Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review 2011

Here's a little video we put together of our main events this year:


video

Monday, December 26, 2011

Free Album Download


We're not too familiar with Josh Garrels-- actually, I've never heard of him.  Apparently, he is an award winning Christian Music Artist.  He felt that God wanted him to give away his latest album, so he did!


If you're interested, here is the link for the free download:
http://joshgarrels.bandcamp.com/

And hey, Merry Christmas, from us and Josh!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blessings!

Merry Christmas to our friends and family around the world.



We had a (mostly) quiet Christmas at home with family.

Debe's mom and two sisters came over Saturday night and mom stayed for Sunday.

We had  a nice church service and a yummy lunch.

We feel very blessed this year and pray that you have too!


Some images:


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Caroling




Our school has a tradition of going Christmas caroling around some local shops in the community.




While optional, many staff, students and parents showed up.  We had enough participants that we made two groups.


In addition to singing, we also handed out candycanes attached to tracts.



Both groups planned to end up finishing up at Jusco (its like a Walmart).  Afterwards, we got some grub...

Christmas Program



Our school had its annual Christmas Program on Friday.  Both Emi and Mika were in it, but so far no video of them has surfaced.


It is usually just for elementary students, but this year they allowed a few select older students perform.  It was kind of neat to see the high schoolers be a part of this.  They really worked hard and well with the younger students, so hopefully this will become a regular thing.


While the kids were cute and the show went well, this really was meant to be an outreach.

The show itself, The Best Christmas Present Ever, talked about God's gift to us: Jesus Christ, but there were also tracts in the Program Guides, free literature available, and even an invitation given at the end of the show. We pray that these seeds will grow into fruit.

Our girls had a blast (even super shy Mika) and were ready to "do it again!"


High School Students: The Wise Guys

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Review: Don’t Check your Brains at the Door, by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler





I recently received “Don’t check your brains at the door” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler.  This book is geared towards teenage students who, of course, have lots of questions. The book is arranged into six sections; each one answering common misconceptions or “Myths.” There are answers to myths about God, Jesus, The Bible, The Resurrection, Christianity, and Life.


The answers are brief—perhaps a little too brief, but they do answer the question in a page or two. One neat feature is the “Brain Food” box at the end of each section. This box contains follow up questions and Bible verses, so you could extend the question further if you wanted. 


I enjoyed this book. I felt the writing was appropriate for middle to high school students, whom I teach. I will probably use excerpts from this as the need arises with my 6th graders. I liked how it was divided, also. The 42 questions are very common questions that we all think about or ask at some point. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in helping young people find biblical answers to their questions.

This book was received from Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.
The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

Our school had a fundraiser.  They wanted to raise money to support a boy in the Philippines. They have done this in an interesting way for several years now; they let the students here make gingerbread houses.  They only charge 500 yen each, so it is affordable and they raise enough to support the boy.



The 11th graders put this on as their Service Project this year; it was nice to see them interacting with the young ones.



Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mika's Prize

Mika won a prize for finishing the walkathon (actually it was just half of it).  She really impressed us with her dedication and commitment to finish.  Thanks also to grandma for setting a brisk pace!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Now That's Service!

Image Detail

Yesterday was planned to be a simple quiet day spent in our local area.  We ran a few errands, and then returned to a car that would not start.  No, it was not the battery, but the starter.  As our van is 18 years old, finding parts for it is not easy.  One other problem: We needed it fixed before Wednesday as we were going camping over the Thanksgiving break.

I rejected the first garage's offer of 35,000 yen (about $400).  The second guy was too busy to get to it, but recommended Zakimi Auto Service.  I was apprehensive; it was getting late and tomorrow was Sunday.

Although it was now 4:30 in the evening, I was assured that my car would be fixed and ready by 6:00.  I was then offered a ride home, stopping first at the library to pick up my wife and kids.  At 5:59, my van was brought to my home; not only fixed, but vacuumed inside and washed outside.  Finally, they would not take any money from me, but requested that I stop by on Monday to settle.  It was just 10,000 yen, but I was reminded of one reason I love Japan-- incredible service!

Jesus taught His followers to "Love others as I have loved you" (John 13).  By doing this, "Others will know you are my followers."  If I could be so easily impressed with auto service, how much more could we impress others if we truly served them?  Just something to think about.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Walkathon

Well last Saturday was the walkathon.  A nice 17 km walk from the school to Zampa Point and back.


