Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The year is 2010...

The season is Christmas!

The Reason is Jesus!!

So in Jesus name, and in God's love we send greetings of great joy to all.

Christmas for us the last few years has changed quite a lot in comparison to how we spent the season in years past.

Some of that change brings joy and some tugs at our hearts. Sometimes a bit of both.

We grew accustomed to large gatherings to celebrate Christmas. With 6 children we had a fair sized group even before any extended family joined in. It was a special time and the memories are treasures.

Jump to the present -

With John, Ian, Zack and I in Japan, the other 4 children grown up and married with children of their own and living in three different states - we're creating new memories of a different kind...sort of.

Different in that we aren't all gathered under one roof in one location.

Same in that we all care and love one another and still feel all the warmth of that love and know that no distance can rob us of our being family so long as we don't let it.

So while I know I too often let too much time slip by in between contact with loved ones, I want to take this opportunity to let each of you know that I love you and miss you and no one else will ever take the place you individually hold in my heart.

The reality of my role as Mommee and Baba these days isn't what I ever dreamed it might be, but I have to believe it is exactly as God wants it to be, for now.

I miss not seeing you. I miss not being there for birthdays, anniversaries, first teeth coming in - and falling out - just spending time together. I still believe we can be close and create memories to be cherished in future days.

My Christmas gift to me is that I will do better from my end to be better for each of you.

I know with God at my side I can.

So smile big, jump with joy and have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

...another year

Only 25 days left in this year...
I know I've said this before, and it's true, this is certainly not how - in my younger years - I ever envisioned my days being in this stage of life.
That is not to say that how my days are is bad - just quite different than I thought in my past that they'd be.
Of course if I think far enough back... there was a time when I wasn't so sure I'd ever marry, or have children...and grandchildren...a whole other thing that then wasn't even in the running.
Fast forward a ways and with my sweet husband and 6 beautiful children the 'grandchildren' ideas were a big part of those thoughts of the future. Not that I was counting then, but surely if I had been I would've seen us with a nice comfy home where we'd be welcoming in our kids and theirs - 8 grandchildren :-) so far - for family BBQ's, holidays gatherings, baking and crafts and games....
         you know, the kind of things I remember doing with my grandparents! I love those memories.
Obviously, God has His own ideas. So I find myself often reminding me that His plans and timing are always the best. Admittedly easier to say than to feel sometimes.
Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weekends... it's tough not sharing those with all the family we have there while we are here.
Still, I know in my heart that here is where God wants us for this time. Though He doesn't have to, He proves it to us in tangible ways over and over again. Repeatedly we find ourselves in situations that for us look impossible to handle...right up until the moment when whatever is needed appears.
We still are concerned, get nervous - even a little edgy over things that we don't know the answers to. Yet we do not lose our faith and trust in God and His promises.

I would dearly LOVE to spend this Christmas season (or any group of days!) with all our family gathered together! That may someday be a physical reality. It's one of those things I dream about. Until then, whenever, wherever that may be - I do my best to focus and hold on to the joy and give thanks for the immense blessings God grants us every day in so many ways.
             Some days I'm pretty successful and some I slip and struggle with.

I am incredibly thankful for today's technology that allows us the opportunity to pick up a phone and hear the voices of family and friends on the other sides of the earth! To click a spot on a computer screen and be "in the same room" with them while we visit!      
We should do it a lot more often.

Today I'd just like to say that at Christmas when so many are looking for a sign that God still makes miracles happen - HE DOES!!!! We just have to open our eyes, our minds and our hearts and every day we can see that He is still a God of miracles!!! 

As this year winds to an end I pray that each of us will take the time on a regular basis to not only ask God to answer our requests, also to give Him praise and thanks for all that He graces us with  - and to help us be more aware of it all.
May each one truly experience the Greatest Gift this Christmas season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nagano in November

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!

It looks like the winter season, and with it the holidays are upon us! With the recent passing of Thanksgiving we have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. During last Sunday’s English service we took time to give thanks to God for our abundance that He has blessed us with. During that time I thought of you! How God has blessed us with so many wonderful family members, friends and neighbors that do so much for us each day. Most importantly we are so thankful for the abundant number of people that lift up prayers to Him each and every day. THANK-YOU ALL SO MUCH!

Here we don’t have the same type of Thanksgiving celebration. The 23rd of November is the national ‘Labor Thanksgiving’ holiday, but it is more a thanks for businesses than it is for anything else. In our town they have a large (lasting about 2 hours and close to 10,000 fireworks) fireworks display each year. They are all paid for by the different companies in our town and prefecture. It is always cold but we enjoy watching them each year. On Sunday the 28th, one of our members blessed us with a 22 pound ‘turducken’ that we prepared for the afternoon service. We had close to 20 people join us for our ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner. Probably for us the most difficult time of the year is the holidays. While many if not most of you are able to enjoy it with family, we can only be thankful that God has blessed us with children and parents that understand why we can’t be there. It’s been 2 years now for Kim and 6 for John since we have been able to return for a visit. It truly is the most difficult time. Luckily we stay very busy all the time and the end of the year is the busiest, so it helps to preoccupy us and helps keep the pain to a minimum.

On the 27th, we hosted over 30 parents from Zack’s basketball team to an American style BBQ. We are fortunate that our house is the old church, so we live in the upstairs and downstairs is mostly a large open space divided into several rooms. We have worked very hard in the past couple of years to clean it up (it was pretty much a storage area of STUFF!) and we’re so glad. With the cold weather we could easily seat about 40 people inside comfortably! Everyone had a great time and were so thankful for all of our work and effort. We had 7 layer bean dip, guacamole dip & jalapeno marinated smokies for appetizers; beef brisket, grilled chicken & sausage, pasta salad & onion shrimp salad and garlic toast. For dessert we had apple crisp! Everything turned out great and they are all looking forward to the next time we can gather together.

