Dear unto us

“So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

 

Greetings from Nihon! A cold one, at that! It’s about time for us to take things out of our freezer and just leave them on the counter.

It has been a little while since we last gave an update. So I hope that I can fill everyone in on what you may want to know. Where to start!?

Kid’s English has started it’s second term. We are rather excited about this term, instead of it being two separate classes that only last for an hour each, both classes have been combined and it lasts for two hours. The first hour, all of the children are together. We have songs, games, Bible lesson (the important part that we couldn’t really do last term), and then snack time. The second half starts with everyone together to learn English from the Bible lesson and then we separate the older kids from the younger kids. I take the younger kids to a different room and we learn to write the A,B,Cs, and do our craft. Brian keeps the older kids with him and reviews the vocabulary, write the A,B,Cs, and then do the craft. Everyone does pretty well. The one thing I enjoy is that they seem to really enjoy the Bible lesson. We use the Youversion Kid’s Bible app. Please be in prayer for the children, that they would soak up the Bible stories. That their hearts would be drawn to God. Also, please pray for the few children that aren’t coming this term. I’m sorry as I can’t remember some of the names. But three of them, their dad is a monk for a temple so the grandparents were against them coming to Kid’s English knowing we have the intentions of using the Bible. Then about 3 other children (who are friends with the siblings) chose not to attend because the sibling’s mom was the one who brought them, plus, I think, they probably wanted their friends to be there.

 

There is a group of us ladies that have just started to meet. Most of them go to the friend church (Bunkyou). Oddly enough, two of the people’s names starts with an R and the other three of our names starts with M. So we have become R&M. But the group started with the intent of encouraging one another as we all have our own lives in a country that is so busy.
We are looking into going through “The Screwtape Letters” with the study guide that was made years later. I believe we are all rather excited. While we should certainly understand the heart of God but also learning quite a bit about how our Enemy works should help. Every one, no matter where in the world we are, are always fighting inside the spiritual world whether we know it or not.
Please pray as this group develops as we all develop a relationship with each other, that we can help strengthen each other in the Lord.

 

Hannah is doing well. Growing like a weed. Or I guess, in Japanese, what her name means, a flower. A very beautiful flower (I might be just a slight bit bias). She is speaking both English and Japanese now. She doesn’t really speak actual full sentences though. She can get out a string of words though. She loves to play guitar with me and she loves to take “shashin” (as she holds up her cute little thumb up for confirmation that she can do so). Shashin means “photo”.
After praying for sometime about it, we recently decided to enroll her in youchien, which is like kindergarten. Daddy and Mommy have mixed emotions but we are at least thankful that it is a Christian youchien. We are excited to see her language increase and make new friends. Before you know it, she’ll be teaching her parents the language. 😊 But God still continues to use her, as she continues to catch people’s attention with her blonde, curly hair.

We’ve had some opportunities this month to share the gospel whether through the church or through the city.

Truly, we are always amazed that the city keeps asking us to speak. It is a blessing!
We continue to go to the Tanpopoen Nursing Home. Brian gave a message about who we are, the story behind Thanksgiving and he tied in the gospel message to it all. He also played the accordion and we sang a fun song to get everyone moving. Then some of our church ladies did some hula dancing to a beautiful song about God’s grace. Hannah decided to join in on the dance half way through which brought a lot of smiles and laughter. It was all such a wonderful time.

 

The things that the city has asked us to do is another kominkan.  Which is a kind of activity that is held at a community center. Again, Brian gave in introduction of who we are, mentioned Halloween just a bit, then Thanksgiving, lastly, the gospel. We sang gospel songs and had everyone participate in doing the moves. It was also a good time.
The other thing that the city has been inviting Brian back to do is talk on the radio. This time was his third time. The first time, they were interested in what a Christian volunteer is and a bit of the gospel. The second time, they seemed to focus more on sports and everything else that we don’t really have interest in. This time they asked about Thanksgiving and more of what Christianity is. We are excited as they continue to ask him to go back. We really pray and hope that even “just one more soul” would come to Christ through this.

Now, I’ll bare my heart on what desires we have had.
I’ve been learning guitar from a couple at Bunkyou Church. The husband is the one teaching but it has been so much fun to be able to get to know them better. Also, the wife wants to learn English but considering that the husband mostly speaks in Japanese, it’s been great to try and converse. It’s funny though because she wants to use English, but I want to use Japanese.
But the main reason to wanting to play guitar is for ministry. Whether at church and they need a guitar player, some other Christian gathering needs a guitar player, or just for someone who needs personal comfort through music. One of the biggest has to be for the Pocket Ministry. To be able to play live music in Japanese and English and hopefully, draw people to our table. Actually, one of our Pastor’s sons joined us for the last ministry and he intents to come to the next. He is very eager to join. Thankfully, he also plays guitar so I’m sure this can only help.

Makito (facing the camera) helping with Pocket Ministry.

Another desire that we have is to start a Sunday School for our church. We only have three children (that’s including Hannah). But for most of church time, the other two are just running around wherever they want. So I’ve started to look into some type of curriculum, personally. So far, I think I like it. Still going through it though. But for now, Brian takes them upstairs and does a small type of lesson with them. But Pastor and Mrs. Emori are really praying for a Sunday School. It was through reaching out to children that the church started out. All of those children are now the grown-up members that attend on Sunday. The one reason that I’m not teaching yet is because my language is still too weak.

