Thursday, April 3, 2014

March Happenings!!

I cannot believe it has been almost 2 months since we've blogged to our friends and family.  We have had whirl wind of activity over the past few months.  Our partner, Andrea Haddock, arrived on 20 February - along with a Christian worship rock & roll band called The New Divide.  This started about 45 days of continual visitors.  We have learned that the Lighthouse is not only a refuge for our navy friends and family, but for ministries that come to Japan too.  Since our arrival last summer, we have hosted the African Children's Choir, The New Divide, Covenant Players and  people that come to visit their Navy family & friends.

Andrea exploring Japan
Andrea has jumped right into the mix of things.  We absolutely LOVE her.  She is beginning to disciple people, to help with planning events & excursions and embracing other ministry opportunities.  We really believe that God is going to use her in a mighty way as part of the Yokosuka Lighthouse team.

We continue to host a busy ministry.  We love the people that God is bringing through our doors.  We have folks that are just exploring their spirituality and what does being a Christian mean; we have people that have been walking with Christ for a few years and folks who are very mature in their faith. It's exciting to see how the Lighthouse community really loves one another and embrace each other right where they are at.  

The New Divide
We have enjoyed being able to open our doors to support some other Christian ministries.  The New Divide spent two weeks with us as they toured Japan.  It was a joy to partner with them as they reached out to American and Japanese people.
Mt. Fuji

Cathy had the opportunity to speak at a women's retreat.  The retreat center was located on a lake at the base of Mt. Fuji.  We had about 35 ladies that participated and it was a great time together.

We also are enjoying a very nice Spring.  It is Cherry Blossom season here in Japan.  Here is a picture of our tree from our patio.  What a great reminder of the creativity of our Lord!  

We are enjoying our time in Japan.  It has it's challenges, but many more blessings!!  Thanks for your friendship & prayers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Andrea is on her way!

Jennessa * Cathy * Andrea
 On Thursday, our friend and colleague, Andrea Haddock will be joining us in Yokosuka.  It was a little over a year ago when we asked Andrea to consider teaming with us in Japan.  We are very excited to have her join us as we minister to the Navy.

Andrea will be focusing on our Single women's ministry and assisting us as we reach out to our Single sailors as well.  Andrea will be arriving on Thursday, 20 February.

It has been exciting to be a part of her journey as the Lord has led her to join us.  Her next few months will be filled with tasks:  getting base pass, her Japanese driver's license, getting to know the Lighthouse community and to see exactly where God would like her to lead and serve.

Please pray for Andrea as she spends her last few days in South Carolina.  Pray for the final details of her international move to come together.  Pray for her heart as she says her final good-byes to family and friends.  Pray for us as a team.  Our hearts desire is for God to be glorified through the ministry at the Lighthouse and that Christ will be exalted in the nations through the lives of transformed military people.  Join us as we welcome Andrea Haddock to the Lighthouse team!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

We are official drivers in Japan!

With smiles of appreciation --
we have our Japanese driver's licenses!
On Thursday, 26 December, we arose early in the morning to make the hour drive to Yokohama, specifically to the Futamatagawa License Examination Hall.  As we drove, we were counting to ten in Japanese, practicing our Japanese directions (left, right, stop, speed up, etc.).  We tested each other on the "pre-exam" requirements (looking under the car for objects, locking the door, adjusting the mirrors, etc.).  But, we knew that we would be returning to Yokosuka WITHOUT our license.

Everyone told us that NO ONE passes on their first attempt - especially foreigners.  This was our last step in our transition and we really wanted to be done.  

Over the past six months since our arrival in Japan, we have learned that the driver's license conversion for Americans is quite difficult.  In Germany, we were blessed to have contractor status at Ramstein.  This allowed us to get a license from the base without having to get a German driver's license.  In hind sight, we wish we would have had a German drivers license.  Germans have an agreement with the Japanese and they need to pass an eye test and written exam to receive their Japanese Driver's License.  The United States does NOT have that type of an agreement, so we needed to go through the complete process.  Neither one of us has had to take a driving test since we were 16!

The process is a three step process:  (1) formal application; (2) eye and written exams; (3) driving exam. Fortunately, the written exam is in English and is fairly easy.  The driving exam is on a specific course at the exemption hall, is administered by a police officer and is in Japanese.  We are not allowed to have a translator with us during the exam.  You may have a translator to help you with the paperwork and to get feedback after your exam, but not during the exam.

We have been driving in Japan with our International Driver's License.  We have had six months of practice to get use to driving behind the wheel which is on the right side of the car and driving on the right side of the road.  We also took a lesson which was quite expensive!  But, we had an English speaking instructor and we could drive the course that we were taking the exam on.  Keitasan was very patient and helpful, but he too prepared us for first time failure.

