Sunday, January 12, 2020

2019 catch up and 2020!

2020 is here! 2019 went out with so many events and fun things.

Here’s a quick recap of the last half of 2019 for us here in Okinawa.

In April, Elena started 1st grade at a local elementary school, all in Japanese. It has been a lot of new learning and growing, but she is doing amazing. And God, like always, is so faithful. He provided beyond what we even thought to ask for. We had prayed for a good teacher that would look out for her and have patience for her to catch on to the language and routine.
She got the NICEST teacher, so kind, so loving, she even speaks some English, which helped out in the early days when Elena has a rough day or situation.
She has written in Elena’s report cards and told us at parent meetings, that she sees Elena as a blessing to the class. She always looks out for those around her, is the first to try and answer a question and help out. She wants to learn, wants to be a good example and follow what the teacher is saying.
She invited her whole class to her birthday at the park (we had about 30, including siblings), which could have been crazy but ended up being an awesome fun time and opportunity to meet the families and see the kids play. We’ve made close friends with the mom of one of her classmates, and they even started coming to church! They are really great, and we love them.

It was a big step of faith choosing to put her in school for elementary, but it’s always good to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Safest place we’ll ever be :)

Eder was officially licensed as a pastor in the fall. It seems like it was a long time coming, but God worked it out in the right way and timing. He has already been doing the work, it was just a big confirmation and acknowledging before the Lord what His Holy Spirit was already doing. We are excited for what God will use us for in the future, right now just working on being faithful in the small and big things we already have.

Onto the college and church!
Both the spring and fall semester were really great, a good bunch of students. Got to see good friends graduate, some planning to return, others staying already to intern.
We also had our first graduation for the CCPC (Calvary Chapel Pastors College). We had 4 graduates, and it was pretty emotional and an honor to see them step into the callings God has for them. We are honored to serve alongside them for the Lord out here. Many of them already have plans they have been praying over to go out and start ministry in different areas.
Eder was blessed to be one of the main teachers for the college, encouraging and equipping these men for the work to come.

I also stepped out in faith and started selling paintings and commissions this past year. I love making paintings for people, especially to encourage them. I had an opportunity to set up a few items at a concerts CD release for our friend, Tim. (Our band Hakugaijin also released a new CD with Jesus Beats this year! You can actually check it out on iTunes and YouTube! How cool is that)
It’s been really fun, and getting to make things affordable for people is always a blessing. I hope God will use it to minister to others, and that it could be a way to help out with our family (haircuts, new shoes, random things that come up).

The holiday season came and went SO fast, but it was so full and fun. We were busy also every weekend and a lot of the weekdays. Christmas events, outreaches, parties, visiting people we haven’t seen in awhile.
I made tamales by myself for the first time this year. BIG accomplishment for me! I was nervous, but they turned out great. It’s a big blessing to be able to make the food we miss and grew up with.

With the start of the new year, it has finally slowed down a little bit. A big group from the church is in  Israel touring with another group from the states. Things always feel a little empty and lonely when they leave, but we still have so many here to love and fellowship with. It’s always okay :)

For this new year, we aren’t sure what it holds. Continuing with things started in the previous year, there are things we are praying about and waiting in the Lord for. As always, we covet your prayers.
please pray for:
-Eder’s residency change (applying for new visa this year)
-Elena will begin 2nd grade (another awesome teacher, protection, continued growth in language)
-Praying about Phil’s schooling (one more year until he is elementary age)
-Trip to the states (we would like to make it back around Christmas time this year)
-Good health for everyone
-Vision did this year, that we would walk closer with Jesus
-Amanda’s Japanese driver’s license (apply/take tests). It’s difficult to get the application accepted and to pass the test.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Take heart while you wait, and stay faithful.

Hello again from Okinawa~
Time sure passes us fast, it seems that it’s faster and faster each year.
2019 is already on its way to being half finished, and there is still so much to come.

Charles Rafael joined our family in September, a lot later than we expected.
Thank you to all who were praying for his birth, God’s hand in the situation was very evident.
Labor just wasn’t starting on its own, and after waiting until almost 42 weeks, the doctor decided it was neccisary to induce labor. We wanted to wait longer, let it happen on its own, but we could see that the doctor had legitimate concern for the baby’s health.

