Gearing Up for Winter

The summer camping season is over. We hosted eight camps this summer with a total of about 160 campers. We were blessed by our partnership with Shimon and Yumiko Seino and ten or more other volunteer workers who helped us feed all the campers and keep the facility running. September will be much quieter, but we are thrilled to already have reservations for three groups, and one more in October.

In the mean time we are finding lots to do in preparation for the long winter. First priority is getting our house ready. That includes installation of a wood burning stove (our primary source of heat) and a couple more kerosene heaters. Today our good friend and long time supporter of the camp, Mr. Mitsui of the Chigasaki Covenant Church, made the four hour drive from his home in his work truck loaded with firewood (he’s a landscape architect) and a load of bricks. The chimney for our wood stove is going to be installed on September 30th so he started work on laying brick in the corner where the stove will sit.

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In addition to the load of wood he brought we hit the jackpot with a local supply of wood as well. A few days ago Hydi happened to spot a huge stack of felled trees in the woods. We made some calls and found out that the city waterworks department was doing the work. Today I went to the site and the person in charge from the city office just happened to be on site. I asked if we could have some of the wood and he generously agreed. He had just put in the order for a truck to come at take the wood away so the timing was perfect. In the afternoon we took Mr. Mitsui’s truck to the site and hauled two loads of logs back to our place. We would have been completely helpless without his crane and truck!

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So now I’ve got my work cut out for me. The chainsaw and ax will be soon pay for themselves. But first I need to build the racks to hold a season’s worth of firewood. And given the size of some of these logs, I’m seriously on the prowl for a log splitter!

And now a word about my friend, Mr. Mitsui. He is one of those folks who just never stops blessing us. I’ve known him since I was in kindergarten. My folks were assigned to help out at the Chigasaki church in 1967 and at the time he was one of the young adults in the church. Even though Chigasaki is a long ways away from Akagi Bible Camp Mr. Mitsui has always had a deep passion for the camp. He has served on the board for as long as I can remember and every spring and summer he makes numerous trips up here, often with his truck and other heavy machinery. He is truly a jack of all trades and has headed up countless key projects that have kept this facility going. He’s old enough to be retired but continues his landscaping business, now officially run by his son Sentaro. He says the best thing about having his son in charge is that now he can spend more time helping out at camp. If we ever build a new building I think we should name it after him! I have no idea how to sufficiently thank him, but I continually give thanks to God for Mr. Mitsui.

 

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A Full Week

This week’s work at ABC camp started on Sunday evening with a Costco run. Yes, we have a Costco here in Gunma, less than an hour from camp! You have to have some experience shopping at Japanese super markets to really appreciate just how huge Costco shopping carts appear to the average Japanese person. They’re big, even by U.S. standards, but compared to the typical shopping cart at a normal Japanese supermarket they are absolutely enormous! So imagine the looks we got when we rolled up to the checkout stand with TWO of those gigantic carts overflowing with groceries!

Monday the campers started arriving in the afternoon and were in full swing before dinner. This group was Jr. High and Sr. High kids from our Covenant churches. They were a great bunch of kids and we could tell that they were enjoying the camp.

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Wednesday night they enjoyed a campfire and by Thursday morning they were all pretty dreary-eyed!

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Since they were a smaller group they had all of their meetings in our living room instead of using the chapel. The reports we got afterwards were that they really enjoyed the more intimate setting.

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No sooner had we sent them off on Thursday morning than the next group started arriving. The second group are high school and college kids and we’re pretty close to capacity in terms of numbers. They will be here for the rest of the week, heading home on Saturday afternoon.

A full cafeteria

A full cafeteria

While it’s exciting to see all the campers coming and going, the people we’re really getting to know and appreciate are the other workers. Our days together begin at 6:30AM and usually don’t end until 8PM with only an hour or two of free-time. The last thirty minutes before meal-time tend to be really busy. But thanks to the great recipes of our main cook, Yumiko Seino, the campers seem genuinely happy after each and every meal!

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Tsukushi is the most helpful and cheerful first-grader I've ever met! Here she is learning from mom.

Tsukushi is the most helpful and cheerful first-grader I’ve ever met! Here she is learning from mom.

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We thank God for a wonderful group of volunteer staff members and pray that God will continue to use our team as we serve the people God has gathered on this mountain-top!

 

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A Rainy Day in the Mountains

Today marked the official start of the 2014 summer camping season. Japanese schools have just started their summer break and for the next six weeks we will be seeing lots of action here at ABC.

Our co-workers, Shimon and Yumiko Seino arrived well after midnight last night after dropping off their three little ones with the grandparents, so we left the porch light on and found them sound asleep in our guest room this morning.

We began the day with a time of worship and were joined by friends from Tokyo who were passing thru and wanted to see our new home. We aren’t planning to have Sunday worship here every week, but hope to do so on occasion. What a joy it was to be joined by others for a thanks-filled time of worship.