Emi with a classmate
Of course, that is a bit far for our girls (Emi is 6 and Mika 4).  However, the younger kids were allowed to take a bus halfway and walk back to the school. 

I expected to hear complaints and grumbling, but surprise, surprise the girls really enjoyed it!  In fact, they are ready for the next one.  They did great as did mom and dad and Debe's mom walked it as well.

Mika with her "Baba"
At the finish line were many games and booths-- like a carnival.  We also got to enjoy OCSI's famous fried chicken. 

Most importantly though, was the witness we were to the local community and our student's parents.

We made it!
All in all, it was not a bad way to spend a Saturday, as we also raised funds to improve the school.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Walkathon

It is time for the annual OCSI Walkathon.  This is our school's biggest fundraiser of the year.  It is a 17 kilometer walk from the school all the way to Cape Zampa.

The funds go to improve the school.  Last year we built a new kitchen.  The year before we were able to put projectors into each classroom.  This year's goal?  A/C!  Some rooms are already air conditioned, but some classes (like Dan's on the 3rd floor) are not.  It does get rather hot in the summer months, so this would definitely be a much appreciated improvement.

Well, we'll all be walking on November 12th.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Digging


Our school goes on an annual Sweet Potato Dig.  It is only for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, but both Emi and Mika got to go.

There were several varieties of sweet potatoes, including the Okinawan Beniimo.



They all had a great time, as we did eating them later!

Friday, September 09, 2011

GO Ministries







We are now partnered with GO! Ministries, who serves as our Mission Agency.  They will provide us with encouragement, accountability, prayer support and will accept donations on our behalf.

We would appreciate greatly your prayer or financial support.

Prayer goes to God...

Financial gifts can go through GO! Ministries, that way you get the tax deductible receipt.
Donations to GO! Ministries on our behalf can be done in the following ways:

  • Checks: Should be made out to "Go Ministries".  Please write "1292” on the Memo line and they will get it to us.
  • Paypal/Credit Card: Can be done through the GO! Ministries website (http://go.ccnorco.org/).  You can also set up an Automatic deposit this way.
All donations will have a tax deductible receipt sent to you from GO!

Thank you for your support!


Friday, August 26, 2011

OCSI

Well we have been settling in our new place in Yomitan (pics coming soon!) and have been quite busy getting ready for the new school year.  Much has happened, but without internet it has been difficult to post.

To sum up though, God has been so, so good to us.  We arrived with a few suitcases, but had no transportation, no furniture and no place to live.  We knew that we were where God led us, so we knew that He would meet our needs...eventually -- in His timing, of course.  Each day it seemed, God would bless us with one more thing.

Just one month later, we had an almost fully furnished apartment and vehicle provided.  God has been so good to us and we want to do our part to work with Him.


We are now serving with Okinawa Christian School International (OCSI) and it has been an incredible 2 weeks of orientation.  Again, to sum it up briefly, we were encouraged many times to remember our purpose as disciple-makers.

OCSI is a K3 - 12 Grade school with about 380 students.  Pray for us as we daily share God's love with them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley (Book Review)


We do not usually think of “blessing” someone as anything more than an impulsive gesture of goodwill or perhaps when they sneeze.  However, John Trent and Gary Smalley lay out in this book many reasons—both practical and spiritual, why we ought to intentionally bless our children.  

Drawing heavily from biblical passages where Patriarchs blessed their children, the authors lay out the reasons and the way that we should bless our own kids or even others that are in our life.  The “Blessing” does not just happen but it needs to be thought out and administered in a certain way to be effective.  This is not some mystical voodoo, but is simply a way of making sure your kids know for sure of your love and acceptance of who they are.  The five suggested steps are simple to accomplish, but again the authors stress being intentional about it.  It is too easy to “assume” that our offspring “know I love them.”

I found this book to be both interesting and helpful. I appreciated the many real life examples of people that received a blessing and empathized with those that did not.  One important point made is that it is never too late to receive a blessing, even later in life. 

This book was received from Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.
The views expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eder and Amanda Diaz

Eder and Amanda had their Okinawan Wedding Reception last night





There was a lot of food and entertainment.



Good times; and congrats to the happy couple!

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Hakugaijin", a band from our church played yesterday.  There was this Christian concert in Uruma City with about 8 different groups performing.  It was neat since it was free, but it was also very visible right off the street in an open stage.

