Saturday, February 23, 2013

Feb. from Nagano

God’s Blessings to you Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
            I don’t know about you, but for us the year is going by TOO FAST!  Can you believe it, February is almost over!  I kid my students that Christmas will be here soon.  This time of year is a time of uncertainty to so many Japanese people and because of that also for us.  The school and business year conclude at the end of March and restart the first of April.  Japan is very much a ‘transfer’ country as MANY companies transfer workers every 3 to 5 years.  We have a difficult time justifying the transfers, but it is accepted by those here.  The trouble is twofold. First, it is common for the company to give the employees less than 1 month notice of transfer. Can you imagine?!  Your husband comes home March 10th and tells you, ‘hey honey, we are moving to Osaka and we need to be there by March 30th’!  Now you are forced to do many things; pack, find new housing, new schools for the kids and close out and reopen so many accounts!  We are not sure why they give such short notice, but it does take away the element of worrying!  THERE IS LITERALLY NO TIME!  The second and, to us, most troubling problem is that when the children enter junior high school the mother often refuses to transfer with her husband.  Thus the families are separated to the point of the mother and children living in one location and the father living in another and having the opportunity to visit only occasionally throughout the year!  It is so sad, and really difficult for us to understand.
            Now of course we don’t have to worry about transferring, but the schools here do the same as companies.  Every 3 to 5 years the teachers rotate to different schools.  The same is true for them, they usually don’t know until the end of the school year (March 15th) where they will be teaching on the 1st of April.  Normally they try to keep the transfer to a distance of less than 45 kilometers so they don’t have to move, but there is so much uncertainty.  Unlike in the states, a teacher here (elementary school) teaches the same group of kids for 2 to 3 years depending on the school.  For instance if you have 30 students this year as a first grade teacher, next year you have the same 30 students and teach them as a second grade teacher, and in many schools, you will continue with the same 30 the third year.  Very difficult for the teachers as every year they have to teach a new grade.  This years 6th grade teacher maybe next years 1st or 3rd grade and so on.    
            In the high schools, children must take entrance exams to each school, and these tests are not universal but different for each school.  The children are allowed to take the test 2 times, and also can take exams for entrance to private high schools, just in case they fail the entrance test to the public schools.  This is where our uncertainty comes in.  Kim teaches at 3 elementary schools and one private high school.  Presently the schools don’t know what teachers will be coming/going, or in the case of the high school how many 1st year students.  Now mind you, school will be starting in just over a month!!!!!  The 3 elementary schools have set their schedules for next year, but unfortunately one school demanded to change English to Friday, a day Kim presently had another school.  Luckily, that school was willing to reschedule to Tuesday.  The unfortunate part there is Tuesday was when she had 6 classes at the high school.  Since they don’t know how many students they have coming, or how many classes, they have NO IDEA whether they can schedule the classes on either Monday or Thursday.  So we will live with the uncertainty of Kim’s schedule until the end of March, only a week or so before school starts!  The trouble with that is, it doesn’t leave anytime to find any alternative classes.  So please pray that the high school will be able to schedule the classes for either Thursday or Monday next year.
            As you know, we use ‘The Raven 4 God’ as the title of this letter, plus for our email address.  We relate so well to the ‘raven’ as mentioned in the bible.  In Leviticus, the raven is called one of the despicable birds.  Well, like all of us, we definitely often feel that we are probably despicable in many of the choices we have made in our lives, and definitely not worthy of His wonderful love, yet so thankful for His unfathomable grace.  When you read the story of Elijah (my favorite prophet), God chose the raven as the bird to feed him.  So we can easily relate to the fact that God chose us (no matter who we were or are) to feed (spiritually) His people.  The final use of the raven comes in the story about worry.  God even takes care of the ravens, so certainly He will take care of us!  PRAISE GOD!  That is SO TRUE!  As for most people, our main stimulus for worry often comes from financial concerns.  For us, we are concerned yet DON’T WORRY about that!  Like the ravens, God continually takes care of each and every need that we have!  It is so INCREDIBLE!  We have so many examples of needs that have been supplied often by people we don’t even know!  So concerning Kim’s work next year we don’t worry, we know that God has a perfect plan….whether it’s teaching or giving her more time for outreach, it will all be in His perfect plan and with His perfect timing!  The same holds true for EACH OF YOU!!!!
            The last couple of Sundays we have been talking about the ‘Joy of being a Christian’ and how Satan tries to steal that joy EVERY DAY!  This past week, I had a stark example of how it worked against me.  Now, we don’t worry about the big things, but it is amazing how even the smallest things Satan can use to try and cause worry in our lives.  Last Monday was Kim’s birthday, and I always make a cake for her.  Well, Monday she is home and I have classes most of the day, so there was no time for the surprise cake!  So I decided I would use waffles and cut them up into letters and make her breakfast with waffles spelling out     ‘H B-DAY KIM’.  It seemed so easy, and we had frozen waffles in the freezer!  Cool! For many nights I laid in bed thinking how I could cut the square waffles into the right sizes and shapes to spell out the birthday message.  I worried about how many, how long it would take and how to make the B and D with the square waffles.  Many nights, my mind was thinking, robbing me both of sleep and the basic joy of surprising her Monday morning.
            I woke up Monday morning, Kim took her shower, I was checking my mail and news on the internet, not worrying about the waffles, it was taken care of!  (at least I thought).  After her shower, as we do every morning we read our devotionals together, listened to a couple of chapters from the bible and prayed together.  Now it was time!  I went downstairs to get the waffles and start my creation!  I opened the freezer, reached into the box and found ROUND WAFFLES!!!!!!  So don’t waste time worrying!  God can use the smallest things to teach us NOT TO WORRY! 
P.S.They came out GREAT!!!  
By His grace, God continues to equip us for every challenge and opportunity that He presents. 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.  In addition to our needs, if your heart leads you to send us financial aid for the 3/11/11 victims please make a note with your love offering that it is for the on-going disaster relief. Thank-you all so much for your prayers and giving hearts.
We hold you always in our hearts and prayers with praise and thanksgiving.            
In His love & always walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch   

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