So, I actually managed to get a newsletter out for 2011... our email contact list is horribly out of date, so I'm also posting it here. Hope you enjoy... and sorry if you're getting this twice! :)
Happy New Year!
Every year when December comes, I start thinking about getting family pictures taken and sending out beautiful Christmas cards… obviously this hasn’t happened yet, so this year I’m sending greetings through a New Year’s newsletter… and I'm not even late because Japan celebrates the new year for almost an entire week. It is also a Japanese tradition to send cards for the New Year, not Christmas, so you could also say I’m just adapting to the culture. J Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2011 is over. As usual, I have a goal to be a better communicator this year (this is a goal every year), so here’s a brief re-cap of what our family has been up to lately…
This was our 2nd year living in Okinawa, Japan, and serving as the pastor of Keystone Nazarene Church. We continue to fall more in love with Japan every day, and it’s so exciting to see how God is working in the lives of our church members and challenging us personally as we learn and grow. Since a large portion of our church is U.S. military, we lose about 1/3 of the congregation every year. We’re getting used to this, and it helps us cherish the time, however limited, we have with the families God brings to our church. We are also greatly blessed with international friends and missionaries who are here on a more permanent basis, so we’re very thankful for those relationships.
Brian was able to travel to Sendai, Japan, twice this year to assist with tsunami relief. These were life-changing experiences for him and our church members, and if I can ever get him to slow down, I’ll have him write a longer blog about his time there. :) Brian is still serving as the Asia-Pacific youth coordinator for the Nazarene church, and this was an abnormally busy year for his NYI responsibilities. With meetings in El Paso, Nazarene Youth Congress in Kentucky, a regional conference in Manila, and the 3rd Wave conference in Thailand (that’s where he is now), he’s been building up his frequent flyer miles…. all on different airlines. ;) But seriously, he still very much enjoys his work with youth leaders and somehow balances all his responsibilities while continuing to make progress in his Japanese language studies.
Justin turned three in January 2011, and Noah celebrated his first birthday last June. Both boys are full of energy and amaze us every day with their creativity and imagination. Justin is quite obsessed with cars, trucks, and really any form of transportation. He also loves to read books and spend time with friends. Noah loves to follow Justin around and do whatever his older brother is doing. :) He has a quieter personality than Justin, but he is quite fearless and adventurous, which keeps us on our toes. It is such a joy to see how much they love each other and are learning to play together….. most of the time. A definite highlight of the year was getting to see their grandparents and other extended family on a short trip to the states last summer. We’re thankful for family who forgives us for keeping their grandchildren and nephews halfway across the world. :)
And, I guess that leaves me (Julie). Well I’ve been busy trying to keep up with the rest of the family. :) This last year I was blessed to teach an adult English class at a local language school, and I was elected to the board at Okinawa Christian School International. It’s very easy to stay busy with only church responsibilities and language study, but it’s a blessing to also be involved in organizations and relationships outside our church family. It’s definitely been a challenging year as I continue to transition to life with two young children on top of other responsibilities, but God is so faithful in the strength and grace he provides daily.
There are so many more stories I would love to share of how God is working in our lives and in the lives of our friends, but this is already longer than I expected. As usual, I hope to be a better communicator through our blog this year, so please check for updates and keep me accountable!
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We couldn’t do any of this without the amazing network of prayer partners God had blessed us with. Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s guidance in every area of our lives. And let us know how we can pray for you! We will be in the states for home assignment in April, May, and June 2013. Please let us know if your church would be interested in having us speak.
We love you and pray you will be amazed by our great God in 2012!
-Brian, Julie, Justin, and Noah