No complications with the labor and birth, but we were surprised to see what had caused the doctor concern. The umbilical cord had two huge knots in it! Charles was our smallest baby at 7 pounds, despite being 3 weeks late. But he has had no health problems, and has had NO problem gaining back any lost weight. We have a chunky little boy who loves to eat.

After he was born, time has literally sped past us so fast it’s hard to believe it’s already April.
Our second son will be celebrating his 3rd birthday this year, the Bible college and pastors college is in full swing, and our daughter starts first grade next week.

Jumping back to the beginning of the year, Eder’s pastor and his wife from the home church, were able to visit in February. It was great to see them, since we haven’t been back in 2 years, and great to finally be able to show them the island we live and minister on. They came with willing hearts and lots of love, and got to share and teach at the church up in Nago where we served for 4 years, and here in Ginowan. They enjoyed the trip (especially the food, but who doesn’t), and also greatly encouraged us.
We know we don’t serve the Lord to hear the praises from people, or to even see the fruit. But it sure strengthens and lifts up our hearts when we are allowed to. They could see the work God was doing here, and that He wasn’t done using us in it. It is so great to know that those we love back home are behind us in support and prayer for us. We really can feel everyone’s prayers over us and our family.

Some things we are looking forward to and preparing for this year:
-In May, my (Amanda) mom and younger brother will be visiting for a few weeks. First time for the kids to meet their uncle, and for my mom to meet Charlie.

-Eder will be applying for permanent residency (can only be applied for after living here for over 10 years). That opens up new doors for us visa-wise.
It also gives us different options for housing.

-Along with that, our contract on our aprtment ends this summer. We are hoping and praying to be able to get into a house. We are definitely outgrowing this apartment! We aren’t sure of all the logistics yet, but having our residency change should open the doors for getting a house.

That leads right into prayer requests that we have:
-Elena starting school (her to grasp the language, safety, good teachers)
-Our language abilities (There is a lot of parent involvement with the school, and it will all be in Japanese. A new season for growth, just pray that God would open up our understanding as we study and learn).
-New family schedule: a good change, but that we would all be diligent and adjust.
-Eder’s visa: that we would get approved for permanent residency!
-A house, however God wants to provide it.
-Opportunities to connect with our neighbors. Elena might be in the same class as our neighbors son, hoping we could get to know the parents better. We also often talk to the little bachan in the house next to our building. She comes over and says hi, gives us extra veggies and fruits sometimes.

Psalm 37:3-5
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018


Here we are, back on the blog again!
We apologize for the long break in posts, we are aiming to keep this updated just as much as we update our other social media accounts from now on.

I will share some updates from the past year, and vision that we have in ministry and for our family.

Some of the biggest changes for us have been moving out of the upstairs rooms at the dorm house, into our own apartment last summer. We haven't had our own apartment since we lived in Nago, and it this time the price was higher. It was a huge step of faith for us, and we definitely felt the strain of the financial burden. But, as always, God continues to provide wherever we go, and we are never in want for the things we need.
We have a second, although small, bedroom this time. So the kids get to enjoy having their own space together. We only moved a few minutes away, but it bumped us to a new city, Urasoe shi! We really like it, and its nice still being so near the church and Ginowan area. We had a smooth transition from city offices (transferring all your information can be stressful, but we have had great experiences with this city office).

Another big change, was replacing our little "mini-van". As much as we loved the car and the space it had, it was not reliable. We were able to get a Cube3 car (super Japanese car, in my opinion), that still fits 7 (although snug)! We have had a little trouble with it, randomly shutting off. But, it is still running and the AC is ICE COLD! we are enjoying that comfort this summer.

One of the biggest announcements that we have, is that we will be welcoming our 4th kid this summer! Actually waiting on him to come right now (already a week late!). We will be having our 3rd son, and though it was a surprise, it is a welcome one.
Just huge praises for God, we had just gotten rid of all our baby items when we moved last year, and we have gained back everything that we needed. Most of it for free or at great prices.
It fills my heart with so much joy to see how excited our kids are to welcome another sibling. Yes they all fight and get annoyed with each other, but they really are each others best friends. When one is gone for the day, the others are so sad until they return.

