International Ministries

Bells and Rainbow of Hope

July 19, 2012 Journal
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Dear supporter and prayer partners,                                     July 19, 2012

Thanksgiving!  I’ve felt overwhelmed with your prayers and gifts, especially in this Luther Rice matching gift campaign.  People from all walks of life have shared their gifts!  I haven’t been able to thank all of you yet but I’m getting around to it as fast as I can.  There are only a few days remaining so don’t be left out!  My prayer is that some of you new partners will feel God telling you to continue on on my monthly support team.  But even if that’s not possible, know that you are appreciated far more than you can imagine.

Home Assignment Preparations I do have one important reminder:  I will be going back to the US for a short home assignment Sept. through November.  I’m firming up my schedule now, and there are some openings still.  Please don’t delay if you’d like me to come and share all that has been happening in this very eventful three years.  I am anxious to share with you personally.  I can share in the morning worship or at other times if you’d like, small groups, Bible studies, mission dinners, Sunday school are fine. Contact information and discussion about the fall are as follows. Terri Simpkins: (206) 399-0029(206) 399-0029 or

Volunteers Bringing Music and Happiness  It’s been more than a month since I returned from a very fruitful two weeks with volunteers Mary and Gary Rice.  The Rices of Coos Bay, Oregon and many of their friends in Oregon purchased three sets of WeeBells to use and leave in three different kindergartens in Japan.  Two of the kindergartens were in the disaster area, Taira, Iwaki Fukushima, and Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture.  The third place was at the Kanto Gakuin kindergarten in Yokohama where I teach.  Because of the short period of service and delays due to illness, we could not complete the ideal program with the 3 schools of five year olds but the children were still able to learn far more than what their teachers had anticipated.  I hear now that all three kindergartens are utilizing their sets of bells and the children are learning to play many of the Christian children’s songs that they normally sing during their worship times.

Gary had the chance to share in both worship services in Iwaki and Kesennuma while I attempted to translate.  Mary shared the Wordless Book in one Sunday school, and all the adults snatched up the little books and pinned them to their lapels!  We all learned so much about the disasters in these areas, and were especially moved by a discussion we had with our General Secretary, Makoto Tanno about the hopeless situation in the nuclear power plant.  Both Mary and Gary had the chance to feel the warmth of deeply scarred people who had been through so much just a year before.  

Rainbow of Hope  My nephew, Thatcher, was able to accompany us from Sendai onward to film our experience.  Thanks to his photography we were able to preserve a tremendous rainbow over-arching the former Rikuzen-Takada town, and were reminded that God continues to move among those people and has unfathomable love awaiting all who call upon His name.  

Your thankful servant in Christ,

Roberta Stephens