International Ministries

"Memory Trip" Conclusion

May 11, 2014 Journal
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Dear Journal Friends,
MEMORY TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Today I have finished my “memory tour” to the Northeast part of Japan.  After 25 days visiting the various places and people who occupied my attention at various times during the 27+ years of my residence, I must now return to Yokohama and finish up the ministry that God has given me there.  This has been an amazing journey, and I never imagined that 25 days would not be enough time to see all those whom I had worked with and for.  Of course, there were numerous chances to check on the growth of the seeds I had planted back then. There were numerous situations where people were experiencing new difficulties and wished I would intervene.  I had to resist the temptation to get involved, remembering that Jesus choose not to do this on numerous occasions.

I was heartened a number of times, but never disheartened.  What about the woman whom I had had numerous periods only fifteen minutes each year to be the fragrance of Christ for her?  That’s a story I will save to tell you personally…with the hint that hidden Christians of the 15th century are related her story.  Then, there is a man whose name is Mr. O. I am friends with his wife, but he asked me to translate a very moving picture-poem into English for him. This piece has been chosen by Tomohiro Hoshino’s* art museum as the picture-of-the-year! For now, I’ll show you the picture he painted for me as a “thank-you.” But anyone who is in my workshop at Green Lake will get to see it and hear about this amazing encounter with someone who is discovering God through, and because of the tsunami.

I revisited Morigo Christian campsite and participated in a seminar for its earthquake recovery and future plans. I pray that American Baptists can continue their participation in this camp, because it was you-all who built it.  I heard and saw how One Great Hour of Sharing funds were continuing to be used in many places.

Of course there were the parties many places which always ended up with testimonials of those who had learned something from me or whose lives had been changed. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was wading through honey.  Sweet, sweet!  So many celebrations!  How could I possibly be sad!

SPEAKING OPPORTUNITIES?: So now, my announcement to you is quite late, but I will give it a whirl.  I will return May 30th to the US.  I have a few Sundays open and a number of week-days in between Sundays.  I would love to come and visit your church! I do not have to be the main speaker, but if that is possible I would love to do that as well.  I just want to be there to thank you for all your support. The times I have open are JUNE 15, 29, JULY 6, 27. 

RETURNING TO YOKOHAMA: When I return to Yokohama today, I will be reunited with Dr. Shigemi Tomita.  I really missed her while I was on my this trip.  Dr. Tomita (Shigemi, to me) has been appointed by International Ministries as an Associate Missionary.  She will be moving into my apartment at Kanto Gakuin and continuing there as their missionary.  Shigemi is currently living next door, trying to get used to her new role at the school and Japan, itself.  Shigemi is a native born Japanese who has been living in Canada for seventeen years.  So, Japan, to her is like a a foreign country!  Anyone who has a passion for Christian education and witness in Japan needs to meet Shigemi and support her through your prayers and giving. She will also be receiving some of her support from teaching at Kanto Gakuin.  You will get to meet Shigemi at the World Mission Conference.  Welcome Shigemi Tomita!

A LAST WORD: Last week I received word that my friend and mentor, Maureen Brians, has gone to be with the Lord.  What a hollow place remains in my heart!  From the hilarious and scary times we spent in India to the late nights we spent in her office calling international students to invite to our programs, she kept me going with her love for the Lord and internationals, and her exceptional humor. I know that I am not the only one who had a corner of her life but she occupied more than a “corner” in mine.  Her mission was to “brighten the corner where you are” for everyone and that is what she did for me for forty-four years.

See you in a month or so,
In Christ, Roberta
Roberta@robertastephens.com
(MPT) mptroberta@gmail.com

*Tomohiro Hoshino is a Japanese Christian artist who paints with the brush in his mouth.