Thankfully, because of Brian switching to part time, I have more time to study but I’m still having some difficulty. So please continue to pray as we continue to learn the language. Of course, please continue to pray for the hearts of the Japanese. Truly, they are blind to their own personal needs, for the most part, others’ needs, but most importantly, the needs for their souls. They are “dear unto us” and it’s so hard to watch them be oblivious whether we just told them or not that they need Christ.

But we want to thank you all for your prayers. We are given strength because of them.

Spring is here… finally!

“As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.: Pro. 25:13

 

It’s been so nice we needed to go visit the dinosaurs.

Well, now spring is finally coming to comfort us from a winter that seemed drawn out. It was amazing to see so much snow but it makes it not only difficult on your everyday life but even for the important things like emergency responders, hospitals, and many other things that are a necessity. The only way we have to heat our living room is with kerosene, and at some point, the gas station was out and so we had to wait. Thankfully, only had to wait for it the next day but you certainly have to watch how you use what you have left just to make it till that next time.

Also, I’ve never seen a store so bare of food and such. Veggies, dairy, bread… gone. Sadly though, people will only look at their physical needs and not much wonder about their spiritual need. It really is not much of a thought at all. There had been a good amount of people who lost their lives. People stranded on Route 8. They either froze to death or died from carbon monoxide.

When someone had finally contacted to have our road cleared by a “shovel car”, they started on the opposite end of us but then only finished half way. We really couldn’t understand why they only did that much but then we learned that he had a heart attack from lack of sleep and too much work from clearing roads.

Just typing all of that, I just want to cry because they did not die with the Hope.

For the positive, a LOT of people would get stuck on the roads in the rural areas so you’d see neighbors, people coming home or businesses going out and helping get a car out. It was pretty awesome to watch considering the Japanese people always seem so engrained in what they are doing but not really paying attention to others and their needs. Just the past few days, we have noticed people so engrossed with their phones that they are not even aware of what is right in front of them, like a 2 year old trying to hand them a piece of paper. Today, on my bike, I rode past a girl who was on her phone and didn’t take her eyes off it and crossed the road without even looking. Truly, we are amazed (and not in a good way).

Pumpkin bread

Sorry, back to the positive. One of the things that we were able to get before the storm started was a bread maker. Thank you to those who gave towards getting it. We greatly appreciate that along with Hannah’s car seat. Praise the Lord! It is just a simple act to give someone a warm piece with a drink while in such cold conditions. People were surprised to receive it. One little fruit that showed up to us was from a lady that Brian helped. She brought us a note, her business card (business cards are a big deal in Japan), a flyer to the business she works at on our block, and a gift for Hannah. It was girl’s day on March 3rd so she got Hannah a gift for that. It was all very sweet. Now, our responsibility is to keep in contact with her and have a genuine relationship with her. Then may she show some kind of curiosity to our faith, to our hope. It may take years but as long as we are faithful to God and to the people, it will happen.

 

But one of the things that I’d like to state is that there are very few people to reach the Japanese. Very few. I’m sure we’ve said this before but we’ll say it again. Japan needs more missionaries. We need missionaries that really have a heart first for God, then that have a heart for the lost at whatever cost that may be. But we certainly (the Christian community) feel so small. There is a need.

 

Another great need from a missionary standpoint is that we need people who will either be pastor or some type of leadership in the church. When I’m having Japanese lessons with our Pastor’s wife, Brian is keeping Pastor company and just being support to him which has been wonderful. But one of the recent things that was said was at a meeting (I think of some churches in the area) is that our church and a friend church has no one next to take care of the church. The friend church has a leadership group but has no pastor. Our church has Pastor Emori but he is very old and when he dies, we have no one to take responsibility. Right now, Brian does not feel like he is being called to be a pastor but he is ready and willing to take whatever responsibility that is required of him. I think one of the hardest things that is on our mind is that churches and ministries our dying because there aren’t enough “labourers”. Most of those labourers that started the churches over here are gone and the very last of them is actually going back home to Norway. People either aren’t being properly trained to understand to think for themselves (whether just personally or spiritually) or they aren’t being trained to be in leadership roles. Oh, please God, help us.

 

One more need that is looking to be fulfilled is that our boss, Hiroko is looking for a part-time, Christian, single lady teacher.

So if you know of anyone or you yourself are interested first reach out to God and seek His wisdom and if He gives you the green light, reach out to us and we’ll get you connected with Hiroko.

 

I believe one more thing I’d like to update everyone on is the ministries that are either starting up again or just started.

Hannah’s favorite thing to do during Pocket Ministry is pass the flyers out.

We just started the Pocket Ministry this past Friday (3/23). It felt a bit slow as no one came and participated. But it also wasn’t the nicest weather. It was just kind of a dreary day. But Hannah had so much fun passing out the flyers to people. If you would pray for God’s presence in that ministry. God’s presence may look different than we think but please pray for that. Pocket Ministry is every Friday at 5pm to 7pm. Also, please pray that a girl named Asuka will come. She is a girl that was at the orphanage that we visit once a month. She has become the age that they don’t keep them at the orphanage anymore. We don’t know details of where she is or anything but the staff told us that she really enjoys the Pocket Ministry. We so very much want to see her and help her in whatever way we can.

