I'm going to make an effort to get a blog up for every day this week for good communication purposes! Please pay no attention to the fact that it's already Thursday but I'm only now posting Sunday. ;-)
Every Sunday morning at 9:30, about six of us gather for English Bible Study. This week, the highlight was a student who has been coming regularly who had a large ah-ha moment. The Bible passage was about us being the light of the world, and he noticed at the end how it says "They will see your good works and praise your father in heaven". He talked to the group about how he normally is disappointed if people don't seem to notice when he does good things, but that he was understanding how God was supposed to get the credit anyway. It was a good moment. :-)
From English Bible Study, we go straight to Sunday worship. I spend the service either studying Japanese by looking up words I don't know or by writing prayers down in my notebook. This week it was a prayer writing sort of week. I was grateful for the time to rest and pray. This past Sunday was also 'sohji' day, or cleaning. Twice a year, we split into two groups. We younglings form a band to furiously slide pews all the way to the back of the sanctuary and then use a combination of sweepers, a vacuum cleaner, wet rags, and finally rags wet with wax to beat the floor into shiny submission.
Then, half an hours rest, and then all the pews go to the front of the sanctuary and the attack is repeated on the back half. Everyone helps out however they can. Aaron's daughter Cassidy went at it with a wax rag as well, and was gently corrected when her wax was making smudges against the grain of others' waxing rows. Yasui Sensei's (the pastor's) son, three year old Yuki, helped us in the second half by shouting out 'orai orai orai' (back up back up--used for cars, usually). We couldn't quite figure out where he was trying to get us to back up to, though. ;-)
I was almost successful in convincing Takaaki that he needed to dust every page of the Bible on the front alter individually, but in the end my merciful side got the better of me and I told him I was joking.
In between Japanese worship and our evening English worship, I head a few blocks over to a local Assemblies of God international congregation. Their afternoon worship is a diverse group of young people from America and various Asian countries. I love having a place to worship in English where I don't need to lead anything. The music is loud, and it's easy to be free there. This Sunday, there was a guest speaker from America who commanded us in the name of Jesus to not waste our time in Japan. Usually I have to slip out before the end of the message, but I would have had to step on various people to do that. Turns out I was really glad I was able to stay. They opened it up to free prayer time, which is always my favorite time to be in an Assemblies of God church. Everyone just starts praying...some in their own languages, some in tongues, some with tears. One girl nearly always begins to sing, and the melody lifts sweetly with the prayers. Hands are raised, people fall to their knees. I love being able to switch from speaking to listening for God to singing all without attracting attention.
I had to slip out in the middle of the prayer time, though, and race back to Hongo to prepare for the English worship I was about to be leading. I never thought I would be good at giving sermons, which was the big reason I never wanted to become a pastor. Now I find that I am not so bad at them, but the stress level is still out of this world. I don't really plan what to say...just a topic. Sometimes I talk for a long time, sometimes only a few minutes. This Sunday, still very much in a prayer mood, I only managed to talk for a few minutes and then announced I was just going to pray for them. Sometimes people understand me better when I'm talking to God than when I'm talking to them anyway...I might do it more often.
We gather after Evening worship to have tea downstairs and chat. By that point, I was worn out. I stayed for a little while, but then escaped for the evening.