Hakugaijin  


















Mika with her "Baba"  
















The famous "Gushiken Family Band"-- they mix traditional Okinawan melodies and dance with Christian lyrics

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Matsuri

In the Summer there ae many "Matsuris", or festivals.  It is fun to dress up in traditional Yukata (summer kimono) and enjoy the food, games and sometimes fireworks.




















This was held at the aptly named Sunset Beach.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Provision

It is amazing how God provides exactly what you need, when you need it.  We arrived back in Okinawa two weeks ago with little more than the "clothes on our back."  Needs?  Oh, yeah, there were plenty of needs.  We had no furniture, no vehicle, no nothing.

Like I said, it was amazing to see God work to meet EACH and EVERY need.  We now have enough furnishings to fill an apartment and even a van to transport it.  The only problem was getting approved for an apartment.  Not that we are on anyone's blacklist or anything, but sometimes you get turned down for being a foreigner.  Sometimes they don't want little kids living next door.  I understand, my kids are loud sometimes.

So we had everything we needed, except an address... until today, that is!  We received word today that we are approved and ready to move on August 1st.

God definitely met our needs again and as Pastor Tommy mentioned last night, these times of of provision are not only for today, but we can draw on them for strength for tomorrow.  As we remember how God proved Himself yesterday, we can trust in Him for our tomorrows.





God has been with you and provided for your every need so that you lacked nothing. -- Deuteronomy 2:7

Monday, July 11, 2011

Daddy Dates by Greg Wright (Book Review)

As a father of two daughters, I thought that this book might be helpful.  After all, this book claims to help you “raise a confident woman-to-be, show your daughter what it feels like to be treated with love, respect, and true interest by a man who loves her.  This of course is vital later on when she will choose her life partner.

I found this book to be humorous and insightful.  Greg Wright gives many examples and ideas for “Daddy Dates.”  The purpose of these “dates” is not just fun, but it is to establish and maintain a line of communication with her.  While it is still a fun time, it takes some work to keep up with what is going on in your kid’s life.  Basically, you want to remain her #1 guy so she will trust your advice and guidance.

Wright also includes a personality type test which I found interesting.  The purpose of this is to see what types of activities are most enjoyable for your child’s personality type.  My only criticism would be that there was a lack a Bible verses to support the author’s views.  I suppose this was to appeal to a greater audience, but I have come to expect Biblical support from Thomas Nelson.

This book was received from Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.
The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

GO! Ministries

We will now be under GO! Ministries, who will serve as our Mission Agency.  They will provide us with encouragement, accountability, prayer support and will accept donations on our behalf.

We would appreciate greatly your prayer or financial support.

Prayer goes to God...

Financial gifts can go through GO! Ministries, that way you get the tax deductible receipt.
Donations to GO! Ministries on our behalf can be done in the following ways:

  • Checks: Should be made out to "Go Ministries".  Please write "1292” on the Memo line and they will get it to us.
  • Paypal/Credit Card: Can be done through the GO! Ministries website (http://go.ccnorco.org/).  You can also set up an Automatic deposit this way.
All donations will have a tax deductible receipt sent to you from GO!

Thank you for your support!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Days in Portugal

As we near our departure date we are trying to experience as much of Portugal as we can (dependent upon time and finances, of course).

We wanted to take in "One Last Castle" before leaving; well, really it is more of a Palace.  This is the Quinta Regalius -- complete with turrets, caves and underground passages:






Saturday, June 18, 2011

Washington: A Legacy of Leadership, by Paul Vickery and Stephen Mansfield


George Washington was a man that exemplified leadership.  He is remembered for being “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”  Furthermore, he was a man of character, perseverance, and faith.  Leaders today would do well to imitate him.


This book was interesting because it begins not with Washington the leader, but with Washington the boy.  As Washington grows in age, so does his wisdom, faith and leadership abilities. 

The book is arranged mostly chronologically culminating with his presidency and death.  The focus is not on his actions as President, but more on his experiences leading up to his becoming Commander in Chief of the military and ultimately his being unanimously chosen to serve as the nation’s first President.  Through his successes and failures we see the character of the man being shaped.

I found this to be an interesting, quick read.  I appreciated the many quotes from Washington, taken from written correspondence.  You could really feel a sense of “being there” as the Colonials tramped through the winter with their bare feet.  Especially I liked the role faith played in Washington’s life.  Through the many quotes you can tell that he was a man of deep faith and conviction.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in leadership or history.


