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He's Come All this Way

19 December 2010 (18:31) | posted by nozomi |

A2 Advent Devotional

by Nozomi Imanishi

For to us a child is born . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
—Isaiah 9:6

Sometimes I wonder if I break God’s heart all day, every day. And not because I’m doing something wrong, something bad. But he sees how I pretend to be busy with the cookies at the side of the register, so I can avoid looking directly at the clerk, who is too handsome for me to look at.

And if I were God, and I saw my kid, and how frightened she sometimes was I’d be pretty heartbroken. But then again if I were God, and I could see the clear, sharp pieces of joy that sometimes intersect through the flatness, wouldn’t I be that much more precious to him?

Some things God loves about me: the scrap cloth that keeps my place in books, my chipped nail polish, the way I smell after a day at the beach, my quietness. And it makes me feel like a treasure, and he would say it slow like this; ah- tre- jah.

But he must have been awfully worried, because he came all the way to see me. I’m not really sure why he did it the way he did. Why he had to be born and why he had to have a mother, but that’s the way it happened.

I guess in part he wants me to know that he gets it, the whole awkwardly alive-thing. And even though I know that’s probably not the deepest or even most important reason, I’m okay with just that.

December days are thin like eggshells. It’s like I can feel God’s heartbreak and love for me, clear through the soft sunshine. I’m going to try and be less afraid this winter season. I’ll at least give it a try. It’s the least I can do, since God’s come all this way to meet me here again.

Me in my city

Nozomi Imanishi
Church Planting Associate

La Return to Japon!

25 November 2010 (05:49) | posted by nozomi |

I am returning to Japan in January!  I'm excited and nervous, ready to go yesterday and also sad about leaving home again.  I wish I could take a couple of good friends, some food I can't easily get overseas (the list would be too long to list here), maybe central heating- okay, really central heating- but, I'm glad to be returning to the ministry and call that God has placed in my life.  A new term, and new places and people!  Christmas at home in Canada- no small blessing, and two months of preparation time before I leave.  Good deal! 

I will be heading to Tokyo (my first time ever in the city I was actually born in.)  I'm praying for some final practical things to come together and if you think of it, would you pray for a good apartment for me to live?  A place that I could easily invite others into, and a place that I could call home.


17 August 2010 (01:30) | posted by nozomi |

Posing with a few members after Arts Life Group, trying to look like deep and mysterious artists-ending up looking just mysterious.  


Dipped in the December Sea

7 January 2010 (19:40) | posted by nozomi |

We celebrated two baptisms at the Okinawa City church plant in December.  And by celebrated I mean, they were the first ever baptisms coming out of our church plant!  We were a little weepy and smiley on the beach (you can see our shadows being cast along the bottom of the photo) as we watched and waited.

One of the perks of being on this southern island is being able to dunk people in the sea even in December, but wow! no joke, it was co-old!  We also provided some early morning bewilderment for joggers who wondered what the people singing on the beach could possibly be doing to the people in the water.  Perhaps they thought a bet was lost.  All in all it was a terrific morning.

Praying- Okinawan Style

1 October 2009 (21:11) | posted by nozomi |

This year my fellow Okinawan missionaries and I spent our annual Day of Prayer on Kerima Island, a tiny island two hours by ferry from Naha City.  We spent the night and prayed for Japan, our mission and our churches.   


In addition to prayer, we spent quality time being swept away in the strangely strong surf action along the beach, and snorkeling over the coral reefs.  The water around Kerima is clear as glass and the fish we saw- large and plentiful.  

The impression I'm left with after this year's day of prayer is how amazing the Creator God is.  How beautiful his work, and how lovely to both play and pray in it, in this case it was hard to feel a difference, playing was an act of prayer, and prayer was in fact play.  

Bye bye E

1 September 2009 (21:22) | posted by nozomi |

So by far one of the lamest things about life is having to say goodbye. Today I'm saying goodbye to one of my closest friends in Japan.  For the past year and a half Elizabeth has been my sister, friend and confidante. She's also a kick-butt fellow missionary, who's term here has ended and is heading home.

