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Dear Friends and Family,
Even while it’s chilly outside, our hearts have been full, along with our daily schedules. We had lovely family times with Noah home from college. We made sure to eat, play, and work in ministry. It was a blessing having both Noah and Jonah participate in worship during our New Year’s Day service. Traditionally it’s a small crowd that attends, yet this is a tradition we learned from the Japanese who all go to the shrine to start the New Year. It was encouraging to be in the House of the Lord, praising His name, thanking Him for the past year, and sharing our hopes and prayers with Him for the coming year.
To end winter break from school, the JBC youth gathered for a time of fellowship, learning, and worship. Kensaku Higashi is the pastor who leads our conference youth. Kensaku and his wife, Hiroko, are great encouragers of the youth to use their talents for the Lord. Jonah has been teaching himself guitar for a few years now, and Kensaku encouraged him to play and lead a worship song for the gathering. What a joy to have a front row seat in watching him step up to the challenge. Paul and I are thankful for the support in encouraging the boys to use their talents for the Lord. Kensaku was ordained on Sunday, January 28, and since the service was during our bi-lingual worship, Jonah stepped up and said he would lead at Komyo so Paul could attend the service. Jonah is still a novice, yet he was encouraged, and we pray he will continue to pursue his talents for the Lord.
I, Melissa, continue to struggle and need to work on my Japanese. Japanese is a language with a breadth and depth of vocabulary. Often our one word in English will have 4–5 Japanese words depending on who is speaking and the situation in which the word is being spoken. Not being one who acquires language easily, I am still struggling to even build a rich vocabulary that allows me to interact more on the heart level. So, I started to attend our Thursday morning Bible study. We are studying Romans, which is filled with the breadth and depth of our faith, and I have been able to walk away with a page of new vocabulary words every week. Of course, the challenge is remembering these words to be recalled and used at a later time. Even though there are many times I am only understanding the nuance, I have been blessed by seeing the breadth and depth of the members’ faith. It is a blessing to be able to witness questions, the moment of understanding, encouragement between one another, spurring each other on, and even correcting one another in understanding. Their faith has encouraged mine.
On February 13, Yuri Nakano will be leading a ladies’ seminar on the development of the heart. Looking forward to helping to bless the ladies that come. Paul continues to be busy leading weekly Bible studies, discipling church members, leading the mission, and participating on the KCS and JEMA boards.
Have you ever felt God tugging at your heart to being a part of international ministry, whether career or short-term? There can be many obstacles to saying yes to this tugging. But, if you feel the Spirit pulling at your heart, revealing a leading toward wanting to know more, these obstacles can be overcome. Please contact someone—talk to your pastor, regional minister, NAB home office, or us directly. We know God is not done with the field of Japan and we are praying that He is calling others to join with us in the work that still needs to be done.
Paul and Melissa