Sunday, August 30, 2009

August in Japan

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
May your hearts and ours be filled with the joy and love that comes from our Lord and Savior! Speaking of having your hearts filled, we have been fortunate the last few Sundays to have a wonderful German couple visit our Sunday English service. They have just returned from 6 months in Africa, and thought a month or so in Japan would be a good way to unwind on their way home. The husband, Fred, is maybe the most filled person we have ever met! You cannot talk to him for over 10 seconds without him telling you about Jesus! He is so excited and so filled with God’s love that it overflows to all those that come in contact with him. Last Sunday they came and brought two lovely Japanese ladies who will come this Sunday for our 5th Sunday Sing and play the violin and flute for us. One is a Christian and one a non-Christian. One of the ladies has a handicapped daughter, and Carla, Fred’s wife, works to share God’s love with handicap children (their mission field in Africa) and told the lady about the love our church gives to Hikaru, the young special man that comes to our English service. So we pray that we can extend the same to their family. Unfortunately Fred and Carla are leaving, but we know that God’s Spirit is traveling with them both where ever they go. Please pray for their continued success as they give all they have to serving Him.
We’ve also had a new family from Canada join us. The mom is Japanese and will be giving birth to a new one in December and will be here until sometime in the beginning of next year. They presently have 2 boys and are a joy to have join us. Both the German couple and the Canadian family are here as Wwoofers! Joe and Sarah, an American family in our church have started farming and have enlisted the help of Wwoofers. For those of you who don’t know, the Wwoof stands for Willing workers on Organic Farms.
Wwoof Organization is a World-Wide Organization that allows individuals from all walks of life from all over the world to participate in an exchange program. The exchange is quite simple, the participant in the Wwoof program commits him/her self for a specific time to go and work on a farm, gaining knowledge from the variety of types of produce to the different management methods used on a particular farm. The host farm provides food and shelter in exchange for this help. As you can see it works, as it’s already brought people from Canada and Germany to our area to Wwoof it out!
We had a great beginning to this month with over 30 people attending our Outdoor Bible Study and Sausage Cookout! It was great and everyone had a good time. We presented the story of the 10 Commandments and showed them how so much of this country is affected by those early rules. Even keeping the Sabbath Holy as most Japanese people have Sunday’s off. One of my students father is a policeman and he was especially excited to learn that his father was affected by God’s laws. It is so wonderful to see the many ways that we can reach out to so many.
On the 6th we had a wonderful morning as 32, mom’s and kids, joined us for our annual Asahi kids cooking class. We try and do as much as we can in English, but of course the level of the students is very, very low, so Pastor Kitamura always helps us with Japanese. We are able to offer a long prayer time with this group, and John had the special privilege of having his lunch fixed by a young boy who has come to all FIVE classes! This will be his last year since he will be starting Junior High, but we gave him a special invitation to come back next year. Everyone had a great time making thin crust pizzas, one pot pasta and chocolate krispy treats. We had several of the mom’s ask about English classes at the community center, so we hope to be able to build some longer term relationships with some of them.
This coming Friday we will be very busy as we will be hosting the Korean Gospel Singing group, Ongijyani. This will be their 4th time to sing for us and they are amazing. The group that comes here will consist of 11 people, 6 young men and 5 ladies. In total the group in Korea consists of about 5,000 people that give up their time and talents and travel all over the world. They will be doing 2 programs at our church, one Friday morning and the other that evening. We will be providing food for them for lunch and dinner. The afternoon meal will be a sausage dog and pasta salad lunch that we hope many people will attend, while the evening meal will just be for the singers. We will have tea and cookies after the evening concert, but the group is usually quite tired and go back to where they are staying shortly after. Normaly the majority of people attending the morning session have been non-Christian, I think the same will hold true this year with the evening made up of mostly Christians. We pray that God’s Spirit will be strong for both events and bless the group as they will spend a total of 2 weeks in our area performing every day at different churches.
This Sunday we will have our 5th Sunday Sing, and hope to have a great attendance. As we talked about before, we hope to have the flute and violin join us, and our normal group also includes the piano (John), drums, bass and guitar. It is always fun and we look forward to it and enjoy the potluck dinner that follows.
We are all doing great. A little disappointment in Zack’s team as they lost in the 2nd round of the National Tournament to the Okinawa Prefecture champions by just a few points. In the opening game Zack had 33 points and 21 rebounds. He is doing so great and already 2 different universities have offered him scholarships to attend their schools, so we pray that he continues to grow and improve. We received a wonderful letter from his coach, not only telling us about his basketball, but most wonderful was the stories he told us about his everyday life and the great impression he leaves on others. We are so proud of him. Last week he played in the Under 18 All Star tournament. This is his second year to be the starter for our prefecture team and this year he was the nucleus. They played 3 games and I think Zack played all but a few moments. The team finished 2nd behind one of the top 4 teams in the country.
*Heather’s father-in-love has just begun chemo for stage 4 lymphoma so we ask for prayers for him and the family.
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.
We hold you each in our hearts and prayers with thanksgiving.
In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Monday, August 3, 2009

!! I almost forgot!!

John's birthday was last month...
several of his English class students gave him some gift to celebrate.
Of course they were all really nice and so much appreciated!
This one in particular was quite original!!!!!!
Knowing how much John (and I) love chocolate,

Kiyomi went all out and got chocolates with...
John's picture on the wrappers!!!
Too cool!!!

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Osaka Inter High 09

Game 1 tip off!
This was a great game! The kind we're used to seeing Tokai Third play.
They had a good team rythm going and played good.

Zack had a team-high 33 points for the game :-)
12 of 19-2 point shots; 9 of 10 free throws;
8 offensive & 13 defensive for a total 21 rebounds;
1 assist; 2 steals and 4 blocked shots;
playing 33.33 minutes of the 40 minute game.
They won 105 -75 !!!

So a little celebratory souvenir shopping after the big first game victory.

A little 'I am so proud of you hug' from his proud Poppa.
Then some 'senpai' advice for the first year team mates.
This was a happy day!!

Sadly the second day was not.
They started a bit slow but picked up quickly in the 1st quarter of game 2.
A good lead at half time.
But they weren't finding that rythm they usually have and their shots weren't falling.
They held on til the final 35 seconds but couldn't make a shot

and the other team did...

Unquestionably their toughest emotional loss yet.
Now they're back at school training hard for the next tournament.
Hold your heads high and do your best !!
Thank you all for your wishes and prayers.

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