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Archive for January, 2012

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Magandang gabi!!!

That means “good evening” in Tagalog. We have recently learned several phrases in Tagalog, but I’ll go into that more later.

Anyway, I guess starting out, I’ll apologize for not doing a blog entry sooner. I really haven’t taken many pictures recently and I didn’t want to do a bunch of short blog entries, so I just wait until I get enough pictures to do a decent blog entry. But I am sorry that it has taken so long.

As some of you know, since the Lucas’s have been back, we have started helping at the church in Ibaraki. I know I’ve posted some pictures before from the church in Ibaraki. Now what we’re doing is we go to Ibaraki every Sunday of the month, except the last Sunday. On the last Sunday of each month, we will be joining the Tokyo Worship Tabernacle in their services.

So one morning on the way to Ibaraki, instead of sleeping, as I normally do on our way to church, I stayed awake to watch the sun and the clouds (does that sound funny?). This was my reward for staying awake.

And introducing the Skytree, due to open in either March or May 2012.

After church, I got this picture of Brother Okonushi, my dad, and Brother Vick.

I love looking at the water on the way to and from church. This area looks so country.

One day we went out to Zama (I think we went for a vet appointment for Buford) and it was a clear day so we could see the mountains. It’s so pretty!!

Two weeks ago, also at Ibaraki, I took these of the Yokoyama’s dog, Rocky (I hope that’s spelled right). He’s such a pretty dog.

Now, moving closer to the present time. Last week, my dad received an email from a Brother Jeremy Booker from Indiana. Brother Booker was saying that his job brings him to Japan pretty frequently but he wasn’t able to find a church over here. He found out website and contacted my dad asking the locations of the churches.  From where Brother Booker was staying, the Tokyo Worship Tabernacle in Nakameguro was the closest church. So on Wednesday night, Brother Booker called my dad and said he would be able to come to church that night. And it turns out that Brother Booker’s kids went to a youth conference at our church in Dayton, Ohio and also I think I may have met, or at least seen, some of his kids while in Bible Quizzing. I also think that we may have quizzed against the team that one of his sons was in. It shows just how small the world actually is.

Also, most recently, we had our first big snow in Yokohama! We got a whole…..1 inch or so….and it stayed 2-3 WHOLE DAYS!!!!! I was SO happy that we finally got snow, especially with how cold it’s been here lately. Here are some pictures of the snow.

Let’s just say that I was just a little excited about the snow….more than a little….I was a lot excited about the snow. :) Is that proper English? I’m thinking probably not.

When the snow stopped falling and the sun came out, it was so pretty! I loved it!

It was actually icy out. We even saw where people had salted the roads. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve seen that?  2 1/2 years….wow…it’s been so long now.

Well, that’s all that I have for now. I’ll be working on some more blog entries here in the next few days so keep an eye out for more entries coming up.

God bless you all and we love all of y’all. Please continue to remember the country of Japan in your prayers.

God bless,

Rachel

 

Prayer Requests

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Good evening everyone,

I just wanted to ask you all to pray for a couple things. First of all, I received an email today from one of my friends asking us to pray for someone that she knows. I’ll put what she wrote on here.

“…The first lady of the Louisiana District UPC, Delisa Cox, is fighting stage 4 cancer that started in her eye and has rapidly spread throughout her body.  Doctors have only given her a few weeks and have requested that friends refrain from visiting as her immune system is too weak to fight off even a simple cold.  If you have ever met a member of the Cox family, you understand how much they love and depend on Sis. Cox.  If you have ever met her, even just once, you are in her prayers from that point on.  To return the favor, the UPC churches in Louisiana will gather together in prayer Thursday evening from 6-8pm.  Her husband, Rev. Kevin Cox, LA District Superintendent, proclaims “There’s still time for a miracle.” While we understand that Delisa Cox wins either way, please join with us in prayer for this family that God gives them the answers, peace, and strength that they need…”

I would like everyone to remember Sister Cox in your prayers. I have not met her or her family before, but I can only imagine what is going through the minds of her and her family right now.

