Monday, July 27, 2009

Inter High, here we come!

Yes I know... no pictures!?!
Just thought I'd let you know that John and I will depart at 3 A.M. ..yawn.. Wednesday morning, for Osaka and the big summer basketball tournament. I hope to have great things to tell you when we return!!!
Zack and his team left early Saturday morning and have had practice games and lots of training getting ready for the opening game on the 29th - 11:10 A.M.
This is the best of the best in high school boys basketball in all Japan... as long as you win you advance, one loss and it's over for you. We hope all the teams realize their accomplishment in making it here.
Any and all prayers for safe travel and for the boys to remain healthy, positive and to do their best are appreciated ;-)
Ian will stay here with work commitments and taking care of Ebony & Onyx and the house. So a prayer for him would be welcomed, too.
It's been a long and tough road and we look forward to what lies before us!
God bless you each one.

BBQ Baranski style

Bobby Flay's grillin' has nuthin on John Sensei's BBQ skills!
(if no one else gets that his daughters will ;-} )

John does some English classes in a nearby town for the children and friends of a doctor and his wife. They requested a BBQ for their clinic staff and the families of the students, so we went to work! They gave us the funds and left the shopping and menu to us. Pasta salad, garlic bread, chicken drummies, grilled pork, sausage links, and of course our favorite... beef brisket! and watermelon for dessert.

John Sensei - or as the kids called him this night - "Koku-san" (chef) - checking with the crowd to see what their favorites are.

And you can't have a summer BBQ without a few fireworks to end the event!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Japan in July 09

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
May your hearts and ours be filled with joy and love for our Lord and Savior!
60 people attended our annual March For Jesus in downtown Nagano. We walked through town and sang songs for about 2 hours. Please pray that God is using those songs still to open the hearts of some of those that heard the words.
We are just beginning the start of the summer vacation season here, and things in some aspects slow down a little, but in others get really busy. School vacation is less than 1 month, so everyone is busy trying to fit in as much as they can. For us, we try and continue with all our normal activities, but have to work around so many different vacation schedules. We add several events to work with the kids. During the first week of August we change our Tuesday English Bible Study to an outside park and a sausage cookout/bible study. In the past we’ve had a great turnout, but now the kids are getting older and the elementary schools all have required swimming and other activities during the summer, so many, many of our young families that have been attending are unable to this year as their children are now in elementary school. Pray with us that our attendance will be great, but most of all that those that attend will come with hearts open to His word. We will be doing the 10 Commandments for our study, with a great kids program put on by a young mom from our church.
The same week on Thursday we will be doing an English kid’s cooking class at the community center where we teach on Thursday’s. We anticipate about 32 attendees for the event. We always get to have prayer time during this event, so just pray that our hearts will be filled with His joy and the words we speak will be ones that His Spirit can use…This year we are cooking Mexican pizza (pizza using tortillas) one pot pasta and chocolate krispies for dessert.
The end of August we will host a Korean Gospel singing group two different times in our church. Last year they came Tuesday morning during our Bible Study and 60 people attended, this year we will be hosting them for a concert Friday morning, August 28th, and then again that evening. We are focusing on two different groups, so please pray for wonderful attendance for both concerts and that His Spirit will be able to use the songs, words and testimonies to open up the hearts of the non-believers that will come.
On Sunday evening August 30th we will be having our 5th Sunday sing. As always we ask for your prayers for good attendance, and also again that His Spirit will use these songs to strengthen all those that will join us.
Since there is so much talk going on now in the states about the possibility of changing the health care system, let me take a little time to explain how the system works in Japan. Everyone here must have insurance, including homeless people and of course people like us that are ‘registered aliens’. The cost is figured on your income so the more you make the more you pay. A little trouble here though because when your income is low, the cost is low, but it QUICKLY increases to make up for the lower income people. For instance in our case, two years ago we paid about $1,000 for our annual cost. It was divided into ten payments. Last year because of Zack’s school, we did more classes and our income increases a little, but our insurance cost went up to over $3,500. Now our income here is less than $20,000 per year, so that is over 15% of our income (before taxes or anything else) to pay for our insurance. So in some aspects (from a cost point of view) the system is good, since we pay by income, but then again, it is disproportionate to your income, with the higher income people of course paying more.
More important though is the type of care. I have the good fortune of teaching at the large hospital (Red Cross Hospital) in our town and have several doctors as well as one of the vice-presidents in my class. The trouble from their point of view is that the government sets all of the costs and prices. The hospital, as well as private doctors, can only charge a set amount for each service. All of the prices are set by the government and thus remain low. Because the fee structure is preset, the availability of doctors is terrible. Bro. Jeff at Bethlehem in New Albany just had a skiing accident, here he would receive emergency treatment, but when they saw that it wasn’t life threatening they would send him to the orthopedic section. When he arrived there it would take about 2 to 3 hours to make it to the desk only to find out that he needs an appointment and that the doctor’s are busy, but they could possibly look at him in the next TWO TO THREE WEEKS! Yes, that’s right, 2 to 3 weeks just to see the doctor! Now if that is not bad enough, to keep the costs down, equipment for MRI’s, mammograms, etc. are found only in the large hospitals. So Kim needs an annual mammogram, she first has to go to her doctor, who then sends her to the hospital. The hospital can not give her the mammogram until after they do a check-up, so off she goes, makes an appointment, then visits the doctor who sets up the appointment for the mammogram 2 or 3 months LATER!!!!! So in that aspect, I think that will be coming to health service near you. Here there is a lack of doctors and service. As everyone can receive treatments at a reasonable price, they go to the doctor for everything, so we have to be prepared to wait for many things.
Now if you are old here, you really have to look out….if you are old (over 70) the typical reaction is, ‘it’s part of growing old….it’s nothing we will treat….sorry’! So if you have arthritis, don’t worry about treatments….it’s part of growing old. Sore muscles, bad vertebrates, don’t expect treatment….it’s part of growing old!!!! It is really TERRIBLE and definitely not the way I want to be treated when I grow old. I see the same thing coming to you….the system here although it is cheap…is VERY, VERY POOR!!!!! Now you know my opinion on all that…
We trust God to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are vital to our being here. Please pray with and for us that we always strive to walk before God, wherever that may be, and be used as instruments of His love in all we do. Should God ask any of you to partner with us in our outreach for Him, please send any love offerings to: Bethlehem United Methodist Church, for Baranski John Alan Mission Fund, c/o Becky Wack, 1003 Rowan Cove, New Albany, Ms. 38652.
In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baba's gotta boast!

