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Climbing Mt. Takao

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for letting us take a little break from blogging:) Since we've had such a busy November and December, it was very nice to kick back a little bit after Christmas and enjoy a quiet new year celebration. It felt a bit funny, though, because on New Year's Eve, I was getting some snacks ready, thinking that we'd sit down to watch a little bit of the Times Square celebration through CNN. Then Jeff says to me, "You know that you're not going see the ball drop until tomorrow!" I still forget once in a while that we're a day ahead of you guys in the States!!

Mount Takao

So the first "big" thing we got to do in 2008 was to climb a mountain! For those of you who know how much I hate hiking, you can get up off the floor now. I must tell you, though, that I had no idea how steep and long the trail would be. I asked a couple of people about this particular mountain beforehand, and they told me, "Oh, it's not bad at all. I've seen women hike up in heels!" No problem, then, I said to myself. Well, the people who told me these things are all Japanese who are very used to walking, and have strong legs! Anyway, the climb was steep and long... it took us a little over 2 hours to reach the top, and it was uphill the whole time... DUH!!!!

The highlight of this entire day, and what made it all worth it, however, was...

that we were together with the M family. The youngest daughter and Ellie are in the same class, and they are very good friends. They also have a 3rd grader as well, so our kids had a wonderful time hanging out with the 2 girls. We were so proud of Zack and Ellie for surviving the trek both ways. That's over 4 hours of hiking, plus the train rides, plus riding the bike home from the station. It was a long day, but again, was all worth it getting to know this wonderful family. Would you pray for them right now?

Starting the Mt. Takao Expedition

M family on top of Mt. Takao

Chatting along the Mt. Takao hiking trail

 

Just a little explanation about the pictures below. Near the top of the mountain were several temples, and many statues along the way. Prior to entering, there were water wells outside of the temple where they wash their hands and clean their lips to "purify" themselves before offering money to say their prayers. The similarities to the Old Testament rituals are pretty striking... the washing, the offering, the structures that look like the ark of the covenant.

 

Cleansing at the temple


Anyway, there was also a place where smoke from incense was rising up... people were crowded around it, rubbing the smoke on themselves, especially the head and chest. They will tell you that it's to make you smarter.

Incense at the Mt. Takao temple

 

Again, it was explained to us that the Japanese really don't believe in this stuff, but they do it anyway, because everyone does it. It's a part of the culture. It's who they are. It's what they do. From our perspective, though, it was still very, very sad. To see so many people going through the motions on such a beautiful mountain made by the Creator God... and no one knew Him there. It was a reminder to us of the darkness and the blindness. The Japanese don't see it that way, of course. A Christian couple told us last night that when we look at it from a believers' perspective, it's idol worship. But to those who are doing it, it's oftentimes not even a spiritual activity. Again, it's simply a cultural activity that they participate in.

So you now know a little more of how you can be praying for the country of Japan. Pray for the church to rise up and model the freedom that they can have in Jesus! Pray for believers to establish many friendships with those around them, and LOVE them into the Kingdom. Pray for our family, that God would use us for His glory.

View of Mt. Fuji atop Mt. Takao
View of snowcapped Mt. Fuji from atop Mt. Takao

Johnston family on top of Mt. Takao

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Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.

 

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Nozomi's column contains reflections on motherhood, Japanese culture, and ministry.

 

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