Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March Update

Hello Friends,
Early December OBC staff did a ministry trip to Sendai City in Miyagi ken. We organized an advent presentation sharing the reason why Christians celebrate Christmas. Those serving in the East Tohoku have a very special opportunity to share the love Christ with the people displaced since the tsunami. It was a joy to serve at the temporary housing facilities and it was encouraging to see what has been rebuilt since the last time I was there in July 2011.
In mid-December I attended the Christmas concert at Tachikawa Station Front Church. One of the volunteers from Adult English Camp last summer invited former campers to attend. It was fun to see so many, we all enjoyed a good time of visiting, reconnecting and supper together afterwards.
Just before New Year’s I had the opportunity to go to Disney Tokyo; I really enjoy Disneyland. I even got to see the Captain Eo movie, with Michel Jackson, which I saw at the Anaheim Disneyland 20 years ago. Although it was great fun to see something in Japan I remember enjoying as a child, it wasn’t as good as I remember it...maybe I had bad taste as a child.
At the beginning of the month I picked up my primary vehicle, a 250cc Suzuki Volty. It’s a little smaller than the motorbike I had in Canada but much newer and rode it until 

the snow came.  Now I’m waiting for the snow to melt and roads clear.
With the help of Angela May, the SEND language coordinator, I have a language tutor that I have been connecting with on a weekly basis. I was also introduced to a new community run Japanese class which is run very well.  I find it a little frustrating at times; I am more advanced than a beginner but not advanced enough to formulate sentences without long pauses.
I've even found a group of people to play squash with.  This was a sport I enjoyed before I came to Japan; it is fun and I don't need any language skills to play. I'm definitely not the best player there but I think the players find me entertaining because I am faster than they expect and there is only one other left-hand player at the club that I have met.  Squash is also fun way to connect with people outside of camp and the church.
This was the month for snow; it actually snowed twice here in Tokyo. The first snowfall broke a 45-year old record with over a foot of snow. The second snowfall broke a 120-year old record; here in the Tama Valley this meant all means of transportation was on lock down. Even if I could have gotten the car out of the driveway I couldn’t have gone anywhere except to maybe the grocery store which is only a 10 minute walk from my house. Two-lane highways were reduced to single lanes and the streets by my house were reduced to not much more than single lane traffic so driving wasn’t much of an option. The trains didn’t run up the valley for a whole week after the second snowfall because of downed trees and 7 meters of snow blocking the entrance to one of the tunnels.  It may have been pretty but I was stuck at home for 4 days.
This month is the time when things starts up again at OBC. We still have snow piles on the property but the ume (green plum) trees are blooming and the cherry trees should only be a few weeks behind. On the 22nd we will have our first OBC sponsored camp, an International Soccer Camp, following this is the Japanese soccer camp and spring break Bible camp.
There is a staff change happening at OBC this year which will mean something new for me.  Chris Milby our English camps coordinator is retiring so I have been asked to take on this position. The soccer camps will the first camp running after I start this job. It is my responsibility to communicate with the directors of our English speaking camps.  I expect the learning curve to be a little steep but I have plenty of support people to back me up here in the OBC office.
And, with Chris retiring from the mission field, I’ll also be teaching her two English classes on Monday afternoons. Besides playing squash, this will be another opportunity where I will enjoy getting to know more new people here in Japan.

Your Brother in Christ,

Karl Friesen

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 2013


The summer is well over and the fall is in full swing. The summer was a privilege for me to see what God is doing through the ministry of Okutama Bible Chalet. For most of summer I served in a support role managing the grounds crew cleaning up after guests and campers. I also, got to hear stories from the Joy Bible Camp cabin leaders sharing how our camp theme, of being “Treasured” by God, was a huge encouragement for to campers and their self image. 
For OBC’s English Bible Camps, ESL camps, I had the opportunity to help with the programing since starting next spring I’ll be responsible for being to liaison between OBC and the volunteers that run our English programming including Soccer Camp, Joy and English Bible Camps. The biggest highlight for me was hearing of a Christian grandmother, who participates in our Adult English Camp, bringing her granddaughter to the teen’s english camp and for the last few years. This year the granddaughter acknowledged Christ as her saviour and now the grandmother has the opportunity to disciple her own granddaughter in Christ. God is moving in the hearts here in Japan.
The other camp I was directly involved in was our parent and child out camp. We use the wooded area next to OBC as our base camp. Over the weekend we went river rafting, fishing and hiking. Historically we usually have dads and their son but this year we had our first family. It was a family of five with an eight year old son and two four year old daughters. It was lots of fun playing with the kids and helping out the girls by being “it” for them because they couldn’t catch the boys. We also had a father/son pair from two years ago when I was at OBC. It was neat to see them again and getting to know them better.
Currently camp has slowed down a bit allowing me to attend two community Japanese classes.
Thank you to all of you that have been faithfully giving and for all of your prayers.