Are these not some of the most beautiful children!!?!?

We are so very blessed... so many ways!

What an honor to be the grandparents of 8 such awesome children!!

God bless and keep every one!

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All Japan Inter High - LET'S GO!!!!

July 29th opens the All Japan Inter High Basketball Tournament in Osaka...

Tokai Third will be there representing Nagano Prefecture!!!! GO TOKAI 3!!!!!!
We're so proud of them! They work so hard every day and it often amazes us the energy and drive they have to go, go, go! They're a really good bunch of kids.

On the 11th there was a parents meeting to get all the details about the tournament... the trip fee per boy (choke, gasp, cough!!!!B-R-E-A-T-H-E...), and a celebration of their accomplishment to be going.

They work so hard and eat so healthy most days - at least their dorm food ;-} -

I thought they deserved some sweet stuff! ...sorry Coach...

Watching them devour it was worth every moment in that hot kitchen!!!

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The Infamous DL Celebration!!

For those of you that recall the Saga of the Drivers License...

I told you before that it was indeed cause for celebration when John finally passed and was awarded his Japanese DL.

Some of our neighbors, and John's English students, who did a LOT to help out during the long process, threw John a "Congratulations!!!" party, complete with personalized and homemade decor and certificates.

They're a wonderful bunch and we are blessed to share their friendship.

Sarah has been attending John's classes with her Mom since she was just a few months old. She is very possibly his best example of what exposure to English conversation can accomplish! They are great friends ;-)

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Annual March for Jesus

As always, we gather in front of Nagano Station downtown, and offer a prayer before we begin.
There's always a crowd in this area since it's the center of downtown and we definitely get noticed!

We march the same route every year,

through the busiest areas of town, singing His praises.

Christian leaflets are offered to passers-by and there are always those few who seem to show genuine interest.

Always highly anticipated... the ice cream stop!!!
Mid way through the March we stop at a parking lot - formerly the site of the medal ceremonies in the '98 Winter Olympics!- and cool off and refresh our vocal chords with some ice cream!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jr. High Clinic

Well... first off I can't believe it's been 3 weeks already since I last posted!
Time does fly by!
We spent our Fourth of July at a local Junior High where the Tokai Third High School basketball team was putting on a clinic for four area junior high teams.

Thanking their "senpais"(meaning older than they and there to teach them what they know ;-} ) for coming.
They played some
basketball... and then -

some talk about how to train...
followed by

small group hands on instruction/demonstration.

Some did pretty good, while others lay on the floor in utter disbelief.

Not our typical 4th but a good day none-the-less.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

John Sensei

John is keeping busy as ever with his English classes and especially since adding the ones he does at our house.
This class is all kids from our neighborhood. A couple of the moms stick around for class and seem as interested (or more at times ;-} ) as thier kids.

He does 4 classes here on Wednesday evenings staring at 4pm and finishing up around 8:30. The first 3 are kids and the last one adults.

This is one is all boys(5 of them) and though they keep him busy they really are pretty great with their English with John!

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