EEC Day 3

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all well. Thursday July 27 was the last day of EEC. It was a very busy day since we had a lot to do. Daniel stayed up til very late trying to finish the EEC slideshow so we can show it to the children and parents at the closing assembly. Louis also stayed up late finishing another tile project he made for the kids which had the pictures of the kids enjoying EEC. The last day was also crazy socks day so the kids came wearing crazy socks. Pastor Nakada sensei chose two winners after seeing them at opening assembly, and was going to announce at the closing assembly.

For bible class they went over the wordless book and memorized John 3:16. For crafts they made a bracelet based off the colors of the wordless book. The craft was very hard for most of the children because it was bracelet that can also be used for survival. Its made with colorful chords that a a little thick. I will attach a photo later so you can see what craft they did. For games, since it was the last day and it’s hot out, we played water games. At the end of the water games like water balloon toss, we had a water balloon fight. At first not many kids got that wet since whenever they threw a water balloon at each other they missed. Daniel and I did not get wet either until it was the yellow groups class. Everyone got soaked mainly because one of the leaders, a middle school student and has attended EEC when he was younger, used the buckets as a weapon and got everyone soaked. For some odd reason he really wanted to get Daniel and I soaked, but since Daniel was holding the camera taking pictures, I mainly got soaked. It was a problem after we were done because many of the kids only brought an extra shirt and no towels. Luckily, most of their clothes dried quickly since it was hot outside. This year I decided to make things a little bit more interesting by splitting the kids in each group/class into two teams. I had them make a team name and whichever team wins the most points by winning each game, will get a prize on the last day of EEC. The kids became more excited and eager to win. It was funny how for the most part, the points were pretty even. We also added a few rules to this competition. If they break the rules, don’t listen to the staff or their leaders, or are mean to their classmates then we will take away one point from their team. Most children were able to follow the rules but there were a few that lost points for breaking the rule.

For closing assembly, we invited the parents to attend so that they can see what we do and see how the kids like EEC. We sang and danced Waves of mercy which the children love, and we also sang Deep down in my heart. We announced the two winners of the crazy socks and gave them their prize. (water yo-yo, balloon animals, and a bead necklace. We also announced the team winners for the games and gave them their prize which was a little packet of animal erasers (since the theme was about God’s creation) and a snack. We then asked a few kids to recite all three memory verses and a few others to recite the memory verse they remembered that day. After that we showed the slideshow and made announcements about Kid’s Brown that is held every Saturday, and the BBQ for EEC kids that would be held on Saturday. We hope that by showing the parents the slideshow showing them a little bit of what we do on the mission, they will invite their friends to join next year and join the Kid’s Brown program. Please pray for the children and their parents. Please pray that the children will remember everything they learned at EEC for the rest of their lives.

We were all filled with joy and happiness when we saw how much the kids enjoyed EEC and were so eager to remember the memory verses. Even the younger group were eager to learn and tried really hard to remember the verses. My mother Shizuka, who was in charge of the bible class, was only planning for the oldest kids to remember John 3:16 since it is a bit longer than the other two and harder, but even the youngest group was eager to memorize it. They practiced during the bible class and were able to say it during closing assembly. Some kids were so eager to remember the memory verse, that they asked my mom the day before what the memory verse was going to be on day 3 of EEC. By hearing these stories and seeing the kids remember the bible verses, we were reminded that this is what we came here or. This is what the mission is all about. We hope that we were able to plant God’s seeds in their hearts and we hope that that seed will continue to grow as they grow older. EEC was a lot of work and took a lot of prep but it was definitely  worth it.

I am falling asleep as I am writing this so I will end it here. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!! I think it is safe to say that this years EEC was a huge success.

Thank you!!

-Erica Sasaki

EEC Day 2

Hi everyone!