Another ministry that is starting is a little English school that we will teach at every other Saturday. The off Saturdays will still be Mama Mia (child and mommy ministry). So for the English school, it of course consists of teaching English but the main reason for it is to use the Bible. To teach about God and Jesus. So we and our friend (who is starting this) are very excited in this school coming together. So far, God is helping us see what the gifts He gives us can be used for. It is truly a blessing!

 

 

We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this life that we live. It’s by your support through prayers and other means of help makes this happen. We are very grateful for all those things. Also, thank you to those who have given your time when we were home. I know that while I felt like I was going everywhere (being busy) but I didn’t feel like it was busy-ness. It was extremely relaxing and helped energize me. There were a lot of things that we could accomplish and then there were some things that didn’t get done and of course, there were many more people that we wanted to spend time with and just couldn’t but that’s ok. I’m sure we’ll get another chance.

But until then, keep up serving God in the way that He calls you. If you feel like you are missing something, seek Him and He will provide. Oooo, that word “will” sounds so invigorating! Praise the Lord for His goodness, mercies, grace and many more. We are so undeserving. But because He gives us those things, may we take that advantage and love on Him and fellowship with Him.

Driver’s Licenses

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” –Matthew 6:26

When both of your international driving permits are about to expire and it looks a little tricky on how you are going to manage to get your Japanese driver’s licenses before the expiration date (which seems to be coming quickly), you wonder how it will ever work out in time. BUT, you remember that you have an AWESOME God who specializes in miracles. BUT, you also remember that you have an AWESOME God that may give you a bit of a different answer than what you were hoping for. Not because He is cruel and doesn’t want you to have the things needed but there may be some lesson in it all that you can get from the experience. Praise the Lord! So here is our experience of getting our driver’s licenses (DL).

Some of the first steps of the process is to send your U.S. DL into JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) so they can translate it. As soon as you get your translation back, you need to call in and set up an appointment to have an interview done. We ended up making the appointments first because we were told it would probably be awhile to get the interviews. So Brian went in and set up two appointments and it wasn’t looking too favorable as they only had a single opening 2 days before the expirations, and one that was open in July (1 ½ to 2 month wait time). Brian needed his license first considering he is the primary driver because of work. So he booked himself for the first one and booked me for the second option. We then sent in our U.S. DL to get translated at the beginning of May, and to our surprise, they came back about 6 days later (generally about a two week process).

Hannah got her driver’s license long before us!

Lets move on to 2 days after we received the translations. We enjoy riding bike and take the chances when we can while the weather is nice. So for some odd reason, Brian decided to take the bike to work. But there were some things wrong with him taking the bike that day (but also some things right.) 🙂

Wrong thing #1: Brian only had 35 minutes to get to work. The bike ride is around 45 minutes from our apartment. Thankfully, he pedaled fast enough and got there in 25 minutes. He also had all this equipment and materials that he needed to strap to the bike which does take time.

After teaching his morning classes, he had his usual teacher’s meeting at an “unusually early” time . During the teacher’s meeting, Brian brought up the concern to our boss (Hiroko) that because of the time that the interview is to be, it would be a problem for him to drive to his classes. Wondering what options there are to help this problem. So Hiroko just called the driving center and by the end of the phone conversation, we found out that they changed his interview to that actual day (5/12/17) not (6/12/17)… but it was in an hour!

Wrong thing #2: Brian doesn’t have the car! He has to get to the driving center but he also needs all the documents that are required for the interview (which were at home with Hannah and I). There was not enough time by bike to get every thing.

So he called me.

Right thing: The car was left with me and so were those documents! (Really not meant to be a prideful statement, promise.) He asked that I’d come pick him up with the documents and we’d go to the driving center for the interview. My problem was that Hannah was still napping and we don’t like to wake her up, if possible. But he assured me that she needed woken up. So just as soon as I hung up, Hannah woke up. I was wondering “Should I get her dressed?”, “I need a shower. Should I take a super quick one? No really, Brian needs this ASAP!”, “Should I put up my hair?”, “What if for some odd reason, they can take me with him? I better take my documents!” So here we are rushing out the door. Get to the school and… Brian isn’t there! Come to find out Hiroko took him just so he could at least be present on time. So Hannah and I made it over to the center and Brian comes out and is smiling walking over to the car. Opens Hannah’s door and I open up mine to give him the papers and he goes, “Just to make it more crazy, how about you join me for the interview.” (Glad I did decide to put on that deodorant!) Because Hiroko took Brian, she was able to talk to the people at the center to let me have the interview with him. But we were definitely NOT preparted. We thought we had all this time to prepare.

We went in and had our interviews. We find it a bit strange though that they didn’t ask us about any accidents while in the U.S. because they were suppose to. But in a way, that made it much easier because to remember all the dates and such things aren’t that easy. (Not that we had THAT many.) So we get a call a few days later to let us know that we passed! Hurray!

We both had our written and driving test May 31st. While we both passed the written test, we failed the driving test. The test isn’t like in the States where you have to drive logically but rather, they give you a series of irregular rules that they just want you to follow. But when you have all these rules, you have difficulty with doing everything just right. But they told us what we did wrong. I won’t embarrass anyone but someone drove one-handed and drove over the speed limit as soon as they left the parking spot. The instructor instantly failed them. (We both drive one-handed a lot of times and do our best to stay under the speed limit.)