As we’ve told you before, sports here have no season, but they do stop for the seniors. This past weekend was the tournament for the ‘rookies’, meaning no seniors. Zack’s team easily won our prefecture again, and looks like they will continue to be the strongest in our area for at least the next couple of years. Zack and the other seniors are practicing harder than ever for their final tournament, the ‘Winter Cup’. It is held every year from December 24th until December 29th. There are 47 teams, with the winner from each prefecture invited. In our national Basketball Magazine, they had a good article about the tournament and some of the players. They had a grading system this year to rank different players. Each player was judged on 4 different categories such as shooting, defense etc. and in each category were 5 different things to be judged on, for example, shooting: 3 point, 2 point, free throws etc. Out of ALL the high school basketball players in Japan, our wonderful son was picked as the best ALL AROUND player!!!! We can’t be more proud of him.

December is our busiest month, with many different things going on. December 5th we have our community churches Christmas Party. This year the main program will be a young Korean Pastor that will be coming to sing and give the Christmas message. We usually have about 150 people attend, we hope this year will be the same.

On December 10th, John’s Monday ladies group will be having a Christmas party including their children. It is the first time we’ve done this and everyone is real excited.

On December 18th, we along with Mako will be having our annual Christmas party. Remember for Halloween we had over 180 people, so we are excited, but trying to keep our hopes reasonable as to how many people will attend. There are lots of conflicts with kindergartens and elementary schools this time of year, so we are praying for a good turnout. We always tell the Christmas story, and for many in attendance it will be the first time to truly hear why there is a Christmas.

On December 23rd we will be singing Christmas Carols at the main train station in Nagano City. We usually have between 50 and 75 people join us from different churches in the area.

December 24th starts with me having a Christmas party with a first grade class at a local elementary school that I volunteer at and that evening our candlelight service at the church.

Kim will have a chance at the 3 elementary schools and one high school where she teaches to share the true meaning of Christmas with all the kids. Here it is not forbidden to talk about Christmas, rather the schools almost beg you to tell them. So she will be looking at clever and cute ways to share the story with them. Please pray that His Spirit will lead her and guide her in the right way to help the children learn the true reason for the season. Here they don’t celebrate Christmas as it’s just another day, but all of the stores now decorate and sell Christmas items starting the 1st of OCTOBER! It is only a way to make money. Most kids receive 1 present, and everyone eats Christmas cake and fried chicken. At KFC you have to order 2 months in advance and have a reservation to get your chicken! The pickup time begins at 6 a.m. and continues at 5 minute intervals throughout the day! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Please pray that all of our Christmas activities can be used for His Glory!
By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to 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 praise and thanksgiving.

In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Monday, November 29, 2010


I can't even begin to list all that I have to give thanks for...truly! God blesses me daily in ways I could never dream up on my own. From the priceless gift of His sacrifice that I may be forgiven all my the family I am so richly blessed to be a part of. From the most enormous to the very least I want not to take any of it for granted.
Life is busy these days. Much busier in ways I never imagined for this season in my life. I'm thankful for those things that keep me active and going, yet am reminded that I need to keep it all in perspective and prioritize somewhat to make sure I don't not do some most important things in the midst of all that I do!
So if I've missed an opportunity to say "Thank you!","You're important to me." "I love you." "I miss you." "You're in my heart and prayers." or a multitude of other expressions of gratitude, please for give me and know that, as the saying goes, 'God isn't finished with me yet... I'm still a work in progress.'
I do give thanks and pray that each of you are blessed greatly. Be filled with all the love and joy God has prepared just for you!  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our October News

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!

BRRRR!!!! It is quickly changing to winter here and definitely our least favorite season. In Japan there is no such thing as central heat, so only some rooms in the houses are heated, and then by kerosene heaters! Because of the fumes and smell, usually the bedrooms are unheated. In our case we use THREE electric blankets! But often in the room the temperature is close and sometimes BELOW FREEZING! Wonder what to set your thermostat to this winter….try 45!!!!! That is a warm day in our house but we’ve all grown use to it, so can even sit around in shorts and tee shirts! The other buildings are the same, common areas go unheated and only the offices are warm. In the schools, classrooms have a gas heater, but quickly the teachers open the windows to let out the fumes. The hallways are unheated so as soon as you leave the room, you are FREEZING! It is normal for people here to wear not only a coat inside, but also sweaters and insulated underwear while watching TV!!!! It is definitely different!

To counter act the cold, all the houses usually have south facing windows to let in the winter sun and ALL schools face the south so the sun can warm the classrooms. On sunny days the outside temperature can be in the low 20’s but inside the school it is comfortable. In our lives we need to do the same! Aim our bodies (inside and out) towards His SON! What a warm feeling we can have each and everyday of our lives! So if you are facing troubles, problems, health issues or any other thing, maybe you need to turn yourself towards the Son! It will truly warm you through and through.

As I mentioned last month, we had a Halloween party on October 23rd. Mako and I work together on 4 events during the year, the Halloween party, Christmas party, Easter egg hunt and the Summer mini VBS! Each year we’ve been blessed with more and more people coming! This year at the Halloween party we had over ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY people attend!!!!! It was larger than we could imagine. Everyone had such a great time and are looking forward to the Christmas program. Of the 180 people, they represented over 60 different families of which NONE are Christians! NONE!!!! God is helping us build up their trust and friendship so they will accept the invitations we give for the other events that truly will allow His Spirit to talk to them. Please pray with us that all those in attendance will open their hearts to the wonderful love that He has for them.

Our Tuesday English Bible Study is doing really great, and although the number of people attending is down a little, the involvement is increasing. We presently have 3 members that have been coming for over 2 years and God is really speaking to them. We are just finishing up the book of Luke and their eyes are really opening to the love that God has for them. I think this year Christmas will have an entirely different meaning for them as they realize that not only was a baby was born, but what He was willing to give up as He left heaven to come dwell with us, and then offer the most wonderful gift of all when that baby grew and gave His life for the love He has for each of us. Please pray with us that His Spirit will truly open their hearts, minds and spirit completely to His wonderful gift!

Everyone here is staying real busy. Kim is doing great with all the school classes she has been blessed with and is doing GREAT! I think she is really enjoying the time that she gets to spend with the children. She is also having a great time building relationships with the teachers and staff at all the schools. She gets lots of opportunities to share her life and stories to others each week. I know that each student will get a wonderful blessing this year as they hear for the first time about the wonderful gift that was sent down from heaven at Christmas time. We are blessed that in the schools we can do almost anything we want except for praying. The schools are really open for Western cultural exchanges, so please pray that Kim and I will be led by His Spirit with the right things to say and do to really help to shine His light in the darkness that surrounds us.

