Japan 2019

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So I was just doing some work on my blog page, and came across this post that never published! this is from when I went on a two-week missions trip in July/August this year. I haven’t edited anything so it’s exactly like I wrote it right when I got back. Enjoy!

Konichiwa! I’m home! I know this is a bit late, we got home on August 10th, but so much has happened between now and then. But that’s another post. Here’s a report on the trip… well, as much as I could fit into one post.

before I begin I would like to quickly state that the love, pain, joy, and exponential growth that I experienced on this trip can not be contained in a letter. The feelings that were and are in my heart are impossible to explain. I can’t convey the amount of emotion and connection that I felt in Japan. I want to express my deep gratitude for all who prayed for me and financially supported me. God made it plainly clear that He wanted me on this mission. 

On to the report…

We left Wichita Kansas on July 25th and arrived in Tokyo (after driving for nearly eleven hours to Chicago and catching our connecting flight in Taiwan) on July 26th. The flight to Taiwan was fifteen hours long, and the flight to Japan was three and a half. I did discover that flying is not my favorite way to travel, I got very nervous during takeoff and landing, but the pilots did their jobs very well, and your prayers for safe travels were greatly appreciated!

After landing in Japan, I didn’t believe I was actually in Japan. Even after running to Mayu and giving her a huge hug, I couldn’t believe it was real. That day we took a two-hour train ride to the Meguro-Ku district at the heart of Tokyo. This is where Mayuko’s family house and art studio, komorebi studio, which we affectionately called “K-studio” resides. We arrived safely, and I experienced no jet-lag. Many of the other team members either had trouble going to sleep or woke up very early, but I was blessed with a blissful night of sleep. Jet lag returning home was very bad so I more than made up for it!

Within the first week of the trip, we learned many things about the Japanese culture and way of life, as well as volunteered every morning to the Tokyo Baptist Church VBS. VBS was so much fun! The theme was “In The Wild”! The worship songs were in English, but anytime someone was speaking on stage to all the children there would be a translator. We were split into Japanese speaking groups and English speaking groups but partook in all the same activities. I led an English speaking group of preschoolers and, though it was quite challenging at times, I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was sometimes difficult to get them to speak and engage in the lesson or game, but one of my kids, a five-year-old girl named Zuri, accepted Christ on day four! After we prayed together I asked her how she felt. She gave the most genuine smile and said: “I’m just so happy”. Her attitude and mannerisms spoke to her overflowing joy. And just for that, the whole trip was worth it. Over twenty kids came to Christ that week! 

          A few days into the trip Mayuko’s mother, Humiko, wanted to make dinner for the team and invited us over. A few of the Shono’s family friends joined us as well as some of Mayuko’s personal friends. We got to show them some of our VBS dances and some fun songs from camp and they were so happy to join us! Later that night I played guitar with Mayu’s dad and we lead some worship songs. The friends and family were so happy to join in with the music, even if they weren’t Christian. Later into the evening, Shawn (our team leader) showed them our camp video from 2018 and began to share his testimony. After sharing how God saved his life and called him to the ministry he presented all of Mayu’s friends and family with the Extreme Kansas Camp t-shirts. He explained that our theme this year was “wilderness”. The shirts had “wilderness written in Japanese under a cut-out of Mount Fuji. He explained that we learned how Jesus experienced times of “wilderness”, just like us. I then felt the spirit pulling at my heart. Telling me to share my testimony. I asked Shawn if I should share my wilderness experience.

I stood up and began to share. Slowly, so that Mayu could translate. I shared how I struggled with wanting to be accepted. I share about how I used to feel like no one wanted me, that I had no friends, and that I was alone. I shared how much I struggled with self-image and trusting God’s plan for my life. I explained how after I gave everything I was to God, that my problems melted away. God took care of me. I encouraged them not to seek satisfaction in earthly things, but to always look to God for comfort. 

Personally, I didn’t think I did that good a job at sharing everything I wanted to say. However, when we listen to the spirits call and are obedient to God, things will work. You can’t mess up God’s plan. One of Mayu’s friends burst into tears. This is a big deal since Japan is a very reserved country. No one shows emotion. She cried, and Mayu held her. I ran to sit next to her and hold her hand. She and Mayu talked for a while in Japanese. Mayu then asked Shawn if he could pray for her. We gathered around her, even Mayu’s non-christian friends joined us in prayer. Mayu’s friend struggled with the same things I did, and she thought she was the only one.

