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An Unusual Start to 2024

Normally we would be wishing you a very happy new year at this moment, and in fact we do wish you a happy new year, but for many here in Japan New Year’s Day was anything but happy. A huge earthquake struck near the Western coast of Japan (several hours away from us here in the Tokyo area). While I am thankful that we are all fine and nothing in our house or area suffered damage (that I know of), we are just beginning to see how bad the damage is in the affected area. If you or your family were affected by this earthquake, our hearts go out to you. We are praying for your recovery.

But prayer is just a part of our response to tragedy. Our Paz International team sent several relief and aid teams to help after the infamous Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011. Years later, when the Kumamoto earthquake struck, we sent a number of relief teams into that area and I was blessed to be a part of it. If need be, our Paz team would once again mobilize our members towards another relief effort to do whatever we can to help those affected by this disaster.

Living in Japan you become very conscious of the fact that you can’t take anything for granted. We are so thankful for all of the prayers and concern of everyone who has messaged us, asking about our safety. We ask that you continue to pray for those affected by the earthquake.

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Unique Japanese School Supplies

Japanese school supplies are as unique as the school system itself. I must say that one of the strengths of a Japanese education is the focus on practical things that you use in everyday life, not just all the concepts that educators want you to know. You can see this very clearly in the sheer amount of supplies parents need to buy.

https://youtu.be/Th6_BWN0yYc

As a parent you get a list of things that are needed for each school year and usually a QR code for a webpage where you can buy the supplies. There are inexpensive offerings as well as cuter (and often more expensive) options. Parents are given a decent stipend from the government in order to help with these purchases, as to not be a burden for poorer families. Still, as you can see, the Japanese school system is quite the system! What do you think? How does it compare the schools you know?

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Life-Defining Moments

We all have these moments — they can be positive or negative events. They can happen to us when we are young or grown, but they are the moments that end up defining who we are and what we’re about. I’ve had a number of these moments throughout my life, and the way I’ve responded to them has made me the person I am today. But recently are family experienced a life-defining moment that was so special we wanted to share it with all of you.

Baptism is a powerful, life-defining moment that really can’t be compared to anything else. It is the result of coming into personal relationship with creator God through Jesus Christ. This relationship changes everything in life — including all previous life-defining moments, whether good or bad. They all take a back seat the life-transforming identity we receive when we are adopted as sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ.

What life-defining moments have you experienced? Have they made you better as a person, or have they left you shattered? Whatever it is, you can take these moments and give them to God who made you, knows you better than anyone else and wants the best for you more than you even want it. The best decision I ever made was to follow Jesus, and that continues to define my life, my marriage, my family and my future. I pray it can do the same for you!

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Lives

Life in Japan Marathon

It’s so fun as people discover Life in Japan for the first time. They typically watch one, like it, watch another one, like it and soon they are hooked. But we also often hear from people who haven’t watched for a while and get caught up in one big marathon. So if you’re looking for something good to watch, here is the latest Life in Japan Marathon suggestion… Life in Japan Summer 2023!!

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Lives

Celebrating 20 Years Married

In June of 2003 Ruth and I said “I do” to one another in marriage and a new family began! Last year we realized that our 20 years anniversary was coming up, and we wanted to do something special — something out of the ordinary. Something that we’d long remember and was worthy of the 20th anniversary. Every other year for our anniversary, we’d normally celebrate by going out to dinner somewhere, but this time we knew what we wanted to do: a big trip with no kids!

We began to look into an Alaskan cruise, and the options got us excited. We’ve both dreamed of doing a cruise (neither one of us have done them) and Alaska isn’t so far from us here in Japan. But the prices of going on a cruise, especially the airfare from Japan, was crazy high! So much so, we soon thought of another option — what if we explored more of Asia? The result was one of the most unforgettable trips we’ve ever done — and at half the price it would have cost us to do an Alaskan cruise, this was a great way to do it!

Now while this doesn’t directly have to do with life in Japan, it does have everything to do with how you vacation internationally when you live in Japan! In fact this one trip really opened our eyes to all the exciting possibilities of living in Japan, not just within the country but also because of what is relatively close to Japan and yet a world away.

We’re so thankful we could celebrate in such a memorable way. How important it is to celebrate the big milestones in life and not minimize the importance of the people closest to you, that God has given you. In fact the celebration also made us look forward to getting back to the kids, and we had a special reunion when the trip was all said and done.