Zack’s high school basketball is winding down as he only has the end of year tournament in Tokyo the end of December. His team qualified every year he has played, so they are all excited looking forward to their final one. In the under 18 all star tournament, our prefectures team finished 5th in the country. It was a great accomplishment for the boys and they all did so GREAT! In the qualifying tournament for the Winter Cup, Tokai had no competition in our prefecture! They won every game easily and in the final game they were up by FORTY EIGHT at half time! The second half was played using only next years team of 1st and 2nd graders! In the 8 games they played they averaged over 130 points per game and limited their opponents to less than 40! An average winning margin of close to 100 POINTS! They truly are one of the top teams in the country. Zack was chosen MVP for the tournament and is now enjoying a less busy schedule as most of the practice is devoted to the new players. He went last weekend to watch the college team that he will be playing for this coming spring, and is looking forward to his next challenge.

This coming Sunday we will be having our 5th Sunday Sing, so please pray that God will use this event to strengthen and encourage all those in attendance. We will be having a potluck dinner following so please pray that we will have some non-Christians attend that we can encourage as well.

Cooking and eating is a large part of the worship service in this country and usually a meal is provided after every service. We cook 4 times a month (Yes, every Sunday) for either the morning or afternoon service or for a special potluck. This month it will be 5 times, I am so glad that God always blesses us with the ability to make delicious and bountiful foods to share with all that come.
By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to 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 praise and thanksgiving.

In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Monday, October 25, 2010

American Homestay...Japan style !?!

Last month (Sept.) I got a call from a friend, Becky, here in Nagano who is university English professor. She's been in Japan more than 20 years and does her best to befriend all who cross her path and goes out of her way to help out in any way she can.
One of her 4th year students, Keiko, soon to graduate, was searching for a family to do do an English homestay with. She wanted to go to the states... but time and $$$ made that impossible, so... she wondered about doing a "mini-homestay" with an American family - in Nagano City!
We talked a little and realized that in our overbooked schedules we both had time to make it happen thanks to the weekend and a calendar "red" day (Japanese holiday). So I gave Keiko a call and we scheduled her homestay with us from the 16th -21st!
Her first night with us we grilled homemade hamburgers outside :-)
*contrary to the look on John's face they were DELICIOUS!! The camera caught him as he was making some comment ...
The next day we made soft tacos for lunch and shared with the ladies that normally have Friday free-talk lunch time with John.
That evening we were going to our neighbors so John taught Keiko how to make rice krispie treats. We took some to share and the rest went to Zack the next day ;-)
We took her to watch the basketball tournament and deliver the snacks when she met Zack.
On Sunday Keiko joined us at both the morning Japanese worship service and the afternoon English service that John leads.
It was a short stay but we enjoyed it and think she did, too!
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God is in everything!

I'm very aware that there are many Christians who do their best to ignore Halloween, and I believe that is their prerogative.
I also remember what a fun time it was when I was a kid ... costumes, trick-or-treating, decorations... and safe!!
So I feel it's a personal choice for families whether or not they acknowledge October 31st as something to participate in.
I found this somewhere in the vast space that is the internet and thought it was worth sharing. I don't particularly think you need to cut the shapes they suggest but I do think the prayer is really nice for making it a positive activity.

Pumpkin Carving Prayer

This is a great way to put a little Christian in Halloween.

Dear God,

As I carve my pumpkin help me say this prayer:

Open my mind so I can learn about You;
(Cut the top of the pumpkin)

Take away all my sin and forgive me for the wrong things I do.
(Clean out the inside)

Open my eyes so Your love I will see;
(Cut the eyes out in heart shapes)

I'm so sorry for turning up my nose to all you've given me.
(Cut a nose in the shape of a cross)

Open my ears so your word I will hear.
(Cut the ears shaped like the Bible-rectangles)

Open my mouth so I can tell others You're near
(cut the mouth in the shape of a fish)

Let Your light shine in all I say and do! Amen.
(Place a candle inside and light it)

Monday, October 4, 2010

September News from Nagano

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!

WOW! Can you believe how fast time passes? It seems like just yesterday it was so hot, and today we are already having temperatures with highs only in the low 60’s. It makes us even more aware of the urgency in doing His work of helping others to know about the wonderful gift He has for everyone. We never know when the time will come when we are called home, so it is so important to share His love with as many people as you can each and every day. In our Tuesday Bible study group we have several members that are really feeling His presence in their lives and we pray that God will break down those final barriers that keep them from turning their lives over to him. One of the most interesting members is an ex-student of John’s who started to come 3 years ago during summer vacation from his English lesson. This man is 85 years old! But is so strong and healthy! His troubles come in his long life as a Buddhist. He still is in charge of the English volunteer tour guides at our local LARGE Temple. His heart is changing each week, and he asks so many questions. We are now studying Luke-chapter 24 and the resurrection story is really starting to make sense. We ask you to please pray that he and the other non-Christian members will open up their hearts and minds to His Spirit and accept the wonderful gift that is waiting for them.

September 5th our friends from Korea came and sang at our church for the English service. We had FORTY people attend! YEAH! Please pray that God will open up the hearts of those that attended and if Christian strengthen them to share His love with others, and those non-Christian to soften theirs to open up to His wonderful LOVE! Also pray that the group will continue to have the fire burning inside their hearts to share His message throughout this world. They travel to so many different places, the group that was at our church will leave Japan and head to the Northeast part of the United States to share His love with Korean Churches in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

September is a busy month for families that have elementary school or kindergarten students. Kindergarten runs for 3 years from age 3 to 5 with elementary school starting at age 6. During September almost every school has an all day ‘Sports Festival’ or Undokai as the Japanese call it. The school is divided into 2 teams, a white team and a red team. Each child wears a hat according to his or her team. The day starts out with an opening ceremony where the children challenge each other and sing a cute fight song that ends up with both teams telling the others we are the BEST! It is always fun to watch. Each child competes in many different types of events. Depending on your class you will be running a race against 5 others. 3 from each team. The members are determined by their speed so each child has a chance to win in his heat. The length of the race depends on the age of the kids with 1st graders running about 100 yards and the 6th graders running about ½ mile. The climax of the running is a relay race with 1 child from each grade competing on 2 different teams. The fastest kids are chosen and it is a real EXCITING race. The kids practice for almost 2 months to make sure the baton handoff goes off without a drop. The total distance of the race is about 1 ½ miles so it takes about 8 minutes from start to finish.

