Giving you a little view of Japan without leaving your home!

Prayer letters, curious subjects, events, people, customs, and more for you to enjoy and learn.

Friday, November 20, 2009



Like many other visually impaired people, Rieko Nakayama enjoys belting out a few songs at karaoke. However, the 40-year-old homemaker was limited in what songs she could sing because she could not see the lyrics on the screens of the karaoke machines, and always lagged behind others in her singing.

Nippon Telesoft Co. has solved this problem. They developed Braille karaoke software that translates the words of the lyrics on the screen and sends the data to a Braille pin device. Pins on the device move up and down to form the words of the song in Braille, slightly ahead of the melody. The visually impaired singers read the words with their fingers and are therefore able to sing in harmony with the music.

"Now I can sing without falling behind," rejoices Nakayama.

The software makes it possible to transcribe about 100,000 songs on the Joy Sound System into Braille.

Source: Yomiuri News, A. Nakamura, 2008-06-28

Visually impaired people can experience a bright future of joy with Jesus Christ.

And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 29:18,19).

Spiritually blind people, after a lifetime in gloom and darkness can obtain sight, when they fix their gaze on Jesus, who is the Creator of all light! Seeing the true Light, they will be able to laugh and dance for joy, whatever their circumstances might have been!

October Newsletter and some Pictures

Teaching Miss Tsuzuki(new high school nurse)

Mrs. Sonoda (3rd from left) playing in Okoto group for culture day

Town Hamanasu Chorus

Mrs. Sonoda (our longest saved believer)

Mrs. Fukuda the policeman's wife
Ps 107:1 ¶ O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Giving God thanks is to be our daily activity. It is the outward and vocal action and response to faith. First, because we believe that all that God does and allows will work for good because God is good. Secondly, because God's mercy will be applied to every situation and is in no danger of running out before He completes in us His perfect will. In that assurance we can give the Lord thanks in every and all situations. Thank you Lord!

October has been an exciting month in many ways. We get to introduce you to some new people! English interest has brought 3 women and one man our way with a couple of them starting to attend an English Bible teaching time on Sunday evenings! For that study time we are using Christianity Explained--a six week study usually, but we will just take it as quickly or slowly as needed for them to come to an understanding of the Gospel.

Mrs. Fukuda is the 29 year old wife of a policeman. Policemen are only in the local station for 2 or 3 years at a time. The Fukudas moved here this spring so we have a short time period here to reach her with the Gospel. As of spring 2010, 5th & 6th graders in Japan will join their Jr. high & high school counterparts in learning English. Mrs. Fukuda has been working on getting her license to be able to teach this grade level. While she is here she wants to observe and participate in our English classes in order to get some experience and ideas. She also has started attending the a.m. service and has thought about coming to the English study time in the evening as well. We are in the seed watering stage with her because she was introduced to the Gospel while she was an exchange student in a Baptist American home in San Diego. She went to almost every Sunday and Wednesday service with her host family. What a blessing to be a part of the next stage in her life! Maybe we will get to water and see fruit! But all in God's time.

Miss Minemura (age 28) is only back in Teshio for about 6-8 weeks before leaving to go to Vietnam. Her father is a local dentist and her mom a pharmacist. She grew up coming to our English classes and sometimes S.S. She came for special English help before trying to take the TOEFL efficiency language tests. As a result, we have been able to witness during class and we invited her to the Bible study to which she was able to come a couple times. She claims to believe there is no god but seems to be listening quite well. Although we would really be happy if she was not going to be leaving our area again we claim the promise of God's Word that it 'will not return void'!! She will be a dentist in Vietnam beginning in January.

Dr. Mitsu is one of the two doctors in our small local hospital. He has an interest in English and although a very nervous person he tries to talk in regular conversation style. He accepted the invitation to come to the Sunday evening study as well as a private time with Ken on Wednesday evenings! Dr. Mitsu is 75! We praise God it is never too late to accept Christ until one is standing before the throne of God!

You might remember that one of our believers worked at the local high school for many years as the health nurse. She was 'forced' to transfer and now works at a high school about 25 minutes away. We don't get to see her as often as we like but understand that God is still in control of even that. As a result a new nurse has moved to Teshio to be the health nurse at the high school. Her name is Miss Suzuki and she came to the evening service one week ago. She was out of town this last Sunday but hopes to keep coming!! Although her level of English is not as strong as the other new contacts she wants to improve so she wants contact with us to help her. We praise God for the avenue of English speaking and teaching to be able to have an inroad into people's lives here in Teshio. May it continue to bring forth fruit.

We have a special request concerning the junior high class that Ken team teaches at the local Jr. high. He helps with two classes and one grade is fine but the other class has 2 or 3 continual trouble makers. The lady teacher is not able to do much to control them and the situation has deteriorated to the point it is almost impossible to get any valuable teaching done while there. Ken is and has been talking to the principal and the teacher about what can be done to get things straightened out. Please pray that Ken's desire to be an example of Christ's love but also stand against the rude behavior, both verbal and physical, would be fulfilled and these young boys' lives could be turned around as well as a return to being able to actually see learning take place in the classroom.

On the physical side of our lives we have some good reports from our checkups the first week of November. Ken's x-rays did not show any new kidney stones and the large one in the left kidney had not moved or changed. They also couldn't see the two little ones they had seen two months ago. Maybe God removed them! So we will continue on with the eating and drinking water patterns that seem to be of help. He will have a check the end of January to keep them updated on his progress. They do want to keep that one stone under observation.

The last time we reported that Vicki could just use one final eye medication to bring the herpes eye infection to a stop. With last week's check they said it had healed as well as it was going to and she could stop all medications. This type of herpes will always be 'present' but can remain inactive for quite some time. We are thankful for progress and are trusting for continued protection. Thank you for joining us in those prayers.

Beings the kidney stone difficulty has been resolved as much as can be, the doctor that also observed that Ken's gall bladder had many stones in it is concerned that this could also flare up. Therefore he has recommended they do prevention surgery and have asked Ken to meet with the doctor on the 12th to determine which date will work for the surgeon and Ken to get this accomplished. If we lived in a big city, they would not be so quick to do it possibly, but beings we live 'in the sticks' a sudden gall stone attack and immediate surgery would be difficult so they prefer to take care of it this way. It looks as though Ken will be doing 'byoin dendou' (hospital evangelism) again! We will know more after the visit with the surgeon this week.--His surgery has been decided and it will take place on the 30th of this month. He will be hospitalized from the 27th. A little different than in the land of out-patient surgeries!! Thank you for praying.

Extra Prayer Requests:
1. salvation of husbands and family members of our believers
2. healing and strength during the cancer treatments for Kozue-san
3. baptism of our believers
4. Vicki's opportunities through the groups she is part of
5. plans being made for Christmas evangelism
6. yen/dollar values
7. for stablization of America and for Christians to remain strong

1. God is good all the time...All the time God is Good!
2. for each of our supporting churches and their faithfulness to God's Word!
3. for these new opportunities with local people

God bless and keep you,
Serving Christ Together,
Ken and Vicki Mansell Just A Prayer At Night

Monday, September 7, 2009

Some Japanese traditions

Well we have been busy getting the roof of our building painted to help it 'last' another year. We sure appreciate the help of a fellow missionary and his son in this work. Probably the last time we'll be able to put off getting the roof replaced. It is still the original roof even after 15 years and when we are only a block from the Sea of Japan with all the salt air on a tin roof, well you can imagine what it has been to keep it up all this time.

