“I have not sopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Ephesians 1:16
Is it too late to still wish people Happy New Year? I hope not as I want to wish all of you a very happy 2023! It seems like such a long time since I have written, yet it’s only been since the end of November. As you can imagine, December was a whirlwind with all the Christmas classes & event preparations, and I would like to catch you up on what’s been happening.
I had a wonderful opportunity to join Rocky and his fellow TECC classmates for a Christmas luncheon. Rocky has been suffering with severe pain because of collapsed vertabrate in his spine. But it was such a joy to be able to meet up with him, along with Noriko, Michiko, Hiromi and Akky for a lovely Japanese meal before Christmas. Please continue to pray for healing for Rocky.
I had an email last October from Vicki at Parliament Community Church in Regina. She and Kristin Cowman (the director of children’s ministries at PCC), were wanting to connect the kids from PCC Sunday school with some of the kids in my ESL classes. What a great new ministry this is going to be. In late December, I received an evelope with letters from some of the PCC kids. It was very exciting to see their enthusiasm about connecting with some children in Japan. When I asked my students to reply to some letters, they were nervous about what to write. With some help (in spelling and grammar), they answered a number of letters and now those are in the hands of Kristen at PCC to have the kids respond. Please pray for this new ministry and that the children will become life-long penpals. Pray for the ESL children to learn more about Jesus through the kids at PCC. Thanks again so much Kristen & Vicki!
Preparing for the class Christmas parties involved lots of cookie baking. I was very grateful to Yoko and Hitomi coming from Toyota to help me decorate the sugar cookies. I made sugar cookies, Delicious & Easy cookies (haystacks) and Amish Ginger cookies (about 200 cookies in all), but we only decorated the sugar cookies. It was wonderful to have these ladies come and help me prepare the cookies for eating!! As a small gift for each student, I prepared 52 red mugs filled with things like cocoa, Christmas chocolates and candy canes. I had to go to 7 different Daiso shops (the dollar store here) to find enough mugs, but it was lots of fun! Wrapping the mugs was another story…. 😊
The Christmas class events went really well. We were able to combine 2 or 3 classes together at each church, and this gave the students an opportunity to get to know one another a bit more, and as well, it made for less parties for me to prepare for (only 7 instead of 15!!) For the adult classes, the students all dressed up as people from the Nativity story (even the Star of Bethlehem). One of their activities was to write down who was playing each part, what gifts the wisemen brought, how many sheep were in the class, etc. I prayed that as each person portrayed someone from the Bible story, that they would draw closer to Jesus. Please pray for all the students and that they will come to have a deeper knowledge of the Lord in the year ahead. I’ve put the photos on page 2 to try and include as many students as possible.
On Dec. 8th at Fujigaoka Christ Church we had a ‘movie’ night and watched The Nativity Story (from 2016). 8 students came and we had a good discussion afterwards. One said that they had never imagined how difficult it really was for people 2000 years ago! I am planning to make Movie Night a monthly ministry and our next movie will be “Facing the Giants”. I am trying to find copies of God’s Not Dead (1 and 2) that have Japanese subtitles, but so far haven’t had much luck. Please pray I can find some online somwehere…thank you!
January 9th was the coming-of-age day in Japan. Most cities will hold ceremonies and the 20 year old girls dress up in beautiful kimonos while the young men wear suits. This year, 4 of my former students were part of this celebration. I taught them when they were only 6 years old, and to see how they’ve grown is amazing. Chie san organized their meeting place to be close to Fujigaoka Church so I could come and see the girls after church service. Please pray that they will remember our chapel times and in the future will accept the Lord.
A very special gift I received this year from Fujigaoka Church students was a lovely card that they printed notes on, along with coupons for a local onsen. I was very moved and touched by the comments, and am so grateful to all of you for helping me to serve the Lord in Japan once again…thank you for being a part of this ministry!
- Praise for all of the Christmas events. The class parties went really well at both churches. The church events at Komaki were good, although not as many people came as I was praying for.
- Praise for the coming-of-age day on Jan. 9th and I was able to see a number of former students. Thank you Chie san again for organizing their group meeting near Fujigaoka Church so we could come and greet everyone!
- Praise the Lord for my vacation after Christmas. I had a very nice time of relaxing and refreshing and am ready and excited for this new year of ministry.
- Pray for Tatsuji and Rikako as they continue on this journey of his battle with cancer. Please pray for peace and comfort, and please pray for me as I visit with Rikako (and sometimes Tatsuji), that I can share God’s blessings with them and help them to know Jesus more personally.
- Pray for new ESL students (2 children in particular) and that they would feel welcomed. They are very shy and hesitant about coming, so please pray for them to continue classes.
- Pray for Mary Braun and her family as she, too, is battling cancer. Please pray for peace for Mary and that she feels God’s gentle hands holding her each day.
- Pray for Hattori sensei and Taeko san from Fujigaoka Christ Church as they prepare to retire in March. Pray that they will settle well into their new home in Kariya and that they will know how much they are loved and will be missed! Taeko san has been such a blessing in the ESL ministry, translating for me in the children’s classes and doing chapel time for the kids. I truly don’t know what I will do without her patience, joy and help!
- Pray for Yamamoto sensei and his wife, Yuka, as they begin their first pastoral ministry at Fujigaoka in April. Pray for wisdom, guidance and joy as they look for a place to live and get settled in their new roles.
Blessings and love,