The youth retreat, which brought together 11 young people at Lake Nojiri last weekend, was a big success. We were blessed with good weather, which allowed us to sail, swim, climb a mountain and run around outside. Ann Tang and Malcolm Foster together led the retreat, with help from Kay Zebley and her family.  Heather and Masahiro Montgomery-Shimokawa attended with their daughter and also assisted.

The youth, who were between the ages of 12 and 15, came from different schools (CAJ, ASIJ and homeschool) and backgrounds but everyone got along with each other immediately. Ann opened her cabin as a gathering place for meals, games and worship, and also hosted the six girls. The five boys stayed at the Foster cabin. In both cabins, there was much laughter, joking and talking until late at night. 

The retreat theme was “Relationships,” which will also be the theme for the coming year of youth group. During worship time on Sunday, we looked at three images of God’s relationship with us in the Bible, including where Jesus says he is the vine and we are the branches — a very relevant one at Nojiri! We talked about how we need to remain connected to God to get resources, bear fruit and love others, and that the quickest way for a vine to die is to simply snip it at its base. Likewise, we need to keep our link to God from getting cut; otherwise, we can’t bear fruit.

We are planning youth group gatherings before church on some Sundays as well as monthly gatherings or activities at Ann’s house, downtown with the Tokyo Union Church youth group or elsewhere.

Here are some photos: 1) From atop Mt. Madarao, with Lake Nojiri behind the kids and 2) After our descent, we were treated to a glorious sunset as the youth swam in the lake.

Thank You, God!

Malcolm Foster
Youth Advisor
SC Chair

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