Thursday, July 08, 2010

Newsletter July 8, 2010

Rainy season continues and the temperature continues to rise as we sail into summer, and God continues to do AMAZING things around us!

My Bible studies have been intense lately and I have lots of non-Christian seekers attending. Please be in prayer for these women who want to study God's Word. and I'd like to ask prayer for me as well. As I lead them into the scripture their questions are deep and the topics even deeper. It is at these times I find that I am completely inadequate at explaining things to them. I think this is the best place for me to be, so that I won't get in the way of what God wants to do! Yet, I get overwhelmed at just how far their basic way of thinking is from the simple and significant cornerstones to the truth found in the Gospel. Just a conversation about what heaven is, and what eternal life means turned up many different opinions this week, and I was left wondering how I will ever help them understand what the Bible is saying! I know that I won't and can't help them understand and only HE can, so please help me lay each of them at His feet and trust He will keep doing HIS work in their hearts!

This week we lead English chapel at the Christian school where I first worked in Japan! We have the privilege of speaking at the chapel services in both Jr. High and High School at this Christian girls' school once a semester. It has been an ongoing work, where God is slowly opening their hearts to us and our message. Chapel is normally ridged and strict, with older male pastors usually being the speakers. Unfortunately their messages are usually way over these girls' heads. Rocky and I have made a point to try and always make chapel fun and the message simple but applicable to their lives. Most of the students are not Christians. This week for High School chapel we had only the senior class as the other classes were on a school trip. It was WONDERFUL! We have probably had most of these girls in English chapel since they were 1st year Jr. High students. They have come to know us and they love the praise songs that we bring to chapel. They begged for more praise time, and we had a wonderful and very energetic time of worship! Then they were glued to the message because they were awake and excited, and I was so moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit in that place! This class seems to be quite special, and I want to ask for prayers for them. I think God wants to make a big impact in their lives and on the school through them! Please pray!!!

This month is going to be PACKED full of ministry! We have summer camp with the Christian school I was just sharing about. THREE days at camp with over 30 of these girls, to worship and learn from God's Word together and play games and swim together! Please pray for this more up close and personal time we get to have with them! We also have a three day trip to another summer camp for a church in Imabari, about 5 hours from here, where we will be the guest worship leaders and speaker. We have preparation for the upcoming Summer School at our own church and for the CMA concert the first few days of August. (See those flyers below, click on the image to get a full view). Registration for summer school is now open, please pray that lots of kids sign up!!!

We appreciate your prayers!!!

Summer School Flyer...

CMA Concert...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Newsletter June 19, 2010

Rainy season has officially begun. This is my most unfavorite time of the year, and yet God has really shown us great mercy in these days. On three occasions when rain was forecast, and also a special day of outdoor or travel ministry was planned, the Lord held back the rain and gave us beautiful weather! One of those occasions was our church's worship this last Sunday. I want to give you a special glimpse into the lives of Japanese people who enjoy spiritual freedom in Christ. A glimpse of things you won't often see in the Japanese culture, outside of God's family (or really you might only see these things in OUR church)!

1. HUGS!!!!!!! (something you normally never see Japanese people do!)

2. Young and old, native and foreign sharing each others company (those two young students are Chinese)...

3. Freedom of individual experssion!

4. Happy Couples!!!

Rocky and I really sense a very special calling and unique mission that God has given this church. We visit many many churches all over Japan each year, and we have never been in one as special as the one the Lord has allowed us to serve in. These people are precious, and God is continuing to do AMAZING things through them. We both agree that God is about to do even more awesome things through them and we can't wait to watch Him do HIS thing!!! Please lift up Kitakyushu Bible Church in your prayers. Pray for strength and a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit on its members. And please pray for protection from the enemy who we know doesn't like to see God's people working together for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!!!

This week, for Aroma Ministries please pray for REST! We hit the ground running when we came back from America more than two weeks ago. Our first day off since arriving home will be Monday! Pray for rest and physical strength! Rocky and I are both spiritually uplifted and strengthened emotionally after some awesome times of worship and fellowship in the States! We (maybe just I) need some physical rest though!

