Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beginning of March (Possibly The Last Post!)

Hello Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well! Things are going pretty well here! There is quite a bit to tell so I am going to go ahead and get with it.

For the past month we have had a LST team here with us. They have been averaging about 35-40 English Bible Studies every week. A couple of weeks ago during their off day, we went and spent some time with the a couple of the people they have been studying with. We ended up having Tenpura which is like a fried fish and fried vegetables. You can see a picture of what it looks like below. This is one of the LST readers named Maria Laura. She got the Sky Tree Tenpura. Sky Tree is the new tower that is being built in Tokyo now to make the tallest tower in the world!

Maria and her Tenpura Sky Tower

A couple of pics with the LST team in Ibaraki

On the 3rd, Cassie and I held a Spring Sing party for all the old exchange students and people who love OC at Cassie's Apartment. We had a few people show up. In the picture below you can see the two girls who came earlier with Cassie and me. After the party was over, we returned to Tomobe to have one of LST's weekly parties. On the 3rd we had an American Breakfast Party. We had pancakes and sausage. Japanese people normally eat fish and rice for breakfast. These parties are used as an outreach to have fun and show that Christians can also have a good time as well. Altogether there were 25 to 30 of us.
Spring SIng Watch Party!

LST Party!

As of this month, every first Sunday of the month I am responsible for leading worship. For some people this may seem difficult enough just to lead worship. However, I also had to lead it in all Japanese. While my Japanese is not horrible, I have still have yet to improve a whole lot more. However, I lead a prayer, did communion and contribution, led singing, and gave the announcements all in Japanese! I am not sure how I did but I got an applause afterwards so I guess I did alright. After worship we had our monthly church meeting in the afternoon and then guitar class later that night along with evening worship. Because part of the LST team is from Argentina and one of their friends came to visit the church from Argentina and he only knows Spanish, we ended up having a trilingual service. Also, to my surprise, one of the students I had been studying with at the college, who lives an hour away by car also ended up coming to worship. He not only came on the 4th at night but also on the 11th, this last Sunday. This last Sunday marked the tragedy for the one year anniversary since last year's big earthquake. I wanted so bad to be a part of a group that might have done something that day. However, I ended up staying home sick. Please continue to pray for all the family and victims and the troubles some of them are still having!
Leading Worship!

The following Monday, I decided to go to eat lunch with the student who came to church on Sunday. We had curry together and I talked with him some about why is not a Christian yet if he believes in God. He was telling me that he is responsible for the family grave which is Buddhist. While he still believes, he has a long way to go. Please pray that he can find a way to explain to his family that this is not necessary for him. Also this last Monday we had our monthly preachers meeting and camp meeting. Cassie and I also presented our design for the poster for this spring's camp. When I returned from the camp meeting, I had the surprise and pleasure to see a guy I studied the Bible with at Ibaraki Christian a few years ago. I have been trying to get in touch with him to start studying again since I arrived, but he always told me he was too busy. However, I am hoping after some talking that we had this last week and spending some time together that we can get back to studying again. Please pray that this person can see that God wants what is best for him and that he keeps looking towards the right path. His name is Keiichi!
Keiichi and Me!

On Mondays I have continued to attend the church Bible classes. As of now, we are studying the book of John. Also on Mondays, I study with Masako. Last week Masako and I talked about how the reason we have many races and languages is because of the Tower of Babel. This week we talked about Cain and Abel. While I am not sure how she is starting to feel, she has been very open about talking about being a Christian. Please pray that Masako's heart can be changed and that she wants to know more about the gospel.

This last Tuesday, Cassie and I went to have dinner with a girl who went to OC as an exchange student for the past 8 months. We had a really good time and got some good Italian Food.
For the most part, Tuesdays and Wednesdays have been slow recently because Saki (The girl I hope to baptize) returned home. As of right now, I have not heard from Saki as to whether she has talked to her dad or not if she can be baptized. Please pray that God will help her with the confidence to as her dad and that he will be understanding and allow for me to baptize her.

