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  • Writer's pictureJeff and Malia Walker

Happy New Year!

明けましておめでとうございます! We pray you and your family are doing well in the new year! We've definitely had our hands full with a new little bundle of joy. :)



2022 - Worth the Wait

Winter

What a year 2022 was. It started off with us watching and waiting on Japan's borders to see if this is when they would open and we would get to move after all the waiting. That eventually happened in March. After so many years raising support and waiting, it was surreal to finally be moving forward with visa applications and arranging travel plans. Friends and family helped us quickly move out of our house and get it rented. Even though we knew this day would eventually come, it was quite emotional saying goodbye to everyone. We boarded our plane from Seattle and landed in Japan on March 23rd--Jeff's 3rd time in Japan, Malia's 4th, and Mason and Kaili's first.


Spring

We made it to Japan! We spent the first 3 months in Japan shuffling between temporary housing locations across Tokyo and Kawasaki. Through it all, we were getting used to the new language and the new sights, sounds, and smells of a new country. We met our new missionary teammates and became fast friends. We learned how to take the train and to find our way around with the limited Japanese we knew (with a big assist from Google Translate). Mason and Kaili started elementary school in May, and Jeff started Japanese language school in June. And finally, God led us to our new home that we could move into in July! We could finally unpack! It was worth the wait.


Summer

We also learned that we were expecting a new member of the family shortly after moving to Japan. As with Malia's prior pregnancies, she had quite a rough first trimester. This prevented her from cooking, which meant Jeff needed to step up and provide for the family in the kitchen--miles outside of his comfort zone. We also had a brief health scare with Malia and the baby where we thought Malia might need bed rest to avoid preterm labor. Praise God that she and baby ended up being fine. Malia finally started to feel more like herself once she entered her 2nd trimester, but unfortunately that also coincided with the sweltering Japanese summer. We welcomed the fall with its cooler temperatures, but now doing much of anything left Malia exhausted.


Autumn

We definitely needed a big vehicle for our growing family, so we got a van in September and Jeff braved driving on the other side of the road. Jeff stopped his in-person language classes in November in anticipation of the baby arriving soon. Then the terrible news came--Jeff's mom had passed away somewhat suddenly after some recent serious health troubles. With Malia only one month away from her early December due date, we had to decide if Jeff was going to travel back to the States for his mom's service. Ultimately, Jeff did end up traveling to Seattle for a short stay to spend time with with his dad, brother, and sister-in-law as arrangements were made to celebrate his mom's life. Meanwhile, Malia, Mason, and Kaili stayed behind in Japan. However, before Jeff could travel back to Japan, Malia gave birth to Elijah in mid-November--3 weeks early! It was only because of our friends and teammates in Japan that we were able to get through that tough time--truly an emotional roller coaster. But we are so blessed to have Elijah here as the newest member of our family! And we are so thankful that Malia's mom was able to travel from Hawaii to Japan for 4 weeks at the end of the year to help out!


2023 - Family of Five

Now here we are in the new year. Elijah has a personality all his own (he can be quite stubborn, but oh-so-sweet too), and Mason and Kaili are both getting used to having a younger brother and are helping out! As we continue to adjust to being a family of five, we are looking to restarting/starting Japanese language classes for Jeff and Malia. We are also looking toward the ministry ahead in 2023 as plans for the launch of the Kosugi Chapel plant for Denen Grace Church look to develop in the coming months. We also look ahead to this summer's VBS short-term missions team that Lighthouse will be sending to Japan. This will be the first Lighthouse missions team being sent since 2019, as that pesky pandemic cancelled years of plans. All in all, we are excited for what the Lord has planned for us--and the Japanese people--in Japan this year!


"What was the biggest challenge and favorite part of moving to Japan, and what are you looking forward to this year?"

  • Jeff: "The biggest challenge for me was my mom's health issues and eventual passing, coupled with being in Seattle for her funeral while Malia gave birth to Elijah in Japan. My favorite part of moving to Japan is seeing how quickly Mason and Kaili are adjusting to life here and learning the language (which had been my biggest anxiety!). I look forward to working more closely with Malia in ministry than at perhaps any point in our marriage thus far."

  • Malia: "The biggest challenge was going through my pregnancy and giving birth in the Japanese medical system, especially without being able to communicate in Japanese. My favorite part of moving to Japan is meeting and being able to work with such wonderful people in the Cross Project, JVENTURE, and Denen Grace. I look forward to starting ministry, and hopefully being able to communicate with new friends in the comfort of their own language."

  • Mason: "The hardest part was moving to a different country and having to leave my friends, school, and house behind. My favorite part is there's lots of cool new stuff in Japan that isn't in America, like big Pokemon Centers and Mount Fuji. This year I'm looking forward to going to school camp with my classmates."

  • Kaili: "A hard part is learning new kanji characters. My favorite part is getting to make new friends. I'm looking forward to going to school camp this year."


Praise:

  • Praise God that it seems that Elijah's congenital health condition is improving, and likely won't need any other intervention! Malia is also recovering nicely from the delivery.

  • Praise God for Malia's mom, who was a huge help with Elijah as well as Mason and Kaili! She returned to the States in early January.

  • We're so thankful for the meal train that our friends set up for us in Nov/Dec. We were very well-fed in the early weeks after Malia and Elijah came home!

  • Praise God that Jeff and Malia were able to get their Japanese driver's licenses on the first visit--a rarity in Japan!


Prayer:

  • Please pray for our continued adjustment to being a family of five. We are thankful for all of God's blessings!

  • Please pray for us as we look toward what ministries we can be step into or start in 2023. We're excited to run a few trials of potential ministries soon!

    • Jeff will help out more with setup/tech for Sunday mornings, as well as look for ways to grow men's ministries/fellowship at church.

    • Malia will begin with teaching an English class, with potential for a wellness/stretch class down the road.

    • Please also pray for partnerships in these ministries between the missionaries and the members of the church we are serving, Denen Grace Church.

  • Please pray for Jeff's restart and Malia's start to Japanese language classes in February. Praise God that Malia placed into the class she was hoping for!

  • Please pray for Lighthouse's preparations for its VBS short-term missions team it is sending to Japan this summer, and for our involvement from Japan.

  • Please pray for decisions regarding travel for our family this year. There are a few meetings/conferences that would require travel, both within Japan and Asia. We are also planning to visit family in Hawaii later this year. Please pray for wisdom in discerning what is best for our family, especially considering our littlest one, Elijah.


Christmas with Grandma in Japan! // Mason and Kaili with Elijah

Christmas morning excitement! // Mason helping in the kitchen // Kaili making Christmas cookies

Our dapper little man // All smiles with little bro!


We would love to hear from you, whether it be to share your prayer requests or to simply catch up. Please know that we think of you and pray for you often.


Thanks and blessings,


The Walkers

Jeff, Malia, Mason, Kaili, and Elijah

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