And so it begins

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Ah! Gaijin da! (A foreigner!) The Japanese children run over from one end of the park to meet Rowan and Jasper. “Do you speak English? Where are you from?” The children ask, crowding around with curiosity and smiles. Our boys talk in English and I translate for everyone. Before we know it, everyone is playing tag and hide-and-seek, including me!

The story above has repeated itself many times during our first few days here in Sapporo. A particularly encouraging story is Ellen’s new friend Rikka. We met her and her twin boys at a park on our first day here, and she wants to meet regularly with Ellen as English/Japanese conversation partners.

In the midst of these opportunities, we are working hard as a family to transition well to life in Japan. The boys seem understandably unsettled by the many changes, so we strive to discover new fun things they can enjoy here. So much has transpired it’s hard to condense into a post but I’m attempting it anyway!

THE FLIGHT

We boarded our plane at 7am on May 12th out of Austin, a last minute change due to weather conditions. During the 12 hour flight, the kids spilled a full cup of milk on an angry neighbor and pulled off my wedding ring. Of course it rolled off into oblivion. Thankfully a kind passenger found and returned it, and the rest of the flight the boys enjoyed a much higher dosage of TV than allowed in our home.

WEEK 1: TOKYO

Jet lag hit us hard so our first week was in recovery mode. My parents (Mike & Rowena) took us to many fun family places and helped with the boys. Being up from 12am – 5am with Jasper really does a number on your Circadian rhythm!

We celebrated Mother’s day and my mom’s 60th birthday together at a wonderful park.

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On Thursday we journeyed to Yokohama to see the area and tour a few potential homes for rent. We were very impressed with how well-planned Tsuzuki Ku (ward) is. It has green belts running all throughout, making it easy to travel the area walking/biking.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing, shoes and outdoorAs Heike Messer gave us a tour of the area, Ellen and I both felt a strong sense that this area is like home to us. It was encouraging to sense the presence of the Lord with us and filling us with joy to live and serve him in this area. Praise God. What better way to serve the Lord than in a spirit of gladness and joy! Heike was such a wonderful host and even took us to the nearby Ferris wheel, which made Rowan’s day! We saw many parks and lots of opportunities for ministry once we officially move.

WEEK 2: SAPPORO

Once again we took to the air. This time to Sapporo where we spent the first few days adjusting and then began language school. We continue to study Japanese, meet people at parks, and help our boys adjust to these many moves.

Many things to pray for:

  • For our family to adjust well to life in Japan. Especially Rowan and Jasper as they miss Texas and yet look forward to life in Yokohama.
  • For Ellen and the boys to learn Japanese quickly.
  • For Ellen’s new friend to know the Lord.
  • For our new home in Yokohama. We found a wonderful townhome only 3min walk from our team leaders (Armin & Heike Messer), and 10min walk from the church/train station. Please pray for God to provide, as it is very common for foreigners to be turned down in rental applications.

So excited to be back in Japan,

Patrick & Ellen



We are at 100.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Both Texas and Japan are in the midst of flower celebrations this month, the bluebonnet and the cherry blossom.

How appropriate that in the midst of this Spring celebration we can praise God that we reached 100% pledged support! The prayer is answered. I have to highlight some testimonies of God’s goodness in this process:

  • Three different missionaries decided they wanted to support us even though they are support-raised themselves and we never asked. How encouraging and humbling!
  • Ellen and I have prayed privately and specifically that our support would be in by Mid March. On March 14th we were at 91%, and a family prayed over us that all our support would be in by the end of the week. Guess what? That next morning on March 15th, we received a completely unexpected e-mail and it brought us right to 100% (we didn’t announce this immediately since we needed to wait until the pledge was officially set up)

Praise God! So what does this mean for some of you are are still interested in pledging but haven’t done so yet? Don’t worry, you’re not left out, you can still pledge! Here’s why:

  • Our actual budget ended up higher than our pledge goal, due to higher than expected housing and education costs.
  • Funds beyond our basic budget go toward “wish-list” items such as education/retirement savings and special purchases such as an electric-assisted bike for Ellen (this would be super helpful since a bike is our main mode of transport carrying two boys on the back!)

So what’s next? Well we have all of our clearances now to leave for Japan. We are only waiting for the Visas and then flying out the second week of May, the tail end of cherry blossom season. Please pray for us as we say many goodbyes over these next few weeks.

Bless you all,

Patrick & Ellen

Quick Correction

Apologies for any confusion from my last post; some understood our update to say we are already done raising financial support. We are not! We are at roughly 86% now, but we are required to be at 100% by the end of March in order to leave in May. The “go ahead” for May is to plan for that departure date and apply for visas. Please continue to pray for God to provide. Thank you!

