Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Day At A Time

That's how they come. Just one day at a time. Yet I still don't manage to keep up. I do try. Really, I do.
I just looked back at my last post - other than newsletters - from May 10th!! Guess I need a shove rather than a nudge...
Classes do keep me busy. Three different elementary schools, one high school, one after school elementary class and one evening adult class.
Then there's the house... cleaning up dog hair, washing clothes, cleaning up dog hair, hanging clothes to dry, cleaning up dog hair, taking clothes off the hangers, cleaning up dog hair, ironing clothes, cleaning up dog hair, you know...all the normal stuff...plus cleaning up dog hair. I have no idea why they are not bald!  I sometimes wish they were! Once in awhile I even cook. Breakfast pretty much daily, but dinner... John and Ian do that a lot more often than I these days. Thanks guys :-) I enjoy baking but the mealtime dishes have kind of left me with all our crazy schedules and fewer times we're all here to eat at the same time
Speaking of cooking! OH MY GOSH!!! We got the most awesome gift from the church we attended way back when we lived in Texas!!!! A BRAND NEW GAS RANGE/OVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND one for our church here!!!! OH MY GOSH!!!!!!
Isn't it gorgeous!!!!!! Trust me here - IT IS!!!! Thank you all at St.Johns SO MUCH!
The one it replaces was more than 30 years old. Much smaller.(although huge for Japan sizes) The oven would light - sometimes, but never stay lit without something in it cooking - which made pre-heating impossible. Even then it would usually go out and need relighting 2 or 3 times per baking session. So never could it be left and not checked every few minutes because no flame and gas still pouring in could mean much trouble!! The door didn't close well so we used a bungee to keep it from falling open ;-} It had served well but its day was done. And the church oven had totally died.
With this new beauty I even have thoughts of a dinner here and there ;-)

Ian seems to be doing more and more in the music with his H2O hiphop group. They have several events each month and a pretty good following. He also does some guest DJ stints for other performers and events.
He still works at the clothing shop in downtown Nagano and has several repeat customers that he enjoys helping with their special requests. He and his girlfriend, Chika, enjoy the time they have to spend together going and doing or just hanging and taking it easy.

Zack did really well in his first two university basketball tournaments. It was so great that John could arrange to go and see all the games in both tournaments and I went for the weekends both times. They placed third in the Kanto area and fifth in the Rookie(meaning freshman & sophomores). He's really enjoying university life and the new friends and freedoms. Still a pretty full schedule between classes and basketball but not nearly as strict as high school dorm life. He finally had a free day to go take his license test and passed so we took his scooter to him on the 18th and he says it's much nicer than the bicycle.

John keeps busy with all his classes, church piano, English service and Bible Study and cooking a couple times a week for neighbors &/or students that we entertain at our house. He's had a bit of trouble the past couple of weeks. On the 11th, in Tokyo for basketball, we went to meet a longtime friend for lunch before the game. It was raining. John was wearing crocs. Not a good combo. On the way to lunch he slipped, but didn't fall three different times. The restaurant our friend chose was located down a flight of stairs - marble stairs- wet from the rain. On the first step John slipped and caught himself by slapping a large window - thankfully it didn't break. He proceeded. On the last step, his feet slid out from under him and he came crashing backward on to the preceding steps. Slick, wet, hard-edged, marble steps. The edges of four steps caught him - so to speak - leaving him multi-colored at his shoulders, mid-back, lower-back and legs. Of course...he jumped up saying he was fine, while I was in shock still along with our friends, asking repeatedly if he was OK or felt he broke anything. We proceeded to the table where we discovered he had crashed his elbow and was leaving a blood trail. It was a small cut. But it bled,and bled, and bled, for several hours. And just when we thought it stopped  - it bled more.
So here we are two and a half weeks, major swelling, discomfort and discoloration, multiple Dr. visits where they say it's nothing to worry about, x-rays (that revealed no breaks!thank you God!), emergency room visits, draining of fluid, antibiotics and hours and hours of ice packs later... and it still seeps blood and fluid constantly. But the docs said `don't worry'...right.
Kaelyn said a special prayer for Jiji's arm though so we know that's why it isn't any worse and actually is beginning to look a little better. Thanks Sweet Girl - MUAH!

I'm a month away from heading stateside after more than two years! and YES! I'M EXCITED! Video chats and phone calls are a blessing but come no where close to in-person! It's always emotional, and even a little scary, to go off and leave the 'boys' here. Just have to remind myself that God goes with me AND stays here with them. And I really need to see and hug all those others of you!
So any of you who would offer up some prayers...for John's elbow to heal, for the three of them to be safe and well and needs met while I'm away, for my travel, oh yes - and the catalyst for my trip - Daeon and the birth of our 9th grandbaby in late August, and whatever else may occur to you :-)  we would be very grateful.

Please do remember the Japanese people still struggling greatly from the effects of the 3/11 disasters. As well as all those in every part of the world that are facing their own troubles. Thank you always and may God bless you abundantly!

