July/August, 2002Dear Friends,
School is back in session again and summer activities have ended. Matt is beginning his senior year, Debbie is working again at the CAJ cafeteria, and I'm continuing to teach many classes each week. The past 2 months was mostly spent in cleaning up, organizing and getting ready for the fall, with some good results which we hope will be inspiring to you, our readers. We thank the Lord for all He has done to bless our family, the work in Japan, those who have labored with us and supported our efforts.
€ Tachikawa Camp: Before the LST ("Let's Start Talking" program was finished this summer, Tachikawa held a 3 day camp at a nearby hotel turned into a Christian Retreat Center next to a river in Iruma (7/12-14). Highlights of the camp were a barbecue by the river, game night, along with some Bible study and singing and viewing a video called Kairei on how the Bible first came to Japan.
€ Addition to the Lord's Family: We rejoiced at the end of July to witness a young lady, Masako Tajima, confess Jesus and be buried with Him in baptism. She had studied for awhile before committing her life to Christ. Then right afterward, she moved to Hawaii for a year's study and work with her job. We encouraged her to join with Christians at the Honolulu congregation where we trust she is continuing to grow in her new faith. Please pray for her.
€ LST results: 73 people were taught this year by the Harding University students. During the summer, our regular LST Sunday morning class also continued and a few readers are coming to that class. Debbie decided this year to do some follow-up teaching on the same nights I teach (Tues. and Thurs. p.m.) to give opportunity to readers who might want to continue Bible study through the year from the LST texts. Postcards inviting the readers to LST activities (cooking and crafts) as well as English Bible have been sent out and a few responses have come in. Debbie hopes to start teaching from October. Please pray for these efforts too.
€ Tues. p.m. class: Several LST students and some church members too have been coming regularly to this class from the Gospel of Matthew. This study has provided some interesting discussions which help each person see some applications of Jesus' teachings for their life's needs and goals. Please pray that the non-Christians in this class will be changed in their hearts to come to know Christ's love in a personal way.
€ Christian Basics Class: Having completed 17 lessons in Japanese on Thursday nights with this class, our members have had a broad cross-section of Bible topics to study. Now on Thurs. p.m., we are studying the Pastoral Epistles (see news below) with study sheets translated into Japanese. At a slower pace (once a month for some), the same material is being covered on 2nd Sunday afternoons, for those who were not able to attend Thurs. p.m. and in the morning LST Bible class for those interested. Those who have taken the class report that it caused them to reflect more deeply on the Bible and Jesus' teachings for their lives.
€ Health Recoveries: One of my regular students, Mrs. Hashimoto feared she might have cancer, but fortunately her tests were negative. Later, she had a fall at the train station and is trying to recover from that. Mrs. Miyazawa, who has been attending my classes for several years suddenly had an attack of "shingles" and had to be hospitalized for awhile. She has now recovered quite well and is back to coming to classes. A young single girl, Toyoko Murashita, also suffered a fall at the train station from someone who pushed her down some steps. She had several bruises for awhile, but is slowly recovering. My cousin in the States, Linda Gartman, was diagnosed with cancer and has suffered for nearly a year now. However, after extensive surgery, much pain and many prayers, her doctors believe she is on the road to recovery. It has been a long, hard trial for her, but we thank the Lord for allowing her to live and be restored to a measure of health. Please keep these in your prayers...
€ Homepages Revised: A major project during August was the complete updating of Tachikawa Church homepages. We now have a new location for the church site and a new e-mail address for the church. Those who would like to view the new site, please go to the following URL: http://www.geocities.com/tachichurch. The new church e-mail is: email@example.com. Most of the pages will need constant revision, but we believe the basic structure will be more helpful than before and we hope to add new Bible study information, church news, new pictures, and other helpful information as time goes on.
YOKOTA AND SAGAMIDAI NEWS
€ Pastoral Epistles Class: Although many families were absent during the summer at Yokota church, for those who were able to come each week, I taught 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus -- books which helped the congregation focus on what the activities, roles, and duties of all Christians should be, along with the attitudes God wants among His people as we face various challenges in the Christian life. This was followed by a class which Masa Nonogaki is teaching on "Spiritual Growth." From October, we hope to view a series of videotapes on Marriage Enrichment to help our new families review God's teachings for the Christian family. Please pray for Yokota church as many families have left Japan and new people are adjusting to Japan and to the church.
€ Sagamidai Church: John & Megumi Asagiri (Wilson) are currently traveling in the U.S. with their family. In their absence, I have been asked to be one of the preachers to speak this month (September) to the congregation. Others are Bro. Obata (from Ochanomizu church) and Bro. Sagitani (from Warabi church). Our bi-monthly class has also gone quite well throughout the summer. Fujio Asagiri and Hisako Sugawara attend regularly. They seem to be growing in their faith from month to month. While the Asagiris are in the States Sis. Sugawara plans to help teach the children in Sunday school. Fujio several months ago began preaching regularly for the congregation and seems to be growing in his faith.
