Thursday, March 31, 2011

Accountability time....

Yes, that's right... I am asking you to keep me accountable... a scary, but good thing. :) As you may or may not now, we are currently in the season of Lent in the church calendar, and wow, God is using this time to teach me so many things... way more than I ever imagined! One thing God has been talking to me a lot about lately is how I use my time... or more correctly, how I sometimes waste time. I don't normally waste large amounts of time, but I started thinking about all the little 5 minute periods of wasted time... for example, doing nothing on facebook for 5 minutes... and how I could be using that time for more productive and fulfilling things... like blogging, uploading pictures of our growing boys, even perhaps taking a short video of boy #2, and so many others. But most importantly, I need to spend time telling our amazing family and friends about the incredible things God is doing! It's not enough to just get little tidbits here and there, or when we see you (maybe) once every couple years to just say things are great, and God is good... no, we have the wonderful invention of the internet, and I need to use it for communication. :)
So, I am asking you today to keep me accountable... I am making a personal commitment to spend less time scanning the newsfeed page on facebook and more time blogging and directly communicating with people. I'm always thinking of things to blog, so now you will actually hear those thoughts, too. :) So, expect more blogs soon! And, I don't like blogs without pictures, but my next task is to download recent pictures from the camera... so I leave with an oldie but a goodie. :) This was taken about 6 months after we moved to Manila... pre-baby days, pre-lots of things days... it's so amazing to think how God has changed us and blessed in the last 5 years since this was taken! Love you all, and you WILL be hearing from me soon. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pray for Japan

So, I'm sure you've heard about and seen reports of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck mainland Japan yesterday, and I want to let you know that we are fine. :) Okinawa is a separate island, and we are about 950 miles south of Tokyo. We also frequently feel small earthquakes, but we haven't had any recently, and we experienced no effects from the tsunami. Thank you so much for all your prayers and concern! Our God is amazing in how He provides us with family all around the world who love and care for us.

But it is so important to remain in prayer for our friends and church family in mainland Japan. We have heard from or spoken to many of our close friends in the Tokyo area, and they are all okay... some had to spend the night away from home, but things seem to be returning to normal today. However, we have a Nazarene church in Sendai, one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami, and as far as we know, no one been able to contact our pastor there yet. Please remember Abe-sensei (Sendai Nazarene church pastor) and his family in your prayers. In this picture, he is standing next to Brian... this was taken a few months ago at a Nazarene Youth gathering on Okinawa.

I remember driving through Manila the day after the horrific flooding in September 2009, and what stands out in my memory is the hopelessness on people's faces. That's all I can think of as I watch the continuous news coverage of the incredible devastation in northern Japan right now. Less than 1 % of the Japanese population are believers, and suicide rates are very high all over the country. Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters on the mainland as they help others through this tragedy and point them to hope and peace that is only found in Christ. Pray for the Japanese people, that they will turn to Jesus in the midst of this confusing and troubling time. While we were not directly affected on Okinawa, all our Japanese friends and acquaintances have relatives and friends on the mainland; pray for us that we can also point our friends to Christ as they are concerned about what is happening in their country.

As I was praying for all these things this morning, I was reminded of God's promises in the book of Isaiah. We are studying Isaiah right now in our ladies Bible Study at church, and one of the main themes that continues to stand out to me is the importance of trusting in God - there are numerous examples in Isaiah of when people trusted in other things: man's wisdom, strength of armies, etc. But over and over again, God was more powerful than everything and simply asked His people to trust in HIM. May these verses also bring you God's comfort today as we pray for our family in Japan.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 43:1-2
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. We will keep you updated as we continue to find out information. If you would like to donate to relief efforts, go here for more information.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Praying for missionaries

I can't believe we've seen sakura (cherry blossoms) twice now in Okinawa - the last year has gone by so quickly! And unfortunately, it's been quite some time (a.k.a. WAY too long) since I've updated our blog... I guess life really does get more hectic with another child. ;) But, we are currently at the Japan Nazarene Church District Assembly in Osaka, and the meetings extend past the boys' bedtime, so I find myself sitting in our hotel room after the boys have fallen asleep (fingers crossed) with a little time on my hands. So in addition to catching up on reading and studying Japanese, I'll also try to post some blog updates. :)

But for now, I wanted to share something that was posted recently in an online magazine about Nazarene missions. As missionaries, we are always in need of prayer, but sometimes we are not always good about communicating exactly what is going on and what you can be praying for (note: this is, of course, something we (the Woolery family) MUST, and are trying to, remedy in the future :) ). So this is something you can use any day of the week when God brings a missionary or person in ministry to your mind. Again, we covet your prayers... God is working in amazing ways all around us, and we must stay focused on Him as we continue to learn and share His love with others. Thanks ALWAYS for praying! :)

What follows is a suggested prayer plan for the missionary or minister in your life.

unday: Spiritual life – A closer walk with God. Missionaries need times of refreshing just as much as everyone else. Those in ministry give on a regular basis. Pray that they will take the time to be filled so that they will not be running on empty or on their own strength.

onday: Mind – The ability to learn what is needed, be it language and culture or a new way of getting things done. Pray that their mind will be open and accepting to the new things that greet them. Louie Bustle, director of Nazarene Global Mission, used to say missionaries need to “trust the locals.” It is easier to think that we have all the answers than to admit we need to learn.

uesday: Team – The people the person works with – for good relationships that will build up the work and honor God. Pray for the local people whose lives are touched by the missionary, as well as missionary co-workers and leaders. No one is a lone ranger… and even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.

ednesday: Well-being – No one likes being sick. Being sick in another cultural context can be scary and even more dangerous. Malaria and other diseases for which we have no built up immunity can be deadly. Health care can be hard to find.
Driving over rough roads, air travel and other mode of transportation can be fraught with … excitement. Pray for physical safety from illness and travel safety.

hursday: Thoughts – Pray that the missionary will not be discouraged. Pray that they will remain focused on the things of God. There are “get thee behind me” moments in everyone’s life. Pray that the missionary will be able to discern those moments for what they are and be bold in confronting them.

riday: Family
Spouse, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mother and father. Some of these people will be Christian, others not. Some will be going through a crisis physical, spiritual or emotional which drains the missionary. Sometimes the stress comes from being in the situation; at other times the stress comes from being half the world away. Pray for peace, contentment and open communication between the missionary and family members.

aturday: Schedule
As the week comes to a close and missionaries are planning the week ahead, pray that the schedule will be filled with divine appointments. Pray that when the schedule is disrupted that the missionary will see the hand of God at work and not be angry, but rather expectant.
No matter what day of the week it is, missionaries (and ministers) covet your prayers. Thank you.
”If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22