go2japan.org - Home https://go2japan.org/a2/ Sun, 16 May 2021 15:27:11 -0700 A2-Com en-gb Japan prohibits international spectators for Olympics https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1506-japan-prohibits-international-spectators-for-olympics https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1506-japan-prohibits-international-spectators-for-olympics

The header photo shows cherry blossoms in Japan. (Photo courtesy of Kanenori on Pixabay)

Japan (MNN) — As cherry blossoms bloom across Japan, the country has barred international spectators from the rescheduled 2021 Summer Olympics due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. 600,000 people bought tickets to watch the games in-person.

Asian Access had planned to send ministry teams into this massive crowd. Joe Handley says,

“We’ve completely shifted the approach to virtual, short-term mission trips. The ongoing preparation since September has been focused on these kinds of virtual experiences. You get to know the country, and you get to see what’s happening on the ground. We connect you with people that can advise culturally. And then you get to engage.”

You can learn more about these trips and register here.

go2japan: find your place. (Mt. Fuji volcano is courtesy of Kanenori on Pixabay.)

A new season for the Church

These trips reflect a pivot in Japan towards virtual churches during the pandemic. Believers have made good use of digital technology to stay connected.

Handley says Japanese Christians see the Olympics as a springboard for what God will do next through the Church there.

“I think that this whole pandemic has given new realities to the life of the global Church, and how we’re going to do ministry in the future. Fascinatingly enough, it comes in this cherry blossom season, when new life can be birthed.”

Pray the Japanese church can fulfill its incredible vision of planting 50 thousand churches in the country. Handley says, “I think it’s gonna take an entrepreneurial spirit, that new wineskin approach to life and ministry.”

Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 1:42)

Direct Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Mar24-2021.mp3


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Mission Network News (https://mnnonline.org)Mission Network News exists to inform multitudes about stories that matter and empowers them to take action that changes lives. Join over 1 million radio and internet users each day. Hear stories of what God is doing around the world – and how you can be involved. Each MNN broadcast includes pray, give, or go opportunities that help you find your place in the story. Sign up at mnnonline.org to receive daily news in your inbox. Or check out MNN on social media and share them with others. MNN is a ministry of OneWay Ministries.


go2japan@asianaccess.org (Mission Network News) Featured Latest News News Mon, 29 Mar 2021 08:00:00 -0700
Lessons on Brokenness & Business https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/takameter-blog/1505-lessons-on-brokenness-business https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/takameter-blog/1505-lessons-on-brokenness-business

sue plumb takamoto 2021

Reflecting on the Ten Years since Japan's Triple Disaster

By Sue Plumb Takamoto


In Part 1: "Looking Back on Ten Years: Finding Beauty in Brokenness", I highlighted the unimaginable damage and challenging aftermath from Japan’s March 11, 2011 Triple Disaster—a 9.0 earthquake that triggered a tsunami and caused a nuclear power plant meltdown.

Picking Up the Pieces

nozomi-project-broken-piecesJapan has spent a decade rebuilding, corporately and individually. I have been struck by the gifts of resilience, creativity, and worldwide collaboration that have made a difference here. And thanks to the invitation for me and our family to be part of the lives of our Ishinomaki neighbors and friends, I have learned so much. 

A year and a half after the disaster, we launched a micro-enterprise business called Nozomi Project (or “Hope” Project) to help provide a way for women to rebuilding a livelihood for their families. We gathered local women and learned together how to cut and grind pottery shards, broken from the disaster, and form those pieces into new stunning pieces of jewelry that could be sold. Not only did the sales lift their economic situation, the process of making beauty in brokenness lifted their souls.

While our specific market niche (jewelry) is based on a unique raw material (broken pottery left by a tsunami!) set in unusual circumstances (need presented by a disaster), we have learned valuable lessons that may also be particularly helpful during this worldwide pandemic.

Six Lessons Learned Along the Way

Here are a few of the lessons that I have learned in running a small international business.