So we both took our tests again on June 14th. I passed but Brian failed. He was going to have his own personal driver for at least the next two weeks until he cou

ld take his test again and hopefully pass. But wait!

Hiroko has a way of pulling strings! She was able to get him to take his drivers test on the 16th. Such a rare exception! Only God could have worked that out! But Brian passed on June 16th. Only 15 hours of him not being able to legally drive.

While in some ways, you feel a bit defeated and can’t figure out why someone wouldn’t pass, you later realize maybe why. During the days that we failed, we got opportunities to talk to someone about Jesus and/or just give them gospel tracts. Also, a while back we met a girl, “R” (we’ll say “R” as we didn’t get permission from her to use her name), who is with one of the churches that we are in connections with and she actually helped us understand what the process wo0uld look like to getting the licenses. She works as an ALT teacher here in Japan. We don’t get to spend much time with her as she is usually very busy with work. “R” had to take her test a few times before but she was there taking her (hopefully) last test. She was very nervous, and of course just wanted to pass. Brian and “R” talked and she expressed the concerns about the testing and also the fact that she was also here for ministry purposes. So Brian prayed with her. Both took their tests. And yes, she passed as well. 🙂 Later, while we went out as a celebration, “R” said that she felt it was a time from God. We would not have had this good time to connect if it wasn’t for the two failures.

So thank you again to those who prayed for us in getting our licenses. I’m not sure if we’ve said this before but we certainly mean it when we say that we can’t do the things here if it weren’t for the prayers of you to our Father.

Again, we truly have an AWESOME God! We just want to praise Him for the things that we ourselves truly can’t do without Him. The only reason we can drive in the first place is because He gave us the bodies to move. To see. To understand. Praise the Lord!

How are the Spratts?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Eph. 1:3

We are certainly blessed. Not just spiritually but physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even though what I may say might seem to show otherwise. Ha. But that is a part of life. While our bodies are not perfect (ask Brian!), we have a Perfect God who knows all about those things!

This post will be about us. Yikes!!! We prefer to use this blog page for updates on ministries but I’m sure there are some people out there who would like to know some of the things going on with us personally. Not personally like, “I haven’t had a shower in a week” or the popular facebook joke post, “I just went to the bathroom”. But the other type of “personally”. Our physical health. Mental, emotional. How teachings are going, etc.

It seems like the flu has been going around here and a friend church, about half of their members got it. Also, Hannah and I got it. Boy, that wasn’t fun. While Hannah had the flu, we also think that she was teething pretty hard at the same time. She ended up getting a low grade fever for just a little over a day. Maybe two days. I love that she gets clingy and wants to sleep on you during those times. Obviously, the side that I don’t like about those times is that she feels rotten. She has recovered quicker than I have. I’m now just starting to taste my food and drink again. Although, with my taste back now, still being a bit sick, I feel like I’m tasting boogers. Haven’t eaten those in years. But anyways, onto better details.

Brian has been doing well. He continues to have his “prophet” or “visionary” personality. You can read all about the 3 types of men and women from Debi Pearls “Personality Types”.http://nogreaterjoy.org/blogs/preparingtobeahelpmeet/about/personality-types/

While somedays, I think he really has some out the box ideas BUT as long as God is putting them there, I just love the fact that he will follow them. (I mean, WE’RE IN JAPAN!!!) 🙂 As far as his health… where to start? We’re pretty sure for his 30th birthday, he’ll be getting partials. He already has about 4 or 5 teeth missing. And right now, we’re just getting any cavities that we both have filled. (The dentists office in Japan seems to be better as far as the wait time is shorter and they do it in parts rather than all at once.) Another health problem is that he went in for surgery about 2 years ago to get a hernia fixed. We’re actually pretty sure that the doctor just gave him another hernia instead of fixing the original. The incision was actually at his belly button. His hernia was not close to the belly button. So it has never felt right since then. But now these hernias seems to be giving him problem; he is having more pains daily. He calls it his gremlins. They don’t like him sneezing or exercising. We still have yet to navigate the medical field, as in the hospital.

Something else health wise but not personally Brian’s health, is the health of his mother. It is a mess and it is a bigger story to explain everything but it is in the forefront of just daily life. While he is concerned about the outcome of this issue but he is also trying to neutrally help with some problems. Not an easy thing when you’re not there. Otherwise, prayer for much wisdom in all aspects of this would be much appreciated.

But on a better note, he loves teaching. He will tell you that teaching your own language makes you realize how much of your own language you don’t know because “it’s always been that way for us”. Also, he’s using the times that he can to tell his students about Christ when it’s the appropriate timing. American holidays seem to be the best.

Oh, lets see. For me, I’m still teaching a 3 year old. There are days where it can be very exciting because she seems to be understanding and paying attention. Then there are days where she just wants to look into spaces and jump around everywhere and you spend almost the entire class trying to get her attention. So the days that she focuses is extremely exciting (not kidding).

Homesickness has certainly been setting in.

Otherwise, the only other thing I can really say about myself is some emotional problems I have been having. I won’t go into the back story but the days that are hard are, well… hard. Actually, yesterday and the day before were some of those days. But what has lead to having these feelings was when Brian had to put a stop to something. So all of these feelings didn’t come till after we
moved here. One thing that has been consistent through our marriage though is that I see things more as black and white. Like that, in a situation, I feel there needs to be fault somewhere and I feel it’s usually in me. There is much more to it but I don’t care to spend much time on it.

