Those who follow our newsletters have been tracking the craziness in our life recently. But it’s a “good crazy”, and each step brings us closer to Karuizawa.
A Wedding. My son, John David, Jr. married the beautiful Tori Michalec in January. It was such a wonderful celebration, and we got to reunite with many great friends whom we had not seen in years. We wish David & Tori our love and prayers for many happy years ahead. We are glad the wedding was scheduled before we went to Japan which made it vastly easier for us to participate.
Mele was her usual charming self. She made many new friends and got to meet new aunts, uncles and cousins that she never knew before. All in all, it was a great week. We can see Mele growing into her unofficial role of “camp hostess” when we get to the Karuizawa Retreat Center. We intentionally put her into new and unexpected situations so she can gain confidence in dealing with change. She meets each new challenge magnificently!
A Retirement. Choosing a date to end my career was a real complexity. On the one hand, if I quit too soon we cannot stay long in Hawaii on our slim retirement funds. On the other hand, waiting too long impairs our ability to lean forward and prepare for our role in Japan. After much prayer & consultation, we followed a faith-based response that “God will provide” and I set a retirement date of January 31. This allowed my boss & coworkers to prepare for my departure and divide up my roles at work, while freeing Pen & me to focus on what lies ahead vice dwelling in the past. As I write this on February 4 (Super Bowl Sunday), I’ve been retired for only four days. We are as busy as ever, but now accelerating our preparations to leave Hawaii. We thank you all for your prayers and encouragement towards this somewhat-scary milestone.
A Glimmer of Hope. The last remaining obstacle to our departure is completing Pen’s citizenship process. This is problematic because the TEAM organization in Japan wants to send only U.S. citizens; they are not used to dealing with nationals holding different passports. It is exceedingly difficult to predict how long it will be until Pen gets her citizenship interview and oath ceremony; the Immigration & Naturalization Service is not very forthcoming with wait times, so we just have to sit tight until she is notified of her interview date. Once, in January, Pen’s online status changed from “Pending” to “Interview Scheduled” and we thought that closure was just weeks away. But quite mysteriously, the very next day her status went back to “Pending”. What did this mean? Were we back at the bottom of the list again? Was there a problem with her application (a 17-page form that has to be letter-perfect). Was she about to get called? We could find nobody who’s status had ever gone backward before, so this was uncharted territory for us.
But, in a glimmer of hope, last Friday her status again changed to “Interview Scheduled” and we pray it won’t go backwards anymore. With God’s grace, she will have her citizenship test & interview in a few weeks, she can apply for her U.S. passport, and take an oath as a citizen of our great nation. This culminates a six-year path which was the reason for us coming to Hawaii in the first place; Pen’s citizenship opens up many new possibilities for us around the world in the future. Please keep praying that this process will move smoothly to completion.
A Free Bonus Chapter. In a final note on our journey to Karuizawa, we are happy to share that our ministry reached the 100% mark in funding. We thank our friends & family who have stepped up to help; through you, God has shown His providence. We determined from the beginning that our communications would not so much be about money, but more about relationships. We told our leaders at TEAM that we would measure success not by how much money we raised, but by how many people we got to share our story with. With God handling all the details, each of you has been an answer to prayer.
We need to explain carefully what 100% funding means. It does not mean we have received all the funds needed for our ministry; it means we have received promises & pledges of gifts in the coming months. So if you have made a pledge of support, we count that towards our financial goal. If any new gifts are made from here forward, it will reduce the amount we would have to draw from our own retirement funds, or we can increase our budget for Japanese lessons which right now is planned for just 3 hours per week. We do hope to be able to afford more language lessons, which would make our ministry that much more effective.
We thank you again for your friendship & support. Please continue to pray about Pen’s citizenship process and for God’s intervention in any new obstacles that may pop up in the coming months.
Thank you, Mahalo, and God bless,
John & Pen