Let Praise Arise

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“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

Our four-year-old son Rowan stepped up to the mic, his voice quivered slightly as he began to pray: “Lord, I pray that the kids in Japan would know you God. Let the Japanese kids tell other kids about God, so that they may know you!” He stepped back from the mic, and worshiped God along with the other children.

What a beautiful sight seeing children worshiping God and interceding in prayer for the Japanese! Praise is our theme right now as God has been faithful to provide for our needs. Some encouraging updates to share with you:

Praise God for:

  • 83% Financial Support! OMF wanted us to be at 80% by 2/24, and we hit 80% just 2 days beforehand. Only a week prior we were at 70%. We are cleared to aim for a May departure!
  • Sold the House. We put the house up for sale on Friday, and by Monday we had two offers, one was above asking price! What a relief to have this taken care of. Signed the papers. Just amazing.

God is worthy of praise.  

Over the next several weeks we will be focusing on visa work, finishing out our financial support, and touching base again with many supporters and friends as we get ready for goodbyes.  Friends, this is happening. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

Onward,

Patrick & Ellen

Goodbye Home

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Our home for the last 6 years in Bryan, TX

Like a bullet train approaching top speed of 160 miles per hour, our life is changing and accelerating as we move into a season of full-blown transition. Next week we put our house on the market and in roughly three months we’ll feel the rumble of jet engines carrying us off to the land of the rising sun.

And I’m still wondering, how are we going to be ready in time? With support raising, visa clearance, packing, planning and the simplest but hardest part – saying goodbyes – we often feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to do. But we know from the testimony of those gone before us and from the Word that God will provide.

Prayer and Action Items:

72% of our financial goal. Praise God! We are required to reach 80% by the end of next week. Practical ways you can help:

  • Start your giving commitment. Every dollar that comes in helps tick our support % up.  (e-mail Joyce at US.Donations@omfmail.com if you aren’t sure if this is set up)
  • Pledge financial support 
  • People you know. If you’d like us to share at your small group or with someone else who you think needs to hear about this ministry, now is the time!

House for Sale. Our house will hit the market on February 24th. Just now discovering all the house projects past-self intentionally ignored and stored up for future-self to do. Great.  If you can spare a couple hours between Feb 20th -23rd to help with patching up paint spots, cleaning, or helping with the kids (so we can work!), please let us know! You can click here to sign up for a time slot: Google Doc Sign up Sheet

We’re off to Houston for the Cypress Bible Church Missions Conference February 24-26th, so if you’re in the area, we’d love to see you!

Christ is so worthy,

Patrick & Ellen

Shu wa Subarashii. . . The Lord is wonderful.

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photo courtesy of: Answers in Genesis

Every night in our Texas-sized yard we hear our neighbors cows, the occasional cricket, and our son singing this song over and over while he falls asleep. Shu wa subarashii, watashi no Shu. God is wonderful, He is my Lord. It’s beautiful to see God is working in his heart, preparing him for Japan and increasing his hunger for God.

Truly the Lord is wonderful, and we have so much to be grateful for. I’m reflecting on this more than usual as I just said goodbye to some very dear co-workers on February 1st, my last day at Briaud Financial Advisors.

As a special tribute to Briaud, I wanted to share three ways God changed me through my workplace.

  1. Excellence is expected. My bosses and co-workers challenged me to consistently deliver world-class service. I can’t wait to take this passion and apply it to serving the church in Japan.
  2. Complete ownership. I’ve never witnessed a group more committed to taking ownership of their mistakes, and eagerly learning from them to make life better. It has been a powerful lesson in humility, trust, and teamwork.
  3. Facing conflict head-on. We don’t shove any conflict or frustration under the rug, we face it. This lesson has paid off many times in restoring unity, trust, and friendship as we face misunderstandings.

Briaud, you hold a special place in my life, and I won’t forget you. Though you didn’t know it, you invested in missions to Japan by investing in me!

Rapid updates:

  • Pledge Update: 59%. Tons of meetings, tons of followups to do. We are trying to reach 75% by February 15th or so.
  • Family update: Rowan’s papa gifted him a month of karate to build his confidence and prepare him for Japan. Rowan is LOVING it! Thank you!
  • Prayer update: Pray for peace as we trust the Lord to meet our pledge goal of 100% by end of March. Also, pray for wisdom as we schedule and make the most of these remaining months.


So thankful for you all,

Patrick & Ellen

January 2017 Newsletter

In lieu of our regular post, I recommend you read our newsletter. If you didn’t get it and would like to, click subscribe to the right and you’re on the list!

We’re still going strong toward a May launch date, and continue to need your prayers and encouragement. The verse on my mind lately is:

John 14:1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

What a wonderful thing to know that we can rest in trusting God for he is truly trustworthy!

As a side note, we are shifting to bi-weekly blog updates.

