Opening doors (Guest Post by Adam Palmer)

Over the weekend, I met a fellow musician here in Hiroshima and ended up scheduling a little jam session at my apartment today.  He, as well as Lizbet and I, is playing at the Sundance festival, so we got to talking and…before I go on, is that even good grammar?  Lizbet and I, and he…but the “is”?  Maybe “are”?  I’m sure Momma Lisa will set me straight. Anyway, we got to talking and somehow quickly delved into a deep spiritual conversation.  He began to divulge that he is Buddhist, or New Age, or a mixture, but ultimately believes that all religions are ok and that the main goal is just to be a good person and increase humanity’s morality overall.  Kinda nebulous ideas…but he ended by saying that we should all follow the sayings of Buddha, Mohammed, and Jesus.  

So I took the chance to say that if we follow the sayings of Jesus, He said is THE way, THE truth and THE light….exclusive.  He took that with a grain of salt and said he had some stuff he wanted me to read.  We also made plans to continue the conversation later after I better understood his side. 

This situation presents itself as particularly interesting because just last night we had dinner at our pastor’s house.  He shared that Japan is considered the “missionary graveyard”…a place where opportunities to witness are prevalent, but there is seldom ever any positive response or movement.  Most missionaries come, and regardless of whether they join the efforts of others or try to forge their own path, they eventually die from lack of response and leave or just fizzle out.  

Granted the guy I jammed with isn’t native Japanese, but I felt particularly encouraged that within 24 hours of receiving such a negative assessment of the witnessing possibilities we might have, God gave me a great chance to share His truth.  Just pray that future conversations are filled with more of God’s truth and less of my intuition and knowledge.  

Oh boy (Guest Post by Adam Palmer)

Mrs. Shakeela used to always joke that my year and a half at the daycare were preparation for something.  I used to always reply “yes, I’m going to be a great dad….five years from now”.  Now before things get out of hand and I get angry emails or surprise visits from irate mothers and CCF members, Lizbet is not pregnant.  What I was being prepared for seems to be more time in daycare.  And grateful as I am for a job, it presents a few challenges.  

First, there’s the push of the administration for me to be an extrovert.  I attended a staff meeting Friday, and apparently upset my future boss by not being more outspoken.  The two hour meeting consisted of one hour of reflection on some event that happened last month that I wasn’t a part of, twenty minutes of rearranging future summer schedules based on what worked this summer and the rest brain storming on what to change about a summer camp that happened last year.  Not much I could add there…

Second, there is exhaustion of having to bike up to 70 minutes to a school then find the energy to control and entertain three classes of up to 25 kids, sometimes single handedly, for 30 minutes each.  Oh yeah, they don’t speak english yet either.  

Third, scheduling conflicts.  The teacher I am supposed to be replacing had a full Saturday schedule.  Saturdays were and are the only day that Lizbet and I have even a chance of spending substantial time together.  So far, with no other conflicts, we have been able to spend Saturdays doing anything from hiking, to playing music, to singing karaoke downtown, to just sitting at the house playing cards and napping.  It has been really special and great to hang out with her (don’t tell her I got all sentimental and stuff) and I would hate to have to give that up.  I know someday I may have to, but I’m not ready to yet.  

Either way, when all is said and done, if it’s what God wants, I will trust His plan.  But hey, maybe His plan is to see how much I’m willing to fight for time with the wife…or maybe it is to see if I’m willing to sacrifice something that important to me for a job that might have more significant purposes right now for him.  We shall see…

Dear Jarl (Guest Post by Adam Palmer)

Dear Jarl Hill,

I felt compelled to personally thank you for introducing me to Andrew Peterson.  Since the DC Talk days, I’ve had a bit of a hard time finding solid Christian lyrics.  I manage to stumble upon a great song here and there, but not many great or even good albums.  The album you gave me is definitely an exception.

On first listen, I wasn’t too intrigued, but I took your advice and really delved into the lyrics.  I was caught immediately by “In the Night”.  Quickly tther songs have slipped their way into my brain and I’ve found myself humming a few tunes.  Should you know of more well written music like this, please pass it on.  I’ve got nothing but time.

Thanks again,

Adam

PS  To anyone else who is reading this, here are a few examples of the great music of which I write.

The Call

Adam’s been posting a lot of stuff lately, so I figured I’d come in and add my two cents worth.  This one will be a bit more serious than my last few, though.  I’ll try to put in some fun pictures and a video to balance it out. 🙂

God has really been teaching us a lot since coming to Hiroshima.  We were told that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and being in a country where no one speaks our language with no community to start out with has definitely taken it’s toll. On the other hand, it has reallyhad its up sides.  Due to the lack of technology at our apartment, we have been forced to talk and interact with each other (fancy that!).  Because we are not constantly surrounded by people who we are familiar with, we are forced to turn to each other for community.  It has been a wonderful chance for us to become independent as a couple as well as chance for us to learn to rely completely on God and we have had some really sweet times of learning and fellowship with each other.

We have also been thinking a lot about the direction of our music.  We ended up having a huge discussion on Sunday night about the ways that we can use our music to start conversations about God.  We had a really great dinner with our new pastor, Kris, and his wife, Nahomi, as well as another guy from church, Tacha, last night and we were talking about how completely lost the city of Hiroshima is.  Tacha told us that besides the church and a couple of family members, he doesn’t know any Christians anywhere.  Even Buddhism and Shintoism are more for tradition than religious beliefs so, as a result, Japan is full of people who don’t have any hope or anything to believe in.  Pastor Kris told us that he’s been praying desperately for people to come and minister to the people of Hiroshima, and he believes that we are a specific answer to that prayer.   The more we talk with him and each other, the more we see the many opportunities that God has given us to be a witness.
For one, we have HJU, where I am working.  We’ve already had the opportunity to lead a chapel service there and Adam made sure that he preached the gospel straight from the Bible (Jarl told him explicitly before we left that he had better preach the gospel any time he got the opportunity.  It’s a good thing he listens!) .  We also now have the Southern Cross which is frequented by both ex pats and native Japanese. We ended up being quite a hit and we’re praying that this really helps us build relationships that will allow us to love the people the way Jesus would.  It is always amazing to me the way that God uses everything for His glory.  He’s taken us, an imperfect, broken couple, and he’s sent us to this place where He can use us to reach a lot of people.  It’s funny how these sorts of things work out.

An Ode to Five Fingers

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About three weeks ago, Lizbet and I were aimlessly walking around Hondori aka downtown, trying to find somewhere just to sit and busk.  Lizbet happened to be wearing her Five Fingers, and we happened to pass an ex-pat who also happened to be wearing his Five fingers, and happened to know about a guy who happened to own a restaurant that happened to be restarting their live music that week and happened to need musicians.  So we went by, talked to the guy, got a chance to do a “warm up” set the next week for a bit, and the craziest thing happened.  People listened.

Now, in the states, this is rare enough.  But hey, we have played a lot of shows in the past, I mean we have a violin…that’ll grab some attention.  When the set was over, people were coming up and telling us how good they thought we were and a few promised to come back later, but I had heard that before in the States.

So July 1, 2012 rolls around and we go back for our scheduled follow up show and much to my surprise, there are more people than the first time.  People who I hadn’t even gotten to meet at the first show were there again.

Better yet, there happened to be a guy there who happened to put together events in Hiroshima and happened to need musicians for The Sundance Festival which happened to be coming up soon!!

It has been quite interesting how different pieces are sorta falling into place.  We got the new band website up (The Last City) and have been making all kinds of connections.  You’d almost think there was a Higher Being who was carefully orchestrating every step ahead of us…