There is no clearly defined border between superstition and religion, and they are essentially cultural cousins. A definition of superstition, such as "a belief in something not justified by reason or evidence" would certainly be some people's definition of religion. Every day Japanese people will observe one or more of the many superstitions that are ingrained into their culture. Many relate to death and funeral rites, others to major occasions like weddings, while others are just little more than old wives' tales.

Still, superstitions are a part of many Japanese lives governing what they do from day to day. It is almost as hard to help them get away from that once they are saved than just helping them understand there is only one true God!
One site claimed this and we have sensed this many times:
Japanese superstitions are rooted in the culture and history of Japan and the Japanese people. Superstitious beliefs are common in Japan; many are related to the atom bomb, but even most of those have roots further back in Japan's history.[1] A number of Japanese superstitions have their basis in Japanese custom and culture and are meant to teach lessons or serve as practical advice.

Some superstitions that are common in Japan have been imported from other cultures. The unluckiness of a black cat crossing one's path is one notable example. The Japanese also share superstitions with other Asian cultures, particularly the Chinese, with whom they share significant historical and cultural ties. The unluckiness of the number four is one such example, as the Japanese word for "four" sounds like the word for "death."

A significant portion of Japanese superstition is related to language. Numbers and objects which have names that are homophones for words such as "death" and "suffering" are typically considered unlucky. Other superstitions relate to the literal meanings of words. Another significant part of Japanese superstition has its roots in ancient Japan's ancient Pagan, animist culture and regards living and natural things as having certain powers or spirits. Thus, many Japanese superstitions involve beliefs about animals and depictions of animals bringing about good or bad fortune.

Even though many young people may not know why they follow certain superstitions these are some of the superstitions that may govern their lives:
No nails trimmed after dark--If they do they say that will not be in time to arrive at their parents' death-bed.

Do not serve 3 slices of pickles--While three is considered to be a lucky number, they never serve three slices because the Japanese word for 3 slices homonymously means 'killing a person".

Always put the left side of clothing over the right--To prepare the body of a dead person the kimono is put on with right over left.

Many older Japanese believe they should drink tea in the morning because if they don't they may meet with some accident during the day.

Japanese believe that all days are either lucky or unlucky. Therefore, a traditional Japanese calendar will have written on the day whether it is an unlucky or lucky day. That way people preparing for a special occasion such as a wedding or funeral will avoid those days. If a funeral is held on "friend-taking" day they believe that there will be another funeral right away in the same family. If it has to be held on that particular day then a doll is put in the casket to 'take the place of the one whom death would otherwise claim'.

They do not pass food from one set of hashi (chopsticks) to another set. At a crematory the relatives of the deceased will pass the cremated bones from chopsticks to chopsticks when the ashes are putin the urn. So it is never done on an ordinary occasion.

Whistling at night is said to be one of two things: a burglary or a snake will come out and get you.

Engi, which, broadly translated, means the ascribing of lucky or unlucky omens to things or happenings, includes perhaps the greatest number of popular superstitions in Japan. For instance, Japanese believe the ages of 19, 33, 42, & 47 to be unlucky years when person should expect some serious mis-fortunes to happen to them. This may be taken seriously enough that a person who has great responsibility will step down during that year so they don't draw unlucky events to the whole company. These are usually based on how the number sounds in the language. The Japanese pronunciation for 19 can be taken for "repeated sorrows". the number 33 is a bad year because its sound also means "hopeless miseries"; 42 signifies death.
Special holidays have very signifigant foods and traditions that must be followed in order to avoid bad luck. Thus, there are bamboo wreaths put on cars and buildings at New Year's and they eat special foods to bring certain good luck.
A special food eaten is "mochi" (pounded rice) which also can be read to mean wealth; a type of type of mushroom means "many children"; the word for one of the beans means "good health". Another food superstition is that many will not eat only one bowl of rice (there is a particular shaped small bowl that rice is always served in) because only one bowl of rice is always offered at the family idol in the home or graveside. Therefore, they will at least eat two.
There are far too many superstitions to write about concerning days and dates. The Japanese follow the Chinese traditions concerning the year of a particular animal such as in horoscopes. Fortune telling is taken very seriously in Japan especially at the New Year. Good luck charms can be bought at temples and depending on their particular meaning they will be hung in rooms in a home (particularly the kitchen and front entry) as well as cars, on purses, etc. In the home they may also be put where they provide the most 'protection': against pestilence at the entrance, those against fire near the heating stove (kerosene or wood in many cases), those against thunder and lightning on the ceiling and so forth.
City buses may have a talisman above the driver's seat to project against accidents.
Most of these facts were taken from a book titled "We Japanese". We wish we could only count on one hand the number of times an answer to what we are trying to convey about Christianity begins with this very phrase. Mostly they might be just talking about regular customs and beliefs but as you can see , their lives are governed by much more than we would ever be able to imagine.
Although this has been long we trust it helps you in one way to see why there is so much to overcome in this country concerning the freedom from fears and superstitions regaling their lives when they come to trust Christ as their Saviour.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Brief Overview Prayer Letter July/August