Wednesday 7/26 was the second day of EEC and we had about 18 kids this time. Some kids were only able to make it for the first day and some kids could not make it on the second day but will come on the last day. By the second day most of the kids have warmed up to us and started to be more comfortable around us. Which is a good thing and a bad thing.  It is a good thing because they are more honest and are not as tense as the first day. It is also a bad thing because that means they tend to be more mischievous and break the rules. But we have a lot of fun with the kids. For the second day, in bible class the kids memorized Isaiah 43:4. They learned about the lost sheep and how each and every one of them is special to God. Even if one person starts to go on the wrong path, God will look for every lost sheep. We hope that the children will remember that they are very special to God and that he loves them. In crafts, they made put their pictures on tiles and painted mod podge on top. The kids seemed to enjoy it and said it would be a good gift to their parents. For lunch we had mini hotdogs and again there were no leftovers. Some kids had a big appetite and kept asking for more. For closing assembly, we asked the kids which class was their favorite and if they remembered the bible verse from that day and yesterday. Almost all the kids raised their hand to recite the bible verse. Many probably raised their hand because they knew they would get a candy (Jolly Rancher) if they answered. But they were still able to recite the bible verse which was very impressive. After that we sang a few songs and then the parents came to pick the children up. Once all the kids left, we had a staff meeting to discuss what were some things we need to fix or work on. For the most part everything went smoothly, but the cook who made the lunch said she should have made more since many kids ate a lot and still wanted more. Another grandma suggested that Timothy translate more in English class since they cannot understand anything. But later told us that she asked her grandson who attended EEC, if there should be more translation in the class, told her that there is no point in English class if there is translation. It seems most of the kids understood what Monica was saying by gestures and pictures. the kids liked the challenge and was trying hard to learn English. The same grandma said that one of the kids complained that there was not enough English at EEC. We do all of the classes in English (with translation if needed) except for bible class. But the crafts class ended up explaining most instructions in Japanese since it takes time to explain the crafts. It seems they also forgot to speak in English sometimes. The child who complained is a very smart child and is very eager to learn English. He was the only child who complained about that. So with all of those things in mind we prayed that everything will go smoothly on the last day and that we can fix the problems we had so the kids can have the best time at EEC.

Thank you all for your support and prayers!

-Erica Sasaki

First day of EEC

Hello everyone!

Tuesday 7/25 was our first day of English Experience Camp (EEC) We had 20 kids come on the first day but we only had five girls out of 20 kids. This year we had the least amount of children’s compared to the past years, but we are grateful for each child who was able to make it. Many schools have started different kinds summer camps that overlapped with EEC which is one of the reasons why we had less kids this year. But we are grateful that we were able to have 20 kids.  We divided the kids by age group so we had three groups. Blue team was the youngest group and had 8 kids from ages 3-7, green team had 6 kids from 8-9 years old, and yellow team also had 6 kids from ages 9-10. We started EEC off with opening assembly and we sang songs and danced to help the kids feel more comfortable. We wore animal costumes since it’s the first day and we were going to learn about our creator and what he created. I wore a lion kigurumi, Daniel wore a bunny kigurumi, Shizuka wore a cow kigurumi, Monica wore a flamingo costume, Louis wore a peacock costume, and Timothy wore a tiger mask. Once opening assembly was over, we sent each group to a class. We had a schedule to follow by and the schedule said which group went to a class at a certain time. We had four classes which were bible, English, games, and crafts. Each class was 40 minutes long and since we had only three groups out of four classes, each class was able to have a one break when they did not have a group during a class time. It is difficult to explain so I will attach a photo of the schedule so you guys will be able to understand the flow of EEC. We had opening assembly first, two classes, lunch, two more classes, and then closing assembly.

I was in charge of games with Daniel and the kids were all so energetic and seemed to have a lot of fun in games. They even memorized John 1:3 in bible class. Almost all of the kids were able to say it at the closing assembly. Even the youngest child, a three year old was able to say it with a little bit of help. We had a lot of fun on the first day and we are very happy that the kids seemed to have fun too. Thank you everybody for your prayers!