Lately, things with Toru have been crazy. Toru has had many people to spend a lot of time with so we have not got to study as much lately. As of right now, Toru will go to OC in June. Please pray that Toru will get the funds to be able to attend college there. Right now, things are quite tight with him going. Please pray that God blesses this effort.

On Thursdays I have not been able to study with Setsuko because she has been having problems with her shoulders. The other lady, Hiromi,whom I have been studying with has also began to have a hard time wanting to come. Please pray that they can regain health.

On Fridays, I have been able to finally begin to study with another lady after the church cooking class is over. However, she is not a Christian. The first week she was begging to not study the Bible with me. Nevertheless, this week we were able to get some talking about Christianity in rather than only speaking English. Last week I also promised my elementary class that if they averaged a 70% on their test that we would play games the entire last class period and I would get them cake. After taking a book comprehensive final, most of of them got High B's and Low C's. Therefore we will have a fun class with games and food this Friday. Last Friday after my elementary class was over we had a youth group activity and went to play pool. Over all we had quite a group come opposed to the small group of 4 we had on our first youth group activity night of playing pool.

At Cybex!
Having a Devo before Pool!

Last Saturday, we had another LST party and had cookies and tea/milk. Overall there was quite a group that came. Everyone enjoyed playing cards and eating cookies. However, I ended up getting a stomach ache and ended up not being able to participate. By the looks of everyones faces, it looked like everyone had a good time.

In other news, today will be my last day of classes at the church. My contract with the schools in Mito will begin on April 1st therefore I will move to Mito on April 2nd. I will use the next couple weeks to relax and begin packing to move from Kasama to Mito which is about 45 minutes away by car. I will also be able to get my car on the 31st of this month. Last but not least and MOST IMPORTANT, I asked Cassie, to marry me yesterday. We will be getting married December 29th this year in Oklahoma City. As of right now, LIFE IS GOOD! I hope to keep you updated when I can as a teacher but it won't be near as frequent. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me. May God Bless each of you! Thank you all for your support and prayers you have given me during my time as a missionary. I pray that I can be an effective vocational missionary once I began teaching. Thank you all once again.
Cassie said Yes after asking her to marry me and reading 1 Corinthians 13

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The End of February

Hello Everyone,

First of all, I would like to apologize because this may not be a very good update. Things have been very busy recently, and it is about 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night. There has been a lot of stuff going on lately, and I have yet another crazy weekend. It has also been very cold and we have also had some snow this last week. Anyways, I will go ahead and get on with what has gone on the past couple of weeks. I will start out by talking about my classes, then talking about other things that have been going on.

Picture of some snow from the kitchen window!

1. On Sundays we have our normal worship service. The past two Sundays we have had meals at the church afterwards. One of them was a lunch for welcoming LST and the other one was our 4th Sunday curry day.
2. Due to being very busy lately, we have been unable to have guitar learning class.
3. A couple of Sunday nights ago, instead of worship LST had an information meeting to meet with people about the times they could study. Last Sunday however, we had normal worship service and with everyone there, there was about 15 people. It was the most I had ever seen at worship on Sunday night. One of LST's friends has been in Japan touring for the past couple of weeks so he was also there meaning that he only knew Spanish. Therefore we were translating things into English for worship that night, then Spanish. It ended up being quite crazy but really cool to have have a trilingual worship service.

Yasuki singing Jesus Loves Me out of the side of his mouth after Sunday night worship! Yasuki is also going to preachers training school in Japan starting in April.

1. On Mondays we have our Tomobe Church Bible Studies. Once a month we have them at Toru's house. When we have them at Toru's it makes things much better because his father ends up coming and seems to enjoy them. Please pray that Toru's dad might also become interested in Christianity.
2. In the afternoon, I have been studying with Masako. I recently got her to realize that Christianity and Shintoism can not possibly both be right. However, she wants to know more about the beginning of the world from a Christian perspective so we have been studying Genesis together. Last week was the first time she had come in a while because her son came home from Italy to visit and her daughter just had a baby so she has been taking care of them. We ended up talking about the Tower of Babel which led to good discussion because she never knew how people got into different parts of the world with different languages.