Family Time

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Seems like we’ve been traveling on the highway lately with the fast paced life of partnership meetings and preparing to leave our home for the Gospel. But the Christmas season slow-down has given us a much needed detour. It’s like pulling off the highway for a trip to Santa’s Wonderland and marveling at the refreshing lights and warmth of time spent with family, which we is exactly what we did when my parents visited from Japan last week.

[Quick Note: If you didn’t get the email notification for this post, please check your spam folder and update settings. Or, you might not be subscribed, so click the subscribe link on the right. These will start coming weekly.]

Breaking from the traditional format, here are some updates on each of us:

Ellen: won several writing competitions this year and continues to query her YA novel to agents and editors. Homeschooling our two boys and preparing for the big move to Japan. So much to plan!

Patrick: Things are starting to wrap up quickly at my job as I approach the final month at Briaud Financial. It will be hard to say goodbye to my dear friends and coworkers here, they have been such a significant part of my life. It has been a blessing to have their support and encouragement. I’m enjoying a few good books right now: 31 days of prayer for Japan (published by OMF), Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian life (by Donald Whitney), and You Got to Have Wa (by Robert Whiting).

Rowan: is super excited about his four-year-old ninja birthday party coming up soon. It’s been a  joy to watch Rowan’s faith develop as he prays for others, especially the people of Japan. Recently he woke up early and joined me for devotions and asked if he could pray for the Japanese. Right now he’s getting a lot of mileage out of a fantastic Christmas present from my parents. Marble run!

Jasper: Potty training, need I say more? Two years old and moved into a full size bed! He’s very proud of this. He loves to wrestle, and has more energy than a scurry of caffeinated chipmunks! [fun fact: scurry is the actual word for a group of chipmunks. How appropriate!]

I’m sure you’re wondering, did we make the 50% pledge goal? We’re waiting for the final year-end tally, which we will release next time. . .!

Merry Christmas to all of you,

Patrick & Ellen

Saying Goodbyes

photo courtesy of Shutterstock

I sprinted up the hill to watch the van driving away carrying my closest friends. “Goodbye!” I shouted, tears streaming down my face, not knowing if or when I would see them again. Their faces disappeared out of sight, but the emptiness remained in my fifth-grade heart. Goodbyes are a terrible thing.

A missionary’s life is filled with many goodbyes. We move often, and return to the US to visit dear friends for a brief while before saying goodbye again. People are even more transient in the mission community, with friends regularly leaving for home-assignment or relocating for new ministry opportunities. Goodbye permanence.

You may think it’s a little soon for us to be saying goodbye, we don’t leave until May 2017 right? Well, a big goodbye is coming on February 1st. I will stop working at Briaud Financial Advisors, so we can do full-time partnership development. With roughly 12 employees, Briaud has been another family to me for over five and a half years. It will be very hard to say goodbye to these wonderful people who have taught me so much. Pray for a good parting.

Updates:

  • Pledge: 49%. We’re very close to our 50% year-end goal. We’re deeply thankful to all of you for your support.
  • Family: My parents are in town from Japan right now and will be staying with us some over the upcoming weeks. Pray for a meaningful and fun time of rest together.
  • Prayer: Continue to pray for rest and strength for our family.

Merry Christmas dear friends,

Patrick & Ellen

A Season of Partnership

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Rowan (almost 4) and Murphy the dog enoying Texas December in the backyard. 

“ I had no idea how great the need is in Japan”

Since we started partnership development I’ve heard this said more times than I can count.  What a privilege to educate and invite the body of Christ into reaching Japan with the gospel.

I have a confession to make, one I would never have imagined saying three months ago: I love partnership development. (aka support-raising)

Crazy, right? Cold-calling a couple hundred people, hearing the awkwardness on the other end of the line, feeling like a salesman at times, being rejected, or worse ignored, how could I possibly enjoy this? But how many people get to catch up with old friends, share their God-given passion, and see that mission confirmed as person after person signs up to support you on this journey? Truly it’s overwhelming. It’s worth 100’s of “no’s”, exhaustion, travelling thousands of miles, and facing-off with your fear of rejection.

So yes, we might be crazy, because it’s certainly no bag of cupcakes. As intense as this stage of the missionary journey is, we plan on enjoying it as much as humanly possible.

Updates

  • Pledge Update: 43%. What an amazing week it has been! Please keep praying that we will make the 50% pledge goal by the end of the year.
  • Family Update: Ellen’s book is being reviewed by another round of agents from the writing competition she won recently, so we are praying she will receive an offer soon.
  • Prayer Update: As much as we enjoy the actual partnership meetings, the sheer quantity of them is leaving us very drained right now, so please pray for strength, spiritual protection over our family, and faithfulness.

I suspect you will see Christmas cards from us in the next few weeks, (though we still need to take the photo!).

Enjoying the Christmas lights,

Patrick & Ellen