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.
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.
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!
We have enjoyed reconnecting with our TMCers…
and getting ready for TMC Christmas events.
We particularly enjoyed time with our children, Kristy, Bryan, and Matthew. A highlight was celebrating US Thanksgiving with all of them at Kristy’s apartment in California!
It was also good to visit Ann’s mom (87 yrs) in Maine and Dale’s dad (91 yrs) in BC. In addition, we spent a little time with each of our siblings.