Beside the running events each class participates in some kind of fighting game. Of course they are all fun, but to us, also so dangerous! It is hard to describe some of the games as they seem so crazy to us, but I will try. One is the bamboo pole tug. The size of a football field is used with 9 poles laid at the midfield stripe. The teams line up at opposite ends of the field, and at the whistle they rush out and try and take a pole back into their end zone. Usually half of the poles are quickly taken, but the remaining poles have 20 or more kids pushing, pulling and even hitting each other to gain control. The winning team is the one that has the most poles. Another game is using a tall pole, there is a ball at the top (about 15 feet up) that the boys have to reach. The first one to touch it is the winner! As they try to climb, the other boys fight to pull them off or fight to keep the opposite team away. Yes it seems dangerous, and YES it IS!!!! But everyone seems to enjoy it. Of course they have the normal tug of war and other games. At the end of the day the 5th and 6th graders do a big display of gymnastics that is always amazing. Every year there are many scratches, bruises and even broken bones but the kids all enjoy it so much.

What really makes this even so great is the family participation. EVERY parent attends! They come early, have lunch together and spend all day rooting and cheering for their kids teams. It is always a great and wonderful day for all people involved.

Here there aren’t the Friday night football games, or other team sports that the area gets behind, so the ‘Undokai’ is one of the best. In October most communities have a community Undokai where all the members participate. They have games for the very young to the grandparents in the community. It is a great day filled with games and friendship.

With fall season here, we are all so busy. Both of us are busy with our classes, seems like we both keep getting either new students or new classes so we are really blessed. We will be having a Halloween party on October 23rd, to help build up the trust and friendship of our students and their families. Now some of you look at Halloween as a bad holiday, we look at it as a way God helps us show His love to our students and people that we are reaching out to. They view it as Western culture that they want to enjoy. So please pray for a good turnout and that Mako and we can really shine His light throughout that day.

Next week we will be following Zack as he will play in the National Under 18 championships near Tokyo. This will be his 3rd year to be the starter for our Prefectures All-Star team. We hope that the boys can go all the way this year, so everyone is excited. We are though, one of the smallest teams in the country for this tournament, so the boys will all have to do their best.

By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to 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 praise and thanksgiving.

In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


(-: Just had to say it :-)
Every day more!
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Just because :-)

Every year in August, Nagano City hosts a huge festival on the streets
in the main downtown area between the train station and the temple.
We joined some friends and went to wander and watch the festivities.
The shop where Ian works is right in the middle of it all so we popped by to say 'Hi' .
And since there are so few times when I get a picture with him I couldn't resist including it here...
...just because!
Isn't he a cutie!
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Bible Story Sausage Cookout 2010

The 10th of August we were back at the small riverside park for this years Bible Story and sausage cookout.
72 people joined in this year and we even had a few Dads come along with Mom and the kids this year!
It was great to see them join the activity, especially on a week day morning!
God blessed us with wonderful weather for the event
and as usual John starts out with some English activities to get thier attention and get things started.
The story this year was 'Jonah and the Whale'.
John read the story - bit by bit - in English,
followed by Pastor Kitamura reading the related verses in Japanese from the Bible.
Then Naoko would tell it for the kids using the awesome props she and her husband created from their family print shop.
After the Bible story the kids played a few games to work up their appetites while John got the sausages done on the grill.
Every year we have sausage dogs and tuna noodle salad and every year we hear how good the food and fun the story time were.
God IS good!
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Annual Kids/Moms Cooking Class

On August 5th, the day after returning from watching Zack's team take third place honors in Okinawa, we led the annual cooking class for elementary kids and their Moms at the local community center where John teaches every Thursday afternoon.
As has been the case every year we had a full house!
You can see,
they're very serious about thier cooking
with all their aprons and head covers ;-)
And since it is an "English" cooking class John starts out the morning with some English songs and questions for the chefs-to-be.
The menu this year was grilled cheese sandwiches, potato chip salad and fruit cocktail cake.
Everyone had lots of fun preparing the meal and more eating it!
Yes.. it was HOT in that room and John's shirt shows it!!!
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 2010 news from Nagano

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!

We hope and pray that the heat you are all experiencing this summer is coming from the love of His Son that is burning deep inside of you! A fire that won’t go out! Please help spread those flames to all you meet each day.

We told you last month that as we were finishing the newsletter we were off to watch Zack compete with his classmates in the National Tournament. We have wonderful news to report…Zack and his team finished in the TOP FOUR of all the teams in the country. They lost in the semi-final game to the eventual National Champions. They played a total of 5 games and Zack averaged 26 points and 19.5 rebounds per game. Now you might say, the Japanese are too short…so easy for him, but Zack plays center and in all but one game he was 4 to 6 inches shorter than the other teams center. The boys, and the coaches goal has always been to reach the top 8 in the tournament, but have never gotten past the top 16 round and then reached it only once. In the top 16 round this year, their 3rd game, Zack got hurt in the 2nd quarter with about 2 and ½ minutes to go. He pulled one of the ligaments in his left knee and tore the muscle in his upper thigh. He came out of the game and his team quickly gave up 12 points to the other team. At half time one of the mothers (luckily a professional masseuse) gave him a massage that really helped. He played all the second half even though he was limping badly, and ended with 30 points and 22 rebounds! He said he never felt the pain, but was only worried about making their goal. His heart was so big. The tournament is continuous with no rest days, so that night and next morning more massage and off they went for the top 8 games against one of the top teams in the country. The boys played great and Zack was able to rest the last 5 minutes of the game as they had built up a huge lead. He ended with 38 points and 25 rebounds. The next morning was the game to decide who would play in the national finals. The boys were so excited and got off to a great start. At about the 3 minute mark Zack took a knee in the left thigh that was where the torn muscle was. The hit took him down, and was very difficult for him to get up. He told the coach he was OK, but you could see that he could hardly walk. He played the entire 40 minutes of the game. The opposing center is a large boy (6’9) from Senegal in Africa and is a very strong player. Because going into this game Zack had been averaging 30 points, every time he touched the ball 3 players converged on him. With his weak left leg he was unable to spin or move, so his offense was limited to only 13 points, but even barely able to walk, he still struggled for 19 REBOUNDS!!!! His team couldn’t over come the overall size and speed of the other team and lost the game, but not without a great fight! We are so proud of all the boys and their efforts, but of course of our baby! He is now considered one of the top 5 players in the COUNTRY!!!!! We can’t be more proud and thank-you all for your prayers and support for him and all of us.