July/August Prayer Letter
Dear Praying Friends,

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28
When we last wrote we were going to be seeing a specialist about Ken's back to find out what was causing the pain he was constantly experiencing. The long and short of that is that they found out through various tests that he had two kidney stones, one in each kidney. Both were about 1 inch in diameter but the right side was causing some damage and the extreme pain so they decided to take out that one first. This was all done in a hospital 3½ hours from Teshio in a larger hospital. He was hospitalized for two weeks beginning the last two days of July. Much of July was in going back and forth to Asahikawa for various tests. The verse in Matthew gives the offer of comfort and help from God Almighty. This is one of the verses that Ken passed out to doctors, nurses, patients and visitors. Each day he used a different verse card and gave them especially to the doctors and nurses. Ken used it to thank them for their help and assure them that he and many others were praying for wisdom and strength for them to do their best for the patients they cared for. There was much appreciation and witnessing opportunities as a result of the simple act of giving a word of encouragement from the Word of God. One nurse responded that the words from the Bible were profound in depth of meaning and in power of action. Amen! We appreciate your continued prayer for the two weeks ministry Ken had while in the hospital that God would bring forth fruit from that time.
In the midst of all the witnessing he was able to do, there were two people who stand out and we ask your prayers for them. One was a patient and one was his anesthesiologist!! Ken was put in a four-person room for the first four days of his hospitalization. Then after surgery on a Monday they moved him to a semi-private room. Ken and two others were in the first room.. One of the men, Mr. Minoshima (he asked Ken to call him 'Mino-san' and he called Ken- “Ken-san”) was very talkative. After Ken had to move to the other room, Mino-san would visit Ken's room at least once a day to see how Ken was doing. Over the two week's period Mr. Minoshima started opening up to spiritual subjects and would even ask Ken questions. Ken has exchanged email addresses with him and we trust that Ken can keep witnessing to him through this avenue. Mr. Minoshima lives 7 hours way from Teshio on the southeastern side of Hokkaido. We trust he will eventually seek service from a Japanese Baptist church in the area.
Beings Ken was in a university hospital there are around 30 anesthesiologists--God chose Nao Nishino to be his so that she could hear the Gospel and be friends with us and so we would be helped by her English ability!! Just seven months ago she was finishing an exchange study time in Canada where she improved her English speaking ability. This opportunity also gave her an understanding of Western openness that made her unique in the relationship she chose to take with us. She took time to visit Ken's room several times even when one time she only had 30 minutes and she was also on a 24 hour shift!! She also came several times after a long shift day and stay for just a few minutes. Ken was able to give her a Japanese Bible and some study materials as well as the daily verse cards. The last couple times Ken was able to see her, she specifically asked if they could study the Bible together. She continues to be open. She also allowed us to pray with her each time she visited. We had several items to give her one day when she came so Ken was able to share with her, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" and use the gifts we gave her as an example....she didn't earn them, we were giving them to her. In the same way, we can't earn God's love or salvation but He freely gives it! We have given her contact information to fellow laborers in Asahikawa with her permission. Doctors and nurses' schedules in Japan in the hospital system are quite challenging but she seems to be eager to continue study in both English and the Bible.
While waiting to be admitted to the hospital, we were taking a walk here in Teshio one afternoon and were able to spend about 30 minutes talking to Mr. and Mrs. Honda while they worked outside their home. We have been trying to set up the introductory six-week Bible study with this couple for some time and have mentioned them in our prayer letters. He is the previous mayor. They finally agreed if they could start some time this month. We are going to contact them again now that Ken has pretty much recovered so that we can get this study started.
Vicki joined Ken in Asahikawa for all but 3 days of the two weeks he was in the hospital. She took the chance to get a couple health issues addressed as well while she had the opportunity to be at a larger hospital. One of those is the lingering herpes eye infection which began 1 year ago this month. The doctor said that stress and life in general and can have an effect on the body that make it difficult for this type of virus to heal. We know God is able and continue to ask for it. Fellow missionaries, Dean and Sue Zemke graciously gave of their hospitality to put Vicki up in their home while Ken was in the hospital. What a blessing this was.
Prayer requests continue to be the same as last month but please also add salvation of Mr. Minoshima “me-know-she-ma” and Dr. Nao Nishino “naw-oh knee-she-no” to your list.
Serving Christ Together,
Ken and Vicki Mansell
*Remember-Just A Prayer At Night (your night is our day!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One more Edition!!

In our last update we had arrived home and were really glad to be back. Little did we know that the 'testing' was not over!! Within 3 days of returning Ken was experiencing pain in his lower right leg along with redness and hardness along the top of the leg. Ken's father went home suddenly to be with the Lord several years ago after going through surgery, seeming to have a complete recovery. It was determined that a blood clot had released and gone to the brain. With this in our memory banks, Ken headed straight to the local hospital to get checked out. Then when he got back he called Idai Hospital where he was in Asahikawa to inform them of the diagnosis and what had been done. The doctor quickly assured Ken that what had been prescribed and advised was JUST what they would have done!! Praise God! Ken was diagnosed with "superficial thrombophlebitis" (his father probably had deep vein thrombosis) so we were much relieved although we still have kept it in our prayers. We are changing dressings on the area morning and evening and Ken is taking oral medication as well. Again we know God uses doctors and medicines but are still relying on Christ for the healing!!
Ken will be going back to the hospital in Asahikawa for a check-up the middle of next month. They will observe the other stone at that time to see if there has been any change in position or size. The recommended course though at this time is that he would have gall bladder surgery this winter some time. We will again wait on the Lord for His timing and the next phase of "Hospital Missions, Phase Two"!! Stay tuned!

Prayer Requests:
1.our believers: safety, consistency, growth; baptism
2.unsaved family members of our believers contacts and follow up able to contact Mr. Honda to begin Bible study
5.witnessing to English students
6.Ken's leg to heal and follow-up visits and Vicki's eye
7.Jonathan and Heather Marks, Matthew Johnson, Tim Turner—God's timing and blessing in coming to Hokkaido

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hospital Stay Update

The man we always get our used cars from lives in Asahikawa. We have given witness to him over the years. He came on the last weekend Ken was there to visit him. His name is Mr. Igarashi (ee-gaw-raw-she)

Mr. Minoshima was in Ken's first room and kept checking in with Ken every day! Several times Ken got to speak to him about spiritual things and the Lord seemed to be opening the door. How hard it was to leave this man as well. We will be keeping in contact.

We met this man a couple days after Ken's surgery. He was in for prostate cancer surgery. Mr. Kawana (kaw-waw-naw) is a grape farmer in the Shibetsu area where fellow missionaries, the Minks, are. We were able to introduce Brother Minks to him just before we left the hospital. How great to know there is a witness that can still reach out to him. He and his wife basically run the place by himself!!

We are thankful to have Ken home. The liver damage was all reversible damage through the medications they prescribed. He has a follow up visit in Asahikawa in one month. They will do blood work and ultrasound then to see how the other 'stone' is doing, etc.
You could tell that Ken had not slept well in the hospital because he slept 12 hours the first night and 10 the 2nd!! The hardest part about leaving the hospital was leaving the 'mission field' of that time period. By God's grace we certainly believe we have more freedom in this country to hand out pamphlets and materials without any 'voice' repercussions! Ken gave out a 'daily verse card' to every nurse, doctor, & patient he had contact with. By the end of his two weeks, several of the nurses had a very full name tag because they would put them on the back side of the tag. With the men he was able to witness to he also gave out other materials. Whether each person was being polite, as the Japanese can be, or truly were glad to receive them, we were just thankful to get the Word of God into their hands in any portion.

The other hard part was leaving Dr. Nao Nishino behind. At least we know there are godly biblical missionaries there that can carry on the ministry with her close hand as we also continue our friendship from afar. She has already started calling us her American "mom and dad". Although we knew she had been to Canada for some part of her doctoral studies and English study, we didn't know she just returned 7 months ago!! Because of this fresh memory of her time on foreign soil, that made her so much more open. Please pray that in spite of her crazy doctor schedule she would be able to contact fellow missionaries (Dean & Sue Zemke) so that they can carry on with the Bible study she has already started! Twice at the end in spite of being tired she came to Ken's room and asked to study the Bible with him. Her heart is open and God is drawing her--may His will be done and another lamb added to the fold! And may we be patient in waiting his timing. Please pray though for each of these major contacts and for Satan to be defeated in ANY way in preventing the furthering of the Gospel being given to them:
Mr. Minoshima and family;
Mr. Kawana and his wife
Dr. Nishino

Thank you for whirling through these two weeks with us and especially supporting us in prayer.
"In everything give thanks for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning you." --this along with Romans 8:28 reminds us that all of our days and hours, in health or in sickness are a part of God's plan!

Last of Hospital Stay in Asahikawa-some fun Pics!

Because Japanese have a superstition about the number four there are no room numbers ending in four. Beginning numbers don't seem to be a problem (such as 401, 402, 403 but there would be no 404). So notice that 704 and 714 are not there either.
One of the sounds for 4 is the same sound as for death--that's why they avoid that number.

Ken talking to Alicia!