  1. Need is the perfect time for creativity to blossom.

    NP shards to jewelryOr as my grandmother used to say, necessity is the mother of invention. So many good and beautiful things have been birthed during times of dire need. When our family moved here, Ishinomaki was a place in great despair; women were desperate for community and hope. That tremendous need created a deep longing in me to try and make a difference, even if we might fail. Starting a business…making jewelry… these things were far beyond my comfort level, but the risk was worth it. And as we recognized the need for business, we discovered a beautiful “natural” resource headed for trash– broken pottery that was littered everywhere.

  2. Do the right next thing.

    "Do the next right thing."
    During our first few months of setting up Nozomi Project, I read whatever I could find on social enterprises. I forgot nearly everything except for one phrase that became my mantra: Do the right next thing. Starting a new unknown business in a city that has been devastated was at times incredibly overwhelming. I would come back to our temporary home and get our four kids to bed and wonder: where do I even start? Do the right next thing. I can’t do everything on my list tonight, but I can prioritize and take the step that makes the most sense for right now. This simple principle got me through those few months, and still remains a helpful beacon when life feels overwhelming.

  3. Synergy allows us to do what we could never do on our own.

    I had no business experience and had never made jewelry in my life! Networking and great teamwork allowed us to create something much greater than the sum of our individual parts. Volunteers visiting connected us with awesome jewelry designers, who ended up coming to Ishinomaki. Their ten-day sacrifice and ongoing partnership after that facilitated the birth of Nozomi. Another volunteer with web design launched us online; our teammate with amazing computer skills created our internet interface. Networking creates synergy.

  4. Diverse partnerships allow us to go further and deeper.

    NP group thanksDuring our first few years of business, I was frequently asked, “when are you planning to turn the business over to Japanese?” I didn’t have an answer for that. But as time went on and we were more intentional with our business model, I began to realize that perhaps our goal never really was about turning everything over to Japanese.

    Rather, that is our “secret sauce”—the wonderful combination of Japanese and North Americans working together. My Japanese teammates brought with them the most important gifts of artistry, precision and creating systems. Our North American teammates perhaps brought the fun, the ability to keep things from getting too stiff, and the connections, which have brought continued to give new life to Nozomi at necessary points.

    Quite honestly, shared ownership of a vision with people of different cultures is hard work. We have certainly had to go slower because of our cross-cultural differences and language challenges. Yet I’m convinced that these very differences have grown me as a leader and strengthened us as an organization.

  5. The best business model is one that chooses generosity.

    NP cambodiaWe have chosen “blessing” as one of our three core values. We have benefited greatly from the collaboration of volunteers and friends around the world who helped us launch and move forward.

    And we intentionally choose to be generous. We give over 20% of any annual profit each year to other organizations and places around the world with greater need. We have a Nozomi Holding Hope necklace in which we donate portions of each sale to stop human trafficking. We have taken several Nozomi teams to Cambodia where we are helping vulnerable women there get a social enterprise started. By making generosity a key factor in our decision-making, we are modeling to our team and our customers a way of life that may feel counter-cultural but provides purpose and fulfillment.

  6. Collaboration creates momentum.

    The very start of Nozomi was all about collaboration from people who were drawn to Ishinomaki because they wanted to help. We’ve had teams come from around the world who have brought their expertise to help us get off the ground. And we have loved partnering with shops in places like Tokyo, London, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Hong Kong who are now selling Nozomi products. Through word of mouth and people who have sponsored us and shared the Nozomi story, we have sent over 60,000 pieces of hope to over 45 different countries. An original Nozomi jewelry set was created to be worn at H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award ceremony in Stockholm this past year. We are honored, and grateful for the collaboration and partnership of people like this.

    nozomi project 3

The tragedy that struck here ten years ago will always remind me of the fragility of life. But I am humbled and remain thankful for the beautiful responses of the people here, and friends from around the world who have enabled me to lead and to learn in ways I would have never imagined a decade ago.