The second thing I would like to ask you all to pray about is that we received a phone call today from Sister Blessing Apedo. She told my mom that her husband, Brother Paul Apedo, had fallen today at work. When Sister Blessing called, Brother Paul was at the hospital. His leg was already swollen by that point. We are not sure if it is broken or just a bad fracture, but Sister Blessing told my mom that they might possibly end up doing surgery on his leg. If that happens, Brother Paul, who does construction work,  will be out of work around 3 months. As most of you know, Brother Paul recently had a stroke (sometime in October) and God healed him of that. Brother Paul should not even be able to walk right now because of the effects of the stroke, but God completely healed him. I know God can do another miracle for this family.

I would just like to ask all of you to remember both of these families in your prayers. I know God can work miracles, I saw it happen in Brother Paul’s life not too long ago and I know God can do it again. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If He healed 3 months ago, He can heal today.

Thank you all so much.

God bless you all,

Rachel

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

I just want to say to everyone that I hope you all have had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. So……

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

and….

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Or, as they say in Nihon….

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!!!

 

Saying “sayonora” to the year 2011 and saying “konnichi wa”  to the year of 2012. It doesn’t seem like we have been in Japan for 2 1/2 years now (August 2011 was the 2 year mark). But so much has happened and sometimes the time seems to fly right by, leaving us wondering where it went, while other times, it seems like the time just draaaaaaaags by soooo slooooooooooow, leaving us to wonder when is it going to finally be tomorrow. So when you have a combination like that, it seems to make the time pass by even quicker (yeah, I know. Weird, right?)

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. 

Again, I would like to say how much we appreciate all those who have given to the work of the LORD in Japan!  I want you to know that you have helped us to reach out in a way that we could not have done by ourselves…without your prayers, your finances and your love!  Our prayer is that God will pour out of His abundance to you for what you have done!  Please remember to pray for the work here. We are expecting God to do a mighty work in Japan in 2012!

God bless you all,

The Pounders family

 

An Ishinomaki Christmas: Part 1

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Hello again!

So, I know some of y’all know, we (the church) took a trip up to the Tohoku area this last weekend. If I can sum the trip up in one word….well……I couldn’t do it. There is no way to only use one word to describe it. It was a good trip to go on. It was amazing to be able to see the looks on the kids faces when they received their gift. Or to see the looks on the faces of the adults when they received the bag with the vegetables in it. I’m trying to think of the right words to use to describe the  trip, but there’s not the right words to use. Anyway, I’ll show you the pictures so you can see what it was like.

So, here is the sign on the bus. It says, “Japan United Pentecostal Church”.

The sunrise was SO gorgeous both mornings! I loved it!

And there was a little snow up there.

The scenery was kirei! Beautiful!

As we were leaving the hotel (which by the way was the Tai Kan Sou (I hope I’m spelling that right) in Matsushima) and driving to Ishinomaki, we had to turn right by this.

I was trying to figure out while driving past this if anything in this area was hit any by the tsunami.

Yes we did see some snow up there. I was so happy to see the snow.

I like how this picture looks like a black/white picture, but the water and sky still look blue. I like it.

Brother Arai was our bus spokes-person the whole time.

As soon as we got there, everyone started helping. At first, the men didn’t want the women to help. But all the ladies at Ohashi were helping, so we all started helping, too.

The truck was pretty much packed this trip. On the past trips, the truck was full, but this trip beat all.

Go Brother Watanabe and Enos!!

We had so many vegetables to give out. It was amazing.

We had two groups of people from the bus: some of the people were outside with the veggies and then some were inside sorting the Christmas gifts. My official title was photographer so I was running back and forth between the gifts and the vegetables to make sure that we got pictures of both things going on.

Inside, the group there had to start out with opening the boxes and do what was left of the sorting (which wasn’t much at all)  in order to get ready to hand the gifts out.

Outside, the group doing the vegetables was having a small group meeting. In this group was: Brother Hiro (or y’all may remember him as Brother Ohara), Brother Lucas, Brother Ishibashi, Sister Ishibashi, Brother Watanabe, Enos Ofori, Brother Yokoyama, Brother Sato, Sister Lucas, and part of the time me. I would get some pictures inside, then get some outside, then help a bit. I told Sister Lucas, “I’ll just be like a shortstop person. I’ll have to leave a bit, but I’ll work here in between taking pictures.”

It looks like Brother Ishibashi was planning this picture (I promise, it wasn’t planned! ).

This is Brother Yokoyama giving Koide-san a Japanese Bible. Now, there is a pretty cool story about Koide-san. So Brother Yokoyama had met her previously, but on the last trip, my dad was able to speak to her (through an interpreter) and they were talking a lot about the Bible. She was telling my dad that recently she has been studying Christianity and one of the things she likes about Christianity is that we can repent to our God, whereas she was raised practicing Buddhism and Shintoism and they can’t do that. She was also asking them questions about why the tsunami and earthquake happened and why so many people died. She was also saying that there were many things about Christianity that she didn’t understand. So my dad told her about the Ethiopian eunuch that Philip was sent to help when he didn’t understand what he was reading in the scrolls. My dad told her, “Maybe God has sent us up here to get in contact with you so that way we can help you understand what you are reading just as God sent Philip to help the eunuch in the Bible. My dad then asked her, through Brother Kwasi, if she had a Japanese Bible. Koide-san told him no, she didn’t. He asked, “If I bring one up next time we come up, will you read it?” She said yes. So, someone got her a Bible and Brother Yokoyama gave it to her.

Even 45 minutes to 1 hour early, people were lining up.

And everyone was helping carry boxes.

Inside, the Gift Group was having a meeting of their own. Their meeting was a bit longer since their job was a little more complicated. Outside, the job was basically get into an assembly line type thing and fill the bags with what we had. Inside, they broke up into smaller groups, some at each table (we had 3 or 4 tables there) and then they had a certain way to do things there.

If I understood correctly, we had around 500 gifts donated for this Christmas in Ishinomaki.

This is the line after only being there about 30 minutes or so.

Some friends of Sister Ishibashi’s donated some of the vegetables, so we got her picture surrounded by all the vegetables.

About 20 minutes before “opening” time, the line had a ton of people in it. I ran to the very back of the line (I was standing directly to the right of a man who was at that time, last in line).

We (they) were having a hard time finding room to put all the bags that were being put together.

One of my favorite things was to see the happiness in the people’s faces when they were receiving the bags/gifts.

 

Ribeka-chan is so cute!

Real quick, I just want to say thank you to everyone who donated money and/or gifts for this trip.

This little girl in the back was so cute!

There is nothing like the feeling of making a child happy.

For those of you who know me any at all, you know that I love children of any age……

…so when I see something that makes a child happy……

…or when I just see a happy child…

…it also makes me happy inside.

We were also handing out some Max Lucado books that are written in Japanese.

Each child had to draw a letter/number ticket (i.e: C18) and then they were given the gift with that same number attached to it.

After about 15-20 minutes of being inside, I went back outside to get some more pictures.

So, I mentioned that seeing a happy child makes me happy as well, right? Well, just the fact of doing something that makes another person happy, that also makes me happy.

We had also taken some used clothes up there with us. The clothes were laid out on a tarp and people could go through picking things out. The only thing about that is that the people at the end of the vegetable line didn’t get a chance to go through the clothes. The clothes were pretty much gone in about 20 minutes, if that long.

You know, if you were to have something like this, where people just stand in a line, then they can go through something like that, if we were to do that in the States, people (not all just a lot) would be pushing and shoving, trying to be first in line. Not here. Everything was so non-chaotic.

And there was so much unity. Between the church people and even those who we had just met, everyone was working together to help everyone else.

Even the church kids/youth were having a good time handing out the gifts.

The oldest kid here, he’s one of the ones where you just want to take them in a hug and tell them that everything will be okay in the end. So many kids, or people I should say, that I saw, you just want to hug them just to give them the reassurance that things will be okay. It might look bad now, but just remember that there is a light, the Light, at the of the tunnel.

This girl was a cutie, too.

 

 

I love this guys outfit! And the girl that he’s talking to, I think that’s Koide-san’s daughter.

Sister Yokoyama told Sister Lucas that Brother Lucas and Brother Yokoyama should have worn a red Santa hat since they were the two handing out the bags. So I guess you could say, from that perspective, that everyone putting the bags together was Santa’s elves. So I guess you could also say that I was a part-time elf. Hmm……I didn’t think about that until just now. :)

I think Brother Lucas was enjoying his job. A lot!

After we got done at the Ohashi temporary housing area, 3 people went to go get some lunch while everyone else went to a near by school to wait. If I remember correctly, this is the school that my dad, Dennis, and Brother Ishibashi met Mizuno-san at. See the water lines?

Across the street from the school (I think it was across the street from the school. I’m not so sure now where it was exactly), I saw these two houses.

Okay, that’s all I’m going to put on this entry. There are almost 100 pictures on here now, so hopefully that’ll give y’all something to look at for a while. Please read down below for more picture of the rest of the day on 24 December. :)

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love all y’all!

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ishinomaki Christmas: Part II

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Hello everyone!

So in the last entry, I told about the first part of our trip to Ishinomaki. Well, due to that fact that someone took so many pictures (ummm….that someone was your’s truly…Moi!), I broke up everything into two entries, this entry being the second one. So…

After delivering and handing out supplies and Christmas gifts at Ohashi temporary housing area, we went to another housing area. At this one, though, we were able to to a Christmas program. It was so cool to be able to be a part of that. I’m not sure how else to say it. Anyway, so when we got there, we had to start setting up the piano, speakers, puppet stage, things like that.

And just like previously, everyone was just working together, there was no chaos at all. It seemed to go quite smoothly, to be honest.

Sister Yokoyama and Yoshiki-kun were practicing right before we started.

Here is Brother Arai and Brother Sato.

By the time everyone got there, the room was pretty full. We had people of all ages there, from babies to people that looked like the may have been in their 60′s and 70′s.

Brother Arai did the puppet and Sister Ikeda was his assistant. They both called all of the kids to go up to the front.

The kids/youth from High School and below got up and sang a couple Christmas songs in Japanese. Just for the record, I love listening to Christmas songs in Japanese. There is just something about it. For all three Christmases that we have been here, I have always enjoyed the kids and young people singing.

After they were done, Sister Yokoyama and Seika-chan got up there and Sister Yokoyama sang “O Holy Night” while Seika-chan played the piano.

While they were up there, this little baby girl wanted to have a part in the presentation, too.

Then Sister Ikeda and Brother Arai….I mean Mr. Puppet (I forgot his name. Oops!) got up and explained the Christmas story to where the kids could understand it.

Everyone really seemed to enjoy the puppet show. Even the adults were laughing and joking with Mr. Puppet.

After the puppet show, Brother Yokoyama got up and told the Christmas story in a version more geared toward the adults.

Brother Lucas got up and played the guitar. Just so y’all know, I remember even when we were in Japan from 1999-2002, I loved watching Brother Lucas play the guitar. I could just sit and watch him play the guitar. I loved it! And I still do.  I love listening to him play. Oh yes, and he sang in Japanese.

A few minutes later, Brother Yokoyama had three of the younger kids get up and quote John 3:16 (yes, in Japanese). I’m not sure of Brother Ishibashi’s oldest son’s name, but the other two kids up there are Ribeka-chan and Ruka-kun.

