• Decisions, Decisions

    Linda, Kohei, and kids stand in front of Ippo Ippo group building

    By Linda Koyama

    Which Mission Organization Should I Choose?

    If you’ve considered being in some type of formal ministry abroad, you’ve probably also been on the decision-making trajectory of “which mission organization should I go with?” This was us back in late 2019, early 2020.  

    At the end of my last post, “New, But Not: Our Journey to Japan,” I shared that we returned to the US in June of 2019. We needed time to debrief our five-year stint in Japan—and also to figure out if God was keeping the door open to Japan or closing that chapter for us.

  • New, But Not: Our Journey to Japan

    Linda, Kohei, and kids stand in front of Ippo Ippo group building

    By Linda Koyama

    Hi, I’m Linda. Nice to meet you. I’m currently writing from Yamagata, Japan, where my family is partnering with a local church. You’ve probably never heard of Yamagata. Don’t worry, neither did I until it was presented as one of the potential prefectures we’d be serving in. 

    So where exactly is Yamagata? Think north of Tokyo about 200 miles (300 kilometers), or a 4 1/2 hour drive by car. It’s in the southern part of the Tohoku region, closer to the Japan Sea side (rather than the Pacific Ocean side). It’s definitely not one of Japan’s hot tourist spots, but this region is known for its ski slopes, onsens, and delicious fruits.

  • It's a Different World...

    Tia stands in front of a Japanese shrine

    By Tia Blassingame

    Okay, if you look like me you probably started singing that song title and know exactly where I got it from. Perfect, because it has been playing in my head all week! This is truly a different world. Right now, I am at a homestay with my onēsan (pronounced ohnay-sahn) and her family. That term right there is already different vocabulary for you I’m assuming. Onēsan is “older sister” and a “homestay” is when you stay overnight (or more than one night) with a family. In basic “Tia terms” (that’s me), I’m at a sleepover with my sis and her fam. Let me backtrack a bit...

  • Living a "Relevant Life"

    a cup of coffee and the bible open to psalms

    Rethinking how God's Word is "relevant" to our lives and ministries

    By Kent Muhling

    I sometimes pray Psalm 143:8 at the beginning of my morning devotions. It reads, 

    “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, 
    for in you I trust.
    Make me know the way I should go, 
    for to you I lift up my soul.” 

  • Making sense of Urbana and your own personal journey

    Because Urbana '22 has just concluded, we thought it would be especially helpful to repost an article written after a previous Urbana by Asian Access missionary Sue Takamoto, who first attended Urbana '84.

    Decision-Making and God's Perspective

    • "Oh no… It's been several weeks since Urbana, but I haven't signed up with a mission agency yet. Am I out of God's will?"
    • "How will I ever decide?!"
    • "I think God and my parents have very different ideas about what's best for my life…"
    • "Urbana still doesn't make sense to me."
  • The Handleys' 2022 in Summary

    2022 summary debby hudson Wqs6qly3T50 unsplash

    As we reflect on 2022 and prepare for 2023, several highlights come to mind: 

  • Lessons on Brokenness & Business

    sue plumb takamoto 2021

    Reflecting on the Ten Years since Japan's Triple Disaster

    By Sue Plumb Takamoto

    PART 2

    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.

  • Looking Back on Ten Years: Finding Beauty in Brokenness


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

    By Sue Plumb Takamoto

    PART 1

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

  • 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.

  • Remembering 3.11 and the Gospel of Hope


    Reflections on 10th Anniversary of Japan’s Triple Disaster

    By Dan & Casi Brown

    We all have triggers in our lives. These triggers could be an event, a word, a certain place, or circumstance. For many in Tohoku, earthquakes are a trigger. On February 13th, almost 10 years to the date from the March 11th, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Northeast Japan, we experienced a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, labeled an aftershock of that disastrous event. This aftershock was a trigger for many in our community in which we live.

  • Transformation Through Tragedy

    Eric Takamoto & Kent Muhling unloading boxes in disaster zone

    Reflections on 10th Anniversary of Japan’s Triple Disaster

    By Eric Takamoto

    So many of the images and memories from the triple disaster are as vivid today as when I experienced them ten years ago. I realize in reflecting on those experiences that they have changed me forever.