The Body of Christ in Akagi

The Body of Christ in Akagi

The next few hours were filled with countless last minute preparations for our first camp. Right on schedule, the campers arrived at 2:30PM and it wasn’t until about 9PM this evening that we finally had a chance to sit down and catch our breath. This group of campers are from a single church in the city of Annaka, about an hour and a half away. They are officially calling it an elementary camp but there are several Jr./Sr. high students and adults as well. It is only a two day camp, which is probably good for us as a sort of warm-up. Most camps are 3-4 days. I’m happy to report that the first meal and all the activities of the afternoon and evening went smoothly. It was raining this evening so the campfire got moved indoor and became a candle-light gathering.

Evening Sharing Time

Evening Sharing Time

Indoor version of the campfire

Indoor version of the campfire

Please remember ABC in your prayers. We are off to a great start and look forward to many blessed days on this mountain top!

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Greetings from the mountaintop!

For those of you familiar with this site, Tim Johnson is probably a familiar name. He has administered this web site and poured countless hours into numerous ministries and projects here at Akagi Bible Camp over the years along with his wife Andrea. While we sincerely hope and fully expect that they will continue to be involved at ABC, they are about to head to the U.S. for a one year home assignment. At the same time we have just moved to Akagi Bible Camp, to live here full time and serve in a variety of ways; managing the facilities and working as staff during the summer camps. Thus Tim has asked me to take over this web site and keep our many prayer partners up to date on the ministries of Akagi Bible Camp. So please allow me to introduce ourselves. We are Hydi and Jim Peterson. We have been ECC missionaries in Japan since 1993. Prior to that both Hydi and I were born and raised in Japan. Since my parents were ECC missionaries I have been enjoying Akagi Bible Camp from further back than I can remember. Here’s a shot from one of our earliest visits. You can probably guess which one is me!

0002 Anyway, our reason for moving up here has little to do with nostalgia and lots to do with exciting ministry opportunities, a longing to be back in Gunma, and a love of nature on a scale that simply doesn’t exist in Tokyo.

Ministry objectives are to support and strengthen the current camping programs during the summer, to try and increase usership of the camp facility throughout the year, and while we can’t give you a clear picture, we hope and pray that the camp will be increasingly integrated into a broad scope of new or expanded ministries as a place of gathering, a place of sacred encounter, and a place of inspiration.

After spending ten wonderful years in Tokyo, we moved back to Gunma and specifically to ABC on June 16th. We still are navigating our way thru large piles of cardboard boxes but nevertheless are feeling genuinely at home in our new abode!

On July 6th we were joined by volunteers from Owatonna, Minnesota, Art and Janette Hoffman. They have been an incredible blessing to us during their one week stay and we will be sad to see them go this weekend. Coinciding with their visit was the annual ABC Work Camp, a time when volunteers from a number of our Japan Covenant churches come up and spend several days getting the camp ready for summer camping season. This year we were blessed with a crew of about twenty and we spent the better part of three days cleaning, airing out, building, fixing and whatever else was needed. Janette was all over the place, cleaning and scrubbing with a passion. Art headed up the carpentry department as we refinished the last of our residence rooms. This particular room is quite small but provides crucial housing for staff or campers and currently we are in need of every bed and pillow we can muster. During some of our bigger camps this year we will need to move all of the staff over to our house and using practically every one of the 45 beds for campers and counselors.

Here are a couple shots of Art’s handiwork!

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We have the privilege of living in a large home on the camp grounds. Some day it too may be used to house campers but for the time being we are calling it home and will be sharing it with camp staff as well during the summer.

Lunch at our house on the first day of this year's work camp.

Lunch at our house on the first day of this year’s work camp.

I’ve uploaded a lot of photos from work camp in the following gallery so please take a look. Work Camp Photos

Thanks for taking the time to visit our site. We ask for your continued prayers and support for the ministries of Akagi Bible Camp. If you ever have the opportunity, we would love to have you here for a visit!

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Getting Ready for the 2013 Season!

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted on this blog…. but here goes!

Because our camp is at 1400 meters on top of Mt. Akagi it gets shut down from around the middle of November until the middle of April. It’s pretty much a winter landscape with COLD temperatures and wind. Part of the reason for closing things down is because we have old buildings that aren’t really well insulated with old plumbing that isn’t really set for the kind of temperatures up here…. and part of this is because we don’t have full time staff to manage the facility. But each year come spring…. we open things up and get ready for the summer season. And that time is coming up pretty soon!

Watch this space for reports as we open things up and prepare for the blessings of another summer at ABC! Thanks for praying for us and for abundant fruit…. that God would use all of our efforts here at ABC.

The video below is from our archives – footage shot in March of 2003 and edited in May of that spring. It was made in order to show campers in our North American Covenant Camps what ABC was like. While it’s sort of a blast from the past – a lot has changed around here – it will give you an idea of what our “off season” is like and what it will be like as we “open things up” in the next few weeks. Enjoy!