A wonderful benefit of his achievements is that during the tournament Kim and I were interviewed by one of the National Sports Newspapers and our picture and story about our work as missionaries was told. So even though you may think that Zack’s basketball has no spiritual purpose, God can use anything and everything to help us bring Him honor and glory.

Our mini VBS outing was a HUGE success! On Tuesday morning August 10th we met outside at a local park to tell the story about Jonah. We had SEVENTY TWO people show up! All of the children were accompanied by either a mother and in several instances by father’s, too. Of the 72 people, that attended, only 8 are Christians!!!! So praise God that so many would come out in the heat of the summer to learn more about the wonderful love that God has for each of us. All of the members are either our students or Mako’s. If you remember, Mako is our friend from Singapore that first came to join us in our Tuesday morning Bible Study, then joined our Sunday English service, got baptized and now share’s God’s love where ever she can. We do 4 parties a year together, with 3 (Christmas, Easter and mini VBS) with Christian messages, at Christmas we put on the Christmas play, Easter we use the ‘Resurrection’ egg kits to tell the story and during the mini VBS we choose a different story each year. Our last party is only for fun and to build up the trust and friendship of both the students and the parents at Halloween. In all 4 parties we do the main events in the morning followed by a lunch we either cook or provide. We ask that you continually pray for all the people that attend these events, and all of our students, that His Spirit will talk to them and help to open their eyes to the wonderful gift of love that God has for each one of them.

On September 5th we will be hosting the Korean Gospel Singing Group, Ongijyani for our afternoon service. This will be the 5th time they have come to our church. The group is made up of about 10 Korean’s that volunteer to come to Japan to share their love for the Lord. They will be in the country for about 1 month. The group in Korea has about 250 members that practice constantly and different groups travel all over the world singing and praising God. They are so wonderful. We look forward to them coming each year and ask for your prayers that the time that they are in the country they can touch many, many hearts and God’s Spirit will open up the hearts and minds of many people during their trip.

Kim and I are both staying busy reaching out to as many people as we can each day, and God continually gives us new avenues to explore. We ask that you continually pray for our strength to continue and His Spirit will become alive in all we do.

Bo’s father went to be with the Lord the end of July. We thank you all for your prayers and support for Bo, his father and their families. We also want to especially thank those in New Albany that either visited the funeral home or attended the funeral. Bo thought only about 20 people would show up for the visitation, but well over 100 people came to pay their respects. It really touched not only his, but also Heather’s heart. So a special thanks from us to all of you that helped in their time of need.

By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to 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 praise and thanksgiving.

In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What a TRIP!!!!!! BEST 4 in ALL Japan high school basketball!

The Tokai Third boys basketball team went to the Okinawa Inter High Tournament as Nagano prefectures best and came home as one of the BEST 4 in ALL Japan!!!! Beaten only by the national champion team at the tournament.
A celebratory hug with the assistant coach after winning to make the top 8.
A tad nervous maybe as they prepare for the starting team introductions before the semi final game.
...Though their faces don't reflect it...
 with their Best 4 medals hanging around their necks!
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Monday, July 26, 2010


Hi folks!!
Yes, I do realize that every post I make begins with..."I'm soooo far behind..."
I've concluded that behind is preferable to non-existent ;-}

Zack and the Tokai 3 team left early this morning for Okinawa and the All Japan Summer tournament. They'll have practice games today, tomorrow and Wednesday, and the opening ceremony. Their first game is the afternoon of the 29th....GO TOKAI 3!!!!!!

John and I ...and a swarm of others from all across Japan, will converge on Okinawa the 28th to cheer on our respective teams. We would ask for your prayers for safe travel, good health and games without injury. Obviously, every team goes with big hopes and dreams. We pray that they play to the best of their ability, have fun, and be proud of their accomplishments.

We hear the daytime and nighttime temps in Okinawa are basically the same -- HOT!! We're hoping the gyms there - unlike here - are condition controllable!

Here's to believing we'll return from the tournament with great memories and happy news to share with you!!

Ian will remain in Nagano for work and watch over the house and the dogs while we're away. He's planning a little BBQ for friends so we pray that goes well and the neighbors don't have any grumps.

Most of you have heard of Bo's Dad's cancer and it is in the final stages. He's suffering greatly and of course it's so very hard on the family to witness. Please pray for God's peace, strength and comfort for each of them as they go through this and for the healing in the days to come.

Take care and drink lots of water!!!! It's HOT out there!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June news from Nagano

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior from half way around the world. Isn’t it amazing, how vast this world of our is, yet how close we can all remain. Even more amazing is how present God is throughout this world. It is so wonderful to know that all of our family, all of our friends, all of our acquaintances are always watched over and protected by HIM!

