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eNews – May 2017 – The world can be a scary place!

From John’s Desk – The world can be a scary place!

North Korea“Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”              Hab. 1:5

When I consider this passage, I think about it two different ways.

On one hand, I consider the Bible and how it prophesies of the coming end of this age. Often when I am sharing the Gospel, people will say to me that every generation has wars and world issues that seem to suggest that “this may be the end of the world”. Reactions to the political situations in the US and the saber rattling of North Korea expressed here in Japan are mixed. Certainly it is cause for pause no matter where you live.

On the other hand, without diminishing the fact that I do believe we are in the “End Times” the Bible talks about, I think there is something we should consider about mankind that I often hear while sharing the Gospel. Yes, mankind has, throughout history, always been plagued by sin. We have always done terrible things to each other, and that should give us pause.

The Truth that matters, though, is that none of these events, or our human condition, catches God by surprise. From before the foundation of the world He has had a plan. We need to keep looking to God for the Hope we have; that He is doing a redemptive work that is beyond the belief of the man who does not know the Grace of God.

The short version:

  • Gallery: They say a picture is worth a thousand words and many have written us saying they love the photos we share.  There are many photos throughout this newsletter.  Take a look and see what life and ministry are like in Japan. (This month’s gallery is at the bottom of this post)
  • Ministry at home: This year started off with many family ministry needs with the passing away of John’s stepfather and then his mother.
  • Ministry in Japan continues: Serving in Japan 12 years now! Belinda continues to minister at the GCIS school.  John continues with things Web, IT and the Worship ministry.  VBS and recording is coming soon.
  • Mother’s Day: We “adopt two wonderful mom’s for brunch.
  • Ministry inside the church: Worship ministry is more than Sunday mornings.  It’s discipleship throughout the week.
  • Ministry outside the church: English teaching is tent making. Japanese culture and the invitation process.
  • Here comes summer!: VBS reaches more than children. It reaches whole families.
  • You can be involved too:  There are many ministry opportunities here both short and longer term.
  • Prayers: List of things you can pray for concerning the ministry here.
  • How to support: Some slight changes in how to support us and the ministry here.

John – Ministry at home:

One of the really huge challenges for us is that we still have family in California.  After serving here in Japan almost 12 years this summer, our family has truly been great with their acceptance and support of our call to the mission field.  That being said, they still look to us for support and understanding for them as well.

Mama and FrankSince the beginning of this year, our focus has had to not only be on the work that God has us doing in lives here in Japan, but also on those at home.  Both my mom and her husband, Frank, were hospitalized last December, and were then admitted to an extended care facility. This was the beginning of a series of events that required our attention and also brought many ministry opportunities at home.

In February, Frank passed away.  Last month, my mom, 92, passed away.  I knew this was coming, as her health had been declining over the months. My mom and I were very – very close. I had prayed many times to God with a deep feeling of sadness that I would not be able to be there for her on the horizon of her passing away, since I was serving so far away in Japan.
Mama and baby Haley
Well as it turns out, although I was farthest away, I was the only one who was actually able to be at her bedside before she passed. I had been notified about her health becoming critical on a Friday. I first considered leaving on the following Tuesday, but I felt a strong prompting to fly out Monday instead.  Because of that, I was able to spend a wonderful day with her on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday morning. She passed away on Wednesday while I was at her side.  God heard my prayer and allowed me the privilege of being with her.

Throughout the process of making arrangements for the memorial service and taking care of all that comes with a death in the family, we had countless ministry opportunities.  Everyone in the family had a part in the service, and I had the privilege of sharing the Gospel in a message.

With all that going on in my family, Belinda also had her heart turned towards home as her father underwent surgery for colon cancer.  They caught it early and the surgery was completely successful with no need of radiation or other treatment.  We were able to visit them while we were in the U.S. and he is doing very well.

Ministry in Japan continues:
Belinda school admin
As most of you know by now, Belinda is the administrator of the small international school here at Grace Christian Fellowship.  The year is always filled with events, but it feels like they increase as the year comes to a close.

