Friday, March 1, 2013

Last Post

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

I hope this letter finds you all well. Things have been pretty good here, but have started to become very hectic. This will officially be my very last past. Cassie and I have decided to move back to America in April. She will be working at Northwestern Mutual where she worked before and I am still currently looking for a job somewhere in the city. Ideally, I would like to do youth and family ministry. However, it looks like most of the positions for that are all filled. Since living in Japan, I have really started to enjoy teaching. I found a program online in the states called Teach for America. They send people to teach inner city school kids while working to get their teaching certificate. I applied for it and am going through the interview process. However it is very competitive. If that doesn't work out, I would like to work at and International Office somewhere or doing something at OC or something along those lines. Anyways, be praying as I start to prepare for my journey back home and all the reverse culture shock that Cassie and I will be going through.

I would like to start out by saying that Cassie and I went on a weekend trip to Kyoto and Hiroshima. Kyoto is where the old capital of Japan is located. Hiroshima in case you forgot is where America dropped the first atomic bomb. While we were there, I was afraid that so many people would give us rude looks and stare at us wondering what we were doing in their neck of the woods after laying one of the biggest bombs in world history. However, it was completely opposite. They are probably some of the nicest people I have ever met in Japan. They also really enjoyed talking to Cassie and me as well. Talk about forgiveness. I just wanted to share this small bit as a starter because I thought it was really cool. Now for an update.

                                
                                  In front of a dome that partially survived the bomb

Since my last update, not a whole lot of new has been happening to be honest. I continue to study with Kato every Tuesday night at the church building. On a side note, Kato was part of the Japanese Peace Core in Ghana. This has lead him to keep strong ties with African people and even start an African group here in Ibaraki. It is rare to see Japanese people care so much about Africa. I also have a connection with Africa after going there in 2008. In Kato's African group, they meet once a month and have a presentation about Africa or do African things. I volunteered to speak at it for him tomorrow on the 3rd. I am looking forward to this opportunity in trying to connect with him in as many ways as I can and show him how much I care about his life like Jesus would ours.

                                        

                                                     My Speaking Poster

 I also have continued to lead worship on the first Sunday of every month. On January 20th, the church had a 2nd wedding ceremony for Cassie and me and the church. After I said our closing prayer for worship and gave the announcements, I asked if anyone else had any other announcements they needed to make. One of the members raised his hand and said that there was a wedding ceremony that was about to start. They brought out a wedding card, a money tree, a gift, and cake and even had a veil for Cassie to put on with a bouquet of flowers and a corsage for me. It was really nice of them to do it and we are so thankful to have had them for a church family. It has been a great blessing being there and working with them. On February 16th, we had a Valentine Day party at the church building, but I had a 102 degree temperature and was unable to do much of anything except sit and try to talk with others the best that I could before I ended up going to the emergency clinic to get some medicine. Cassie did her part there though and got to talk with lots of people. I also preached last Sunday morning. I showed the church Cassie and I's wedding video and pictures and then talked about being the The Bride of Christ. I was also been invited to speak at another congregation about 30 minutes from our apartment on the 17th, but because I was sick, I was unable to do so. Nevertheless, I was able to reschedule and I will be preaching there a week from tomorrow.

                                    
                                                           2nd Wedding Ceremony

Last but not least, Cassie and I met with Saki unfortunately for the last time probably. I was really hoping to reach her the best that I could for our last meeting. I also didn't have a whole lot of time because she had curfew that she had to be back for. Cassie and I decided to give her a Japanese-English Bible. I remembered her telling me how bad she wanted one when I studied the Bible with her last year. When I gave it to her, she said, "YOU REMEMBERED!" I told her when she became a Christian I would get her one since she had full intentions on getting baptized. However, after a number of things that went wrong for her, she decided not to do it. However, she continued to want to study with me. I also recall one of my Christian friends telling me that the reason she started to consider becoming a Christian was because a Bible was given to her. I decided that this same thing may happen to Saki someday. I pray that someone will reach her in the future years and that I can keep in contact with her and continue to encourage her. I hope that she will also take time to read this Bible. Please pray me that someone will touch her after I leave and that she will come to know just how much God cares for her.

