The Money Belt Incident
July 29, 2009

Nathan here:

There is so much to talk about, but I will start with something that happened during our second day of work here.

As travel expert Rick Steves explains, on a trip it is often safest to keep your money and similar things in a money belt.  This is a belt that goes under your clothing and has zippered pockets for important things.  It is closer to you and safe from pickpocketing and stolen bags.

Safe until you leave it in a bathroom, that is.

My stomach was not doing well the second evening on the way to the festival.  I easily get sick in the heat, and I wasn’t drinking enough fluids.  This made it necessary for me to stop at a restroom right after we got off the train.  It was a coed bathroom, and so there was a long line.  Us men are not used to waiting in these long lines with the women.  Once I finally got in, I was presented with a Japanese style toilet (AKA the Squatty Potty).  They really aren’t that bad to use, you just have to get used to it.  My money belt clip had come undone at some point, and so I set my money belt on the toilet paper dispenser to the side to keep it out of the way, as I obviously didn’t want to set it on the ground.

Many hours of work later, tired and thirsty, I went to purchase a drink from a vendor.  I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet in my pocket (where I keep a small amount of money for easy access), so I went for the money belt.

My heart stopped.  I was not wearing a money belt.

I furiously checked all my pockets (including ones I had never used).  I moved to the side and emptied the contents of my backpack.

No money belt.

I was now feeling less well than I had been earlier.

As I worried, others made a plan.  I would go with Moe (Mo-ay) to the train station to see if we could find it.  Barb reassured me that if there was anywhere in the world to lose money, it would be Japan.  I tried to be reassured by that, but it did not seem to help too much.  So after a little while of figuring out details and scheduling, Nick and I went with Moe and Barb back to the train station.  There was a long line at the bathroom, so checking there first did not seem practical.  Instead we made our way up to the information/security desk.  Since Moe speaks fluent Japanese and Barb speaks quite a bit, they started talking to the man at the desk as we stayed back.  A minute or so later they motioned for me to come up, and together we tried to describe the money belt.  The man just seemed confused.  Then he asked me for my name, so he could check.  To avoid further confusion I just handed him my drivers license.  He then headed into the back, still seeming confused, and the situation did not seem promising.

A minute or so later he returned with my license… and my money belt!

I had left a belt with hundreds of dollars worth of yen and a couple credit cards, and through the grace of God and the honesty of the people here, it had merely been taken to the information desk.  Nothing was damaged. Nothing was missing.

Praise God!

Needless to say I was breathing easier for the rest of the night.

From Pastor Mark
July 25, 2009

I can’t believe we are now in our third day here is Osaka. Two nights at the festival have resulted in so many thoughts that it will take a long time to unwind. Suffice it to say that the work here for our missionaries is overwhelming, yet they are some of the most faithful people I have ever met.

We had  great receptivity at the first night of the festival, but that was not the case last night. It was frustrating to watch person after person walk by us without any notice. Still, God gave me the opportunity to speak with two young men, a young couple, and an older gentleman. The last fellow was interested in the fact that we would come to Osaka to meet people like him. He asked why and I told him that we want people in Japan to know about what the bible teaches us.

His next two questions were powerful. “What does the bible teach?” My reply was that it teaches us the truth. “What is the truth?” My reply was that the Truth is a person, Jesus Christ and that he shows us how we can live a full life in a relationship with our Father, God.

He went off to think about this and later spoke to Nathan. Pray for this man. I cannot tell you his name, but his face is indelibly burned in my memory.

The team is doing such a wonderful job here. My love for them grows every day. I see a transformation happening and I’m reminded that God doesn’t just work through us, He first works in us. Thank You Lord for your faithfulness!

Off to worship at the Seelen’s house. I don”t know if I’ve said this but, I really like these guys!

Tired, But Excited
July 24, 2009

Hello!
This is Kelly. This trip has been pretty amazing. It got interesting pretty much right when we got off the plane in Osaka and found out we couldn`t exchange our money there. But you know that we got that figured out, thank goodness.

Right when we got at the hotel and setteled in the first night, figuring out how to turn on the air conditioner, and learning how to use the toilet, (most of he directions were in kanji), I began writing in my notebook right away. One of the things I wrote was about when we were in the train station trying to get an ecoca card for the trains and subway (it`s like a pass, but you put credit on it as you use it) Charlie, one of the missionaries we`re working with, was figuring out the ecoca cards for us. As we waited, fatigued from the 3 flights and holding our luggage, an elderly Japanese man came up to us and just started talking…in japanese of course! We only undertood 2 words from him…Ichiro and Matsui! LOL! It was amazing! We couldn`t understand a word he was saying, neither did he from us. But none the less, he kept on talking. I didn`t know whether to cry or laugh. I actually did both. It was totally unexpected.

But seriously, we`re gonna be attractive to the Japanese simply because we`re caucasian. I hope that we would continue to attract them, but not because of us, but because of the light of Christ that shines through us.

Yesterday, we did 5-minute English where we were stading at a festival and asked people if they wanted to learn or practice the English they already knew. Two different people I remember. An elderly couple said they were Buddhist and had lived in California for 4 years. Another was about in his 20`s, and I asked him about his beliefs. He said that his family is Buddhist and Shinto, but he himself does not believe. Rather, he said he believes in destiny and fate. Just so you know, these conversations were not in fluent english, but still understandable. I just thought it was interesting to listen and converse with the japanese face to face.

Today we prayer walked around an area where the festival will continue with fireworks and boats. Tonight we will be witnessing to more. Please pray that we would be fruitful in our efforts and that the hearts of the Japanese people would be soft to listen and recieve His word. The Japanese are DEEPLY rooted in idol worship and this has been a spiritual stronghold since the 1600`s. They have been and are very hard to recieve the Gospel. Please keep them in your prayers.

Thank you so much for reading. I must go rest before we leave to the festival. Lots of walking you know! Talk to you later!

Day 2: July 24th, 3:40 pm JST
July 24, 2009

Just wanted to let everyone know we have successfully exchanged currency, and then had a chance to visit a Christian bookstore here.

We’re just resting now before we are prepped for outreach, and then head to the Tenjin festival tonight!

You should be able to find more information here.

Prayer requests: With a history of over a thousand years, and attendance usually being over a million, this festival will be a huge opportunity to witness.  Pray that we are bold and that people are open to what we have to say.