Vicki: I am a very directional challenged person! Easily turned around and takes me awhile to get used to very large cities as well as 'back routes'. Ken made up several pages for me with highlight routes for both to and from Teshio as well as within Asahikawa!! Thanks, Ken it worked!

So this was how I drove all the time until I got used to the route!

A beautiful partially cloudy sky one night, right at sunset as I traveled by to where I was staying.

Monday, August 10, 2009

On the Home Stretch Part 2

The best laid plans (hopes) can be delayed by God's best...that's what we have to believe anyway.
On the Home Stretch!

But first of all-- God's plans & timing are amazing!

1. Found out the main surgeon and the surgeon over at the other hospital dealing with my gall bladder issues were both doctors at the same smaller hospital a few years ago and are still good friends. They have communicated often during my hospital stay!! God put them together then and allowed them to become friends so down the road I could be a part of their lives for their help.

2. Already mentioned--30 anesthesiologists, yet God chose Nao to be mine so we could get the Gospel to her and I could understand more because she speaks English. Also because of her past exchange student status from Canada, she is more 'open' in so many ways, including the wonderful hugs she gives us! (she is our daughter's age).

3. One of the 2 original room mates from the first room I was in comes in to my new room every day to see how I am. We have not talked long at any one time but he is always interested in what I am doing and how I am doing. Today he asked if we could exchange email addresses so he could keep in touch with me. He seems to be interested in spiritual things but a little 'shy' of talking much about it at this point. He always readily accepts the verse cards. His name is Minoshima. (update one day later...he came and asked if we could talk for a bit. We went to the 'family' room area and started to talk but people started coming in and sitting around the area we were in so he was 'shy' about it again. We'll keep trying!)

4. Today (Sunday 9th)- Vicki and I were waiting for a local fellow missionary and his wife to come for a bit of fellowship and he was bringing a NT and a Bible for us to give to Nao Nishino. Vicki went out first to wait for them near the elevators to tell them we would talk in the family room (tables and chairs, tea, water, available). After Vicki sat down an elderly gentleman sat down near her and said, you have hung in there. Are you from here? Vicki answered no and told him where we were from and then asked him where he was from. He replied from Shibetsu where our fellow laborers, the Minks work. He also said he was going to be having major surgery on Monday (tomorrow) and then would be in there awhile. He is 73.
Then the Himeses arrived so we excused ourselves but not until we found out he was in room 703 --where I was for the first two days!!! After Vicki and the Himeses left, I went back to room 703 and Mr. Kawano, a grape farmer in Shibetsu and I exchanged business cards and I sat down to visit with him a bit. As I sat and visited as well as witnessed some, he listened attentively but so did my former room mate Mr. Minoshima! Then eventually the final man in the room pulled up a chair and listened too! What an opportunity! I called Brother Minks after I left the room to give him the information for prayer and for later followup here in the hospital. It is only an hour away from here so they can come see the gentleman while he is here in the hospital.

5. Vicki's car had a 'whine' sound when she first started it that just showed up this week!! The man we have bought the last 4 cars from (2nd hand) works here in Asahikawa at a Toyota/Corolla dealer. I remembered where it was and could tell Vicki where to go after she called him and arranged to have it checked out. While they replaced two fan belts, he sat (he is the manager) for the hour and half and visited with Vicki. He then came to the hospital room and visited me on Saturday for awhile. He also asked us to stop by on our way out if at all possible! We were able to put a Bible verse card into his hands as well.

6. Years ago when we first came to Teshio, we met a family through English teaching and became friends with them. He is the main doctor at the local hospital in Horonobe which is one of the small towns we have a once a week outreach into. We thought he no longer was there because his family has been in this larger city for quite a few years. He STILL travels back and forth once a week for this job and to be with family. They invited Vicki over for one afternoon and supper. She had a wonderful time with them and they also came to see me on Saturday. Again another opportunity to reopen an 'old' door! We all joked that maybe we could make it less than every 5 years that we see each other. Vicki said they even asked her to pray and thank God for the food before they ate.

7.While we know my stay as 'resident missionary' is drawing to a close for this round, we thank God that timing in meeting people has all been a part of God's plan!! There's no better place to be than in the center of God's will EVEN in the hospital!

Current status:
My fever is pretty much staying down and the white blood count has come back down quite a bit. My tube is out completely two days early!! It is draining less and less so that is encouraging as well. While there was some liver damage done it will repair itself through the other things that have been done. There was also damage done to the area of the kidney the stone was in. This is not repairable but willnot restrict the work of the kidney itself. For that also, we are praising God!! We are still on track for me to be released on Wednesday. We know your prayers are all a part of that plan and thank you for them as I have 'traveled' this road!
Although we may never know this side of heaven all that will have been accomplished for eternity sake during this two weeks, we praise God for the opportunity and for open hearts. We have planted and we trust there will be others to water and reap the harvest. Especially continue to pray for us as we continue correspondence with Miss Nishino and Mr. Minoshima!!

Well current status just got changed a bit and I guess my current job as 'resident missionary' isn't over. The numbers on the white blood count continue to go down and are almost normal and the liver is looking good...BUT if they take me off the medicine that has done that work just by 'quitting' it, there could be some rebounding SO they need to wean my body off the meds. Somewhat disappointing but acceptable. If we lived in this city I could go home and just come in each day for an IV time but beings we don't I have to stay here. We hope to go home now by Friday but no promises made yet. Thanks for continued prayer.
Mr. Minoshima tried to talk to me last night for a while and I think he wanted to get into spiritual issues but we kept getting interrupted so he finally said goodnight. I also got to see Mr. Kawana before his surgery began this a.m. and have prayer with him. We have been quite burdened for him today as he still wasn't out of surgery when Vicki went 'home' today at 5! We so desire to have the opportunity to share at least the beginnings of the Gospel with him. And see the Minks have an opportunity for followup. I keep trying to reach out to my young room mate but he still is pretty closed.
Have a great day and don't forget to share Christ with those you meet might be the only hope of light that they will receive!

Friday, August 7, 2009

On the Home Stretch (Saga continues, part 4)

Asahikawa Sunset from the 7th floor room window

The caramel cheesecake that Nao Nishino made
and the note she gave with it

One of many typical Japanese meals I eat.
a clear soup with 'small rice balls' that have shrimp in them and seaweed
grilled fish, pickles-cucumber carrot, Chinese cabbage & bean sprouts
vegetables: seasoned (soy sauce, vinegar, sugar) daikon radish, carrot and peas

cabbage salad with cucumber; milk; pork with sauce, carrots, & green beans
one wheat roll and one white roll, pineapple and kiwi

The final findings of the doctors were reported to me, this afternoon as the internist and one of the surgeons visited my room to let me know what has been going on. For some reason my body reacted to the antibiotics that they were giving me to fight back any infection from post op side effects. As a result the antibiotic was attacking my liver. They discovered it soon enough that it can be repaired by a new antibiotic. Beings it was started right after the other one was cancelled (took that IV down) it brought the climbing white blood count to a halt, Praise the Lord!

As of this morning, the white blood count had leveled out but hadn't started to lower yet. If that lowers through the weekend, then they hope to take the tube out of the surgery area on Monday and Lord willing by Wednesday I might be able to go home. The fever hasn't stayed down for a total of 24 hours at one time yet, so they are also waiting on that. It has stayed down though to about 99- 99.5 instead of 103-104!!! That was just one night in particular it climbed that high so no wonder I was having great body shakes and a hard time.

