Monday, August 30, 2004

It doesn't seem like a year.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day we first met.

Yesterday, published simultaneously in our respective church bulletins was the public announcement of our engagement.

Hear ye, hear ye! Will Dykstra from Georgetown CRC and Aukje vandenBerg of Barrie First CRC are relieved to announce their engagement. It took some time for Sir William John to battle through the deep woods, but the knight in tarnished armour finally found his way to the fair Aukje.

It received good reviews.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

School Kids in their natural habitat.

I regularly sighted groups of private school kids when I rode the tube. They can be distinguished by their matching uniforms and often their fairly bright colours. In the wild they often have a look of inquisitiveness, and tend to be fairly sociable within the pack but tend to be intrigued by yet wary of gaijin (foreigners).

Monday, August 23, 2004

The needy in Japan?

When ever my fiancee and I are in different countries we work through a specific daily devotional together, and e-mail our comments to each other (though at times this happens to be a little more sporadic than daily). Last year we worked through a fairly well known devotional by Oswald Chambers called My Utmost for His Highest. This year we have just started our second one called The One Year Walk with God written by Chris Tiegreen.

His August 22nd entry is based on Proverbs 21:13, If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

In his devotional for the day he talks about how we should reflect God's grace and His attitude toward the oppressed. Chris says we should be intentional about seeking out the poor and the oppressed. God often meets people's needs through us.

All too often the evangelical worldview trivializes the plight of the poor and the oppressed, focusing only on the fact that they need to be born again, but I think that salvation is holistic involving body, mind, heart and soul, so all of these need to be addressed by us as witnesses of Christ's love.
This is one of the nagging items in the back of my mind about Japan. Every cross-cultural mission field I've ever been to involved the meeting of physical need as well as spiritual need, but in Japan physical need is largely taken care of. Perhaps it is one of the obstacles to spreading the gospel.
In my lifetime thus far I have been blessed to be able to go to the poor to help, being God's hands and feet in places like Honduras, El Salvador, Toronto or Mississippi, that really need help. So often when meeting these physical needs the spiritual side grows (both the giver and receiver) and even afterward continues to bloom.
In Japan the gulf between being poor in spirit and having material wealth is larger than any I've ever encountered.

HEP V Ferriswheel

This ferris wheel is sitting on top of the HEP V department store in Osaka. While riding the ferris wheel you can look out over the city and when the wheel nears the bottom, gaze at the shoppers on the upper floors of the department store.

Friday, August 20, 2004

My Fiancee

My fiancee Aukje is quite likely the most beautiful woman in the world.
Mind you, I'm probably biased.
She left for Japan this morning with a tear in my eye.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Retro Blogging

This is an entry I found on my computer, from before I started blogging. I didn't yet have a digital camera, so no pictures for this one.

April 13, 2004
Today Cherry Blossoms at the mint. The mint you say? During the Meiji reign the person in charge of the mint thought it might be nice to have cherry blossoming trees lining the street in front of the mint so it would be a nice place.
Culture in the carnival like walkway near the mint, since everybody from Osaka comes down to enjoy the week of blossom viewing, it is handy to have all those stalls nearby so they can hawk their octopus laden snacks, octopus being the signature food for Osakaians. I tried some octopus balls, ( somewhat like chicken balls) and something which would best be compared to omelette with octopus strips and onions and green pepper like strips fried into it. Not bad. Later a tiny orange that had been soaked in sugar. Hmm sweet. Back to the base for some Hiragana study.

A Ninja

A Kawasaki Ninja. A nice machine (from my perspective as a machine designer). Nuff said.
Well perhaps not. Motorcycles are plentiful in Japan, and there are many motorcycle enthusiasts to go along with them. This particular machine was often parked outside of the Pizza place. I think it belonged to one of the pizza delivery scooter drivers.

Friday, August 06, 2004

What up party people!

I was talking with my good friends Angela and Gideon and their daughters Summer and Shimmer. We were chatting about the funny english Japanese people come up with. Sometimes I wonder are they so good at it that they are doing it on purpose or is it always accidental? This is a picture of an actual t-shirt in Japan, straight from Aaron's k-tai (cell phone), (Aaron is busy trying to plant a new church in Osaka) to you via this blog. The website is a site dedicated to Japanese English, tis good for a chuckle.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


The following is the debriefing from my trip which I just finished for Missions to Unreached People, the organization I did my short term mission with.

