Missionary Stories

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by John of Japan, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I recently looked back through my threads and found that I had never done a thread just about missionary stories. I've been thinking for some time about doing so, then ktn4eg kindly PMed me and asked how we were with the typhoon currently hitting Japan. We're fine, since we're in one of the safest cities in Japan for typhoons and earthquakes way up here in Hokkaido, the far North of Japan.

    So here is the thread! Please contribute with your own missionary stories.

    We did experience a typhoon down in the city of Kawagoe in the Kanto Plain near Tokyo soon after coming to Japan in 1981. It was on a Sunday and so we were not at home but over in New Tokorozawa for our afternoon service (which most Japanese churches have rather than an evening service).

    Just before the typhoon hit we decided to cancel our afternoon service and get on home, since it might be very difficult to get home during the typhoon. On the way home we came upon an interesting sight. Down in a long dip in the road was a store where they were pumping out water with a big machine and hose, pumping out water from the store with all their might--and of course it was going right back in because of the typhoon! :laugh:

    We got home to the town of Kawagoe and our home, which was in a neighborhood right on a river. Now, if you ever hear the propaganda that the Japanese "live with nature instead of ruling it," don't believe it. They had that river concreted up so that it was really a canal. The water in the river was rising, our street was flooded about 2 feet deep, the wind was blowing things by us such as a kids' swimming pool. This was the real thing!

    I walked down to the river where several Japanese men were looking at the water uneasily, and really wished I could understand what they were saying, but Japanese was still a mystery. But it was pretty obvious that they were worried about the river, which had risen to within a meter of the concrete bank. Praise the Lord, though houses were flooded at another place on the river, our house was just fine that day. Over these years we have seen God take care of us through typhoons, earthquakes and everything else. The only thing we're waiting for is that volcano that we can see from the church window to erupt!
     
  2. annsni

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    Yikes!! That sounds scary! I love where we live on Long Island because honestly, we usually don't get hit hard. Superstorm Sandy was tough but really, build your house at a foot above water level and you're bound to get damage in a storm. We're at 38 feet above sea level and live on sand so we've been good without even a drop of water in our basement, even though we are about 2 blocks from the water. :)

    Please pray for our former missions pastor who is now running a missions "board", so to speak. He's going to Cuba where there has been some issues with this one particular pastoral board. He needs wisdom and guidance to be able to deal with it. He has such a heart for the ministry there and wants to equip the local pastors to be able to be fully self -sufficient and there have been issues from the outside that prevent that. I believe he's going in a few weeks.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Sounds like you have a good situation for disasters.

    Fortunately we shouldn't have much damage if our local volcano blows up. It's fairly average as they go, and we're a sufficient distance away so that we wouldn't get a pyroclastic flow. Last time it erupted, several decades ago, our town only got a lot of ashes. I was just looking it up on the Internet and it's apparently quite complicated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisetsuzan_Volcanic_Group. A beautiful view, though, as you can see from the photo, which is what we can see from our church.
    Sounds like a difficult situation. I'll pray for him.
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    We had just been in Japan a few weeks when it happened. For our first year we were house-sitting for a missionary friend on furlough, and found our next door neighbors to be very nice—though without any English skills at all. And we had no Japanese skills at all. Talk about being thrown in, sink or swim!

    So anyway, one day our baby boy somehow got a piece of ice stuck in his throat, and we panicked. We ran next door to the nice lady and began shouting, “Ice, ice,” while we pointed down the throat of our baby. I guess we figured she would know what to do—call the ambulance, do some kind of Asian CPR, we didn’t know. But the poor lady just stood there staring in befuddlement!

