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Aroma Ministries Newsletter, 2015







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Picture above: The first trip to Kumamoto to help with earthquake relief.

 

A message from Caleb...


Earthquake!!!

Well, this actually wasn’t my first experience with an earthquake…however this was the most intense. The actual intensity of the earthquake was on the lower end in our area, but the fact that the shock waves kept rattling the windows and doors was unsettling.

As I sat enjoying a late and thrown-together dinner, I began to feel unfamiliar rumblings under my chair. I knew that earthquakes were common in Japan and I felt excited about having our first one since we’ve been here. In fact, I have felt earthquakes in Tokyo quite a few times. Others here in Kyushu began posting on Facebook about how they were disturbed by this and messaging me asking if we were ok. I thought it odd that people were reacting in this way. Our phones continued to announce the subsequent quakes with eerie sirens throughout the night.

The next day as I talked with Rocky, I realized that earthquakes were extremely uncommon in Kyushu, especially of this intensity. Facebook was buzzing with posts and footage of the quakes in Kumamoto, and even Fox News reported on the abnormality. I began wondering if this reaction was akin to the way Houstonians react to snow or hail. Oddly enough, I began seeing posts about excessive flooding in Houston! In an interesting turn of events, I began sending messages to my family asking if they had floated away yet.

Rocky and I went with another friend from Kitakyushu and made a spur of the moment trip to help two Japanese people get from the airport in Fukuoka to their family in Kumamoto. We also stayed in Kumamoto to help that family clean up debris in their house from the quakes. When we arrived, the family seemed so discouraged. They obviously had not been able to sleep well with an average of 5.0 earthquakes and aftershocks hitting around every half hour. The local media had been covering the quakes non-stop which had some other negative effects on the people in that area. We could see that this family was overwhelmed with the task ahead of them as they are older people and physically cannot handle all of the work, besides the fact that the quakes just seemed relentless. This reminded me a lot of my experiences in other disaster areas such as Marrero Louisiana, where my youth group from Crosby had helped gut houses and remove debris from property after hurricanes and floods.

As we removed debris from the house, we received word that a pastor friend of ours had received a group of volunteers from Singapore who were available to help. The house in which we were working was a rather large structure and we were really able to use the extra hands. At that point we had Texan, Japanese, and Singaporean giving physical help to this family, as well as showing them the tangible love of Christ. By the time we left, we were able to see a definite difference in the faces of this family. There was additional work to do, but we had started the job and shown them that they were not alone, which was really what they needed. The team from Singapore returned the next day and removed a toppled stone wall which would have been expensive or impossible for that family to remove.

So as Jessica and I continue to face daily challenges such as navigating a completely foreign city and language barriers, it’s pretty awesome to have been able to help someone in such a direct way and to walk away from it saying, “We did this because Jesus deeply loves and cares about you”. Although the Kumamoto quakes were not nearly as devastating as the 2009 Sendai quakes and tsunami, people will still need help and there will still be plenty of opportunities to minister to people through this event.

No one wishes these kinds of disaster on people, but we all know that God often uses abnormal events to break the soul-numbing monotony of life so we have a chance to look around at what’s really important.
 

All the while... (from Marla)

In addition to all of the excitement caused by the earthquakes (and the currently more than 1,000 subsequent aftershocks since) ministry has continued as normal in Kitakyushu as well.  In between delivering some supplies for teams and that one trip to Kumamoto, we have continued with regular Bible study and ministry.  ASK has gained several new students with the beginning of a new year and we are looking forward to getting to know these new families and sharing the hope found in Christ with them.  A new Bible study for young adults was launched last week, it's being called BFFMax.  A new Bible study for Jr. High and High School students at our local Christian school, Seinan Jo Gakuin, will begin this month on the 18th. We began BFFKids on Saturdays before BFF, a way to give the kids in BFF a little more in depth Bible time.  We have a couple of people who have come forward for baptism and we are excited about their faith, and also how God is working in their families (pray for the husbands and children in these families as they are seeing how life changing faith plays out as their moms and siblings have started following Jesus).



We ask that you continue to pray for our team.  Pray for unity and strength in busy days!  Pray for great communication to continue.  Pray over Caleb and Jessica as they are going into their 4th month here, a time when culture shock typically becomes a bit amplified and stress and strain of the ongoing new life in a new culture and language has built up!  Pray for the Lord to fill their hearts and minds with His goodness and peace!  Thank the Lord for the 4 years of marriage they will celebrate this coming week on their anniversary.  And pray for all of the people involved with our ministry. Pray for seekers to invite the Lord Jesus into their life, pray for believers to grow in their faith and step out in ministry, and pray for leaders as we seek to be the hands and feet of the Lord in this part of the body of Christ He has entrusted to us!!!

For His Glory in Japan,

The Aroma Team
 


more from Aroma

Podcast

Weekly messages are uploaded on our iTunes podcast page and blog...

BFF Message blog
by Rocky Ayatasuka

BFF iTunes Podcast
by Rocky Ayatsuka

 

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