Partnership Development: The Highs and Lows

Japan Jesus

What a week. I’m so glad that it’s Monday and a new week had begun. Let me explain.

As many friends and family will know, at the start of the year we began what we call “Partnership Development” (PD). PD is the process of trusting to God to raise up prayer supporters, long term individual and church gospel partnerships, and financial partners to enable us to serve long term with OMF as missionaries in Japan. Phew – even that sentence feels exhausting!

So we have embarked on this process that feels sometimes like we run our own business, in the sense of always having more work that we could do! It also feels like we need to promote ourselves and impress people at times. But what this experience mostly feels like is being on an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows as we battle moments of discouragement paired with moments of great encouragement.

When we began PD I was definitely anticipating the hectic, intense nature of it. But I wasn’t anticipating it being such an emotional process. I can have one day of being so encouraged and thankful to God, feeling like “Yes! We are going to get there?”, and then the very next day I can wallow in doubt, wondering “Is it even possible?” And it’s a tiring process.

We have had a discouraging few weeks. Nothing in particular happened to cause us to be a bit down about PD, but we have just been feeling a bit weary. And in that state of weariness and discouragement we were not particularly looking forward to more busy-ness.

Paul’s major essay was due.
We were speaking at MST (Melbourne School of Theology) Chapel, where Paul studies.
We had to put together a 3 minute clip about Japan.
We were speaking at Valley Presy in Doreen: I was doing the Kid’s talk and Paul was preaching.
So, I needed to write a Kid’s talk and Paul needed to prepare a sermon.
We also were sharing at our own Growth Group on Sunday afternoon.
Plus LIFE with two young children and everything else. So we were feeling weary.

And yet, every. single. time. the same thing happens. We are weary, and we come before God and say “We can’t do this in our own strength. We can’t do this at all! Please help us Lord. May we glorify you.” And each time, we get there. We share, and we serve, and we are blown away with encouragement.

After sharing at MST we both had conversations that we came away encouraged by. It’s such a privilege to share with people on their journey to discernment for the future, and as they wrestle with the cost of discipleship. We felt like God really used us to convict people of the need for the gospel to go out to the nations. And for that we were thankful!

Yesterday we shared at Valley Presy, and felt absolutely privileged to be able to have almost a whole service to again share about the need for the gospel in Japan. Never had we felt so encouraged by a church that seemed eager to form a long term partnership with us, because of their vision and passion for Jesus Christ.

After that we shared at our Growth Group and had such a lovely dinner together, of delicious home-made Okonomiyaki.

It was a great day, and we continue to be flabbergasted at the ways that God uses His people to encourage us at just the right times, and in just the right ways.


My History with Japan

Image from

My heart is deeply connected to Japan. It’s not that I am a keen ‘Manga’ person, entranced by the sub-culture of ‘Anime’ that exists in Japan. Nor am I only besotted with the thought of the East meeting the West in one big melting pot of cultures colliding. I don’t have any Kanji (Chinese characters) tattooed on my body. I’m not a culinary artist convinced that Japanese cuisine is food in its purest form. I am not any of these things, and yet Japan is encased warmly within my heart.

An Education Begins

When we moved house from the city to the country when I was 10, I found myself in a class studying Japanese. Everyone else could read and write Hiragana and Katakana, but I knew nothing. And I didn’t like it. So I got some flash cards and as a 10 year old I taught myself the two alphabets one weekend. This was the first place that Japan started becoming a part of my life – an elementary introduction to Japanese.

In High School I continued studying Japanese. We had some less than brilliant teachers, until Year 9 when we not only had a great Australian teacher, but also had the first of a stream of Japanese assistant teachers, who were in fact, Japanese. I had actually now met a Japanese person! Or two or three. As I continued studying, my interest in Japan grew. I did well in school, despite probably not being able to have much of a conversation in Japanese. There were numerous opportunities to travel to Japan during my teen years, but I was never able to go myself.