So on to the cutest member of our family! Hannah! Oh my is she growing up fast! I feel so bad for everyone back home that can’t watch her grow up in person. But thank the Lord for technology! She gets many 可愛い (cute). She started walking just a bit before her 1st birthday. She can say some words like puppy, kitty and cheese (She says cheese when she wants the camera on my phone to take a picture). But she absolutely loves animals. Particularly dogs. If she sees one outside, she asks to stand at the windowsill to watch them. And if she gets the chance, she wants to pet them. Which all that makes it exciting that the process is starting for our doggy to come here. Truly, we are so appreciative of our friends Nate, Janae, and their children for taking care of her and for getting her ready to come here.

Hannah and I try to stay out of trouble (sometimes a success, sometimes not). She loves going for bike rides. She can point things out. And since we found a gem of a park named Green Park- we’ll certainly be taking many adventures there. The park itself is so big. Many fun things to do. But if I just want her to run around and get energy out, I can just let her run free (with supervision of course) and I know that she’ll be safe.

Also, she loves music. Almost guaranteed, if she hears music, she’s dancing. She might even sing. We are fully enjoying her. We continually thank God for such a precious gift. And we continue to pray that she will love God with all her heart. God has answered everything else with her so I can’t wait to see how He answers it for her in the future. 🙂

So overall, we’re doing well. One thing we always try to remember is that even when we are going through something hard or we had something taken away, that does NOT mean that God is any less good and we are so thankful for that. Circumstances will not always be perfect. But God will always be. And when we have days when we don’t know what to do next or we feel like we’re falling apart, we just need to keep in mind “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”Rom. 8:28 We’re in this life not to live for ourselves but to live for God. We owe all to him because “he first loved us”. 1 John 4:19

Who Have Both Hands Full

Idleness. Something that seems like this December hasn’t had. In a way, I’m very thankful for that as the Bible says many things against being idle. But at the same time, it seemed like there weren’t enough “idle” times for us to appreciate and soak in why we have this season of Christmas. Another thing that this month hasn’t been full of is the word “No”. Hence the reason for such a busy time.

One thing that has been keeping us on our toes, especially Brian, is his mom has been to the hospital I think 3 times and it all started back in November. I think if we all really put our heads together about what is really wrong with her, we would still have no idea. From what I have gotten from Brian and everyone else is that there isn’t a single good hospital in Staten Island. I don’t want to go into much further details about any of it but prayer for our family would be greatly appreciated. The problems are still going on right now.

We had planned about 5 ministries but one didn’t work out. We wanted to have a little concert/caroling of Christmas/gospel music at Fukui Station but with everyone that was planning on doing that, our schedules didn’t work out for enough practice time and bad weather happened that day. Even though it didn’t work, it’s a blessing to know that God isn’t going to hold against us that a ministry didn’t happen. If He wanted it to work out, He certainly would of made it happen when those involved were willing to do so. But some of the other ministries that did happen were our church Christmas parties. One was for youth, another was for children and the last was for anyone. I was able to attend the youth. While a lot of our church members attended, there were 2 girls that attended that aren’t church goers. It’s nice being a foreigner as they take interest in talking to you and you can talk pretty much about anything with them. One of the girls asked me when we plan on going home (not for visiting) and those types of questions can open up a wonderful opportunity for God/Jesus. Also, she asked if it’s hard to be away from home. Again, wonderful opportunity! Unfortunately, we missed the children’s Christmas but we were able to go to the Christmas party that anyone can go to. Lots of singing, preaching (not entirely sure what the preacher was saying) and good food.:) All in all, it seemed like good events. The one thing that seems to lack here in churches are follow-ups. Like, you can’t just hold an event, talk to people about spiritual things and then not keep the connection with them. In the Japanese culture, you really have to stick with him as far as being in contact because they usually won’t come to you on their own. If we haven’t said this before, Japan is a relational country. Relationships are so important.

Of course, Tanpopoen Nursing Home is always a place of ministry and we certainly enjoy spending time there. Other than decorations being different from the last time we were there, nothing else was much different as far as how the program goes. Everyone seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Even little reindeer Hannah made her appearance. I’m sure you can only imagine what fun the elderly had with such a cute little baby. 🙂 On a side note, one thing we didn’t notice there last time was a big scale. So of course we all wanted to weigh ourselves. Hehe. I won’t tell you the numbers, but Hannah is growing well! 😉

 
Two different Christmas gatherings were done through GRACE Academy. One was done for a kindergarten school. I think it was the first time that the gospel could be introduced. Years prior, one of the other teachers would do whatever activities but this year Hiroko, Brian, Hannah, and I got to do it. So we did the telling of Jesus’ birth. Brian played the accordion and sang the 12 Days of Christmas which is a wonderful thing because it helps the children with counting. Boy! Did they have fun with that! Also, it makes you realize that you have to remember a lot of things as you sing down everything your true love gave ya! At times, I think Brian got 4 turtle doves and then 2 more turtle doves. 🙂 And the older class, we got to play Christmas bingo! Everyone won! We also played Christmas bingo at the GRACE Christmas party. Along with singing and again, the story of Jesus’ birth. The GRACE Christmas party was not only for the staff of the school but also any of the students that wanted to come. Hannah and I finally got to meet one of Brian’s classes which consist only of a husband and wife, the Nishimoto family. Brian has always spoken so highly of them and to finally meet them was so exciting. I think if they could of taken Hannah home, they would of. But of course, most importantly, we hope that everyone received the message of why we celebrate Christmas. That is a goal not only for us but also for Hiroko.

