Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall has come again-- the school is in full swing, the nights are colder and the days shorter. The rice, which grew quite long over the summer, has been harvested and farmers are burning the milled husks in their fields, bringing the smells of fall on the chilly air. We started classes at the end of August, continuing our school years and doing our best to help young minds lean and grow.

A farmer harvesting the rice behind our house.

Caitlin spent most of the fall helping her students prepare for their annual Undōkai, or Sports Day, which took place last month. This is a very important event in the Japanese school year, and her students trained every day in the hot sun (which was still hanging on from summer) for almost two months. Activities included ball games, tug-of-war,  races and a dance with traditional Japanese drums.

Thomas has also been busy at KIUA with fall camp and school festival so far this fall. The fall camp, a three-day trip away with the middle and high school, was a great experience for the students. They participated in activities such as outdoor cooking, hiking around the mountains, crafts and sports.

More recently, Thomas has been preparing for school festival. He has been in charge of the School Festival Committee, responsible for making sure everything went smoothly in preparation and on the day of the festival, which took place this past Saturday. The day was a success, despite the rain, with all events going smoothly and good time had by all.

We have also enjoyed having a chance to visit some of the local tourist spots in the Kansai area. We returned to Nara to see the deer again, drank tea in Uji (a town famous for green tea production), and went to see the castle in Hikone, which is one of the few original castles left in Japan.

Enjoying tea in Uji.
Exploring the castle in Hikone.

We've made a big decision. This spring we will be moving back to America. With much prayer, we have felt that God's plan for Caitlin includes further education in early childhood development (ECE). As there are almost no English-language programs in Japan, we feel that God is moving us towards a time of living in the United States. While we are not looking forward to leaving Japan, we are looking forward to new opportunities in America and seeking friends and family that we have been away from.

What else has been going on?
  • Thomas was able to have many good conversations with parents of his students during parent-teacher conferences at KIUA. 
  • Caitlin was able to interact with some of the family members of her students during school open days (in which family members are invited to view classes). 

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • Praise God for a good fall semester so far, and pray that the rest of the semester will continue to go well. We are just over halfway done, and many of the students (and teachers) are quite tired. Pray for strength, energy and good attitudes for all of us.
  • Praise God for the opportunities we have had to interact with our students' mostly non-Christian families. Pray that God will use  this interactions to open them up to his love.
  • Pray for our interactions with our students. Pray that we can show them Christ and help them learn knowledge to last them their whole lives.
  • Pray for Caitlin's parents. They are moving to Okinawa next year to work at Okinawa Christian School and are moving out of the house they have lived in for 20 years.
  • Pray for the Tohoku area of Japan. Even three years after the tsunami, the damage is still there. Pray that people's hearts can be reached by the work that continues and that God will bring about change to help heal the land and the people.

Caitlin and Thomas

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summertime brings the heat!

The long road to summer!
Spring brought with it flowers, spring classes and eventually the heat of summer. Both of us started out the school year this spring with new classes and some new students. While both had their own challenges, we finished strong and felt that we helped our students learn more English and more about the world around them.

Caitlin's family came to visit!
This spring we also had Caitlin's family (including her sister, home for her summer vacation) visit for a few days. We all had a chance to visit a few places in Kyoto and spend some time together on the weekend.

Eating lunch together in Kyoto.

We got to know our church family better.
This spring had some great opportunities for us to interact with our church family at Kyoto International Chapel. This included: a cleaning day where we cleaned the church in preparation for the summer services; a hiking day up to the top of a local mountain that lasted a little longer than we anticipated (we got lost); and getting to know a new couple who are living in a nearby town.

Pausing on the top of Mt. Ide, a local moutain.

A jam-packed summer vacation.
While the summer has come and the vacation is almost gone (but not the heat), we have done a lot! Before we left to spend some time with Caitlin's family, we visited Kyoto Toei Movie Park, a theme park in Kyoto where various movies and shows are filmed, including samurai movies. While staying with Caitlin's parents in Toyko, we had a chance to climb Mt. Fuji and go to Tokyo Disneyland. After that, we spent some time at Takayama, a missionary vacation spot near Sendai in north eastern Japan.