As I graduated and began studying Podiatry at University, the opportunity to continue studying Japanese passed. I was unable to fit Japanese classes into an already hectic study schedule. This didn’t sit well but it seemed to be just the way things were.

At University, partly due to my involvement in the Christian Union, I began to have a significant interest in Missions. I wondered if this was something I could do in the future. God continued to impress upon me the need for the gospel to be proclaimed amongst the many hundreds of thousands of people groups who are yet to know Him.

After my first year of Uni my heart was not in Podiatry. Neither was my head – my brain struggled with the scientific and mathematic side of things, which was not a surprise to me at all. And so I followed my heart (and my head) and began my Arts Degree, hoping to major in Japanese. So my study of Japanese continued, but it was off to a difficult start. Despite having taken a year off from Japanese and being incredibly rusty, I had no choice but to be placed in the advanced class and I struggled my way through that first year. But I made it and was hopeful of making Japanese my major. Until I learned that you needed a certain grade to continue, and I hadn’t made it. I was unaware of this during the year, and was quite devastated when I realised my plan was not going to work! As much begging and pleading as I did, the Faculty would not be persuaded. And so it seemed that despite having lodged itself firmly in my heart, I was unable to pursue my interest in Japan and Japanese through my studies.

Although my studies had ceased in a formal way, God definitely knew what I needed to keep my interest going – people. He brought a few Japanese friends into my life and my heart was slowly, almost imperceptibly being changed. Ayako, Kazumi and Wakako have a lot to answer for! Their kindness ,fun and generosity of spirit gave me a glimpse into some of the positive aspects of the heart of Japan. And as this love for a people grew (rather than a language or idealised culture), my heart for Jesus and for seeing his Word proclaimed grew as well. But strangely enough it took me a while to join the dots – until I was faced with the decision of what to do when Uni finished. Having studied an interesting yet perhaps directionless Bachelor of Arts I had some thinking to do. And my thinking wasn’t working – I still had no thought as to what to do. So when the opportunity arose to combine my love for Jesus and my love for Japan, I accepted it with wide open arms.

An Adventure Begins

I moved to Japan for a commitment of two years only about six weeks after finishing University. I had an opportunity to work for a small Mission organisation in Japan, teaching English in various churches each week. The time had come when I was finally able to taste and see what Japan had to offer and was really about. And while I most definitely had my struggles (“What am I doing here?” thoughts about 2 hours after getting off the plane for example) it was an overwhelmingly positive time. I took to Japan like a duck taking to water. Occasionally I may have felt like I was swimming in circles and stuck in a dirty, algae covered pond, but mostly the swimming was good and the water was clear.

I only had two major episodes of culture shock. One is probably a normal experience: Picture me in a meeting with only Japanese people, trying to plan some ideas to move forward with our organisation. We’re sitting in a circle and after about an hour of quiet time to think, pray and prepare, we begin to share. I’m the last to share. As we go around the circle I begin to think that perhaps I got something wrong  – that something must definitely have been lost in translation. Everyone else had made fairly vague suggestions of what might possibly be an OK idea (their wordings), whereas I had a list of actions to plan from here on – very concrete, direct thoughts. It was at this meeting that the full strength and impact of Japan as a communal society became obvious, and where my inclinations for individualism came to the fore. I hadn’t misunderstood the language, I had misread the cultural situation. I had not waited to “feel the air”, as some Japanese have expressed this to be. I was confident in my suggestions, and was not considering if I would cause someone to lose face by having to disagree with me. I had a lot to learn! Actually, I still have quite a long way to go!