This month we are so amazed at His power as we see it working through our son-in-love and his family. Those of you who know Bo, know what an exceptional young man he is. For those of you who don’t you have to just trust me, Bo would not want me to say something that would single him out. We have told you all about the cancer that is eating up his father. Unfortunately it is winning and God will soon be celebrating the arrival of a new child into his heavenly kingdom, as a few months ago Mr. Hefner asked Jesus to be Lord of his life. When Heather and Bo first new about his father’s illness, they longed to be closer where they could help out. Bo is in the Air Force so had limited options, but with God, thankfully nothing is IMPOSSIBLE!!!! They found out about a ‘recruiter’ position that would be opening up in Tupelo, Mississippi only 20 minutes from where his father is. Bo applied for the transfer, hoping the position was still open, he got accepted to the training school in San Antonio, passed at the TOP (YEAH BO) of his class and is now heading to TUPELO! God is SO GREAT! Now I wish that was the end of the story, but the part of me that always cries when I think of Bo, is the incredible love he has for his family. When we first met him (sorry Bo, I’m going to say a little) he was in high school and we didn’t think much of him. He had dropped out of school when he was 15….we could only think, YUCK what a low life. Then our daughter (OH NO!) fell in love with him. What should we do…we want so much for her, and she is in love with BO!!!! We didn’t know what an INCREDIBLE young man he is. We saw only what we saw, not the WHOLE STORY! I am sad to say that probably all of us have done the same. BO, we are SO SORRY for our original judgment. You see, we found out later that the reason he dropped out was to work to SUPPORT HIS FAMILY! At this time his mom and dad had undergone many troubles, and not working, this young man stepped up and sacrificed his life for his parents!!!!! It wasn’t long before he knew that without an education he couldn’t truly provide for all of his family’s needs, so he went back to school and continued working full time. Now for most people that would be enough, but he also enrolled in the high school Jr. ROTC program, with his eye on the future.

He has done so GREAT! He has gotten so many accommodations and awards. Constantly at the top of every class he is in and now soon to be a RECRUITER! Now throughout all of this, it would be normal for us as humans to have harbored some painful memories of dropping out of school, having to work so hard to provide for his mom and dad, especially since his dad was capable, but sadly wasn’t working. It would be easy to hate this person, to begrudge him for the opportunities that may have been lost, yet our wonderful son-in-love posted this in his facebook: Charles Hefner Keep my dad in your prayers, awhile back they gave him the 6 weeks to 6 months diagnoses, now he's headed to emergency room in Tupelo(fell messed up the leg that was ate up with cancer)...A strong man a year ago now to this....still my hero in his weakest moment!!

Can you believe it, a man who robbed him (my thinking) of his childhood, STILL HIS HERO!!!!!! BO, you are an INCREDIBLE witness of Jesus’ love to all of us! Thanks so much for all you do, not just for our daughter and grandsons, but all those you meet each day.

Of course we are so proud of him, and we are not sharing this wonderful story just so we can pump up our chests, but just the opposite. To share with you how unfortunate it is that we too often jump to our own conclusions about people. 8 years ago if we could have chosen, Bo wouldn’t be a family member, luckily for us…God was (and IS) in control and not us! We have never felt more blessed than to have such a remarkable young man as our son-in-love! THANKS BO!!!! We love you!

We had a wonderful end to May with over 50 people joining in for the March for Jesus. We spent about 2 hours walking and singing throughout our downtown area. That night we returned to church for our 5th Sunday sing and it was a glorious day. On June 23rd was the annual ladies luncheon, this year over 270 ladies attending. The talk was given by Mrs. Sakie Yokota whose daughter, Megumi, was abducted by North Korea over 30 years ago when she was 13 years old. She has never been returned and only has limited information about her. Throughout her ordeal, she felt a presence that was giving her peace. It was then that she discovered God’s amazing love. She became a Christian during the process and gave a wonderful testimony during her talk. Over half of the ladies in attendance are non-Christian, so please pray that His Spirit will talk to each of them.

It seems like our family, immediate and extended is suffering from a multitude of ailments. Please pray for all of them, especially Bo’s Dad and mine, Kim’s Aunt Ruth and Ben’s grandmother. We are always so grateful for all of your prayer support.

We have many dear friends that are suffering from different conditions and ask us to pray for them but not use their name. We respect their position, trusting God knows each one individually and specifically,so please pray for the souls and bodies in need here and there.

By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to 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 praise and thanksgiving.

In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch

Thursday, June 24, 2010

...time marches on...

Hi folks! As usual, when I do at last sit down to do this it's been soooo long
I can't even think where or what to begin with.
Life is full... and that's a wonderful blessing,
even in those moments when I have to remind myself of that fact!
June has been no exception to our busy days.
Ian turned 21 the 2nd of this month!!!! Honestly! 21!! No big extravagant celebration. As Ian put it, it's just not a big deal here. In Japan 20 is the "coming of age". I did make him a birthday cake and his Dad and I got to treat him to a yakiniku viking lunch (meaning all-you-can-eat-bbq-it-yourself-buffet with all the trimmings and dessert).
After a stint in Tokyo Ian is back with us in Nagano and back working at the clothing shop,
For now...

The 4-6th was the prefecture (state) high school sports tournaments. Tokai Third boys and girls basketball (along with a few other of their sports) are the champs and will be representing Nagano prefecture in the all Japan summer Inter High tournament!! WOOHOO!! Zack will have been a part of that all 3 years of his high school sports! This year it will be held in Okinawa, July 28 - Aug.3, - exciting, huh?! And... E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E!!!!

The summer tournament is always high cost and though we understand the concept that they go to a different area every year to try to even out the travel for all, when it goes to Hokkaido, Kyushu or Okinawa it gets pretty crazy. For many reasons. It starts right after summer vacation season begins so all the prices of everything go UP. It's a lose-and-you're-done deal so you really have no idea how long you'll want/need to be there - which when you have to make fight reservations/hotel reservations/daily transportation reservations - is pretty ridiculous, especially when you factor in the cancellation fees you have to pay if you want to duck out early!

So as thrilled as we are that they are going!, in all honesty it's a tad tempered by the hassles and expense. Still, we know God always has a plan and this will be no exception :-)
The Tokai Third High School Basketball Champs!!!! GO TOKAI 3!!!!
With this being a Fri-Sat-Sun tournament, John went Friday while I worked, we both went Saturday and I went Sunday while John worked. I was excited that Ian decided to join me - he rarely gets to watch Zack play. I was even more excited when after the game I got a picture of them together!! Yahoo!! Big event in this Mommee's life!
So here they are... our two baby boys ;-}

This month was also the annual church visit to the cemetery to clean things up a bit, sing some hymns and offer some special prayers. Many of you may remember last year when a young woman in our church here who was suffering severe depression took her life. There was a special visit with her family to their site to remember her. It's been a very difficult road for them and they are doing much for others in this area by ministering through their personal experience.

