Monday, March 10, 2014

Our loss...

Heaven's gain!
Nell Baranski, John's Mom, went to begin her eternal life of joy
 living with Jesus on Saturday, March 8, 2014
I had the privilege of knowing her as my second Mom.
Since our return to Japan in 2003 I have visited her every time I made it back to the states and our bond and friendship grew deeper and stronger with each visit shared.
In the beginning, our 'in-love' relationship had its bumps.
We made it over and through those to share a very special friendship, love and respect.
We will miss you so much!
Yet we are rejoicing with you knowing that you are now sharing the perfect life Jesus prepared just for you!
One day we'll all share that joy together.
Until then we know you'll be helping watch over us all.
Love you!

Joining the Family of God!!

On New Year's Day this year we were privileged to witness the baptism of one of our younger church members. What a blessing! Family and friends gathered to support his decision to choose Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Our small church has a 'baptismal tub' located in the floor behind the pulpit.

The pulpit is moved temporarily.
The floorboards are taken away.
Pastor steps down onto the ground beneath the floor.
The baptism candidate slowly enters the water.
It's COLD!!!!


Looking back a little

Yes, I do know that it is the 10th of March.. and I'm posting Christmas pics. I think it's always the right time to think of and share the joy we feel at Christmas!!
Besides, I'm sitting here watching it snow out my window!!!! (with my feet snuggled up to the heater)
It's been doing this off and on the past 3 or 4 days and though it isn't accumulating here - YAY!! - the area mountains are getting deeper by the minute! Of course that is great for the resorts.

Back to Christmas!
We had the annual Sunday School Christmas party at church. With only 6 children in our church we invite friends as well.
Starting off with some Christmas carols and a brief message about why we really celebrate!

Then on to some fun and games
a contest to see which group could create the best snowman using toilet paper

complete with hat, face and buttons...

this was a winner!!

Next all the kids made a little decoration to take home
Thanks to Naoko for all her time and effort to get this all together!!
Every child had a great little gift decoration to take home to Mom.

And what's a party without snacks???
Of course we give our thanks for all God's wonderful gifts first.

Even Santa showed up to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Santa was spied at several area elementary schools and other places as well during the Christmas season. He kept a pretty busy schedule passing out bibles and other goodies.
The true message of Christmas and all God offers was shared in the giving of over 1000 bibles this past Christmas!!! Thanks so very much to all who contributed to make that possible!

Santa had quite an escort on his way out

...until next year!!!













Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Catching up a Bit

OK, let's see if I can catch up just a bit!
The days go by and before I realize it's a new week, then a new month!!!!

Where to begin...?

Not on, but shortly after Christmas, Ian made it home for a short visit. He had lots to fit in while he was here so was in and out but we're thankful for any time we get together.

Make no mistake! It's not just the actual snowboarding that wears you out but the preparation!

On New Year's Day at the church service we were thankful to witness Morihiro
being baptized into the family of God! It's been a blessing to see him grow up over the past ten years and choose the Lord for himself.
He and his older sister (who was baptized last year on New Year's Day!) attend the afternoon English service John leads on Sundays and often bring junior high friends.

On Jan. 2nd we were off to Tokyo to cheer Zack's basketball team on in the annual Emperor's Cup.
This has the top high school and four top university teams playing with the top semi-pro and pro teams. 
The Tokai Seagulls (Zack's team) were the only non pro team to get into the top 8! and as evidenced below they were ahead of the pro team that went on to win the tournament!! least for a bit ;-)

We thought  that would be our last time to see him for a good while, but he surprised us and made it home for a couple of days!!!
All the folks at church were happy to see him - especially the younger ones!!

Ebony still gets pretty lonely since Onyx died last November, so she really likes all the extra attention and snuggles she gets from Ian & Zack whenever they make it home ;-)

Not sure about all those 'snow days' we keep hearing about in the states...
I'm pretty sure they've never heard the term here!
These are two of the schools I go to and the other one (not pictured) is the one that really gets the snow!

In the 2 sixth grade classes at one school we just finished doing our original versions of the "Peach Boy" ( a very well known children's story - Momotaro) play in English. I helped the kids all do original scripts in English and then each class presented their play. We spent a good bit of time on it, but they enjoyed it and I was proud of their efforts. They each made their own headband for the character they were playing.

John has a group of three young men that come to the house for English once a week. They sort of remind me of the 3 Musketeers... or perhaps the 3 Stooges! (I mean that in a nice way!) They've been best friends since junior high. So one of them had a birthday a couple of weeks ago and another surprised him at class with a birthday cake. The third was absent that evening so I got to enjoy the cake with them after we sang to him...lucky me!

As the  school year here is soon coming to a close, quickly followed by the start of the new year, John and I are both trusting that God has a great plan for our work schedules in the new school year. It's always a little unsettling not knowing until the last minute what your next schedule will be. The schools here don't even tell the regular full time teachers where they'll be or what grade they'll teach until just before graduation - and the new year starts only about three weeks later!! So any prayers are always welcome - not just for this but for any and all that may be on your heart to share with Him on our behalf.

This little video is a tad over a minute and a half. I'm adding it because everyone can use an extra smile and this surely will bring one to you. These 4 kids are in a young family at our church here and their Mom taught them the Lord's Prayer song in English. The youngest is 3 and often strolls around church singing this. Whenever John plays the tune on the piano, no matter what she is doing she stops, looks at  him, and begins to sing. I love it! 
(P.S. - please remember we have no control over what may appear on YouTube following this)

We miss and love you all and can never thank you enough for all the ways you help to make what we do here possible. May you each be richly blessed as you so bless us!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas for Some English Students

Every year John and our friend, Mako,
get together and do a Christmas party for their English students.

This year was John's turn to do the program planning.
He recruited students and friends to do the Nativity play.
They all did a great job and it was well received by the 150 or so in attendance.

There were several fun activities for the kids and perhaps their favorite was wrapping presents!
Being the thinker that he is, and with more than 1000 bibles (thanks to dear friends!) to wrap,
John came up with this idea as a game and the kids loved it!

The kids all got a present from Santa and most got their picture taken with him.
This little girl came again and again just to smile and hold hands with Santa :-)

After a long morning of spreading joy, Santa was all tuckered out!

It was a great time and so good to be able to share the true meaning of Christmas with so many.
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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A tidbit to tide you over...

Wow! Can you believe it's Christmas 2013!!!!
Had lots of fun with several different classes and kids of all ages celebrating Christmas

To the young at heart...
Santa was kept busy spreading the True Joy and Reason for the Season with Nagano City
and the young in years
Christmas trees of every sort could be seen
The Tokai Seagulls are two time National Champs!!
Zack was interviewed on national TV!!
He was also featured on one days ticket!!
Just had to share...
a dear friend treated us to dinner after the basketball
at his favorite tempura shop
these little darlings were but a small share of the delicacies we were served!

I hope to have lots more added on here close to the beginning of  2014!!!! (really?!? 2014!!!)