At “home” in the STL

The service had just ended and we were preparing to say our final goodbyes after a great week at the Kirk’s Mission Conference in St. Louis.  As I exited my pew, I was met by a cute little girl named Aurie, a friend from our time in STL who presented me with a gift.  As she handed me a bracelet, she explained that she made it herself just for me.  “We’re really gonna miss you guys,” she said.  And then she left.

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the bracelet Aurie made for me…

This interaction is representative of our whole time in St. Louis.  From the wonderful hospitality of the Thomas family to the numerous people who invited us into their homes or took us out for meals, our visit to St. Louis reminds us of what we learned so well while we lived there – we are loved!  Thanks Kirk family for making this week so wonderful for us!  A special thank you to Ben Porter for working so hard to make this conference an encouragement to all involved.

The conference itself kicked off with a sermon from the right Rev. Ben Porter.  We got to march into the sanctuary holding the Japanese flag, and it dawned on me that part of our job is to share the joys and trials of the church in Japan with the congregations here in the US.  In a way, WE are their ambassadors, and we’ve never even lived there!  How humbling!  May we walk worthy of so great a calling!  The rest of the week offered us the opportunity to encourage the Kirk with what God is doing in Japan, and also to be encouraged through times of prayer.  Just an aside: If you ever plan a mission conference, provide a time for missionaries to share their struggles with you and not just their ministries.  Having people pray for us on multiple occasions was so encouraging!  Here are a few pictures for you guys that show what we did the rest of the time:

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The Thomas family set up a room just for us, compete with fire place, private bath, and big screen TV. There were even chocolates beside the bed. Best bed and breakfast ever!
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Jakes entertained us with his hilarious Jimmy Thomas impression.
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Ever been to the FRC World Robotics Competition? We have. And we got to cheer for some of our students who made it there as a rookie team! Congrats, guys!
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Me with Nathan: the electrician and trigger man, Alex: the strategist, and Graham: the chassi engineer… all dear friends from our time at the Kirk.
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Riva with Sarah and Chrissy, reminding you to wear your protective gear.
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We spent time with our former students and leaders sharing what God is doing in Japan.

Overall we had a week of being well loved and well fed. We had many desserts, meals, and coffee breaks with good friends and members of the Kirk of the Hills. We had opportunities to speak to large groups and small groups about Japan and we even had brief moments to rest. We ended the week spending time with the Moore/Ulmer K-group who prays for us on a regular basis.  If you ever get a chance, go to the Kirk of the Hills in STL.  You’ll be well loved!

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