Nozomi Project

Sue Plumb Takamoto

Photo credits: Images courtesy of Nozomi Project


Sue Plumb TakamotoSue and Eric Takamoto and their four children are living in Ishinomaki, Japan, part of a church planting network called Be One. They first met at Fuller Seminary, where Sue was starting her PhD in leadership and intercultural studies. Sue owns more pieces of Nozomi jewelry than she would care to admit!

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setakamoto@asianaccess.org (Sue Plumb Takamoto) Featured The Takameter Blogs Thu, 11 Mar 2021 20:00:00 -0800
Looking Back on Ten Years: Finding Beauty in Brokenness https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/takameter-blog/1504-looking-back-on-ten-years-finding-beauty-in-brokenness https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/takameter-blog/1504-looking-back-on-ten-years-finding-beauty-in-brokenness


Reflections on the 10-Year Remembrance of Japan’s Triple Disaster

By Sue Plumb Takamoto


There is beauty in brokenness. This is a message that we all need to hear right now.

Shizugawa Minami Sanriku 026 courtesy of Chad Huddleston, 2013 05 20On March 11, 2011, an unfathomable and unpredicted earthquake and tsunami ripped across the eastern Tohoku region of Japan. While locals knew there was always a risk of tsunamis in much of the region, no one thought it was possible for one of such magnitude and velocity. And it did the unimaginable.

Even though it has now been ten years, Japan isn’t finished with the aftermath. The Tohoku earthquake was huge, measuring a 9.0 on the Richter Scale and the ensuing tsunami caused death and destruction on a scale never seen before, including the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. There were nearly 16,000 confirmed deaths and over 2,500 people missing. With 120,000 buildings collapsed, and nearly a quarter million buildings half-collapsed, the total economic loss is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $235 billion.

Finding a Way to Bring Hope

In the year following the 2011 disaster, our family and others made the decision to move from other parts of Japan to Ishinomaki, one of the cities most devasted by the tsunami. Recognizing the great need for employment and community among the women we were meeting in our new neighborhoods, we started gathering together. We began exploring and experimenting with ways to create something from the pieces of broken pottery that had been left everywhere in the wake of the tsunami.

NP women beadingOn October 2, 2012, we officially started the Nozomi Project. Nozomi is the Japanese word for hope, and this is something that was desperately needed here! We started paying women hourly to learn the trade of grinding broken pottery and making jewelry. I remember the sense of elation we all felt when we had our first online sales! People from different parts of the world were buying hope-filled, hope-produced products made from the devastation of the disaster. But more importantly, these women were finding meaning and dignity in transforming things that were very broken into something beautiful.

Ten years later, and most of the physical evidence of the disaster cannot be seen with our eyes anymore. There are new seawalls and roads and bridges and temporary homes that have changed the landscape. Yet like with other tragedies, we know that the pain does not just disappear; the loss and brokenness, while perhaps not as obvious, still remain.

Broken Pottery & Shattered Hopes

During the first few years of business, my teammates would share how emotionally difficult it was to handle these broken pieces of pottery that represented shattered families and hopes. But as they would cut and grind and shape and transform each item into something new – a necklace; a keychain; a set of earrings – they would find fulfillment, even joy:

“Every piece of shard is unique, just like each of our staff. We can’t see how we are changing, but we are healed by the process of making a shard into jewelry.”

nozomi project promo

Making Something New from Brokenness

Nozomi ProjectOur tagline for Nozomi Project is beauty in brokenness. The beauty in each of the Nozomi products is in the brokenness, in the process of being transformed. Brokenness is not just found in tsunami zones and upcycled pottery, but it is found in everyone. I dare say it is woven inside each one of us. Perhaps the biggest challenge in our lives is not hiding our brokenness, as we all get so good at doing, but allowing it to intentionally become part of us. Finding the beauty in our places of brokenness.

Our youngest son, Ian, walks home every day from the local elementary school along a road that ten years ago had been covered by rubble and dark tsunami waters. While the roads have been repaired, houses renovated and new sidewalks installed, there are afternoons when Ian comes running into the house with a handful of broken pottery that he found on his walk home from school. He will run to me with his dirty fingers clutching these broken shards and exclaim, “Mommy! I found jewelry!”