    Finally the little ice cube melted enough to go down, as they will do. We thanked the poor lady profusely—none of which communicated, of course. It was much later when we found out what was wrong. In Japanese, the loan word “ice” (pronounced aisu) does not mean frozen water but frozen milk, as in “ice cream.” (The Japanese love to shorten foreign words and make them their own.) So from the Japanese neighbor’s viewpoint, the crazy foreigners had run over to her house with their baby, screaming for ice cream to be shoved down his throat! Tsk, tsk. You never can tell with these foreigners.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Snake Sushi

    When we first came to Japan in 1981, we went to visit a college friend of mine, a Japanese missionary-pastor we nicknamed "Nobby" since no one could say his real name, "Nobumasa." Nobby was eager and anxious to take me out for sushi, though I had sworn in my heart never to eat raw fish or raw eggs (that is a story for another day). You can't turn down your friend, though, right?

    I find it significant that Nobby's American wife took my wife out to Wendy's instead of coming with us. At any rate, we showed up at a "kaitenzushi" restaurant, which is the sushi version of fast food. Everyone sits around a huge conveyer belt which brings around the sushi one per saucer. You grab a saucer, eat the sushi, and they count the saucers and multiply by 100 yen (more nowadays) when you are done.

    Nobby was in fishy heaven, and had a big stack of saucers by the time I figured out that all I wanted was the shrimp. I finished all the shrimp sushi on the conveyer belt and then asked Nobby how to get more. He muttered "Say, 'Ebi wo kudasai,'" around a mouthful. So I said to the guy behind the counter, "Hebi wo kudasai."

    No shrimp came forth. In fact, Mrs. Chubby next to Nobby almost fell off her stool. I had asked for snake sushi! Ladies and gentlemen, that is called culture shock--on both sides!
     
  6. Mexdeaf

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    JOJ,

    I recently was offered a sample of sushi while out shopping. Like you, I had sworn never to eat it, but I was hungry enough to try it.

    I am now a fan- at least of that kind of sushi. I don't remember what it was but I bought a pack of it and it was good. Amazingly low in fat and calories, too.

    Hope you don't mind me asking, but what is the best sushi, in your estimation? I know there's many different kinds.

    Whoa, maybe that's another thread??
     
  7. Mexdeaf

    Mexdeaf
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    My first trip to the hardware store in Mexico

    A little background...

    I did go to language school in Mexico - for six months. Due to medical circumstances, I did not finish a full year, as I was expected to. However, since we were called to work with the Deaf, we received approval from our training missionaries to move on to where God had called us to go.

    We arrived in the city and found a house to rent fairly quickly. Not long after moving in, I needed to mount something on the concrete wall of the house. Lacking the proper hardware, I hollered for my oldest son and we hopped into the car for a run to the hardware store.

    While we were driving, I asked my son- who had picked up a lot of Spanish just talking to his friends- what the word was for "screw" in Spanish. He said he did not know. So I said, what about the word for "drill bit". Again he replied that he did not know the word. How about "anchor"? Same response.

    Well, you have to remember I work with the Deaf, so pantomime and drawing pictures with my hands comes easy to me. So we walked into the hardware store and I said "Necesito para concreto" (I need for concrete) and made a pistol sign (looked like a drill) with my right hand and banged the point of my finger into the palm of my left hand while making a drill noise.

    The guy brought me a box of drill bits.

    Next, I said the word "plastico" and made some signs like I had drilled the hole and pushed something in it. (It would take forever to type it out- LOL.)

    He brought me plastic anchors.

    Then a sign like a screwdriver (my fore and middle fingers held together like the sign "H" in ASL) turning on my left palm.

    He brought me screws.

    Mission accomplished and I spoke less than 5-6 words the whole time.

    I did go home and look up the proper words for "drill bit" (broca), "screw" (tornillo), and "anchor" (ancla).
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Good story, brother, thanks!

    The best sushi in the world is just a plain salmon sushi with Hokkaido salmon. Yum! My wife especially likes inarizushi, which has raw fish but is just a rice ball with a sweet brown skin on it.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    We arrived in Japan at Haneda Airport on a China Airlines flight on May 6, 1981. How excited we were! But we had so much to learn. I kept looking around for people in kimono, but they all wore clothes just like us! Japan was and is a very modern country. They only wear kimono for special occasions: weddings, certain holidays, "Coming of Age Day" for the young people who reach 20, etc.