Having the Tomobe Church Bible Study at Toru's House

Tuesdays and Wednesdays
1. On Tuesday and Wednesday I normally go to Ibaraki Christian to study with Saki to prepare her for baptism. However, two weeks ago I was at the driving center taking my test and this week it ended up snowing really bad so we ended up having our study on Skype instead. After having all of our studies, Saki still seems confident that she is ready to take this step to be a Christian. After our Skype study last week, she left to go back home to Ishinomaki which is where all the stuff from the earthquake happened last year which is a few hours away. While she is gone, she is going to be talking to her dad about wanting to be baptized. Please pray that this goes smoothly and that her father will say yes. If he does, I will be able to baptize her in May.
2. On Wednesdays, I also continue to teach Toru things about the Bible.

1. Last Thursday I began to study with a new woman named Hiromi. However, after LST decided they wanted to take a trip to another city, she decided she wanted to go with them yesterday because our study was too difficult. Hopefully she will still be able to come next week.
2. I have also been unable to study with Setsuko the past couple of weeks because she has been sick and also had some other things that she has been busy with. We will begin to study again next week.
3. On Thursday nights, I have also been continuing to help Toru improve his English.

1. On Fridays twice a month, I attend the minister's wife, Jeanne's cooking class. I attended the one last week which consisted of the LST team teaching the ladys how to cook Argentine food.
2. I also picked up another new woman to start studying English/Bible with on Friday named Kaori. Every time I tried to start talking about Christianity though, she would always change the subject. Please pray that Kaori will be more open to talk about Christianity.
3. At night, I continue to teach my elementary students who are just crazy all the time. They really aren't interested in Christianity at all, but I hope that the seeds will at least be planted in their mind.
4. We also continue to have activities with Toru and his friends every other Friday. Last Friday we went to Karaoke.

Teaching my elementary students!

Me waiting to start Karaoke!

A few days before the 16th, a group of the students I study with at the college all decided that they wanted to get together to have a Bible Study. We ended up going to the church in Omika and having a study there with some other members of the Omika Church and spent time in fellowship, prayer, and encouragement. Before going to the church, we all went to have dinner together at a popular restaurant here in Japan known as Coco's. It is so encouraging to see how eager some of these students are to want to know more about God.

On the 17th, I went with Sayaka, the assistant to the Mito Board of Education to apply for my teaching visa. They said that I should receive it by next month some time if it processed. Please pray that this process will work out because it is very important that I get this visa to get my new job. That night, I was invited to come to an all Ibaraki college student youth lock in at Omika Church. However, I had previously been invited to go to an Oklahoma Christian Exchange Student Reunion type thing with the exchange students who went to OC last year. It was difficult for me to choose which one to attend, but I ended up attending the event with the exchange students and had dinner with them. While we were there, I discovered that they all paid for the option of being able to drink as much as they wanted. I ended up drinking water the whole night except for a glass of Calpis. Calpis is a fruity drink that is popular in Japan for kids to drink. However this lead to a lot of good conversation for ministry to tell them why I wasn't interested in drinking with them. However, after the amount of food I ate dinner and water I drank, it was definitely not worth $40. However, it was great to see everyone.

A picture we took before dinner. This is popular for Japanese girls to do before an event! They are called purikura!

The morning of the 18th, I held a Bible Study with a couple of girls at Starbucks with Cassie. One of the girls is a Christian, and the other one is not. My main purpose was to encourage the girl who is not a Christian because she is very active in the church. However, since she started working and finished college, she has found it more difficult to want to become a Christian. I ended up studying with her how great God's love was and that no matter how difficult things get, God will always still be there with his love. By the end of the study, she seemed to feel much happier and excited about things, however she still needs much more encouragement. Please pray that Miki may come to have the spark that she did when she was a student and that she can see God's love. After our study at Starbucks, the four of us walked around Mito and had lunch together. That night, Cassie and I came home to welcome our new Let's Start Talking team to Japan. It made for a long day, but it was still a lot of fun.

