Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Nagano Bible Church held their traditional Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.
For tha past few years we have been blessed to have Canta Ciara, the local chorus group that John used to sing with, join us on Christmas Eve and bless us with a wonderful musical presentation.

Mr. Fukushima, always prepares a wonderful program with background information on each song they sing. Though they are a small group, their voices come together in a beautiful mix and they are a true pleasure to listen to.

Part of our tiny yet talented church choir also sang for us with an elementary school boy handling the drums, his Dad on electric bass and vocals, two ladies singing and John at the piano. 

There were forty-four people in attendance.
Two families of John's English students came, two of Ian's friends and a young man from Indonesia who recently joined our Sunday afternoon service.
Many of them are not yet Christians so it was great to have them join us.

Several people, including Zack,
had speaking parts in the telling of the Christmas Story.
This, of course, was all done in Japanese.

It was a special blessing for John and me to have Zack there to share the evening with us!
(Ian was on a bus heading back but an accident on the route they were taking slowed them considerably. Thankfully the bus was not involved.)
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Santa came to Nagano to celebrate Jesus' Birthday!!!

Yes! That Jolly Ol' Elf made his way to Nagano and was seen all around our area helping to spread the joy and message of the Reason we celebrate CHRISTmas!!!!

He was spotted many times near Nagano Station...
 Meeting folks as they walked along the roads making  their way to the next stop.

Passing out gifts of God's Message and praying that lives will be changed for Him

Getting warm hugs from some...

Often being gazed at with looks of joy by passersby that normally notice very little as they make their way through the crowds

Santa visited area schools and greeted hundreds of children!

Some of their expressions were priceless!

Many of the teachers were just as - or some, perhaps more! - excited to get a big Santa hug.

The smiles and laughter and the questions about what Christmas really is were great.

Santa Claus was even seen in the hallways spreading Christmas joy!

Sometimes the older students were more excited than the younger ones... 

The Jolly man also showed up at Nagano Bible Church's Kid Christmas to help celebrate Jesus' birthday!

...and he was spotted as the Nagano area church members were out in front of the station singing Christmas carols

Then we heard the sounds of Santa and the joyful squeals of children in our neighborhood...

as he went from house to house...

Finally we got a peek of Santa Claus as he passed by our humble abode...

as he wished all a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year before he disappeared until next Christmas!

*This Christmas season Santa (with a little help from an 'elf' and a lot from a couple of dear contributors) was able to hand out 450 Gideon New Testament English/Japanese Bibles! God is Great!!!!!!

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Times they are a changin'...

And with them so are some of our looks...

This is the look/style Ian has been building for about the past five years!

If you saw him when his hair wasn't in rows you'd think you were back in the flower child era. He got his Dad's curls... or more like the natural afro effect!

After much back and forth, to or not to....
he finally decided it was time,
and with a deep breath and a shaky hand he got out the scissors!

And when all was said and done this is his new look!

I like it!
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Looking Back...

 Early fall in Japan means rice! Every where you go there are rice fields of every size and shape imagineable, and October is harvest time.

 Once the rice is cut it is hung up to dry.
 Some hang it in single rows.
 Others layer it.
 And after the rice is gathered from the stalks they are dried a bit more.
 I think there must be as many styles of doing this as there are farmers!

 I find it interesting to see all the different artistic methods they have for bundling the stalks.
 After drying the rice straw can be used for many things.
 Though sometimes they simply grind it all up for disposal.
This time of year we are usually fortunate to have some of John's English students give us gifts of new rice from their family's recent harvest and it is so good!
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

...and more

 These were supposed to be part of the previous post but somehow didn't make it...
 I did want to share them though as I thought it was great that even when it came to the human pyramid the young man in the wheel chair was not excluded. He rolled right on up...
 exited the chair, and took his spot with the others :-) Great job!
 This crew wanted to be sure I knew that they knew I was there!
 And as John and I headed toward home there was a minor delay as one town area was holding their fall festival and their 'mikoshi' or float, was making its way down the main roadway.
 Celebrate life!
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Fall means school sports festival time in much of Japan.
This means that the schools divide up into two teams...Red vs. White.
John and I went up in the mountains to the elementary school I teach at every week in Nozawaonsen to cheer on the teams and enjoy the celebration.
This is the opening and all the kids march in together in the two teams. To start things off everybody does warm-up exercises to get ready for the days activities.  And everybody really does mean everybody!! Not just the kids, but the teachers, parents, grandparents and town officials ALL warm up to start the day off.

There's always the tug-o-war. You might notice that the two teams have quite different strategies...
 A wheel chair does not stop you from participating with your team!
 Always a dance performance.
 The race is on! Pass the ball...over..under...
 and then make a body railway to get the 'marcher' back to the starting point.
 Always the 'chicken fight' to see who can snatch whose cap first!
 You cannot just let all those adults sit idle all there's a red vs. white race to see which group can pass the giant ball around the circle the most times in a given time period.
 Intermission and some of the kids are demonstrating their 'chicken fight' skills for me ;-)
 My effort at trying to support both the red and the white... and always sharing His message.
 The 5th and 6th graders always have a special display of their skills.

 Lots of practice time before this day.
 They have to learn to trust and work together.
 Balance in life is important...
 You have to have a stable foundation.

 And you must know how to work together to make the waves flow smoothly...
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