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