Ian's hands, courtesy T.J. Lee

I found

My son has that eye. That eye, like our Creator, that can already imagine the beauty in the brokenness – that recognizes something that will be. As we remember the disaster a decade ago, during this unforgettable season of a worldwide pandemic, we can learn to look for the beauty in the broken. We can seek creative solutions. We can bring long-term perspective to those around us. And we can forge unforgettable partnerships that will make the difference in our lives, and in those around us.

Because there really is beauty in brokenness. 

Sue Plumb Takamoto

Photo credits: Images courtesy of Nozomi Project; inset of tsunami damage courtesy of Chad Huddleston; inset of Ian's hands courtesy of T.J. Lee.


Sue Plumb Takamoto Sue Plumb Takamoto, Ph.D., the founder/director of Nozomi Project, and her husband Eric are global workers with Asian Access. They have adopted their four children while living in Japan and are part of a church-planting team in Ishinomaki called Be One. Sue loves outings to the beautiful Miyagi prefecture coast, and can’t wait for warmer weather to continue their new paddle-board interest.

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setakamoto@asianaccess.org (Sue Plumb Takamoto) Featured The Takameter Blogs Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:15:00 -0800
Today marks 10 years since 3.11 Triple Disaster in Japan https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1503-today-marks-10-years-since-fukushima-disaster-in-japan https://go2japan.org/a2/news/1503-today-marks-10-years-since-fukushima-disaster-in-japan

small town in Japan abandoned after the triple disaster. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Japan (MNN) — On this day 10 years ago, a triple disaster rocked Japan. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake sent a tsunami hurtling into the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Three reactors melted down, spewing radioactive material into the air. Read a complete timeline of the disaster here.

Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access says, “We want to think, ‘That was it. We went through hardship enough. So until Jesus comes back, this will be the end. We just continue without earthquakes or any disaster or suffering.’ But it was a wake-up call that this can happen anyplace, anytime, to anybody.”

Japanese Christians

But God works in a mysterious new way in the world, Takazawa says. And He doesn’t stop in times of pain and hardship.

“The global Church came together as one and came alongside the part that was hurting. We felt [their love] not just theological reflection. We saw it, we touched, and we smelled it. We tasted the global Church.”

The disaster also taught Japanese Christians to move towards areas of disaster and hardship, not away from them. “Of course, an evacuation was needed for the moment. But where they live, the Church must be established, raising leaders for the harvest, from the harvest.” Pray God will bless their continuing ministry in a country that still bears scars from this catastrophe.


Listen to the broadcast (top story)

Direct Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Mar11-2021.mp3


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Mission Network News (https://mnnonline.org)Mission Network News exists to inform multitudes about stories that matter and empowers them to take action that changes lives. Join over 1 million radio and internet users each day. Hear stories of what God is doing around the world – and how you can be involved. Each MNN broadcast includes pray, give, or go opportunities that help you find your place in the story. Sign up at mnnonline.org to receive daily news in your inbox. Or check out MNN on social media and share them with others. MNN is a ministry of OneWay Ministries.


go2japan@asianaccess.org (Mission Network News) Featured Latest News News Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0800
Groundbreaking shifts resulting from Japan's Triple Disaster https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/yoshiyahari-blog/1502-groundbreaking-shifts-resulting-from-japan-s-triple-disaster https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/yoshiyahari-blog/1502-groundbreaking-shifts-resulting-from-japan-s-triple-disaster

Rev. Yoshiya Hari


Translated by Mary Jo Wilson

Q: What are some of your initial thoughts as we stand at the ten-year mark since the Triple Disasters hit Northeastern Japan?

Well, my first thought is that it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years. The time has gone so fast. From this vantage point, it’s clear what a huge turning point it was, both in my life and in the life of my church, and I could say even in the life of the church across Japan and for Asian Access Japan. It’s been a huge turning point.