Taking in the view from the top of Mt. Fuji.

What else has been going on?
  • We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on July 27th. We ate dinner at an American restaurant near Caitlin's parents house in Tokyo. (Also the restaurant where we ate for our engagement celebration.)
  • Caitlin will be starting the fall school year term next week. Thomas has meetings next week then classes during the first week of September

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • It is hot in Kyoto! Pray that we can keep our students focused on school work in the heat and also help them adjust after the long summer break.
  • Pray that we will continue to help our students and bless those around us, including our neighbors.
  • Praise God for one year of wonderful marriage! Pray that we will continue to grow together and honor Him in our marriage.
  • Please continue to pray for the Tohoku area of Japan. Even three years after the tsunami, the damage is still there. Pray that people's hearts can be reached by the work that continues and that God will bring about change to help heal the land and the people.

Caitlin and Thomas

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spring At Last

Oh what a spring we've had! We moved into a new house, finished off our school year, took a spring break trip to Nagasaki, and started a new school year. Things seem to be settling down now, as we press on until this school term ends at the end of July.
Taking a walk along a river near our house.
We moved! In March, we moved from our one-room apartment into a three-room duplex, with about twice as much space as we had before. The move was, of course, stressful, especially as it came at the end of the school year, but we are now enjoying the new-found leg-room, as well as the view of farm fields and mountains outside our bedroom window (not a common occurrence in Japan).
Standing in front of our new home.

At the end of March, both of our school years ended. Caitlin enjoyed helping with preparations for the graduation ceremony at Jubilee Kids, as the oldest class grew increasingly excited about the eminent approach of starting first grade in elementary school. It was a touching ceremony, in which the three graduating six-year olds made speeches thanking their parents, friends, and teachers, the other students sang a song for the graduates, and the heads of the school shared God's word in a short message to the parents.

Thomas' school year ended well, with a rush of final exams, award ceremonies and of course, graduation. Please continue to pray for the students who graduated as they make their way in the world that they can take what they've learned at KIUA and find God's plan for their lives.

We had a wonderful trip to Nagasaki for our spring break. We enjoyed time there together relaxing and exploring this historical city. It was intriguing to learn about important times in Japanese history such as the period of isolation, the persecution of Christianity,  and the atomic bombing from the source.
Visiting the Nagasaki Peace Park.

The new school year started in April. Thomas is teaching some new classes in high school as well as some middle school classes from the previous years. The new sixth grade students are adjusting well to the new classes and the new high school class, while challenging, has been enjoyable to prepare and work with the students at a higher level of English. Caitlin moved up with her previous students and is now teaching the four- to five-year-old class. The school day for this age is more rigorous than she dealt with last year, and has been taking some getting used to, both for her and for the students.

What else has been going on?
  • We celebrated our first Easter together! Thomas made fliers to to use to invite nonbelievers to the service for the church we attend, and it was exciting to see several first-time visitors.
  • We continue to be a part of a weekly prayer meeting at our church and monthly Bible study in the home of Thomas' coworker. We have been blessed by the fellowship we have at these times with fellow missionaries.

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • Pray that we will continue to grow together and be a blessing to each other and those around us.
  • Praise God for our new home! Pray that we will honor Him in it.
  • Praise God the opportunities our schools have to share the Gospel with families that don't know Him. Pray that He will use us and these opportunities to bring more Japanese to Him.
  • Praise God for successful starts to the new school year. Pray that we and our students will fully adjust to new classes and that we will be able to show them God's love as we facilitate their learning.

Caitlin and Thomas

Friday, February 7, 2014


We successfully got back into the swing of things with only one cold between the two of us! The weather remains cold, but this week there were a few days when it felt like spring might be somewhere around the corner.

