The Vanning Family Update
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I can't explain how much of a blessing it has been to have the opportunity to preach God's Word on a regular basis at Oyumino, Alive International worship services. Lately, we've had to spread out the seats and limit the number of attendees but worshipping our Lord together has been a joy. 

July 2020 Update

Sirens, Supercars, and Scooters


Recently all government emergency regulations here in Japan have been lifted. The daily life of people in our area is gradually moving back to normal. The normal sounds from my desk in our small apartment are once again able to be heard. Our balcony overlooks one of the big elevated highways in and out of Tokyo. I just now heard a siren from an ambulance speeding past on the highway. Once in awhile we'll hear and see a Lamborghini cruising past. And the sounds of teen gangs on motor scooters (with obnoxiously loud exhaust pipes) are once again a part of our evenings. There's a sense of nostalgia that bubbles up if one stops to listen. This morning was one of those mornings for me. 

Although daily life is gradually looking more like normal, most people still wear masks when out and about and most stores require masks in order to be served at the register. Normally around this time, the only people wearing masks would be those with seasonal allergies. Although it's often a chore, we are happy to wear masks if it shows our neighbors that we care. We're here to make the name of our Lord more famous, not to fight for our rights. So, for now, we'll keep a stash of masks in the car and pray for more chances to be a Gospel light to our neighbors. 

Our oldest three children have been back in school for a month now. They're back to their regularly scheduled school days and after-school lessons. Because of the long quarantine time, they've lost their normal summer vacation; it's been reduced to two weeks off now. 

Our oldest, Taishi, is the socialite. He loves to run off after school and play with his friends. Recently we decided to invite Taishi and his buddies to play at our place on rainy days. We enjoy having the boys play games and eat snacks. It's also a good opportunity for me to practice my Japanese. Please pray God allows us to reach these boys' parents with the Gospel. 

Also, please continue to pray for us as we reach out to our neighbors. As we slowly get back to a new normal, we are planning to have regular BBQs in our building's courtyard. Pray God gives us the wisdom to use the opportunity to connect with our neighbors and build relationships as we share the hope that is in us with them. Hopefully, this will lead to a house church here. 

We began local gatherings in Oyumino (with the church I've been working at) in June. However, we have limited the number of people allowed in the building because of concerns about spreading COVID-19. In order to do this, we've been asking members to choose to come every-other-week and to stream on Zoom for the weeks they do not attend. It's an odd time of transition, but we have been so blessed in worshipping our Lord with our brothers and sisters together in person. 

I am still in the preaching rotation at the church but haven't been preaching in Japanese as much lately. Most of my preaching has been with a translator. But, even so, I've been learning how to better preaching with a translator. That's something that will be important as we hope to plant an international church in our area. The church has a significant amount of Japanese preachers, but I'm the only ordained native English speaker in the regular rotation at this point.

Pray as we continue the 4 small groups Nozomi and I take part in during the week. We want to be a blessing even as we are being blessed through these meetings on Zoom.

I am still having my Japanese lessons on Zoom for now. Please continue to pray for wisdom to know when I should start commuting to school once again. 

Keep praying for our kids. Pray Nozomi and I can graciously and consistently use opportunities to be instruments in the hands of our Redeemer to our children. God has graciously placed them in a household of faith. May He bless them with spiritual life through faith in the Gospel. 

Keep praying for Kensei's eyes. Nothing new to report this month. Thank you for your prayers. 

Continue to pray for church-planting partners as well. Our church-planting intensive training in downtown Tokyo has been rescheduled for October (more details in a later update). We lost a lot of money with some non-refundable hotel cancelations from the last intensive. Please pray all will go smoothly this time. We look forward to the opportunity to expand our network and meet potential church-planting partners. I have already begun meeting with a church-planting mentor. 

God is answering your prayers for Gospel-centered Christian friends and fellowship. He has been slowly providing these friends, though they all might be multi-denominational. In a country where only 0.3% of the population are professing evangelical Christians, it seems inevitable that some of our Christian friends are from other denominations. It glorifies God as we all work together for the glory of our King here in Japan.

Please keep in touch! You and your love and care for us are a great blessing to us. We are so honored to be working together with you to take the Gospel to the millions of lost in Japan. If you have any questions about what we are doing in Japan, or about partnering with us financially please do not hesitate to email me by replying to this email. I look forward to communicating with you.

This little guy turns 1 on Friday. He's been a joyful blessing to our family. We had a little scare this past Sunday as we introduced him to something with a little bit of peanut butter in it. We ended up having to take him to the emergency room as a result of the hives all over his body. He's back to himself today.
Chiba City's flower, the Oga Lotus, was bloomed from an ancient 2000-year-old lotus seed that was excavated in Chiba City. It is known as the world's oldest flower. They only bloom in June, so we took a family outing to see them blooming at Chiba Park. They easily display the glory of their Creator. Also, our children are growing up so quickly.
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