One of our students, a high school senior missed almost half of her first semester this year because of deep depression. Through much diligence and prayer support, she was able to return to school and will be graduating this June as planned.  She has been one of those special relationships God brought to us to minister to here.

Mother’s Day:

Another blessing of ministering through relationships happened on Mother’s Day. Two of the moms in Minori and friendour church, one divorced and the other with a husband who was relocated to the northern part of Japan almost 10 years ago by his employer, were left on their own on Mother’s Day.  Their children were all off doing other things, so Belinda and I “adopted” them and took them out to lunch.  We shared a wonderful time together in fellowship and getting to know each other more.  Sometimes Jesus calls us just to be there for others and to love on them!
Ministry inside the church:

Easter in the parkBesides the school, the worship ministry here is far more than just playing songs and leading the congregation in praise.  Every member of the worship team is someone to disciple. Roles change and members come and go.

For example, one of our primary worship team members is pregnant with her first child, so she will be focusing on being a mom soon.  Belinda has been able to step away from the sound and media ministry, for the most part, and is now looking to focus on women’s ministry.  We have a new sound person whom I have been training, and we have a new media person with whom Belinda and I both are working.  I am also training up a new vocalist. Her husband plays guitar a bit.  He’s next *grin*.

Some of the ways we are able to reach out to people are: Teaching English classes, maintaining a church website, handing out gospel booklets, and a yearly Vacation Bible School, as well as through the divine appoints God sends our way.
Ministry outside the church:
Belinda Ogikubo Class
Besides what goes on at Grace Christian Fellowship, Belinda and I both continue to teach English part time.  It not only helps pay the rent, but I love how it blesses us with interaction in the community God has placed us in.  Belinda and I have both been able to invite people from our classes to visit GCF for Sunday services or special events.

In the Japanese culture, people will not come to church unless they are personally invited.  John works hard at keeping our Web presence up and current, and that has been bringing some in the door – most often people from the nearby Yakota Airforce base, but there are other people in the community looking for a church as well.  We have also been, as a church, going door to door in the surrounding neighborhoods with gospel booklets, handing them out to each neighbor or leaving it in the mailbox.  Still, a personal invitation is key.

Here comes summer!

MochiAs the school year winds down, we will shift into summer mode.  With that comes short- term mission trips; sometimes groups visiting from abroad and, one of the really extraordinarily fruitful events, VBS.

Each year we either create our own curriculum, including all the media and music, or purchase a pre-made VBS program.  Either way, the songs must be recorded in both English and Japanese, which John has been doing every year.

It’s always a huge undertaking, but worth the effort.  Ministry happens with those doing the work of preparation, as well as those who come to the VBS event.

In Japan, as elsewhere, it seems the most reachable are the young people.  These precious kids come to VBS and, of course, their parents come with them.  Many of our members began coming to the church because they had brought their children to the summer VBS event.

You can be involved too!

There are many opportunities (the harvest is great) and few workers.  This is true throughout the world, and Japan is no exception.
Here are some of the ways you can be involved:

  • Pray! – and pray some more.  When you have a prayer investment in others, you receive a reward also.  God will bless you and He will show you ways to support the work you hadn’t thought of before.
  • Come and serve short term this summer.  All the things that you do in church in the U.S. are pretty much things you can do here too.  All the things we do in short term missions we also do some form of at home; building teams, ministering and encouraging one another, stepping out in Faith, sharing the Gospel and encouraging new friends.  It’s the whole package that you can bring home in your heart.
  • Belinda and I started with short-term missions and God continued to move our hearts abroad.  But even if you don’t become a full time missionary, serving on a short-term mission trip is a valuable experience.
  • Invest in the kingdom financially. I heard a statistic yesterday that if you totaled up all the support that the government provides for peoples’ needs through entitlements and other private programs, the private sector portion is more than 60% of the total aid to people in the US. Here is the difference though; with your focused support, you know where your money is going – for the work of God’s desire that all would hear and believe in His son.  In that effort, all kinds of needs are being met throughout the world.  That’s awesome!