                                   
                                             Meeting With Saki for the Last Time

Well I think that is about all. It has been great being a part of the mission here in Japan. Although we are very sad to leave, we think it is the best decision for the time being for both of us. Please pray for us and that we can have a smooth transition back home. We love you all and are thankful for your support.

Jared and Cassie

Friday, January 18, 2013

December/January Update

Hello Everyone,

I hope this update finds you well. I am pretty sure no one reads this anymore based on my times viewed tab that I have. However, I will continue to update it just in case.

The month of December went pretty fast between finalizing wedding plans and getting ready for Christmas and everything else. The first weekend of December, my host family from when I was an exchange student took Cassie and I as a wedding gift to Nasu Tochigi which is a few hours north of Ibaraki. It was nice just to get away for a couple of days and forget everything that was happening here in Ibaraki.
                               


On the 8th, I was able to meet with Saki and talk about the Bible some with her. Some thing happened recently that really affected her views towards Christianity. Living in Japan has really shown me that people really watch Christians closely, and their actions really affect the way people view Christianity. However, we all make mistakes and that is one thing I wish that I could point out to them. They all seem to think we have to be perfect as Christians, and we are not. Please pray that Saki may open up her mind again and that God will touch her heart and open her up to Christianity more. After Saki and I met, Cassie and I went to an end of the year party for an the International group I spoke for earlier in 2012. It was a great opportunity for us to teach about Christ because they asked what led us together and why we loved each other so much. Japanese are not so open about their relationship with their spouses or sometimes go as far as to not claiming them. However, we were able to show them a Christian example of a godly couple as we brought up Christianity a lot that night.


On the 9th, Cassie and I met with some people at a church about a possible position change in our jobs in the coming year for a new ministry. However, it wasn't quite what we were looking for and so we decided not to go any further with it for the time being. Nonetheless it was great to see a lot of old faces too. While it is possible however that God could open doors in the future, we will just continue to wait for his timing and the things he wants us to for His glory.



On the 14th, we had a Christmas party at Cassie's apartment with some old friends. We enjoyed a great mixture of foods that we eat in America for Christmas and some things Japanese think Americans enjoy for Christmas like KFC Chicken. We also enjoyed drinking some egg nog, playing dirty santa and watching a movie together. This also allowed for us to talk about the meaning we celebrate Christmas back at home. Altogether there were about 6 or 7 us. We all had a great time.
                                    
While I try to stay effective doing ministry outside the church, I was also busy doing some things at the church this past month. I continued to study with Cassie's coworker teacher Kato on Tuesday evenings and led worship once again. Annually, the church also has a Christmas party for the kids they teach English to at the church. I ended up going there one evening to help them with their Christmas party and also dressed up as Santa Claus. It was a really great time.
                                 

The best part of the month of December was being able to spend Christmas with my family this year and marry my best friend on the 29th. While it was all a whirlwind, we had a great time and had such great and exceptional help from many people to make our day so special. I am so thankful that we had the great help that we did. While it was already stressful for me, if these people would have not been there to help us, I may have had a panic attack. Thank you to all of those who helped make this possible. I am also thankful for all of you who came and made our big day special.