I laid in bed that night, exhausted, thinking to myself… What if I had ignores that tug on my heart? What if I had brushed off that call to share? But I didn’t ignore it, and I do believe that a seed was planted in that girl’s heart that night. God works in bigger ways than we will ever, or can ever understand. Everything that happened that night was perfectly planned and timed. God’s timing is perfect.

It was an indescribable experience to get to meet Mayu’s friends and join them in worship to God. The next day we got ready for VBS and prayed that God would continue to move in these kid’s lives. And that God would give us the energy we needed to keep up with them!

Mayuko took us sightseeing sometimes after VBS. We saw the famous Shibuya crossing and went shopping in some of the biggest stores I’ve ever seen! Japan is very good at using space efficiently. Car garages are all underneath houses or built almost like a basement, but not many people drive because it’s usually easier, faster, and cheaper just to take a bus or train. All of the buildings are super tall and thin. Most houses and apartments would have a garden area, either just outside or on a balcony, but never big enough to even need a mower or high maintenance. 

The day we finished VBS we left Tokyo and made our nearly four hour trip to Lake Yamanaka at the base of Mount Fuji. We arrived at night and, after eating at Denny’s, went straight to our cabin and to sleep. The next day, for me, was spent for personal restoration. We were all exhausted from VBS so we spent the day resting and practicing the presence of God as we recovered. Later in the day, I went with a few other team members to swim in the lake. I guess I hadn’t realized that we were literally right next to Mount Fuji because after swimming for a little while I looked to my right and nearly screamed. A thin outline of the biggest and most beautiful mountain I had ever seen in my life jumped out straight at me! I didn’t realize how big it would be! And we were several miles away! It became part of the team’s morning routine to see the mountain with the sunrise. 

Our second day at the Yamanaka Chalet was spent hiking up Mount Ohira, a great Mountain to view Mount Fuji from! The hike was challenging, physically, and emotionally, but we all made it to the top and celebrated by drinking a lot of water and eating some rice balls Mayu had made for us the night before.

            Our last day at the Chalet was a sad one for me. I adored the beauty of Mount Fuji, and it pained me to leave. Leaving Yamanaka is what made me start to think about when we would be leaving Japan.  The end of the trip was coming into view and I wasn’t ready.

             We arrived safely back in Tokyo and rested to prepare for our next activity. The next day we took a roughly two-hour commute to a lovely beach area on the shore of Japan. It was a wonderfully hot day, and you could see Mount Fuji from the beach! This warmed my heart. We enjoyed a meal together before playing in the cool waters and then gathering together to witness the baptism of Yoshi and Yoriko Shono. Mayu’s father and sister. I spent a lot of time with Mayu’s sister at camp back in 2017, and I was honored to witness her baptism.

After the beach, I could feel the trip coming to an end. I wasn’t prepared for the heartache that hit me the night before we left. We threw somewhat of a “goodbye party” to see Mayu’s friends and family one last time. It was a wonderful blur of joy, sadness, and love. We prayed together, ate together, laughed together, cried together, and said goodbye to one another.

The next day Mayu traveled with us to the airport, and we said goodbye.

I struggled a lot on the trip. I had a mental breakdown before we even took off on our first flight leaving Chicago. I was so scared to fly for fifteen hours! I dealt with near-constant motion sickness and nearly passing out a few times and never knowing why or what to do to feel better. I struggled with energy levels and containing my emotions. I struggled to understand God’s plan sometimes but found comfort in trusting him. I’m sharing my struggles because I would do it all again. In a heartbeat, I would get back on a plane and go to Japan again.

This is where I am going to ask for more prayer. I know that that wasn’t my last time in Japan. I know that I’ll go back, but I don’t know when, why, or how. I need prayer for patience as I steward this dream I have received from God. I need prayer to remember that God is in control, and will bring the opportunity when the time is right. Please pray that I can be sensitive to the spirit and I do my absolute best to go where He leads when He leads.

Thank you, again, to anyone and everyone who prayed for me and financially supported me. You have no idea how thankful I am, and I won’t ever be able to explain it to you. Thank you for your continued support, and may God bless you.

No matter where you are in the world, never forget to Live Differently.