Blessings:

Belinda and I want you to know that over the last 12 years you have been praying, encouraging and supporting us, and it does make all the difference in the world.  Not just in this world that is falling away, but in the one that is to come.

We are honored and blessed to be some of your “hands and feet” here in Japan!

Prayers:

  • A fresh vision for God’s work here.
  • More opportunities to share the gospel in our English classes
  • Belinda plans to lead a 6 week women’s Bible study this summer; pray for women to be committed to come each week.
  • That our personal relationship and daily walk with God would continue to grow and that we would remain focused on the daily tasks God puts in front of us without growing weary or discouraged.
  • Belinda’s strength and health as the school year comes to a close and the work load increases.
  • John as he prepares for the long process of recording songs for VBS
  • Continued language learning progress for both of us.

How to support:

Again, we want to thank each of you for all of your prayers and support over the years.  Our financial support process has changed slightly, so if you would like to give, please click on the support link to find out how.

 

 

eNews – Styling test 1:00am

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How to support Gift Of Grace Japan

JohnandBelinda-2010 Ministry Support: God guides and provides…

Ministry support has always been a challenging concept for us. Do we ask for financial support or do we keep quiet and let God speak our needs to the hearts of others? Are we not trusting in God if we let others know what our needs are? Are we robbing others of God’s blessings by not declaring our needs to them? Is there a middle ground?

Continue reading

LGTWYBL – Summary

So where do we go from here?

First of all, as I said before, learning the Fretboard is very fundamental to learning the guitar, just as are the left and right hand positions. Remember to keep careful watch for these details as you practice.

Bad habits learned now are at least three times as hard to unlearn later. The good news is so are good habits! While you are unlearning a bad habit you will also be trying to learn a new good one. Better to learn it the right way the first time, even if it seems to be taking a bit longer. From here are other pages with other principles and concepts.

I am adding to these pages continually. Be sure to explore the entire site for other topics such as "Chords", "Modes", and "Songwriting".

Now would be a great time to write me and let me know how you´re doing – how I´m doing too.

Thanks!

LGTWYBL – Fretboard Diagrams

Fretboard Patterns / Diagrams:

Practice Tips:

It's best to take your time and use a metronome while practicing these patterns.

Work through each pattern a few times for each string and then work through the whole set for continuity.

e-6

 

 

 

 

 

a-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

d-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

g-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 b-2

 

 

 

 

 

 e-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LGTWYBL – Fretboard Layout

Learning the Fretboard:

So, let's start then with the fretboard. In the following diagrams you will find the first building blocks. No matter if you want to play rhythm or lead, this method of physically memorizing the fretboard will prepare you for amazing progress. Each diagram has four elements.

The first row labeled 'Fret' is the number of the fret that the note is played on. Notice that we start with the open string.

The second row is the string's note name and number. The strings of the guitar are numbered from the bottom to the top or smallest to the largest. When we talk about them in order it is in reverse order, six to one, or largest to smallest. Whenever we make a diagram the strings will be represented in that order because that is how we see them as we play them, looking down at the fretboard of the guitar.

Most players best visualize what is represented in a diagram when represented in that way. I will hold to this convention in ALL my diagrams. A dot represents that note being played at that position, (not the common marker dots placed on many guitar fretboards).

The next row is the note name for the position being played.

The last row is the number of the finger you are to press the string down with. '1' is your index finger or the one you point with. '2' is your middle finger, (the longest one). '3' is your ring finger. '4' is your little baby finger. If you will commit to using these fingers when memorizing the fretboard then you will also be learning use the proper finger to be used later when playing most scales and chords.

I have included 13th through 18th frets mostly to demonstrate that the pattern repeats. You may want to play through the upper frets at some point if you own a guitar that has a cutaway body and allows you access to the upper portion of the neck but it is not required.

Always use the same finger to play the note at the same position in this exercise. That will cause you to physically memorize these positions in the part of your brain where motor control movements are stored and called from. This part of learning is central to the 'intuitive' approach to learning the guitar. It is in this process that we get our instruction visually but we learn the notes of the fretboard by touching and hearing. It is central that this concept be understood and carried into all I present in these pages.