As for January there is not much to post about things going on here in Japan. We spent the first week of January on our honeymoon in Cancun Mexico. It was nice to finally get away from everything and just relax and even see some Mayan ruins like the Chichen Itza. We haven't been able to do that for a long time. After we got back from our honeymoon, we spent a week between Kansas and Oklahoma seeing old friends, visited Oklahoma Christian, saw everyone at the Yukon congregation, went to some doctor appointments a Thunder game and hunting, and most importantly, spent some much missed needed time with our families.  When we left on Sunday to come back to Japan, we spent over 18 hours on an airplane because a bad snow storm came to Japan. We ended up flying to another area until we could come back and safely land at the airport in Tokyo. When we finally arrived at the airport, we found out all the public transportation had been shut down and all hotels were full so we ended up sleeping on the airport floor the first night and had to take paid leave on Tuesday from work because we couldn't get back in time. We are now finally settled back in our apartment and got our Christmas tree taken down and enjoying newlywed life. Thats about all I have for now. Please pray for us as we start out our marriage and that we can build a family that glorifies God in all that we do during our time here in Japan. May God bless you all.


At Chichen Itza

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Update

Hello Everyone,

I hope that this letter finds all of you doing well. Things have been going pretty well here. I have been extremely busy with many observations in my English classes, finalizing my wedding plans, and keep up with some mission work all at the same time. Cassie and I recently just finished our engagement pictures after starting them earlier in April this year. We have also been moving a lot of my stuff over to her apartment gradually and giving some of my old stuff away so that we are not doing all of it all at once. I must confess now that I am unable to post pictures in this post because I have too old of a version of a program to upload pictures. However, if you have a facebook, I usually post all of my pictures there if you would like to see them. Sorry for the inconvenience.



Cassie and I have also enjoyed spending some time with friends over the past month. We went to Nikko to a shrine whether the prover, Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil comes from. It was cool to go to a place of something where it generated from. It was great to see Ayami and her boyfriend Cam. The scenery was also really beautiful. It is amazing to know that God shows his presence through nature. Especially in the fall when everything is changing colors. Cassie and I were also able to have dinner with Takuto and Yuu. A couple of friends who went to OC as exchange student a couple of years ago. We all decided that we were craving McDonalds so we all went and pigged out together and enjoyed some bic macs and fries. (It wasn't so good for the diet I am on, but I worked it off). After dinner we came back to Cassie's and made homemade eggnog and listened to some Christmas music and just spent a little time together. We had a really great time.

Finally for my mission work. I am continuing to study with Kato on Tuesdays. Things have been going really great. He recently was informed he may lose his job due to budget cuts but thanks be to God he was able to keep it. This served as a great tool for me to tell him God is looking after him. One of the ways that he and I connect best is our interest in Africa. Last week he asked me to come with him to his African friends house so we could eat together. Cassie and I enjoyed great food and just showing him some support for his interest. Although Cassie and I our coming home for our wedding, and will be unable to go to winter church camp, we have been going to meetings to show our support and try to come up with ideas of things to do as well. Last but not least, we had a Thanksgiving dinner at the church last week as an outreach. Kato ended up coming with his family which was great. I was also able to get my co-English teacher worker to come with me. Overall he seemed to enjoy it and said he had a lot of fun. Pray that I may find other ways to reach him. At the Thanksgiving dinner we enjoyed great food and fellowship with all the people who come to the church for English class. We had a really great time. I recently also went to Ibaraki Christian University to see some old friends and people I used to study with. I was supposed to meet up with Saki but she had something come up last minute. Pray that I will be able to meet with Saki soon.

In the coming year, Cassie and I have had some big decisions that are weighing on our shoulders. We ask that you pray with us for our decision. As of right now, I would rather not say what I am referring to, but we do ask that all you do is pray. We are having a hard time on deciding what we should do, and we want to make sure that we take the path God wants for us.

Well that is about all for this post. Thank you for supporting Cassie and me in this journey. May God bless you all. Good night.

Jared

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Update


Hello Brothers and Sisters,

As I write these messages, I am beginning to feel more and more like Paul. However, I am not in jail yet. However, I do thank God for each of you and what you mean to me if you are taking part in this ministry. Things have started to finally cool down here. It gets so hot here when you don’t have air conditioning in your school. However, it is nice to finally have some cooler weather. 