Maddison Farris

Blank Page

Some people don’t like looking at a blank page. They sit. They wait. Thinking the inspiration will just come. It won’t, and it doesn’t. Inspiration isn’t just something that comes to you if you wait for long enough it is something you already have inside you.

The words will come when you are ready to write them. I believe that this is why some people hate to write… they are forced to write about things for which they have no care or concern. remember being relieved when your teacher or professor allowed you to choose your topic? this gives you the freedom to write about something you care for and/or are interested in.

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You can choose to view the blank page in one of two ways. The first is to see it as a roadblock that you must strain your mind to overcome. This can make it difficult to get creative and enjoy your writing, but this is how many people view the blank page. The second is to see it as an opportunity. A blank page is there for you to express, convey, persued, convince, and inspire. Use the blank page to your advantage, think about what you want people to hear.

If you continue to run into “writer’s block” just do this quick exercise. Set a timer for five or ten minutes and do a nonstop writing session. Just write everything an anything that comes to your mind without stop, don’t ever let your hands stop moving.

Doing this will stretch your brain to work harder to come up with things to write down which could lead you to a great idea!

I just thought I would share this quick blurp of inspiration!

Have a blessed day.

Live Different,

Maddie grace

As A Journalist

As an upcoming journalist, I’ve experienced various challenges. Challenges such as not knowing how to write a proper cutline or what makes a good headline, but I never knew that journalists had to fight the dreadful battle of censorship.

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I never realized that freedoms still needed to be fought for. No one told me that even with the power of free speech, people would still try to stop me. I never even guessed that the place I was supposed to feel comfortable writing my stories would become the place that I dreaded to go, worrying that my opinion would be judged and my points ruled invalid.

But now I have a new outlook on this situation. With the law of free speech and organizations such as the SPLC (Student Press Law Center) that are there to help with clarifications of first amendment rights, the problems we experience can be fixed, it will just take time.

It is so frustrating to see poor leadership and immaturity brought into a place that is supposed to be a center of learning and growth, yet these students, including myself, are being led astray by the person they are told to trust…

Never would I imagine journalism to be so hard, yet never have I wanted to do anything more.

Found My Passion

Have you ever taken up a hobby or activity and just felt right about it? made a decision and felt inexplicably good? I feel that way about writing.

I love everything about it. I love searching for information, interviewing people, and the sounds that come from a busy keyboard. What I enjoy more than just writing is writing with a team. My time on the Butler Lantern (butler community college newspaper) has been so much fun and I’ve learned more about myself in one month than my entire freshman year of high school.

I love sitting with the other reporters- all writing our stories, making jokes and having fun, but I also love the feeling of being part of something big. My articles are in a newspaper! People are reading my work!

Some people flat out hate writing, but in my opinion, no other academic activity gives you so much freedom!

In math and science (which I despise with a passion burning stronger than the sun) there are definite answers that are already proven, written in stone, yadadadadaufheiuygfuhdgfwye. I hate it. You can’t go into math class and have an opinion. you can’t go into a science museum and say “well I think…”

When you go into English class, creative writing, literally anything but math or science, you are given freedom to express yourself, your thoughts and your views. You can say what YOU want and what YOU think. There’s no one sitting there telling you how it is, was and always been. You get to decide that for yourself. In science, nothing changes, but in writing and English you can change the rules, okay maybe not grammar rules, but you can find new ways to say things and express feelings and opinions.

Long story shortened… Writing is a blessing. I’m so glad I get to do it. Writing paves the way for changing the world. Writing persuades. Writing Pursues. Writing encourages, empowers, and equips.

Writing makes it easier to share the ways we Live Different.

Maddison Farris

 

College…

Well, I’ve been here for a month. I’ve learned a lot so far, but not so much academically. Yes, I’m sharpening my math skills and learning the difference between selective reception and selective interpretation, but really what I’m discovering here is how people function. Of course, being homeschooled, I’m discovering a lot about people and the world. I’m learning how true of a statement “it’s all about who you know” really is.

I’m building friendships and learning to love college life, but whenever I think about what I truly want to do, my mind and heart go back to Japan. I want to just jump straight back into the mission field. Honestly, If you handed me a one-way plane ticket to Japan leaving tomorrow, I would have absolutely no problem dropping out of school and packing my bags. But I can’t do that, and chances are nobody’s going to hand me a one-way ticket to Japan.

