Happy New Year everyone! It’s still 2012 for another few minutes here in Japan… Jared and I are just trying to stay awake until 12:00… we’ll probably be in bed by 12:05 though. 🙂
Here are our top 12 from 2012!!
1. MSCC- Nagoya
The church MSGF started 3 years ago is continuing to flourish and grow! People are coming to know Christ and grow in their relationships with Him. This past year we had over 200 new people walk through the doors of our church… praise God! We are blessed by our church family here and ask that God would continue to grow His church in Japan in 2013!
Throughout this past year Micaiah and I have enjoyed attending playgroups in our ward and in our neighborhood. We have met many new and wonderful friends and I am thankful to have mom friends to talk to as well as spend time with and share the love of Jesus with. It has been an amazing experience and we look forward to continue to grow in our relationships with our friends this year.
MSCC- Nagoya celebrated 4 baptisms this past year! Please welcome your new brothers and sisters, Masaki, Atsushi, Vivaine, and Yuki into the family. They are dear friends to our family and valuable members of our church. It has been a blessing seeing how God has transformed their lives and I can’t wait to see how He uses them to further His Kingdom here. (Just this past Sunday Masaki led worship at our Sunday service… it was awesome!)
4. Experiencing Japanese Culture
The longer we live here the more opportunities we have to experience Japanese Culture. Japan is such a beautiful country and we love spending time outdoors as a family! Ohanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) and Momiji (Maple leaf viewing) are two of my favorite times of the year. The scenery is gorgeous and we try not to take it for granted that we live in such a beautiful place.
This past May we experienced koinobori viewing for the first time. Koinobori are carp-shaped flags that people fly at their homes to celebrate little boys. This was of course, our first year to have a baby boy so we were thrilled when our friends invited us out to the country for a day to see the koinobori flying over a river in the nearby prefecture. It was definitely a highlight from this past year!
5. Trip to America
In May we went to America for one month and had a wonderful time spending time with family and friends. At the end of the trip we were able to do some support raising as well as our main supporting church will no longer be able to support us beginning in the summer of 2014. It was good for us to learn more about raising funds and it is always a blessing to be able to share with people our excitement about what God is doing in Japan!
We had a wonderful visit and loved every second we spent surrounded by family and friends (and eating delicious Mexican food.) I know the grandparents loved spending time with Micaiah (and us) as well. 🙂
6. First Baseball Game
In July we went to our first baseball game in Japan! Micaiah and I that is. A group of us from church went and watched the Nagoya Dragons play the Yokohama Baystars. What was awesome about that game was that one of the outfielders from the Baystars threw us a ball for Micaiah! We still have it in his room and are hoping to one day have it signed by the player, Alex Ramirez, who threw it to us!
7. A Walk in the Rain
The day our friend Vivaine got baptized we were all at Morikoro Park. A park here in Nagoya that has a swimming pool, a small amusement park and all sorts of fun things. While there we got caught in a rain storm and not one of us had an umbrella. Because we had been planning a picnic, we did have a huge tarp with us. We made a huge umbrella and slowly made our way to the parking lot with it. It was one of my fondest memories from this past year and I still smile when I think of that day!
8. Micaiah’s 1st Birthday
On September 22nd, our little guy turned 1 year old. That first year sure flew by. We had a Winne the Pooh party for him as Winne the Pooh, or Pooh-san in Japanese, is popular here as well. We rented a nearby community center for his party and I think everyone who came had a lot of fun. I hope in the future we can continue to plan fun parties for him and his friends to enjoy. It is amazing that at every event we have living here, wether church-related or not, we have the opportunity to use it as a way to reach out to our friends (the majority aren’t Christians) with the love of Jesus.
9. “Mom Retreat”
In mid-October I took what I refer to as a “Mom Retreat.” It was only one night and the place I stayed at was only about a 45 minute drive from our house but it was amazing! Jared stayed with Micaiah while I went to Inuyama, a suburb of Nagoya. It was still very much in the city but far enough away from our place that I felt like I was more in the country. The hotel I stayed at had an onsen (hotspring bath) that was outside. Even though it was really chilly out it was so fun getting to sit outside and relax. I got a massage too… 🙂 It was a bit stressful as it was my first time staying at a hotel by myself as well as trying to put on a yukata amongst other things… I even called my friend Miki to make sure I was doing things right at the onsen and not breaking any cultural rules… 🙂 The following day after breakfast I spent the morning at Inuyama Castle. I love history and enjoyed walking around many of the museums and exploring the old streets around the castle. I missed the boys of course but it was a great trip that I hope I can take again sometime.
10. Date Nights
I’ll be honest… Jared and I don’t go on many dates… it’s something we are trying to work on. 🙂 When we do go out though… we love it! We always try to do something we couldn’t do with Micaiah. For example, many of the restaurants are too small to take children to and so we always try to go to one that we couldn’t take him to. A few weeks ago when we went out we enjoyed ice skating (on plastic… it wasn’t even real ice) had baskin robbins, and then rode the ferris wheel in downtown Nagoya. One of our goals in 2013 is to go on more date nights… I’m already looking forward to them!
11. Family Outings
Since Jared works at the church all day on Sundays, Mondays are his days off. We love to get out and try to do something fun as a family on those days. Family Fun-day Monday. What’s crazy though is that in Japan many parks, zoos, and other places are closed on Mondays. Despite that, we still find ways to get out and have a good time. My favorite Fun-day Monday this past year was going to see the fall leaves. My goodness it was gorgeous. Korankei Gorge is one of, if not the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in my entire life. Seriously. Come visit Japan and I will take you there.
12. Kids Christmas Event (and other church-related Events)
December 8th we had MSCC- Nagoya’s first annual Kids Christmas Event! Even though it was our first I thought it went well! Our teammate Jenny, the Children’s Minister, did a great job getting everything put together and ready. I got to help with the song (the kids sang Silent Night in Japanese) make up/teach actions to the song as well! 50 people came and more than half of them heard about the Real Meaning of Christmas for the very first time. Other than the Christmas Event we had an Olympic watch party, the guys went camping for a night, Street Lives, Christmas Caroling and many, many other events. What a great year it has been!
Coming in 2013…
Church: In the Spring of 2013 MSCC- Nagoya is moving to a new location! We praise God for providing us an excellent location that we will have EVERYDAY of the week to use. This will also provide more opportunities to have events, playgroups, classes and more! I am so excited for this move and am praying that God would be glorified in the way we use this space and pray that He would continue to provide the rest of the funds needed to get it renovated and ready.
Family: I’m not sure what’s coming for our family in 2013 other than striving to continue to grow closer to Jesus as individuals and as a family. I also know that next week we are taking our first vacation as a family (to Okinawa) and I could not be more pumped. It has been a busy, tiring, and awesome last month and I can’t wait to spend time relaxing with the boys on the beach!
I’m praying that God blesses you with an amazing 2013 filled with love and joy. My favorite quote is by Jim Elliot who said, “Where ever you are, be all there” So where ever you find yourself this year… may you be all there. Giving your time, your efforts, your lives to serving and loving the friends and family that God has blessed you with!
Happy New Year! あけましておめでとうございます！