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.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


We know God has wonderful things ahead in the New Year! May there be Blessings for each of you as well! And maybe this is the year the Lord will come again!

The New Year is the greatest festival in Japan. People of all classes and occupations in the entire country celebrate it, but it is an intensely personal family affair. Members share the many firsts of the New Year like the first sunrise; the first shrine visit and the first food.

No cooking is done for three days with the exception of the hearty New Years soup. Fish, black beans, rolled omelet and vegetables are prepared in advance and served from beautifully decorated multi-tiered trays. The dishes served to celebrate the New Year have special meanings, and with some variations, are enjoyed in every home in the nation. The o-sechi foods of the New Year exemplify traditional Japanese cuisine, utilizing the fruits of the mountains and the bounty of the ocean to celebrate all of the gifts that nature provides.

Datemaki, sweet rolled omelet, symbolizes many auspicious days ahead.

Kazunoku, herring roe eggs, symbolizes fertility and are eaten to fulfill the desire for many children in the family.

Kuromame, black soybeans, typifies good health, longevity and the ability to work willingly and skillfully.

Tazukuri are small dried sardines cooked in soy sauce. The fish were used historically to fertilize rice paddies, and eating it symbolizes a prayer for an abundant harvest.

Renkon is lotus root and with its many holes it depicts the idea of ease in seeing through things and perceiving a bright future ahead.

To let the overworked stomach rest, nanakusa-gayu, a seven-herb rice soup, is prepared on the 7th and 15th day of January!

After three days of families doing everything together, slowly over the next two weeks, work and studies are commenced with new promises, intentions and ideals for the year ahead.

For centuries, once a year the Japanese have their New Year feast, but very few know of the greatest imminent festival of all times that will be far beyond even their wildest imaginations.

It will be the day of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb of God!

"...Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. .."
(Revelation 19: 9).

Do you have a seat reserved for this banquet of all banquets? To be invited, you need to know Christ your Savior and Lord!

December Praise and Prayer

Motomi in her Bible study time

Motomi requested a Japanese meal...she had never
eaten one made by a foreigner...oh the result?? She said is was very good!

Mrs. Sonoda (rt) talking to Mrs. Yajima

lt-Mrs. Tokumaru's youngest daughter, Haruka
and her two friends

Ken talking to ex-mayor Honda and his wife

Ryo, the young man that grew up in our English classes and now visits
when he comes back to Teshio on school vacation. Ken & Brother Randy
both got to witness to him quite a bit.

lt to rt- Miss Tsuzuki, HS nurse who comes on Sunday evening
Miss Ichikawa, HS English teacher that Ken works with
HS principal who has attended 3 yrs in row

first time we have been able to sing a quartet in Japan

Rachel narrating the puppet play

another of the music numbers with Smith girls, (lt to rt), Katie, Ann, Emilie
" In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." I John 4:9

Yes, God the Father sent His Son to give us Christmas. Yes, God the Father sent His Son to show us the power of God through miracles. Yes, God the Father sent His Son to be our Saviour. However, the emphasis in this verse is the living testimony we who are saved ought to be in daily life. We are to live the love of God in Christ's strength every day of the year. Let us determine to let Jesus live His life through us in 2010. Pray for us to be willing to do that here in Japan on a daily basis. That is the way that these dear Japanese people will see the love of God and be saved.

In December our concentration is on the Evangelistic Christmas program which we held on December 23rd, a government holiday here. Our program is attended by those that choose not to accept our invitations to other regular services so we go the extra mile for this opportunity. Missionary Randy Smith and family provided several musical specials and an evangelistic puppet play. The main theme for the whole program was the reason for Christmas. Christ was born to be the Saviour of all people. Ken's sermon after it tied it all together with the reason for Christmas: the Cross!

God provided Japanese to attend the Christmas program this year, from children to adults. When you include the nine of us foreigners, our small meeting room was full! Three former English students returned to Teshio just in time to attend the service. Beings the Smith family was here, it was such a blessing to have the extra 'bodies' to talk to the various ones during the tea time afterwards. The current high school principal returned for the 3rd time. Two teachers from the high school came as well. One was a young lady who has been attending the Sunday evening English service. Although the present mayor and deputy mayor were not able to attend this year, the former mayor and his wife who have attended several years in a row came again. Mr. Honda commented on the sense of peace he experiences each year when he attends the program. This year he added that he felt like a Christian for one day a year!! Pray with us that he will take that a step further and CONTINUE to hear the gospel all year long. Please pray they would agree to start a specific study on a regular basis. Another lady who we have mentioned, Mrs. Mirei Fukuda who has been coming to the Sunday morning service also was able to attend. We praise God for the opportunity to get the Gospel to these people again.

Our opportunities did not stop there. On Christmas day evening, Dr. Nao Nishino was again able to spend the night with us before starting her weekend shift in nearby Enbetsu hospital. We had three study times with her throughout the weekend. After the last time together on Sunday evening she told us she knows that it would be good to 'receive the message we give' but it will affect her whole life so she needs time to consider it carefully'!! Her schedule will have her back in this area mid-January. We know your prayers are working in these various ones lives...please keep them up! That same Sunday we had both Motomi (the dentist young lady) and Mrs. Fukuda in the a.m. services. Motomi was able to stay for lunch and part of the afternoon. We had an afternoon Bible study time with her. She continues to ask questions and is a very bright young lady. Pray that the light of the Gospel will shine clear in this young lady's heart even though she very distinctly told us when we first started up with her that she didn’t believe there was a God. She will be leaving to work in Vietnam in two weeks but we have a Christian contact for her there as well! We are praying she will be able to continue studying the Bible there! God knows!! Praise Him!

We know not what 2010 holds but we know Who holds our hand! God bless you for being a continuing part of our lives!

Prayer Requests:

1. our believers to be strong and protected during the idolatrous new year's family celebrations

2. for those that we are working with to 'see' some of the futility of their 'customary beliefs' at this time of year.

3. for winter road safety

4. a missionary's son, high school graduate, from Yokohama area is coming to work with us for the month of January arriving the 5th. We want to be a blessing to him and we know his visit will open some special doors.

5. for spring plans for this year's reporting to fall into place

6. all of our children are still facing challenges in different areas of their lives. We appreciate your prayers for them as well.

Serving Christ Together,

Ken and Vicki Mansell