Many blessings from Japan!
The Ayatsuka's

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Newsletter June 13, 2010

Rainy season has begun in Japan! May the Lord pour out his blessings on summer ministry with more abundance than even the rain during rainy season in Japan! And may the Lord grant us a few sunny days to get our laundry dry over the next days and weeks ;)

We are kicking off the summer with a bang! Coming back from America we hit the ground running and haven't looked back. Our English classes are exploding with new students (and returning students who took some weeks or months off). Planning for summer events is in full gear. And our church is literally bursting at the seams! Go God!!!

Today we had worship in the park with our entire church body. It was filled with hours of singing praises, listening to God's Word, fellowshipping, laughing, playing, eating and FUN! I am continually in awe of how God is working in our church. New people are coming all the time, a few international students are making professions of faith, and individuals are doing ministry all over the place. God has given this church and unique calling, praise Him together with us for all that He is doing!!!

We are preparing for a couple of big events this summer. CMA is coming again this summer and we are so excited. They will be doing a concert one evening, three days of VBS at our church, and some evening ministry activities to young women, international students and families of the VBS kids! Please pray as we all prepare for these activities!!! And pray even now that the right people would get word of these activities and attend.

More to share in the coming weeks! Thank you for praying!!!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Newsletter June 3, 2010

WOW! Where do we begin to share all that the Lord has done in our ministry over the past two months? America was AMAZING! What a wonderful trip, time of fellowship, meeting people and refreshment. We are so thankful to all of YOU who made it such an amazing trip.

We started our trip in early April and the kids did great on the trip over and we all recovered pretty quickly from jet lag. Our first couple weeks in Texas we visited several supporting churches and had some awesome fellowship with family and old and new friends.

Then we headed out to the D/FW area and central Texas to speak at more churches and home fellowship while visiting family and friends as well. It was AWESOME! We made a lot of new connections for the ministry and look forward to developing those relationships. One group in particular will probably be headed our way for a mission trip next year! That is some exciting stuff!!!

After that it was back to Texas and then to Colorado where we had more amazing opportunities to ministers and fellowship with more friends and family.

Finally we spent that last week in Texas before heading home.

We made so many many new friends and established tons of new connections with our ministry. God provided us with several new supporting churches and individuals. We are sooooooooo blown away by how He continues to provide for this ministry. And a big thank you to those of you who are joining us in bringing the Aroma of Christ to Japan.

We have now been back in Japan for two days and have already taught several English classes and are spending today at our churches coffee house outreach ministry. Needless to say, we are going to get over jet lag quickly, who has time to jet lag?!

We appreciate your prayers as we look forward to what is ahead, summer ministry activities! More details on how to pray for those soon!

Tons of blessings from Japan!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Newsletter March 14, 2010

White Day, March 14th

You can read the details of White Day on Wikipedia but basically it is the counterpart to Valentine's Day. In Japan, Valentine's Day is the day when women give gifts of homemade chocolate to men. Since one must always reciprocate in this culture, the men officially must return the favor one month later on March 14th! And it is called White Day.

Marriage and love in Japan are quite different from the culture I grew up in. It is not uncommon for marriages in Japan to be about convenience and out of need or social obligation rather than love. Roles inside of marriage are much much more conservative, with the husband helping out very little at home and with raising the children. The couples also usually lead totally separate lives, knowing very little about each others daily comings and goings and social activities.

These past weeks I have been surrounded by talk of marriage. One friend who is in a wonderful Christian marriage shared with me that at her childrens' kindergarten, she and one other women are the only women happy in their marriage and at meetings and gatherings she must sit and listen to everyone complain and degrade their husbands.

This last week Rocky and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary. We began with a short overnight trip, just the two of us. Then on the 11th, the actual anniversary date, Rocky surprised me with breakfast in bed. I shared this with one of my English classes, and could feel the tension in the room as most of my students did not know how to respond to my enthusiasm about our marriage. As it dawned on me that they have never known such love, my heart began to break for them even more.

Oh how I want them to know the unending, all consuming, powerful love of their Savior! It is only because Rocky and I know THAT love that we can have the marriage that we have. I LONG for them to experience LOVE in its purest form, love unconditional and full. A love so powerful it washes your sins whiter than snow!

