December 25, 2014 Merry Christmas from the Masons!
December 24-25, 2014 We took a quick overnight trip to Shikoku Island as our Christmas present this year. We visited Shikoku Village, ate sanuki udon, took the cable car up to Mt Bizan and explored the impressive Otsuka Museum of Art.
December 23, 2014 Today was a national holiday in Japan, so a small group of people from Oasis Church gathered to do some Christmas Caroling and handing out tracts while walking around our neighborhood. A few photos can be seen on the Oasis Church Facebook page here.
December 14, 2014 He did it! Michael ran/walked in the Nara Marathon today, his first-ever full marathon. After one year of training and while nursing two injuries, he finished in just under six hours. The time is not nearly as good as he was aiming for, but in the months leading up to the race he thought that the injuries might prevent him from running at all, so he is very happy that he was just able to finish. The marathon finisher's medal is shaped like a biwa, a traditional Japanese guitar-like instrument. After a short time to heal and get healthy, he wants to continue running and set his sights on the Kyoto Marathon in Feb 2016.
December 1, 2014 We have added Issue 72 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it here.
November 16, 2014 At Oasis Church, we once again participated in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse. This year we collected 12 gift boxes. It is our desire that these boxes would be a small expression of the love of Jesus in the lives of the children who receive them. Thanks to everyone in the church who prepared these wonderful gifts.
October 26, 2014 A day before Michael turned 49, he ran in a 8.8k Challenge Run that was a part of the 2014 Osaka Marathon. As the 7th largest marathon in the world, the two races receive over 150,000 applications (most are for the full marathon). Of the 8,000 people who applied for the Challenge Run, Michael was one of only 2,000 who were chosen. The day was a lot of fun for Michael and a good warm-up for the Nara Marathon in December. Michael also received his first-ever finisher's medal (hopefully with many more to come!). More photos can be seen here. (Osaka Marathon Medal 2014)
October 5, 2014 Today was a GREAT day at Oasis Church. After 2+ years of attending our weekly gathering, Mr. Kawano confessed his faith in Jesus Christ, and was baptized in Noji's back yard. His testimony had most of the people in tears (especially the women!), as he shared of how difficult it is for a Japanese man to admit that he needs a Savior. After the baptism, the celebration continued with a potluck lunch and a wonderful cake made by Carolyn. More photos can be seen here. Kawano-san is very hungry for spiritual things, so we ask for your prayers for his spiritual growth. His wife, Michiyo, is also a part of the Oasis Church family. See more pictures here.
October 2, 2014 Michael spoke at the KCS all-school chapel today. His topic was: God's Promise of Unconditional Love. But even more exciting was the fact that Luke joined the worship team for the first time. Here he is playing the keyboards with the other KCS students.
September 5, 2014 Today was the first day of the new school year at Kansai Christian School. Luke is now in the 8th grade and Chris once again resumed her duties as the 5-6th grade homeroom and Bible class teacher, as well asthe teacher's aide in the 1st-2nd grade class. First Chapel of the year. This was also the first all-school chapel of the year where Michael is once again serving at the school chaplain. The theme of his message series for the year is "Holding On to the Promises of God." May God bless all of the students, teachers, staff and families at KCS this year.
August 25, 2014 We have added Issue 71 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it here.
August 14-28, 2014 Chris had the chance to make a quick trip to Los Angeles to see her parents and check up on their status. Since moving into an assisted-care living situation last December, Chris has been concerned about their adjustment to their new living situation. Both seem to be doing okay and have even gained a bit of weight (this is a good thing!) She was able to arrive in time to celebrate her mother's birthday, and she was also able to take them to the Gardena Valley Baptist Church 100-Year Anniversary worship service. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for her parents.
August 7, 2014 Two months after saying sayonara to our old car, the Lord has provided us with a new set of wheels. The money came from an unexpected inheritance gift (via Chris' aunt) that was just enough for us to purchase a 2009 Honda Fit. We are so thankful that our Heavenly Father always knows exactly what we need...and when we need it!
July 31-August 1, 2014 For two days we hosted 4 lovely women from Victory Fellowship in Torrance, CA. They were in Japan to serve in a church in Northern Japan (the area hit by the tsunami), but decided to swing by Osaka and see us for a few days. Although it was hot, we still managed to visit Osaka Castle (photo below)) and Nara Park. We enjoyed spending time with them and are very thankful for the opportunity to deepen our ties with Victory. JEMS Executive Director, Rick Chuman, also accompanied them.
June 4, 2014 Michael registered for the Dec 14th Nara Marathon today. Now there is no turning back! He has been struggling with a slight hamstring issue the past two weeks, but after a little bit of rest he hopes to be back on the road and building up his miles. He now has 94 days to get strong, fit and fast. Prayers for an injury free 6 months would be much appreciated. Thank you!