On the 20th, Cassie and I met with a couple of new friends Chip and Elise for dinner. Our main purpose was to start transferring the car I will be getting over into my name. It is a very tedious process because I have to fill out a lot of paperwork for it to submit to the police station. One of the most annoying parts of it is getting a parking place for your car. In Japan, when getting a car, you have to prove to the police that you have a place to park your car because people have such small property and they don't want any cars in the road. Once you find a parking space, you have to draw 2 detailed maps, showing where it is. The first map is a general map showing the the location of the property you will park it and the second one is a detailed map of where the parking spot is on the property you will park it. Then you have to draw that and give all of the measurements of the property and the parking space and all. I will be glad when this part is over.

On the 22nd, I went to take my driving test again after failing it and spending the entire day taking tests on the 15th. I ended up only having to stay at the driving place until 2 the second day I took it. Luckily, the guy that gave me the driving test this time was much nicer. I actually almost went into the right side of the road because in America thats how we drive. However in Japan, they drive on the left side of the road. However, I think he let it slide because I remembered to turn into the correct side of the road the whole test except for the last turn. I was so glad to finally get my license. I ended up taking a driving and written test to get it. The written part was in English and the driving was in Japanese. However, the English test was worded so weird that sometimes it was hard to know what they were asking. I am just thankful that I have my license in Japan now.

After getting my license in front of the test center!

Last Saturday, the 25th, we were supposed to have a work day at the church for repairing some stuff on the building. However, it ended up raining so we were not able to do anything. Nevertheless, it was just nice to relax and enjoy the rain. It also allowed me to talk to my parents some. That night, Cassie and I went out to dinner with one of my good friends Kota and his girlfriend. I believe I wrote about him in a previous post about being interested in Christianity because he thought it would help him get higher level job at Ibaraki Christian. We ended up going to El Toritos, which is the only Mexican restaurant in Ibaraki. Once we got our dinner, Kota asked if I would pray for it. I was so excited to know that he wanted me to do that. Before I came here, Kota had never really expressed any desire whatsoever in Christianity, but now it seems like he wants to know more. Please pray that I can reach him in some way to become a Christian.

On the 27th and 28th, Cassie and I had dinner with our friends Allen and Laura Thompson and Chip and Elise Riley. Because they are leaving Japan in April and returning back home after teaching English here for a few years, they are trying to get rid of some stuff from their apartments. Cassie and I have been more than helpful trying to get stuff from them for our own apartments so that we don't have to pay as much for stuff. Chip and Elise are actually the couple I am getting my car from that I mentioned earlier. While I cannot get the car until next month, I was still able to get a scooter from Chip on Monday so that I don't have to make the 35 minute bike ride to church.

The scooter I got!

Yesterday, I went to Toru's high school graduation. It was a lot different than an American graduation. They do the presentation of the diplomas at the beginning of the ceremony by calling at each students name and the student stands and says, "Yes Sir" after their name is called. They call each student's name based on the homeroom class that they are in. After each student's name is called, they have speeches just like we do that take a long time. After the ceremony is over, the students go back to their homeroom classes and then they are each presented with their diploma and diploma case. Overall, it takes about three hours for the whole thing to take place. After the ceremony, I went with Toru and some of his friends to eat lunch and Karaoke. It ended up being a lot of fun and then I came back to prepare for some stuff that I will be doing on Saturday. On Saturday, Cassie and I will host a Spring Sing party for all the students who have gone to OC and will watch Spring Sing together.

Toru and his friends!

Toru and I with his diploma!

Tomobe Church Minister Marlin Ray far right, Toru and Me after graduation!

Well thats what has been going on the past couple of weeks. Things have been getting crazy trying to get things ready for my new job and preparing to make the switch for that. Please pray that everything goes smoothly for me in this process. Also please pray for the LST team and the work they are doing for us in Tomobe and that it will be successful. Once again, please feel free to email me at if you have any questions. I love to hear from people. Thank you all for your support once again. May God Bless you all.