“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” Psalm 59: 16-17
As many of you know, I love to sing, even though it might not be the most sweet-sounding voice…lol. The Lord is so good and I can’t help but sing to Him each day. That is why I love being a part of the OneVoice Gospel choirs that I participate in each month. It’s so cool to see so many Japanese people singing and praising the Lord, even though 99% of them are not Christians. Please pray for the choir members to one day know Who they are singing about. In April the advanced choirs learned “Don’t Cry” and “Chasing Me Down” which speak of God’s grace and mercy and love for all of us. I was also happy to share Easter cookies and chocolate eggs with the Wednesday & Friday groups (as well as the ESL classes). I have started teaching ESL after practice on Fridays in Okazaki. The class will run for 6 weeks, lasts 30-45 minutes, and has 6 members. Please pray I’ll have an opportunity to share the gospel with them as part of our lesson.
During the first few days of April, I volunteered at an after school care place for kids who have some issues with learning, autism, ADHD, etc. The facility, With Us, is run by Director Takagi sensei from OneVoice. There are between 9 and 12 kids who come from either morning or after school until early evening and 4-5 workers each day. Although most of the kids are quite active, it was a good learning experience for me and lots of fun. One day we went to the Nagoya Train/Subway museum which was really interesting. One of my students from Fujigaoka, Yoko san, is now working at the center after I posted a job opportunity in the ESL class. She finds it stressful, but also fulfilling. Please pray for the workers and Takagi sensei for energy, strength and patience each day as they work with the children. I am praying I will be able to volunteer here one Monday or Wednesday each month so Takagi sensei and I are working on a possible schedule.
Near the end of March one of the former teachers from Toyota Higashi Church, Amy Hubert (formerly Peters), came to visit Japan with her husband, Mark, and their two sons. It was great to see them once again and Amy really enjoyed connecting with several of her former students. Please pray as well for Phil & Lydia Hamm, who were at Toyota before Amy, as they prepare to come in the fall to visit the church and students. God is at work in all of our relationships with the students so please pray that these relationships will continue to grow and produce fruit for the harvest!
April was also busy with meeting up with old friends and former students from Moose where I taught from 2006-13. I celebrated Nagisa’s birthday with her on the 12th and then enjoyed lunch with Kazuyo, her sister, Yoshiko, and Kiyomi (left picture). These 3 ladies will be coming for lunch to my place on May 5th so pray that our time together again will be meaningful. I also met up with a former Toyota student, Keiko, who is now attending class at Fujigaoka Christ Church. Pray she will continue to hear about God’s love through chapel time. It’s so encouraging for me to be able to continue building into these relationships, even after years of not seeing one another. I’m so blessed with their friendships. Meeting up with former Toyota students, Hiroko & Fumiko for lunch in Toyota was another highlight (pictured above left).
There were a number of Easter events at the churches in Nagoya. Komaki Hope Chapel held a violin/piano concert (picture on right) and Fujiogaoka held an outdoor picnic and Easter egg hunt. The people who performed at the concert in Komaki are friends of Mark Kane (the former teacher who is now in Toyota Higashi Church and will be moving back to the US this summer). 7 students attended and heard a beautiful testimony from the violinist! I enjoyed helping out at the picnic in Fujigaoka (pictured above) and took lots of videos and photos, especially when the kids were enjoying the pinata game (Taeko san and a few ladies from the church made the huge egg-shaped pinata on the right )! 8 students attended this event, along with the church members. April also marked the beginning of Yamamto sensei’s pastoral role at Fujiigaoka Christ Church. He and his wife, Yuka, along with their daughter, Emiri (pictured at left) are settling into their new home near the church. The church had a wonderful farewell ceremony for the Hattoris and presented them with beautiful flowers. They will still continue to come to Sunday service, so I’m happy that we will see each other at least twice a month!
On a sad note, would you please lift up the children of Japan in your prayers? Last year there were 512 suicides among elementary, junior high and senior high students. This is up from 499 in 2020. June seems to be when the highest rate of suicides occur, so please pray that Japan can find ways to reach out and help children who are struggling with thoughts of death. Most suicides occur because of poor academic performance, followed by uncertainty about future paths and entrance exams. The pressure on young people to enter the ‘right’ school is too difficult for many to handle. Thank you for praying for them!
Other items for prayer are:
- Please continue to pray for Tatsuji who is now in a care home. Pray for Rikako as she drives each day to visit him. He is declining rapidly and I am not able to go and visit him. Rikako and I are in touch about once a week but she is busy and stressed so we haven’t been able to meet. Please pray for peace!
- Pray for Yamamoto sensei who will do his first chapel time with the students on May 11th. Pray for wisdom and that the students will understand through his message how much God loves them.
- Praise for great visits with friends and former students this past month. Please pray for them as well and that God will continue to build into our relationships.
- Praise for being able to help with the kids at “With You” after school care. Praise I have enough energy to keep up with them, in spite of not being able to ‘run around’ with them…lol. Praise the Lord for the many ladies who are helping to take care of these children and show love to them each day!
- Praise the Lord for my third grandchild, arriving at the end of June. Please pray for Courtney as she is in her last couple of months of pregnancy. Pray for peace, good health and a healthy baby for her & Trevor. Pray for Arianna & Payton, too, as they prepare to welcome a little brother or sister!
As I close this month, thank you for partnering with me in these amazing ministries. The Lord continues to open up new avenues of reaching out to the students and choir members and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve in Japan. Please drop me a line or two if you can so I can be praying for you as well. To those of you who are mothers, I want to wish you an early Happy Mother’s Day. May the Lord bless you and fill your hearts with peace and joy.
Love & blessings,