Q: Tell us more about your personal turning point.

My calling as a pastor and my commitment to serve as A2Japan National Director started before the 3.11 Disasters. I was actually commissioned as National Director just days before 3.11 in 2011. In that first year I witnessed the strength of the Global Church in their massive response with volunteers, finances, donations. It was like a beautiful tidal wave of compassion and blessing and prayer on those tiny, suffering churches. That really impacted me personally. As God’s servant I have to go beyond my Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria and I began to see the importance of that geographical distance in my calling.

Hari photo1

Q: How has this experience changed your ministry?

I’ve witnessed Jesus’ heart, his profound compassion. It’s described in Matthew 9:36, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In that same way, so many felt compassion for those suffering from the disasters, they felt the pain and were moved to help, to bring hope. I also felt that deep compassion, my heart was broken when I saw the destruction and suffering.

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” —Matthew 9:36

Then I realized that I looked on these people with compassion because of the disasters, but Jesus looked on them with compassion long before then. He saw them living ‘as sheep without a shepherd’. They were without a church, but no one was saying, “Let’s go help.” When Jesus led his disciples from town to town, it was not a disaster area. It was people just living their ordinary lives. I began to realize the importance of hearing the cries for help from those places where no one is going.

Q: Has it changed how you pray?

After the disaster the scale of work to be done was beyond imagination—moving rubble, clearing mud, delivering relief—but the workers were so few. The passage in Matthew continues with Jesus saying, “The harvest is huge, but the workers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers…” Every day we asked for God to send more workers. As people left, we prayed for more to come. That work is done and all the relief workers have gone home, but we still need to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers, workers for a spiritual revival. If you look at it that way, it has nothing to do with the disaster. His compassion, his workers, are needed everywhere. My prayer is that we could send workers to those who are overlooked.

Q: What about the next ten years?

Out of the disaster, we formed disaster relief networks. I’d like to see that go even further, not just networks in response to disasters, but networks in areas where there are few workers. I’d like to see us turn our eyes and join together to go to those places where Christ is least known and there are very few workers. It’s a kind of organic movement where we take what we’ve learned from the experience of delivering physical goods and apply it to the spiritual world. We do this because we are the Church, and personally, I’d like to do that central work of Christ for the next ten years.

Q: How would you like us to pray?

Pray for more workers to be sent to the harvest, especially that God will send workers from this next generation, even those who were teenagers ten years ago and are now in their twenties. I’d also like to see an intentional investment in Fukushima prefecture. Now that ten years have passed it’s clear that Fukushima has not experienced the same level of recovery, of assistance as other prefectures. I’m especially praying for young leaders to be raised up in Fukushima, so we can come alongside them for sustainable work.

Pray that we will take what we’ve learned from our experiences in eastern Japan and begin to see organic connections between prefectures and sending short-term teams all across Japan. That is my prayer.

As the second-largest unreached people group in the world, Japan has almost always been 0.5% Christian. So how does that change, to say 2%? It has to be multiplication, multiplying disciples, multiplying churches. We must pray for the multiplication of workers and disciples across Japan, especially for this mindset to be shared across churches. We’re starting to see this happen.

Q: Any thoughts on the current “disaster”—COVID-19 pandemic?

As the Church, we should take advantage of this season to consider the deep changes that need to take place. That’s how I want people to pray. I think all Japanese were impacted in some way from the disasters in northeastern Japan. For some, it may be just a superficial change, which doesn’t really last. But for others, including pastors and churches, it has caused deep and significant changes. I pray that the pandemic will likewise cause deep changes in us. I include myself. I want to see real change in my life. That’s my prayer.

Yoshiya Hari


Yoshiya HariRev. Yoshiya (Joshua) Hari is pastor of Saikyo Nozomi Chapel and has been the A2 Japan National Director since 2011. He works with leaders across Japan to grow networks and inspire a church multiplication movement with an eye for those areas without a church. Due to the Great East Japan Disaster, he had a special assignment to serve for one year in relief work through CRASH Japan and maintains close ties to the Tohoku region.



