Babienco Missions

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

Training Begins

We are now crossing the next hurdle of our journey to Japan — we are in AFM’s three-month summer training program, which started on May 22! About 460 days ago, we began the career missionary application process, followed by orientation and many months of speaking appointments and travel. Usually, career missionary applicants with AFM need at least 1.5-2 years to make it from application to training. However, thanks to the numerous blessings of God and your prayers and support, we are here at training a mere 15 months from the application. Is there more learning, fundraising, and training to do? Yes! But each hurdle passed is one step closer to getting our feet in Japan full-time.
Moving to the Training Center
You might remember from our last newsletter that, at the time, we had just started packing up our belongings for our move to the training center. It may have “only” been a move across town (within Berrien Springs), but this definitely did not feel like a small move. One never quite realizes how many things one owns until forced to sort through every item owned and clean their living space from top to bottom. With the help from a large number of people, though, including Caitlyn’s parents all the way from Tennessee, my aunt and uncle and cousins, and several others, we got everything packed, moved, and cleaned by May 21, the day before training. As of this newsletter, the keys to our apartment have been turned over to the landlord, so we can fully work on the next step of the moving process — unpacking our belongings in our new space!
We hosted one final meal at our apartment with friends before moving.
AFM has a beautiful training center campus on Range Line Road in Berrien Springs, MI. For those familiar with the area surrounding Andrews University, it’s about a 10-minute drive away. The training center has eight condos used for career missionary housing, a dorm-style building for student missionaries (where I, Michael, lived back in 2018 during the short-term training I went to before serving in Cambodia with AFM), a meeting hall with a library and large kitchen, access to Lake Chapin, and more. We are happily living in one of the condos, complete with our upright piano and other belongings that help make things feel like home, even if we will only be here for less than a year. It’s a huge blessing to live here during training, where we can be close to the other career missionaries in training, enjoy nature regularly, and meet other missionaries who pass through during their furloughs and trips.
Update on Project Timeline and Location
You might be wondering about our timeline to launch and where we will be working long-term in Japan. Since our two-week exploratory trip to Japan in February, the president of AFM and the international field director have had two meetings with the Japan Union regarding our work in Japan as missionaries. During those conversations, three potential locations for an AFM project were presented, each in very different parts of the country. At this exact moment, I can’t share more details on those locations, but the conversations thus far have trended towards a specific area of Japan. During training, we will be working on further solidifying these plans — having conversations with our field director, who will be our direct supervisor while we are in the field, and laying the groundwork for our first three-year cycle in Japan. We will share more with you as we are able!
Here we are on one final walk through our old neighborhood.
As far as our timeline for launching to Japan goes, after the three-month training program, we will take some time to spend with parents, family, and friends in Ohio, Tennessee, and perhaps some other locations. We are also planning a break just for us to get some fun and relaxation in before jumping feet-first into cross-cultural life. The final major hurdle will be finishing our fundraising goals. Along with those items, we will need to get our visas to live and work in Japan long-term, do final packing, and get everything else in order before our time away from the States. Right now, Lord willing, we are still aiming for a launch to Japan before winter, so hopefully, by October or November of this year, we will be living in Japan.
Praises & Prayer Requests
  • We are incredibly grateful that we are done with that move! It added a lot of stress to our daily routine as we finished our jobs and prepared for training to begin.
  • We thank God for all the help we received for the move as well as your prayers during the move.
  • Please pray for the training program as it unfolds over the next few months. We will be learning a lot and must take good notes to retain the knowledge for as long as possible.
  • Please pray for our families and us as we go through the stress of moving to the other side of the world. It’s not just a physical move — a lot of mental and emotional heartache comes with moving away from family, friends, and one’s local church and community.
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