Even though GRACE has their “holiday break” but there were still some classes that needed to be taught and we’re happy that happened that way. Part of one of the lessons was that you had to list in order what was most important to you. The things were Language, IT, Physics, Religion, Maths, Art, Sports, and Cookery. For both students, their first was Language and their second was Cookery. Their last… Religion. Brian said that his most important were Religion and Language. The reason why we are here is for Religion, Language was number two. Less than 1% of Japanese even know about Jesus and we are here to tell others. They showed interest in why we are here for “religion”. He also got to ask them what they are doing for New Years, the lady Sasaki-san said that her family would go to a temple and do their praying in which they clap twice, bow twice and then clap once. And at a shrine you clap twice, bow twice and then clap twice. Or maybe it is all the other way around. He asked why they have to clap this many times or bow this many times and so on. Sadly, they couldn’t really answer because they didn’t really know. Sasaki-san admitted that what really matters to her is her family and friends. It really comes to show, whether in Christianity, Buddhism, Shinto or any other religion that things can be done so mindlessly, that one just goes through the motions and when confronted about it, can’t give an answer because even they don’t know. “It’s just how we’ve always done it”. It is a great reminder to us that we need to make sure we know why we do the things we do. Why do we believe in God? Why do I wear a head-covering? Why not watch this type of thing? Why have a day of rest? Why, why why? Truly, we need to know these things. So please be in prayer for Brian’s students, Dani-san and Sasaki-san.

Brian continues to have time with Moriai. I can’t remember a lot of their conversations but when he has told me what they’ve talked about, it is always just so exciting because you feel like he’s almost there. Or as Brian will put it, he’s like King Agrippa. Almost persuaded. But hopefully, Moriai’s decision will be different than Agrippa’s. Please continue to pray.

I don’t remember if Brian said in the last post that we were planning to look for another place but if he didn’t, well, we’re searching for a new place to live. One that we can’t outgrow very quickly. One thing that we learned from moving here is that you should do some research before actually making the move to a new country. For us, a 2DK (2 “bedrooms” along with a dining room and kitchen) is not as workable in the long run. Maybe a 2LDK (2 “bedrooms” along with a living room, dining room and kitchen) would work. We have one of the “bedrooms” as a living room and we all sleep in the only bedroom. We certainly didn’t plan for Hannah to still be sleeping in the same room with us at almost a year old. So it gets a little difficult at times. But it’s not the worst thing that we can’t live with it for right now but we definitely can’t wait to have more room. We looked at a house to rent a few days ago, it was an older house but it was nice. There are probably a bit more cons than pros in our minds but we are still praying about it and of course still looking around but we’d like to ask for prayer of anyone that reads this. While we want someplace different quickly, we know that waiting on the Lord’s timing is best.

Speaking of being busy, we have many people to thank back home who have taken care of numerous affairs. While I would love to put everyone’s names down but I’m afraid I’ll forget someone. But there are things from taking care of our finances, to the trailer and all the work that comes with that, our beloved dog, making sure that if we need either something from our possessions or buying things. But even some of the things that aren’t physical, thank you to everyone for your prayers and fastings. I know I’ve said this before in other places but it is why we can do what we can do because of your intercessions! Thank you!

So we are thankful for not only the month of December and all of it’s busy times but we are thankful for the year of 2016. As two major doors were opened and in such a short amount of time, Hannah’s birth and moving to Japan. As we look back on the year, I think our heads spin because it’s like “How did we manage to pull all that off so quickly?” and we’d still give the same answer. “God!” It truly was all God because personally, it was overwhelming with the changes of already having moved, to having a baby on the way, to have to move to a new country in 2 months from the time that Brian was offered the job at GRACE, plus all the little things in between. Although sometimes I think that heading up the VBS was quite the task at the time. Whoa!!! Just a lot! But again, God supplied. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19

As we enter this new year, may we all continue to strive to be more like Christ. May we remember we are on earth for His glory. May we remember Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.May our emphasis never be on things working together for us, but may our emphasis be “to them that love God”. May we remember that it isn’t about what God can do for us but rather what we can do for God. We are to live for Him! Praise the Lord! May everyone’s year of 2017 being filled with Almighty God!

Obon

“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. ” Jeremiah 44:5

 

It seemed the last few weeks were a bit busy for us. While Brian had off from work for about a week for summer break, there were still preparations that we needed to do, some just by ourselves, but some with other people. And of course when everyone has different schedules, it doesn’t always come out smoothly but praise the Lord, it got done!

IMG_3528First we had a “concert” at Tanpopoen Nursing Home! That was very neat to be apart of! The staff did it up nicely! They had little games outside along with some food. Inside they had food and all the music going on. We even did bingo! (My card must have been broken. I didn’t even win anything!) They had what seemed like some kind of school that teaches, I believe, “taiko” which are Japanese percussion instruments. Then Hiroko (Brian’s boss) sang some songs. She sang “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. I’ll just let the picture speak for itself! And Brian, Makito and I sang some hymns…. in Japanese! Considering two out of three aren’t fluent in the language, I’d say it wasn’t a train wreck. Maybe more like a fender bender. 🙂 So despite me making up words, we pray that it ministered to the people. One thing that is tricky about either singing gospel music or hymns and hoping that people will come to Christ as their personal Savior is that they think that they can just “collect gods”. It needs to be very clearly communicated to them that there is only One True God, and that they can’t have any other gods. Please pray for the people of Japan that their eyes would be open to that Truth and also pray for us that we may know how to communicate that to them!

