Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
Luke 21:8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
As May 21st came and past, we know that the end has not come. But when we look around us, and see the devastation from the tsunami and earthquake here, the continuing damage from the tornadoes and flooding in the states, and the recent volcano in Iceland, it seems like the beginning of birth pains is truly coming. Of course none of us know when the end will come, but I know without a doubt when I woke up this morning I was one day closer to meeting my Savior! We haven’t sent any updates of the conditions here since the terrible destruction has started to rock the southern and central parts of America. There is so much need everywhere, that we don’t want anyone to think our needs are greater than someone else’s. We are so thankful for all of the prayers that are still being lifted up for those people in this country and are also thankful that we can continue to lift up those in the states. As I am writing this, I am listening to the constant reports coming out of the Oklahoma area and the continued onslaught of disaster.
I imagine that the disaster in the states is allowing the dormant Christian to really reactivate his faith. That is a true blessing as we pray that God will use the disaster here to open the eyes and hearts of those here. Presently since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, we have had an additional 1,240 earthquakes of a magnitude of 4.0 or larger. The radiation threat is not going away and damage to the tea plants as far away as 200 kilometers from the reactor has been identified. People are still worried, but as there becomes less and less daily news, a more normal life is slowly returning. People are not spending money now as they are worried about the future. Of course the outcome of that is it is further hurting the economy. The government reports it will take 3 to 5 years to complete the clean-up of the damaged areas! There is so much debris and absolutely no where to put it. So that is the biggest trouble now, how to clean-up. It is not an easy task as there is no where to bury it, burn it or store it. All of the areas are pretty much at the base of mountains, and of course next to the ocean. The debris is a combination of wood, concrete, glass and steel. Each one needs it’s own disposal technique, so to compound the trouble, the debris has to be separated! So for now, about 150,000 people have NO IDEA when they will be able to resume their lives or for that matter WHERE! Even if they want to rebuild in the area that their home use to be, it may take as long as 5 years before they can begin. YUCK! And so far the government has yet to give the aid or direction that the people need. Thankfully MANY, MANY volunteers are going constantly to the areas to help, but all are untrained and although their hearts are in the right place, many are not sure if they are a help or a burden. The only thing certain right now is that the rebuilding will take MANY years! We pray that these people won’t be forgotten and God can use this time to open their hearts and minds to the wonderful gift He has for them.
Besides the trouble of losing houses and things, the area along the coast has sunk, causing trouble for those who were fortunate to still have their homes. Please take the time to read this page: http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2011/05/09/quake_shifted_japan_towns_now_flood_at_high_tide/?page=1 it talks about the troubles facing residents in one town as the high tides are now flooding their town and their homes are soon to be in trouble. It seems like the troubles will continue for a LONG TIME! I pray that your prayers will too! PLEASE DON’T FORGET THE PEOPLE HERE!
There are so many charity events going on here from concerts, to basketball games to help raise money to support the victims. On April 30th, Zack’s university team had a benefit game with alumni that presently play in the pro league here. We were pleased to go and help out. It was so great to see these young men doing something to help others. Ian has performed either with his Hip Hop Group or as a DJ for several benefit concerts. We are so proud of both boys and the way they are using their gifts and talents to share with those affected by the disaster here.
Last Sunday we had a guest pastor come for our morning service and to do a special early afternoon service. For the afternoon service we had over 40 people attend. WOW! For us that was a huge number! I know for most of you, you are thinking if your church had a special event and only 40 people showed up it would be a failure….but for us…it is WOW! We were amazed at how many people came. Pray that His Spirit will talk to each one of those according to their individual needs.
The beginning of May is called the ‘Golden Week’ here as there are 4 National holidays in the course of one week. We were able to have a barbeque one of those days and had two young members from our church join us along with some of Kim’s students. The results were great as one young man is now a regular coming to our Sunday English Worship service! PRAISE GOD!
With all the bad news going out, we do have some good news about Zack. From May 11-15th the Kanto Area University Basketball Championship was held. There are about 108 universities represented. Zack’s team finished in 3rd place, and even more exciting Zack was a STARTER! We were so shocked. He played about ½ of each game and rotated with a senior that is considerably taller than Zack. Zack got recognized as the best 1st year student in the tournament and was the second best rebounder!!!! We are continually amazed at the wonderful gift that God has given him and his desire to use it. In June they will have the Kanto area ‘Rookie’ tournament for 1st and 2nd year students. We are looking forward to going and rooting for the boys.
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 do still need our own funds, but presently we need them for our Japanese brothers and sisters as well. If your heart leads you to send us financial aid for them please make a note with your love offering that it is for the disaster relief. Thank-you all so much for your prayers and giving hearts.
We hold you each in our hearts and prayers with praise and thanksgiving.
In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch