26 August, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Day 20

Sunday 21st July
200 km journey back to Sapporo along the motorway.
It didn't take very long, compared to our more remote
driving at 60km/hr.
Naka Satsunai to Sapporo

It was a busy day. We packed up after breakfast and headed off to Sunday school and church, at the local civic centre, with our colleague. This church is just as small as the one we went to last week, but with a big difference. A larger church in the nearby regional centre has a pastor with a vision to plant seven churches in the region. This town is the place they began to work out their vision. Our OMF colleague has been here for five years with the support of the church and one local couple. They’ve seen no fruit for their labours.

More lovely flat fields. If only the spiritual work here
produced such harvests.
 If you didn’t know that, and walked in on this small church on the 21st of July, you would have thought the situation was quite different. At church that day there were 12 Australians (two missionary families of five, plus two visiting parents) and one German missionary, plus several Japanese Christians. There were almost no locals. Most of the Japanese people were "loaned" from the mother church.

Part of the Hidaka Mountain Range that separates
the Tokachi Plain from Sapporo.
We don’t know what will happen next with this church. The missionary goes on home assignment at the end of the year and next March the local Christian will move with her youngest son, after he graduates from high school, to Sapporo to help him find a job.

It rips your heart out to realise that all the work that has been put into this location hasn't
produced fruit. It is, unfortunately, the reality of church work in Japan. Much seed sowing, but little fruit. In the rural settings, it is even harder so this isn't an isolated incident.

The other Australian OMF missionaries there have just begun a work in another nearby town, the second town that the mother church has turned her eyes towards. 

Driving towards the Hidaka Range
We only saw part of their family at conference, because they’ve just had their third baby in three years and so mum stayed home with the younger two. So it was an unexpected bonus to see them all. The husband preached at the service. But we didn’t get a lot of time to talk with them because we had to race off afterwards to lunch.

Special Lunch
Lunch at the school summer festival.
We’d been invited by the local Christian family to the summer festival at their son’s local high school for lunch. We enjoyed some Japanese fast food: fried pork noodles (Yakisoba). Additionally some kebabs, local ice cream (including a tub of pumpkin ice cream), and drinking yoghurt. I especially enjoyed some rich coffee milk (equivalent to the the best coffee-flavoured milk you’d buy in Australia). But I drank too much and suffered with headaches in the next couple of days!

We also left lunch quickly as we had to get to Sapporo in time to set up camp before dark. We had access to an expressway for the first time in a couple of weeks and took advantage of it to get through the mountains separating us from the capital of the island.
This was our "fridge" for two weeks while camping.

Food while camping
On the way  to our campsite we had to find a grocery store to provide us food for our last two camping meals of our trip. One of the big differences for this camping trip was the necessity of buying food along the way. It was one thing that worried me, knowing what little rural shops can look like in Japan. 

Camp cooking was fun.
However, we found Hokkaido not to be as isolated and rural as we’d expected. If we’d been stopped for many days in a very isolated spot, it would have been a different story. But because we moved along regularly, each travel day we encountered towns of several thousand people, with more than adequate grocery stores.

Our last camping spot. It felt naked without our familiar
blue annex!
Lacking a fridge, it was a challenge to buy and cook just the right amount of food. Every day we bought ice and we didn't have any spoiled food, though the milk wasn’t always as cold as the guys would have liked (but they weren't allowed to drink as much of it anyway). The boys got used to the “no leftovers” policy for main meals and in our two weeks of camping we didn't have to throw out much food at all.

Couldn't see the sunset for we were surrounded by tall
trees, but the clouds were gorgeous.
So I’m really happy to say that the food aspect of our trip went really well. We had a good variety of meals, and a fairly balanced diet. I loved the challenge of it too. I've kept a list of all our meals, I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in a blog post about what specific meals we ate?


This was a familiar sight. A number of campsite in
Japan have these carts, especially if you can't park next
to your campsite. They are pretty crude home-made
boxes with bicycle tyres. Great for carting your gear.
Fantastic for getting the kids involved in carting gear,
they love manoeuvring these around.
That Sunday night we eventually found our campsite, which was just on the east-north-east edge of Sapporo. It was a picnic spot hidden in a forest. It had toilets and a shelter with sinks for washing up dishes, like most camping spots, but no showers, so for the third or fourth time in our trip, we skipped showers for the night. There were many campers (it was a long weekend), and for the first time since leaving Sapporo a fortnight earlier, we encountered young families camping. Mostly, on our journey, we’d met bikers and older couples/singles, because it wasn't yet holiday time for Japanese schools.

A slightly strange photo. After two weeks
of living outside, I found my arms were
as brown as they ever get.
Because we were only there for one night (the only time in our journey we did a one-nighter), we didn’t put up our annex, which sped up the set-up and pull-down the next day. It did, however, mean that we had dew over everything the next morning.

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