Sunday, October 15, 2017

Catching up...

Well, it's been a long time since we posted anything on this blog... actually a very long time. :) Life is full, God is working and so faithful, the boys are growing, and the adventures never stop.  But we do want to stay in touch and share what God is doing in our family and Japan. So here is a very quick update of the last 1 1/2 years... Of course many more things have happened than what we will be able to share in this post, but these are just some highlights... just catching up. :)

We returned from Home Assignment in August 2016, and the boys immediately jumped into a new school year.  Noah was in Kindergarten and Justin in 3rd grade.  Last year, I (Julie) also served as the PTF (Parent Teacher Fellowship) Director for their school, and Brian is now serving on the school board. The boys had a wonderful year. We are so thankful for our school - we have deep friendships with people from so many countries, and it is such a blessing to serve in our school community.  

Brian has started meeting with other Nazarene pastors once a year for a prayer retreat.  Here are pictures from 2016 and 2017.  We are so thankful for these friends and the opportunity to serve 
together in Japan! 

When we moved to Okinawa, Brian was so excited to be able to ride his bicycle again.  In the last few years he has started riding with a local team and will compete in his first race this November!  Justin and Noah have also fallen in love with cycling, so they love going on long rides with Brian.

The Japan District Assembly was held in March 2017, and it is always a special time to reconnect with other pastors.  Here are Justin and Noah with some of their fellow 'Pastor Kid' friends. 

After the meetings, we took the boys to Kyoto for the first time!  Brian and I first visited Kyoto in 2004, so it was so fun to go back and show the boys one of our favorite cities in Japan.

In April, my parents came to visit!  We LOVE when family comes to visit and had a wonderful time together over Spring Break and Easter.  It was an extra special Easter because Noah got baptized on Easter Sunday. :) We're also looking forward to Brian's parents coming this Christmas!

In May we were very privileged to have a mission team from our alma mater, SNU (Southern Nazarene University),  come stay with us and minister together with us for 2 weeks.  They helped with Children's ministries at our church and assisted with English programs at daycares and a local public school.  We had an amazing time together and are so thankful for their service and new friendships!

Noah graduated from Kindergarten! We are so proud of the amazing boy he is - he brings such joy to to our family, and we love watching him learn and grow.

Then in June we returned to the Philippines! It was the first time the boys and I had been back in nearly 7 years!  The NYI convention had a regional site in Manila, and we got to help with the event.  Words cannot describe how wonderful it was to be back with our friends. We got to connect with old church friends, seminary friends, and NYI friends from around the Asia-Pacific region.  The APNYI Council also awarded Brian the Timothy Award for his years of serving young people on the Asia-Pacific region- he was incredibly surprised and honored.  The boys fell in love with the Philippines and keep asking when we get to go back again.  We are so thankful for this amazing time with friends and a refreshing time for us personally.

In July, Justin and I joined a group from our church and went to Hokkaido to help with a church camp.  We had an incredible time serving together with the Nazarene church in Asahikawa, and we hope to send a group every summer. Justin also participated in the camp, and we were so proud of him!  He was the only non-Japanese kid, and it was a great opportunity for him to practice his Japanese.  He loved it and keeps asking if he'll get to go back next year and reconnect with the friends he made. :)

In August, Brian climbed Mt. Fuji! He and a good friend had an amazing adventure together... I'll try to get him to write a post about it. ;)

And then it was time for a new school year... and this year, our back to school picture includes me! I'll write the whole story in another post, but God opened a door and I'm now working full-time as the Literacy Support teacher at OCSI.  I'm so happy to be back in the classroom and I love working with elementary and middle school students in their English language development. Noah is now in 1st grade and Justin is in 4th grade.  Time is going by so quickly, but we're so thankful for continued memories in the same communities.

We are still so thankful to be serving at Keystone Nazarene Church here in Okinawa.  Our church family is always changing because of US military moves and transitions, but God always provides friends that become family, and we are blessed to share life in Okinawa together. 
Thank you always for your prayers and support for our family! We also try to post updates on our facebook page, and most 'daily life' pictures can be found on my instagram. And hopefully it won't be so long between blog-posts in the near future. ;)