Kaori Ueda and Mika Aoki have a lot in common. They are both from Japan, both are pastors’ wives, both have three children, and both are currently living at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines where their husbands are studying in the Master of Ministry (M.Min.) degree program at the Theological Seminary.
Kaori remembers meeting her future husband, Hiroyuki, when they were in their first year of high school. “He became an irreplaceable person for me as time went by,” she says. “After I had been seeing him for nine years, I married him!”
Mika met her husband when she was a junior college student. He was one of her sister’s classmates. The two were married in the Central Tokyo Adventist Church in 1998.
Both husbands worked as pastors in Japan before coming to AIIAS for their graduate work. Kaori’s husband served as a church pastor as well as pastor at an Adventist junior academy, and Kaori assisted in several church programs and children’s Sabbath Schools. She also prepared Sabbath lunches and invited her children’s friends and mothers to church programs. In addition, Kaori enjoys playing the piano.
Mika also assisted her husband in pastoral ministry, often serving as receptionist for visitors, working in children’s ministries, and going on visitations with her husband. She also developed good relationships with their neighbors, inviting them to attend church programs. In addition, Mika helped to clean the church and prayed for her husband’s ministry and for their church members. “I appreciate being able to participate in the mission of God with my husband,” she says.
Both families are enjoying the community at AIIAS. “I am happy because I can attend church to worship with my family as just one of the church members,” remarks Mika. “I can take walks with my family every day. These things were difficult for us when we lived in Japan. Having time together is very precious for my family.”
“Many people ask me about the number of Japanese church members,” adds Kaori. “And they are always very surprised at how few members there are. On the other hand, I am surprised that others [in other countries] are responsible for dozens of churches and have many baptisms. It is very difficult to evangelize people in Japan. Please pray for us.”
Both Kaori and Mika share a deep love for the Lord. “His love is unchanging, even if I fail,” says Mika. “He freed me from worry when I was afraid that no one loved me by showing me His love.”
“I am charmed by everything about God,” Kaori says. “God’s love, blessing and guidance are immeasurable.”
Kaori and Hiroyuki, along with their children Hiroto, 14, Hayato, 11, and Akito, 9 will be returning to Japan in March 2010 where they will continue in pastoral ministry.
The Aoki family, including children Nasa, 10, Taito, 8, and Yahiro, 3, will return to Japan in October 2010 to continue in ministry.