Ueki Family Newsletter – February 2017

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By the grace of God, I finished my Th.M. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary last December. As a family, we thank you very much for the continued generous support and prayer.

In this newsletter, we would like to share how God blessed us during our seminary life as well as our next steps.

Th.M. Completed!!

I finished my Th.M. study in December 2016. I praise God for His mercy and grace since I started the program in September 2015. I also want to sincerely thank each one of you for your words of encouragement, prayers, and financial support!

Needless to say, seminary was very challenging. No course was easy at all, especially for someone like me whose English is a second language. Assignments took at least triple the amount of time to complete compared to others whose English was their primary language. Staying in the library from morning till night-time became a part of my normal life. Because of the balance between studying and spending time with family, I reduced my class load which extended my timeline by one more semester. Those 18 months were not beautiful. In fact, it was rather messy.

However, God’s love and grace towards us never changed. His grace not only sustained my seminary life, but he supplied more than enough to allow me to thrive! Each seminary course deepened my understanding of the Word of God and the people of the world. Each preaching assignments let me confirm the privilege and responsibility of being a preacher. Most of all, God always reminded me of the tremendous need for the solid gospel-centered, and grace-based preaching in Japan.

So again, I thank all of you who prayed, encouraged, rebuked, taught, loved, and supported us! All of my achievements could not have been accomplished without you.

Next Destination… “JAPAN”

After a long period of prayer and discussion, God showed us a clear path for the next step—JAPAN!

The last three months were a very challenging time for Sawako and I. While we were seeking God’s direction, we also had our own desires and hopes. Sometimes we talked and prayed, but sometimes our discussions turned into arguments. We prayed and waited. However, during those couple months, God was indeed still working. He closed many doors, but then opened one door. Finally, last week, God clearly showed us a path.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” —Proverbs 16:9

We will go back to Japan and live in Chiba City (a suburb of Tokyo to the East). I will join Mission To the World (MTW)/Australian Presbyterian World Mission (APWM) Japan team, and will be starting a new church plant in Chiba City Center as an associate pastor. Also, I will have an opportunity to teach Preaching courses at the seminary.

Japan has always been our ministry focus and our calling, which is why we are very excited to return to Japan and start a new phase of our life!

Start from April, 2017!

We will fly back to Japan at the end of March. In the meantime, as we prepare to move, I will travel to several cities in the US to raise support for the church plant. Please pray for our remaining time in Boston and for the Lord to bless all of the fundraising efforts.

Prayer Requests

  1. Please pray for the move and for a smooth transition:

    We came here with 12 suitcases, and we will go back to Japan with 12 suitcases. We will get rid of many furniture and belongings. We also need to find a house or apartment to live in Chiba. Please pray for the process of moving and for it to be a smooth transition.

  2. Please pray for our kids: John, Jay, Yuzuri, and Joe.

    The kids will say good-bye to their school teachers and friends in the middle of the semester. They will then start a new school year in Japan. It is never an easy process for kids, so they will need special care during this season of transition. Please pray for our children, especially for their mental and spiritual health.

  3. Please pray for Shohei’s and Sawako’s health:

    Sawako has not had her post-cancer follow-up appointments since last July. We will need to make an appointment immediately upon arriving in Japan. Please pray for Sawako’s health and her follow-up appointment. Also, please pray for Shohei’s mental health as he travels and connects with several people to raise support these next two months. Please pray for God’s peace and conviction on him.

  4. Please pray for the ministry in Chiba.

    Many of you know, Japan is one of the most challenging mission fields. According to the Joshua Project, the Japanese are the second largest unreached people group in the world — making up 0.3% of evangelical Christians. We are going to a spiritually dark place. It is true that we are thrilled to return to our home country. However, the transition from life in the US to ministry life in Japan will be challenging for us. So please pray for our life in Japan and ministry in Chiba.

  5. Please pray for our financial situation:

    As we move back to Japan and start a ministry, we will need financial support. Currently, we are at 55% of the goal. To reach 100%, we need $2,500 in monthly donations and a one-time donation of $12,500. Please pray for our financial needs and please prayerfully consider supporting us.

Ueki Family Newsletter – October 2016

It has been already 14 months since we moved from Nagoya to Boston. Time flies! We are so grateful for your prayers and support! Thank you very much!!

