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First Japanese Play

The girls recently had a first — their first Japanese play! And by saying “Japanese” I mean the play they did in Japanese at their kindergarten. They are learning Japanese so well and did a great job. For all of those proud grandparents, aunts, uncles and loved ones out there, here is a quick video highlighting their moving performance. Prepare yourself for “Under the Sea.” Yes, even though they go to a Japanese kindergarten, the Japanese LOVE everything Disney! 🙂 The second act was a little ditty about some cute forest creatures (which seemed much more Japanese).

Afterwards we were able to talk with several different parents and even invite some over for dinner. The Japanese are so welcoming and love to try their English (and I loved being able to test my Japanese with them). The girls kindergarten has been a wonderful place to build new relationships here in Japan.

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Becoming Japanese

If you follow us on Facebook or instagram, you’ve seen how much the girls have been growing up and everyone’s been settling in! Our adjustment to life in Japan has not been easy, but it has been full of grace and growing. The girls continue to go daily to Japanese preschool. Their teacher says they are doing a good job and are integrating well in class. Their Japanese language teacher says that they understand nearly everything he says to them in Japanese! That’s so good. They’re still learning to like Japanese food, as some times they let us know that they didn’t finish all their food at school. When they do, they get drawings on their hands as rewards! 🙂

Becca and Anna following in daddy and mommy's footsteps.
Becca and Anna following in daddy and mommy’s footsteps.

With family-care and language-learning as our full-time jobs, the rest of our time we spend in ministry. We have been leading a wonderful bi-lingual cell group since last summer. Already we have won some precious people to the Lord and we are seeing everyone grow in understanding and practice! Our goal this year is to train up leaders. Nearly everyone in our cell group is taking additional classes to be trained in Christian life and leadership. Coming up soon in March is our Encounter with God weekend, and we pray that it will be a key time of breakthrough for our group. Please be praying for God to be working powerfully in the lives of our cell group and disciples.

We So Appreciate You!

We really do appreciate all your love, prayers and support. Without it, we could not be breaking new ground here in the land of the Rising Sun. And God has big plans for Japan! We are beginning to see the fruit of it. The harvest is ripe in Japan and we ask for your continued prayer covering. God bless!

Family time!
Family time!
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New Devotional Website

Ever been in that situation? As I was thinking about my personal goals for the new year, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my own spiritual development. I’ve read the Bible several times, and I think that it’s an outstanding goal and it should be one of the first goals any Christian has (and continues to have). And every year I want to grow closer to God, but how can one objectively judge something like that? I felt like God wanted something else this time. The more I prayed, the more I sensed that I wanted to practice the presence of God in a new way, hearing from God and expressing it in new ways.

Jesus so often taught important lessons in stories and parables. These illustrations often described spiritual principles better than if He would have just explained them flat out. What makes the most memorable sermons memorable aren’t always the truths expressed (even though they’re essential to understand) – it’s the stories that expressed those principles in a way that went to the heart.

So I began to write down things God put on my heart. Sometime whole devotions. Sometimes just a thought and then seeking out that thought. God was teaching new things, while reminding of old victories. I would then look for an illustration from years of photos that expressed that truth in a powerful way. You may have seen me posting these on Facebook and instagram.

As I started to do this, I was so encouraged by looking over what God was sharing with me and the way the expression was taking shape that I felt like I needed to share it for others to be encouraged — others who have the same heart and goals. The website Starting Fires was born — a collection of these expressions. It’s named in honor of the poem my wife Ruth wrote when she was a teenager. I pray that it can inspire an even greater intimacy with God in both young and old. That everyone could realize more of their divine potential, no matter where they are in their walk with God.

Visit Starting Fires

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Lives Music Videos

Christmas Carols

We recently celebrated our first Christmas with our new church family here in Japan. Our Christmas Candlelight service was the most packed service we’ve had yet, full of visitors. Some — like our pharmacist who accepted our sister Beth’s invitation, heard the story of Christmas for the very first time. She was so thankful to hear it! Even though not many people in Japan know the true meaning of Christmas, the Japanese are familiar with many Christmas carols. Shopping even at the convenient store, you can hear the Gospel declared through the English lyrics of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing!” Oh that it were in Japanese for all to understand and hear!

