November / December 2017 Newsletter


Kite flying in the park. Spring is almost here!

Although I hear that the northern United States is still getting snow, spring is almost here in Shin-Urayasu, Japan.  We are looking forward to things coming alive again and especially the blooming of the cherry blossoms.
We recently went to a kite flying event in our community.  It is held every spring and is a good chance to spend time with our neighbors.  It was a little chilly that day but the sky was clear and we all had a great time.  (The organizers also provided hot miso soup and hot chocolate to keep everyone warm.)
Robert was able to see several men from the Dad’s group he is a part of and Lisa connected with several moms from our Mom and Kids Club.
We are so thankful for the privilege to live and work in Japan.

Thank you 
Thank you to the many people who responded to our  End-of-the-year letter.   We were able to raise $14,705.00 in special giving now  And an additional $200.00 in ongoing monthly support.  
We are so grateful for the prayers and ongoing financial support of…
The Shin-Urayasu summer festival is always a much anticipated event in our town.  The people that plan the festival each year are committed to creating a small town festival feel.  This means that instead of having professional venders come in with all the typical festival type foods, all of the festival booths are local businesses and local people selling home cooked meals.  It is a lot of fun and really gives you a sense of what the summer festivals in small rural towns are like.

I remember when I first came to Japan and I was living in Chiharadai, which is a small town in the country, that the festival was very similar.  Both create such a friendly atmosphere and a wonderful place to meet all of your neighbors on a cool summer evening.
In the center of the park is a small stage where performances are held throughout the evening.  Local dance clubs, musicians, and traditional singers all perform for the community as they enjoy an alfresco dinner on the lawn.  The highlight this year …
Our family has been back in Japan for three months and are settling into our new apartment and schedule. Thank you so much for your prayers for us.  Currently our team leader, Craig Coulbourne, and his family are on home ministry assignment in Baltimore, Maryland.  Everyone at Shin-Urayasu Grace Church is very busy without them and we are really looking forward to their return in October.  
Starting a church with a team of missionaries has a few unique challenges.  One of these challenges is the fact that the missionaries have to return to their home countries to raise additional financial support.  Our family returned to the United States last year and in September the final member of our team, Karen Darda, will be returning to Australia for seven months.  For several years, things at the church will always be changing.

With Craig in the United States for six months, we have had a different pastor give the sermon each week during worship.  Over the weeks I have come to appreciate what …
Akemi Elementary School, our neighborhood school and the one that Isabel attends, just celebrated their annual sports day.  

(undōkai  運動会 in Japanese)
The students start preparation for sports day several weeks in advance as they practice for their events.  As part of the sports day, the students preform a Japanese style dance and some amazing gymnastics. 
Sports day plays an important part in the life of our community.  Since all of the students in the school live in Shin-Urayasu, it is a time to catch up with your neighbors, and celebrate the students hard work and achievement.

Our family has become much more connected to this community since our first sports day four years ago.  Lisa knows several moms from her cooking circle, moms and kids club, and the school PTA meetings.  I am getting to know more of the dads from a dad’s group that I recently joined at the school.  We are so thankful for the friends that God has given us in this community.
Many of Isabel's and William's…
We arrived back in Japan just in time for cherry blossom season.  We spent a day in the park viewing the cherry blossoms with friends and relaxing after the long flight from the States.  Viewing the cherry blossoms is very important in Japan and everyone finds some time to go while the trees are in bloom.  
The Japanese poet, Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) wrote:  “If I were asked to explain the Japanese spirit, I would say it is wild cherry blossoms glowing in the morning sun!”

Many of my Japanese friends have explained to me that Japanese people love cherry blossoms because they are like life.  Fleeting.  They last just a short time and then they are gone.
Robert and Lisa Stewart Mission to the World Missionaries to Japan

Japan is a beautiful country filled with wonderful people.  The Japanese people are hard-working, resulting in a country that has very few poor people and low unemployment. They have almost a 100% literacy rate. Japan has health care for everyone, a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and the longest life-expectancy in the world.  
Yet, sadly, more than 99% do not know God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
The truth is that Japan also has the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world. More than a million young people are so traumatized by the pressure of society that they refuse to even leave their homes. Beneath the surface, the Japanese are hurting deeply.  Japan’s greatest need is the gospel of of Jesus Christ. 
Mission to the World is working diligently to bring God’s glory and grace to Japan. MTW’s Tokyo church planting team has been working in the East Tokyo area since 1989. They have taken the lead in starti…