The other part of the report was that they advise me to get the gall bladder stones taken care of as soon as possible and during as well as continue to 'watch' the other kidney stone to see what kind of difficulties I have with it or if I can just ignore it. The doctor who originally advised me on the gall stones (at the first hospital I had major tests at) will be talking to the doctor here at the University hospital but the surgery will take place at the smaller hospital. We have not been told yet when this might take place. So this 'saga' here is coming to an end but the 'rest of the story' as Paul Harvery used to say, is yet to come! Thanks for praying!

So some good signs and still some things to work through but our God is Good ALL the time!

A couple more fun facts:
1. Beings this is a university hospital there are around 30 anesthesiologists--God chose Nao Nishino to be ours so that she could hear the Gospel and be friends with us and so we would be helped by her English!! She took time to visit my room today because she only had 30 minutes and she was also on a 24 hour shift!! Then on Sunday she had to be on call at a smaller hospital elsewhere in this city! Wow! She continues to be open and has accepted an invitation to a church picnic of the one of the local missioanry's churches and is excited that it looks as though her schedule might work out. We are praying that way. She is also allowing us to pray with her each time she visits. We had several items to give her yesterday when she came so I was able to share with her, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" and use the gifts we gave her as an example....she didn't earn them, we were giving them to her. In the same way, we can't earn God's love or salvation but He freely gives it!! Please continue to pray for Nao to understand AND accept salvation through Christ!
2. Beings 4 is an unlucky number in Japan there are no rooms with a 4 on them. On Ken's floor ,there is 701, 702 , 703, 705, 706, 707. I'll have to ask Vicki to check out the fourth floor and see what they do there. The reason 4 is not used is because one reading of it sounds the same as the word for death.
3.wondering: The nurses on Friday were having to reput in an IV that had fallen out during the night. They were starting to run out of places to put them in (our friend nurse- the missionary wife-who I am staying with, says it is because his body isn't healthy right now so the blood isn't producing like it should) It took the 3rd nurse before they got one in...why three because after each 2nd try by the first two nurses they disappeared and another one came! Maybe it's 2 strikes and you're out! ;-)

Thank you everyone for praying...I feel those prayers all the time. It's probably because of those I have been able to eat some of the foods included that I normally wouldn't ;-)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Saga Continued

Part 2
I am having Vicki write this part because she remembers much of it as it has to do with after the surgery. I did find it interesting that the morning of the surgery after some preliminary things that had to be done I walked myself down to the surgery room with a nurse present who came to get me. I think she was one of the nurses 'presiding' over the surgery. The anesthesia is started via an IV drip so once I was asleep they could start the rest. I was told they not only anesthetized my whole body but also the organs so nothing was 'moving' (well except my heart and lungs of course) during the surgery time. The surgery took 3 hours but the whole time in the surgery room was 5 with one hour before getting me to go 'under' and one hour after the surgery waiting for me to come out of the anesthesia.

(Vicki here) A nurse came up and turned down Ken's bed letting me know that Ken was on his way up. Mrs. Zemke(the missionary wife where I am staying this week) had taken the time to be with me all through the surgery time until she had to get on to another appointment. I really appreciated that and enjoyed getting to know her even better through those 3 hours. I was able to meet Ken at the elevators and squeeze his hand and he told me he loved me right away. Then I waited outside the room while they got him all taken care of and hooked to monitors etc. For the first 24 hours they had a heart and oxygen monitor on him; oxygen mask for about 6 hours; and until yesterday he had two 'friends' he took every where (poles with bags and IV's on them). He went in and out for most of the rest of the day. Beings just that night (I am sure it was the Lord's provision) he had no room mate, the hospital staff brought in a gurny table and put it mat and a futon on it so I could sleep there that night. Ken was running a pretty good fever so they were in and out most of the night to check on him. Late in the day before he went to sleep, the surgeon, Dr. Kato, came in and told us that everything had gone well. He showed me the broken up stones that had been 'captured' during the surgery. I was surprised they were granola looking shapes and sort of reddish brown. He assured us that all of the stones had been caught so he wouldn't have to pass any. What a blessing that is.

Ken's anesthiologist, Nao Nishino, stopped in for the first time that night for just a bit to encourage Ken and get to know us a little bit. She speaks good English and seemed eager to make friends with us although she said, please don't make it a big deal in front of others. She is a really sweet young lady (age 27).

They do things carefully here in Japan and we appreciate the great care and help we are getting.
We look forward to keeping you posted as to the many opportunities God is giving to praise His name and share small amounts of God's love. Thank you for praying for us.

Anesthesiologist, Nao Nishino (nah-oh knee-she-know)
{seems open to the Gospel}

My surgeons and doctors, main surgeon next to me, Dr. Kato

Part 3
I finally got to use the gown that Vicki made for me!! After the surgery when, well you don't want to know how much I wasn't wearing-- they really didn't want to put the regular hospital pajama set back on me for fear that it was too close to the body in size with all the extra tubes I had connected to me including a draining tube out the back where the laparoscopy was done. So we told them that Vicki had made me a large full size gown that might make it easier all the way around. They were duly impressed when they saw it and immediately agreed it was just the thing! So for the next 48 hours that was what I was in. The interesting thing was that every time a new nurse came in or doctor, they would comment-- So, your wife made your gown,!! May I look at it? (a nurse not the doctor) So the news, obviously was being passed around.

I have been running a fever that doesn't seem to want to stay down. Beings this is the 3rd day of that they decided to do some more looking as to what might be causing it. Not sure of the answer yet but they do know that the gallstones I have might be starting to cause problems but there isn't any infection in the gall bladder itself or damage yet. So they are going to take blood tests tomorrow to see if they can determine the cause. Maybe then I can get a real good night's sleep when the fever stays down.

I continue to enjoy handing out a 'daily' verse card to each person (doctor, nurse, helper, guest) that comes in. Many of the nurses tuck them into the back of their name badge to look at throughout the day. My anesthesiologist has visited me twice and been open to spiritual things as well as other subjects. We are praying she will come back again after work some evening for some more visiting. Pray for Nao Nishino (naw-oh knee-she-know). She is our daughter's age! She thinks it's great that she could be our daughter.

Vicki continues to make 20-30 min trips back and forth to the hospital every day as well as seeking some advice and help on two problems that continue to plague her. I would appreciate your prayers for her as well in trying to hold up for my sake as well as healing, emotional strength through the ups and downs and all that goes on. Our appreciation to our fellow missionaries for putting her up through this period is beyond words!

Thank you each one for your prayers and support through this time. They are greatly felt,

From the bedside of Ken Mansell

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Hospital Day in Japan

The hospitalization saga has begun! We though you might like a small window view of 'life' in the hospital before surgery and then after.
In case you get queasy while reading details...we won't go into deep details but just enough to make it interesting...does that sound like a plan?