This month also brought the life celebration days for my Dad, 80 mighty fine years, and our grandson, Charles, 6. Heather, Charles and Will have been hanging out with Granny and Gramps in Texas while Bo's been in rrecruiter's school at Lackland AFB. He's just finished and as always graduated at the top of his class! They'll soon be moving back to Mississippi to be closer to Bo's Dad, who is in the final stages of a long trek against cancer. It's been a really rough road but God has done some amazing works along the way.

John is as busy as ever with all his church related activities, English classes and volunteer time. I'm working (outside of home) more than I have in a good long while. I teach one day a week at an elementary school - about an hour and a half from here - one day at a local high school, and three different classes on Wednesday afternoon/evening/night. For the most part it's being a good experience and God provides many things in ways we never imagine. That, we learn more by the day, is His rule, not exception :-) He is so good!

After much too long a break... John and I have started back to our daily walks with Ebony & Onyx (the two black labs we adopted a couple..3? years ago).  Four of our neighborhood friends are walking with us most days and this week one of the lady's 3rd grade son, too. We walk every morning from 5 -6am! (John and I, rain or shine, the others occasionally take a rain day ;-}) Some mornings 4:30 seems to come earlier than others but we are feeling the benefits, as well as few aches and sore muscles here and there, so keeping at it. We get home, shower, do our bible reading, devotionals and prayer time, have breakfast, get the laundry hung out - usually all before 8am! Cool!

This Saturday we're invited to join 4 families - all John's students and neighborhood friends - for an overnite camp-out as a pre-farewell to the Enomoto's. They were our first new neighbors when all the new homes went up in place of the rice fields and he is being transferred back to Tokyo  the end of the summer. We'll really miss them and they'll have quite an adjustment back to "big city" life. By the pre-camp discussions/plans this could be quite an experience. John and I get the impression that their ideas and ours on what 'camping out' is could be rather different. Maybe a story in a future post...

I know there's more, but don't want to do an overload!
So take care, be joyful and walk always before God!
May His grace and blessings fill your lives. 


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May Musings

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
Greetings to all of you as we celebrate the arrival of SPRING! Yes, it is finally here. The weather is warming and now the trees on the mountain side are fully leaved out and the many wonderful spring flowers are in full bloom. This country is so beautiful in the spring as the many different plants and trees bloom for a period of about 2 months. So every week there is a new thing to marvel at. Have you ever wondered why? That’s right, why did God make it that flowers bloom throughout the year? Here we have a sequence with the fruit trees, first the wild plums, then the apricots, the regular plums, the cherries, the pear, the peach and finally the apple. There is only a very short overlap time between when one tree stops blooming and the next one starts. Is that necessary? Couldn’t all the trees, bushes and wild flowers all bloom at the same time? Why did our Awesome God create them to bloom at different times? I have an idea, look at some wonderful bible verses: Ezekiel 20:6 On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. In so many other verses God paints us pictures of that promise of land flowing with milk and honey. To God honey has a special meaning. A sweet food that has so many different meanings. A food that not only is sweet but so delicious. Mark 1:6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. WOW, wild honey that sustained his life. Do you know what is the only food that doesn’t spoil? Yes, you’re right, it’s the same food that God promises will be flowing when we reach the promise land. Honey, the ONLY food that never spoils! So to me, honey maybe is one if not the most important natural food that we have. How then is honey made? I know, you know, the little ‘bee’. The mighty worker that never stops. So is the reason for our year long blooming of flowers for the little bee? Let’s look closer at this creation: The honeybee is very popular. It has been adopted by at least sixteen states as the state insect. They live in hives or colonies. A small hive contains about 20,000 bees, while some larger hives may have over 100,000 bees. Hives include one queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of worker bees. The worker bees are female but they do not breed. The queen bee is female and creates all the babies for the hive. The drone bees are male and do not have stingers.
Bees communicate with each other about food sources using dances. The sounds from the movement of the bees is picked up by the tiny hairs on the bee’s head. bees use the sun in navigation.
The workers collect pollen and nectar from flowers. The pollen is used as a protein source and the nectar is an energy source. Some of the pollen lands on the pistils of the flower and results in cross-pollination. This is important for some crops and flowers. This relationship between the plant and the insect is called symbiosis. WOW, we need bees to also help other crops GROW!, not just to make honey. Those little bees are actually what is allowing fruits and some vegetables to grow and mature!
Bees turn the nectar into honey. Workers must visit over four thousand flowers to make just a tablespoon of honey!!!!! FOUR THOUSAND FLOWERS for just one tablespoon. It truly is God’s creation!
Now you may think you have much more information about the bee than you need, but next time you are driving, and are amazed at the wild flowers, the flowering trees and bushes growing wild in nature, remember how God has a perfect plan for ALL THINGS! Nothing is happening by accident, or co-incidence, our Lord has control over ALL THINGS! He is indeed an awesome God!
This month we will have our annual ‘March for Jesus’ downtown on May 30th. We gather at our main train station and walk throughout town singing 4 or 5 different Hymns. We walk for almost 2 hours singing and praising God. It is a wonderful site watching us go through town and the reaction of passers-by and shoppers. Many of the local merchants come out of their shops to listen. Please pray that the songs and joy that we have, His Spirit can use to open up the hearts of some of those that these songs will be heard by. Remember our community is only 0.35% Christian, so your prayers are ALWAYS needed, meaningful and welcomed.
On the same day of the March For Jesus, we will return to our church and celebrate our love for our Savior with our ‘fifth’ Sunday sing. We invite both our morning and afternoon service members to come together and for one hour lift His name up through songs. Our morning praise band (we’re small, only 3 of us, drums, bass and piano) provides the music and we sing songs in both Japanese and English. It is always a wonderful time followed by a potluck dinner.
We are staying busy as ever. This week Kim helped out one of our members with some child care, which took her to Tokyo for the day. Ian has returned home and is now looking for work in our area. Zack is as always busy with school and basketball. Kim and I are both teaching more all the time and I have just started my second landscaping job. With the difficult economical times many are facing in the states, the amount of our monthly support has gotten much smaller, but our Lord has continued to find ways to support our ministry here. He is indeed an awesome GOD!
It seems like our family, both ours and extended is suffering from a multitude of ailments. Please pray for all of them, especially Bo’s Dad and mine, Kim’s aunt Ruth and Ben’s grandmother. We are always so grateful for all of your prayer support.
We have many dear friends that are suffering from different ailments and many ask us to pray for them but not use their name. We may not agree with that but respect their position, so please pray for the souls and bodies in need here and there. God knows each one individually and specifically..
God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are imperative to our being here. We ask you to 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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another first!!