Life in New England

Fall in New England is extremely beautiful. Leaves turn from green to vivid yellow and red. Cool and fresh air brings us the smell of the forest. Squirrels go here and there actively collecting acorns to prepare for a cold winter. If people were asked when is the best time to visit Boston, they will definitely say fall is the best. So if you are considering visiting Boston, please come now!

When we see this beautiful nature, we wonder how much more God ’s blessing through our human relationships is amazing. We are surrounded by wonderful people, wonderful seminary faculty and fellow students, wonderful people in church, wonderful friends in Japan and wonderful supporters all around the world! And we are here in Boston because of your prayers and support. What a blessing! We are grateful for you all! We are grateful for your love and support as we spend this precious time and training for ministry in Japan. Thank you!

Fall Semester

I am taking my final semester for the Th.M. degree. This semester, I take two classes related to preaching in the Japanese context. One class is called “Cultural Exegesis for Preaching.” The class aims to understand the specific cultural context and apply our preaching to the people in the context. The students pick one specific cultural context, do research, and apply it to their preaching. I chose young adults in Tokyo. I did some research and interviewed a pastor in Tokyo. But it’s not a class only about research. We will preach from our studies and apply it to the specific context. I always appreciate these classes because they’re very practical. Although I am excited to preach in class in a couple weeks, I cannot wait to preach to real people in Japan!

Kids School

One of our biggest worries was our kids’ schooling. But it has turned out to be the biggest blessing. Our kids love school! John spent a successful 7th grade and now he is an 8th grader. He started cross country running and he is one of the top 5 runners in the school! Jay entered 6th grade in middle school. Jay was scouted by a soccer coach and started to play soccer now! Yuzuri is in 3rd grade and plays with girls in the apartment all day. The biggest surprise is our youngest Joe. He became a Kindergarten student! Since Sawako’s first pregnancy, she has been with at least one child all the time for 14 years. Now she is done!!

What’s Next?

I am graduating seminary in December. What’s next? Well, it’s not clear yet. One of the opportunities is to go on to doctoral study. By God’s grace, my Th.M. study was very blessed and professors recommended me for Ph.D. study. Thankfully, one professor offered to be my supervisor if I apply to the program. If the Lord is willing, I want to pursue this opportunity and contribute to Japanese preaching studies. Another possibility is to serve in a church in the US and prepare for ordination. To do this, I need to do an internship for a year in the church. I believe both study and ordination are important preparations for my ministry back in Japan. Please pray God’s clear path for the next step!

Prayer Requests

  1. Please pray for our next phase:

    We need make a decision for the next step as soon as possible. Please pray for God to give us a strong conviction for in this. And please pray for our faith and obedience to follow His direction.

  2. Please pray for our health, physical health, mental health, and Spiritual health:

    For a certain reason, Sawako had to cancel her post-cancer checkup this month. We need to figure something out but it is very challenging right now. Please pray God would provide a constant check-up opportunity. Also please pray for Shohei’s mental health, as he both finishes up his study and searches for the next opportunity. Please pray for God’s peace on him.

Ueki Family Newsletter: May 2016

Thank you very much for your continued prayers and generous support. Ueki family is doing well and enjoying life in the US. It has been so long since our last update. We are very sorry for not being able to keep you updated throughout, but we would love to share our life with you up-to- date now in this newsletter!

Life in the US

The first year living in a foreign country is always challenging. But thankfully we are settled here in Boston well. Shohei is surviving seminary life (actually he is enjoying it very much). Sawako is also enjoying her life with her new friends in the seminary and church community. John, Jay and Yuzuri are enjoying their schools. And Joe enjoys playing with his friends in the apartment community. We praise God who has been faithful and gracious to each one of us!

We are also blessed by our new church as well. The church is called First Presbyterian Church (FPC) Northshore. They have multiple programs we can join. Sawako joined the women’s Bible study group. Although it is very challenging for her to do Bible study in a foreign language, she enjoys the study and friendship with other members very much. Now, we are involved in their church planting as regular attenders. When we started to go to FPC, they just started their new satellite church planting in another town. Since we did church planting in Japan, the atmosphere and environment are suitable for us. So we decided to be settled in this campus.

Fall and Spring Semesters Ended!

Last Friday, I (Shohei) finished my second semester. Including last Fall semester, those 8 months were very concentrated and full of rigorous study time. While I faced many challenges, the blessings of the studies are tremendous. One of the highlights is from the course called “Preaching for Special Occasions.” The students learn about preaching for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and even after dinner speeches. We preached once every two weeks on each of these topical occasions. I found many cultural differences between America and Japan regarding these special occasions. But the common ground is that we are called to preach the Christ-centered gospel message in any and every occasion with love and sincerity.