Nagano News in June

Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!

Wow, it is hard to believe that the year is already half over. So much has happened here and throughout the world in the last couple months that it seems like it surely must have been lots longer! Here, the recovery is going so SLOW!!!! The biggest trouble for the government is the clean-up. SO MUCH to be hauled away….and what to do with it. Japan is a small mountainous country, and there just isn’t anywhere to dispose of all of the waste. Millions of tons of debris have to be taken care of before the reconstruction can begin. There is still so much uncertainty. We visited last weekend with a young lady that just came back from visiting (volunteering) at one of the hundreds of shelters. She said she felt like she was in a prison. It is now getting close to 4 months after the disaster and hundreds of thousands of people still have no idea what their future holds in store for them. The people in this shelter were all from the area in Fukushima Prefecture where the nuclear reactor is that was destroyed. Their homes are still OK, but the government has given them no idea if and when they will ever be allowed to move back in. The uncertainty is the worst. No one knows.

Our friends, the Suzuki family, were able to finally get out of town and came to visit with our neighbor (Shiho) and Kim joined them for an evening meal. Although they have resumed a somewhat normal life, the financial hardship is overwhelming. The mother and father had three properties, 2 rental apartments and one storage facility that were all destroyed by the Tsunami. Unfortunately they still owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the banks for all three. Insurance won’t cover any of their loses, and the banks are still requiring payment even though it could be YEARS before the sites may be useable again to generate any kind of revenue. The government has said they will help, but so far to those affected they are only empty words. No real news is coming. For those living in shelters, the government is helping with food and things, but those that have moved out of shelters and are trying to re-establish their lives, there is NO HELP! The government has already built many thousands of temporary homes, but many are opting for the life in the shelters rather than incur an additional financial burden. Since all of the people had many things lost, and still owe money on them, such as homes, businesses or cars, the financial demands on those affected is becoming overwhelming. The number of suicides in those areas is sadly increasing drastically.

There is such a need for a strong government now, but it is in turmoil. The Prime Minister has decided to resign when a little more of the recovery is finished, but who will replace him is still undecided. The country is in such need of prayer….PLEASE PRAY FOR JAPAN!!!!!

We are now officially into the rainy season, with rains almost daily, but thankfully it usually brings cooler weather. The whole country is asked to conserve electricity, so it is a welcome relief that the cooler weather allows everyone to conserve.

We (and our church here) were SO BLESSED with a wonderful gift of two beautiful gas range/ovens! Both ours and the churches were over 30 years old and both failing. We are so thankful to our wonderful brothers and sisters from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Boerne, Texas for the awesome gift!!!! We are truly BLESSED to have so many wonderful friends that help us all of the time. Without your help (especially the prayers) we would not be able to continue doing His Work. Thank-you all so much!!!!!

Kim is busy preparing for an overdue return trip to America. She has fixed her schedule and will go first to visit mom in Phoenix, followed by a visit to Texas to visit with mom and dad, sister and brother and a niece. She is scheduling it to last a couple of Sundays as she is so looking forward to visiting the church there. Then off to Mississippi to visit 2 of our children and their families before heading off to Nashville to be with Daeon as she will give birth to our 9th grandchild. Without a doubt the most difficult part of living here is being so far away from our family. We are so grateful that God is providing her with this time. She is looking forward to seeing MANY of you also and catching up on all the local news.

I (John) will stay busy while she is gone with many things going on. August 2nd we will be having our annual Tuesday Bible Study sausage party in the park. Last year 72 people came and heard the story of Jonah. This year I’m planning (need lots of prayers) a live play of the many miracles that Jesus performed. Usually a lady from our church does large posters of the bible story, but this year we are hoping for something that will be even more attention getting/memory making to those that come. Almost everyone is non-Christian, so it is great way to introduce Jesus to them.

On August 4th I’ll do a kids cooking class with usually over 30 people attending. I always enjoy cooking and being with kids, so it will be fun for me, but lots of work! I’ll miss Kim’s help. From about July 26 to August 18th is summer vacation for the school kids. I’m planning many different activities to involve as many as possible. I hope to have one or two kid sleepovers to help introduce them to the American style of life.

We are all busy with classes until the vacation starts, for me, all my classes continue, but Kim is lucky that her elementary schools have no English classes til the end of September as they get busy preparing for the annual school sports festival.

Ian is staying busy with his work, plus 3 or 4 times a month he is doing concerts with his Hip Hop group and doing guest DJ appearances throughout the prefecture.

Zack is busy with school and basketball. He just passed his scooter test so now is motoring around instead of biking! YEAH! His university finished 5th in the Kanto area Rookie (1st and 2nd grade students) University tournament. He was 3rd in total points and rebounds!!!! Better yet he played only 111 minutes while the guys with more points and rebounds all had about 150!!!! He is doing so GREAT!!!
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 still also 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