They asked us to arrive before noon on Thursday so we managed that by 30 minutes! We were greeted at the check-in window and you could tell that the girl working there was probably thinking pretty fast, hoping that we COULD speak Japanese. Being reassured she started working out the details which was very simple and then called one of the volunteer workers to take us to Ken's room. He was an older gentleman and was easy to talk to and even joked a bit (unusual for many Japanese), used "Please" and then quickly told us he didn't speak English.
Much of that first day has disappeared into our memory but here are a couple fun points: one look by the head of the nurses station and she says, Boy you are tall...(turns to another lady) and says, We better find the one longer bed we have. It was longer by about 6-8 inches and still barely let me lay straight out and if I stretched I did touch the bottom rail.
We offered the fact that we did have a home made gown in case the hospital wear was too small but it ended up it just fit me although they were concerned that it was uncomfortable. Vicki helped me set up 'housekeeping' storage of my things (a unit on the wall by his bed)--see picture enclosed--
then I took the bottled sports drink and a name card to each of the other two men in the 4 men room to introduce myself. A couple different times I was able to mention "the one true living God' in conversation although not alot was said to or by these men that day. I had prepared verse cards to take with me as well as tracts so shared a verse card with these men and a portion of what I had learned from my devotions that day in a simple form that included the 'God of heaven and earth'.

Vicki took her leave by 4 because it is about a 30 min. drive to the Zemke's house if there is no major traffic or light changes. And because they were all attending (Sorry Ken!) the city firework display that evening. Might include a finale video clip of that..majorly nice!--side note, firework displays in Japan have a running monologue of titles added to 'sections' of fireworks with titles and what businesses contributed towards that section of fireworks.

Vicki intended to go straight from Zemke's home to Teshio today because she had to return for a practice with her taishogoto group due to a concert on Saturday. In the afternoon though after she left, the surgeon showed up and desired to talk to both of us. Beings she wasn't returning last night he asked that she be available to hear his explanation today before she returned to Teshio. Vicki arrived by 8 and we met with the doctor at 8:30.
Dr. Kato is the main surgeon and the urologist that I saw in the first examinations here at this hospital will assist. Dr. Kato had a white board and a board for showing x-rays so he went over the 3 procedures again and why the 3rd choice was chosen--laporoscopy instead of ultrasound crushing of the stones, etc. We had heard all this before but he wanted to make sure we understood. Then he also used pictures to show where he hoped to go into Ken's back (after general anesthesia for him and a 'local' to the organ area). He said the main concern is that the long thin needle inserted first to find the stone is long enough for a larger frame body. During this explanation we also found out that the 2nd stone (other kidney) is up in a high area that is close to the lung and the liver so they are concerned that it might be in a place it really isn't accessible at this time because of the danger of puncturing either the lung or the liver. So he wants to wait on that one completely for awhile to see if the pain warrants further investigation.

I was able to tell the doctor that I am sure he will do fine and I have great trust and would be asking the creator God to guide his hand and this actions to do the right things. He thanked us for that. Another item that was new to us is that there is a possibility that the long needle would go into the wrong place and introduce blood into the kidney so that the stone cannot be seen. Then the surgery has to be postponed a bit until they can get the blood taken care of. A blood transfusion is also prepared in case of this. So appreciate the prayers you can also send up on the doctor's behalf that all would go well. The surgery will probably take between 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours. I will walk myself to the surgery room! Then they start the IV anesthesia.
Today the anesthesiologist and an assistant both visited me. The assistant asked various questions that would help them understand what to do for anesthesia and how much etc. It included if there were any family or relatives that had ever died while under anesthesia.

My head nurse for today was Mrs. Korobe and she is 7 months pregnant with their first child, a girl. She mentioned that her husband was already worried about it being a girl because this world is such an unsafe place and has strange people in it. I was able to share the verse from Romans again about not being conformed to this world and that Christ could renew a person so they wouldn't want to be involved with the world. I also had a chance to reminisce with her about the wonders of creation by God in a new baby with full fingernails, a complete body and the wonder of a birth. She was the one that walked me down to the x-ray room so I had some time with her both going and coming back.

I was taken to the x-ray room but it was a special was called TV x-ray!! Can you guess why? It did a double job--I had an IV put into me with a special medication (I hadn't been able to eat anything after 9 the night before and nothing to drink after 6 the next morning) that helped the kidneys be 'seen'. As this medication flowed through me, they would watch a monitor up high like a TV and as the images went through if the doctor wanted a specific x-ray, then he would 'take' it as he saw it. I was put on a very high table with the IV in my arm. Every 10 minutes a new area was looked at. The x-ray nurse was also married and I got to tell her about being married for 35 years. She made a comment on how long that was and were we still 'lovey lovey'?? I replied yes, we were and the main reason was because we knew Jesus Christ as our Savior and we had J-O-Y! We put Jesus First, Others Second and You (ourselves last). She found that very interesting.

I had blood drawn twice today as well as the TV x-ray and another ultrasound...I have had more of them than most pregnant ladies do in 9 months! They did this today mainly to help them pinpoint where they would be inserting the needle. After they have inserted that and found it is the right path (if it isn't, they take the needle out and try again) then they enlarge the path and put in the tube to insert the instrument.

Two other men (anesthesiologist and paramedic) in training have asked to take part in at least the beginning part of the surgery where the tube is put into my throat for anesthesia because they will be using that technique in their job eventually. Needless to say I said it was OK.

Another interesting part to my day was the trip to the surgery room!! Unusual you say...hmm I think so too but it was because they were all worried that I wouldn't fit on the table or that there would be enough room to really navigate around. So we did a test run so to speak! They tested my laying down, the different angles and where exactly my feet and hands would go. So all is set!! Another interesting note is that the original doctor at the same hospital as Dr. Satoko who has helped us get started in all this, called today to make sure I was being taken care of alright and that everything was on schedule as planned! Sometimes it 'pays' to be a 'gaijin'!! (foreigner)! For example, they have even gone to the extra effort of writing pages of notes about the surgery (we had to sign them that it had all been explained to us) and other papers brought to us have had special notes hand written in simpler Japanese so we could read them. With over 5000 Chinese characters alone used in the Japanese language it takes a high school diploma to be able to read a newspaper!! Can you imagine trying to read these papers??? It also included pages of what is going to happen over the next 3 days; when I'll be able to eat and when it will change to just IV's; the schedule for Monday, etc. So they have been so helpful and are bending over backwards to make sure I am in the know! Surgery room note: there are 11 surgeries and for the most part they are always full!!

Fun stuff:
my main meal today; rice, fish, miso soup*fermented soy bean soup with white mushroom*; cauliflower, sesame seed, & bacon salad; pickled cucumbers; They also bring the meal to you but you take it back to a rack in the hall; lady then brings hot water or hot tea afterward;

I sign up for the shower room or bath room (two different rooms) on a white board; and when you go in, you turn a card so it says whether you are a man or woman in the room;
wash hands all the time and use antibacterial lotion
they take down detailed records each day on a laptop that comes with them to the room of what you ate, restroom visits, blood pressure, temp, etc.; I am also required to write all this down on a sheet of paper.
They wake you up at 6 a.m. & lights out at 9 p.m.
I have a TV and small frig by my bed but you always watch the TV by ear phone and both of those have to be 'paid' for with a pre-paid card you slip into a slot.

Well that takes you through the beginning of my saga! Keep coming back for the continued story!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blue Lights in Japan


Railway companies in Japan are installing blue lighting, because it is playing a role in preventing suicides and street crimes.

