Dear Friends and Family,
Where to begin? These last few months have been a season of fast paced activity and change. It has been a season of excitment, joy, exhaustion, sorrow, and change. We hold onto our faith, remembering that God is in control and look to the future with hope. We are also looking forward to a time of rest.
March is the end of the year in Japan, that is financially and educationally. The season of Noah and Jonah attending Japanese school has ended and a new season at Kansai Christian School has begun. Becky Lengefeld finished her term as field treasurer and passed on those responsibilites to Shan Reed. The Tsu English Center closed and full management was passed to our JBC brothers. With all these changes Paul traveled to Tsu, a three hour drive away, up to three times a week in order to take care of business and help with the passing of information and responsibilites.
Along with all these changes came joys as we once again praised God at a Gospel Café time and Yuri Saito’s baptism. We are always thankful to God for the people He brings to the Gospel Café times. On average we pass out about 10,000 fliers in the neighborhood, and pray that hearts will be moved and fear will vanish for people to come and enjoy music, food, and fellowhsip. Through this community event, many have begun to be involved either in church worship or our weekly English classes.
Yuri Saito, with boldness and joy, proclaimed to the world that she believes in Jesus through baptism. What joy fillled our hearts to see her take hold of her fears and say yes I know what I believe. Please pray for her as she continues to struggle with depression and then doubt. Pray that the Spirit will continue to teach her and show her the joy of her salvation.
As March closed with much joy, April entered with sadness as we received word that the pastor at our sister church, Kongo Bible Church, had resigned his position. Our hearts are filled with sorrow, love and support and pray that the Kongo Church leadership would hear God’s direction. At this time Paul and Shan will be helping them out; with each preaching there once a month. Pastors are in short supply in Japan. Please be in prayer with us that more men would rise to the call and follow
God. We have a number of JBC churches without pastors and as we look to the future we pray too that a Japanese pastor would come and take the leadership at Komyo. Please keep Paul in prayer as he is now helping the Kongo chuch and the Heijo church by preaching at each location once a month. Though he is happy to help and encouarge these congregations, it does add an extra burden to his already full scheudle.
We said “see you soon” to Yuri Nakano as she returned to Canada for her year home assignment. We already feel the loss of her not being here. Amber Carpenter flew home to America on April 28 and Carol Potratz will be leaving Japan on May 8. Many good-byes. Though we know the Spirit unites us, it is still hard to say good-bye and see our missionary numbers dwindle. Please pray for missionaries to be called to come and join us here in Japan.
April also brought blessings as we had our second church outreach at the Nursing Home that is located behind our church. What joy it was to help the residents fold origami tulips to decorate for Spring. Though I was nervous about my language and being able to communicate I was so blessed to see the smiles and laughter during our time of fellowship.
What fun celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with our church family. It has become a tradition to have sushi after our 4:00 service and fellowship together. It is so wonderful to see everyone get to know one another, laugh, and enjoy one another’s company. We have also had another members’ meeting and it is an encouragement to see the members in unity and supporting the church.
One of the highlights of this quarter was being able to witness Eriya Katoh and Becky Lengefeld’s marriage. What joy it was to be able to witness God’s fingerprints all over their lives and during their ceremony of proclaiming their love for one another. It was wonderful to praise God and thank Him for the good things He has done. What an honor it was as parents to point our boys to the beauty of having God as part of one’s relationship.
On the family homefront, we have entered into a new season in school life. Going from the Japanese setting to an American/International setting is quite different. Though for the most part it has been a smooth transition, it has not been without some culture shock and adjustment in understanding and thinking. Noah and Jonah are doing well with their hour and ½ commute, learning to rest, do homework, and read on the train. Please feel free to check out the school’s web site: http://www.kansaichristianschool.com. Elijah is now a fourth grader at the local Japanese school and Paul and I are amazed where the time has gone. We are so thankful for the blessings.
As we look to the future we know that we need to fully rely on God. We know He has a plan, we desire to see His Kingdom grow and ask that you will pray for us to always be ready and to have the courage to do what God asks us to do for Him. Pray that we see and use the strength that God gives us for this day and always point others toward Him.
Paul and Melissa