Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Eve & Day

This Christmas we had surprisingly few people around at church. But those who were still here made sure to spend time together, to be family for one another. We were blessed to have a delicious dinner and breakfast prepared for us by some of the military folk (see Julie and Leah below, as well as Chris, Joe, and Samantha - am I forgetting anyone?) on Christmas Eve and Day. Thanks so much, it was such a blessing! Felt more like 'home' thanks to lovely people like you!

Christmas will never be the same in Okinawa as it is in Canada, but as long as we're celebrating for all the right reasons, Christmas will always be the most special day of the year! Thank you Jesus for redeeming us by Your blood!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Personal Best

Well, I still don't like running, but today I decided I had to do more than usual. Normally I run around 5km (3 miles) but I also know that if I want to get better at running, I have to try more every once in a while. Today was one of those days. I was supposed to get up in the morning and run but just didn't "feel it" so I stayed in the comfort of my bed. This afternoon after doing some housework and computer work, I decided I had to make something of the beautiful weather. (It wasn't too warm but at least the sun came out to play for the first time in days!)

The result: a personal best 9.44km run (let's not get technical now, mind you!) in 50 minutes. I started on my normal path, but decided to just keep on going. And going. And going. And eventually turn back towards home, but take a longer route. And sometimes I stop with about a kilometer to go, and walk the rest of the way home to "cool down" but today I just kept going. Stopped when I got home. I coulda kept going, actually!!! But I was tired. Anyways, praise the Lord for legs to run with, and (somehow, miraculously) the discipline to run despite it being "the holidays" and wanting to be lazy!



Monday, December 21, 2009

Pizza BOB III - 満腹パーティー




Today was the final BOB of 2009. The only way to end the year was to have another excellent pizza party! Oh man did we ever eat a lot! We ate well! When the men gather for food at my place, everyone goes home a few notches looser on the belt, and a few notches up the happy scale! Thanks to everyone who came and partook in the food!

We also watched my favourite Christmas movie, "Christmas Story" while eating. Could you ask for a better night? Thank the Lord for providing into our lives, giving us great fellowship, and for all His love. What a great 7 months of men's discipleship it's been!

Christmas Outreach in Nago

Yesterday a group of us went up to Nago to Pastor Tim's house. Tim and Ayu and Masaki moved up to Nago at the end of July to start a new work there. They meet Sundays and Wednesdays for worship service, and Tim also hangs out with the breakdancers on a regular basis, reaching out to them and sharing the love of Christ with them.

This time he hosted a Christmas party - around 50 people showed up, half of whom did not know Jesus. The party began with a lot of delicious food... curry, bread, fish, chicken, salad, you name it! Then after some performances (Hakugaijin, Aoki-san on the... some unique instrument, Andrew on the guitar, etc.) there was dessert and games, and finally the Christmas message.

It was such a blessed night, and one of the breakdancers made a decision to accept the Lord into his heart! Exciting! I wasn't around to celebrate - I left early to prepare for today's men's fellowship - but I was excited to hear the news! Pray for Masaki (not Newell - mind you, you can pray for him too of course!) the breakdancer and his "new life" as a follower of the living God!

My camera batteries died after about 5 pics, so this is all I've got. Sorry.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thank you! 3級!



The results are in: somehow, I managed to pass the Kanji Proficiency Test, Level 3! (This is the equivalent of knowing 1,608 Chinese characters.) Who'd have ever thought that this country boy from Manitoba would ever even take an interest in writing a foreign language, let alone memorize all these mysterious symbols? I'll say this: God has given me a passion to learn... not just kanji, but all sorts of things! I am so thankful that He has given me a curious spirit, and the ability to remember things like this! All praise and glory to Him!

Some interesting stats about this test: it covers 1,608 kanji (though not all of them are actually on the test - there are 284 "new" ones not covered on the Level 4 test, and not even all of those are covered on this test... it's like a cumulative test, so they randomly choose), and last year only 52.8% of those who took the test passed it. I scored 163 out of a possible 200 points, which put me 23 above the pass-fail line. The test consists of ten parts, which are hard to explain to someone who doesn't understand Japanese. I scored above average on 9 of the 10 sections - and the only one I didn't score higher on, I scored .3 (out of 10) lower than average. The next level - pre-2nd - covers an extra 337 characters, and the highest level - 1st - covers a total of 6,000 kanji! Only 13.5% of those who take that test pass it. Oh, these tests are not designed for foreigners, though of course they can take them if they want. They're designed for the Japanese.

So what does this mean? And what's next? It means nothing, really... I suppose it's something cool to add to my resume. It definitely impresses people. (But who's trying?) As for the next challenge, there is a test which is designed for foreigners, called the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. I have never taken it before, but there are five levels, I think. The highest is Level 1, and should you pass it, it is said that you could become a student at a Japanese university. It's required at most universities if you are a foreigner and you want to get in (not as an exchange student). Well, this test is administered twice a year, and yesterday was the 2nd one for 2009. So I'm hoping to take Level 1 in July of next year. I have to hit the books pretty hard, but with God on my side, I can do all things! Please pray for me and cheer me on!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Marriage

I read a great devotional today, describing our relationship with Jesus as a husband-wife relationship. Weird to think of myself as a wife, but once I got past that the message was powerful. Our "old husband" - the law - has died. When the law died, we were free from the obligations of marriage to it. The "new husband" is Jesus, and He is all about love. We do not marry to Him out of obligation, but in response to the amazing love He has shown us. And we do not serve Him faithfully because it's our duty as wives, but because we adore Him so much that we want to be the best wives we can be! And so that is what I desire to do: love "my husband" to the best of my ability - not because I have to, but in response to His beautiful love! (I told you it's a little weird as a guy to think about having a "husband"!)


CCBC Oki Graduation!

On Wednesday night, Calvary Chapel Bible College, Okinawa Extension Campus had its semi-annual graduation service. This semester (the 7th that the campus has been in existence, I might add) saw a new record being set for most graduates - a whopping 4! It was so awesome to see Tom Cotton, Bryce, Amanda and Christina graduate, faces beaming and messages anointed. I was blessed to be asked to translate for Bryce. And I was also blessed to have the funnest translation gig, because Bryce brought a lot of energy and action into his message, and wouldn't let me just say it in a drab monotone voice!

Anyways, the pervading message was this: God loves you no matter what, and His grace extends beyond your imagination. Be encouraged, everyone, for His love endures forever and His grace never ends!



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I am still running

This is the longest I have ever continued doing any kind of regular exercise in all my years here in Okinawa. I started running on June 28th, and have gone 3 times a week, every week, except when I was sick for a week or so. I'm so proud of myself! Slowly I am buying myself better gear, as I start to realize how serious I am about getting (and eventually staying) in shape. Here's me after my run today (about 20 minutes ago). This is the last you'll see of the MO, as it is now the month of DE.