Your Brother in Christ,
Karl Friesen

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I am in Japan

I've made it to Japan. I arrived on May 27th since then I've gone through a day of orientation, moved out to Okutama Bible Chalet (OBC) and have found an apartment and moved in. Getting all of my paperwork in order has gone very smoothly. In the last few days I've registered my address with the city office, opened a bank account and now have a cell phone. All I really need to do now is transfer my driver’s license.
Monday, June 17th, will be the start of Joy Bible Camp our ministry to English speaking children.  Our theme this year is Treasured from beginning of Isaiah 43:40; "Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you." Please pray for safety as we have fun and share the love of Jesus.
I've had the opportunity for the last two weeks to attend Ozaku Christ Church. It has been a privilege to be a part of this Christian community. I'll be involved attending there and participating as much as possible when it doesn't contradict with my obligations at OBC.

Your Brother in Christ,
Karl Friesen

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Update

It’s been a very long time since I last wrote an update. In my update last fall, I informed my supporters that SEND and my mentor thought it would be beneficial for me to take a season of mentorship; we have worked through Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby this past winter. It’s been a very good time of refocusing on God.
The quotes that stood out the most to me while working through Experiencing God were about the importance of my relationship with God and how I can’t be passive about it;
“God loves you. He wants to have an intimate relationship with you. He wants you to depend on Him when you seek a word from Him. He wants you to learn to hear His voice and know His will. Your relationship with Him is key to hearing when God speaks to you.”
“Remember, you will know what you should do through your relationship with God. Never bypass the relationship.”
“He may want to develop a deeper relationship with you before He gives you your next assignment. He may have you wait because the timing is not right.”
While reading through Psalms and Proverbs in my devotions, during my time in Experiencing God, I read in Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT); My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
For me this has been a season of discipline; no, I wasn’t a “bad” child of God but I wasn’t a “good” child of God either. It was a time when I heard God telling me to smarten up, put my focus back on Him and how He wants me do that. God doesn’t only discipline his children when they are morally wrong, he also has the right to correct us if he thinks there is an opportunity for improvement. It is our choice to respond to the correction that God brings into our lives. At first I knew I needed to submit to the authority of the Personnel Director and my mentor; now I’m grateful for this growing opportunity that has resulted.

Last fall while taking time to refocus, my previous Certificate of Entry(COE) papers expired so at the beginning of March a fresh application was sent to Japan.  This has been an act of affirmation for me from the SEND personnel department and the SEND Japan office that I’m ready to serve in Japan. The application is for a 27 month term starting by June 1st, which, means I’ll be in Japan for 3 summer seasons at Okutama Bible Chalet to fully use my experience in camp ministry. During my last long-term service in Japan I found that the last three months were the best because I knew what to expect and l liked knowing what to expect. I’m anticipating a similar experience this next term. I am looking forward to the opportunity of serving the church in Japan as well.
Currently I am working at EV Logistics as a product selector which means I drive a motorized pallet jack, selecting product and stacking skids of perishable food for the Overwaitea Food Group. Most days I’m working in the freezer and I am really starting to enjoy the job. I have passed my probation period which is an answer to prayer.