Eder's family will be making a trip out to visit this fall, bringing along some family members who have been wanting to see the island and ministry we do out here. We are very excited to visit with them, but also for them to experience what we do out here.

Some updates for the different ministries we are a part of here:
Eder is still leading the young adult/college age ministry. A lot of different people have jumped in to take turns teaching, and preparing events. It has really created deeper friendships for everyone at the church, and helped new people feel at home and more comfortable when they have come to a Sunday morning or Wednesday night study.

I have obviously stepped back a little bit from some of the ministry, in preperation for the baby coming. We are both still a big part of the worship ministry (Eder learned the bass and is currently working on learning the electric guitar), and the kids ministry, but i will be taking a break until the baby is more self sufficient.

God has grown a lot of the interns and students in their music abilities, and it is really blessing the body here.We are able to have leaders rotating for Sunday mornings/nights and Wednesdays.
We just finished our SOS (Summer of Service) program, and a lot of the students that came jumped in on the worship.

The kids ministry has been booming! Lots of kids bumping up from the toddler class into elementary, as more of the babies are able to join the toddler group. It is one of my favorite ministries, and i am so blessed our kids get to be a part of it here. They LOVE going to church, and i know its not just because they are getting to play. They are learning, they are growing, they are being taught and corrected in love as they all learn to play and do things together.
One of the leaders in kids ministry was sharing how she had been feeling down recently. Wondering if all the effort she put in was doing anything, feeling like she didn't measure up to other teachers.
But she was so encouraged by a text i had sent, and it really made me smile.
Our youngest son, David, is 2, and we were sitting on the couch. I told him "i love you!" and he shouted it back. Then i said "David, did you know JESUS loves you!" and he told me "yesss, (teachers name) told me Jesus loves me."
They remember what you tell them, and they remember what you show them with your actions.

Some new things we are looking forward too over here, are with the bible college.
Pastor Tommy always has the vision to disciple people, and raise them up to teach and to go out and do more ministry. This coming year, part of the bible college will be specifically a one year pastoral training program. At the end of it, those who complete it would be ordained and then able to go out and either sit on it and see how God leads or go and start a church plant.
Very exciting, and helpful. A lot of it would be practical, preparing for whatever needs might be there (like learning guitar, because you don't always have a worship leader right away). Hoping to see it grow and people attend and be trained up.

This fall, Eder will be teaching another college class. We already have students signed up and they will be flying in this coming week and starting the semester.

We were able to renovate and redo the upstairs kids ministry and college room/library. It looks great and was so needed. We were able to clear out what was unnecessary and make it more functional.
The nursery also got set up with a tv and can connect to watch a live stream for mom's that need to stay with their baby. We also hope to put a canopy over the stairs so when its raining parents can pick up their kids a little easier.

We also replaced the cafe kitchen's floor, new pipes and a drain in the middle to make cleaning easier. It looks like a restaurant kitchen now! Really fun for everyone at the church and college to see.

One of the church members has a sign-design business, and is really talented. They have painted some wall signs for the church that look great! I want to post photos of the updates in a coming post.

This year our daughter turns 6, and will be ready to enter elementary school this coming April (Japanese schools start in the spring instead of fall). We have been praying a lot, and feel like this is what will work well for her this year. Our hopes are that she could pick up the language (she is starting to notice how much she can't communicate with all her friends and people at church), and also have a good structure to her day and learning.
My original goal was to home school all the kids, and have them learn Spanish and Japanese alongside of English. But it has been difficult with all the kids being so young, so our hopes are that this will help and work for at least a few years, and then switch back to full time homeschooling.
Whatever way God leads, Elena is VERY excited to start school. She is so social and LOVES learning. She is excited to be a part of it, and to start learning Japanese.
Please be in prayer for her and for us, we want to always be diligent to make sure its aiding in her growth as a person and spiritually. We hope she gets a great teacher that invests in her and can make friends. We already know she wants to tell them all about Jesus, we just pray it would be a positive experience all around.

