Hello from Okinawa, we hope and pray everyone is well in these unusual days... we are in good health and spirits, spending lots of time together as a family and not in crowds, enjoying taking our puppy on walks, some jogs, and going hiking. This month we celebrated Eliya’s 9th birthday with pizza and a big dinosaur cake. Naomi has learned how to sew and have started sewing homemade masks, since all of the stores are still sold out. Mia continues to do gymnastics, with a heightened sense of precaution and despite her spring competitions being canceled. Andy and Megan have stayed busy at school.
Compared with the rest of the world. Okinawa remains relatively safe at this point. We have only had 13 people confirmed who have the virus, however with Tokyo spiking in recent days, people are feeling a little more cautious. To promote social distancing, church services moved online, events, parties, and festivals have been canceled. This month, in response to the Prime Minister of Japan's orders, we closed the OCSI campus and went to online school for two weeks. This brought some challenges as we all navigated how to continue giving our students quality education and support online. All the OCSI teachers did an amazing job, using online platforms like Google classroom and Seesaw. I (Andy) created a devotion video for all of the students and a chapel messages for the students. It was for only two weeks, and because Okinawa is at a low risk we were able to go back to school! Praise the Lord! Spring break starts tomorrow, we hope that we will be able to come back to school after spring break, but with the situation changing so fast we return to online school.
Thank you for your prayers for our family and for OCSI! Please join us in praying that through this stressful time, that Japan and our community would turn toward God and be ready to seek a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
As we approach Easter, Paul tells us this from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “What I received I passed on to you. And it is the most important of all. Here is what it is. Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be."
Of all the things Paul has written in the New Testament, he says the resurrection is of first importance. The resurrection, the empty tomb is our hope. Paul tells us to “hold fast” to it. Hold fast to it when there is peace and prosperity and especially hold fast to it during uncertain times. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will live forever, even if they die.” This Easter, we may not have all of the celebrations we are used to having, however, we have Christ and we have the hope of resurrection. Let's hold fast to the resurrection and be reminded of God's great love for us.
We are into the second month of the school year, and are off to a good start, starting our fourth year here at OCSI. This year things are a little bit different. We have a remodeled office, Megan is starting her first year as superintendent and Andy has now taken the responsibilities for the speaking at all 6 of the chapel services at the school. Mia is starting 7th grade and very adjusted to Middle School life. Naomi is starting 5th grade, and enjoying being an upperclassman in the elementary school. Eliya is now in 3rd grade, but excited to be in the upper elementary where she gets to eat and have recess with Naomi. We are in our new house and have made connections with lots of our neighbors! We have neighborhood kids at our house every day!
The start of the new school year brings a few very exciting changes. At the school we have started ‘Life Groups’. Every week 6 or 7 students (same age and gender) will meet with one teacher with the idea that every student is getting cared for and discipled. Life Groups take time discuss issues like healthy relationships, digital citizenship, kind communications, and other important topics that relate to these young people’s lives. More importantly, it is good for teachers to check up on these students every week to make sure the students are doing well. Megan has a group of nine 6th grade young ladies and Andy has a group of seven 11th grade young men.
This month OCSI had camps for our 4th and 5th graders, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. This is a great break from school to enjoy the great outdoors and to have a chance to deepen their relationship with the Lord. Each camp is 3 days long. Andy and Naomi went to the Elementary camp and Mia went to the middle school camp.
Please continue to pray for the school, the students and their families as well as our family. If you'd like to know how to pray for OCSI, please use the Daily Prayer Guide below or follow the OCSI Blog. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers!
We bought a house!
Our family has had a great November. We have enjoyed the cooler temperatures, and only sometimes miss the snow we see on friend's pictures on Facebook :) Our family is doing very well.. Megan is staying busy and looking forward to the Christmas break; Andy continues to run as he prepares for a half marathon in January and a full marathon in February; Mia, Naomi, and Eliya all continue to do gymnastics non-stop and are staying busy with school and Japanese lessons. Mia has her first big gymnastics competition next month.