Kids School!

The kids enjoy their school lives very much. John is in 7th grade in middle school (Wow, John is in middle school already? Unbelievable!). Jay is in 5th grade and Yuzuri is now a 2nd grader. And, Joe is still staying home now but he is going to be a kindergarten kid this coming fall. In fact, Joe is an English fluent speaker now. And one headache we have as parents is that Joe speaks more English than Japanese! In order to remember his Japanese, we had to make a rule, “No English at home.” Please continue to pray for our kids’ education and growth.

What’s next?

Shohei was supposed to finish all Th.M. study and graduate this May, but we decided to extend to one more semester. One of the main reasons is balancing between study and family. While study is very important in the seminary life, I cannot do anything without my family. So, we decided to reduce course work and spend more time and energy with family. Thankfully, God blessed Shohei’s study and also family time and bonding, especially during spring semester. Shohei will take two courses in fall semester and then will graduate.

Prayer Requests

Your prayers are always appreciated. We believe your prayers are the strongest weapon and protection as we live our lives and follow His mission. So, please join our prayers!

  1. 1)  Please pray for our family unity:

    Praise the Lord for His blessing and grace for our family! Please pray for us that we with continue to love and serve one another with sacrificial love!

  2. Please pray for our health, physical health, mental health, and Spiritual health: Thankfully, the kids are all well and energetic! Sawako is monitoring her post- cancer checkup. She also has been feeling the symptoms of hypoglycemia lately. She went to Harvard Diabetes Center and checked her health issue. Please continue to pray for Sawako’s health.
  3. Please pray for Shohei: Please continue to pray for Shohei as he continues with his fall semester in September and finishes his study. Also please pray for him as he goes to Indonesia for attending Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG) in August. Please pray for Sawako and kids while Shohei is away from the family.
  4. Please pray for our financial situation: Since we have decided to extend our stay, we will need some financial support. With health insurance and apartment rent, we will need $11,250 more in needed donations. Please continue to pray for us.

 

 

Sawako Prayer Requests and Update #4

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

First of all, I thank you all for your faithfulness in your prayer for my wife Sawako and Ueki family.

It has been long long time no update, since September. It’s mainly because of my depression. I’ll describe more specifically later, but I haven’t been able to work on emails for a couple months. I apologize to you all, especially those who are praying and waiting for my update. (also I apologize especially to those who are not connected with Facebook. I posted some quick updates to Facebook but I’m afraid you missed them)

But, I would like to tell you the wonderful news this time: Sawako is healed from cancer!!!

It has been long and difficult months for Sawako, me and my kids. But I praise the Lord that He is our savior and healer. He indeed healed Sawako!!

Let me share with some updates after the surgery:

1) Sawako had two additional treatments, Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy. She had 25 times of Radiotherapy from September 19th to October 22nd. And 3 times of Chemotherapy (September 23rd- 29th, October 21st-27th, and November 18th-23rd) All of them went very well. She had some nauseousness and other side effects of these treatments, but she fought very well.

2) Prognosis is good. She took blood test many times after the surgery, and had some low white blood cell counts and other minor issues. But there is no major problems. Also, she took CT scan December 3rd, and there is no manifestation of relapse. Above all, she is recovering very well.

So overall, things are going really well. Again and again, I thank you very much for your prayers!!

3) Let me share a bit about my (Shohei’s) situation. Since my wife was diagnosed cancer, I started to have depression. I went to the mental clinic on September and currently I’m taking medicines. It was very difficult time, but the medicine worked well and getting better little by little. And I just was told to reduce the amount of the medicine today. Also I had some counseling with Christian counselor and going to continue it. To be honest, I’m not recovered yet, and I don’t how long it takes to get well, but I believe God is healer and He heals my depression just as He healed my wife’s cancer.

I’d like to share more with you but let me stop with some prayer requests:

1. Please rejoice with me and give thanks to God our healer together!! Sometimes, I doubted his mighty power and stedfast love. I struggled with His sovereign will and justice. But, He is our God almighty and He is our savior to redeem our sins. And He is THE healer. I thank our doctors who had surgery and also thank high advanced technologies. But, nothing happened without our saviors’ hand. I confess my sin of faithlessness, but I praise for His faithfulness.