    Three missionary couples met us at the airport, and after all the greetings we piled into a van to go to our new home. It was breakfast time in Japan, but we were hungry for some kind of lunch, having crossed the international dateline. So the missionaries all started looking for a good restaurant.

    Traveling through Tokyo our eyes were glued to the windows. So much to see and so much to learn! Finally Dick hollered out, "Hey, why let's stop there!" The van pulled into the parking lot and we had our first experience of culture shock. Yes, it was a Denny's we stopped at in Tokyo for our first ever meal in Japan! This country was a lot more modern than we knew!
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I swore when I came to Japan that I would never eat raw egg, though I knew the Japanese ate it. I figured I could handle the raw fish, octopus and similar delicacies, but forget the raw eggs! Then it happened.

    Soon after we reached Japan I was asked to help move another missionary up to the northern Island of Hokkaido. It was a delightful trip up through the heart of the main island of Honshu, and then on a ferry ship across the strait.

    On the way back down we stopped at a lovely onsen (hot springs) resort, and stayed in a traditional ryokan inn. The next morning we had a traditional Japanese breakfast, complete with fish, rice, cabbage salad and yes, there was an egg. My friend Al said with a sneer, “Now you’ll have to eat raw egg, John!”

    I stared thoughtfully at the egg. Then I spun it. “Nope, Al, this egg’s not raw. They’ve boiled it, or it would not spin like that.” Sure enough, to Al’s great disappointment, they had boiled the raw egg for the foreigner’s lame palate!

    I still swore I would never eat raw egg. However, I underestimated Japanese cuisine.

    One day coming home from language school during that first year I thought I'd get a bowl of soba (buckwheat) noodles in a little shop in the eki (train station). I saw the Chinese characters for "egg soba," which I had just learned, and I thought it sounded good. So I ordered it. The noodle cook poured the soup in the bowl, added the noodles, got a boiled egg (or so I thought), and cracked it right into the bowl. So I had my first taste of raw egg, and it wasn't too bad after I mixed it in well!

    Sometime after that we learned to like sukiyaki, a delicious way to cook beef in a sauce right there on the table. Next, you dip your meat in a raw egg, which cooks the egg a little bit. Delicious! Alas, we eventually had to quit eating raw egg with our sukiyaki after my wife had food poisoning from it. Life is not all fun and games for the missionary to Japan.
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Down in Tokyo, there are "pushers" hired by the train company. No, they don't push drugs, they push people. During rush hour, the trains are so incredibly crowded that in order to keep things going these men have to push people onto the train. I’ve been pushed on to a train many times. Then it is so crowded that you literally cannot move. I would have to get my Japanese study cards up to my face before getting on, or I wouldn’t be able to study.

    Once the crowd on the hub train, the Yamanote ("hand of the mountain") was so thick I was pushed off the train when it wasn't my stop, though I was holding onto the top of the door. Fighting to get back in, I lowered my arms and clobbered a little Japanese "salary man" right on the top of the head with my elbow. He staggered but kept right on going—and this is the elbow with which I used to break concrete blocks with in karate demonstrations!

    I remember one of my language teachers telling us about being a PA system announcer on a train platform in Tokyo. One day she saw a lady have her purse caught in the door of the commuter train, and then watch the train carry the purse right off!

    She immediately became very excited and began hollering, “Purse, purse.” Her boss said, “Now, calm down, calm down. It’s under control.” She said, “But, but, we need to call the next train station to get her purse for her, and it’s very close, so the train will be there soon. We need to call right away!!” Her boss shushed her and then calmly called the platform two stations away—after which he explained to her that at the next station, the doors opened on the side of the train away from the platform, so calling them would have done no good!
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Getting our Money
    It’s quite easy nowadays to transfer our funds from the States. Patty simply goes down to the post office, where we have a cash account just like in a bank, and she uses our debit card from our American bank to withdraw Japanese cash from the PO ATM! Somewhere between America and Japan, right there in the wires, our American money changes into Japanese yen, hopefully at a good rate. Things weren’t always that easy.