After a busy Christmas day, we went to bed and were ready to get up and tackle the test.  Cathy decided to check her email to see if anyone back in the States was awake yet on Christmas morn.  No stateside emails, but we received an email from our friend who was going to meet us at the examination hall to be our translator.  She notified us that she was sick and would not be able to meet us.  It was 9:45PM and we were stunned.  We had to leave at 5:30AM to go to Yokohama and we had no idea who to call to replace her.  We contacted a young man that we thought might have the day off from work to see if he could help us.  Unfortunately, he couldn't.  We checked with another few friends, but of course, at the late hour, everyone was busy.

Takako and Josh
We just stared at each other and decided we would have to change our appointment - which requires you to go in person.  We actually thought about trying to take the exam without a translator, but knew that would be difficult.  On Christmas, we had one of our sailors bring a Japanese friend to dinner.  Takako spent the day with us and I took of picture of her & Josh.  She asked me to email it to her and provided me with her email address AND cell phone.  We decided to give her a call.  We had spent about 5 hours with her, and felt bad for calling so late and asking her such a big favor, especially since we just met her….BUT we were desperate.  It was 10:45PM and Cathy called.  It went to voice mail and we left Takako a message.  At 11:00PM, we went to bed realizing we were destined to have to reschedule our driving test.   

At 11:15PM, the phone rang and it was Takako.  She apologized for calling so late and then told us she would be more than happy to help us out.  It turns out that she lived in Yokohama and knew where the examination hall was and she could meet us there! Takako was a tremendous help.  We would never have been able to complete the various paperwork that was needed nor understand the examiner without her!  The driving test and results took almost 6 hours - what a huge sacrifice of time for her!  We were so grateful!

Cathy was chosen to take the exam first.  The next person that takes the examination actually gets to ride in the backseat to watch.  So, Cathy pulls out with the examiner and a Chinese woman.  When she returned to the beginning station, the examiner told her (through Takako) the things that she had not done correctly.  The Chinese gal hops into the driver's seat and Lou now sits in the back seat.   After a few minutes, the Chinese gal is back at the starting point.  It seemed like she didn't take as long to finish the course as Cathy.  It turns out that she didn't finish the course. She failed somewhere during the test and was asked to return.  Lou had no idea what she did wrong and he automatically thought he was a "dead man".  Lou hops in the front seat and upon return he too learns what he had not done correctly.  We were convinced that we would be returning to retake the exam.

After the other people take the exam, the instructor grades the tests and calls us forward.  He is sitting behind a window and hands the paperwork to you with either a date for your retake exam or information about the next step after passing.  We get called forward as a team…Takako talks to the examiner and turns to us and says "You both passed!".  We were stunned, shocked, speechless.  Cathy said "Did you say 'we both passed'?".  Takako smiled and said "YES".  If the examiner wasn't behind the window, Cathy would have probably hugged him. We honestly were shocked.  

There were 15 foreigners that took the exam that day, 4 of us passed.  One was an Indian man and it was his second time taking the exam.  One was a Chinese lady and it was her third time taking the exam.  The Chinese lady that was driving with Lou failed and it was her fifth attempt.  We felt so bad for her.   It took another 2 hours to get our actual license.  But, we now can drive in Japan for as long as we stay in Japan.  

We are grateful for our driving instructor, Keitasan.  We are VERY thankful for Takako and her willingness to help us with the translation and giving up her entire day for us.  We are convinced we had a fair but kind examiner.  God is good!

Cathy sent Keitasan and Mikisan (she was the lady that provided us with the information on the driving school) an email to tell them that we passed on our first try.  Mikisan told Cathy that in the 5 years she has been helping foreigners get their license, she has never had anyone pass on their first time!  Keitasan told us that we were his first foreign students that passed on their first time. We don't share this to receive accolades on our ability; we share this so you understand truly what a miracle this is!  Stay off the streets in Japan -- Lou & Cathy are driving.  We wish you all a very Happy 2014!  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas is right around the corner!

We don't know about you….but we cannot believe Christmas is in just a few days!  We are excited to be here in Yokosuka and have the opportunity to open our home to the sailors that serve our nation.  We continue to be amazed at how much we LOVE what we do.  We enjoy being a safe place for people.  We constantly tell people that no matter where you are on your spiritual journey -- you are WELCOME in our home.  Come enjoy a home cooked meal, in an environment where you can just be yourself, have fun, ask questions and have a family when you are so far away from yours.

Paul & Natalie & Sam
A couple of our favorite sailors
As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, we have been focusing on WHY do we celebrate Christmas.  Lou has done a fabulous job unpacking who Jesus is and the significant of why we should celebrate His birth.  

The Lighthouse is a safe place for people who have no idea if God exists or why Jesus came, but are curious to find out more.  For the people, and there are many in our community, who are discouraged, lonely, feel adrift in life, they can come and learn more about the peace and comfort they can experience by beginning a relationship with Jesus.  Finally, the Lighthouse is a safe place for those who are in the midst of the joyous journey of being a Christ follower.  