2. Please continue to pray for Sawako. She is still in the process of recovery. Also also there is possibility for relapse, so we still need your prayer and help. She will monitor with blood tests and CT scan for several years. Also, she has some difficulties for urinary system.

3. Please continue to pray for Ueki kids. They endured very well. I thank God that He protected our kids and moreover He used this time for tighten our family unity and grow our kids well. I mentioned previously that our second son’s tic. It’s being better now. Praise the Lord!

4. Please continue to pray for Shohei. Please pray for healing depression. I’m afraid but it’ll take longer. But, please pray that God uses this time for growth of my faith, to rely on Him alone.

5. I thank you very very much for your supports; physical support, spiritual and mental support, financial support, and every kind of support!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Again and again, I deeply appreciate your prayer and support. I think this is the last email update to share. If you have any questions or comments, suggestions, please feel free to let me know.

I’ll send you a Christmas card tomorrow. Please enjoy our cute four kids and healed my wife’s smile 🙂
With many many thanks…. Merry Christmas!!

Shohei and Sawako Ueki

Sawako Prayer Requests and Update #3

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
It has been long time no update. I apologize to you all for the delay.

But, I deeply appreciate your unceasing prayer for my wife Sawako, me and Ueki family. How much we have been encouraged by your prayer and support. I cannot express our thankfulness enough but our savior knows what you have been doing for us. May the Lord bless you all abundantly.

Here is updates (There are some private information. Please do not spread the information carelessly) :

1) Surgery went well. Sawako had surgery August 21st, 9:00AM- 2:00PM. The doctor said the surgery went very smoothly, removed uterus, ovaries, and some lymph nodes.

2) Result was worse than we had expected (again). The cancer was over 4cm, HOWEVER, no involvement of lymph nodes. (Which is wonderful news!! Praise the Lord!!!) Also no involvement of ovaries. The doctor said it is still in high risk range.

3) 48 hours after surgery was the most painful moment. Painkiller didn’t work, but because of the medicines she was almost unconscious. However, the pain has been gradually relieved from pain. Now she has a pain only when she sneeze or cough.

4) Urination process and lymphedema: Sawako is now in the process for Urination. It doesn’t go perfect, but gradually being better. Also, there is a fear of lymphedema, which appears as leg swelling. it doesn’t appear lymphedema yet, however, it has possibilities to appear in 10 years+. Please pray for the progress for the urination and lymphedema.

5) Additional treatment: Sawako will have additional treatment, Radio Therapy and Chemo Therapy. Please please please pray for this!!

Radio therapy will start from 19th, September. Everyday weekdays, total 25days. Supposed to finish 25th, October.

Chemo Therapy will start from 24th, September. Sawako will need to be hospitalized a week in each months, September 23rd-30th, October 21st-28th, and November 18th-25th or so.

So, total additional treatment will finish in the end of November. This will be longer and tougher battle for Sawako, me, entire family and all supporters and prayer warriors. We need your continued support.

6) Shohei’s mental situation: I am in a depression state. I apologize again for not being responsible email but it’s because of my mental situation. I wanted to give you update but I couldn’t do it. So, please forgive me. I had a doctor appointment couple days ago and received a medicine. However, the side effect was hard so I changed the medicine. Please pray for me.
Here are some prayer requests:

1. Please please please pray for Sawako’s perfect recovery!!! No more cancers, no more pain, no more fear!! Please please please pray!!!

2. Please pray for Ueki kids. I and Sawako feel very sorry and bad for our kids. Kids are very patient and doing wonderful. But, we are sure they suffers a lot as well. Our second son Jay has a tic especially recently.

3. Please pray for Shohei. As I shared I’m in the depression state. It feel a bit better after changing medicine but still full of anxiety and worries. I thank God that I can write email to you now. Please pray for my healing.

4. Thank you very very much for your support. So many people expressed support and did support us, physically, mentally, and financially. I and Sawako are talking how much we are blessed by you all and so thankful for your love. I’d like to tighten our love and bond (Kizuna) as brothers and sisters in Christ. So, please pray for each person who connect each other because of us, because of this situation.
I have couple specific updates at Facebook. I intentionally reduce specific information about Sawako’s situation because of public nature of Facebook, but there are some photos and quick update. If you are not FB friend of me or Sawako and wish to connect, please search me.
Thank you very very much for your prayers and supports. Again, it’ll be longer battle. So, please continue to pray for Sawako and Ueki family.

Psalms 40:1-3
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”
In Christ,
Shohei Ueki