The other episode of culture shock may have just been plain old shock – I’m not sure. I had been invited to spend two days with one of my students. She was an older married lady who had no children and lived in the countryside. She and her husband had such kind hearts, and were so generous to me. But I struggled through the whole time. Culture shock is indiscriminating like that – it appears out of nowhere and sticks to you whether you like it or not. It began pretty much as soon as I arrived. A couple of other ladies from my class and I arrived together. I had not brought a gift. That was a big cultural faux pas right from the get go. And this was followed by dogs. Yes, dogs. The shock was great. Her front room, where I was staying, was full of dog memorabilia. Statues, figurines, soft toys, photos, pictures – whatever you can think of, she had it. It was, to say the least, overwhelming. And then there were the real dogs! She had two miniature poodles that were like her children. They ate at the low table with us, barked nonstop the whole time, and they kind of smelt too. But I guess they why is not so important – either way the culture shock was terrible. I wanted to be gracious and thankful to all they were doing for me, but this nasty thing clinging onto me made it a real struggle.

Anyway! Other than that, I had a pretty easy cultural transition. There were moments of loneliness, frustration and struggle, but those things can happen anywhere. God used the two years that I was away to grow deeply within me a love and a passion for Japan and the Japanese people. So much so that I really wanted to stay and not come back after my two years there. But some wise friends from my church at the time encouraged me to come back, get some perspective and perhaps prepare a little more if I wanted to stay longer. I somewhat reluctantly took their advice, knowing that it was the right thing to do. I had a plan to do a year of study at Bible College, and then head back to Japan as soon as possible after that. And while I did do my one year of study, and still intend to go back as soon as possible, it was five years ago that I returned. So sometimes plans can look differently to what we expect, while still being faithful to the Lord.

I will stop there for now, with another post in about a month continuing from when I got back to Australia, to my (current) plans for the future. Thank you for reading a part of my story, a journey into Mission and a record of the way that God has been working in this particular way in my life.


My Own Beautiful Love Story: A Marriage From A Friendship


My husband and I knew each other for about 6 years before we got married. For probably 4 of those years we were really good friends. Not the kind of friends hoping for more, or just waiting to start a relationship. We were just good friends. We saw each other at Uni, hung out with the same friends, traveled on mission trips together, were in Bible studies together, and enjoyed catching up here and there. But one of the moments of our friendship that I treasure (albeit a long moment) was over the time that I lived overseas. We emailed at least monthly – more often fortnightly –  for two years. Those emails were often long, sincere and encouraging. And still just as friends.

On our first Wedding Anniversary, I had the ingenious idea to compile all of our emails over that time into a bound book. You know, year #1 about paper and all, I thought that would be pretty cool. Paul loved it. And I loved it when he handed me the exact same gift. I am not kidding. Somehow, we had both thought of the same, somewhat abstract gift and secretly made it and gave it to each other without having a clue about the other persons identical idea. We laughed. And we read. It worked out really well, as we had each included some emails that the other didn’t have, so when you read them side by side, there is a very comprehensive record of our correspondence.

Today, as I hunted for some Superannuation details in a box in a cupboard, I stumbled upon our books. I pulled them out and read through them. What precious memories. And I couldn’t quite believe the things I was reading. We wrote about relationships – who we had crushes on, who we were dating, how we were feeling post-dating. We wrote about Jesus – the passion for the gospel that we shared, but looked very differently as I lived and served in Japan, and as he worked in a secular, financial, government area. We wrote about the future, and the dreams and hopes we had. We joked together. We encouraged each other about the greatness of the God we both shared a relationship with. We wrote about challenges we both faced. And more.

As I read through those emails, with some passing of time and changing of circumstances, clarity descended. We were fundamentally passionate about the same things. We shared the same desire to see Jesus proclaimed wherever we were. We helped one another to focus on Jesus when others things threatened to consume. We laughed, joked and enjoyed one another. We were good friends to one another – speaking hard words in love when necessary, keeping in touch well, catching up and visiting when possible. We appreciated one another.