I would like to start out by stating that things have been very stressful for me lately. I am not taking the stress very well at all and it has led me to become very sick and ill. I am continuing to pray and give it to God, but still trying to fight it at the same time. Please pray that I may regain my strength and health so that I can go back to doing things the way I used to. I would also like to thank the Sand Springs congregation for all their encouragement they have given me through the many cards I have received in the mail here. It is great to hear from those back at home and Cassie and I could not be more grateful for your thoughts and prayers that you send us often from home.  Well in the coming update, I will discuss what things have taken place in October. Like always, a lot has happened, but I will do my best to keep it to a bare minimum.

The month of October has consisted of me having a lot of observations at my school. By a lot, I mean that I have had at least five observations. On the first day of October, nearly 200 people came to my school to watch me teach class. However, I was able to stay calm knowing that my parents had finally arrived in Japan to come visit me. My parents came to Japan on the first week of October. We had a really great time together. We spent time in Hitachi seeing where I went to college at Ibaraki Christian University, Kasama where I used to work full time at Tomobe church before I came full time teacher and part time missionary, Mito which is the capital in Ibaraki where I am a full time teacher, and then went to Tokyo for their final weekend here. I think overall they had a good time after getting past eating raw fish and going to the Japanese public baths. I felt like it was good for them to see me teach, lead worship on the first Sunday, and experience some Japanese culture. I  am glad they were able to come.


                              Cassie and I with my parents in front of Tomobe Church

I have continued to meet with Cassie’s coworker on Tuesday nights. We have been recently discussing how important our lives are and with God they become more important. It has been going really well. I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but he has a Christian wife and also went to Africa for the Japanese Peace Corps. These things have led him to be very interested in Christianity, but he still has a hard time believing. Please pray that my studies will continue to go well with him.


                                                 This is Cassie and I with him. 

In the middle of October, I was blessed with one of the most amazing moments of my time in Japan. One of my good friends, Koichi Sukigara that I made at Ibaraki Christian was baptized. Koichi and I had studied a number of times when I had my Bible studies at Ibaraki Christian last year and also when I came as a student we were always talking about when he was going to become a Christian. I am so happy excited to finally have him as a brother in Christ now. Please pray for Koichi as he starts this path and that he will be a great disciple for Christ and the country of Japan.  After his baptism we went to the public bath together.

                                                               Koichi and I 

After the public bath, we had Eagle Bash in Mito. Eagle Bash is kind of like an annual Oklahoma Christian reunion for people who are graduates of Oklahoma Christian University or went to OC as an exchange student. I was able to me the new OC president, John deSteiguer. I am happy to see that OC elected such a great man that is going to make the school a great place to call “home”.  It was great seeing old friends once again and reuniting with those I had not seen in a long time.

This last month there was a meeting for Hitachi Christian Camp as well as a work day for the camp, but I was unable to make either one of them due to being so stressed and sick. I know at the camp they have been working on paving the roads. There is about to be a lot of things that will be changing at the camp. I believe that the next thing to do will be to rebuild the kitchen and getting it set back up again. I hope that I can make some of the following work days and meetings soon after I get back to good health again.

Along with having many observations, we have also had many things going on at school. At school, I have continued go to baseball practice when I get the time. I have also been responsible for choosing the new members of the percussion section in the brass band who will be joining us in the coming month. Last but not least, we had a school culture festival last Saturday. Each of the grades set up a classroom of their own for people to go inside. One of the grades made a haunted house. It was impressively scary for how many supplies and the budget they were given to make it happen. I have also been very busy with lesson planning at school as well this last month. One of the things we covered in class was American Football and the story of Tsutomu Aragaki ( A True Japanese Story). Tsutomu Aragaki’s parents left him when he was child so he was left in his grandmothers care. However, his grandmother died when he was around the age of 14. He became very down on life because he thought everyone abandoned him. However, he heard some hymns on a radio one day so he went to a church and talked to a minister about it. He then told the minister his life story so the minister took him in and let him live with him and his family. This made Tsutomu Aragaki want to become a minister too. When we went to college, he later decided to become a singer. I say all of that to say that we got to talk about Christianity in a class. It served as a door for me to talk about Christianity a little bit at school.  Also, the story talked about a hymnal and none of the kids had any idea what that was so I got to bring my Japanese one and share it with the class. Some of them read it for quite a while. It was quite a cool experience that I feel God blessed me with. I also got to talk about American Football in my other class. It was cool to talk about two topics that mean a lot to me that my kids didn’t know anything about.

