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.