Saturday, February 27, 2016

Karl was in Japan

First of all I want to thank you for your prayers, friendship and financial support.
Reflecting upon the last half year I want to let you know that I am thriving in my new life here in Canada. I bought a car the day after I got back from Japan and went on a road trip to visit my brother and his family in Grand Forks. It was great to see his children and get to know my nephews and niece better. On the road trip I continued onto Calgary to connect with friends I made in Japan as well as pick up some of my stuff that was brought to Canada for me in anticipation of my return. The following week I started my Educational Assistant certificate classes at Columbia Bible College (CBC). By the end of September I found several guys that were looking for a place to live and we found a house for a really reasonable rent in Abbotsford.
I have enjoyed my classes at CBC and am looking forward to starting my new career once my courses are finished in April. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work as an on-call education assistant at Pacific Academy in Surrey. It has been fun to work alongside other Christian teachers and students. During spring break in March I have the opportunity to assist in leading a team of grade 12 students to Chaing Mai, Thailand. I was first asked by a friend who works at Pacific Academy the first Sunday I was back at my church at that time I was still just getting my feet under me in Canada and the idea was overwhelming to me. Now I’m really looking forward to working alongside the students as they serve in a cross-cultural setting.
Every once in a while I do get into a mood of missing Japan in an unhealthy emotional way. At these times I have to remind myself of what a truthful recollection of Japan is. It involves both remembering the good things and treasuring them but also reminding myself of the difficulties that I experienced as well. They also happen less frequently than I expected compared to my return in ’07.
Thank you again for your support.

Your Brother in Christ, Karl Friesen

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August Update

The school term has finished here at Torchbearers Yamanakako. It was a very fun season. We had a total of 16 student pass through our doors this term to learn from 10 different teachers that came to Torchbearers from around the world. 
Work Day Wednesday was the weekly event that I enjoyed the most because it was the one day that I could spend any significant amount of time with the students which allowed me to get to know them as we worked on projects together at Torchbearers and in the local community. At graduation it was great to hear the students share about their experience, what they learned through the teaching while being removed from their home cultures. They not only increased their academic knowledge but also grown spiritually, more inline with who they have come to know God wants them to be. It was great to hear the students share their desire to potentially serve God here in Japan in the future but most of all to hear their desire to be a more effective witness back home.
With the school being over, Torchbearers Yamanakako staff had two weeks for new staff orientation and prep for the summer season. This year our summer season is only spread over 6 weeks; essentially ending by August 24. During this time I am part of the meal prep crew which means I get to work in the kitchen putting together meals for our guests. It has been a lot of fun to work alongside the new summer staff and serving the Japanese church by providing a place to host retreats and camps.
August 31st I’m getting on a plane for Canada. I have already started the weekly countdown and as it gets closer to the end of the month the daily countdown will begin. There will be a lot on my “to do” list before I leave, like emptying my bank account, packing and saying good bye to people and places. Once I’m in Canada I’ll have 14 days to find a car, job and a place to live before the first class for the Education Assistant Certificate at Columbia Bible College. I don’t know if I have set my schedule too tightly but I’m hoping it’s not.
This is my last update from Japan and I want to thank you for your prayers and support as I have served here in Japan. This won’t be my last update I will write at least one more to confirm my arrival and my settling in in Canada.
Thank you again Your Brother in Christ,
Karl Friesen

Friday, May 29, 2015

May Update

In Mid-January I travelled back home to Abbotsford for a visit while Steve & Jen, Directors of Torchbearers Yamanakako, were back in Canada.  It was a good time for me to connect with my supporters and church family; and to start preparing for my return to Canada at the end of my term with SEND Int. in August.  On March 9th I returned back to Torchbearers Yamanakako in Japan.
While I was home I enjoyed reconnecting with the members of my home church in Canada.  The past two years the church has gone through a lot of changes.  As The Life Centre seeks the Lord, I pray they receive a clear vision regarding its future.
I have been asked by a supporter what my future plans are in relation to Japan. Right now I know at the end of my term I need to be back in Canada and engage in the church and serve my community to the best of my ability. I believe that using my teaching experience in Japan and the opportunity to return to school is a means for me to have a good career back in Canada.
When I returned to Canada from Japan in 2007 I didn’t transition very well; I do not want this to happen to me again.  So while I was home in January I knew it would be best for me to start making plans for my return.  I applied to Columbia Bible College (CBC) in their 13 credit Education Assistant Program; I believed that this could be a very good fit with my teaching experience and I was accepted to attend CBC this fall.  This is an opportunity for me build on the education I already have without committing a lot of time and money to additional studies. With the completion of this program I see the potential for me to work in two areas, either with students whose second language is English or with students that require assistance to be successful in school.
In April, Torchbearers Yamanakako has received more staff; two individuals have come from the United States for six months and another has come from India for two months. They have already been a great addition to our community; they have made the daily work load much lighter for the Torchbearer staff, enabling us to work on other projects for the Centre.
This month on May 7th, the Torchbearers Yamanakako school season began; it runs until July 4th. I am looking forward to a fun season of serving the students and providing hospitality to them while they attend classes by guest lecturers.

