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Newsletter 3
20 September 2005

Warmest greetings from Kitami City, Hokkaido!

Time really flies. Autumn has finally arrived after a very warm summer. In between them was a season of typhoons and rain. But praise be to God, we were not at the centre of those terrible storms, but just at their outskirts. We received only some gentle showers of blessings.

In summertime, the sunflowers were blooming almost everywhere. Many homes had some plants smiling and greeting the family members at their doorsteps. Personally, I witnessed a beautiful field of sunflowers against a glorious sunset as I was sending a student back to his home in another city for the summer vacation. I really thanked God for allowing me to make a wrong road turn to see this lovely sight!

The school has received more students. Praise God for His blessings and providence. My schedule is tighter than before. Three new Christians were baptized last month in a hot spring. Quite an interesting experience. Thereafter in the weeks following, I taught them some basic Christian doctrines and beliefs. The church also has some new regular visitors. New believers are now bringing their friends to the service!

Currently we are reading the Gospel of Matthew during our morning devotional time. We have a new university student who had recently moved in. He stays on the fourth level, and joins us for our meals and devotions.

Kitami City is located in Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan. As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 111,593 with a density of about 265 persons per km2. Its total area is 421 sq km2.

Below is a brief history about this city:

1872 The village of Notsukeushi-mura was founded.

1915 The villages of Rubeshibe and Oketo were split off. They became towns themselves.

1916 The village became Notsukeushi Town.

1921 The villages of Tanno and Aiuchi were split off.

1942 The town became Kitami City in June 10, 1942.

1956 The village of Gessouchi was merged into Kitami City.

Guess what? Come next March, the towns of Tanno, Rubeshibe and Tokoro will again merge back into Kitami City. They will form a larger city! About 165 days to see this reality and fulfillment! Similarly, the Promised Land of God would be as marked in the Bible. Though split off for a season, they will eventually come back together before or upon Christ's return to Jerusalem!

Another interesting thing to note is that a nearby national park, Shiretoko, was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in July 2005 for the irreplaceable value of the peninsula's ecosystem and biodiversity. Shiretoko National Park is one of Japan's most beautiful and unspoiled national parks. It is a beautiful home to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears, deer and foxes. In winter, it is a wonderful place to view floating ice. I have not been to the place yet. But during the winter vacation, I may go there with a Japanese friend whose mother is working in a hotel there. It is a 3 hours' drive from Kitami. Even this is a blessing from above.

In view of all the plants, flowers, bees, birds, butterflies, foxes, bears and such, I have personally gained a greater sense and awareness of God's presence and awesomeness. Last week, my laptop went out of order. First, the mouse died. When I installed a new mouse, some system files were accidentally deleted. Then the computer could not identify its own hardware! The monitor became 16 colors instead of true colors (24 bits). The Local Area Network could not be connected. Nobody I know here in this rural city of Japan owns an English edition of Microsoft Windows 98 Operating System CDROM! Praise God for the Internet. Bit by bit and step by step, with His divine guidance, I managed to "resurrect" my seven-years-old friend and travel-mate. I praised God for being a very present Help in times of trouble.

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive! God is good all the time!
Joshua Ong