Our Christmas  Candlelight Service — packed full!
Our Christmas Candlelight Service — packed full!

So as we were preparing for our Christmas Candlelight Service, we decided to take four key Christmas carols that nearly all Japanese are familiar with and sing them in our Fuse Worship style — a verse in English, a verse in Japanese. There was something so special about singing these recognizable songs in Japanese — the timeless truths being declared. The age-old invitation to come and worship the newborn king going out for all to hear! The lyrics are so rich and fresh when you hear them (again) for the first time! So please enjoy this special Christmas treat — here’s our Fuse Christmas Celebration to download and enjoy! Lots of piano, strings, brass, organ and the beautiful singing of fellow missionary Jennifer Huber. But most of all the most important birthday being celebrated in a whole new language.

So what do the Japanese think about Christmas? Well, fellow missionary John Eisenmann went about town asking people what they think of when they hear the word “Christmas.” The responses were funny, interesting and a little sad all at the same time. What a difference it is to know the true meaning of Christmas! Enjoy the video.

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Kurisumasu in Japan

The holiday time is upon us, and once again we will celebrate it in a completely new and foreign way. From the U.S. to Brazil to Japan, we are sure broadening our scope of culture. Japan in general is interested in Western culture and customs, and even celebrates クリスマス (ku-ri-su-ma-su). Yes, say it fast, and you can see how it sounds like “Christmas.” The accepted celebration is taking your lover (not always your spouse, unfortunately) to Kentucky Fried Chicken for a hearty “American” celebration, exchanging gifts and who knows what else afterwards. While we may chuckle at the thought of what Christmas is to them, it is sad how few Japanese know the true meaning of Christmas.

Whether in Japan, America or Brazil, the holidays are wonderful times to host parties around the true meaning of these celebrations. And believe it or not, you can celebrate Thanksgiving without a brutal Lions vs Cowboys football game or the equally anticipated/dreaded Black Friday (which now ironically begins before you’ve digested your turkey on Thanksgiving and runs all the way through “Cyber-Monday” and beyond). We have already planned a Thanksgiving celebration for this weeks’ Wednesday cell group and three of our school-bus moms (and families) have accepted the invitation to come! In one month we will host another party for Christmas and have a wonderful opportunity to share a world-wide reason for celebration: Christ has come! So at church we are also planning a special Sunday to be able to invite our friends to celebrate Christmas with us.

The girls in their pre-k class — great place to make new friends!
The girls in their pre-k class — great place to make new friends!

Please be praying for a great time of planting Gospel seeds here in Japan. For several months, we have been building relationships in and outside of our cell group, having get-togethers, birthday parties, hiking outings and just about anything else to be able to connect with the people around us better. With a family of 5 it is a lot of work to do anything, especially when we don’t yet speak the language, but it’s the whole reason we’re here. To build relationships that will impact eternity! And we’ve been able to have some real quality time with many new people around us. Now let’s pray for there to be fruit from those relationships, even in spite of the language barrier. We thank you so much for your love and support. We are still looking at strengthening our support base, so please be in prayer for that as well. Please also keep our adjustment to our new home in your prayers, as we seek to communicate in Japanese and strive to reach-out. We couldn’t do this without you, and we know that God has big, wonderful things in store for Japan.

Girls will be girls!
Girls will be girls!

Mom’s Update
The girls are really adjusting well to life in Japan. They are learning Japanese and its so cute to hear them! They really enjoy school and love their teacher, which makes it much easier on Mommy. They love to go to the park and run around, especially if their friends are there. For their 5th birthday (Nov. 9) we had a couple of their friends over to sing happy birthday and eat cupcakes. We had a full house with 5 moms and 11 kids! But it was a lot of fun! Sarah loves to take a daily walk around the neighborhood and has the little old ladies on our street wrapped around her finger. Actually, everywhere we go, the girls get a lot of attention because of their blond hair, blue eyes and smiling faces. Please continue to pray that we can use those opportunities to share about Jesus and invite people to church.