No matter where you are or what's going on with you this Christmas, we love you and miss you.  We wish we could be home in Colorado to celebrate Christmas with our families.  But, we are grateful for our "home away from home" here in Japan and that we can be extended family to the folks that will come through our doors.  We wish you a joyous & holy Christmas.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Moving towards Christmas

We had a great first Thanksgiving here in Japan.  I find that after Thanksgiving weekend is over, we are thrust into the Christmas season.  We tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, busy calendars and being pulled in many different directions.  How many of us just try to survive the holidays?  

One thing that tends to go out the window for me is the art of slowing down and reflecting during this special season.  I tend get caught up in the activities of life and I don't take time to reflect on what God did for me as He came to Earth that first Christmas morning.  This morning as I was reading my devotional, I was reminded of this:

"Modern man has lost the perspective of eternity.  To distract himself from the gaping jaws of death, he engages in ceaseless activity and amusement.  The practice of being sill in My Presence is almost a lost art, yet it is this very stillness that enables you to experience My eternal Love."  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

We are going to try and embrace slowing down this month.  It will be hard, but yet it is vital to our well-being.  When we slow down we can reflect on the love of God that has for us, the blessings that this year had bestowed upon us, and mourn the trials and heart ache that we have experienced.

Lou & I aren't typically very liturgical in our practices, but this year, we are going to spend some time each Sunday celebrating the Advent.  The Advent season reminds us that to "reenter" the story of the coming King….Jesus.  Today, we are going to reflect on the first week of hope.  We would encourage you to STOP for a few moments, cease activity and reflect on the hope we have.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Power of Community

Cadence has a "mission verse"...."We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."  I Thessalonians 2:8

African Children's Choir - Uganda
We housed the choir while they
traveled Japan and ministered
to the Japanese.
We love this challenge of sharing our lives with the military community. As we share our lives, we build community with one another. What does community mean to you? For us, community is family. A group of people that share their lives with one another, they share their dreams, their failures, they support one another in good times and in bad, they accept one another and love each other to grow and change in all areas of their lives. Community impacts other communities. In the short time we have been in Yokosuka and serving at the Lighthouse, we have experienced the power of community.

We have seen people sacrifice their Saturday afternoon to go help a pregnant women whose husband was at sea and she needed some yard work done. We have seen people sacrifice their time to love a group of children from Uganda. We have seen people give money to meet the needs of another community in Cambodia. We have seen people reach out to their co-workers who are going through a difficult marital situation. This is sharing your lives with one another, this is sharing the gospel. 
Our folks hanging out with some
international students from a
Tokyo university

We love being the place where people can come and experience community. We have people in our ministry that are single and married, people with kids and people with no kids, people who recently said good-bye to a college-age child, people who have recently said hello to their first child. We have people that have experienced fulfilled dreams and are dealing with the grief of broken dreams. We have the privilege to come along side them all and love this community.

Cathy and Sapphira Jean
For those of you who are on our prayer & financial team, you are extension of this community. People experience a "home away from home" because of people that sacrifice their finances so we can be a community to the military and to the Japanese.  We are so blessed to be a part of the Cadence community, the Lighthouse community and the community of believers!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Brothers/SIsters, to Parents, to Grandparents

Jay and his family
One of our first 20 something...
now all grown up!
About 15 years ago, we began doing life with 20 & 30 somethings.  We served our church by hosting a small group where we enjoyed dinner together, a time of bible study and then hang out time over dessert.  When we began we fit the role of an older brother & sister to the folks we loved.  It was fun to come alongside them as they started their "adult lives", dealing with "adult issues".  We walked through various joys and sorrows, explored what it meant to be a Christ-follower, discussed budget ideas, gave advise on dealing with difficult bosses, enjoyed hearing about first stages of romance -- this is doing life with one another.  

Celebrating seminary
graduation with Andrew Hess....
one of our favorite "goofballs"
Our philosophy hasn't changed, whether it is serving our church, working at Northrop Grumman, or serving with Cadence, we have learned that when you share a meal, you can begin to share your lives with one another.  We absolutely LOVE this age group!! We have continued to knit our hearts together with 20 & 30 somethings, but they stay 20 & 30 and we continue to get older.  We moved into the surrogate parent role a few years ago.  We have gone to more weddings, baby showers, college graduations in our 40's & 50's than when we were in our 20's & 30's.  

Greta  (on left)
Her first ballet recital
Meadow & Lou
Now as the years have progressed, many of the people that we love, now have children.  Their kiddos look to us as surrogate grandparents.  Since we have joined Cadence, we have been invited to piano recitals & ballet recitals, baseball & soccer games, spelling bees, softball tournaments and so much more.  

Our military kids want their grandparents to participate and it is too expensive and far away for most to be able to come.  So, we go, we attend, we cheer, we wave from the crowd, we hug them, we toss a ball to them, we love them.  We understand the sacrifices that our military personnel make for our country; so, it is an honor to be family to them.  No matter what role we play:  brother or sister, mom or dad, or grandpa or grandma, it is a pleasure to do life & ministry with them all!

Emily Rei Howie -- our
first Japanese "granddaughter"
Cadence has a core verse that illustrates our vision for doing life & ministry.  I Thessalonians 2:8, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."  Thanks for allowing us to share our lives with you.