December 23, 2009 Today was the first day of Luke's winter vacation so we decided to hike up Mt. Kongo. We were expecting a simple walk up Osaka's tallest mountain (3,690ft) only to discover that the mountain was covered in snow! Though we weren't quite prepared for snow, the scenery was very beautiful and we had a memorable adventure. You can see a few more photos here.
December 19, 2009 We have added Issue 56 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it here.
December 18, 2009 I just talked to my (Michael's) mom today on the phone, and her recent tests said that she is 100% cancer free! She is still waiting for her hair to grow back in from her stem cell transplant this summer, but other than that she seems to be doing well. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for her.
November 6, 2009 In September, Luke's school (Kansai Christian School) finally moved into their own facility. After renting for 38 years in Ikoma City, they are now the proud owners of two buildings in near-by Heguri Town. They still have a lot of work to do in order to get the facility 100% operational, but God has been more than faithful in bringing them this far, that we trust that He will see this work through to completion. The official Open House was today and here is a little video I put together to give a feel for the "new" KCS in Heguri. September 14-17, 2009 Luke's school started late this year, so we took advantage of the off-peak travel season for a quick family vacation to Okinawa. We had a nice mix of beaches, sightseeing, Okinawa culture, history and lots of A & W! See some of our photos here.
August 17, 2009 Luke had never been to Kyoto so we decided to take a quick day trip to show him around. We saw Nijo Castle (Luke's favorite) and the famous golden pavilion at Kinkakuji. We also soaked our feet in the foot hot-spring at Arashiyama station before ending the day with a trip on the Romance Car, a scenic train ride north of Kyoto. It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and Luke was REALLY tired, but we all had a good time.
July 31-August 3, 2009 For the last few days we have had fun hanging out with a group of folks from Cerritos Baptist Church (Los Angeles). On Saturday we took them on a tour of the Namba/Dotonbori (see picture) area of Osaka. Sunday was then spent at SIBC where they helped out with the morning worship service and then hung out with the church folk in the afternoon. They taught us line dancing, which was great fun for everyone. We are thankful to the team for their service and friendship during their time with us.
July 8, 2009 Just two weeks after her transplant, Michael's mom was released from the hospital today. No one has ever been released sooner than 14 days (but many stay longer), so she is doing about as well as can be expected. Now she has to wait for her immune system to recover and for her strength (and taste-buds)) to return. Hang in there mom!
June 23, 2009 After learning the piano for 18 months, today Luke had his first piano recital. He played two songs, plus a duet with friend and fellow student, Shalom Sillavan. He did a great job and we are very proud of him! Thanks to Mrs. Crystal Wilson for being a wonderful teacher. From the Fall, Luke will start studying with a new teacher as Mrs. Wilson is "retiring" to be a mom to her new daughter. Here's a video for the grandparents.
June 22, 2009 Michael's mom went into the hospital today to have a stem cell transplant (scheduled for June 24th). We knew that this day was coming ever since she was diagnosed with Multiple Myleoma (cancer of the stem cells in her bone marrow) back in 2001. We are praying that the transplant will go well and that her recovery will be quick. They typical recovery time is 3-4 months. We would appreciate your prayers. Thank you.
June 19, 2009 We went to see fireflies this evening with a group of friends. Thanks to the Olivers for showing us a good place in Ikoma. This was Luke's first time to see them. They were pretty cool. June 19, 2009 Kansai Christian School had their graduation ceremony today. This year there were 4 graduating seniors. Congratulations to Karina, Chris, Joel and Joshua! During the ceremony, Luke was one of six kids to receive a perfect attendance award. Way to go Luke!
June 10, 2009 Today was Luke's 9th birthday. Happy Birthday son. We love you!
June 8, 2009 Michael went on a 19 mile (31km) hike today. At 8+ hours, it was by far the longest trek of his budding hiking career. At times it was a lot of fun, but for 2+ hours in the middle of hike, the "trail" actually led him down a busy highway with no sidewalk and virtually no shoulder! Cars and trucks were literally speeding by just a few feet away. He'll never do that again! All in all, it was a good exercise and a nice break from the daily routine of life.
May 26, 2009 We have added Issue 54 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it hereor you can download a .pdf versionhere (2.37 Mb). May 24, 2009 Chris had a chance to preach at church today. She used the story of Cain and Abel and the title of her message was "Heart Condition." She had a lot of good feedback from people at church. For her, it was nice to do something besides Sunday School all of the time!
May 21-22, 2009 These last two days, Luke's school had an overnight campout at a sports facility in Shimokitayama in southern Nara. Michael also went along to help with the chapel times on Thursday evening and Friday mornings. We had a lot of fun, as it was good to hang out with the students away from the school. Here is a picture of the happy campers.
May 11, 2009 Today Michael went on a one-way, 8 mile hike from Mt Ikoma to Mt Takayasu. It took about 4 hours. Then, to save time, he took the train home. Right now is a great time of the year for hiking, before the hot and humid summer sets in. Hiking is also a nice oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life in Japan. While walking on these quiet, green, mountain trails it is hard to believe that there are literally millions of people just a mile or two away! May 7, 2009 Despite numerous attempts to glue his old hiking shoes back together. Michael finally broke down and bought a new pair of North Face Vindicator GTX hiking shoes. He can't wait to break them in!
