Babienco Missions

Stories and Updates from Michael and Caitlyn's mission service to Japan
-August/September 2023-

Preparing for the Big Move

“Everyone, time to rotate!” The cacophony of clamorous voices continued unabated as the circle of people in the hallway rotated so that each person could talk to someone new. It was the last Saturday night of training, and we, along with over thirty short and long-term missionaries, were saying final goodbyes to everyone who came to the training program. A mere twenty-four hours later, the training center was again silent as almost everyone except the career missionary families left for home—some soon launching to the field as student missionaries and some heading home to school or work, having just completed their term of service overseas.

And now, with the training program complete, our minds have turned to the next step of our mission to Japan—the actual move. Now, we are working on visas, searching for Japanese apartments, packing, learning how to obtain a Japanese phone number, double-checking budget numbers, looking at language learning options and planning meetings. The Japan project is new for AFM, so many logistics need to be sorted out. So, where will the project actually be located? Well, I am glad you asked.
AFM Project Location
We have been pretty silent on where the Japan project will be located long-term, and for good reason—for a long time, we weren’t sure where it would be ourselves. However, after multiple discussions with the Japanese Union, a visit to the area on our two-week exploratory trip, and discussions with our field director, we can now share that AFM’s Japan project will be located in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Yamaguchi Prefecture is the westernmost area on Japan’s main island and is located west of Hiroshima and above the island of Kyushu. See the picture below for a graphical look at its location in relation to Tokyo, the capital city.

Yamaguchi Prefecture is a beautiful area with many mountains and other areas with gorgeous scenery. The prefecture has a population of about 1.3 million people, but very few Seventh-day Adventists—approximately 25 or less, at least of which we are aware. There is an existing church in the city of Hofu, roughly in the middle-southern part of the prefecture, and another group meeting in the city of Tokuyama, towards the lower-eastern side. Other than that, along with a few SDA students at Yamaguchi University, we are unaware of other Adventists in the area, so this is still an unreached area of Japan.
Yamaguchi Prefecture is the area highlighted in red. It is the westernmost prefecture of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
The exact city in the prefecture we will be in is still open to further research and consideration. But before we move to Yamaguchi Prefecture, another big step is involved: language learning.
Year One Plans
Before moving to Yamaguchi Prefecture, we plan to do some dedicated language learning at a language school in the greater Tokyo area. The current plan is to live there for six to nine months and hit the language studies as hard as possible. Plans right now include intensive classes for three hours a day, five days a week, not including homework and practice. So, this means that much of our first year will be near Tokyo.

Why study in Tokyo first? There are many reasons for this strategic decision. Going to a dedicated language school will help us quickly get up-to-speed on the ins and outs of Japanese. The Tokyo dialect is understood throughout the whole country. It will allow us to establish a positive relationship with the existing SDA churches in and around Tokyo. It will also give us Christian vocabulary and help us learn about current SDA practices in Japan. Practically speaking, it has been difficult to find solid language learning options in Yamaguchi Prefecture, so this will ensure that we have a solid foundation for our language abilities before we move to the final project location. Once we move to Yamaguchi Prefecture, we can continue classes online, and we will hopefully find an in-person language helper who can continue to help us learn.

We hope and pray that we can launch to Japan full-time in the next two or three months. Our visa applications are already in process at the immigration office, courtesy of the Japan Union Conference’s wonderful help. Plans are being made. Boxes are being packed. It’s almost time!
Praises & Prayer Requests
  • We are so glad to have successfully completed training! Thank you for your prayers during this time.
  • Lots of planning and conversations are happening with our upcoming launch. Please pray that God provides everything we need to make this happen soon.
We would love to hear back from you. You can email us at adventure@shoesatthedoor.net. We’re happy to pray for any prayer requests you might have, so please feel free to send them our way.

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