Theory Alert!
In case you are interested at this point, yes I'm going to throw in a nugget of musical theory here, these diagrams demonstrate a fundamental of what is called the "MAJOR SCALE". The Major Scale is an eight note scale arranged according to a specific pattern of half and whole steps. 1 whole step – 2 whole step – 3 half step – 4 whole step – 5 whole step – 6 whole step – 7 half step 8 The numbers are the notes in the scale – also known as the scale degree. OK. Now take this information and apply it to learning the fretboard.

LGTWYBL – Right hand

Right Hand Technique:

I will be devoting a whole section to right and left hand techniques but for now here are some simple guidelines. If you use a flatpick, use a small circular motion, always up and down.

If you are using your fingers, use your thumb for the 6th, 5th , and 4th strings and alternate your 1st and 2nd fingers for the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings.

Floating the Right Hand Over the Stings:

There are several different styles but my strong advice to you is do NOT put your little finger on the top of the guitar or your palm on the bridge when you play. If you prefer finger picking, I do a lot of it myself, the same rules apply. Hang your arm confortable over the body of the guitar so that you can play the strings at almost a 90 degree angle. If you need to adjust, try raising or lowering the neck side of the guitar. The best place to play the strings is just behind the soundhole, (acoustic guitar).

Keep the guitar vertical:

Don't "lay" the guitar out infront of your "so you can see your hands on the fretboard. Lean forward momentarily if you just have to as you learn to place your fingers but don't turn the guitar out in front of you. For some people a mirror is helpful. I have a friend who is Dyslexic that was learning the fretboard. The mirror was very helpful in that case as well.

Getting Ready For the Diagrams:

Use your thumb in a down stroke for strings 6 – 4, and your 1 & 2 fingers, strings 3, 4, and 5, (if you don't know what I mean then I'll explain the finger numbers below later), in an alternate pattern, letting it stop on the string above it, (called a rest stroke), for this exercise.

Very simply this is what you do with each of these diagrams. Play the note from the open string to the 12th fret using the finger specified. Say the note name out loud as you play it. Only work up the neck only as fast as you can PERFECTLY play it and say each note. If you make mistakes and continue you, will memorize your errors – not a good thing to waste your time on and then have to spend twice as much time to unlearn later. Go back and play only as fast as you are able to play the notes and say them correctly.

Work on one string diagram at a time and learn it until it is VERY familiar and you can play it and say it without having to think about it consciously. USE A METRONOME to set the pace and play the note in time to the metronome. It is the most profitable to practice using the metronome in almost every situation. Why? Because it enhances the intuitive learning process.

Remember silly song you learned to memorize the alphabet. I bet you can sing it in your sleep – 'A-B-C-D-E-F-G…. H-I J-K-LMNO-P… Q-R-S…T-U-V… W-X…Y & Z… Now I know my ABC's… Tell me what you think of me!" You learned not only the letters but the pace of the song. The timing and rhythm enhanced the part of the learning process where you learn on the intuitive level. By practicing with a metronome you are also working on another of the most important and basic skills of music – playing in time.

Now, on to how to use the upcoming diagrams…

LGTWYBL – Positioning

The Position Wheel:

With your left hand, if you are a right handed, (reverse this if you play left handed), you want to keep your thumb right at the center of the back of the neck, right behind the second fret for the first position.

Pivot your thumb at first rotating and swinging thumb to reach up the neck. Your finger TIPS, (optimum islefthandpositionwheel at 90 degrees in all directions), should do the pressing of the strings – NOT the sides.

Hand – Arm Position:

If you have problems getting the 90 degree position of fingertip try moving your left elbow away from your body while keeping your thumb position the same.

By moving you arm and palm away from you, keeping your fingers stationary will roll your your fingertips into correct angle.

Again, I know this may feel weird or even a bit painful at first, but it will get better I promise! You are stretching your hand in a new way but the body will adapt.

Finger Motion:

As you start fingering chords and notes, remember economy of motion is very important. As you play, use as little movement to place the fingertip on and off the string to fret the string for the note as possible. This will give you better speed as your pace increases.