Celebrating the fourth of July when living in a foreign country is not without its challenges. It’s not always easy to find Independence Day decorations in Japan. There is no fresh corn on the cob or truck -loads of inexpensive watermelon. There are no hokey but oh so sentimental patriotic little parades on Main Street (we miss those types of “Americana” most of all). Still, across the vast ocean on a lovely green island in south east Asia a group of Americans got together and celebrated the freedom of our great nation.
We had a BBQ at the house and enjoyed a “build your own hot dog and bratwurst bar”. It was so hot and humid outside that we decided that the fun should be moved indoors under the cooling blissfulness of the air conditioner. After we all ate our fill of hot dogs and potato salad it was time for our first annual Pie Baking Contest! We had 6 entries (not too shabby considering most of our people group are made up of the single Marines and Sailors stationed on Camps Hansen and Schwab). As a matter of fact only two of the entries were from women. Many of us were missing County Fair season back home so we decided to bring a little taste of that here.
What better way is there to get a “taste of home” than with a pie? Three judges were chosen for our contest. We chose Brandon (one of the Marines who would be leaving us), Gabe (a Marine who is new to our fellowship) and Kevin (not his real name, and a visitor who coincidently is now a regular). They were given instructions on what to look for in a good pie and so armed with their grading sheets, they got right to work tasting the entries. It was great fun because we decorated the judging table and had them face the audience of salivating spectators. After a long deliberation the winner was announced… The Chocolate French Silk Pie (which was renamed Freedom Silk by the crowd). The crowd was a buzz “Who was the baker of that pie” they all wondered. Then a lone figure made his way from the back (this is the part where if this was an old western movie one would have heard spurs breaking the tensioned silence… chink, chink,). Slowly he came to the front and we all saw that it was… MIKE! Mike made the winning pie!!! Everyone screamed “Fixed! It was fixed!” Two other participants leaped to his defense “Lisa did help him but no more than she helped us.” After the judging everyone got to eat dessert and play board games. Mike took some of the guys to the beach to play on the jet-ski. It was a fun day.
I mentioned Kevin earlier. We have a new group of guys on island who are here for a 6 month deployment. Kevin was looking for something to do so he decided he would come to the house with his coworker Rob, who is a believer (as soon as Rob arrived on the island he was searching for fellowship and found us his first Sunday in the chapel). As soon as Kevin walked through the door he was part of the crowd, he was ushered to the dining table where a hotdog was thrust into one hand and a cold soda in the other. He ate his fill and then fell asleep on the couch. He was awoken to the sounds of furniture being moved, as we made ready for pie contest. Mike asked Kevin if he would like to be a judge and he was thrilled by the request. He was a wonderful judge and took the job seriously. At the end of the day he mentioned to Rob “I’m going to start reading the Bible. I think God brought me here for a reason.” He later confided to us that his marriage is in jeopardy and he wanted to “get right with God”.
At days end, when everyone had left, and all the dishes were washed and the star spangled decorations were put back into the box, Mike and I got to reflect on the events of the day with one another. We laughed at some of the jokes and general silliness of the day and we waxed patriotic about the young men and women with whom we share life. They are young and eager to change the world. When most people their age are making ready for a dorm room, these young men and women are making ready for war. We get a little sappy with them when we talk about the sacrifices that great men and women have made throughout history for the cause of freedom and how proud we are of them for being part of that that illustrious group. We marvel that we serve a God who was so concerned about freedom that He sent His only Son to die in order to secure our freedom. As we turned out the lights and prepared for bed we expressed our thankfulness for our free country, the brave protectors of that freedom and mostly for our eternal freedom. We are hopeful that Pie Judge Kevin will also be a partaker of ultimate freedom. Please join us in praying for him.
Thank you for being our partners in this wonderful ministry. You mean more to us than you know.
Blessings, Mike and Lisa
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