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yhari@asianaccess.org (Yoshiya Hari) Featured Yoshiya Hari Blogs Tue, 09 Mar 2021 23:00:00 -0800
Learning to Be Good News https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1501-learning-to-be-good-news https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1501-learning-to-be-good-news


Reflections on 10th Anniversary of Japan’s Triple Disaster

By Kent Muhling

As the ten-year commemoration of the March 11 disaster approaches, many of us think back to our experience of that day and the days that followed. I am reminded of some of the lessons I learned then, lessons that continue to shape our ministry today.

Kesenmura Bapt church Pastor Usui 3One memory that stands out is when we visited a 76-year-old pastor and his wife, whose church was just blocks away from where the tsunami had hit. Their community had been devastated, and they were themselves in shock and exhausted.

After delivering our relief supplies, we sat down with them for about 45 minutes, drinking tea and talking. This pastor and his wife appreciated so much that we would stop and take the time to see how they were doing and encourage them.

Before leaving we prayed with them, and they both had tears in their eyes when we were finished. It felt so good to minister to them in that way.

Spending time with people at an evacuation center

A New Perspective

Experiences like that changed my perspective about what “ministry” is. I had been taught to focus on sharing the gospel and making disciples. But it is easy to turn that focus into an agenda that pushes out other important aspects of who I am supposed to be as a follower of Christ.

Kent talking with womenWhat I mean is: In the past, I would not have thought much about simply sitting down to listen to a pastor for his encouragement. "Real" ministry would have been to teach or equip, not just listen and small talk.

I would not have thought much about bringing relief supplies if there were no opportunity to share the gospel. "Real" ministry would be sharing the supplies and the gospel message.

The question is: what if there is no opportunity to give a verbal witness? Is it still worthwhile to do mercy ministry? My earlier answer might have been, "I've been called to make disciples, so I won't get involved if there’s no opportunity to share the gospel.”


Kent unpacking boxesMy earlier answer might have been, "I've been called to make disciples, so I won't get involved if there’s no opportunity to share the gospel.”


Called to Be Good News

But serving as a relief volunteer caused me to begin thinking not only in terms of what I’ve been called to do, but who I’ve been called to be:

  • I am called to love my neighbor as myself. Period.
  • I am called to feel compassion and respond as the Good Samaritan did when he helped the man on the road. Period.
  • I am called to "do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Gal 6:10). Period.

Of course I want to share the gospel every chance I can. But even if I can't witness with words, I am still called to love my neighbor, show compassion, and do good to everyone as I have opportunity.

Kent listening

Through the efforts of the relief volunteers, many Japanese people learned that Christians are genuinely compassionate and loving people. And as relationships of trust were built, opportunities to share the gospel followed. But even if that gospel-proclaiming opportunity never comes, I am called to do good, to care and respond.

In the years since the disaster we have been serving in a city-center church plant in Sendai — well outside the tsunami disaster area, and yet surrounded by hurting people. Life is hard in all sorts of ways! And God calls us not only to proclaim the good news, but to be good news, to demonstrate the love of Christ. In short, simply to care.

What has this looked like for my wife and me? It has meant:

  • Counseling a young lady suffering from chronic depression (and many others)
  • Ministering to an unbelieving couple whose marriage is in crisis
  • Bringing meals to a sick friend or the mother of a newborn baby
  • Inviting a man with mental health issues live with us while trying to help him put his life together
  • and more…

May we truly be the people God wants us to be, that our life witness and our verbal witness would convey the same good news.

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” — 1 John 3:18

Kent Muhling


Kent Muhling Kent and Yuko Muhling have served with A2 in Japan for 15 years. As a family of five they moved to the disaster area in 2012 to help start Grace Center Church Sendai, a city-center church plant. God has blessed the work with a vibrant international community. They continue the work of being Good News in their city.

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KMuhling@aol.com (Kent Muhling) Featured Staff Blogs Mon, 08 Mar 2021 23:00:00 -0800