Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Newsletter December 9, 2008

Merry Christmas everyone! December snuck up on us and we are in the middle of the busy ministry season here!

Last weekend, we had the very first English Circle Christmas party and it was incredible. I will share lots of pictures at the end of this post, but right now just want to ask you to join us in praising God for what he is doing through this ministry. Just a re-cap, about two years ago a friend and I decided we wanted our kids to have something like Sunday School in English. We go to seperate churches so we decided to meet up on Saturdays and do some fun English learning things, and have a Bible story time. My friend began to invite other friends with little children and before you know it, we had an amazing new outreach. Almost everyone attending with their children had never been to church! The group grew and grew until we couldn't fit everyone in our houses, and so we moved to a local meeting place for children's activities and it grew even MORE! Now on average about 15 children meet with us twice a month for what we call English Circle. In addition to those 15 children, we have the moms and even quite a few dads attending regularly with baby siblings in tow as well! It can get crazy when 15 children for class means about 30-40 people are actually in the room!

On Saturday we met at my friend's church for a two hour Christmas event! We played Christmas games, sang songs, had the Christmas story on felt board, made a Christmas craft, Rocky and I gave a mini-concert and we ended with a pot luck lunch! It was so much fun. After the party, one mother told me it was the first time for her and her children to hear the real Christmas story! I am sure she isn't the only one in attendance that day who'd never heard the Christmas story! I was so humbled and awed that God is using our little English Circle in such a way. He is doing awesome things!

Please lift up these families in prayer, that they would be open to know more about God. We are in the process of trying to figure out when would be the best mid-week time to have a mother's Bible study with these ladies who are mostly housewives. Praise God that the dads are attending too, and pray we can find a way to continue to reach out to them and get them into God's Word somehow!

We have several Christmas concerts and parties in the coming weeks before Christmas as well. We appreciate your prayers for safe travel and protection from illness, as well as prayers that God would continue to work in and through us!

Enjoy the Christmas party pictures and let us hear from you! Leave a comment or send email!!!

Preperations begin!

My trusty assistants!

Life-sized Christmas Candyland waiting for the "game pieces" to arrive!

Playing with ABC's while everyone arrives and gets checked in.

Here is an example of a little family attending, Dad included!

Christmas Bingo!

Candyland in progress...

Pin the ornament on the Christmas tree...

Where is the Christmas tree?

OH! That's close!

You can't peak first!

Telling the Christmas story, I speak in English and Rocky translates! Not sure what I was saying here, but my facial expressions were hilarious in these pictures!

Ahhhh, no room for them in the inn!

A baby boy is born!

A multitude of Angels appeared!

Craft time! Buidling an Angel takes the whole family!

Showing off OUR multitude of Angels!

Aren't they sooooooo cute!

Lunch was soooooooo yummy!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Newsletter November 2, 2008

Happy Fall everyone! We are enjoying the cooler weather and the changing leaves. I hope this finds all of you well. And I hope you are all preparing to VOTE this week if you haven't already! I mailed in my ballot several weeks ago. Praying for our country this week!!!

On the ministry front, you could pray for our English Circle ministry. I've mentioned it often. My friend and I started it about two years ago as a way to do some English learning and Sunday School type of activities for our kids. Others began to join us and before long it has evolved into a pretty big deal. I wanted to share some pictures with you of our recent English Circle in the Park. We all met at the park instead of our regular indoor class, and had a blast studying English outdoors, playing together and eating lunch together! Enjoy these pics...

We start with ABC's, songs and stories.

We always have a Bible story, which recently a couple of Mom's have volunteered to make flanel boards of the stories for me FROM SCRATCH! One Mom sews the background out of felt. Another Mom draws the characters and prints them onto special paper that will stick to the felt! So neat!

The children LOVE these stories and listen so intently! When we used to just read from the children's Bible they never listened this closely.

On this day we had a leaf hunt and talked about the leaves and their colors in English.

Before class and after lunch everyone enjoyed the playground at this park. It has a zip line and a LONG roller slide. We all had tons of fun!

Our church continues to have a weekly outreach ministry we call "cafe". I took over management of it, when our missionary couple recently went back to the states for a short home assignment. Now the church ladies volunteer their time to help run cafe. It is going well, and continues to be an AWESOME place where people can gather and fellowship. LOTS of new people come on a regular basis. But the future of cafe is uncertain. One short term couple who helps with this ministry tremendously, will be ending their term in the Spring. It remains to be seen if we have enough man power to continue with cafe in the future. Please pray for God to provide all that we need and more, if it is His will for our church to continue this ministry! Here are some pics of that for you to enjoy also!

