November 13, 2012 We have added Issue 65 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read ithere.
October 28-29, 2012 The entire student body of KCS went to a youth center in the mountains for a 2-day campout retreat. Everyone had a wonderful time (except for those unfortunate few who were sick) as we played and hung out together. During the weekend, Michael had the chance to give two messages to the students as he challenged them to worship Jesus with undivided hearts.
October 27, 2012 Happy Michael's birthday! Unfortunately, Michael had an upset stomach and didn't eat anything all day (including birthday cake!)
October 21, 2012 A long-time friend joined us at church today. For many, many years Shibuya was a key leader and the main translator at SIBC before moving to Australia with his family a couple of years ago. This week he is back in Japan on business and stopped by on Sunday to worship and fellowship with us. It was so good to see him again. We truly miss him. In the photo, Shibuya is front and center.
October 19, 2012 The annual KCS Fall Field Trips were held today. As homeroom teacher for the 5-6th grade, Chris took the class to the Osaka Science Museum and Planetarium. While there, they met a volunteer who was able to give them a tour of the museum...in English. Everyone seemed to have a good time, especially when they passed through the gift shop at the end!
October 12, 2012 Today was Sports Day at KCS. The school was divided into three teams and competed against each other in various athletic events. Everyone did their best, but in the end it was the blue team (Luke's team!) that came out on top.
October 8, 2012 Back in July we went to Nagashima Spaland, an amusement park with some crazy roller coasters. The highlight was clearly the Steel Dragon 2000, but Shoot the Chute was pretty fun (and wet!) and the White Cyclone is the largest wooden roller coaster outside fo the Unites States. Oh ya, Michael does NOT recommend the Flying Frisbee! Here is our YouTube video of some of the attractions we were brave enough to ride.
September 9, 2012 It has been about a month since the church has started meeting in a home. We are still adjusting to the new way of having a worship service, but so far the people seem to be enjoying the more intimate, relational atmosphere. In the coming months we will continue to seek the Lord as to HOW He wants us to gather each week.
September 7, 2012 Today was the first all-school chapel of the year at Kansai Christian School. Serving as chaplain again this year, Michael will be doing a message series called "Following Jesus: Responding to the Invitation of Christ." When Jesus invites us to follow Him, He is not inviting us to join a new religion or follow a new religious teaching. Rather, Jesus is inviting us to walk in friendship with Him. This year Michael hopes to challenge the students to consider what it really means to have an authentic relationship with Jesus.
September 5, 2012 School started today, YEAH! Today was the first day of the new school year for Luke and Chris. Luke is entering the 6th grade and Chris is starting her new role as homeroom and Bible teach for the 5th-6th grad class (Yes, that's Luke's class!). After school Michael asked Luke, "How was it having your mother as your homeroom teacher?" Luke responded, "Not as bad as I was expecting." From a 6th grader, that is a rave review!
August 31-September 1, 2012 In preparation for the new school year at Kansai Christian School (KCS), the teachers had a staff retreat (aka 2 full days of meetings) up in the mountains of Nara Prefecture. Even though Michael and Luke did not participate in the meetings they also joined the retreat and hung out during the day. The scenery was gorgeous (when it wasn't foggy) and everyone (especially those not in the meetings!) had a good time.
August 28, 2012 Today we handed over the keys to our old church facility. We thank God for 6 wonderful years in the Shin-Nikken Building. Here is a final "before & after" photo of our sanctuary. It sure looks different when it is empty!
August 22, 2012 We took a day-trip to Amanohashidate. This is a small town in Northern Kyoto that is famous for it tree-lined sandbar that stretches across the bay. Actually, it is considered one of Japan's "Three Most Scenic Views." It was really hot, but we had a good time. To see more pictures, check out Michael's Facebook page.
August 17, 2012 We heard about a LEGO exhibit in Osaka, and since Luke is really into LEGOS, so we went to check it out. It was really cool! The exhibit was called "Piece of Peace" and consisted of about 25 models of World Heritage sites made completely out of LEGOS. It was kind of dark inside, so it was hard to take photos, but the detail was amazing! You can see a couple of the models on Facebook here.
August 11, 2012 We rented a truck today in order to move all of our stuff out of our old location and bring them to Noji's house. We had already given away some stuff (tables, desks, chairs, etc...) to our sister church and Kansai Christians School. Other large items were hauled away last week by a salvage company. We are thankful for the small group of people who came out to lend a hand.
August 5, 2012 Today was the first day for the church family to gather in our new location. Obviously, it will take some time to adjust to meeting in a home, but I think that today was a good first step as people seemed to enjoy the time together. For these first 2 or 3 months, we really want to seek the Lord about HOW He wants us to gather together each week.
July 29, 2012 Today was our last worship service at our current location in Sakai City. The message was called "Packing for the Journey" as Michael talked about six things we need to bring with us as we embark on the next stage of our journey together. We also had an extended time of worship as well as time for prayer in small groups. After the service, we had a potluck lunch together, and then started to pack up the church to prepare for our move. From next week, will begin the transition to a simple-style, organic church at the home of a church member in Izumiotsu City.