Before we started the presentation, we had brought in all the boxes with the Christmas gift in them. After the presentation, all the men got the boxes out of a back room and brought them out so we could start handing the gifts out.

We were also giving out vegetable here. We had made some extra bags from Ohashi, so we had ready-made bags.

Even though it was a bit crowded up there, there still wasn’t chaos.

I got a picture of Brother Kamura getting a picture of the kids in front of me.

We also had taken a bunch of goodies up there to give to the people, both kids and adults, after they got their gifts. Then we all sat around talking to everyone.

Back outside, the men were busy handing out the bags and some of the men and some of the women were helping people take the bags back to their homes.

I get the greatest feeling knowing that these people are leaving with a smile on their faces.

Can you see the lady that Brother Yokoyama and Sister Ikeda are talking to? The one on the far left? I was able to talk to her for a few minutes, too (of course through Brother Yokoyama and Sister Ikeda) but I found out later from Brother Yokoyama that this lady had a stroke not too long before 3/11 and it almost killed her. She recovered from that really well, only for 3/11 to happen and almost get killed by that as well. If I understood right, she has been questioning why all of this happened to her so close together, time-wise. We ended up praying with her right before they left and she was crying about all of it. But I think she was really touched by the prayer that Sister Ikeda prayed.

I then got a picture of the lady with her daughter and Sister Ikeda.

One thing I noticed while we were up there was how beautiful the sunrises and sunset’s were. This is most definitely a sunset.

No, I’m not sure what this says, but I wanted it anyway.

After we left that housing area, Koide-san took us on a bit of a sightseeing tour. We went to one area over-looking the river and she was telling us how the tsunami came in. There was one bridge that she said collapsed when the tsunami came in and because there were so many cars on it, after everything settled, people could walk across the bridge on the cars that had sunk. She also showed us a spot where there had once been a factory and a housing area there. Now there is nothing there but the bottom half of foundations. This tori was overlooking that area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we went to the beach, which was right down the road from the hotel. It was one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen! Have you ever been on the beach while it was snowing? I can now add that to my list of “been there,done that”.

We all got a group picture that day right before we had a prayer meeting.

So, in the first picture, because the sun was behind them, I only got their outlines.

Brother Lucas wanted to pray that while the sun was rising over Japan, that the light of the Son would also rise.

A couple of the boys were standing right on the water’s edge so that the water barely licked their boots when the waves came in.

I saw the stone walkway with the water behind it, and I thought it’d make a nice picture. What do you think?

I got this from inside the bus. It looks pretty with the tint from the windows…well, I think it does.

It looks here like we are level with the water.

Since Christmas was on a Sunday, we went to church at Brother Kon’s church in Sendai. We had a good service there. That was my first time at the Sendai church.

And here is Brother Kon!

All of the ministers that were there that day.

The youth sang Christmas songs here, too. The little ones are just so adorable.

Brother Lucas preached in Eigo while Brother Yokoyama translated into Nihongo.

We had a special prayer for Brother and Sister Kon that morning.

After church, we all packed up in the bus and headed home. We got home around 7:30 pm that night, maybe 8:00 pm. It would be very difficult to describe to you how the trip went. It was a good trip to go on in the sense that it really does something to you to be able to see the areas that have been affected by the March 11th disaster’s. But I can’t say that it was a fun trip, because of the reason behind why we went up there. It was good in the sense that we were able to bring a smile to people’s faces by giving them things that they needed. But it also really makes you realize how blessed you are and how much you take small things for granted. I’m really thankful that I was allowed to go on this trip, and even the previous trip that we were able to go on. Thank you to Brother Yokoyama and Brother Lucas for allowing us to go on these trips. Both trips have changed my life in so many ways and I know that it is not just a temporary change. This will last a lifetime.

Thank you again to everyone who donated money and gifts for this last trip. You may not have seen it, but you did change a life. Thank you again.

Much love and God bless,

Rachel