At the beginning of the month, we celebrated our six month anniversary early with a trip to Uenoshi, a historical town in the mountains north of us. It's a big tourist spot (complete with themed trains for the last leg of the trip), as it boasts a beautiful castle, ninja museum, and is the birthplace of the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. We enjoyed getting out of town for the day and learning about and experiencing Japanese culture in this unique way.

Throwing shuriken - ninja throwing stars.

In front of Basho's birthplace.

Last Sunday, Caitlin had the chance to speak to the middle and high school Sunday school class at the church we attend. She was able to share her testimony with the group of about 15 teenagers, and engage in a question time with them afterward. There are not a lot of young adults in the Japanese church, and so teenagers have a lack of role models that they can connect with. Because of this, we're really excited about this chance for her to connect with the church's youth, and hope that she will be able to cultivate relationships with them. 

What else has been going on?
  • We joined a monthly Bible study with a group of Thomas' co-workers. 
  • Thomas has been doing a new unit with his students: How do you want to be remembered? It's a unit designed to challenge them to think about what kind of legacy they will leave behind them throughout their life and high school career.
  • Caitlin began teaching a new phonics class for the older students at her school. It is interesting to experience the differences between teaching four and six year olds! She is still getting used to the new dynamics and content, but it has been going pretty well so far.

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • Pray that we will continue to grow together and be a blessing to each other and those around us.
  • Praise God for the opportunity for Caitlin to share her testimony. Pray that she will be able to cultivate relationships with the students, and that God will use these relationships for his glory.
  • Praise God for the new Bible study opportunity, and pray that it will be time of godly fellowship that will enable us to grow in our friendships. 
  • Praise God for the opportunities we have to serve him at the schools we each teach at. Pray that our students will see God's love in our interactions with them.
Caitlin and Thomas

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Things have certainly been busy these last few months! While the fall had one of the longest semesters for both of our schools, we pulled through and had some enjoyable moments throughout it all.

We celebrated both our birthdays in November. For Caitlin's, we took a day trip to visit some mountains outside of Kyoto where we walked in a bamboo forest and fed monkeys (see photo). For Thomas', we went out for all-you-can-eat Japanese table top barbecue.

Feeding monkeys for Caitlin's birthday.

Also in November, KIUA held its annual school festival. Thomas was quite busy helping his homeroom make fried potatoes and a Korean barbecue dish called bulgogi. It was a hectic but successful day, and he was very thankful that he got the following Monday off. (His birthday!)

Caitlin spent a lot of November and December preparing for the Jubilee Kids Christmas concert. On December 14th the students put on an hour and a half concert for their families which included singing, dancing, a short drama, and piano recitals. The school's founder also gave a message on the meaning of Christmas. As most of the students come from non-Christian homes, this was an exciting opportunity to share the gospel with them.

We have been enjoying visiting Caitlin's family in Tokyo for our Christmas holiday (see photo). It's been a lovely time of relaxation and celebration. We will be traveling back to Kyoto on January 4, and we both will resume work on Monday, January 6.

Christmas in Tokyo with Caitlin's family.

What else is happening?
  • We enjoyed going on a church hike at the end of November (see photo). We're beginning to feel at home as we build relationships with our neighbors and coworkers in Kyoto. 
  • Next week, Caitlin will begin teaching a new class to older students at her school.
  • We will both be starting the last semester of this school year. (The Japanese school year ends in March.)
Hiking in Ikoma, near Kyoto.

This month, please remember these prayer requests:
  • Pray that we will continue to grow together and be a blessing to each other and to those around us.
  • Praise God for opportunities to share the gospel!.Pray for those affiliated with our schools who do not have a saving relationship with Christ and were exposed to the gospel through programs this Christmas season.
  • Praise God for new friendships, and pray that we will continue to adjust to life in Kyoto.
  • Praise God for the opportunities we have to serve him at the schools we teach at. Pray for wisdom and enthusiasm as we enter the new semester.
Caitlin and Thomas