We first met in Osaka, four years ago, she was on her way through with a group called Envision, touring through Japan meeting pastors and congregations.  I remember her because she fell asleep on my apartment floor.  (It must have been a long day.)  The second time we met was three years ago, I was in Seattle trying to convince her family that Asian Access was a solid organization, and that she was desperately needed in Japan.  (Not that we were just questionable missionaries, trying to steal their precious daughter overseas.)  I was grateful for the loan, and for the past year and a half we've been working together here in Okinawa.

The first photo we took together, after dinner at her parents' house.  

And now today, our last photo- for now.

I can't imagine who will take the place of this friend.  Who will listen to me whinge, will tolerate my drama or tell me puns, who else could possibly understand so well what it means to be a church planter here in Okinawa.  I let her go unwillingly, even as I in the same breath, pray for God's blessing on the next piece of her journey.  We love and miss you E.    

Total (Mostly) Eclipse of the Sun

23 July 2009 (09:19) | posted by nozomi |

I saw my first solar eclipse yesterday!  It was both painful (because I don't know how to view a solar eclipse the correct way) and also totally worth the eye damage because it was incredible!  Okinawa's peak time to view the solar eclipse was at 10:45 am.  I was in a meeting then, but at around 10:20am we all went out to join the rest of the neighbourhood on roofs and streets to wait.  At 10:20am the sun was still to bright to look at for more than a couple of seconds, but all around the sun was this huge bright ring.  What made the ring amazing was that the edges of the ring were a faded rainbow.  

I know it's hard to see but the ring is actually a thin, round rainbow.  It was incredible.  (This, by the way, is the only picture of the eclipse I'm posting because my camera sucks.)  Around 10:30am it started to get dark.  We didn't experience a total eclipse, so it didn't become night, but everything went dim and became shadow.  The temperature, I later heard, dropped from 33C to 29C, and all the birds and cicadas went quiet.  It was eerie, the cold wind, and silence.

The sun became easier to look at, and we watched the eclipse through sunglasses.  It really looked like the moon was eating the sun.  The Japanese character for eclipse, 日食 is just that, the day being eaten. 

And for hours afterwards, everywhere I looked there were bright white dots.     


25 June 2009 (18:48) | posted by nozomi |

Three weeks ago I wandered into a traditional Japanese dance rehersal by accident.  I then found myself coerced into learning said dance.  This in itself is a wonderful thing, very beatiful, so traditional, "look at me, I'm getting in touch with my roots" etc.  The problem lay in that this weekend in Okinawa there is a major Christian conference in town.  And we were to perfom at the Opening Welcome Ceremony, in front of a small, intimate group of around 100 people. 

Which meant that for the last three weeks I have busted a gut trying to learn all the subtle nuances of buyo, (the dance style) and there are many, all for today.  The photo below shows us mid-performance.  (Really, the getting ready, with the hair and make up was a whole 'nother Titan effort...)    

I was so nervous.  I mean, really sit down and puke nervous, but things went off without a hitch and I actually enjoyed myself (especially towards the end).  It was great!

Now I can put away this dance which I've lived and breathed for the last 3 weeks.  I've washed and hung the yukatas to dry.  They are ready to be folded and given back to their owners, and I'm about to celebrate the end with some ice cream.      

Inora Night-o

23 June 2009 (19:07) | posted by nozomi |

Inora Nighto, this is the name that my church has given to our annual night of prayer.  In Japanese it's a pun, "inora" means prayer, "nighto" doubles as the English word night, and the Japanese word must.  So Inora Nighto means both Prayer Night and We Must Pray. 

I got home close to 1 am last night and am tired today, but it was totally worth it.  We prayed for this tiny southern island, people in government, we asked for forgiveness from one another and we ended in songs and communion.  

Here's a picture of the cross that hangs in the front of our church.  I love this church and these people.  I love that I am able to pray and cry and sing with them.  And this island, despite the heat and bugs, isn't half bad.  