-Erica Sasaki

Last Day of EEC

Hello everyone!

We have just finished our last day of EEC. Hallelujah! These months of preparation have finally payed off. I am proud to call these brothers and sisters in Christ my team members. Each team member worked hard and God was able to use each member’s abilities and multiply them. Thanks to His grace, we were able to overcome so many obstacles and challenges along the way.

Of course our team cannot take all the credit. We had several volunteers and church members help out along the way. I also appreciated the constructive criticisms they gave us. It helped us grow and improve ourselves. They genuinely care for the kids and the future of this city. The seminary students were so helpful to our team. They would stay up late to help us out with crafts for the next day.

Like many seminary students in Japan, Izumi-shimai has left immediately to serve at another camp. Also, Setsukin-shimai and Megumi-shimai leave to serve at another camp. It has been a pleasure to serve alongside them. Although I only got to know them for a few short days, I see a bright future ahead of them. I pray that God will use them to His vision.

As of right now, it is 12:00am. EEC 2017 is over but our team and members of Chino Christ Church are reflecting this mission trip and they are already thinking about the possibility of a mission for next year. The meeting started at 9:30pm. I’m getting tired myself so I will sign myself out. We thank you for your support back home and I hope that this blog has been informative. God bless you and have a great day!

 

2nd Day of EEC

July 27 2017

Hello everyone! Today marks the 2nd day of EEC. Once again, it has been a success thanks to everyone’s support, prayers, and the help of the staff. To make today extra special, we had the team, staff, and campers get wacky hair dos. A tradition for the Chino mission trip. I myself am actually proud of my crazy hair. I have colored rubber bands to tied to some pieces of fur. It looks like Play Doh is being pushed out of my head. A special shout out goes to Izumi-shimai and Ann-shimai for setting it for me.

The campers had their own crazy hair dos. One that caught my attention was this boy who had what I call the “inverted mohawk”. (shaved down the middle) I can tell from everyone’s crazy hair that they really enjoy camp which puts me at ease. But what really lifted my spirits was seeing so many children singing praises to God with smiles and joy. I pray that these children will continue to pursue Jesus in the future.

After the campers went home, the team and staff members gathered together for a moment of reflection and evaluation. Our leader, Danny suggested to each class/team to share one good outcome for today and one improvement. Perhaps it is my less-than-mediocre Japanese ,but it seemed like many people were stressing more issues to work on rather than the positives. I believed we had made some huge improvements from yesterday but only a few people mentioned that. At first, it made me think that the staff is just a glass-half-empty type of people. Then I realize that it is not that it is not the case. Rather, they are care so much about EEC that they want to make camp the best experience possible so that we can reach out to the children who don’t know Christ.

We are two thirds of the way done with EEC but everyone is still working hard to prepare for the last day. Our leader, Danny has caught a cold but he is working hard to completing the slideshow for tomorrow. Please pray for his health. We are coming close to the end of EEC but we are trying to finish strong. I hope this blog has given everyone a good look into how we are doing on a daily basis. God bless you and have a great day.

-Kent Ishijima

Day 3

7/23/17 was our first Sunday here at Sendai church and we led the whole worship service. I gave a personal experience testimony after we finished worship. Then, Louis gave his message today and the title was called “Making the right choice”. He talked about how we have to listen to God and make the right choice because He knows whats best for us. Even if we think we are making the right choice, we cannot see everything like God can. So he reminded us to leave it all up to God. Once service was over the church prepared for us a very delicious lunch! We split off into three groups and talked with the church members. We talked about what we are looking forward to during this mission and how grateful we are to be able to have this mission.