July 27, 2012 After spending the night with fellow JEMS missionaries Kevin & Nozomi West (below left), we met up with the Holiness Youth Choir (below right) that was visiting Japan. The choir comes from one of our supporting churches, and we knew a number of the leaders and choir members. They performed at the Heart & Soul Cafe (below center), an outreach ministry of Christ Bible Institute. It was a good time to connect with old friends, and see the wonderful coffee house ministry in Nagoya.
July 26, 2012 On our way to see some friends in Nagoya, we stopped off at Nagashima Spaland, an amusement park with one of the top roller coasters in the world. The ride is called Steel Dragon 2000 and it was a lot of fun. We all did it once, and them Michael and Luke did it again at the end of the day. Amazingly, the line was only 10 minutes!
Here are the specs for the ride: Total Length: 8133 ft(#1 in the world!) Highest Drop: 306 ft(#4 in the world) Max Speed: 95 mph(#6 in the world)
July 17, 2012 We have added Issue 64 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it here.
June 10, 2012 We had a congregational meeting today after our worship service at SIBC. The purpose of the meeting was to discern how we felt the Lord might be leading us in terms of a future location for the church. After a week of prayer and fasting, there was unanimous agreement that Jesus was leading us to meet in the home of a church member! This is a BIG step for us as it will mark a huge change from the way we have been "doing" church for the last 15 years. However, we are also excited that the Lord is leading us in this new and exciting direction. See the SIBC homepage for more details.
April 8, 2012 Happy Easter! We had a good turn-out at church this morning which was a big blessing after the smaller-than-usual crowds we have been having lately. After the service, we walked to the park for a picnic, Easter egg hunt and games. The weather was nice and the cherry blossoms were in bloom. Thanks to Fifi, Howard and their whole gang for arranging the activities in the park. It was a nice time of fellowship.
April 6, 2012 Although Michael is currently not serving at chaplain at Kansai Christian School, today he gave the message at the All-School Chapel. It was nice to be back and have the opportunity to share with the students and staff.
April 4, 2012 Michael performed his first bilingual wedding today. The bride has been coming to SIBC for about a year and a half, and the groom is currently stationed in Germany with the U.S. Air Force. Dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos, they both looked really nice. We wish them the best of luck as they start their new life together...in Germany! We'll miss you guys!
March 5, 2012 We have added Issue 63 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read ithere.
February 25, 2012 The SIBC Moving Committee went looking at possible facilities today. We saw a 3-story building that we could rent on a monthly basis, as well as a live house that we would just rent on Sundays. Our initial impression was that neither place was what the Lord had in mind for us. However, as we were eating lunch together (Indian food!), some people expressed and interest in possibly holding our worship service in a church member's house. Hmmm, this is something to consider.
February 11, 2012 For a few months Luke has been praying for a piano (a REAL one, not the electric one he has used until now). Well, today the Lord answered Luke's prayer by providing a piano...for FREE! It is used and needs a little repair, but since it is a Yamaha, it is still a good piano. Now Luke can really get ready for his recital in March!
February 10, 2012 Today Luke's school (Kansai Christian School) held a Walk-A-Thon to raise money to put the finishing touches on the elementary building. Luke walked a total of 13k. In all, the students raised about ¥770,000 (about $7000!). Great job everybody! Hopefully they will be able to do the necessary construction work during summer vacation.
January 29, 2012 Every January we take a group photo at SIBC. Here is the church family for 2012!
January 15, 2012 For the last few years, SIBC has been struggling to meet its monthly financial needs. Although we have often sought the Lord as to whether or not we should consider moving to a cheaper facility, we always had the sense that we were supposed to remain in our current location. However, as the financial has continued to worsen, we once again took time to seek the Lord's direction in this area. After a week of praying and seeking the Lord whether we should STAY or GO, we had a Congregational Meeting after the worship service today. As each person shared what they thought the Lord might be saying to us, the general sense was that maybe now is the time that the Lord is wanting us to move from our current location. So, after 5+ years in the SHIN-NIKKEN Building, it looks like God has a new plan for us in 2012. Exciting!
January 3, 2012 The day after Chris and Luke arrived back in Japan, we once again went to the Outback Steakhouse to celebrate Chris' birthday (a day early!). After that we went Shinsaibashi to attend a "Trick Art" exhibition, where to take pictures while interacting with the paintings. If you want to see a few of the "tricky" photos that we took, you can see them here.
January 1, 2012 Happy New Year! Michael began the New Year by himself as Chris and Luke were on their way back from a two week stay in America. Being that New Years's Day fell on a Sunday, we had an intimate time of worship at SIBC. We spent our time in worship, prayer and celebrating communion together. It was a nice change from our usual style of worship. After the service, Michael went out to Thai food in Dontonbori with a few church friends. As you can tell from the photo, it was good! Mmmm.