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