We're Back! 4.14.19

Youth Update
April 14, 2019

We're Back!

We have returned!  Kim and I returned from Japan last week after a wonderful nine day journey through Tokyo and Kyoto.  Our reason for going was a combination of interest and a good deal on tickets, and neither disappointed.  We were with a tour group of around thirty-five people from all over the United States, as we travelled around Japan by bus and train.  As I do not have enough time to go over all that we saw, did, or ate, here are the highlights:

  • Driving through the forested, mountainous coasts of Japan, it is no surprise that Japan’s native religion of Shinto is loosely based around worshiping nature.  For the sake of hyperbole and naiveté, God saved all of his best paint brushes when he made the happy little trees of Japan.
  • Japan is known for having curious culinary choices, and though we walked by a few horse meat restaurants and plenty of raw cephalopods (squids and other squishy things) for sale, probably one of our tastiest meals was bbq chicken skewers from the grocery store.
  • There is no shortage of ways to spend time or money in Japan, but one unique and interesting way we found was to go to an Owl Café.  Think of it like a Starbucks with a petting zoo attached featuring only owls.  It was weird, impactful, cute and fun, and certainly a Japanese thing to do.

One thing that struck me while in Japan is how good everything is.  Now I know that sounds exceptionally simplistic and naïve but hear me out.  In the US, our culture claims to value hard work, cleanliness, honesty, kindness, nature, intelligence, and reverence among other things.  In Japan, in general, you will find all of those things to be the norm.  You could be quietly working on your laptop in a café, walk outside to central Tokyo, take a deep breath of cool, clean smelling air, and return to your seat to find your laptop untouched.  How long would that laptop last in a Starbucks here I wonder, and have you ever smelled the air in the SF Bay Area?  If you are lost you need only ask a local shop owner or passerby and they will do their best to direct you to if not take you to your location.  We never found ourselves feeling scared or worried of anyone at any point in Japan.  Japan is in many ways what American culture aspires to be.  And yet Japan is known for having an exceptionally high suicide rate.  What could be the snake in paradise?

Less than 3% of Japanese is Christian. That 3% trying to convert the whole nation would be like San Diego triying to convert the whole population of California!  Japan is a land of blessings where the Source of all blessings is unknown; a land of hard work without the joy of pleasing the Master; a single race nation without the unity of being one with the Body.  Japan is a reminder that no matter how great our standards are, nor how often we meet them; nothing is greater than life with God, now and forever.  Of all the things I learned and experienced on my trip, nothing is more important than that.

Upcoming Lessons:

  • Sunday 4/14:
    • We Will Grow: Closer by Fellowship
  • Wednesday 4/17:
    • We Will Grow (In-Depth Redux): Closer by Fellowship

Event Updates:

  • Community Good Friday Service, Friday 4/19, 1-3pm @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
    • Pastor Jim and I will be in the service.
  • El Camino Good Friday Service, Friday 4/19, 6pm @ El Camino Baptist Church
  • Easter Lock-In, Friday to Saturday, Friday 4/19 @ 5pm, through Saturday 4/20 @ 9am
    • We will be attending the El Camino Good Friday Service as a part of the event.

Prayer Requests:

  •  The Easter Lock-In: I am a firm believer in the “go all the way, or don’t bother” plan for décor and theme, and for this lock-in, we’re going all the way.  I pray for wisdom as we work that our efforts would be rewarded with teenagers excited in coming to our church.
  • Wisdom: There is a lot on our plates as we move to Easter, and I pray that my leadership team would be blessed with great wisdom as we choose how we invest our time.

Greg Horton
Youth Director