Family Time

jasperlights

rowan-lights

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.

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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

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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

rowan-and-murphy

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

Shintoism. What is that?

shinto

I looked up at the powerful waterfall, amazed and awed by the beauty of God’s creation in Japan. To my left another god was being worshiped – a Shinto shrine sat near the waterfall marking it as a sacred place. Shintoism is everywhere in Japan, you can hardly wander a couple miles without seeing a temple. Nearly 80% of the Japanese population practice Shintoism an ancient Japanese religion focused on ancestor worship and the worship of the “8 million gods” of nature. Worship occurs both at home in the form of ‘god shelves’ and at shrines.

Shintoism has no founder, no authoritative set of practices, and no holy book. Although most Japanese I’ve met over the years seem to practice Shintoism only culturally, such as festivals, praying for exams, and buying Omamori (amulets), the belief system has strongly influenced Japan’s values. Shintoism is a major obstacle to Christianity for these reasons:

  • It denies absolute truth and favors moral relativism.
  • It asserts the basic moral goodness of mankind
  • It teaches animism and polytheism

Please pray that God’s truth would prevail against this false religion, and that the Japanese would turn and worship the one true living God!

Updates:

  • Pledge update: We hit 36% This week. Praise the Lord!
  • Family update: We are really feeling the intensity of partnership development, and the boys seem to be picking up on it given the number of meetings we do each week.
  • Prayer update: Please pray that we would not grow weary (Gal 6:9), and that the boys would continue to feel a part of this journey with us.

Let the Lord be praised,

Patrick & Ellen