Hello to all of our wonderful friends and family! We hope this update finds you well! I am typing this from my brand new (and fast) laptop! For those of you that don't know, I was able to purchase a new laptop because of many generous gifts. It has already been such a huge help! You can find my laptop update here. Anyway, here's what we have been up to recently.
After the students arrived back from their outreaches to the Philippines and Thailand, we took a group of 10 people to the northern region of Tohoku. Thank you for praying for us! We got back on the 12th of February after a great 4 weeks! The team was really unified and joyful the whole time and many of the people we worked with would mention how much of an encouragement we were. The team also really enjoyed the area, with a few of them saying they would like to visit it again in the future! For the first week, we stayed in Yamagata at Naoko's grandma's church. We had a good time shovelling snow (we arrived in a blizzard- literally!), singing at elderly homes, playing with children and giving testimonies, among other things. After this week, Naoko came back to Tokyo, before the rest of us went to the tsunami hit areas of Ishinomaki and Iwaki, as well as the largest city called Sendai. In each place we visited, we were able to meet up with local people, encourage them and work along side them. We prayer walked, did street evangelism, helped farmers and prayed for people. This trip also helped us to build on the relationships that we already had. This will really help with our long-term vision for the area.
After outreach, the students had one final week of lectures which focused a lot on debriefing the whole DTS as well as get them ready for their steps after DTS. On Monday (22 February), they graduated! It has been a great 5 months getting to know the students and seeing them grow as disciples! Yesterday there were many tears as they all left. It really was a priviledge to be a staff on their school, as well as lead one of their outreaches. We both learnt a lot about being leaders and discipling people. Now that it's over, it's very quiet! We now have two weeks to rest before getting stuck into the next season. Please check out this great video (on Facebook) that a staff made for DTS graduation!
Now that DTS is over, we can really focus on more long-term things. I really want to focus more on learning the Japanese language and we both want to start praying about and planning what moving to Tohoku with a team would look like. The next step would probably be setting up regular prayer and vision meetings for anyone interested at YWAM Tokyo to join. We already have a couple of people excited for this to happen! As well as this, we will be becoming parents in June! We have no idea what to expect really, though we expect our quiet apartment to suddenly become not so quiet. Over the coming months we will need to get our apartment ready and purchase many things that starting a family will require. Please be praying for us! Oh and one other thing about the baby.. It's a boy! :)
We don't like to talk much about our financial situation, but we really would like some prayer. As you likely know, we live 100% on the generous donations that people send to us every month. We are so thankful to you, and to God, that all of our needs, as a married couple, up until this point have been met! We have never gone without! Now that we have a baby on the way, we realise that we would need more financial support. To make matters a bit more interesting, since the start of this year, the Pound to Yen exchange rate has been getting worse, quite impressively. In December it was 186 yen to 1 pound. Today it is 156 yen to 1 pound, and getting worse each day. Please be praying that God will continue to provide for all of our needs, for more monthly financial support, and that God's peace will fill our minds.
Thank you for reading our updates and for praying for us. Your prayers influence God's kingdom here in Japan! We really couldn't be here without your support. Please feel free to ask us any questions about our work or anything else. We'd love to hear from you!
Love, Gary & Naoko
Give thanks for..
A great outreach in Tohoku
The DTS students who did a great job this past 5 months
The growing baby boy!
Our prayer & financial supporters
Please pray for..
The DTS students to put into practise all they learned during DTS
That God will guide the students on their next steps
God to speak to us about His vision for Tohoku
Gary to learn Japanese
The baby to keep growing and for Him to prepare us!