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Love, our guiding light

January 1, 2005

Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God
The love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus.

When I was little I wondered why we had to pray before each meal. Sometimes we prayed for people we had never seen. I wondered what "poor people in India" had to do whey my life. Now as an adult I realize how the routine of prayer opened my imagination to the suffering of the world. Prayer set the foundation for how I was to discover my relatedness to others and to the environment. These days as our family joins hands around the breakfast table for prayer, I know that our children do not understand sometimes. But prayer helps us to share our joys and sorrows. It helps us to turn our hearts together toward others, and to be reminded that nothing will separate us from the love of God.

We have spent this full year in Sendai. Besides my three-week trip this spring to Bangladesh with students, and the one-month we spent in the mountains of Nagano in the summer, we were pretty much settled into life here. Hana is now five and attends the same kindergarten that I used to attend. Tomo is three, and just can't wait to get into kindergarten in April. Both of the children enjoy the Sendai Zoo. Tomo likes the tigers and elephants. Hana likes to feed the rabbits. Kazuko has been occupied taking care of the children. She has sown Disney-princess-dresses for Hana, and we are always thinking of places to take Tomo to help him expend some of his overflowing energy. Next year both children will be in kindergarten, so Kazuko is looking forward to having more time on her own.

As for work, the Emmaus Center continues to struggle along. We have had many international guests, a four-day Taize-style retreat in May, and a host of gatherings to bring together the church community. As we minister to young people through the activities of the Student Center, we are aware that there are so very few young people in our churches. We continue to pray that God will use the Center to serve the wider community, and to build up the Church.

Recently, I have been struck by the thought that; "The opposite of love is not hate, but fear." There is so much violence in our world to stir up the fear within us. May LOVE be our guiding light in this coming year.

With love,

Jeffrey, Kazuko, Hana, and Tomo

Jeffrey Mensendiek serves with the Council on Cooperative Mission, assigned to the Gakusei (Student) Center in Japan. He serves as Director of Gakusei (Student) Center in Sendai, Japan.

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