A couple of months ago I completed the section on Hiragana in “A Guide to Learning Hiragana & Katakana” by Kenneth G. Henshall with Tesuo Takagaki. Since I've finished the Hiragana section I've been practising writing the Hiragana alphabet over and over. In this photo is some my practising.
Now I'm on to learning the Katakana and I'm up to the 5th character of the that alphabet. Maybe once I've learnt a few more I'll post a picture of my Katakana writing.
18 months ago I took this photo and God had a message in this photo for me today, which until today I had not seen...
As you probably know by now, I hope to do a lot more photography when I'm in Japan and through it support the mission work that we are planning.
As I was showing a couple of friends some of my best Japan photos, I noticed something very interesting while zooming in on this photo of the hippy girl. On her arms she was wearing a number of bands and on one of those bands I could make out the letters “W.J.D” . Immediately I recognised it as part of “W.W.J.D” or What Would Jesus Do!
The story behind this photo was that back in October 2006, Ritsuko and I were with our friend Pastor Jeff MacKay walking around the streets of Shinshibashi in Osaka, when we saw a number of girls in very colourful clothing. Jeff asked me “Do you want to get a photo of one of these girls?” and I said “Yes” so he called over this particular girl and I took this photo, because the beautiful lighting at that time of day it turned out really great.
This photo has since featured on some of our promotional material for our Japan Mission. When Hanako Sakamoto (who we stayed with last year) saw the photo of the girl in one of our fliers she said “I think this girl will receive Christ one day”. I don't know if this girl is a Christian, but I have since found out that unlike here where these “W.W.J.D” bands are only sold in Christian book stores, in Japan these are available in many sports stores (I think it's because a lot of American Christian athletes wear them and Japanese people saw it on the T.V.). Recently it has become trendy for Japanese people to wear crosses (because of a Korean T.V. drama which is popular in Japan where the main star wears a cross). Also I noticed that Japanese radio plays lots of Contemporary Christian Music (in English) which would not get any airplay on our commercial radio here, because they like the tune, but they don't know what the words are about. I think in all of these things God has been showing us that He will take care of the little details and He has gone ahead of us and prepared the way. As Paul did when he went to Athens, we can make known to them the “Unknown God”.
Back to Basics
As it is now the Easter Holidays I have been spending some time reflecting on what Christ has done for us and the mission ahead of us. On Good Friday evening we had a dinner with some old friends and made some new friends with their friends. We spent some time sharing testimonies with each other of how we came to Christ. All of this just reinforced the importance of being able to share basic message of the Cross with others.
My mates in Grave Forsaken (a Christian Metal Band) have a song called “Back To Basics” which talks about getting back to basics of the faith and going out there and reaching the lost. They are missionaries to the Heavy Metal subculture and they translate God's message into the language (i.e. Music) the people in that subculture understand. As missionaries to the Japanese people we also have to translate the message into language they understand, it is not just about the translating the words, but also actions into a way that they will understand the message of the Cross within their cultural context.
Learn Japanese Textbook Launched
One of the ways we intend to fund the Mission Work in Japan is through the production of high quality Japanese and English language learning materials. Ritsuko will combine her language teaching and writing skills, with my software development, photographic, and multimedia skills. Well, I am pleased to announce that we have got the ball rolling on this venture with the publication of the first Learn Japanese book and audio CD combination in a planned series of three books and audio CDs. These are not the only things we have planned, eventually we hope to have DVD videos, CD/DVD ROM based multimedia software and website based products. We also plan on producing English learning materials for the Japanese market.
Last year I started more in earnest to study Japanese and I had hoped that I'd be able to sit for level 4 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test last December. However I gave up on those plans by about July as I realised with all things that I taken on during the year however good and noble that I just didn't have enough time left to prepare for the test. I think there is a lesson in that, in life there are many good and noble things to do, but we need to keep focused on what's important that is what God is really calling us to do. The most important thing for us this year is moving to Japan, so that becomes our top priority. I know that I will need to learn more and more of the Japanese language, however I know don't really need to sit for level 4 of the proficiency test before I go. So for know I'm concentrating of the listening and speaking skills by listening to language CDs in the car on the way to work and practising Japanese with Ritsuko. I'm keeping up with the writing regularly to ensure I don't forget what I've already learnt, but I'm in no hurry with that at this moment.