A lot of things are changing and growing, but a lot is the same. Just staying faithful and doing what God has asked us to do. We still pray that we can make it back stateside soon to see family and friends, and visit the churches.
God is always good, and we definitely see it every day. Things are not always easy, not always fun. But things are good. And every time we struggle or we wonder, God always shows us just how good He is, just how strong He is. We submit to Him, and know He has us in His hand.

Prayer Requests:
-our car (would continue running, we would be able to find out what causes it to shut off randomly)
-baby's birth and after (recovery, adjusting to four kids)
-Elena's school (she will be elementary age this coming spring-when Japanese school starts for the year)
-continued providence and guidance by Holy Spirit (ministry, family, location)
-upcoming semester/students: they would be ready to learn and grow and be stretched, the interns would have unity and look out for each other and the students.
-everyone's health
-that the Lord would afford Eder more time to spend at the church and cafe. he wants to be a bigger part of the ministry, but work takes up a lot of time.
-opportunities to minister and witness to our neighbors (Elena will attend 1st grade with our neighbors son)
-our growth in the language (especially for me, i foresee many mom to mom conversations in the future with the school)

We thank everyone who keeps up with us, prays for us, and supports us. You don't realize the impact and huge blessing that it is to us. You are a part of what God is doing out here, and it's not in vain.
We pray that everyone who supports us would have a chance to come out and visit this beautiful island filled with beautiful people.

God bless!

Monday, May 22, 2017

2016 to 2017 (spring)

Here come some major updates!

Since last time, our second son, David, was born and has already hit the 1 year mark! He fits perfectly in our little family and loves playing and chilling with his siblings. (and stealing their food, our kids are always great eaters haha)

We are still in the Ginowan area, at the church and Bible college. Eder taught the book of Matthews this past semester (just finished), first time teaching at the college since we were interns.
He has continued with the Young Adult's/College age ministry, it's been great to see the fellowship from it grow and to see the different talents and gifts of each member being used.
Many of our friends and the interns and students here are stepping out and translating! They work so hard, we are very proud of them and their hard work.

I've had the opportunity to lead in worship for a recent Women's conference during Golden Week (a special holiday here that everyone gets time off for). That was totally blessed by Jesus, because i struggle with skin issues on my hands that make playing guitar difficult. But during the conference and weeks before it cleared up and i was able to play! Praise Jesus!

I also have gotten to share my testimony, and teach a few times for our monthly Women's Fellowship night. God has really grown my ability to teach and put together messages. I've always struggled with expressing my thoughts clearly, and it really effected my studying. But the more i have done it, and prayed through it, and used my brain (haha), it has become a smoother process.

There are new additions to the church with a few on the way. The Tipton family had a beautiful little girl, and two of our other friends are awaiting babies this fall! A very exciting time in their lives, and it is awesome to get to watch it.

We've also attended two weddings last year of our close friends, the Risso's and the Myers! So awesome to have seen them come together as couple's and then watch them get married.

We have been able to see family pretty often over the past year and a half. Eder's parents and sister made a trip out here to meet David after he was born. We went back to the states for Christmas, Elena's 2nd time and Philip's and David's 1st time to spend Christmas there.
Then, this past April, my mom came out to visit and meet David.

Last summer, we welcomed back our good friends: the Spearmans! I have known them since before highschool, and Eder met them out here in Bible college. They now have two kids, and all of our kids were instant best friends. It is a huge blessing to have them in our daily lives again.

We have the S.O.S. Summer of Service coming up in the next few months, and two different mission trip crews coming out. We will be staying here this summer, and it looks like we have a busy (but fun!) schedule ahead of us.

Some praise reports we have are:
-Our car! We got a "mini" van (like a big k-car) that fits all of us with a bit of extra space to give people rides.
-All the kids have car seats!
-We were given a FREE washing machine (the day we went to look at them, we made a phone call to get some advice and found out there was a free one waiting for us)
There are so many more, like the pregnancy going smoothly and fast, kids being in good health, getting all paperwork and things at the city office figured out.