Our beautiful church!

The cafe special a few weeks ago... Raisin Walnut bread! YUM!

Taking orders...

Serving our customers...

Nick, don't steal any of that money!

Game night! We were played Wii that night too!

Our specialty... cheesecake! YUM!

Please continue to pray for our many Fall concert engagements! God bless you all this week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Newsletter October 25, 2008

We are alive! Sorry for the long silence. A combination of computer troubles and busy schedule have kept me away from blogging.

So my laptop is cranky, and I think it is going to be in "time-out" for a good while. Rocky and I are now sharing a computer and I should be able to keep in better touch from now on.

September was a busy month with the usual. We are so blessed to get to do what we do and praise God for all the opportunities to spread His fame all over Japan.

October has been full as well. One WONDERFUL bit of news is the unexpected volunteer we have with us right now. My cousin Robynn, who has come to work with us 3 other times, is here again and is looking for a more long term opportunity to stay in Japan and minister. She has been offered a full time job as an English teacher starting in April of next year. She will use that job as an oppotunity to connect with people, AND her free time for ministry. Please pray for strength and guidance as God works out all the details for the months between now and then!!!

Our church is in the middle of transition at the moment and could really use your prayers. Please pray that God guide the leadership committee in our church in the next few months. Pray for unity in spirit, faith and trust in God and his timing for everything our church needs in the coming months.

Two young girls in our church will be baptized this next month. We praise God for these youngsters who have been raised in the church and are now bodly choosing to follow Jesus and make Him their savior and Lord!

The coming months include more concerts, chapel services, English teaching, Bible studies and more. Please pray as the Lord continues to work in the lives of all those around us!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Newsletter August 11, 2008

WHEW! What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been. GOD is AWESOME, I just gotta say that! WOW!

Thank you for praying for summer camp with the Seinan Jo Gakuin Jr. High and High School students. The camp was awesome! It was the best group of girls we've ever had. We hit it off with them from the beginning and they were so attentive in the worship times. We had a great time playing with them on the beach and at the bonfire closing time. We did some fireworks together that night too and we were sad to say good-bye to them all. We will get to read their response forms soon, and look forward to hearing how God touched them during camp!

CMA has come and gone :( boohooobooohooo! Our house feels soooooooooo empty! But what an incredible week with those 8 godly, Jesus-loving girls! You can read details of their time in Japan at their Mission Log. Their time in Kitakyushu is featured on log pages 11 and 12. Some pictures of their major concert can be found on our photographer June's blog. Every year with CMA is a huge blessing. We may never know how many seeds were planted, how many lives were touched by their dance and their testimonies. We get a glimpse into some of God's work though. One member of our church brought her daughter and her daughter's friend along to the concert. Earlier that day the young friend had been asking many questions about God. The testimonies at the concert each answered directly her questions that day and she was in tears. She told her friend, "God spoke to ME tonight!" AWESOME!!!!!!! Look forward to next year if it is the Lord's will for our girls to come back again!

This last week was full of ministry, meetings, and some time with friends since summer is when most people can get away for some fun stuff! We always love the chance to spend a little bit of quality time with seeking friends, meet friends of Christian friends and build relationships for planting more seeds.

Today we are preparing to leave again. We'll be heading to central Japan to lead worship and speak at some summer conferences, camps and special church events. Please pray for safe travel, divine appointments and health during the trip. We are pretty much on our last leg, really needing some true rest and refreshment, but know that God will provide all that we need for this last summer ministry engagment! We appreciate your prayers so much!

I am including some pictures of ministry for your enjoyment! We would love to hear from you, leave us a comment or drop us an email!

For His Glory,
The Ayatsuka's

Heading to the beach with our camp girls...

Firworks at camp...

A bonus picture of Saturday morning English Circle ministry...

With CMA

Pinata Japan style! Blindfolded with a stick, only the target is watermelon!

Eating Chinese dumplings they made themselves!

Blowing bubbles with kindergarten kids!

The Finale! After an awesome concert!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Newsletter July 16, 2008

It has been crazy getting back from the states and getting settled in. First of all my computer crashed right after we got back. PRAISE the LORD that didn't happen while we were in the states! It took a while for us (or should I say Rocky) to devote enough time to get it back up and running with all the things we had on our schedule!

Since we've been back, it has been full speed ahead. We jumped right back into concerts, leading worship, chapel services, teaching English, preaching, preparing for summer ministry and all the incredible ways the Lord gives us to serve Him here! We thank you so much for your prayers!

Since I did not have access to my address book for a while, many of you may have missed some updates if you don't check this blog often or have it in your "feeds" or "readers". Please be sure to check below for updates you may have missed.

Today we want to ask you to pray for two things. Next week we will be going to camp for three days with a local Christian Jr High and High School. The school is Seinan Jo Gakuin, where I served my first two years in Japan. We speak and lead worship for this school's English Chapel Service about 10 times per year. This will be our fifth time to go to this Bible camp! In years past they have had a hard time filling the camp with the minimum number of students needed. However, this year the camp is FULL and overflowing! We are soooooo excited to have a chance to spend three days with at least 33 girls (maybe more by now) this next week. Pray as we speak on "Using the Gifts God has Given You", this year's theme, that these girls would realize they are made by God for a wonderful purpose! Probably none of these girls are believers. What an awesome opportunity to get up close and personal with them, when usually we just see them from the chapel stage.

The second prayer request is for CMA! For the fourth year in a row, CMA is here in Japan again, ministering through worship dance! We love love love this ministry! We spent a week with them in Colorado recently and are so excited to already have them here with us. Right now they are in South Kyushu ministering through worship dance workshops, dance concerts, purity seminars and more! You can keep up with their activities and how God is already RICHLY blessing their time here in Japan through their Mission Log. They will eventually make it here to Kitakyushu in a little less than two weeks! Pray for God to work in MIGHTY ways through their month here! And pray for us as we prepare for their week in ministry here with us! We can't wait to have them here!!! Have I mentioned we love these guys!? You can also see pictures and video of their past summers in ministry here in Japan on their website, so don't miss that!

Thank you again soooooooo much for your prayers and support. May the Lord bless each of you with his incredible love and grace!

Love from hot and muggy Japan,
The Ayatsuka's

Friday, June 20, 2008

Newsletter June 20, 2008

Yaawwwnnn! We are back in Japan and jet lagging! But sooooooo happy to be home. We were welcomed home by rainy season, I don't believe I have seen a blue sky yet!

The trip to the states was so BLESSED!!! We can not begin to express how awesome every part of it was. Time on the computer and access to the internet was sporatic at times, so we appologize for the lack of communication.

To all of you who are new to our newsletter, WELCOME! It was a joy to meet you while we were in the states and we welcome you whole heartedly to our team of supporters and prayer warriors!

So now, a HUGE praise to our Lord and amazing God for how he provided ABUNDANTLY for our ministry through this fund raising trip. The grand total raised in love offerings, donations and CD sales from this trip... $17,000!!!!!!!!! I think I can safely say that is the most we have ever been able to raise in one trip. AMAZING! With gas prices the way they are and everyone talking about prices going up on everything else, I was not sure how well this trip would turn out. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, to all of you and especially to God!!!

We have been home three days and are already back into ministry. Yesterday we did a chapel service in our neighboring city, we have a meeting at church today and this weekend will be Afureru! worship on Sunday afternoon. We are actually thankful to be staying busy so that we won't nap during the day and prolong jet lag! We all slept through the night last night and are feeling pretty good today.

I will put together some pictures of our trip and other news for you soon. I just wanted to let you all know that we are home and still so amazed at the Lord's rich blessings on us!

From rainy home...
The Ayatsuka's

We are having computer issues... pics coming soon!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Newsletter May 23, 2008

Time keeps marching on! We are at my parents' house in Texas and enjoying a LITTLE bit of downtime. I wanted to drop in and post our schedule for the next few weeks...

May 25 - New Home Baptist Church morning worship
June 1 - Littlefield Methodist Church morning worship
June 2 - Lubbock Cowboy Church evening worship

June 5 - 9 Boston Japanese Christian Church (details coming soon)

June 9 - 16 Florida (details coming soon)

June 16 - Return to Japan :( and :)

Support raising has been so blessed. Thank you for your prayers.

To the many we've been able to meet and spend time with, we are so thankful. Your love and support means the world to us. We are so blessed to have so many friends and supporters. Thank you!!!

