Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The End of January

Hello Everyone,

I hope everyone is doing well. I pray for all of you back at home daily and pray that the Lord has been each of you richly in the way you have blessed me.

The past couple of weeks have been great. Most of all it has been going about the same routine. I have continued to have my classes with all of my students. Altogether I currently have about 20 students and about 8 classes every week.

For those of you who didn't know, I will become an English teacher starting in April rather than missionary. After April, I will no longer have the support to stay. Therefore I recently started to prepare for that. I had a health check up a couple weeks ago on Friday and so far I am still in good and excellent condition. I was also able to figure out my blood type! In Japan, it is a big deal to know your blood type because it determines your personality. I ended up being type O which means I am a agreeable, sociable, and optimistic. However, my worst traits are that I am rude, jealous, vain an arrogant according to the blood type traits. Below is a picture of the city flag, the country flag of Japan, and the prefecture flag (a prefecture is like a state). I took this when taking care of stuff at the city hall.

On the 22nd, Cassie and I went to visit Omika Church of Christ, the church I used to attend when I was an exchange student. Afterwards there was a potluck and we did some singing with a few of the young people. You can see a couple of them in the picture below. The one on the far right is Saki, the girl who is interested in becoming baptized and the girl to my right is Maki. Maki is also not a Christian yet. I hope that she can become one soon. Maki recently just graduated from Ibaraki Christian. I went to school with her when I was an exchange student there.

On the 23rd, Cassie and I went to dinner with one of my students named Setsuko. Setsuko is very hard to teach the Bible too. She is more interested in the English aspect rather than the Bible aspect. After dinner, I had to return home because we got our first snowfall for the year. The pictures below are a couple pictures I took the next morning while walking.

For those of you who have been praying for Saki, I appreciate it. I have not been able to study with Saki the past couple of weeks because she has had final exams and reports to write for college. However, starting next Tuesday, the campus minister and I will have Bible studies with her for the month of February over baptism and what it means to be a Christian. Pray that these studies will be a success and that Saki's dad will allow for her to be a Christian. While it is not illegal in Japan to be a Christian, people look at it as very strange. Pray that this will all go smoothly and Saki can be a Christian soon. Once again you can see her picture above on the far right.

In one of my other classes, I am studying with a lady named Masako. Masako is the lady who believes that the Christian God created the Earth, but also that everything around us is a God. I think I may have come to the point where she sees how there can not be a Christian God and everything being a God. Last week, she decided she wanted to start from the beginning of the Bible to learn more about the Christian God. I feel like I am making some progress, but still have a long way to go! Please pray that Masako's heart will open up and that she will believe in the ONE and ONLY God!

Recently, another one of my friends said that he wanted to be a Christian so that he could be one of the big leaders of Ibaraki Christian one day. He thought that all the leaders had to be Christian. While that is not the case, it is the case for a couple of the positions only. However, I told him that also meant being a real Christian and not just a Christian to be leader. After a while we got to where he said he was interested in studying the Bible. It blew me out of the water. He is one of the last people I would ever expect to want to study the Bible. I will leave his name unknown for now, but please pray that I could also reach to my friend as well.

Last week, another one of my students who comes to my Bible studies at the college, spoke in chapel. I normally do not go to the school on Wednesday, but I decided last week would be a good idea to go and support him. He talked about how he really wanted to go to a big school in Tokyo but ended up at a Christian university. Before college, he was not a Christian or interested in Christianity. Since going to Ibaraki Christian, he has become interested in Christianity however. His speech talked about his plan and then God's plan for him. It was really well done. While Naoi is not a Christian, I hope that someday enough people can help him become one. Please pray that Naoi will also become a Christian soon and that people can say the right things to him to make him want to become a Christian.

Last night, I had a couple of the same guys and one new guy come over to the house again so that I could make them biscuits and gravy and eggs for breakfast. This is not in any way close to a Japanese breakfast. Most of the time a Japanese breakfast consist of fish, rice, nattou (fermitted soy beans) and tofu. Sounds healthy right? It probably is about 10 times more healthy than the biscuits and gravy we had this morning for breakfast. Last night we had dinner together as well before they came over and also went shopping for a little while at a used store.

I have also finally decided to give in and get a car. I really was not wanting one but it seems to becoming more of a necessity at times. After I become a teacher, it will be useful for a lot of things. I got the car for free but I am going to have to pay about $1500 for the every two year car inspection Japan requires on most cars. However, I am just thankful I will have a car. I have recently started to study for the driving test. You can see a picture of the car below. The car is a 2002 Toyota Raum

Well that is about all for now. I will update again here in a few weeks. I pray that this reaches each of you. If you have any questions, please contact me at jared.scism@alumni.oc.edu anytime. I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The First Two Weeks of the Year: READ IT ALL! TRUST ME, YOU WILL WANT TO KNOW!


