A letter from Leith & Carol Fujii on home assignment from Thailand
Dear Family in Christ,
Our Interpretation Assignment time back in the U.S. this Spring was in a word, WONDERFUL! It was one of those “beyond what we could ask or think” times as we flew and drove well over 10,000 miles visiting with supporting churches, friends and family.
Beginning in Louisville, we were blessed by the dedicated World Mission team at PC(USA) headquarters. During our time at headquarters we especially focused on being able to effectively present our ministry. We also learned about our mission’s transition to a new model for mission funding. We need to increase an emphasis on raising financial support specifically designated toward our ministry. We’ll explain more details in a future letter. We are so grateful for your partnership as well as the leadership and support we receive from Hunter Farrell and the World Mission team so that we can continue to represent you in Thailand.
We want to thank each church family that we were able to visit for welcoming, hosting, dining, listening to us, and helping to cover travel expenses. The following is just a glimpse of our time back in the U.S. View the gallery for corresponding photos.
Photo 1 At First Presbyterian Church, Farmington, New Mexico, Martia and Gordon Glass are great examples of mission “mobilizers.” They have world missions on their hearts! They not only invite missionaries on stateside Interpretation Assignment to speak at their church, but they try to resource the Presbytery of Santa Fe as well. They have arranged for missionaries to speak during the presbytery meeting and encouraged other congregations to invite that missionary to share at their church. When we were visiting, the Glasses sponsored a Dining for Missions night featuring Thai cuisine. Proceeds from that dinner went toward helping Wiriya, a future faculty member of the Bangkok Institute of Theology, to transition back to Thailand from his time of doctoral studies in the U.S.
Photo 2 It was a delight to celebrate Easter Sunday with the church family at Church of Christ, Presbyterian (CCP) in Chicago. Fifteen years ago we were commissioned at this church to serve in Thailand. This is where we raised our young family while Leith was serving as assistant to Rev. Masaya Hibino for several years. When three of our children returned from Thailand to pursue their undergraduate studies in the Chicago area, the CCP family welcomed them back with open hearts. They’ve been there for our children when we could not during their college years. We are so grateful to God for the CCP family and appreciate their example of missionary care.
Photo 8 Another highlight was first visits to churches. While meeting Sallie Watson, Executive Presbyter for Santa Fe Presbytery, for the first time, we told her of our plan to drive through Utah. We wondered if she knew of any churches that we could visit. Sallie, without batting an eye said, “American Fork (Utah) Community Church.” She had formerly served there as an interim pastor and highly recommended them. First we were warmly greeted by Rev. Al Hammond, who even rescheduled the sermon that he had prepared so we might bring the morning message. Then we enjoyed joining a lively Sunday School class discussion. They were dialoguing about Jeremiah 29:11-13: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Our leader Betty shared, “Sometimes it’s hard to trust God, but that’s how we grow when we face difficult situations or people in our lives.”
How timely, as that night we received a phone call from a close friend in Bangkok. "I have some bad news,” Carl said, and then paused. “Your house has been broken into and we don’t know what’s missing.” Having been with that Sunday School class that morning reminded us again that God is in control and no matter what happens, our life has a future and a hope. It’s the same hope that our Bangkok Institute alumna Jub has, who is reaching her community by investing in at-risk teenage girls in her village. She is bringing the good news of hope in Jesus Christ to her community in the impoverished area of northeastern Thailand known as Issan.
As we were leaving we asked Rev. Al about the lovely playground on the church grounds. He explained that this playground had been built by the community, specifically designed for children/youth with autism. American Fork also opens its doors to serve children with special needs. They are being light in their community for Jesus Christ. We enjoyed visiting, getting to know, and resourcing congregations like American Fork that say they can’t remember when a PC(USA) missionary last visited with them.
We culminated our IA time with a Fujii family reunion in California, celebrating Lani’s graduation from university. It was a whirlwind time with family and friends. Parting is such sweet sorrow, though!
Praise be to God who led, protected, and blessed. Thank you to each congregation and individual who were a part of making our time so meaningful and rich. Our cup overflows! We are grateful for your connection to us through your prayers, financial support and correspondence.
Please refer to a gallery of pictures from our time back in the U.S. In 2015 we hope to visit churches that we did not have the opportunity to be with this IA period. Let’s keep in touch. Look for updates on our World Mission webpage: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/fujii-leith-and-carol/
With gratitude to our great God and each of you,
Carol and Leith Fujii
P.S. Please join our Presbyterian World Mission colleagues at Big Tent in Louisville, August 1 to 3. You’ll meet more than 50 mission co-workers and discover exciting ways to become involved in global mission. Register now to make sure you get your seat: www.pcusa.org/impact.
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 195
Read more about Leith and Carol Fujii's ministry