In January, 2008, persons jumped in front of a train from a deserted end of the station platform on two consecutive days.

“We urgently introduced blue lights to deter suicides,” a company employee in charge of train safety operations said. “Since introducing the blue lighting, no one made a suicide attempt at the station.”

Japan Railways also set up blue lights at 38 crossings along lines. Since the installation, no suicide attempts involving cars ramming into trains at crossings have occurred at the blue light sites.

As well as preventing suicides, blue lighting has other purposes, too:

The Nara prefectural police set up blue street lights throughout the prefecture in 2005, and found the number of crimes decreased by about 9 percent in blue-illuminated neighborhoods. Many other areas nationwide have followed suit.

152 blue lights were introduced by an Expressway Co. along a stretch of road, renowned for accidents.

“The illumination was introduced as part of our efforts to encourage people to drive safely by instinctively and emotionally appealing to them to calm down,” said a spokesman for the Expressway Co.

According to an expressway operator, after they installed blue-colored lighting near trash cans, the volume of domestic garbage brought in by visitors decreased by more than 20 percent.

“There are a numerous pieces of data that indicate blue has a calming effect upon people, but it is a little risky to believe that the color of lighting can prevent anything,” Professor Tsuneo Suzuki, of Keio University said. “However, it's an unusual color for lighting, so people may just feel like not committing their crimes under such unusual illumination.”

Source: Yomiuri News, 2008-12-11.

Rather than blue lights, we pray that people would know that true peace and quietness comes though the great Light that the Bible talks about! Christ only can truly keep people from committing sins!

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

(Matthew 4:16).

People need to see the great Light...his name is Jesus!

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

(John 8:12).

Does Jesus, the true Light envelop every nook and corner of your life?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Family Fun and New Grandchild

Michael and Stacy
Richard and Angela

Siblings Three!

Appel Grandkids-Jacob, Alyssia

Our five grandchildren in May

matching outfits by Grandma!

With Richard's three
Abigail, Emma, Makayla

Jacob & Alyssia Appel

The Beach Couple

Newest addition--Jason Kenneth Appel

8 lb 9 oz; 21 1/2 inches

No, I'm not proud!!

His Big sister who adores him!

His Big Brother who always wants to reassure Jason

that everything is alright!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

April/May Short update & New Grandchild

Somehow it seems hard to keep up with emails and blogs when on the road so we apologize for our delay in getting an update here on the blog. What a blessing it was to report to our Minnesota churches as well as one across the border in Wisconsin. We finished the reporting time of this year's trip the end of April. Each of the churches we were in were an encouragement to us and there were special blessings along the way as well. We thank each one for the opportunity to share our continued burden for the souls of Teshio and the area as well as continued desire to see young people trained for future work on the field.

We want to begin with a prayer request for one of our believers who you have heard about for many years, Mrs. Sonoda. We just found out that her father-in-law passed away a week ago. He was 91, unsaved, and that means both her in-laws are now in eternit without Christ. Pray that we will be able to reach her husband before he joins enters eternity as his parents did. Mrs. Sonoda's mother is saved but her father is not. Both are in poor health. Also pray for Mrs. Sonoda. Beings she is the wife of the first born, she has the main responsibility for entertaining and taking care of other members of the family who will be coming to their house every 7 days for 7 weeks to hold traditional Buddhist rights. Since the father-in-law died on Monday that means these will be held on Sundays. This will keep Mrs. Sonoda away from services until late July. We will work out another day to have worship times with her once Vicki returns. Please pray for spiritual and emotional protection and that she would not have to take part in any type of service that would compromise her testimony for Christ during this time of extra cultural, family, and spiritual opposition.

Facing death in the country of Japan includes many rituals, superstitions, time factors, and almost unbreakable cultural rules. One of our English class adults who has also been in the weekly Bible study had two relatives pass away while we were in the States. We were not even sure how soon she would be able to come back to the class or if she would. One of her parents was a Buddhist priest, another of another faith. She still listens but says she cannot change her religion because of that. She returned to the English class and Bible study this Monday (June 1st) and Ken was able to talk to her of the truth of God's Word for about 15 minutes. This included two verses that are on the Bible Scripture passage calendars that we hand out to our contacts and English class adults. Pray for Mrs. Ishikawa that her heart would soften and be open to the Gospel as well as her husband, who she says has 'no religion'. Being a Japanese and following 'cultural' practices in Japan IS a religion although they do not realize it many many times.

Contact has been made with 1 of the other three ladies who attend services with any regularity. That so far has only been by phone. We have not heard from the other two yet. We pray they will come back and that satanic forces against them would be defeated.

We had the privilege of meeting with Jonathan and Heather Marks who will soon be moving to Ohio to be with their home church in preparation for coming to Hokkaido to train with us!! We had met them a couple years ago. They now feel that God has continued to lead them this way and are desirous of getting ready to begin the internship program. To do this preparation they are moving from North Carolina where they are have been living back to Ohio. They will spend about a year with their home church getting some good advice, training, and various preparations made. They would like to make a short preview trip next spring and then start raising support for at least a two year commitment to the training. We would love to have them on the field NOW but know we must wait on God's timing. If at possible we would like to see that happen within two years! Please pray for Jonathan and their two children (the 2nd to be born later this summer) and the grace of God to be upon their lives in a very special way. Also for their move: safety, packing, etc. and the safe arrival of their 2nd child.

Two other young men are preparing to come to Hokkaido and we know they would also appreciate your prayer support. Mr. Matthew Johnson is currently on deputation but Satan has continued to try and defeat him through various car difficulties (including being rear-ended totalling his present vehicle) and other challenges. Pray for him to be able to get on the road and that churches would open up to him. Mr. Tim Turner has just one semester of Bible College left and some bills to finish getting paid but also wants to come back as the Lord allows. Both of them have been with us in Teshio and helped in the work in some form or another. Thank you for upholding these young men in your prayers! How we need these young lives to be able to reach more of those continuing to head to hell in the country of Japan!

Ken has adjusted fairly well to being back in Japan and is holding the fort. Vicki will arrive again on June 18th. They will both be glad to be back together working for you and for the Lord! We are so thankful though for the timing that has allowed Vicki to help Alicia and family. We were beginning to wonder if most of the helping was going to be before Jason Kenneth joined their family but we are sure due to answered prayer he arrived on May 30th (12:38 a.m.). He is 21 1/2 inches long and weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz.! Although they had to help the contractions really get going with medication after her water broke the final delivery was much shorter than the rest. Stil recuperation time is needed and Vicki is sure to be busy for the full two and half weeks she has left with them. It is always hard to be apart from each other but the blessings of this opportunity make it easier.