White Day this year has reminded me to pray MORE for the couples in this country. Pray with us that God will bring HIS love into their lives and transform each one, and in turn transform their marriages and then their whole family. We have seen this happen in our church and we long to see more of it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newsletter February 2010

February in Japan always makes me feel cheated! We get a tease of Spring with a few warm days and then it gets COLD and often colder than it has been all Winter. Just when I get my hopes up I get shot down!

But not so when it comes to the work God is doing! How can I summarize what the past couple of months have been like for us in ministry. Amazing, unbelievable, jaw dropping... GOD's handiwork!!!

Thank you for your prayers for Fall and Christmas ministry. It is always exciting to see God work through special Christmas events, but also a relief to get past the busiest time of year for us and recover a little! I think maybe, MAYBE we finally recovered!!!

Our church is showing so much growth, not just in numbers but in the hearts of it's members. I have had so many amazing conversations with church members about their dreams and visions for the ministry there in the future! We can't help but feel an incredible sense of excitement and expectation about the future of this growing group of believers!

In January, Rocky and his acoustic guitar buddy Shuhey, released their second album and held a special New Year concert! Please pray for this very talented duo and for the CD that people will be listening to. Pray the Lord uses it to encourage and uplift believers and draw unbelievers to HIM!

Our English classes continue to be such a joy to us. I especially love my English Bile class and the time with the women I meet with every Thursday. There is a wonderful mix of believers and unbelievers in this group, and I know the Lord is using the time to work in the hearts of all, including myself!

I am also really excited about the Mother's Bible study we have for Mom's of my English Circle kids. Each time we meet, the study is powerful and the conversation becomes deep. There are often even tears among this group that is really not that close knit. I am always amazed at how open and honest they are, and how God's spirit obviously moves as we open His word. Please pray for the women in that group that their hearts would remain open and teachable, as God works in them. We only meet once a month, so please pray that in the in-between time God would reveal Himself to them in their everyday lives!

And the most wonderful news of all.... Kai's adoption is FINAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We will be visiting the States in April and May and look forward to seeing many of you. The adoption was final two weeks ago so there is a lot of planning to do before we come. If you'd like to see us in you area, please drop me an email!!! We hope to raise prayer and financial support over the 6 or 7 weeks we'll be there and we'd love to speak and sing to any and all groups, big or small! Please be in touch!

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 24, 2009

How is it possible that it has been so long since my last update! I'm sorry to have left you all hanging!

Our fall schedule has been filled with lots of basic ministry activity and a few concert engagements. We had one ten day trip to Hokkaido (the most northern part of Japan) and were very blessed in three cities there! What a privilege it is to get to do what God has called us to do here.

As the Christmas season approaches we are preparing for a few exciting events.

In early December every year, many churches from around our city gather for a Christmas worship and celebration. This year Rocky has been working with that committee again and we are ready for a wonderful two hour event taking place on the 6th. Please pray that this event would reach out to unbelievers in the city, and they can learn the true meaning of Christmas!

The day before the city Christmas worship, we will have our annual English Circle Christmas Party. Last year was a wonderful party for my Saturday children's English class. This year we pray it will once again be a wonderful time of games, songs, crafts and the Christmas story for these children and their families who attend. Please pray with us!

The main goal of our English Circle is not to learn English but to expose them to the Bible! Through the class a mother's Bible study has also begun and I am excited about teaching these mother's the Word of God. It is so fun and refreshing to discuss the Bible with these women who have never learned about this God before. Their perspectives are fresh and interesting. It is evident that God is working in their hearts. Pray for these women as I and my English Circle ministry partner meet with them on a monthly basis.

Rocky is hard at work on the finishing touches for his second acoustic album with Shuhey, who many of you met in the Spring/Summer of 2008 when we were last in the states! The album is expected to be released in January. Pray with us that God would use each and every CD to minister to the people who hear it.

Regarding Kai's adoption proceedings, we are waiting on further notice from the family court system. We have been interviewed and there are a few more steps left in the process. All of which are completely out of our control! We have no idea how long it will all take but we are praying that the process will be finished quickly! As soon as that is all done, we will be planning a trip back to the states for you all to meet him and for support raising! We can't wait to see you all, so please pray for a quick resolution to the whole process!!!