The youngest of our 8 grandbabies celebrated her first birthday last month!

And after she and Daddy enjoyed reading one of her new books,

she and Mommy shared a little giggle together :-)

A very happy family!

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and you thought I forgot...

Trees and bushes in and sod going down in the front...

and done!!

Several red-tip photinias go in around the back and parking area.

Sod laid in the back and a little garden area put in so the Mrs. can add flowers she chooses.

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The Landscape

At last a few shots of the landscape job John did!

Back of the clinic - laying sod after planting the pine tree

Finally found him some much needed knee pads.

Sod's all in... and TADAAA!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

April 2010

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
Greetings to all of you as we await the coming of spring and the many wonderful sights that accompany it. That was our greeting last month as the weather seemed to be changing, but now as many of you look around you, you are faced with colder temperatures and yes some of you with fresh fallen snow. Oops, does that sound familiar? Now this is the 3rd month in a row with the same greeting! YUCK! Please go to our blog: to see what I am talking about! As we’ve told you before the new school year starts the first of April as well as the time companies bring on new workers. It is always a VERY busy time of year for everyone, especially young families, as they prepare for school and take a short visit back to grandma’s house. With that in mind, Mako and I decided to have our Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday April 17th. We thought it would give us a chance to have more people come and with the later date, the weather should be PERFECT! Well, if you went to the blog, you would know that we woke up on the morning of the 17th to FOUR INCHES OF NEW SNOW!!!!! The weather man was calling for the snow changing to rain and lasting until late that afternoon. What to do??? Before 7 in the morning we were talking with Mako and decided that the best idea was to move ahead with our plans. The previous week we had all of our young students paint and color eggs and we had over 500 that wouldn’t keep until the following week. We emailed all of the people that were suppose to come and told them to dress warm, wear boots and please bring chairs to sit on as the ground will be too wet. We loaded up the car and headed to the park. Not knowing how many people would attend, we just trusted that God would take care of all things. When I placed the first egg down, it disappeared! The snow around the outside of the park was still too deep! I found out if I placed my boot down first, I could place the egg in the depression. So we started hiding the eggs. As the morning continued, the snow began to melt and by the time the hunters came at 10:30 we and the weather were ready to go. We had over 20 people cancel, but some new add-ons and a few husbands and we ended with a total of EIGHTY FOUR PEOPLE!!!! Only 11 were CHRISTIANS! We hid 12 plastic eggs to tell the resurrection story. It was so wonderful and also amazing to watch the excitement and interest in the kids (and some of the parents) faces as Pastor Kitamura and Naoko explained the meaning of each egg. It was really GREAT! Please pray that God’s Spirit will be talking to each one and they will have the desire to know more about our wonderful risen Savior.
Next week is ‘Golden Week’ here as there are 4 National Holidays falling with in a 7 day period. Many people will be traveling and the price and costs of everything rise dramatically. Everybody in the country takes the same time off, and it really crowds the trains and roadways. This year will be especially busy as many people that would have traveled to Europe during this time will remain in Japan because of the volcano in Iceland. We are planning to go to another prefecture Sunday night after church to watch Zack play. Without traffic it is about a 5 hour drive, but we will start out about 7 and hope that we can get about ½ way before we hit our first traffic jam. When we stop, we will look for a rest area and sleep in our car until 2 or 3 in the morning and then continue our journey. Hopefully we will make it in plenty of time to catch his first game of the day. His team has been doing really well, during spring break they played in 3 tournaments in the Osaka area. (About 6 hours from here) They finished 3rd, 2nd and 1st! They did GREAT! Zack has been doing really well and still growing. While Kim was watching them play in Osaka his coach told her that Zack had committed to attend Tokai University in Yokohama, so we look like we will be staying for at least 5 more years or until God gives us new directions. They have given Zack their BEST scholarship which will save us about $60,000!!!!! God is so GREAT! We still have to pay for his dormitory and food plus basketball clothes and some travel, so it will still be about $1,000 per month, but with Kim picking up a few new classes we should be in good shape. We are anxious to watch him continue to improve. He will move from the center position to forward, which will fit his offensive style much better. Presently the school has 10 members playing here professionally, and last year 2 members were drafted that are basically the same height as Zack, so he is (and of course we are!) excited about the opportunities that are being presented to him.
Ian is searching for direction in his life, and is now living in Tokyo with two friends that he met at Hakuba during the winter. One is from Canada and the other from Australia. He is looking for a job that can offer him a future, so please pray that God will open up the right door for him.
I am always busy with my classes, and now am busy landscaping a friends new Dental Office. To squeeze in the time, I start there at 5 in the morning and work until my English classes start and then teach until 9 or so in the evening. It makes for a long day, but we are planning to make a trip to Okinawa this summer for the National Basketball tournament, so we think God is giving us this opportunity to help pay a little towards that cost.
Kim is now getting busier and busier. I’m not sure if it’s because of the empty nest, or that she is finding out that she enjoys sharing her English skills with others, but she is picking up new classes. She starts next week teaching 3 classes at a local high school on Tuesdays, then 3 classes Wednesday night at NAGA then Friday she is back to the Nozawa Elementary School. It is a big change for her, but seems like she is really enjoying it. God is just so great and it is giving her a chance to shine His light in many new areas and meet many wonderful people.
We have many dear friends that are suffering from different ailments and many ask us to pray for them but keep it a secret. So we don’t agree with that but respect their position, so please pray for the soul’s and bodies in need here and there. God knows each one.
*Heather’s father-in-love, Charles Hefner, continues to receive treatment for cancer 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