We had a little bit of time to relax before we started getting ready for Gospel Time. Unfortunately no children came but we had about 7 people who came. Some of them were new people who have never been to the church and some people who have been to the church few times before. It was a huge success and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. We sang Switch, Lord I lift your name on high, Oh happy day, and Amazing Grace. We sang all of these songs in English and we told them what each song meant. They all were very interested and sang pretty loud. We were very happy and thankful for all the people came and how eager they were to learn what the songs meant. We hope that this has helped them open their hearts to Christ and we hope they will come back to service or at least a future church event. Please pray that they will open up their hearts and come back to church.

 

-Erica Sasaki

ps: I will upload pictures later when I am able to.

1st Day of EEC

July 26 2017

Hello everyone! Today marks the first day of EEC. We finally got to show the children what we have been preparing for the past few months. This is what we came to this city for. To share God’s love to the children of this city.

The first of three days of English Experience Camp has been a success. Each camper was safe from physical harm, made it through each class in an orderly fashion, and was able to experience God’s love. Of course our team alone could not have made this day a success. We had the help of church members, seminary students, volunteers, and even the help of Kawasaki-sensei’s mother(also a pastor at another church). Everyone did their part to make today very special. For Rhemus and I who are not fluent in Japanese, the seminary students were very helpful in explaining the games to the campers in a way they can understand.

Since we first arrived at Chino, the weather has been cloudy and dark. Perhaps if this was a story, this would be a way to symbolize uncertainty. As my first time serving on a mission, I have many uncertainties about whether I can explain the games properly, if the kids will enjoy them,  or if I can get them to want to come back next year. I’m sure everyone else has their own concerns. Once we started singing praise for the assembly, the clouds cleared up as if God said, “Let there be light”. All of these doubts were cleared from my thoughts and what mattered most was praising God’s glory and sharing it to the world.

As of right now, it is 10:23pm. The first day of EEC is long over but everyone is still working hard to prepare for the next day. Danny is trying to figure out how to put together the pictures we took for camp into a slideshow. The church members are having a meeting with Kawasaki-sensei while two seminary students are helping Hiroko- shimai with crafts. Nozomi- shimai is also preparing for tomorrow’s Bible lesson. It amazes me how each staff member is so dedicated to serving at EEC. We are all physically tired, but God strengthens us spiritually. I hope this blog helps you understand what our team has been up to on a day to day basis. We thank you for all the support you have given us. Without that support, we would be able to be here. May God bless you and have a great day!

Kent Ishijima

Day 2

Hello everyone,

Sorry for the late post! I had a headache and was not feeling well so I’m a little behind on posting our blog… On Saturday 7/22/17 we had Kid’s Brown in the morning which is an English class the church has every Saturday. Timothy and I joined the class to help Nakada-sensei. The first class started at 10 and we had three children who came. There were two boys and one girl. They were very shy at first and would be quiet when asked to speak in English. Pastor Nakada-sensei said that they usually say the words very loud but are probably shy because Timothy and I were there. The kids were surprisingly  pretty good at speaking English. At the end of the class we split off into two groups: boys and girls, and we had a short English conversation practice time. This was when we got to learn more about the kids and the kids became more open with us. The second class started at 11 and we had two kids join us. One boy and one girl. The boy was much older than the girl and has just started coming to Kid’s Brown two months ago. But his English was very good and his pronunciation was on point. I was very surprised to hear that he just joined this class.

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Once Kid’s Brown was over, we had mochi tsuki which is a traditional way to make mochi. Every year, two old men brings the tools and the mochi for us and shows us how to pound the mochi. We all took turns pounding the mochi and we had a lot of fun. Even some of the children who came to Kid’s Brown stayed to pound the mochi. After making and eating the mochi, we had Japan Day. Two ladies came and danced a type of traditional Japanese dance wearing Kimonos. They also come every year with the community leader and even though it is very hot, they wear their kimonos and dance for us. It is very rare even for people who live in Japan to see this kind of dance so we are very grateful to have been able to see it. After the dance, I did my salvation testimony which Shizuka (aka my mom) translated to Japanese. Then, there were people who showed us how to write Japanese calligraphy and how to do flower arrangements. We had a lot of fun learning and trying those things. Once Japan day was over we all just relaxed, went over the schedule for the next day and then ate dinner. For dinner, the church made tempura, udon, and soba for us. The people who brought the mochi tsuki and the people who taught us how to write Japanese calligraphy stayed for dinner. We all had fun socializing with one another and many of us were very happy when some of them asked about God and seemed curious to learn more. We hope that God will continue to open their hearts and get to know Him more. I hope you all enjoyed reading this blog. Thank you all so much for your support and prayer.

