Monday, November 1, 2010

Flowers and miracles!

This is going to be a rather short post, since I`m feeling a bit under the weather. Saturday, October 23rd I went to Nabana no Sato with a friend to see the famous cosmos and dahlias. Wow! Here`s some pictures:

Me in front of the mums:

The huge feild of cosmos:

The gigantic dahlias:

And the beautiful chapel in the middle of the garden:

In another week or so nabana no sato will have their most famous display, the lightup! It`s one of the largest lightups in Japan and lasts four months! So there will be plenty of time to go.

After that, I enjoyed a delicious steak lunch at the beer garden resteraunt on premisis (with no beer) and then headed for my writers` meeting with some friends, which went well.

Other than that, the only thing of note was the surprise Nabari festival on Thursday the 28th with lots of delcious food stalls centered around the shrine. There were also game and carnival stalls, like this one selling glowing stuff:

And a flower shop:

Most of the events took place during the day while I was at work, so I missed them and I`m not exactly sure what the festival was about, but given the timing and prominence of the shrine, I would say it`s probably the local tenjin or thanksgiving festival for the harvest. Here`s a family all dressed up in traditional costumes from the feudal era:

Imagine the contrast that evening when two ladies in my English and Evangelism class prayed for Jesus to save them! The Japanese are no longer satisfied with festivals and rites that hold no meaning for them. We were talking about kanashibari, which I think I`ve mentioned here before, a kind of severe sleep paralysis unique to the Japanese. I asked the three ladies attending if they had experienced it, and they all said yes. They then began chattering away amoung themselves about how bad there experiences were, and while I couldn`t understand everything they said, I got the jist. Basically they had all woken up feeling as if they were bound, someone was strangling them, there were nails ripping at their flesh, etc. Kind of sounds like hell, doesn`t it? After their horrific stories, I asked Miwa to please share her story with the others, and she explained how she prayed to Jesus to set her free from kanashibari and she had never experienced it since. The other two ladies were shocked.

"Does Jesus really have that kind of power?" one of them asked.

"Yes," Miwa insisted. "Like Laura said last week, Jesus can set you free from all your fear and worry. But you have to ask him and believe he will do it."

They asked how this was possible. In turn, I asked them what they thought caused kanashibari. They all agreed it was demons, a power of darkness.

"Exactly! Jesus is God, and God has power over demons. That`s why he can set you free from kanashibari!"

Once they both seemed convinced, we prayed for Jesus to set them free from kanashibari and to be their lord and savior. But that wasn`t the end! I was sure to explain to them that life wouldn`t neccisarily be easier. Jesus sets us free from fear and worry because in him, we realize that the things we worry about are not so important after all. We needn`t fear death, or what other people think about us, because we are children of God who will go to be with him in paradise. One of the ladies started crying. The other one, when we gave her a Bible, began to read it immediately, asking,

"This is God`s love letter to us, right?"

Yes! That`s the response I`ve been praying for for the past year! This is so exciting! Please pray for these ladies, that they will continue to grow in their new faith and not just see Jesus as a "cure all" to their problems. Please also pray for a young lady who last year prayed for salvation, but has stopped coming and says she wants a "break from the Bible" due to peer preasure from her non-Christian friends. And another older lady seems to be curious but she`s really struggling with the divinity of Christ and science "disproving" religion. Last week I wanted to give her a really helpful DVD but she wasn`t there. Please pray for her! I wish I could give you their names, but I don`t think they would like that. But God knows who you mean.

More prayer requests:

Like I said, I`m feeling a bit under the weather. Please pray for health, especially since I want to go see the leaves in Kyoto soon. I had to cancel a trip on Wednesday, the national holiday, but I hope I can reschedule for Saturday.

Until next time, keep praying and keep loving, no matter what the cost.

Laura Jane Popp (L. J. Popp)

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