Blogging Our Furlough

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by John of Japan, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Some weeks ago I mentioned that we were going on furlough in September, and Salty suggested I put our schedule on the BB. So I've been thinking about that, and figured that many people don't know what a missionary furlough is like. So I thought I'd blog about it here along with a general schedule of the furlough. I'll not put the church names, but just the state we'll be in. For further information, feel free to PM me.

    Other missionaries, and of course anyone interested, feel free to interact and to comment as always. Even kibitz!
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    We leave Japan for the States on Sept. 5, landing that day in Hawaii. No, not for a vacation. Furlough is never a vacation. But we do get to see some neat places. As it happens we have a supporting church in Hawaii. I know it's rough, but someone has to do it! :thumbs:

    We leave the island state on the 9th, arriving Lansing, MI, after a very long layover in Minneapolis. That's okay, though, since they have a great 2nd hand bookstore right there in the airport! We go to Lansing first because that's where Patty is from. We'll see her Dad (Mom's in Heaven) and everyone else, and attend a family reunion. We'll need that week to get a car and insurance, get our stuff that's in a relative's home, etc.

    At promptly 8:00 the next morning, Saturday, I'll be picked up to be taken to teach at a Christian martial arts seminar in another town. The man picking me up will be fun to get to know. He's another master instructor with an amazing history in the martial arts going way back into the '60s. This furlough so far I have four martial arts seminars on the schedule. That's my avocation, and I enjoy fellowshipping with my friends in the martial arts much, going all the way back to college days.

    We'll leave Michigan for Tennessee on the 15th, see my Mom and sister and other relatives there, leave on the 19th for N. Carolina to see our son who is working on his Ph. D. at SEBTS. That will be wonderful! I saw Paul 3 years ago back in the States at a martial arts seminar, but Patty hasn't seen her only son in 6 years! That's one of the hardest thing in being a missionary.

    Finally, we'll settle in S. Carolina where we'll be based this furlough. Then in October the real schedule will start. But next time I'll write about furlough preparation--it's complicated and no easy task.
     
    #2 John of Japan, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2011
  3. Mexdeaf

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    Good subject, John! Thanks for being so real here on the BB. It is an inspiration and encouragement.
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Glad you like it. Feel free to kibitz!
    You mean people actually hide who they are on the BB? Gasp!
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    As soon as you begin preparing for furlough, things start to get complicated. Think of all the things we have to do: clear the dates with the mission board, announce to the churches, announce to your church on the field and try to get them prepared, inform your home church pastor in the homeland, find or train an interim pastor or a furlough replacement missionary, start setting up a schedule, reserve plane tickets (months ahead of time because this is an international flight), find a place to live while on furlough, arrange for a car for use on furlough, make sure your documents are up to date (American driver's license, passport, visa), design and arrange for a prayer card to be printed, get together a furlough presentation (slide show in the old days).

    In our case, add to all of that a Japanese bi-annual inspection for our car, to be done by next week, less than a month before we leave. (This costs about $1600 every two years!) So yesterday our mechanic came to pick up our car and give us a loaner. Today (Sunday) he called to say we have oil leakage and a worn out drive shaft.

    We love that car, a classy Subaru Legacy, though it's 16 years old. But here we are just weeks short of furlough, and we may have to buy a new (used) car! And you thought getting ready for furlough was a snap for the missionary, right?
     
    #5 John of Japan, Aug 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2011
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I kept meaning to get back to this, and I'm finally here. One part of preparing for furlough is getting your presentation ready. Our prayer cards should be done by now, an excellent job as always by the Howard Print Shop. I still need to write the mission board for materials from them for our display table.

    I've bought a couple of curios for the display table. We already have quite a few at home. We like an interactive approach, with the "ball and cup" game for kids to try, and a Japanese tray of candy with chopsticks--you must get the candy out with the chopsticks to have a piece!

    Today we finished something new for us for our display table: a photobook from www.shutterfly.com. That site is great! We did a 20 page book with about 65 photos of our ministry with a free coupon. Patty did a book recently, and learned how to do it, so I really leaned on her for help. Another popular photo display is to have one of those electronic digital frames with changing photos, we've heard. Maybe we'll try that too.

    I've almost got our video presentation done. It's basically just slides on the computer, but I'm planning to do some fancy titles for it on my graphics program. Believe it or not, this is our first furlough to be digital. Even on our last furlough in 2005 we were old school, with regular photographic slides. I guess an old dog can learn new tricks occasionally. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    We did end up having to buy a new car, but Hirayama San got us a real deal in a Mazda Familia about 10 years old with only 72,000 miles on it. God is good!

    But we've been dealing with another big problem. A church grave is important to have in Japan. Ours, shared with our sister church, has been filling with water, which we learned when Mr. Ueno tried to put the urn with the ashes of his daughter in with his wife's ashes. In the weeks since then we've had many meetings at both churches, meetings with the gravestone maker, business meetings, etc. We tried one thing ourselves and it didn't work, so yesterday we met at the gravesite with the two pastors, Ueno San and the gravestone maker, and worked out a solution of a small above ground crypt to get an estimate on. Whew!
     
  8. John of Japan

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    We're excited. We leave Monday. Our furlough replacement couple is staying with us right now and that's fun because they're old friends.

    Just a word on some of the reasons for furlough (one of which is not to vacation!):

    (1) To report our ministry to our supporting churches, which is Biblical. It's only right to tell the folks who send you support what you are doing with that support (Acts 14:26-28, Phil. 4:15).

    (2) To recruit new missionaries. Every time Paul finished a missionary journey he found new missionary candidates to accompany him next time.

    (3) To inspire the churches and believers to obey the Great Commission.
     
