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Flowery Branch graduate on a mission of faith

Teenager plans to spend 10 months in Japan

POSTED: August 2, 2014 1:00 a.m.
/For The Times

Faith Thompson spends time with children in the Bahamas, along with her friend, Rachel Weber.

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Faith Thompson giggled a little self-consciously when practicing the Japanese language.

“Do-itashi mashite,” she said quickly. “That’s my favorite word.”

The phrase — pronounced ‘doe ee-tosh-ee mah-shee-tay’ — means “you’re welcome” in the language; a common phrase, one Thompson is sure to use during her upcoming 10-month mission trip to the country.

“I’m going to be teaching in a school there,” Thompson said. “It’s a private Christian school ... (students) are just totally fully immersed in the English language. I’ll be teaching elementary school. I’ve never taught anything before.”

Mission work could be said to be in Thompson’s blood. Born in the United States, she spent much of her youth in Central America in places such as Costa Rica and Honduras as her parents worked as missionaries.

This summer she spent a week in the Bahamas on a mission trip with her church, Buford’s East Lanier Community Church.

“What most people don’t know about the Bahamas is, if you go past the tourist area, it’s very impoverished,” Thompson said. “Most of the kids only have one parent because the other parent just leaves.

“We did vacation Bible school with the local school there ... even though it wasn’t super organized — it didn’t go as we planned at all — we just got to hang out with the kids and got to know them better and just love on them.”

Thompson loves children. She spends a lot of her free time baby-sitting, and said she would like to be a teacher at some point.

“For me, the biggest draw is I get to combine doing mission work and teaching, and I can kind of see if I like (teaching),” she said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in college, but I knew I wanted to take some sort of time off (after high school).

“I think the biggest draw would be, I just get to really, fully submerge myself in the people there and the whole culture,” she said about her upcoming trip.

She’ll live in Chiba, a city about 25 miles east of Tokyo, on Tokyo Bay. According to the city’s website at, the area is home to more than 40,000 retailers, making it one of the country’s more popular places for commerce. It also has a mild climate, and is one of the largest fishery prefectures in Japan.

Thompson said most people in the area are not Christians; she’ll be teaching English at Mission to the World’s private school.

Various Christian mission websites, including the one for Mission to the World, estimate fewer than 1 percent of Japanese are Christian. Most residents of Japan are secular.

Thompson will live with a couple serving as missionaries with the nonprofit Mission to the World; her particular host family has lived in Japan for 30 years.

The 2014 graduate of Flowery Branch High School also plans to teach flute lessons; she has been an avid player for around six years, beginning when she was in sixth grade.

To make the trip, Thompson must raise $16,000 to finance living expenses before she leaves; she said she’s about halfway there, with plans to leave for Japan on Aug. 25.

“But we’ve sold T-shirts, we have a GoFundMe account,” she said, ticking the list off on her fingers. “I’ve had, like, a dessert night. I’ve had people over from my church, I spoke at my church and am speaking at another church, hopefully.”

A multifamily yard sale today will help raise money. The event begins at 7 a.m. at 3870 Lake Juliette Drive in Buford. It will go until around 2 p.m.; plates of barbecue will also be on sale.

It’s a leap for Faith to make the trip and change her lifestyle, but she’s more than eager to embrace the upcoming challenge as an opportunity to share her religious beliefs.

“I think the biggest thing that God’s been teaching me through this whole process is just that I’m not special. I’m not better than anyone else,” Thompson said. “He didn’t choose me specifically because I did anything to deserve this opportunity. I wholeheartedly believe that I am a sinner, and I am saved by His grace.

“He didn’t choose to send me to Japan because I earned his approval. He chose to send me because I’m a broken vessel, and He can do great things through broken vessels.”


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