I have been asked this question a number of times. The short answer is that it is still accumulating in an account designated for me once I arrive in Japan. The long answer is these funds will be first used for initial costs (flight, accommodations...) and the balance will be divided by 27 and will become monthly support. 
Since my arrival was cancelled in the fall I put aside all of my networking activities. My desire is to do the Father’s will. Please pray for me as I reconnect with my supporters and that I will honour Him in how I network during these last months.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August Update - I have the Go

Three Months to Go
Please permit me to share some really good news; I have received the “GO” from the SEND Japan office to go to Japan this fall. The last several weeks SEND Canada, SEND Japan and I have been in communication with each other about my anticipated arrival in Japan. In my last update I indicated that I needed to raise just under half of my monthly financial support; no, I do not have 100% of my support, however, SEND Japan is inviting me to serve at Okutama Bible Chalet (OBC) in Tokyo for a 2-year term while several full-time staff are on consecutive home service 2 years.
I will be serving at OBC and doing language studies part-time so a large portion of my out-going support that was designated for 2 years of full-time language studies has been freed up for other areas of my ministry support. There is still a need for financial support totaling $8792 over the next 2 years (or $365 per month for 2 years). This is very exciting for me.
At the end of the two-year term I am hoping to continue ministry in Japan as a “tent maker”, one who financially provides for his own ministry, by teaching English. This is not the “ideal” situation but through discussions with friends and trusted advisers this past month it seems that this may be the direction God is leading me. A job as an English kindergarten teacher during the weekday could potentially free my evenings and weekends for ministry and connecting with the Japanese people.
While I writing this letter, the visa application forms from the SEND Japan office have arrived!!! I will complete the forms and forward them to the SEND Japan office where the process will be completed. My understanding is that it can take 1.5 to 3 months before I get the approved documents and then I take them to the Japanese consulate in Vancouver for my Visa to be stamped in my passport. So, sometime in the next 3 months I will be on a plane to Japan. The last time I went to serve in Japan for more than a year was Sept. 26, 2006. It’s hard for me to believe that it has been 6 years since I first really met and got to know Japanese people one on one.  Through those relationships my heart desires more than ever to see the Japanese national church grow even more.

PLANTS in Toronto
This month I’ll be going to Toronto for the Principles of Language Acquisition: Natural Tools & Strategies (PLANTS), this course will prepare me to learn Japanese in the most efficient way for me.  While in Toronto I have made plans to connect with a number of Japanese churches in the area. I am looking forward to sharing with a new community of believers of where God is leading me to serve in Japan.
On another note…a little less than a year after demolition started on Family House at Okutama Bible Chalet (OBC), the new Ome House its replacement, is now complete; the keys were handed over on August 6th. Ome House will provide new office space and another floor of dorms that the previous building didn’t have.

Please Pray
  • That the visa application process will go smoothly
  • The last of my financial support will come in quickly
  • Wisdom and God’s leading as I share during these last months here in Canada

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The other day I posted a blog by Megumi Glosson on my Facebook page, about 違う, chigau, the Japanese word for different and wrong.  She wrote that because there is no difference between these words in the Japanese language, there is a strong negative view of being different. In Japanese culture because of 違う, chigau, there is a very strong sense of community and conformity, which results in a morality based on the group rather than the individual’s values. Also, since being different is looked down upon, standing out as a Christian can be difficult in Japan. One of my friends asked me after reading Megumi's blog, “if the church has difficulty with contextualization?” My natural reaction to the question would be yes, but now I think I am wrong…here are my thoughts…
Because community is so important to the Japanese, the church strives to build community for its members. One example I have seen in all but one church I have visited is that the congregants have a meal together after every service as a way of building community.
Another way the church has tried to be culturally relevant is by using popular media to reach their nation. Manga (comics) is one of the most popular mediums for entertainment in Japan and has covered every genre, from classic folk tales to adult entertainment. The Bible has been produced into a number of manga volumes.  The Manga Bible has become a very useful evangelistic tool and I’ve met people that have become seekers through reading the Manga Bible. Christian stories have also been produced by manga artists. In popular music the worship band Growing Up has produced great worship music for the Japanese. They are known to use traditional Japanese instruments which are being popularized by contemporary artists.
In the summer of 2007, Power to Change alongside the Japanese church put on their own “Power to Change” outreach campaign in Japan called Power for Living which was very similar to the Power to Change campaign in North America in the mid 1990‘s. For this campaign they produced television commercials and a book that included the testimonies of well-known Christians in Japan as an evangelistic tool.
These are just a few examples of how I believe the church in Japan is trying not to appear 違う, chigau, from those in the communities around them.
Check out my Financial Blog to see my support stats.
I also posted a video this month, I hope you enjoy a Quick May Update.
Your brother in Christ,
Karl Friesen

Wednesday, May 23, 2012