April 20, 2009 Since moving to Ikoma, Michael has been hiking up near-by Mt. Ikoma for exercise. However, it was getting a little boring going up and down the same path each time. Well, he recently discovered a whole series of trails on the Osaka side of the mountain, so now he (and sometimes Luke too) have been having a lot of fun exploring.
April 6, 2008 We uploaded a couple of videos to our "media" page, including Luke's Baptism last October and the KCS Graduation Video which reviews the 2007-2008 school year at Kansai Christian School (Luke's school).
April 3, 2009 Although our wedding anniversary was almost one month ago, we were finally able to celebrate it today. The three of us went to our favorite hamburger restaurant in Namba (Kua 'aina), and then went to see the movie "Bedtime Stories." Below is a picture of Michael's pineapple cheeseburger. Mmmm!
March 29, 2009 (America time) Today in America, Chris' father, Toshikazu Miyata, was baptized at Gardena Valley Baptist Church. At 86 years of age, this is nothing short of a miracle! We are sad that we missed this special day, but we are excited for him as he begins this new journey of walking with Jesus.
March 29, 2009 We have new banners at the church today thanks to our friends at Lighthouse Community Church in Torrance. Not only do they add a nice, contemporary feel to the sanctuary, but we love the fact that they are bilingual. What a blessing! A special shout goes out to Kelly Kira and Gavin Kajikawa. Thanks guys for your time, hard work and generosity!
March 22, 2009 Today was Takuma Murata's last day at SIBC. This week he is moving to Saitama Prefecture to attend high school. Takuma was a very good pitcher on his jr. high baseball team and he was recruited to go to Uruwa Gakuin, one of the top baseball high schools in Japan. In the picture (right), Takuma is sharing his testimony at church. Good luck Takuma! This was also the last day for Kris Kawahara and her boys as their whole family moved back to Naogya. We'll miss you. March 20, 2009 SIBC had a BBQ/Hiking outing at Mt. Makio today. It rained the entire night before but stopped just in time for the event. It was a great day of food, fun and fellowship. You can see more photos here.
February 16, 2009 Luke had a day off from school today so we took a little day-trip to Mino Park. The weather was perfect (for February) as we hiked up to a little waterfall and had lunch. We were hoping to see some wild monkeys (Mino is famous for them), but alas, we saw nothing!
February 14, 2009 Today, Chris and Luke went to visit Erika Kanayama, the newest member to the SIBC family. Pictured here (right) with mother Takako, Erika was born on Sunday, February 8th. Erika, welcome to the family!
February 8, 2009 Today at church we had to say goodbye to long time friend, Renee Shibuya, as she and her boys will move back to Australia this week (her husband will follow later after he wraps up his work). The Shibuyas have been at SIBC since we arrived, and the Shibuya's youngest son, Jo, was Luke's best friend. We also had to say "sayonara" to Lenny and Robin Brill as they return to New York. Lenny has been working in Japan for the last 10 months, but the two of them have had a huge impact on the church during their stay. We will miss you all!
February 2, 2009 We have added Issue 53 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it here.
January 25, 2009 We took our annual group photo at SIBC today. This was one of the biggest crowds we have had for our photo, with lots of new faces this year. Eight different countries are represented in this year's picture.
January 18, 2009 We had a baby shower at church for two of the women expecting babies. This is not a Japanese custom at all, but the foreign influence in the church has introduced the idea of a baby shower and people seem to really enjoy it. The two mothers-to-be are Takako Kanayama and Ruth Kizu.
January 4, 2009 Today was Chris' birthday so we decided to celebrate by going to eat lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Universal City Walk. We had never been there before so it was a lot of fun. Of course the shrimp was good, but the desert cookie with ice cream was only so-so. Japanese people tend to not like things so sweet, so we think that maybe they changed the recipe to make it more "Japanese." As a result, it wasn't we were hoping for. Still, we'll be back.
January 4, 2009 Over the New Year, someone bought new electric drums for the church. This had been something that we had been thinking about for a long time, but we never had the space in our old building and we didn't know if anyone would be able to play them. As it turns out Hiromi, the gal who has been playing the djembe for the last few years, is actually quite good on the drums as well. Who knew! Anyway, we used them for the first time during worship today and they sounded really nice. We hope that it will enhance the worship time at SIBC and help the people to draw closer to Jesus.
January 1, 2009 For New Years Day, we went out for sushi and then went bowling. Twenty years ago this would have been unthinkable as almost all businesses would have been closed for the New Years holidays. New Years in Japan has traditionally been a time to visit family and make a New year's visit to a shrine, but times have changed and both the restaurant and the bowling alley were full of people. For more updates, see... 2008 Updates 2007 Updates (July to December) 2007 Updates (January to June) 2006 Updates