Love from Texas,
Rocky, Marla and Hana

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Newsletter May 14, 2007

Thank you all so much for your prayers while we are Stateside raising support. It has been an AWESOME trip!

We are writing from Texas. We've been here for a little over a week. In West Texas we have already been to one Cowboy church and will head back to that area this weekend to do more. We just finished doing the Asian American Church of Houston this weekend, and we were so blessed there! I think we've formed another great partnership in that area!

We had to say good-bye to Shuhey on Sunday! He flew out of Houston for Japan on Monday morning. I think that means he should be home by now! He was invaluable to the ministry while he was here and we hated to see him go. Everywhere we went, everyone LOVED the accoustic duo and bought up their CD's like crazy! This last month without him won't be the same.

Please continue to pray as we finish off the trip and spend some time with family. We'll post our schedule for that last three weeks soon. And I'll post some more pics soon, when we get them uploaded to the computer!

Thanks again for your prayers and support!
Love from Texas,
The Ayatsuka's

Friday, April 25, 2008

Arizona, Utah, Colorado

Well, we finished in Phoenix, rented a car, and made our way to the Grand Canyon, Utah and finally Colorado. Here's a picture by picture tour of our three wonderful days on the road!!!

On Monday we went from this...

to seeing lots of this...

then four hours later, 20 degrees colder and about 6,000 ft. higher we saw this...

and finally, the moment we'd all been waiting for...

Watching the sunset from the Grand Canyon was our night cap on Monday. Then on Tuesday we explored the Grand Canyon a little more, and then made our way up through Utah. Here is what we saw...

We saw lots of ROCKS!!! It was a beautiful drive. We spent the night near the I-70 in Utah and then made our way towards Colorado on Wednesday morning. Rocky got to see the mountains which are his name-sake... The Rocky Mountains!!!

God's creation is breath-taking. His glory shown in every change of the landscape. his power was evident in ever cliff and canyon. We were awe struck a hundred times or more! WOW!!!

Now we are in Colorado, and spent a couple nights at my long lost cousins' house. Tomorrow we will spend the evening and Saturday morning ministering to a Japanese fellowship. On Saturday night we begin our week with CMA!!!

Our time online has been limited, but this has been such an awesome trip already. We can't believe we've been here for only a week so far. Stay tuned for a WHOLE LOT MORE!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Newsletter April 20, 2008

I hope I have the date correct on this blog. it is late and the lights are out so Hana can sleep and I don't know what today's date is, and don't have the energy to find out! We just finished an awesome weekend packed with ministry! Friday evening concert for youth, Saturday evening fellowship with some members of the Japanese International Baptist Church of Tempe, leading morning worship at JIBC Tempe AND sharing this evening at Maricopa Baptist Church! AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME! What a priviledge it is to meet fellow believers, from all over the world, worship with them and share what the Lord is doing in ALL our lives!!!

We are off to see the Grand Canyon tomorrow, and make our way to Colorado the next. ROAD TRIP! It ought to be a blast!

Please keep praying, and thank you so much for blessing us!!!
The Ayatsukas and Shuhey

Sunday, April 20, 2008

News from Arizona...

Above: Sunset from the airplane somewhere over Texas!

We made it to US soil!!!!!! I think for the first time EVER, we had a totally eventless, totally ON TIME, unbelievably pleasant flying experience. I was amazed. Your prayers certainly did the trick. Not only was the American Airlines flight schedule on time, but the service was actually GOOD. The food was good (as good as airplane food can be I guess), certainly an improvement on our previous experiences. AND (are you ready for this) the flight attendants were polite and helpful, sometimes even downright NICE! AA has slightly redeemed themselves in our eyes. It’s a long road back for them, with us after all we’ve been through, but this is a step in the right direction.

Since then, it has been a GREAT trip. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time with our family and friends here in Arizona. Tonight, we just came home from an area wide youth event, and it was an incredible meeting! We thoroughly enjoyed the worship and fellowship. Praise God!!!

Tomorrow we are headed to a Japanese church in Tempe, AZ. We’ll spend Saturday evening in fellowship with them, and worship with them on Sunday! We are looking forward to meeting another new group of Japanese believers in America.

I’m off to bed, since we are still SLIGHTLY jet lagging. Hopefully I can sleep through the night tonight and not wake up so early tomorrow morning!

Love from Arizona!
The Ayatsuka’s