At the end of 2017 we had the joy of celebrating Christmas in Maine USA with our own “3 + 3” children! Matthew & Kristy came from Philadelphia PA, Bryan & Jessica from St. Louis MO, and Matthew & Victoria from Manchester NH. We were able to rent the same house as last year.
In Japan, after busy Christmas Sundays of worship and outreach, church life seems to go into slow motion as New Years preparations and family events take priority until the end of the first week of January. So the few weeks after Christmas Sunday provide a good opportunity for us to take a mini-vacation. Perhaps Christmas (or post-Christmas) in Maine is becoming our new Little family tradition!
On Sun afternoon Dec 17 we held our annual TMC Family Christmas event. We welcomed parents and children from our Sunday school, our apartment complex, 2017 summer English program, and Ann’s “Moms and Tots” English class. We shared the story of the first Christmas and sang Christmas songs. TMC young adults taught games and crafts, and served refreshments. It was a lot of fun and we value the personal connections we are making with each family. Read More…
TMC holds these kinds of Japanese language outreach events 3-4 times a year.
This brings us a step closer to launching TMC’s Japanese language worship service.
It was a time of refreshment and connection, providing a glimpse of the EFCCM’s desire to care for its personnel. We were especially grateful that our Tokyo Multicultural Church colleagues from ReachGlobal and the EFC Macau Mission could join us. And we are thankful that our Ministry Fund was healthy enough to cover the housing costs of the retreat.
TMC’s worship service is in English so we have been planning ways to incorporate other languages in our regular Sunday events. Ann’s children’s Sunday school in Japanese is one such non-English event, along with our weekly adult Japanese Bible study taught by Duane. This month we are also planning to begin a monthly Sunday afternoon Chinese language fellowship, led by Kevin. And we are moving toward launching a Japanese language worship service on Sundays, perhaps initially with a few months of Japanese translation during our current English worship service.
They met while undergraduate students at Biola University in La Mirada, California. After graduating they moved to the Burlington area where Victoria worked in retail clothing store management and Matthew launched his own subscription coffee company, Brothers Coffee.
It was a hot, sunny day for Matthew and Victoria’s outside wedding in charming rural Charlotte, Vermont, just south of Burlington. Dale officiated at the ceremony of the beautiful bride and handsome groom. (No bias there!) They read their personalized vows to one another and exchanged rings in front of family and friends. And then all enjoyed the reception that followed in the nicely repurposed wedding barn.
Matthew and Victoria began their honeymoon with two days in New York city, followed by ten days in Malta, where Victoria has relatives and enjoyed frequent childhood vacations. Within their first year of marriage they hope to visit Japan so Matthew can show Victoria around.
Matthew and Victoria are starting their married life together in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Victoria lived during her high school years. Victoria has been transferred to a retail store nearby and Matthew continues his entrepreneurial business endeavors.
All three of our children have gotten married within 15 months of each other (May 2016, Dec 2016, and Aug 2017)!
We are so thankful that we had more than adequate funds in our EFCCM Ministry Fund to cover our home assignment travel costs. Any honorariums we received along the way were deposited to our Ministry Fund for our ongoing missionary ministry.
Roads between BC and AB traverse one of our favorite places: the Canadian Rockies! We were able to take time between Sundays for some light hiking and sightseeing in Banff and Jasper. The pic below was taken in late May in Jasper National Park, AB, and is typical of Ann with her tea and Dale with his coffee. We also toured the west side of Vancouver Island in BC for the first time. Open spaces and long stretches of often deserted highways (especially in AB and SK) were a marked contrast to the photos of our Tokyo neighborhood we included in our church presentations. We loved the open feeling!
We also visited the childhood home towns of Dale’s mother (Peace River AB) and father (Rolla BC), as well as Dawson Creek BC on the Alaska Highway where Dale graduated from high school. Dale connected with relatives and did some research on his family history. Discovering his spiritual heritage along the way was an added blessing. Dale’s paternal great grandfather, Lea Miller, founded and named Rolla BC, likening his pioneer journey from Rolla Missouri to Rolla BC to the life of Abraham, who in faith followed God not really knowing where he was going. What a rich heritage! And what fun!
It is no wonder Dale’s father, Rev. Lea Little, who passed away in Feb, used to speak so passionately about “pioneer church planting” in Japan! He himself came from a pioneer family in the Peace River area of BC.
Over our 33 years of ministry based in Japan, the word “home” has acquired several geographic reference points. Currently we consider Sumida-ku, Tokyo our home. We are making plans to retire in Cape Elizabeth, Maine USA (2021? 2022?), where Ann was raised and where we try to gather with our children for post-Christmas each year. So Maine is also home for us. But our ultimate geographic home marker is heaven itself where we will be with Jesus Christ and his followers who worship him from all nations, including those we serve at TMC and our parents who have gone on before us.
Our leadership team has enjoyed numerous lighter moments!
It was great to be back at TMC for a few Sundays!
We also renewed our Tokyo Multicultural Church rental facility contract for another three years, filed our Japanese taxes, said good-bye to our one year short term missionary Alicia who returns to Ottawa Canada in April, and welcomed Kevin & Grace from the Evangelical Free Church of Macao to our TMC missionary staff.
The portion of our Ministry Enhancement Fund that is set aside for TMC has been helpful in encouraging TMC toward full financial independence from the EFCCM, covering the shortfall of our TMC facility rent that is not handled by the offerings of TMC worshippers. We hope that by the end of this year TMC offerings will fully cover our facility rental costs so that TMC will no longer need to access our Ministry Enhancement Fund, allowing us to set aside some of those funds for launching TMC#2 in the next few years.
Furthermore, it would not have been possible without her husband’s unwavering encouragement. Perhaps the two are becoming a "dream team" of sorts, learning to serve God’s third culture kids scattered throughout the world. May they continue becoming a blessing to the nations!
A very brief bio of Kristy can be found at the Narramore Christian Foundation website. Kristy serves on the board. The global ministry of the Narramore Christian Foundation provides Christ-centered training and counseling for pastors, organization leaders, missionaries and their children, member care providers, and other Kingdom workers.
In early January we started out in Maine on the east coast and ended up in Washington state on the west coast, visiting supporting churches along the way in Michigan, California, and Oregon. During Sunday morning worship services we have the opportunity to share about our church planting ministry at Tokyo Multicultural Church. The Lord Jesus Christ is building his church!
And on our coast to coast trip we got to visit our three children…each in their own places: Vermont, Missouri, and California. After enjoying Christmas in Maine with them and their spouses/fiancees, it was a special treat to see them again!