Friday, April 25, 2014

Indeed! He is our risen Lord and Savior!!

This year we decided we'd try something different...sort of.
Every year we do an Easter egg hunt and sausage cookout. In the past we've always invited church members, students and their friends and family and charged a minimal fee to help cover expenses.
This year we wanted to focus more on the neighborhood surrounding our church and work to open and build relationships with those closer to the church.
 The neighborhood has a pretty nice 'mallet golf' (kind of like croquet on a much larger scale) course' along the riverside and one of our church members got permission for us to use part of it for our activity. There weren't really a lot of 'hiding' places for 1350 treat filled plastic Easter eggs! So with the help of most of our church members we sort of 'scattered' the eggs all over our section of the course in preparation for the neighborhood 'hunters'. If you look closely you'll see the colored dots all over the course.
Once the eggs were out we waited for the hunters to arrive.
Since lots of eggs were very visible it was a challenge to keep the gathering kids from beginning the hunt ahead of schedule ;-)
We had the grill and all the food ready to go for when the egg hunt and telling of the Resurrection Story was complete. A huge Thanks! to our wonderful friends at St. John's Lutheran Church in Boerne, TX. for partnering with us to cover the food costs for this event. What a blessing!
Once we thought most that were coming were there we let them go!!

 We sent them out with instructions to collect 10 eggs and then come back. I think we did this three or four times before telling them to go out and find all they could, and surprisingly they complied very well. Not really sure if the little or big 'kids' enjoyed it more :-)

 Once we thought all the regular eggs had been found we told them about the 12 Resurrection eggs that were hidden in a separate section. The youngest were sent out first and the rest by age groups.
 When all 12 had been found everyone gathered together and one by one each egg was opened to find something that represented a piece of the Resurrection story. Our Pastor shared the significance and story of each piece so that everyone could understand what - and Who - we were celebrating.

Sorry I didn't capture any shots of the food being served but I was kind of busy then...

On Easter morning this wonderful 71 year young woman (in white) was baptized in our church here. Her dear (Christian) friends of 50 years were at her side praising God for His new child. They never gave up encouraging her and praying for her salvation... in His time. Amazing grace it is!

God, Thank you for all you are and do and all you grace and bless us with.

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!