Pastor Emori and Rainer

Pastor Emori and Rainier

Sunday was a little different than usual as we had a man named Rainier join us, who has been doing missions works in the Tokyo area for some years now. He ended up giving the sad news that he was going back to the Philippines (he’s Filipino) in December, but we are happy that we got to meet him. He gave a Sunday morning message and then he gave a message at our Worship service that we had a bit later in the afternoon and they had us to sing there as well. It was great to get together with a church in the area to just worship the Lord.

Sunday evening had been an evening that Brian and I have been waiting for since we found out about O-bon! A little back story on O-bon. O-bon is a time that Buddhists believe that their ancestors come back to this world and visit family. They really have quite a bit of things that they do to help “bring back” their loved ones. For example, they make a horse out a cucumber to bring in their ancestors quickly and make a cow out of eggplant to send them off slowly because they don’t like good-byes.

Lighting the Ancestors' Way

Lighting the Ancestors’ Way

Men scooping up lanterns.

Men scooping up lanterns.

Another thing that they do that we were able to witness is that they put lit lanterns in the rivers as a way to light their ancestors way back to the spirit world. I mean, this lantern ceremony is a big deal and there are a ton of people at it. As much as it is really gorgeous to see the lanterns lit floating down the river but at the same time, it’s very sad as people believe everything behind the meaning. And what was also sad was when we went back to the bus that takes you to the parking lot, there were some men standing at a spot in the river collecting all the lanterns out of the water. It’s almost like there really is no meaning in actually sending the lanterns down if someone is just gonna scoop them up. How do you determine the ancestors got back safely? Truly, there are so many questions you’d like to ask people and hopefully, you’d get them to think about things rather than just believing it because someone said that this is what will happen if you do this.

While the last few weeks had it’s times of grief for us (as we watch people faithfully doing something that will not benefit them eternally) and while it seemed like we had a ton of things to do in a certain amount of time, it was still a great week! God is still working on us. Showing us things in our lives. He continues to lay “visions” that we hope to keep so the people don’t perish. Again, please pray for the people of Japan. It is a first world country, but it’s a first world country that doesn’t really get to hear the gospel and if they do, they may not receive it clearly from just one meeting. It’s truly a relationship building place. They need to see it played out in real life, but also they need to hear it too.

The Young and the Old…

We definitely feel that the church we are at right now (Matsuoka Evangelical Church) is the place that we need to be. To help encourage those who labour for the Lord in reaching those without Christ. For them, they’re not the type of church that gets missionaries frequently. To Brian and I, well, we’re just like any other normal person. Nothing special about us. But to them, we are something special. There is encouragement within the church because God has given us a different perspective from the culture we came from to share with the Japanese culture. We think within one type of box and they think within another. But both peoples can learn things from the other and then you have everyone unpacking their boxes!

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” 1 Timothy 5:17

DSC_0177

The Pastor is a wonderful man. He is an older gentleman and he had suffered from a stroke a few years back and he hasn’t been the same since. From what we understand, he has a servant’s heart, always wanting to help people. But since the stroke, he can’t even drive himself or his wife places. He will be speaking and in the middle of the sentence, forget what he was just talking about. People now have to help him. It truly bothers him because he can’t help others like he use to. But just because of all that, that doesn’t stop him from doing other things that help others. He continues to preach (in Japanese, of course). Since we’ve been there, he has faithfully typed out his messages in English for Brian and I to follow along with during service. A lot of times, when we read what he types, we feel like we’re reading a fortune cookie, but he most certainly gets his point across! Please pray for encouragement for him as he has discouraging times with his health.

 

DSC_0179There are some ministries that the church has been doing before we got here and there is at least one ministry that was started a week ago. I’d like to add this before I say much more. I keep coming to the realization on how important it is for us to be a part of the ministries that the church has because of our position. But right now, while we do understand a little of the language, there are still lots that we have to learn, and I believe that is what holds us back from being a part of those things. So please continue to be in prayer for us about learning Japanese.

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

The one ministry that we got the blessing to be apart of was the one that was started a week ago by the Pastor’s wife. God had laid it on her heart to spread the gospel to the elderly at a local nursing home.

Tanpopoen Residents

Tanpopoen Residents

There were many more people there than what I expected. But they asked Brian and I to sing. Brian got to play his accordion and also, he preached (his boss, Hiroko interpreted). One of the best elements you can put Brian into is teaching/preaching so he had a fun time doing all of that!
I’ll say this because Brian would never tell anyone this (“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Proverbs 27:2). There was a bit of concern at first from Hiroko about the message and the fact that it wasn’t “a usual
gospel message”. He preached from Psalm 100. But in the end, he tied in the gospel. That is a different way than what Hiroko knew. She expressed that, the way the messaged was preached, made her think in a new way. The members of the nursing home actually want us to come back, even though they are almost all Buddhist.

