That’s not Yahoo, but Yaho! It’s kind of like sayin Hey there! or What’s up? In Japanese. It’s a little old, retro, 70’s lingo but it is understood!
It feels like it has been a long time since an update was last given and we are sorry for the long interlude. The winter has come to an end, although not without a fight. It is just this past week that we finally had nights where the temperature continued above freezing. We are thankful and excited! As we have said before, being from a warm climate means that you come alive along with the flowers and trees when spring finally comes. Growing up, neither one of us association spring with flowers so much, we didn’t notice all the life because it never really died in the winter. But once you live in a place where snow falls, freezing temperatures continue and life all around seems gone, Spring is a real wake up call!
Of course with spring comes a new year of training! The participants of this years program at ARI have all arrived and will soon finish their first month here. 5 weeks ago these 33 people were only names and faces, but now they are becoming colleagues and friends. This is wonderful, but there area also plenty of sorrows that accompany. One participant lost her elder sister days after arriving. We have 3 participants from Nepal, all of whom’s immediate families are safe. But they have lost their homes, many people in their communities and they are very worried about their communities. We are doing what we can to support them, but it is sad. Disasters so far away become very, very close at ARI.
As the new training begins, we need to ask all of you who support us to pray with us. Pray that the training will be impactful and pray that as we face all of the unknowns this year, that the Holy Spirit will be our strength, that Jesus will give his peace to each participant, volunteer and staff and that the Father will guide us throughout these 9 months.
Pray for us as well. Nasushiobara Church and Youth Group and the Minngos Gospel Choir are growing and maturing and now we need God’s guidance as we seek to train leaders to guide in these ministries. This coming December we will be back in the US for home assignment and although we plan to come back in March of next year, this is a good opportunity to empower other Japanese leaders to keep ministries flourishing.
Finally, if you would like to give to the Nepali disaster, UMCOR is accepting donations for the work there. One formal ARI Volunteer is now a UMC missionary in Nepal, and safe, so know that our church has feet on the ground and we can empower them to take physical and spiritual support to people who are hurting right now. Donations to support the response to the earthquake in Nepal and other international disasters can be made through UMCOR Advance # 982450.
Hope to see you back here soon!!!
Jonathan and Satomi