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Last Camp of August!

Although we have a few groups using ABC in the Fall, this was our last camp of the “summer”. Each year a wonderful group of college kids from the Fukuin Dendo denomination gather on top of Mt. Akagi to experience God and enjoy nature and each others’ company. We’ve been friends with many of the leaders over the years and we love having them come to ABC. This video footage was shot at the barbecue that they held one afternoon. As with most of the campers this summer, they really appreciated the open space left after we took down the oldest building and created a bigger “back yard”.

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Planting Fruit-Bearing Trees…

Folks from the Fukasawa Church planting trees at ABC. (Missionary Jay Haworth also pictured)

A group of children and adults from the Fukasawa Church in Tokyo came to use our camp facility this summer for their annual family camp (August 10-12). They have been regular visitors to ABC for many years and we always enjoy having them come. Last year they gave us an offering for the purpose of helping us tear down our oldest section of the camp. It was fun this week to be able to show them the result of that “de-construction” last Fall and to have them see the new open land where the building once stood.

This year they brought us 7 trees to plant around the camp. “Planting” and “fruit-bearing” was part of the theme for their camp and it was also a gift to ABC. On the first afternoon we all chose the spots and planted the trees – two apple trees, a chestnut tree, two persimmon trees, and one silverberry tree. To be honest, the conditions are not very hopeful for any of these species on top of Mt. Akagi (1400 meters) with bitter winter temperatures and snow. But who knows?? We hope and pray that some may survive and flourish!

And they are a wonderful reminder of our friendship and bond with the Fukasawa Church. Here’s a short video:

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Elementary Camp 2012!

We had fantastic weather for all 4 days of our 2012 Elementary Camp here at ABC. Twenty-five campers and about 10 staff were able to participate. Above, you can see them on top of Mt. Jizo as they look down toward the camp and “Onuma”, the large crater lake on top of Akagi. Below, you can see several of the campers enjoying a quiet time of devotions and prayer at Kakumanbuchi, the lovely nature preserve right near our camp.

There were great activities – water gun and water balloon battles (with rules of course!) were a big hit this year and the barbecue including “bo-pan”, baking bread on a bamboo pole was also enjoyed by all. The speaker, Pastor Iwai, was particularly good with the kids, explaining God’s love and the meaning of the cross to the children. Below, is a shot of the final candlelight service in the chapel where children sang, heard a final message, and shared their own testimonies and decisions. Several of the campers made decisions to accept Christ and to be baptized. Thanks for your prayers for these important camp programs!

For more photos of the Elementary Camp please click HERE.

Here is also a short video that gives a few highlights:

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Kids at Work Camp!

It’s always fun to have children around when we’re getting ready for camp (at least, it’s USUALLY fun to have them around). This time the Park family came to work together so their daughters Hannah, Yuna, and Christina were here. Our youngest son Sky was here too as well as Masato, the son of our camp director, Pastor Hiyoshi….so they all enjoyed playing together.

KyoungHo and Joy Park are missionaries from Korea serving as staff at our Shin-Akitsu Covenant Church in the Tokyo area. We are so happy to have them here in Japan working with us. It’s their second year helping us out at ABC so they are now veterans.

Sky and the girls seemed to enjoy making things out of the scrap wood that was resulting from the “adult work” on the main building. Here’s a rather large plane that Sky created (“Spruce Goose” sort of comes to mind….).

On the second day of camp Mr. Mitsui, one of our board members, helped the children make a little house to play in. We nicknamed it the “Little House on the Prairie”. Here’s a short video of that event. Notice that our lawn (grass we planted back in June) is starting to come in and appears in this video clip as “the prairie”!

Finally, the kids got a special treat from Mr. Mitsui when he gave them all rides on the “cherry-picker” / crane of his truck:

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Not Much Time Left…

Every year it feels like a struggle to get up the mountain, open up the camp, try to air out the old moldy buildings, and get a few “must-do” tasks completed before the season starts. Of course, this was not true when we had full time staff at the camp…but we’re now in our third summer of trying to keep it all going on a volunteer basis.

But God is good and our weather today is fantastic!  That’s a good thing because on our last three visits to camp we’ve hit rain. At 1400 meters on top of Mt. Akagi the weather is very changeable so to get blue skies today was a blessing.

About 15 adults and kids are here today… some are staining the fences and gate, a few are working inside at general cleaning and meal prep, and a few of us are working outside trying to get a window framed in and some siding on. After we tore down the old building last fall, which  was connected to this main building, we had a “hole” that needed to be repaired. A new window, some pieces of siding, and a bit of paint will put us back in business. We don’t have particularly attractive buildings at our camp but we make up for that with the splendid beauty of the natural surroundings!

This was the sunset last night from near ABC:

Here’s a brief video of some of the action today:

 

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