Also, Hannah was quite the attention-getter when people saw her. I sat down with her while all of us were up front singing and I’m pretty sure these two ladies paid no attention to what was even being sung because they were too busy waving at Hannah which Hannah didn’t seem to mind. 😉 It seems like there is always something about the young in a nursing home. Through her, or really any child, you see God’s masterpiece. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1 We are beyond blessed with how God uses her!

My Home for Their’s

Today was kind of an emotional day for me. I’m going to try to wear my heart on my sleeve ‘cause personally, I almost really don’t want to talk about it but the emotions are real and if it can encourage someone else, then glory be to God!

Brian and I had to talk about some things last night such as additional insurance pertaining to the car, and then we needed to talk about the trailer back home in Ohio. So far, we are considering two options. Either have it rented out (which has been hard worked on by our lead Pastor and anyone else), or sell it. That thought had gone through Brian’s mind but I don’t think it had gone through mine.

As I said, our lead Pastor Lonnie has been showing the trailer to people who are interested in renting it. I know he’d talked about getting another hobby before but I never thought it would be real estate! Maybe motorcycle riding or something but definitely not real estate! 😉 Anyways, he has been trying to communicate with us and we’ve been going back and forth with the property manager. It’s starting to be a dead end because we can’t get an answer to give an answer.

Our nights lately have been just a little rough as Hannah is waking up a few times (we think she is trying to crawl but then wakes herself and starts to cry). So I wake up multiples times and when I would last night, I would think about selling the trailer and my heart would just drop. This trailer is the only place that I finally felt at home. 4 1/2 years of marriage and we’ve moved 5 times.

(I feel like this might be a longer post than I’d like so I’m not going to really discuss the details).

When we first got married, we had stayed at the crash pad that he rented from another flight attendant. It wasn’t the ideal place for a newlywed to live. So we moved!

Second place was an apartment. There were a few details to why I never felt at home there. But we ended up moving out because of some unhealthy issues that the landlord didn’t fix properly.

Third place was a house that we owned in Columbus. That house was definitely a fixer upper!

Because place 3 was a fixer upper, we got a generous offer from new friends to live with them until we got the house problem fixed. So place four ended up being a 2 year, almost 3 year living arrangement. While both families have wonderful stories about those almost past 3 years, we also now understand why multiple families weren’t mean to live with each other! 🙂 (By the way, it’s hard to be away from them so it clearly wasn’t that bad!)

After selling place 3 and knowing that we had a baby on the way, we needed a place of our own. We then found place five, the trailer!
It was perfect for us! Not too big, not too small. We owned it. We could be a family with our animals without having restrictions and it was out in the country area. In two months we’d welcome our little baby and we figured we’d just get settled in for a while (because we still felt that God was going to have us serve in Japan). Then we got the surprise that we would be leaving for Fukui, Japan in June. So we only lived there for 8 months. We wanted and still want to have it rented out while we are here. Then when we come back (whenever the Lord will) we have something to come back to.

Please be in prayer with us as we make this decision. As far as we’re concerned, we aren’t making the decision quickly.

All I know is that I wanted to feel at home. We found the place. Had to temporarily leave the place. During temporary leave, we may have to sell the place.

It makes me think of how we are to be pilgrims while here on earth. Be ready to pick up your life and move to where God leads you. I remember as we were on the plane ready to leave Columbus, I was crying because it was then just hitting me that we were leaving our dog. I told Brian and he said “We could turn back now and stay”. I’m sure he knew that I wouldn’t have us turn around. But my response was “If we go back now, we’ll suffer the horrible heartache because we didn’t follow God’s command. Then if we were to get right with God, follow His command and then actually do what we need to, we’ll have to go through the heartache of leaving too. So I’d rather just go through the heartache once.”

There is a message that I feel is powerful. It’s called “Going to Hell Unnoticed”. Here is the video. I’d highly recommend that you listen to it.


While we’re here in Japan, we need to give up any and every thing that God desires for us to serve Him and to lighten the load of others taking care of things back home so that we (by the way, we’re no one special. Just because we have hope, the Hope! Doesn’t mean we’re better than anyone) can spread the Gospel so people don’t go to Hell unnoticed. So that God can be glorifed and honored to people who haven’t even heard about Him and His Son.

Yes, it hurts thinking about giving up “home”. BUT if giving up “home” means that someone or people can have an eternal future in Heaven then it would be worth it all!

Intro

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ!

We are very excited to have a blog for those who want to follow us on our journey here in Fukui, Japan! I will admit, I’m terrible at writing in a journal. I truly am not a writer. But blogging definitely will be something that will keep me disciplined.

We would also like to comment on the website in which we are using. Missionsplace.com. We are grateful for a blogging site that people in ministry can use. We didn’t want just any blog site. We wanted one that was meant for ministry. We will be learning this site so bear with us as we do. Thank you to those who work for MissonsPlace for your dedication of this site!

There is so much that God has done from just before we even came to Japan and He continues to do so much! We are truly seeing so much fruit in other’s lives along with our own!

Like any other missionary or missionary family, we are in constant need of prayer for the many aspects of the life God has called us to. While there is excitement of knowing that God is and will use you, there are the moments of nervousness as various duties come up that you never imagined you’d be asked to do.

There are so many things that I’d love to update you on but I will make those for other posts. 🙂 How about the next post I’ll tell you….

I’ll just leave this suspense right here. 😉

In Christ’s Love,

Mia (For the Spratts)