Japanese Sermon

9 June 2009 (13:04) | posted by nozomi |

The last three weeks or so I've spent a lot of late nights at the local Starbucks working on my first sermon in Japanese.  I've never preached in Japanese before and have never written a sermon in Japanese.  In fact, the most I'd ever written in Japanese before this, were a few sparse letters to my grandparents, mostly going over generic topics like the weather, ie "Canada is very cold today.  What is Japan's weather like?" or "Thank you for the doll."  (I got an awful lot of dolls, my age never seeming to go beyond 8 for my grandparents.) 

Anyway, all this to outline my pathetic lack of experience in writing Japanese.  I began by writing the entire sermon in English.  I then went back over it, translating it painstakingly by hand.  (see photo above) But I began to realize that writing by hand used up too many erasers, and the re-writes of the drafts would be brutal.  So...


Free Basil

27 May 2009 (21:15) | posted by nozomi |

Yesterday my prayerwalk partner and I did our final prayerwalk of the season.  We've been walking the neighbourhood around the church plant once a week since November, and we will now officially take the prayerwalking inside (praying over maps) until November rolls around again.  The reason for the location change?  Simple, it's too dang hot outside and we're kind of wimpy really. 

And to celebrate (well not really, we just got our hands on a ton of free basil) we made pesto! Plus we are also in charge of supplying dinner next Wednesday for worship service, so it dovetailed neatly. 

Below is my church member, modeling the correct way to wash basil.  I thought maybe she was a little too vigorous but she was adamant that she didn't want to eat dirt.  The pesto turned out well and hopefully freezes well, because that's what we did.  


25 May 2009 (19:42) | posted by nozomi |

All last week I kept forgetting appointments and meetings.  I'm not kidding, I almost missed, or er... missed three.  Sigh...  I'm absolutely blaming this on tsuyu; the days of downpour, here in Okinawa.  It's not so much the rain that's causing brain death as the humidity.  It's like living in a sauna.

On the other hand I have found a new obession.  This involves constantly checking the water tank in the dehumidifier to see how much water has been sucked out of the air in my apartment.  

This is how much water (where I'm pointing) that collected in three hours, around 1.5 L.  I love this machine.  I hate mold, damp books and laundry that never dries. . . [More...]

Golden Week

7 May 2009 (20:05) | posted by nozomi |

Okinawa just finished celebrating "Golden Week" (a week off for national holidays) and I went with friends and students to Ie Jima.  A small island, population a little over 5000, and a thirty minutes ferry ride from the main island of Okinawa.  We climbed Mt. Gusuku, which... I think... (my understanding and attention can be iffy) is famous because the rocks which make it is 7000 years older than the surrounding ground around it.  (Or something like that.) Here is my favourite photo from the top:


The exposure got a little too much sun, but I loved the patchwork fields of sugarcane and tobacco, the fork in the road, the dirt paths, and the small forest in the middle.  In the topmost right hand corner you can even see a bit of the crazy-turquoise sea.  

Here's another photo from Ie Jima.  The flowers which grow rampant over this island are incredible.  We had a great time exploring the tiny island, which you can drive around in less than an hour.  I may be unsure of many aspects of Ie Jima, but one thing is for sure, the heat of summer is definitely just around the corner!  




25 March 2009 (11:08) | posted by nozomi |

Being green, conservation etc. are huge catch words here in Japan too.  (eg. my Japanese church a couple of months ago went totally solar.)  This is a personal interest of mine anyway and so when I came to Okinawa I thought that one of the things we could do as a church, was offer a space where people could come together, be creative and practice conservation.  


First Sunburn of the Year

11 February 2009 (18:39) | posted by nozomi |

Okay, so no joke as I type this I am sitting with moisturizer dabbed all over my face trying to reduce the redness in my cheeks.  It's my first sunburn of the year and the fact that it's February 11 and it's not a snowboarding tan, it's an actual legitimate, I-was-out-in the-sun-playing-sports, sun burn, is incredible. 

Today is our annual AG church (there are 7 on Okinawa) youth Sports Day.  My team, green team, obviously came in first.  (I brag, but this was more like a win despite me.)  I wish I had thought to bring my camera because it is something to see 7 AG pastors trying to block each other from reaching home plate, black mailing the umpire into making bad calls and really, kind of bad mouthing each other, all in all very amusing.  Pastors gone bad aside, the youth had a fantastic time getting sunburnt.   

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