Well that is all for the month of October. Please pray for me and the things that I have requested above, especially for my stress. I am tired of feeling the way I do. May God Bless You all.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September Update


Hello everyone,

I hope this letter will find you all well. As always, things here have been quite crazy here to say the least. As the wedding is quickly approaching, Cassie and I have been very busy trying to get lots of last minute details done for it. It’s really stressful and I am not even doing all the hard work that Cassie has been doing. On September 7th, Cassie and I celebrated our first year together as a couple and I am looking forward to many more. Well, I am going to try to keep this one short, just like the last one so here we go.
       Over the last month, Cassie and I have spent a lot of time with all of our different Japanese friends trying to be lights to them. We have continued to have dinner with Takuto and Yuu about once a month. Tonight, Takuto will take Cassie and I out as a wedding present to the restaurant he works at to eat Yakiniku. We also have been spending time with a couple of girls Cassie was in club with at Oklahoma Christian and that I met on my exchange program. Their names are Noriko and Yuuki. They really enjoy American culture so I extend American culture a little more when we get together by praying for our meal and they seem to really enjoy that. They even asked me one time to pray before I even got a chance to get ready for one. Last Saturday, Cassie and I also had dinner with Ayami Kawasaki. Ayami is a girl I met when I was a student here who later became a Christian after returning from OC as an exchange student. I actually studied with her at Oklahoma Christian while she was there. 


















Dinner with Japanese Friends

Tuesdays really make for a long day because I work from 8-5. After work I go to Japanese class and then have my English Bible class. I normally don’t make it back home until 10, sometimes 11. On Tuesdays, I’m still having my English Bible Study with Kato. He is really having a hard time understanding some things we have been talking about lately so please pray for him during this difficult time. 


School has also been quite busy. I have been preparing a lot lately for the observations that I will be having soon. The Board of Education as well as other people will be coming to watch me teach 2-3 times this next month. We also had our yearly sports festival that all Japan schools have every year a few weeks ago. At the sports festival, there is a relay where students pick up cards and the students have to find a person that matches that card such as hot mom and such. I was chosen at my school as the friendliest teacher and the funniest teacher in the relay, so I got to run twice. It was overall a really fun day. Because I worked on a Saturday, I was able to get the following Monday off and make it to an Ibaraki Preachers Meeting and Hitachi Christian Camp meeting. It was nice to live the life of a missionary and seeing preachers again for a day. I hadn’t seen most of the preachers from the preachers meeting for about 4 or 5 months. The following week, my students from the junior high who live at the orphans home invited me to come to the orphans home for a summer festival they were having. Cassie and I were able to spend about an hour and a half there and support some of my kids. We had a really great time.
            Ibaraki Preacher's Meeting 


















After getting the kind teacher in the relay

                At the Children's Home

In the last month, it has also been nice to have some time to relax and go hang out with some American friends. This last month, Cassie and I were able to get some tickets from my host family (the Hirosawas) that I had when I was a student here to a professional soccer game. I was into the soccer game a lot more than Cassie, but she enjoyed playing with the Hirosawa’s kids. We have also been to guys and girls nights in the past week where the girls hung out and did girl things and the guys played poker and hung out and talked with each other. Last week, I also was able to go to Tokyo with a couple of guys and get a steak at Outback! It really hit the spot.  I will be going back to Tokyo to pick up my parents this weekend. They are coming to Japan to visit me and I am really looking forward to it. Please pray that they have a safe trip here.