And it’s these things that haven’t changed. And it’s because of these things that we enjoy a special, meaningful relationship as husband and wife. We have the same passion. We keep Jesus as our focus. We help each other when that is threatened. We have fun together. We are friends. We speak lovingly, even when the topic is difficult. We touch base, and connect with each other. We value and appreciate each other. We are by no means perfect, and fail at these things at times (too often). But with a foundation of friendship, our marriage is a gift from God. It is a beautiful love story that only God Himself could have orchestrated. Neither of us would have believed it all of those years ago, and I certainly hope that we can look forward to what God will do next. Because He certainly does some wonderful things.

Catching Up

It has been just over a month since I last blogged – sorry! I hardly know where to start again tonight, as there are so many things that could be said…I will do my best!


Snapshot of the last month or so:

Busy busy busy as Paul studied for exams
Paul finishes exams
One day to pack for Japan
Two weeks in Japan!
One week at home recovering – mostly trying to sleep
Five days at Phillip Island
One week at home preparing for the upcoming Semester

Throw in the midst some sick kids, an unwell me trying to continue training for the 10K NEXT Sunday, an 8 month old baby who still doesn’t sleep well overnight, a toddler who exhibits at times some challenging behaviours (slightly understated) and I can definitely say it’s been a full on time! So please be gracious in excusing my poor blogging habits. I have had generally poor life habits lately!

Over the next couple of weeks I will play a bit of blog-catch-up as I write about what has been happening over the last while, and reflect on some good things. Thanks for taking the time to reconnect with me and my blog. 🙂


Japan Day One

It’s warm and balmy here in Tokyo tonight. A nice change from the drizzly Melbourne weather we left, even though the clouds leave a similar gloomy haze in the atmosphere.

We left our home at 4:30am yesterday morning, caught 2 flight and 1 train and arrived at the place we are staying about 10:30 Melbourne time (9:30 Japan). Safe to say, we were quite tired!

As I looked around on the flight yesterday I noticed that while there were a few kids and babies, there didn’t seem to be anyone else with a toddler and a baby. We certainly don’t always go with the easy options!

Heidi and Pippa were amazing though, and we all managed to actually get some sleep on the plane (though not all at once). No major tantrums (from Heidi at least), and we all arrived, along with our luggage, just as we had planned.

And now here we are. It’s amazing really. One long day later and bam! You’re in a far away country! When you don’t see any of the distance travelled its an odd kind of thing. Mentally your brain has to make a giant leap without a lot of cues to get you there. Good thing we humans are adaptable!

We met with OMF Japan Field Directors today, as well as the financial advisor. Both were warm and helpful meetings, and we are feeling affirmed in our decisions. Alex also arrived this morning, and we have enjoyed his time here with us so far.

So many thing assault the senses, but the biggest is just the obvious need for hope in Jesus Christ. He’s missing everywhere. Hope is nowhere. People rush about, but where are people actually heading?

May we be a beacon of hope even on this trip. Please pray for us.

(I hope this post makes sense, as I a really very tired…)

New Japanese Friends


It’s funny sometimes, the way that God works.

Many of you will know of the place that Japan and Japanese people have in my heart. After living there for 2 years post-Uni I definitely did not want to come back to Australia. But I did. And it was hard. Paul and I got married and lived and worked in perhaps the most Anglo town in Melbourne. And we moved at the end of last year, to a town only about 15 minutes away, which is not really very far. And the demograph is much the same, but with just a small difference.

Somehow, randomly, there is a small Japanese community in this area. And I have stumbled across it most unintentionally, and in such a beautiful way. 🙂

Lately I have taken to popping Pippa in the Ergo, and just wandering around the local streets with Heidi walking and exploring. It’s less effort than getting the pram ready for just a short stroll, and Heidi burns more energy that way too. So we very slowly made our way to the local park. I could see a few ladies chatting with kids running around. And then I noticed that they were chatting in Japanese. Before I even had a chance to gather my thoughts together one of the ladies started chatting with me. And so began an hour long conversation, including information about the Japanese Storytime at the local library, and an invitation to her house in the next week or so.

