Saturday, January 3, 2015

Holiday Happenings

A lot has been happening these past few months!  So much so, that we couldn't squeeze it all into our most recent newsletter. In the Newsletter article, we told you about Jeremy's call to pastor All Nations Fellowship in Nagoya. If you missed that update, you can view it here. You might also like to click the subscribe link in the left hand column to start receiving our newsletters on a regular basis!  With language school now over, there will almost certainly be more variety in our updates moving forward!

Gina and Michiyo Sensei
In this post, we wanted to update you on recent family and ministry activities over the past 2 months.  I'll try to insert as many photos as I can dig out...

Gina and I have both been working with a language tutor this year.  Our tutor's name is Michiyo.  Since finishing at Yamasa Language Institute in September, Michiyo Sensei has been my primary language teacher.  She has been Gina's main teacher all year and even meets with each of our boys once each week.  Michiyo Sensei is a very kind and gentle lady who love Jesus.  She's a real blessing to our family!
Garrett and Friends

Gina with Yamamoto San and Kentaro

Every year, ICAN (the boys' school) puts on a big Christmas program.  It's always a special time for ICAN students and their families as we're reminded of the Good News of Jesus' birth.  This year was no exception.  To the left is a picture of Garrett and two of his buddies following this year's program.

Beneath that, you see a picture of Gina with our neighbor, Yamamoto San and her son Kentaro.  Yamamoto has become a good friend to Gina.  They often meet for tea, and Kentaro has begun attending Boys' Choir with Garrett.  This picture was taken after the Christmas program at ICAN.  Yamamoto San and Kentaro came to watch!

Next, is a photo of our good friends Shohei and Sawako Ueki and their children.  Shohei is an elder at All Nation's Fellowship (where I now pastor) and works on staff at Christ Bible Seminary here in Nagoya.  Their children attend ICAN with our boys and became quick friends with Garrett and Josiah.  Next year, Shohei is hoping to study at a seminary in the US.  We hope God makes that possible, but we'll certainly hate to see them go!

Shohei and Sawako Ueki's Family
Can you tell that Joshua is now taller than Jeremy?

The Nisshin Boys' Choir After their Christmas Concert

Over the last few months, Garrett has participated in a boys choir led by our teammates Tom and Teresa Wilson.  The boys met weekly to learn some Christmas carols that they sang at a concert at Christmas time.  It was fun to watch them improve and eavesdrop as Tom taught them about music alongside of the Good News of Jesus' birth.  Our friend Kentaro is also on the back row!  Tom also asked Josiah to accompany the choir on the piano.  He played as part of a duet in the song "Carol of the Bells".  We were very proud of  both our boys!

Josiah accompanying the Boys' Choir

Joshua in Action

Joshua has continued to practice at parcour, and he's really improved this year!  He's especially looking forward to this Sunday (1/4) when an international parcour team connected with the Billy Graham Association will be coming to Nagoya.  Joshua turned 16 in August.  He's now in 10th grade!

It's hard to believe that Josiah turned 13 last month.  That means, we now have TWO teenagers in the house!  For his birthday, we rented a room at a local "trampoline house" and invited several of his friends to come along.  Josiah has had a much better year during 2014.  Thank you for your prayers for him!

Josiah's Birthday Party
Gina made an OREO CAKE!

 Just before Christmas, we got an unusually big snow for our area.  It had melted by the next day, but we enjoyed a few snowball fights and built a pretty creepy looking snowman!

After Christmas, Jeremy and the boys spent a day skiiing in a mountain range about 1.5 hours from our home.  Skiing is is great (and relatively inexpensive) here in Japan.  The boys are getting pretty good!.

Seemed like an appropriate meal in Gina's absence- thanks to Costco!

For some time, Gina and I have been discussing the possibility of her visiting home for a few weeks.  An unexpectedly good rate on plane tickets made it possible for her to make a last-minute trip in late December.  She'll return in mid-January.  Until then, Jeremy is holding down the fort and learning how much his wife really does on a daily basis!

The following are a few other shots that didn't fit anywhere else:

 In November, Jeremy attended General Assembly in Tokyo.  This is a panoramic shot of the room just before the opening session.  Although I understood very little of the "formal" Japanese used in the meetings, it was good to be in a room with so many like-minded believers.  MTW missionaries from all over Japan also gathered during this time.  Our field has really grown, and there was a tremendous spirit of unity in those meetings.  God is blessing our field.  Pray for strong progress during 2015!

JPC General Assembly in Tokyo in November 2015
In December, our team (MTW's Church Planting Team) and the MTW Seminary Team (Christ Bible Institute) held a joint meeting to get to know one another better.  It was a sweet time, and we look forward to connecting more often in the future!

An "Icebreaker" at our meeting with Christ Bible Institute's Team
OK...that's not EVERYTHING that's happened over the past few months, but it certainly hits some of the high spots.  Thank you for your partnership with us to bring the Gospel to this part of Japan.  Many of you are old friends and beloved family.  Others of you are becoming that to us through your praying, emails, and cards.  We really do thank God for you.  The past two years have been some of the most challenging of our lives.  Thank you for standing with us.

May God get glory through us all during 2015!

Grace and Peace,

Jeremy, Gina, Joshua, Josiah, and Garrett