Thanksgiving is a great time of the year. Ever year we enjoy sharing American culture and food with those around us. This year we had a great celebration. We provided the house, and our friend (who is a professional chef) provided the food. This year we kept it a bit smaller and only had three families over to our house. Being away from family is always difficult, especially during the holiday season but it helps to have friends over to our house to celebrate.
This month we started a home fellowship on Saturday evenings. Andy continues to preach some on Sundays for the Sapporo church and we continue to enjoy the English worship on the island when we can, however, we truly desired a more intimate setting to worship and study in. For the past several years we have invited families to come to church with us, however, they struggle to fit in and have expressed a desire for more conversation and opportunities to ask questions about the Bible. We have had a great first couple of fellowship times! A young mother who was an MK (missionary kid) from the Philippians brings her guitar each week and she lets Mia play with her. We have a meal together and spend sometime in God's word. We meet on Saturday night and it is international friendly. Okinawa is filled with serval different cultures-- Japanese, American, Canadian, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and more. Please pray for this group as we grow closer to each other and closer to God.
Bible studies for parents
This school year Megan and I continued our Bible studies for parents at our school. Andy is teaching English conversation with a 10-15 minute Bible lesson at the end. He has around 10-15 parents coming. Megan is doing a Bible study on the wisdom literature in the Bible looking at the Proverbs now. Please pray for these studies.
This month we were busy with Summer school. As Principal, Megan continued to interview prospective students and register them while updating the Kindergarten classrooms. These classrooms haven’t been updated since the school was built! Andy assisted in the second grade class and took care of the technology needs of the school. New playground equipment is being installed and new science curriculum has been delivered and ready for the teachers in a few weeks.
Even though it is summer school for OCSI, Andy still has the oppotunity to teach English and the Bible to the Japanese preschool, and recently Mia, Naomi, and Elilya have come and helped me. I love getting my girls involved in ministry as much as possible, and the older they get, the more they can be involved.
We had a nice BBQ party at our house this month. Serveral of our family friends and neighbors came. We bbqed hambergers, hot dogs, and some steaks. After eating, all of the kids had a water balloon fight and ended up completely soaked. Then we played the Japanese version of a pinata, suika wari. In both games, the person whose turn it is is blindfolded and has a stick, then has to spin around 5 times. Then instead of hitting a pinata, they try to hit a watermelon on the ground. As soon as the watermelon is split or broken up, then everyone eats it!
Next Steps in Ministry
Family Update - Summer is here
June is such a busy month, So many things happening with the closing of a school year. You have Finals, final grades, and graduations. At OCSI, we have four graduation/promotion ceremonies. Promotion ceremony for Kindergarten, 5th grade, and 8th grade, and then of course Seniors graduating from High school. Megan and I had several responsibilities with all of these events. This year was particularly special because Mia, as a 5th grader, was promoted to the middle school, and Megan as the principal, got to call her up, shake her hand, and get a picture with her during the 5th grade promotion. It is hard to believe that Mia is ready for middle school! Where does the time go? We are so proud of all of our girls. They continue to make excellent grades, show great character, and loves the Lord. Thank you for always lifting our family up in prayer!
Friends from Sapporo
Trip to Tokyo
Two days after school was released and we went to a week long trip to Tokyo. We had the chance to see lots of our friends from the Christian school in Tokyo, friends from church, friends from our old neighborhood, and students we have taught in the past. We also had the chance to go to Tokyo Disney Sea with some of our friends from Okinawa. Tokyo Disney Sea is one of the girls favorite places to go. It was good to be able to reward them for their hard work through out this year. Our family misses Tokyo! We miss the trains, we miss our friends, but we DON’T miss the crowds.
While in Tokyo, we had the chance to go and visit our Baba (Japanese Grandma). She was our neighbor while we lived in Tokyo and got very close with her. She loves our girls so much, ever holiday or birthday she is continues to send the girls cards and gifts. It was so great to see her and her family. Our Baba is 81 years old, she is not a Christian yet, please pray the Lord would draw her and that we can be effective in sharing the gospel with her.
Camp for MK's
For the third year in a row we were able to send our girls to Joy Bible Camp, a camp for Christians/missionary kids. Our girls absolutely love it. They make so many good friends, create so many memories, and have their faith strengthened! This year the camp’s theme was ‘Chosen’.
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