June 1, 2014 This week we are saying goodbye to our '93 Honda Accord. Rather than pay the 200,000 yen ($2000) in order to pass our bi-annual car inspection, we thought it might be time to part ways with our faithful friend. We will be car-less for a while, but we know the Lord will provide in due time. A big shout out to the Kusuhara family (Carolyn & Emily are in the photo below) who gave us the car back in 2004! What a blessing it has been!
May 23, 2014 Luke performed Chopin's "Polonaises in A Flat Major, Op. 53" at Kansai Christian School's Open Mic Night. The room was a little dark, but you can hear him just fine. As always, he did a wonderful job. Way to go Luke! (If the video below does not work, you can view it directly from our YouTube page here)
April 1, 2014 We have added Issue 70 of "A Minute with the Masons" to our newsletters page. You can read it here.
March 28, 2014 Today was the KCS Spring Festival, a day when the school is opened up to the community and we provide games, activities and lots of food. This is also a chance for students to sell some of their unwanted items. This year Luke had a table full of old books, toys and other items that he no longer needed. However, instead of keeping the money for himself, all monies that Luke earned from the sale of his old toys is being given to the Vastfontein Batho Pele Christian School in South Africa. This is the school where our dear friends Albert & Cecile Greeff are working. The high school is currently raising money to build another classroom and Luke wanted to do what he could to help out. In total, Luke brought in 10,000 yen (about $100!) We are proud of Luke for thinking of others instead of pocketing the money for himself!
March 1, 2014 Burritos in Osaka! After 17 years in Japan, we finally ate our first burritos. For whatever reason, Mexican food is not so popular in Japan, so it is really hard to find restaurants with any kind of Mexican fare. However, we recently heard about a place in Osaka (near Yotsubashi Stn) called El Zocalo Burrito, so we decided to check it out. We all got the burritos which were not only quite large (especially for Japan!) but were also REALLY good. You can bet that we'll be going back there very soon!
February 28, 2014 Since last Fall, Michael has made it his goal to run in the Nara Marathon on Dec. 14, 2014. This means that he has about 1 year to go from being a non-runner to being able to run 26.2 miles (42.2k) in about 5 hours! Well, this month he reached a major milestone in his training by running over 100k (116k to be exact = 72 miles) in February. By the Fall, he needs to be doubling that amount each month. Can he do it? Stay tunned!
February 23, 2014 Here is our annual group photo at Oasis Church. What a good looking bunch of people!
February 14, 2014 Today is not only Valentines Day but also a Snow Day! It snowed all day today, dumping almost two inches of snow on the ground! In many parts of Japan this is nothing, but this is the most snow we have experienced in our 17 years in Kansai. Let it now, let it snow, let it snow!
February 12, 2014 Escrow closed on Chris' parents house today. This is a big relief to Chris to see this matter come to a close, but it is not without a few emotions as well. Chris' parents lived in the house for almost 40 years, and Chris spent most of her adolescent and teen years in that home. Saying goodbye to the house meant saying goodbye to many wonderful memories.
February 7, 2014 Today was the annual Kansai Christian School Ice Skating Day. After exploring various venues over the last few years, this year we returned to Hirakata Park. The weather was wonderful and every seemed to have a good time.
January 26, 2014 This year at Oasis Church we are encouraging everyone to try and read the entire New Testament at least once this year. For many of us, it is easy to neglect spending time in the Bible due to our busy, hectic lives. However, if we really desire to grow as genuine disciples of Jesus, then this is an importnat part of the process. To help achieve this goal, we have produced Bible Reading Guides in both Japanese and English which will allow people to track their progress during the year. So far, people seem to not only be doing it, but actually ENJOYING it! Our prayer is that each person would grow in their relationship with Jesus as they faithfully spend time in His Word.
January 17, 2014 After almost a month in the States, Chris returned home today. The purpose of her trip was to help her parents move out of their home and into an assisted care living situation. Although there were a few bumps along the way, her parents are now getting settle into Atherton Baptist Homes in Alhambra, CA. We thank God for allowing them to get into such a wonderful community. We were so blessed by our interaction with the staff at Atherton. Their care and kindness towards Chris' parents is more than we could have hoped for or imagined. As both of Chris' parents face growing healthcare needs, we can rest assured that they are in good hands.
January 4, 2014 Today was Chris' 29th birthday (again!). Usually we celebrate her birthday in Japan by making our annual pilgrimage into Osaka to eat at the Outback Steakhouse. However, since we were in the States for Chris' birthday this year, we decided to celebrate at Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney. We also saw "Saving Mr. Banks" while we were there. Happy Birthday Chris!
January 1, 2014 Happy New Year! For the first time in 10 years, we are in America for the first of the year. Luke will finally get to watch the Rose Bowl Parade that his mom and dad always talk about. May the Lord bless you all in 2014!