Minamata 2019 Mission Trip “So… Why are you going to Japan, anyway?”

By Hailey Wada

You may be wondering, “So what in the world is this team going to do in Japan anyway? And why in the world are they going?”

Well, to answer the first part of this question, WHAT we’ll be doing is pretty straight-forward. We’re going to be joining in Sabrina Yee’s (she’s one of Evergreen’s full-time missionaries) daily life and ministries in Minamata, Japan. We’re planning to lead an hour of her church’s Sunday service, throw her congregation a California-themed party, teach six different hour-long English classes, be a part of small groups at a youth camp, and perform some skits.

But in regard to WHY our church decided to send a team to Minamata, our goal is actually so much more than just doing things next to Sabrina. WHY we’re going is loaded with different reasons. To begin, we want to better understand:

  • The struggle of living in a foreign country without unintentionally crossing any unsaid, cultural rules

  • How to get to know people without understanding the same primary language

  • The patience required to get a group of rowdy pre-K children to pay attention and to prompt self-conscious high schoolers to speak up during English class

  • How to try and be engaged in a small group without having the slightest idea of what the small group members are sharing

In short, we want to experience what our sister Sabrina goes through every single day. 

Don’t get me wrong–  the Lord has blessed Sabrina immensely during her time in Japan. Praise the Lord for that! But that doesn’t mean that her life has suddenly turned into an eternally cutesy, cheerful anime. There are still trials and frustrations the Lord has allowed in her life since booking a one-way ticket to Japan on September 12th, 2016.

So for a moment here, let’s be real: It’s not easy to leave behind a church family you love and hold dearly in your heart. It’s not easy to navigate a flurry of confusing, unsaid cultural boundaries that you never even knew about before. And it’s definitely not easy to know that you’ve been called to live in this foreign country for, as far as you know, the rest of your life. 

Sabrina shared in her June newsletter that the average time it takes for North American missionaries to have “a sense of feeling at home, or feeling comfortable” in their new country is 18-20 months. Asian Access (Sabrina’s sending agency) reported, however, that in Japan, that average adjustment period shoots up to 7.8 years! That is quite a long time (but on the bright side, at least according to that statistic, Sabrina’s only got 4.8 years left to go!). In these roughly 7.8 years needed for Sabrina to feel a sense of home and comfortability in Japan, our church has seen all the more reason to send a team to visit our faithful missionary and encourage her in the Lord. 

That’s where we come in! When Pastor Victor called us together for our first meeting, he gave us handouts and folders that explained that this trip is a unique opportunity to experience and better understand what Sabrina goes through every day as she ministers the Gospel to the people of Japan. Pastor Victor wrote that our trip “thus reflects the ministry of Barnabus, who was sent by the church in Jerusalem to see the ministry in Antioch”:

“When he [Barnabus] came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast grace.” (Acts 11:23)

So WHY are we going to Japan?

We’re going to Japan because, as her good friends, we want to hug, pray with, listen to, and support her. We want to spend time and do ministry with our beloved missionary who just might need some encouragement in the ~4.8 years left before she feels at home in Japan.

And most of all, we’re there to remind Sabrina that God Himself has called her to serve the people of Japan, and that in light of eternity with Christ, she will never regret the years she’s dedicated to pouring herself out for the Lord again and again.

Our flight for Japan is on August 2nd  at 1am. If you’d like to receive updates on how to pray for us while we’re serving with Sabrina in Minamata city, please subscribe to our blog site at minamata2019.blogspot.com. Arigato gozaimasu!

Evergreen SGV