We will include a few pictures in a separate post and include little Jason as well as a few shots from our family week vacation in S. C. which was such a blessing as we all met together for the first time in two years. Thank you for upholding us in prayer and we continue to covet that support from each one.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dear Praying Friends, Feb/March 2009

Greetings from the north land of Wisconsin. We have been on the road since the beginning of March for our annual short reporting furlough, this year to Minnesota, but also included a church in Iowa and southern Wisconsin. This week we have been able to participate in a college mission’s conference. We appreciate the hospitality of so many as we traveled to the various churches.
We look forward to our time with our churches each year (as the Lord allows) and this time has been no different. It was enhanced though by the opportunity to be in a round robin’s conference in southwestern Minnesota. It allowed the opportunity to present the work of Teshio, Japan to a couple new churches and catch a couple others up on God’s work in Teshio as they had been praying for us for many years. We appreciate each and every opportunity and we thank each one for allowing us to share the work of our hearts with their people.
Praise God for safety in travels thus far and we trust that will continue as we now head to the east coast with an overnight stop in Michigan, Ohio, & North Carolina before being with our children and grandchildren in one week slots the end of April and first part of May, in North Carolina, South Carolina, & Georgia—Michael and Stacy are joining us all for a week in South Carolina.
Although several of the ladies in Teshio have not showed up on Sunday a.m., Mrs. Sonoda has been faithfully holding the fort by being at the church mission building every Sunday—heating a room, downloading a Japanese sermon by a fellow missionary, and listening to it herself. Please pray that others will also be faithful and for God’s continued protection of our believers as well as for the lost that we still desire to see come to Christ.
We also were excited to have a young couple contact us about the possibility of coming to Japan under the internship program to train to be in Japan!! We first met this couple a few years ago about their desire to go to Japan. We then lost contact but kept on praying!! Brother Marks admitted they got side tracked for a time but want to really be serious about the direction that God STILL wants them to go so Ken has been on the phone with him almost every other day at least. There are two other single young men (yes, they need wives too!) wanting to come back to Hokkaido to train—one still finishing up schooling and the other trying to get on deputation. All of these need your prayers as well and we thank you for them.
One of the wonderful benefits of our reporting trips is that we head back to Japan with a renewed vision of why we are there, who we are trying to reach, our inabilities EXCEPT through Christ, and a more fervent desire to see the folk we are daily and weekly involved with come to know Christ as their Savior. Although the task STILL (after almost 26 years) seems impossible at times, we just keep praying our faith will be as the faith of the four men that took the man sick of the palsy to Christ: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5) Those men’s faith was one of the reasons Jesus chose to save and heal that man. May our strength (and yours too!) be full enough to see the souls around you when in need and that Christ CAN and will save them!
Thank you for being a part of our lives in so many ways! May God bless you today!

Serving Christ Together,
Ken & Vicki Mansell Just A Prayer At Night!

Prayer & Praise
1.Safety and encouragement to and for us
2.Mrs. Sonoda’s faithfulness
3.Matthew Johnson, Tim Turner, Jonathan and Heather Marks, heading to the field for training
4.Faithfulness, growth & baptism of Teshio believers
5.Open doors of witnessing opportunities as a result of the economic status in the world today
6.Salvation of our believers’ families
7.For the starting of Bible study opportunities with Mr. & Mrs. Honda and others
8.For Mr. Yoshii and Mr. Kishida who made professions of salvation while in Teshio to keep following Christ even though circumstances rose up to take away their joy. That where ever they are now (their jobs transferred them away from Teshio) there will be strong biblical Christians or even a Baptist church to help them along their way.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dedication to Fathers Committed to God ...

...not only for themselves but for their children!
In memory of my father and father-in-love
and in honor of my husband

I am not sure why this year I am a little more emotional about birthdays than normal but it seems there have been a couple memories that have come to mind. Whose birthdays? Since we came to Japan and the other side of the international date line, while my father was alive we had the fun experience of having two birthdays on the same day--my dad's is today (18th) and my husband's is tomorrow (19th). Both of our fathers now are home in Glory, praise God, and that would also make me a little more conscious of special memories.
A recent letter from our home church pastor set me to thinking about my father and a special letter and memory came to mind. It was waiting for us here in Japan when we arrived on October 7th, 1983. With your indulgence I would like to share a greater portion of it because I have carried it around in my Bible ever since that day. When I have been discouraged through the early years of learning the language and the culture and later when the day is challenging or the work never seems to change with great advances, I again bring out this precious gift of wisdom from a father who gave his children to the Lord and to His calling, no matter where it would take them.

"Welcome to Wakkanai City, Northern Hokkaido, Japan! YOU MADE IT!! Praise the Lord. I wish I was there with you. What a thrill it must be to have the prospect of taking the blessed gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who have never heard. God bless you.
..."I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some." (Read all of I Cor. 9:19-27.) You have set your hearts to serve the Lord in Japan. Going across the ocean never made anyone a missionary but seeing the needs of people has made many into missionaries. Let your hearts and souls see the lost condition and sense the total lack of any gospel message (in contrast to the daily opportunities for the lost here in the USA.) Then let God make you to be like the Apostle Paul in this passage. If the Japanese in Northern Hokkaido are 'neat as a pin", begin immediately to build your habits and the children's habits to be that so that your home will always be a testimony to them. Where they have a cultureal grace and graciousness, let God build you to have more for the gospel's sake. "God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that ye always having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work." (2 Cor. 9:8) Live daily in the strength of this promise. Set daily goals for progress in each area where your lives must be molded to fit the culture there. Daily tell the Lord, "Thou are the potter, I am the clay."
On the other hand, remember, you can only give the Lord what you are now. No doubt you will have moments when you will think that you just don't have enough to give. I feel the same way here. (He was a Baptist pastor for 40 years) The only way that I keep going is by remembering that I can only give what I am and have; the rest is not my responsiblity but His--the Great God and Savior, the Almight One. He can and will use you if you will truly, fully give yourself to Him daily, unreservedly,to let Him make you what He wants you to be. This is why daily time alone with Him is so vital to survival. The devil will TAKE his time with you; be sure you give your Lord the time He needs to pour His strength and blessing into your lives...
If this sounds too much like I am preaching...let me assure you that is not my intention. A new chapter, indeed a whole new division, in the book of your lives is just starting. This is a great time to start many new things (not so many that you can't really make them fruitful) that will make you better, more efficient, more effective, servants for the Lord. When you came to Prior Lake (PL, Minnesota where he was pastoring at that time) from Portland you proved that you could make adjustments as needed and now they are needed in a greater way than they were then. And you have a God who can and will make them as you need them.
This is a new chapter in our lives as well. We have always prayed for you but never as we are now. And we know that we must pray as never before! We must hold the ropes as you climb the steeps. And by God's grace we will. We love Him and we love you and love finds a way. Praise God we can pray without ceasing....
God bless you all. How thankful we are that you are His, doing His will, in the center of His care, and qualified for His blessing.
Lovingly yours, Dad Coats

Both of our parents supported us in our decisions to follow the Lord's leading to Japan; encouraged us along the way, and supported us in diligent prayer. What a blessing to have fathers who gave not only themselves but also their children to God. And praise God for my husband who also by my side, has given our children to God and only asked that they would be used by God; kept by God and always in the center of His will! This has been no easier because we are on a foreign field--in actuality it has been harder at times because we knew God might not call them back to work here in Japan. And He didn't. So we labor on, with thankfulness that as we work here, our children also work in the States and may we always be faithful to pray much and diligently as the parents who so willingly gave us!

A song that we are preparing for our next reporting trip to the States tells of parents giving their children to the fields of need--are you holding your children back? Are you encouraging them to be ALL that God might want them to be? God bless you if you are and God help you if you aren't!

in much thankfulness,