CARRELL FAMILY CHANGES
€ Paying Down Bills: I mentioned in our previous report how excited we were to be paying off our debts. By our next report, another credit card should be paid and major progress should be made on other outstanding debts we have had. We thank the Lord for showing us the value and importance of learning better stewardship -- to steadily work toward becoming debt-free so we can be better able to be of service to more people.
€ Buying Another Car/Selling Our Old Car: The car we had been driving nearly 3 years was in need of several repairs, but still ran good and had a new set of tires we had recently purchased for it. One day the left passenger window gave way and we had to take it to the shop to try to fix it. Our air conditioning was completely out too. So while discussing all the repairs which might need to be done to get it running again, our car dealer friend offered us a van (which someone had traded in) for free if we would just get some paperwork done on it. We discovered that it would cost about the same for the paper work as it would be to put repairs in on the old car. So we purchased it and was able to pay it off in about a month. We didn't know what to do about our other car since it's good points were -- good running car, new tires, and nearly 9 mos. of insurance left on it. About that time, a Christian family we had known before at Yokota, returned to Japan, and were needing an extra car -- so we sold it to them very cheaply, helping them out and allowing us to get our car sold. Our new van is an 8 passenger vehicle and able to haul lots of things as well. We have already found it useful for many church needs and personal needs as well. Thank the Lord for His providence!
€ New PC Computer: Over the years, I've enjoyed using our Macintosh computers, but for more and more applications and needs, we saw that investing in a PC computer might be good to be compatible with many people. Matt also felt it could be helpful for his studies, we wanted to do more with homepages, and I thought that finding a machine to be able to run Japanese on an English system would be very useful for our future work. So we went ahead and purchased a Dell Optiplex computer. We also decided to get hooked up to ADSL (a method) which allows a faster connection at a very reasonable cost. Although it may seem like a contradiction of the above paragraph of "paying down our bills" -- we believe in the long run it will be very cost efficient, useful for the Lord's work, and allow us to serve many people better than ever before. Please pray that we will use it wisely.
ON THE HORIZON
€ Steve's Dad moves to Nashville: In May and June, Joyce and I had several conversations with my Dad about the cost of his monthly rent and living situation. Through negotiations with my Uncle Bob and Uncle Gene (Dad's brothers) and my cousin David, Dad was able to secure a lawyer to help him out of a rental contract. He was also able to find a better location in Nashville for cheaper rent and close to his brother's family and an active church. We could only help some financially and helping Dad get the assistance he needed to make the move, since I had to remain in Japan for the LST program and other commitments (like Hachinohe above). So I told Dad that I hoped to make a visit to see him later -- which I'm planning now for the end of September. This trip will be to see Dad's new situation, help him with any further settling in he may need, and to encourage him.
€ Sendai team: A new Sendai mission team has begun work at the Sendai Church of Christ, working with Bro. Paul Mawatari. Several LST teams have come regularly to Sendai and some of those members decided to commit themselves to work for at least 5 years as missionaries. Nao Fukushima and his daughter, Mitsuko, were able to become very close to this team and they also stopped by Tachikawa for awhile to talk with us about their new work. We were impressed by their spirituality, good training, and desire to spread God's Word to the Japanese people. Please pray for this new effort just begun this summer.
€ J.D. Derby Family to Move to Morioka: Another family we got to meet just before the summer began was the J.D. Derbys. They came on a survey trip to check out several possibilities of work in Japan. They plan to move to Morioka in northern Honshu either later this year or early next year. We hope to be able to share more with you about their work as it develops. We are very happy that 2 places in northern Japan now have dedicated missionaries willing to work hard for the Lord. Please pray that all will go well for the Derbys in this new outreach.
€ Dwight and Josephine Albright 3 month Trip: The Albrights plan to come to Japan next week (September 11th) for 3 months to visit numerous places in Japan, encouraging brethren from the north and south. Bro. Albright will be our featured speaker at the upcoming JSE (Japan School of Evangelism) Foundation Day lectures. Each time they have come, all of us have been encouraged through fellowship, class teaching, and many other ways. Please pray for their trip and work.
As we bring this epistle to a close, we continually marvel at the many ways God has worked through all these activities to strengthen and build His people. In the troubled times of war, unrest, sadness, and lack of direction we see in many lives around us, we rejoice in the Lord for giving His people many spiritual victories, for helping all of us to grow and change, and teaching us that He is and always will be Sovereign in all things! Thank you all for your prayers and support. May God bless your lives.
In His service,
Steve, Debbie, and Matt Carrell