 29C, and all the birds and cicadas went quiet.  It was eerie, the cold wind, and silence.

The sun became easier to look at, and we watched the eclipse through sunglasses.  It really looked like the moon was eating the sun.  The Japanese character for eclipse, 日食 is just that, the day being eaten. 

And for hours afterwards, everywhere I looked there were bright white dots.     

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