I’m starting to understand what I like doing, what I don’t like doing, what I like in people, and what I don’t. I’m learning about career paths I didn’t think were possible for me or that even existed. I’m learning how to better manage my time with the help of encouraging professors and my wonderful mom. I’m learning that money doesn’t last that long and that jobs are a wonderful, beautiful, amazing thing (as are parents).

I’m learning how to be patient with professors and classmates that I just don’t agree with, but I’m also seeing how important it is to be firm in your beliefs. There’s no point in trying to persuade someone that you’re right if you aren’t 100% sure of that yourself.

I’m also realizing how thankful I am that I was homeschooled. I’m so happy that I had to teach myself how to learn on my own and be independent. Those skills don’t just apply to academics, they can apply to anything.

I’m also super grateful for community college and it’s lack of unnecessary expenses, even though I know I’m destined to be an Oklahoma State Cowgirl.

I’m thankful for the Biblical community I have back home, and the one that I’m starting to build here.

I’m learning how important it is to Live Different… People notice you, I promise.

If you’ve made it this far you’re a trooper. Thanks for reading 🙂

Maddie Grace

Give it up

I think we all have those days where nothing really goes our way. Nothing is really how we want it to be, and nothing we can do will change that. It’s out of our control. We all have those moments where we think…
“If I could just change one thing about my life, myself, this choice, that decision…”

but more often than not, the situation is out of our control. That’s hard to accept. we’re human. we want to be in control. Many of us would consider someone we know or even ourselves “control freaks”. I’ve definitely known a few, including myself.

It’s difficult to be okay with not being in control, but handing the situation to God is the only way we can find peace. Handing it to God, however, isn’t always the easiest thing to do. More often than not we try to solve the problem ourselves first, sometimes knowing it will fail. We don’t always know that we aren’t trusting God. Sometimes we drift away without realizing it, and we are ALL guilty of this.

After stepping back and seeing what area’s of your life you are being a “control freak” about, it’s easy to feel guilty for not trusting God and drifting from him so easily. I know I have.

During camp this summer I realized I had pain stuffed inside my heart from situations that took place over a year ago. I realized I hadn’t fully given it to God. And recently I think I was so ready to be on my own and in college, that I forgot how much his presence blesses my day. And now, seeing the absence of Christ’s love on my college campus, my heart hurts for those around me and I realized what a blessing it is to have such a strong Biblical community like the one I’ve got back home.

And that ties in perfectly with what I learned at camp.

“practicing the presence of God”

It really does take practice. To live every moment in the presence of God, understanding and visualizing his existence right there with you in every situation and circumstance.

It’s challenging, but let’s work harder to give it all to God, and to give him the glory, the power, and the honor, forever and ever, amen.

 

Live Different,

Maddison Farris

 

 

 

over-communication?

 

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Over-communication. Is that even a thing? Is it possible to over-communicate? If it is, I’ve never done it. I remember a time when I had a job at a certain fast-food chain (a truly hard time in my life), and my boss was not very good at communicating. or just being nice. They also were a bit scary to me at the time, so I was afraid to ask questions. I was so afraid if misunderstanding and being a bother that I wouldn’t ask clarifying questions in order to avoid being wrong and then end up doing the original task wrong anyway because I didn’t ask the clarifying question. Don’t do that.

I can remember staring at some cupcake holders for nearly five minutes trying to decide if I should just go ask if the chocolate ice cream goes on the bottom or the top because I knew she had told me, but I forgot! I knew that if I knocked on the office door and asked she would roll her eyes give me a disapproving look, so I made nearly fifteen cupcakes wrong. The chocolate goes on top. I had put it all on the bottom.

The summer camp I work at- our leader would always say “It’s better to over-communicate than to have a miscommunication”. This helped me to not be afraid to ask questions because even at camp I feared people getting mad at me for not hearing or understanding the first time. But it’s okay! we are only human! I was scared that they would react like my boss did, but our leaders welcomed questions! They welcomed clear communication and made it a priority. This made jobs and tasks go so much smoother, and I wasn’t so afraid of just talking to people!

I know this post is short, but the thought came to my mind so I put it to work.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That may sound silly but some people really are! Don’ be afraid to ask questions or Live Different.

Peace out.