  • Kintsugi and the Gospel: Remembering the 10 Year Anniversary in Japan

    kintsugi illustration

    But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
    2 Corinthians 4:7

  • Looking Back on 2020, Praying Forward

    looking back praying forward 600x190

    Dear Friends,

    As 2020 wound to a close, the Lord impressed on me the following passage:

    "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." —John 1:4


    2020 was such a disruptive year. Yet the life of Christ is the light of the world. That gives me hope heading into 2021. I pray that your Christmas and New Year’s celebrations brought joy and the reminder of what is most important, even in the midst of the challenges from 2020, some of which continue to persist.

  • A Window Seat on a Bullet Train into Japan

    shinkansen fikri rasyid 3ba59K57wE4 unsplash

    Here is a fresh look at Japan from a first-time visitor to the country.  This entry was written by Ken E for his travelogue and was slightly abridged with permission from the author. We think it accurately taps into the emotions and surprises that first-time visitors to this country experience.



    For three weeks now, I haven't needed or wanted the counsel of the empty page. Japan has been a warm embrace, a beguiling friend, a show of lights, a geisha bow. Twenty days have felt like two. I didn't need to write because my waking thoughts were deeply invested in Japan.

    window mtfuji ramon kagie 58 J9vByMmY unsplashThis country is for me, and may always be, a flash of excitement -- a window seat on a bullet train, time-lapse travel through a time-warped land. Japan is a place that has seemingly reset the properties of time. It moves at a frenetic pace, but stops to idly sip tea. It's a place that hurls eagerly into the future with a velocity unimpeded by the weight of its reverence for the past. It preserves as much as it reinvents.

    Japan is a riddle of contradictions. It is as much about Zen, Kabuki, Sumo, and Geisha as it is about Sony, Toyota, and Panasonic. It is a hyper-modern sprawling metropolis; it is Mt. Fuji peering through the clouds over miles and miles of autumn-burnt parklands. It is a maze of metal and glass skyrises; it is a narrow alleyway with wooden homes with dragon-tiled roofs.

    Japan is heavy drinking—sake, whiskey and beer—but it is also a work ethic that revolutionized the world. It is Sweet Home Alabama crooned karaoke-style; it is a late-night Yakitori snack from 7-11 (or wait—was that just me?) Japan is a public bathhouse where tattooed and fingerless gangsters (yakuza) bathe communally in lavender- and chamomile-scented spas (onsens). I could go on, but put simply –

    Japan is an enchanting amalgam of contrasts, where the juxtaposition of old and new, delicate and bold, revelry and refrain, colors the country brilliant and fires the pulse of its people electric.

    Japan is also a land of gentle grace that survives long-forfeited imperial ambitions. With honorific salutations and demure bows, the people of Japan are as hospitable and polite as you may find anywhere in the world. If you pull out a map on the street and look at it cross-eyed, a random pedestrian will present himself to you within ten seconds to offer help. Say "Arigato gozaimasu" (thank you) and he may even walk you to your destination.

    In striking contrast to the rest of Asia (and maybe even the rest of the world), Japan is a teenage wonderland of post-modern punk. It is a Hello Kitty button on a Sex Pistols T-shirt. Gothic makeup, black taffeta and steel-studded belts seem to be as acceptable as rainbow stickers and Powder Puff Girl handbags. For all the piercings and all the hairstyles that would make even a Londoner turn his head, the youth of Japan have an enduring affinity (that seems to follow them late into their twenties) for anything that is cute. From saccharine Sanrio to the cries of "Kawaii!" (how cute!), it's hard not to notice this generation’s obsession with the commercially cute. (They even manage to make punk rock look cute.) They may try to act sick and twisted in outfits that make their parents cringe, but the kids in Japan are still cheek-pinchingly adorable.

    It's too early for me to know how lasting an impression this place will have on me, but what I do know is that I am compelled to visit again.

    Ken E


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