We have some prayer requests, if you could please lift us up in prayer:
Our family:
-The children: to grow, learn, and love one another.
-Us: to keep going strong as parents and servants, to keep seeking ways to love each other and invest in each other.
-Wisdom in finding our place (home)

-Amanda: teaching opportunities, health/healing (stomach and skin issues)
-Worship ministry (both of us): guidance to try songs that truly lead in worship, diligence in practicing and using our abilities.
-Young Adults ministry: Eder is planning a retreat with the group, planning for July.
-Bible college: next semester is coming and Eder is praying for what course he will teach.
-Children's ministry: we don't want to grow complacent and just teach formula messages, but we want to seek Jesus and the leading of the Spirit for fresh messages to teach God's kids.

Things have been getting tighter around here financially. We are not concerned but we know that it is good to ask for prayer in God's awesome provision.
May 2018, the church is taking a trip to Israel. Praying for God to provide that we could go on the trip.
Also, our car's AC needs to be fixed. Last year it broke in the middle of summer, and it is really rough for the kids (the windows in the back do not open). We have been blessed through our friend here who has been looking for parts and checking our car out. Please pray we can find out what needs to be fixed, and for provision for it (that it would be cheap too!).

We want to thank everyone who follows us on here and on Facebook, who prays for us and who supports us in the many ways that you all do. We are very humbled and blessed. We apologize for the long gaps in between posts, and hope that you have either tagged along for the ride through facebook or talking to us in person (via video chatting). Thank you, God is good and we are so blessed that His hands and feet reach all over the world.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

 Friends visiting from the states
 Visiting the Aquarium in Nago

 Visiting Ginowan while Eder's mom and sister were in Okinawa.
 Pineapple Park trip!
And another trip to the aquarium~

 Take your shoes off to tour the Okinawan houses.
 Elena got her Taiko-drum on!
 Getting ready for an outing.
 Making cups at the Okinawan Glass place.
 Ice cream with grandma at the mini-mall Justco.

 Last day in Nago after church (we headed down south for the last few days of their trip).
 Summer fun with the kids from church in Nago.

 Doing a "cool pose" at my request.
 Picture day for Daddy~
 One of the first days after we moved.
 On the trolly ride in Disneyland! She didn't know what to expect.
 Spinning our drawings around (you could watch them move in the mirrors!).
 The library from Beauty and the Beast.
 Enjoying Mickey Mouse Club House Theater!

 Lunch break!
 End of the night Strawberry Milkshake with Daddy.
 Lauren and Jose's wedding~

 A little upset that they weren't Mommy and Daddy.

 Another one from Disneyland (it was seriously so much fun with the kids, even Philip liked it).
 Back in Okinawa, playing with her friends (this is Riku)
 Practicing their "peace" signs.
 Sunday morning kid's ministry.

 Eder teaching Wednesday night!
 Elena's friend Max. His Dad is from Brazil, and his aunt is going to the bible college right now.
 Eating clams! She loves them.
 At Calvary Chapel Okinawa's Harvest Carnival in October. She was "Super Girl".

 Philip and Eder were "Batman" and "Robin" (can't really see the logos on their shirts).

 Helping him stand (he can walk now, but this was the start of it).
 At a friends Monster Birthday party.
 My sister had her second son, Oliver!
 Our Thanksgiving Day family photo.
 Enjoying Thanksgiving with her friend, Jax.
 Lounging after the big meal.
 Teaching kids ministry Elementary class (craft time!)
 Enjoying our Christmas tree (Philip's way to experience it is to kick it...)

 Women's Christmas Tea!
 I sat at my friend Jessica's table! And this is Alison, her friend she invited.
 Taliya and Yuu-san performed a Christmas Hula dance for us all. It was beautiful.
 Our tree Christmas morning!

 They had a blast, they were so blessed. We were blessed to be able to buy them some nice gifts, and their family in the states blessed their socks off too! Thank you guys all so much, they are so loved.
 First picture of the New Year! (the kids don't look thrilled though)
 This is a snap shot of the shrine in our area, where everyone goes to say prayers for the new year. There was a line of cars all down the street of people waiting just to park. And it there for almost a week.

Almost 30 weeks in this picture, almost there!
These were taken a few days before his 1st birthday. He is such an awesome little boy, he is really so sweet.

 Celebrating Alice's birthday! She is one of Elena's closest friends (they LOVE to play together).
The most recent thing that we had going on was the Coming of Age ceremony. These are the people from our church that turned 20 this year! We are really proud of them, they are growing into beautiful and kind adults.