Friday, September 14, 2012

John's 2012 Summer Activities

As you probably know, while I headed off to the states this summer to give and get hugs and stock up as best I could on some extended family/friend/church time, John remained in Japan to be there for Ian and Zack as well as to fulfill responsibilities as "theraven4god".
Just days after I took off, our little church in Nagano was host to a small group of Korean Christians that came to share and spread their love for God and joy in knowing Him as Saviour.
This visit was a follow-up to the huge Love Sonata event that occurred here last year. The group visited several area churches where they sang gospel songs, with musical accompaniment, put on plays portraying the struggles that we all face and how God is always at our side to offer His way through the trials and temptations we face in daily life, and gave testimonies to what choosing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour has meant in their lives.
Our experiences with the Korean Christians that come to Japan are always a blessing and it is so encouraging to their joy in being His children.

 Next up was the annual Bible Story Cookout!
John puts this together every summer in place of one of his weekly Tuesday Bible Study meetings.
It's held a small local park and open to all his students, friends, and friends of friends.. so pretty much anyone!
One of the member families from Nagano Bible Church is always a great asset to this event. They have a printing shop and always make huge, colorful, story boards to go along with the Bible story. It makes the story come to life easier for those who don't know the Bible. And not just for the kids!
Following the story time John always grills sausage dogs for everyone (this year over 90 people!) to go along with the buckets of pasta or cabbage salad he prepares. This year he was thankful to have a helper in a young man that we've come to know and love (along with his family) while he was home from school on summer vacation.

Just two days later it was time for the yearly Kid's (with adult helpers) Cooking Class John leads every year at the community center where he teaches an adult English class.
Usually, Pastor Kitamura and/or I are around to help out a little, but somehow this year we were both gone so John was on his own.
This man always performs at his best when under pressure though so not to worry. This happened to be the year that the local TV station chose to come and film the entire class! They interviewed John and several of the cooking students and filmed the whole time. They condensed it into about a ten minute spot that aired that evening on local stations :-) Perhaps I'm slightly biased... but he did a wonderful job!!
I'm trying to figure out how I might post at least a bit of the film.
With 33 students and one teacher John was plenty busy teaching them all the menu of taco rice, grilled cheese sandwiches and apple crisp. Plus answering questions for the TV crew. The food all disappeared by the end of the class so it must have been a success!
After all the food is prepared and just before they eat John always leads them in a prayer of thanksgiving and tells them how wonderful God is to provide everything. It's a great way to let them know that everything we have we get from Him!
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making Memories

OK! So I got back to Japan 2 weeks ago today. 24 hours later than scheduled :-(. I think I'm ahead of my norm getting this up after only 2 weeks ;-}
For the record, in case you ever wonder, short visits are awesome compared to no visits :-)

After clearing customs in L.A., first stop was Mesa (Phoenix),AZ. I had a wonderful visit with John's Mom, sister and her husband. We went to dinner at Garcia's and my first restaurant meal stateside was great! Missed seeing his other sister and her son but just can't always get everything we want..

Next stop - TEXAS!
Dear Davis family, THANK YOU!
for picking me up at the airport, taking me to further satisfy my hunger for Mexican food, spoiling me, giving me a room in your home and a car to drive and just generally showering me with your sweet love!

In Boerne I was able to see dear friends and visit two services and a few Sunday School classes at St. Johns Lutheran Church. Always a blessing to meet with the folks there and have the chance to personally hug necks and thank them for their grace, prayers, love and blessings of many kinds that help keep us going for God in Japan.
From Boerne I headed to Seguin and more family. Thought I was just gonna meet my Momma and head to their place... but was very happily surprised that my Daddy was there, too! Then to find that my sweet niece and her family had driven out to meet me as well! We said 'See ya later!' to the Davis' and headed to a nearby spot for a little visit and a cold drink... and that's where my brother and his wife showed up! WOW!!! it was so great!!!!
Got to my folks place where a life long
friend had dinner waiting on us and a nice evening of catching up.

This is my Mom, Dad, brother, his wife and their son. They came for dinner and another good visit. Daddy took me to his local meat market and let me pick out steaks that they cut just for us and he grilled to perfection.....aaaahhhhh.......  !
OK! I'm back.

My Mom and I headed off to Houston to see the Manuels. In all the years we've spent in Japan I've never made a trip back that Ginger hasn't found a way (usually meaning she drives many miles, often to other states!) to see me. We've been buds since our babies...were babies!

Always a special time together <3

Not only did they open their hearts and home to Mom and I, they welcomed in 8 of my extended family members from as far away as Louisiana! Haven't seen most of these folks in many years and it was a very special time of reunion and renewal. Two of Mom's brothers (a third had planned to be there but last minute circumstances prevented their attendance), their wives, three cousins and a second cousin. Shannon had to head out early so missed the group pic :(

Then it was on to Tennessee and the White's house!
Alayna.. just shy of her first birthday, at long last get her own 'Baba blanket'. Big sis was actually much more excited about this since she would no longer need to share hers ;-)
Though cutting four teeth and suffering an ear infection and then a nasty looking rash from the meds for the ear....Alayna was still pretty much all smiles and laughter<3

Kaelyn got to skip school and spend the week at home with Alayna and me - YAY!! Among many things, she reacquainted me with CandyLand... and beat me without mercy.

Daddy was pretty overwhelmed the week I was there with setting up his classroom and starting the new school year changing from 3rd graders to kindergarten!
Still always made time to spend with his princesses when he got home.

Nothing like having Mommy share a good story book with you!

It was a great week of reminding those sweet little girls who their Baba is.

And sharing time with their Mommy and Daddy.

Last stop.... Mississippi..
the Hefners, the T.Baranskis and many
friends from BUMC and our time spent living there. We have friends that are like family that continue to bless and support us and what a joy to get the chance to reconnect with them and meet some of the new faces that God has touched to bless us as well.

Daeon and her girls drove me there and got to stay a couple of nights so we had some wonderful family time together and made some sweet memories.

The Hefners took me to the Tupelo Buffalo Park the day before I had to head back. We'd had a full week with lots of going yet lots of family time shared just being together.

Tony and family fixed a delicious steak dinner with all the sides and then some to help fatten me up while they had the chance... I loved every bite! But mostly the time with them.

The cousins got to spend some time together while we were all in close proximity and I got to savor the moments of watching them and hearing their sweet voices and just being there with them.

You have no idea how many shots were snapped trying to get the elusive 'perfect' group shot...

something to strive for next time around

It was awesome! Thank you God!!!
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