         Cassie and me at the Antlers Game
















      At Outback Steakhouse with the guys!

Well that is about all for this post. Please continue to pray that Cassie and I can be effective while we are here. There are times it is so hard for us because we are so busy planning our wedding and with work alone. However we want to use our time in this country for the glory of God. Please pray that we can continue to do this in any way possible. May God bless you all. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

July & August Update



Hello Everyone,

Hope you have all been doing well. Once again it has been sometime since I last wrote. Things have been once again pretty hectic. I hope I can catch you up to speed on some of the things that have been taking place in my life in just a short post.

First of all I would like to say that I have not been affected by all the storms that have been recently hitting Japan but continue to pray for those who have been hit there. One of my friends who lived there said she was fine, but that they cancelled school today.

Anyways, since my lost post, a lot has been happening. On July 11th, Mito, the city I am currently living had an English conversation contest for all of the junior highs. I spent a lot of time that week helping prepare my students for that the best that I could. Overall it was a great time even although we move to the next round. The picture to your left is a contest all the American English Teachers had which was in Japanese so Japanese could see us practicing in another language like they did English in the contest.



 On the 16th of July, Cassie and I went up to Hitachi Christian Camp to cut grass, clean out cabins, and anything else that was needed in order for the camp to be ready to have campers. After we finished, we went and cooled off at a beach in Hitachi along the ocean. Ironically, it was also a holiday known as Ocean Day. Cassie and I however were unable to attend camp due to coming back to the states to prepare our wedding. Tonight we will be having a camp staff appreciation dinner and discussion meeting over what we can do to 
make camp better.
Hitachi Christian Camp sign at the camp!














Cassie and I at the beach in Hitachi!

From time to time we have had Japanese people over at my apartment and made them dinner as an outreach. We will be having a couple of people coming again this Wednesday and hopefully make it a routine that we do every month.

On the week of the 20th of July, we had summer teachers training and had lots to do in order to come home. It made for a long week too because I was so eager to come home. Cassie and I finally arrived in the states on the 28th and spent a few weeks there planning our wedding. We went time with people from Wichita, Mulvane, Oklahoma City, Edmond, Yukon, Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Sand Springs, Ralston and even Japan and drove to most of those places as well. It made for a long trip, but we got to see lots of old friends, spend time with family, get most of our wedding planned, and eat lots of foods that we missed. Cassie also finally got her ring. In the long run, I ended up having to cancel my flight because I got too sick. I was also blessed enough to be able to preach to the Sand Springs congregation and also got a surprise visit from Broken Arrow to come watch me so that Cassie I could receive a money tree as a wedding gift. I am truly blessed by such great people. Thank you to those who contributed towards the tree. We also got a chance to go by and visit Yukon and Contact, the churches I used to work at back in the states.


    Eating Mexican on our first night after arriving in America!



   Redneck Mason Jar Toasting Flutes



   Sunday after church in Sand Springs 

   The Broken Arrow clan that came to support me in Sand Springs with our money trees from  
   both congregations.

   Me excited to get my wedding ring from my own store!

   Taking a picture with Glen after church in Yukon!

Since we have come back this past week or so, things have been pretty slow at school, but rather busy other wise with other things. I recently decided to start helping with the baseball team at school so that I can build a deeper relationship with some of the kids so I guess you could kind of say I am an assistant baseball coach now. Cassie and I are also going to finish planning our honeymoon hopefully this week. We have also been spending time trying to make some new friends as well. The last week we also had a hot dog party at the church building. All together about 50 people came and it turned out to be a great time. The guy I normally have English Bible classes with on Tuesday night also came with his African wife. It was amazing to see someone from Africa again.













Everyone who came to the hot dog party

Cassie and I calling out Bingo numbers at the hot dog party!



Well I tried to keep it short and simple. If you would like to know anything else about what is going on with a deeper explanation, let me know. Have a blessed day.

Jared