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Rob’s in Japan!

Well, we are having so much fun having Rob here in Japan with us!  We have already done a lot in the few days he’s been here!  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, I’m trying to post lots of pictures there, but for those that aren’t here’s a few for you to see what we’ve been up to!

Odaiba - the Statue of Liberty and the Rainbow Bridge

Shinjuku Gyoen (Park)

A Doughnut place from New York - the Bukowskis recently ate there. These were tasty!

Pachinko - not sure the guys actually figured out how the game works!

Ramen

Shibuya

DisneySea - Indiana Jones Ride

Last Saturday was our Kindergarten Summer Festival.  Like last year, we did face painting for the kids.  It was so much fun – they are so cute and get so excited when we do the face painting!  There was also delicious food and fun entertainment!  Of course it was so hot, but all the Japanese kids still came in their cute Japanese yukatas!

The Japanese teachers dressing up as fun characters and doing dances - this always seems to be their specialty!

Apparently you don't need an umbrella when the rain starts...you just need a washcloth!

Birthdays

Since Chris and my birthdays are only three days apart we have a fun time celebrating each year!  It kind of feels like we just have a week long celebration – no complaints here!

My birthday was on a Wednesday this year and it was a busy day, but Chris still made it wonderful for me – breakfast in bed, cooked my favorite dinner and took me out the next night to celebrate too!

Chris’ birthday was the BIG one this year – the BIG 3-0!  I have been talking about him turning 30 for like a year now, so sometimes I think he thought he already was 30, but I was so just excited to celebrate with him this year!  He got SO MANY wonderful cards from all of you back home – thanks so much for helping me with my “30 cards for his 30th birthday” plan!  I don’t know how many we ended up with because they are still coming!  For his birthday we went out for lunch to a new restaurant, sang some karaoke, and visited a nearby Gospel Choir with some of his Gospel Choir friends.  The next we celebrated again with some friends where Chris BBQ-ed some delicious RIBS I had ordered as a surprise for him!

And, his birthday celebration will continue this next week too, when his friend comes to visit!

Thanks for all your cards, calls and emails!  It’s hard to be away from home on our birthdays, but they really help to make us feel loved!

Chris and Peter making my birthday dinner, Chris' speciality - Chicken wings, corn on the cob and potato wedges!

Some of my friends at my birthday dinner!

Rebekah made delicious brownies and ice cream!

Our tasty Italian food for Chris' birthday lunch!

Gospel Choir

Chris and Peter outside grilling the delicious RIBS and some other tasty things too!

Ready for the meal!

Chris' annual ice cream cake!

Goodbyes

Well, a few weeks ago we had to say goodbye to two of our teammates.  It’s always a bittersweet time – being able to be excited for what is next for them but being sad to see them go!  The Japanese family here took us all out to for another “Goodbye Dinner” and we even got to stop at a place called “The Five Colored Lakes”.  We only visited one of the lakes, but it’s really so pretty and the weather was great.  Here are some pictures from our fun outing!

Mariana enjoying our delicious bread - we couldn't get enough of it!

Me and Rebekah - so thankful that God provided a wonderful friend for me here!

Doing the limbo - we get creative here!

Kawaai-sensei - She is like our Japanese mom! We love her!

Year Two

I can’t believe it’s really been a month since I last updated the blog.  I really need to get better at this!  We’ve been having a great summer – getting time with each other, students, friends and making new friends.  So at least we have good reasons for not updating more frequently – things are going well in Japan!

Year two has been so different from year one.  Year one here was full of learning the language (which is an ongoing thing here), learning the culture, figuring out the teaching style here, learning to grocery shop – just learning to live in a new country.

And…it was challenging!

Chris is much better at quickly adapting to new places, cultures, languages.  But for me…it was really hard.  It was hard for Chris, too.  But…the farthest place I lived from Chicago was the UP, and that was just for a couple summers.  So I felt like I was learning to not only live in a new country/culture, but also to live away from the family and community that I have back in Chicago.

Chris was so patient with me.  He supported me, loved me, prayed for me and encouraged me along the way.  Some days I just cried out to God and didn’t know why I was here.  Ok, maybe a lot of days.

But then year two came.   And it has been strange.  People kept telling me, just get through the first year and things will be different.  In the midst of year one, that was sometimes hard for me to believe.  But – they were right.

Year two has been amazing!  I feel so much more comfortable with the culture and language here.  I’m not struggling to get through the day, but rather I’m now surprised at how fast the days go by.  I have friends…Japanese friends, which is a hugh answer to prayer.  And I’m starting to make more Japanese friends, too.  The language is always an on-going process, but I don’t have to listen so hard to understand when someone’s talking to me, and I can have conversations with my students!

God really has been so faithful!  It’s so amazing and encouraging to see how He will guide and provide for us if we just trust him!  I am so thankful for the way He’s helped me grow in being here.  It’s so interesting to see how much you can be challenged in ways you never expected – but He knows what’s best and has far greater plans than I can ever dream of myself!

Well, this went in a whole different direction than I really expected it to when I started this post.  I was going to just post some pictures, but I really feel like I needed to share God’s goodness in our lives!  I will post pictures this week so you can see what we’ve been up to!  We love you all so much and are so thankful and blessed for your constant love, support, encouragement and prayers!

-Chris and Abbie

Finally, an update!  I know, it has been so long – but before I left for the wedding I was so busy getting things done for the wedding and things ready for the Easter program that was happening here in Japan while I was gone.  So at long last, here are some pictures form the wedding.  The photographer has much better ones, so when those are ready I’ll post a link – but this will give you a small glimpse of the beautiful day.

Apart from the groom being sick – yes, sick – it was a beautiful and fun day!  I was so glad I could home to be apart of this special event and had such a wonderful time with friends and family – even though it went by so fast!  (Enjoy!  And, I promise to post other happenings soon!)

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Photo credit: 268Generation Blog

We had a great time at Passion Tokyo this weekend!  There were over 2,000 students that attended, and it was definitely the largest amount of Christians we have been with in Japan.  God provided an amazing translator who spoke beside Louie Giglio and spoke with just as much energy and excitement as Louie did.  God used them to speak to the young people of Japan and it was exciting for us to also get excited about the work God is/will do in Japan!  We know that there is much to be done and as the question was asked, “How many does it take?”, we were reminded that God will use just one person to make a difference – but how much more of an impact can we make if we all choose to do His work!

Our volunteer jobs were to help with registration and with the offering.  Taking the offering was my favorite part of the evening.  I was overwhelmed as I stood with my basket and had a continuous flow of Japanese people putting their envelopes in my basket.  The basket had to be emptied three times.  The offering was going to help pay for the conference that is happening this evening in Manila, Philippines, so as many people put their envelopes in the basket they would smile at me and say “Go Manila!”

It was an exciting and challenging night!  Please be praying for those that attended – the younger generation of Japan, our teammates, our Japanese friends – Manri & Michina, and us.  Please pray for us as we continue to pray about how God will continue to use us in Japan!  We are here and we want to continue to be used BY and FOR Him!

You can see pictures of the evening here and read more on the Passion blog.