I received this book courtesy of Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.
 The views expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Final Summit, by Andy Andrews

The Final Summit, by Andy Andrews is a sequel to The Traveler's Gift.  I do not normally spend my time reading fiction, however, this book is a little different. The main character, David Ponder, meets and interacts with historical people (known as “Travelers”). As a history teacher, I felt drawn to the idea of famous characters of history coming to life to help out. These characters include Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc, George Washington Carver, and King David among others.

As in the first book, Ponder needs to apply certain “historically proven principles that have guided our greatest leaders” in order to save us from certain doom. Without giving the story away, this process of restoring these vital principles can save not only the world, but his own life.

I think the idea was pretty original and clever, but it could have been developed better. At times, the characters seem a bit contrived. Other times, the book seems a little like a “Self help” book. 

The biggest problem for me though, was that theologically the book is a little off.  Heaven contains people known to be pagan or atheist. The Arch Angel Gabriel acts a bit un-angelic, Jesus is only mentioned once and then for his carpentry skills. The fate of mankind is dependent upon David Ponder, when in reality it is our relationship with Jesus Christ that matters.

An interesting read, but read with caution.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.
The views expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Max on Life, by Max Lucado

Max Lucado’s latest book is entitled, “Max on Life: answers and insights to your most important questions.”  While I am not a big Lucado fan, I thought this one sounded intriguing.  After all, in over 25 years of ministry, Lucado must have heard thousands of questions. 

This book promised to speak “on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.  Max writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope. He responds to the day-to-day questions—parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships—as well as to the profound: Is God really listening?"

The chapters are divided into sections related to certain topics (“Hope”, “Hurt”, “Help”, etc.).  Within each topic, however, the questions seem rather random and are arranged about one per page.  While the brevity equates to a quick and simple answer, it also means that some deep, thoughtful questions are perhaps answered a bit too briefly.

I did not find any answers to be Biblically unsound, but I felt that many of the questions could have been answered with much more detail, including Bible support.  This would be a good book to find a quick, brief answer to a common question. For the deeper questions, though, you might want to look elsewhere.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Press in exchange for an honest review.
The views expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Okinawa



Most have already heard this, but we have made the decision to return back to Okinawa, Japan.


As much as we like Portugal-- and there is a lot to like here, we have felt led by God to return to Oki.



We will both still be in Christian Education (at OCSI) and are looking forward to seeing friends and family that we already know, as well as the new folks we will meet.

We fly in at the end of June (29th, to be exact).  Please pray for 1) Housing, 2) Finances for the Summer, 3) The students that God is already preparing to place into our classrooms.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Emi Graduates

Yesterday was Emi's graduation.


I'm not sure why some schools have a graduation from Kindergarten, but I guess it is a milestone.


Emi also received an award for "Super Reader"; no surprise there as she loves to read books (like mother, like daughter!).


We are more happy with the other award though: being a "True Friend". Emi really does try to befriend everyone.  Congrats to Emi!

Friday, May 06, 2011

First Tooth

Emi finally lost her tooth.  It is her first time, so she was very excited. 

She has been waiting and waiting, as most of her classmates have already lost theirs.

Guess our little girl is getting older...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Futebol

Couldn't live in Europe and not take in a soccer, uh, I mean, Football game at least once.
So when a friend invited me along I jumped at the chance!

The Sporting Football Club dates back to like 1906, so they have a long, proud history here.





So how was it? Well, it is much more exciting in person than on TV.  Sporting was a much better team than their opponent, Portimonense.  Their passes were crisp and accurate.  Still, it was a very close game.


Up 2-1 with about 10 minutes left and Sporting gets hit with a red card, which means they play 10 men, instead of 11.

A few minutes later and they are given a second red card, so now it is 9 on 11.

The home crowd was clearly not pleased-- they are quite passionate about the game here.  They even had the riot police standing by.

Well, fortunately Sporting held on for the victory!  It was a fun game.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Colombo Mall

We checked out Portugal's largest mall: the Colombo Mall in Lisbon.



It's 3 levels and over 400 shops.



It's so big, it even has an indoor roller coaster and even a bowling alley...



The girls went for something more tame -- a carousel.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Break

It is Spring Break this week, so we decided to see some local things:





We happened upon this cool park,




Which had ice cream for the girls,














And ice coffee for the parents (it is not at all common to find iced coffee here),