    When we first came to Japan in 1981 we had to go through an involved process to get our Japanese yen. We had to have a Bank of America account down in Tokyo. I would write a check on our bank in America in dollars and send it by registered mail to the Bank of America in Tokyo, who would then change it into Japanese yen, which would take several days. When we were sure we had money in our Tokyo account, I would then write a check in Japanese yen on our Bank of America account and take it to our local Japanese bank to deposit.

    The thing was, Japanese banks seldom issue checks! They do all of their business with either cash or direct transfers between their bank or PO accounts. You have a computer operated cash book that you simply put in the ATM for updates to your account to be printed in—no involved balancing acts.

    Since local Japanese banks do not issue checks, few Japanese even know what they are! One day I decided to pay our water bill with a check on our Tokyo account. The two men at the water company office were fascinated. “Hey Tanaka San, have you ever seen one of these before?” Neither one of them had ever seen a check!

    All of this led to a strange flub. One day the postman brought a registered letter to our door. Without even looking I signed for it—then saw that it was our deposit which should have been at our bank in Tokyo by now! Not knowing Japanese postal customs, I had put the address and return address on the same side of the envelope, and they had mixed the two addresses up. Well, the postman was not pleased when I made him take the letter back. “But you signed it,” he complained. Never again have I put our return address on the front of a Japanese letter.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Climbing Mount Fuji


    I’m certainly no mountain climber, but Japan is 72% mountainous, so many Japanese climb as a hobby. I’ve climbed several mountains, but the biggest thrill was climbing Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan at 12,389 feet. It is a beautiful sight in the winter when snow-capped, since it has a perfect shape when seen from afar. As a symbol of Japan, it has been named a cultural heritage site by UNESCO.

    Just to be honest, we did not climb the entire 12,389 feet, like the old timers did. Nowadays you can drive up to the fifth station out of ten, about half way up, where there are souvenir shops and the modern climbing path begins. While still studying the language, Patty and I farmed our baby boy out to a baby sitter and drove up with friends Tom T. (an ex-Green Beret rocket engineer, believe it or not) and John N., a friend from college, where he was on the basketball team and the son-in-law of our senior missionary. Nowadays Tom and his Japanese wife are missionaries, and John is an educator in Korea.

    We bought climbing staffs and began climbing from the fifth station late in the evening with the goal of reaching the top by sunrise. On the way up we were able stop at the stations for rest and even buy a soft drink until they closed at midnight. We saw some pretty amazing people on the way up: spry old folks who said they climbed every year, casually dressed people who didn’t know what they were getting into, and young college men carrying up bicycles which they planned to ride down on, since the path going down was volcanic sand and gravel.

    It took six whole hours for us to climb up. John the basketball player was in top shape and went on ahead, but Tom the ex-Green Beret held himself back and walked with us. By the time we reached the top we were exhausted—and I had thought myself to be in shape, being a martial artist! Just before the summit the sun came up, and the sight was gorgeous, worth the entire effort. Looking out across the landscape, we could see the famous Fuji Goko, the five lakes surrounding the mountain. There was a mist laying across the land, making the scene look very Asian.

    Over the path just before the summit loomed a torii, the unique red Shinto gate. We went around it, since Shintoists believe that going through it is a prayer to their idol gods. Mt. Fuji is actually considered to be a god to them, and they pray to the spirit of the mountain.

    At the summit is a huge crater from the last time the volcano erupted in 1707-1708. Down in the crater is an observatory. All in all, it was a very impressive sight. We lingered for a while to see what we could, then started our descent, taking just four hours. The descent path is a zigzag down the mountain, and wouldn’t you know it, we saw the young men with their bicycles, having a great time.

    I was sore all over. It took us days to recover! But climbing Mt. Fuji remains one of the great memories we have of all these years in Japan.
     

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