  9. Tom Bryant

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    Really enjoying this insider's look at the furlough. How many miles you figure you'll be traveling while you're in the continental US reporting to churches?

    On a mission trip a few years ago to Puerto Rico, I was asking a missionary about his furlough experiences. He told me he once had been on a 3 week trip without his family preaching or reporting in 12 churches traveling hundreds of miles. The last Wednesday night before he went home, he was so tired that as he was going thru his slides, he realized he had no idea what he was saying and had been just pressing the forward button.:sleep:

    He said that the church decided not to support him. :eek:
     
  10. annsni

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    John - I'd love to follow you if you can send me the link! You can send it to ann at ichristianc dot org. :)

    God bless you as you travel and report back to your churches. Even more so, may He bless you as you see family again!!
     
  11. Mexdeaf

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    JOJ,

    Thinking of you today and praying for a swift recovery from 'jet-lag' and safety in your travels.

    Although I do know that furlough is not a time of vacation, please take time for yourselves. Godly and loving pastors and supporters will understand.

    I doubt you will be anywhere near deep south Texas but if perchance you are, PM me. We have a room in our house for missionaries- there's always coffee on and a hot meal or two.
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Tom. I figure we'll put around 40,000 miles on the car. Should be fun!

    Ah, yes, furlough stories. One time we stayed in a house so trashy that our boy dropped his pants on the floor in the kids' room and couldn't find them the next morning in all the clothes on the floor!
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Ann. Actually, in the OP what I meant was just posting, "blogging" here at BB. But starting an actual blog for our furlough is a great idea, and maybe I can do that.

    Looking forward to seeing sisters and a brother I haven't seen in 6 years! Saw Mom and one sister three years ago. And so many great friends from college etc. to see. And above all our son who I haven't seen in 3 years and Patty hasn't seen in two.
     
  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, Mexdeaf. You and C4K certainly know what furlough is really all about.

    Actually, we have a supporting church in Garland (Lavon Drive) and one in Houston (Christchurch). But you're probably a good deal south of there, right?
     
  15. Mexdeaf

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    Yes, sir- about five-six hours south of Houston.


    BTW, I have a dual slide projector/tape player rig if you need it. :laugh:
     
  16. annsni

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    Either way works for me! Thanks!
     
  17. dcorbett

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    Are you getting anywhere near the Four Corners area on this trip?


    Debbie Mc
     
  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    We have a supporting church in the little town of Walsh, CO. How close is that?
     
  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    We had a wonderful service Sunday in Asahikawa with our people and Frank and Judy, our furlough replacements. After the morning service we all had a potluck dinner together. The squid on a stick was especially good! :thumbsup: Two of our believers, along with my Greek student Kodama San on Saturday, gave us generous gifts to help out. We'll miss them all!

    Ueno San was worried for us, since it's typhoon season and one was hitting the mainland of Honshu. However, our flight out of Chitose Airport on our island made it down to Tokyo Narita with no problems, and we took off from there between typhoons. Security was a snap--except I forgot my keys, ensuring a pat down!

    I had a cane for my left knee, and that got us some special treatment, including a wheel chair. If you have a sore knee or foot, and are not embarrassed (I was a little), try the cane thing in an airport. It smooths everything out and gets you compassion! But a sword cane would do the opposite, so forget that.

    Before leaving Narita we had a delicious mean of "Omuraisu" (omelet rice), which is an omelet wrapped around rice with a delicious sauce and, in this case, a hamburger patty. On the plane they gave us a nice beef dish which I couldn't eat because it was spicy (my rosacea), but the dessert was good. The seven hour trip was a little tedious, but we tried to get some sleep because we arrived Monday morning--at the same time we took off!--because of the international date line. To try to beat jet lag we then stayed up all day Monday.

    We had to wait an hour at the Honolulu Airport because of a mixup, but didn't mind. We just sat outside on a bench enjoying the fresh Hawaiian air. Having a great time, wish you were here! Then Monday at 11:00 we set out with our host family for the church Labor Day picnic, where we had our Chinese Hat Island adventure. More on that later. Aloha!
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Chinaman's Hat Adventure

    Okay, so it wasn't much of an adventure, but folks, it was in Hawaii! I just love being a missionary for all the small adventures. Anyway, we have a supporting church there so we just had to stop off for four days. We had an uneventful flight from Sapporo to Tokyo Narita, then again from Narita to Honolulu. Uneventful is good in international travel.

    We arrived Monday morning jetlagged of course, but were invited to their Labor Day picnic starting at 11:00. This was special since we've done the touristy things before, and we looked forward to a normal Hawaiian church picnic. We went to a lovely park some distance from the church, where they had canopies set up. We sat under a canopy out of the sun, and just enjoyed the good, American Christian fellowship.

    They had volleyball and a horseshoe tournament going, but I declined to participate due to my bum knee. Just sat there feeling old, but enjoying watching the young folk. It was good to get to know the new pastor, a wonderful man who had been a missionary in Indonesia, and so he "got it!" We also got to know a sweet Japanese lady in their church.

    After awhile came the invitation for a little adventure. One of the men had a small motorboat, so did we want to go out to the island. Chinaman's Hat Island is just what it sounds like, a small island off the coast of Oahu that looks just like a coolie's hat. The trip there was refreshing, getting splashed by the ocean and fellowshipping with the good Christian folk of the church.

    On the island we waded, we climbed, took photos, and hiked over the rocks. There is a tiny little beach on the island, only about 8 feet wide, and just forgetting about everything we waded deep and had tons of fun. And I forgot about my knee and my foot and guess what--I was just fine.

    If you're ever on Oahu, visit Koolau Baptist Church and fellowship with Pastor and Mrs. Skip Woodfin and the good folk there. You'll be blessed!
     

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