I have since met with a group of 3 Japanese ladies and their kids, who live just around the corner from my place. It is a strange thing to be at home in Australia, and then walk a few minutes and step into mini Japan, talking in Japanese, eating Japanese food…my mind boggles.

Last Friday I went to the fortnightly Japanese Storytime at the Library. Wow. About 20 Japanese ladies with their kids, one other Anglo-Aussie lady (a Grandma), and me. And my neighbour just happened to be there too, to introduce me to about half of the group. I just couldn’t believe it.

As Japan looms nearer in my mind, heart and future, it seems that God is providing me with many opportunities to reconnect into a Japanese community. It helps with my Japanese language skills, my cultural shift and understanding, and is just great for meeting new friends too! I have been encouraged, and feel like I have done nothing proactively myself – it has just come about with no effort. I am very thankful.

So for now, またね!

Upcoming Adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun


I lived in Japan for two years after I finished University and I didn’t want to come back to Australia. I had an amazing time. It was far from perfect, never simply easy, and challenges came frequently. But I loved it. It was a time in my life of incredible growth, deep and meaningful relationships, spiritual depth and refreshment, and fun! Throughout this time God grew in me a love for Japan and for Japanese people that has not diminished. I am very thankful that God has worked in Paul’s life to give him a similar desire too. And as such, as many of you may know, Paul and I hope (God willing) to live in Japan and serve God there as long term missionaries.

We have been slowly working towards this idea/dream/goal since we got married. And slowly, step by step, we are getting closer! We are actually in the midst of application forms and medical checks with OMF, after spending at least a year deciding on which mission organisation to apply with. While we have no guarantee of acceptance, so far things are looking good. So it with these things in mind that we have a trip to Japan planned for June.


We had been thinking for a while that we would like to go in January 2014. January, for us Aussies, is kind of the obvious time for international travel. It’s the summer holidays, things slow down a little and there is usually more opportunity to traipse around the place. Recently though, we noticed how good the Aussie dollar and the Yen are doing (for us Aussies anyway), and I jokingly through out the option of going to Japan now. We thought about it a bit more, prayed, emailed, Skyped, talked, prayed some more and voila! Our flights and accommodation are booked, we have people to meet, a friend to travel with and are increasingly excited!

For two weeks in June we plan to visit OMF headquarters, head up to the OMF Language school in Hokkaido, meet heaps of OMF people, see different ministries and hopefully catch up with a couple of friends. We will obviously (or not?) have the girls with us, as well as a friend from church, Alex, who is interested in Mission. I will also be in the full swing of training for the 10K, so am looking forward to running in some new and wonderful places!


It is great to have this trip to look forward to, but it will be different to any other trips. The focus will not be so much on the experiences that come along with a new culture, interesting places and different faces, but with a view to the future. The people we will meet, the places we will go and the things we will see could very well be major parts of our future. It seems a very unique kind of trip to me.

Now that we have planned the trip, we are so very glad to be going in June and not in January. Here is why:

  • June is summer in Japan. Tokyo will be hot and humid, but Sapporo will be beautiful and mild. It will not be cold/freezing/snowy! Yay!
  • Pippa might be crawling in a month (she now sits and almost crawls) but she will not be running around like a 15 month old, giving us two toddlers to handle on a long flight. She is currently happy sitting, cuddling, drinking lots of milk and I am hopeful she will travel well.
  • We now have a summer holiday in Australia to look forward to!
  • Flights were reasonably priced – and we got a good deal too.

I am really looking forward to being back in Japan, and travelling together for the first time as a family of four. Adventures, here we come!!

P.S. I think I may just have to write a little more about Japan, Mission, travel and the like, as I have thought of many different things I could say in this post, but don’t want to write forever! If you have any questions about Japan, or our journey, feel free to write a comment and I will do my best to answer your questions well.