Hello Everyone,

Well it has become a crazy past couple of weeks! After having such a long holiday, it was quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. However, things are starting to get on a roll again and things are really starting to pick back up. I recently started the Bible in a Year read and have been staying at it very well. I also have a goal to lose 1 kilogram a week this year which is 2.2 pounds. Pray that I can accomplish these things and can stay encouraged and not give up.

Well the 9th ended up being another holiday known as Coming of Age Day. Whenever you turn 20 in Japan, your are looked at as an adult and you have a celebration in the city you grew up in. This also means that you start paying taxes. Anyways, I also had another holiday on the 9th. Monday night, My girlfriend Cassie and I ended up going to eat dinner with her neighbors who are also English teachers.

Once Tuesday began, I went back to start my classes at Ibaraki Christian again. After my classes and the rest of the week through Friday I continued to meet with my normal students/studiers. On Friday, one of the guys I normally study with, Tamio, the one trying to figure out the meaning of life, decided not to come. I haven't had a chance to study with him lately, but I hope that he will come back soon because it seemed like he was barely beginning to be interested in what the meaning of life was.

On Friday night, we started up our youth group activities again. Last week we decided to go bowling. After having surgery on my arm this summer, it was very difficult for me to play because my arm is still very week. Overall it was a great time and Toru brought one of his friends again named Yuya. Overall I didn't do too bad with my left hand with a bowling score of 78.

On Sunday we had services as usual and a pot luck lunch. On Sunday night, I started a guitar learning class before worship services on Sunday night so that maybe more people would come to evening worship. It added a few extra people. This year I am trying Also on Sunday, I discovered that I was chosen to be an A.E.T. starting in April. An A.E.T. is an Assistant English Teacher. It has been very difficult for me to find the funds from churches to support me so I will begin my work as a vocational missionary starting in April. While I am very excited about it, I wish that could have remained being a missionary because ministry is where my heart is. However, I look forward to seeing the plans God has for me as a vocational minister starting in April as a teacher.

On Monday we had our monthly preachers luncheon. This time it was held at Tomobe Church and it lasted from about 10-2. After the preachers meeting, there was another meeting that discussed what the Church of Christ Tsunami Relief teams plans were for this year due to the fact that they are starting to run low on money as well. After that meeting finished about 5, we drove to Hitachi for a meeting to discuss what we thought of camp last December and finished that meeting about 8:30. Overall it was a day full of meetings and my brain was fried due to the amount of Japanese that was absorbed in my brain.

THIS IS THE PART YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR.... On Tuesday I went to Ibaraki Christian for my typical day of English Bible studies that I have with the students. I normally always start out class with, "Tell me the best part of your week." This week, one of my students told me she was happy because she felt like she understood Christianity more after the sermon she heard on Sunday. There were just a few questions she still did not understand. After asking me the questions, the overall question she wanted to know was if this was the right time for her to become a Christian. She felt like that she didn't know enough information about the Bible. After hearing this, I immediately got my Bible and turned to the story about the Ethiopian Eunuch and had her read it in Japanese! I then told her me or the smartest Bible scholar has yet to know about everything in the Bible. After she read it and answering a few more questions, she told me that all of her questions had been answered and she had a warm feeling inside of her and that she wanted to be baptized. However, she needed to talk to her parents first. I sent her a message this morning and asked her how that was going and she said she talked to her mom, and that her mom wasn't upset about it. However, she is very scared to talk to her dad about it. Pray that this talk with her dad will go smoothly and work out. If it does, we will have some one on one Bible classes and hope she is prepared and ready enough to be baptized within the next month. Please pray that God works in this entire process and that Saki can become a Christian soon.

Yesterday we had our weekly Wednesday night Bible study. I talked about trying to find ways to be filled with God and the Holy Spirit and how it is essential for us to do so to withstand the Devil's temptation. If we are filled with the Spirit, it is contradictory to wanting to fall into the trap of sin. When Jesus was led into the desert, he was led by the Spirit and was able to keep from sinning. Therefore if we are filled with the Spirit, we can do the same thing. We each decided that one of the ways we an do this is through fasting, so we all made a commitment to fast from something we enjoy doing this week to try and be filled with the Spirit more.

Today I had a study with Setsuko. However, she only had 30 minutes so we were unable to get into a deep study about Jesus today because she needed go clean out her mom's home who passed away recently. Tonight, I will have my English class with Toru. Recently, I have been trying to help Toru also pass his TOEFL test so that he can enter Oklahoma Christian. Continue to pray for Toru and his studies so that he can pass this test. Also pray that I teach him in the right way and effective ways so that he can pass the test also.

Well that is about all this going on for now. I will be sure to give you another update on everything here in a few weeks. Once again, if you have questions please feel free to shoot me an email at jared.scism@alumni.oc.edu and I will be happy to answer them. Thanks for your prayers and support and may God bless you all!