  • Erica Sasaki

First MEBIG and Sunday Service

July 24 2017

Chino Mission

Hello everyone! We have just finished our first MEBIG and Sunday service. We started the day with a prayer meeting. This time, we read from the book of Mark 10:32-45 where Kawasaki-sensei discussed the important of serving and suffering for Christ. After our prayer meeting, we ate breakfast and cleaned up for the upcoming MEBIG and Sunday service. Sixteen children showed up eager to play games and learn their new memory verses.

The first game we played was called “Sharks and Minnows”, a version of tag where a volunteer is chosen to be shark and hunt the minnows. Those that get tagged turn into seaweed where they are stationary but can still tag the other minnows.

Our second game was a modeling game where Daniel and Rhemus kyodai become models as the kids draw from a box which determines what pieces of clothing they wear. I believe the pictures might explain what happened better than I can with words.

After games, Kawasaki-sensei gave a short message, test their memory verses, and gave them their memory verse for next week. I was so amazed to see how eager the kids were to learn these verses.

After we sent off the kids, we made our transition into Sunday worship and service. Once the congregation arrived we started with worship which consisted of songs which our own church usually sings. Nozomi played the piano, Danny played the percussion, while Rhemus, Hiroko, and I (Kent) were vocals. Following the worship service, Nozomi-shimai shared her testimony, and I gave a quick message from Ephesians 4:31-32 discussing letting go of our hatred.

Once service concluded, we had fellowship with the congregation through a potluck where we each shared our hopes for EEC. We each have our own visions but we all share a common goal in serving God and sharing his love and word with the children of Chino.

I hope this has been an informative post and our team thanks everyone who supports us. May God bless you and have a great day!

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Arrival in Japan

July 21 2017

Chino Mission

Hello everyone! We have safely arrived in Chino, Japan thanks to your prayers. We arrived at Haneda airport at around 4:30 am. As soon as our team was finished with shipping luggage and exchanging currency, we started our journey to Chino by using the train system. Surprisingly, one of our most experienced member, Daniel Inoue lost his ticket within the first stop. Fortunately, Nozomi Yang helped him get his ticket back. The rest of the journey to Chino went smoothly. Until at the very end when we took the shinkansen straight to Chino station where we missed the welcome party at the wrong exit. Thanks to Sanae-san, a member of the church, spotted us at the right moment.

From there, Higuchi-san (another church member) and Sanae-san drove us to the church. The people of Chino Christ Church prepared us somen for lunch. Afterwards, we took a short break and headed to Chino Civic Center for a prayer walk with Kawasaki-sensei. We took the elevator to the 8th floor where we could see almost all of Chino and prayed in every direction. Our team and Kawasaki-sensei prayed so that we could share the gospel to the children of Chino through our EEC camp. When we came back to the church, the people of Chino Christ Church prepared us a barbeque.

During the barbeque, we had three non-Christians over. Koike-san, Misa-san, and Ai-san. Ai-san has been going through some troubling times. She recently lost her seven day old daughter. During this time of hardship, she felt God’s comfort and has accepted Christ into her life. After the barbeque, we refreshed ourselves at the local onsen and ended the day with discussing our plans for the next day. I hope that this blog has given you a good look into the beginning of our mission trip. Once again, our team thanks everyone who has supported us emotionally, financially, and through prayer. May God bless you and have a great day!

-Kent Ishijima