Please Pray
For my focus to be here at Torchbearers in Japan even though it is necessary for me to start making plans for school and work in the fall.

That the students will learn as much as they can during the two months they are studying in Japan.

Monday, January 5, 2015

January Update

The holiday season is over and for me it was a really good one. For Christmas day the staff at Torchbearers Yamanakako enjoyed breakfast together, then Steve, the director, took the staff out for lunch. In the afternoon I took some time to enjoy a bike ride around lake Yamanaka; I stopped at a local cafe and also took some Christmas photos of Mount Fuji. I was even able to say, “Hi,” to fellow SEND missionaries staying in the area. In the evening we had a gift exchange with the staff to cap off the day’s festivities.
For New Years Torchbearers Yamanakako runs its own retreat. The retreat provides a Christian alternative to all of the cultural religious obligations that happen over New Years in Japan. So from Dec. 30th to Jan. 2nd we were hosts to 30 some people for New Years. One of the highlights for me was that Rocky and Marla Ayatsuka lead worship for the retreat. I met them many years ago when I was working in Aomori. It was fun to connect with them again and they really encouraged me and my continued ministry in Japan. For the retreat one of my main jobs was providing transportation. I drove people to see Fuji at sunrise and sunset as well as getting people to the onsen where they could sit in the baths and enjoy the view of Fuji. It was a lot of fun connecting with the guests and serving them over the New Years festival season.

January 14th I’ll be heading to Canada for a visit and work. Since the winters are so cold here in Yamanaka and the buildings aren’t very well insulated from the cold; it is more beneficial for Steve and Jen to visit Canada for the winter than to pay to heat the buildings.
Rather than hanging my hat at another missionary’s place for those two months Steve has asked me to also head to Canada to help with a few projects in Calgary and attend the Reaching Japanese for Christ conference in L.A. to represent Torchbearers Yamanakako with them.
While not helping Steve and Jen with Torchbearers stuff I’m looking forward to connecting with my supporters and church family. I am also planning on attending Missionsfest Vancouver at the end of January which is always a highlight for me. I’ll be returning to Japan on March 9. Then we will start prep for Torchbearers' spring Bible school and continue to serve the church in Japan by hosting retreats and groups.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November Update

This summer was lots of fun at Okutama Bible Chalet.   Many groups come to OBC; they enjoy the summer camp program which says to me that camp was a success.
The highlight for the summer was the fact that my mom and dad took vacation time to come out and visit me in Japan.  They were able to see the ministry of OBC and I had the opportunity to be a tourist with them as well. While being tourists in the Mt. Fuji area we visited Jenn and Steve Frentz at the Torchbearer Yamanakako campus where they work; mom and dad hosted Jenn and Steve when they travelled through the Abbotsford area while I was getting ready to go to Japan with SEND Int.  The highlight during my mom and dad’s visit was hiking Mt. Fuji. It was cloudy at the base but once we hiked for about 3 hours we were above the clouds and it was a beautiful day. Unfortunately neither mom nor dad made it to the top but we still enjoyed each other’s company on the way up until they had to turn around. Mom hiked up for 2.5 hours until she was too wet from the light drizzle of rain and dad hiked to the 8th station which is an hour from the top; he had to turn around because of altitude sickness. Dad and I have already talked about attempting it again during their next visit.

Last month my ministry changed and I have joined the staff at Torchbearers Yamanakako near Mount Fuji. I’ve only been here for two weeks and a staff member just got news from home that his family needs him to return to Canada. Torchbearers is already under staffed; if I had not been reassigned to serve here, Torchbearers would be really struggling to maintain the quality of service that they want to give to their guests. I see how God has moved me to where I am most needed rather than necessarily where I felt at home.
One opportunity I have had is to serve a local Christian who has been having some health issues on the farming plot near his home. Mr. Shimizu is a great guy and is a great witness to his neighbours. Because Braydon and I are foreigners working with him, we get a lot of attention from his neighbours which gives him the freedom to share where we are from and why we are helping him. He is also very generous with the produce of his land with his neighbours. 
Before my reassignment within SEND to Torchbearers Yamanakako I took some time to reflect about my call to serve in Japan and I was reminded of the fact that God continually asks me to hold “Japan” with open hands. I have to be available to where and when God wants to move me here in Japan or back in Canada. I may be here in Japan for a short season or years but the primary focus and the reason for me to serve is to reach the lost; and that can be done anywhere He asks me to go.

Please pray as I have moved and I am adjusting to my new living arrangements at Torchbearers Yamanakako.
Please pray for the OBC staff as they adjust to one less staff member to cover all of the daily tasks.
Please pray for Torchbearers Yamanakako staff as we go through our own staffing transitions.

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