Babienco Missions

Stories and Updates from Michael and Caitlyn's mission service to Japan
-April 2023-

The Next Step

With a two-week trip to Japan under our belts, Caitlyn and I are looking forward to beginning the next step of our journey to Japan: AFM’s three-month-long career missionary training program! On April 14, the first of two major fundraising goals for our project was hit: We will be able to attend training starting on May 22. Thus begins a flurry of activity over the next five weeks as we wrap up our employment at the AFM home office, pack up our apartment, and move across town to live at the training center with the two other families (at least) who will attend training with us. As of this newsletter, we have successfully sorted through one closet and 1.5 bookshelves! Well . . . it’s a start, anyway. 🙂

What will we be covering in training? Everything from church planting movements, discipleship principles, cross-cultural mission work, soul-winning, world religions, learning languages, spiritual warfare and more! But we will save that for future newsletters over the summer. Until then, here is a story from our exploratory trip to Japan.
One Day in Japan - As Narrated by Caitlyn
We had such a great day planned for our time in Japan. First, we were going to walk to a train station about a mile from our hotel, catch the train to Osaka, spend the morning viewing a castle, have lunch, then tour a couple of Buddhist and Shinto temples before finishing off the day with the Mozu tombs. It was going to be excellent!

It was raining when we left the hotel, but it wasn’t a big deal. Michael and I enjoyed the walk through the small suburb of Kyoto where we were staying, and we were only a little cold and wet when we arrived at the train station. That was when we ran into our first problem: It was the wrong train station. We had rail passes for the Japan Rail (JR) line and hadn’t realized that those trains went to a completely different station — another mile away.
A Torii gate within a Shinto temple complex in Osaka
No problem! Only another short walk in the rain. Undaunted but slightly behind schedule, we trekked over to the correct station. Just inside the station doors were the familiar metal gates where travelers scanned their tickets to ride the train. Michael grabbed his rail pass from his wallet and walked through. I reached into my purse to grab mine — and it wasn’t there.

The missing ticket caused me no small amount of panic. Not only was the rail pass expensive and crucial for getting around on our trip, but the lady at the ticket counter had been very clear that if we lost our passes, there would be no way of getting new ones. Michael and I searched and re-searched my bag but came up empty.

We returned to the hotel, hoping I had left my ticket in the pocket of the jacket I had worn the day before. By this time, our spirits were becoming as damp as our clothing. The jacket pockets were empty, and a search of the hotel room also came up with nothing. Thoughts of the expense of the next full week of travel without the rail pass made my heart sink. I had thought I was being so careful. How could something like this happen?

To make matters worse, Michael found my rail pass a few seconds later. This discovery should have provided some relief, except for the fact that he found it in my purse! It had fallen to the bottom of the bag, and somehow we had missed it in our previous frantic searches. The entire trip back to the hotel had been a complete waste.

Refusing to allow the day to be completely squandered — although the idea of crawling back into bed and taking a long nap did cross my mind — we headed out via train once again. By this time, the entire morning had passed. We stopped to eat in downtown Kyoto and headed on to Osaka. On the train, we decided that Sumiyoshi Taisha, a Shinto shrine built before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, would be the best place to go with our limited time. We would get at least a little cultural knowledge that we might not be able to find anywhere else.
Dolls for purchase at the mall as a good luck charm for home.
When we got to Osaka, it was about 3:30 p.m., and the directions we had pulled up said our destination was a 30-minute walk. It also said that the complex closed at 4:30 p.m. We would have only a few minutes to walk around once we arrived. We pressed on. Once we arrived, we discovered that we had ended up at Shitennoji — a Buddhist temple — instead of our intended destination. All the other attractions also had similar closing times!

From then on, the day was more or less pleasant. We walked around the temple complex in the late-afternoon drizzle and listened to the temple choir sing a song to close out the day. We took a lot of pictures and learned a couple of things about Buddhism in Japan. After the temple, we went to a large shopping mall and enjoyed learning what kinds of things were available for purchase.

Of the whole day we had planned, we only had about 30 minutes of sightseeing, and the day seemed like one misstep after another. Even looking back, it is easy to think of the day as wasted or at least an inefficient use of our precious time. But is any experience with God a waste? Even in tough times, we are not alone. Our experiences that day were, at times, stressful, annoying, or even disappointing, but through it all, God was faithful. There were moments of grace, levity, and even precious experiences and lessons learned that we would have missed had our day gone according to plan. No matter the circumstances, we can trust that God’s plan is always better than our own.
Praises & Prayer Requests
  • We are so thankful for all of you who have been praying for us and encouraging us in our journey so far. Thank you for your support!
  • We are also thankful to have hit our first major fundraising goal! Thank you to everyone who has helped in this adventure. We still have some more to do to launch into the field, but one major hurdle has been crossed.
  • Please pray for us as we are packing and preparing for training. We have a lot yet to do at work and very little time to do it, and when you throw a move and “normal life” into the mix, there’s a lot going on.
We would love to hear back from you. You can give us a call or text at ***.***.**** or email us at adventure@shoesatthedoor.net. We would also be happy to pray for any prayer requests you might have.

Thank you so much for your support!
Michael & Caitlyn Babienco
Volunteer Missionary Candidates
Adventist Frontier Missions