Name: Will Dykstra
Dates of Mission Trips: Apr. 9 - June 30, 2004
Location/Missionary Hosts: Osaka, Japan. Dan and Karen Ellrick, Aukje vandenBerg.

1. What was your missionary assignment while overseas?

Fairly loose. Personally, my objectives were to determine if long term missions was something I could do. Did I have the tools and skills? Did I have 'what it takes'? Is it something God wants me to do or not to do? As I was flying over to Japan I also felt a real call to treat the entire experience as 'learning'. So that was my attitude as I first set foot in Japan.

2. What were your general impressions about your short-term missions experience?

It was positive, wonderful excellent. A 'would like to still be there' sort of experience. Exciting. Enjoyable. Adventurous.

3. Have you had a chance to read Back to the Future and Extending Your Trip and answer the questions that go with them?

Yes. Yes, quite helpful. There are some excellent suggestions and insight from experienced short termers.
One of the things suggested was keeping a journal. It is helpful to be able to recall the many different experiences and reflect on them from more 'normal' environs. But it is something that should be communicated beforehand.
I did work at keeping a 'blog', which serves the purpose of journaling, and it is also an excellent way of keeping in touch with friends and family back home (well those with internet access anyway).
If you are interested the address is Scroll through the archives for the blogs I wrote while I was in Japan.

4. What was the best/most memorable part of your short-term mission trip? How did God use this experience to teach you, direct you etc?

The best things for me were simply (or perhaps not so simply) learning about Japanese culture. Trying to understand how Japanese people think, how they understand the world, their worldview. I enjoyed the culture.
I feel that God has been growing in me a passion for Japanese culture.

5. What was the worst/most discouraging or difficult part of your short term mission trip? How did God use this experience to teach you, direct you etc.

There were times when I was when I felt utterly and absolutely inadequate. It was very discouraging when that happened.
I think God was trying to teach me that my skills and talents don't matter. He is the one to lean on. I should not be leaning on my own understanding. I know it intellectually, but I haven't yet learned to do it.

6. How did you see God at work in the lives of individuals?

As a leader of an Alpha group it was wonderful to see how often God was at work in our group. It wasn't so much a matter of what I was doing but how God was meeting people were they needed to be met, using the group as a vehicle to achieve what He had in mind.

In Team Dynamics?

Meeting and supporting Aaron. It was very fulfilling to be able to feel that I was used by God to help Aaron in his efforts to start a Bible fellowship. Particularly the first time we met, we had a long conversation, a time of getting to know each other, but of more importance a time of encouragement.
Also at the weekly prayer meetings, these meetings always struck me as meetings of great importance, even though at times they seemed to be a great expense, from an energy and time available point of view.

In You?

He was very near to me as I went about the things of daily life in Japan. For an example, I was riding the subway and I accidentally dropped my subway card. As I was about to exit at the gate a lady ran up behind me to give me back my dropped card.
That was a little thing but a typical example of how God was looking after me while I was in Japan.

7. In what ways will you integrate what you have learned on your short-term trip into your life at home? How will you make this a long-term change or how will it influence your decisions for your future?
I am going to continue with my weblog, using it as a platform to explore Japanese culture and further reflect on my experiences. I shall endeavors to pray and encourage those whom I met in Japan, and who continue to work at missions in Japan, and I shall explore what God has in store for me and my future.

8. Did you receive enough information and support from out home office prior to your short-term trip?

I got a lot out of the information you sent me. The articles I was supposed to read in the five weeks prior to my departure were interesting and quite helpful. Even as a seasoned veteran of short term missions experiences, there was some great food for thought there.

9. What could we have done better to help you plan and prepare, logistically, spiritually or mentally?

I think a little more integration with the missionaries in the field would be helpful. I'm not sure how to accomplish that but it seemed to me to be somewhat disjointed from office to field.

10. Would you be interested in going on another short-term mission with Mission to Unreached Peoples? Why or why not?

Yes. No reason to stop now. Though I think maybe more of a long-term commitment may be in order.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Coke Bus

Coca cola C2 made a huge splash while I was in Japan. This bus was in the Osaka castle lot when I was there.