Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Dad's story - Peter Voran, part 2

Continuing the story.....

My father went to Grace Bible Institute, as it was known then, in Omaha, Nebraska.  He worked on the school paper.  This is where he met my mother, as she also helped with the paper.  Because he loved to sing, he joined the choir and sang in quartets and trios.  In his later years, he continued to love hymns and modern choruses too (although with his hearing loss, he was usually off-key!  We never told him!).

My mom is on the front right (Aunt Treva, who became a missionary to Africa is next to her).  My Dad is on the 3rd row, 3rd person from the left.

Dad worked in an ice-cream factory in Omaha while he put himself through Bible school.  He tells us that they allowed them to eat all the ice-cream they wanted.   Ice-cream was his favorite food!  (We often went to Braums  after they moved to Newton  and while in nursing care he enjoyed a dish of ice-cream after lunch and supper.   He was borderline diabetic and they wanted to limit him, but as a family, we felt like being in his 90's, he could eat all the ice-cream he wanted!  Below is a picture of Mom and Dad at the Blue Bunny factory in Le Mars, Iowa)

After two years at Grace, he left to attend Bethel College in Newton, Kansas, while taking on  his first job as a  pastor at the Hopefield Mennonite church in rural Moundridge.  This is why he switched colleges – to begin the pastorate.  

On a return trip to Omaha with his cousin, Chet, for a reunion at Grace, my mom happened to be passing out the programs.  Chet told my dad that he would be a fool to not marry that pretty lady.  In fact, he said if Dad wasn't going to ask her, he was going to do it!  So Dad asked my mom out and ended up proposing to her that very night!   Can you believe that??   He says he went back to the dorm and cried about it, thinking perhaps he had made a big mistake.  But it wasn’t!  They were married for 65 years!

After a total of 3 dates and a summer apart, they were married in Pandora on August 5, 1949. 

The wedding reception was held in the country at the home my mother grew up in.

For their honeymoon, they drove to a Bible conference at Pikes Peak, Colorado.  We always teased them that they had such a romantic honeymoon!  Others attending the conference knew they were newlyweds.  After my parents had checked into the lodge and gone to dinner, some people went to their room to pull a prank.  They replaced the double bed for bunk beds! 

Mom and Dad first lived in Newton, Ks. in a homette on the Bethel College campus.  These were small units with no running water.  There was a bucket for the drain in the kitchen.  Dad dug a hole outside the kitchen and put a barrel in the hole.  He had put holes in that barrel so it would drain.  Then he placed a pipe from the kitchen to the bucket so they wouldn’t have to empty the bucket daily. 

Later they moved to an apartment in Moundridge since Dad was pastoring there.  During this time, my brother David was born at the old Bethel Deaconess Hospital.  

Both Mom and Dad had felt the call to be missionaries.  They had thought they would go to Africa.  Mom's sister, Treva was going there as a nurse midwife and their good friends from school, the Ted Veers and also Sam Entz' were headed there.  However, Japan had just opened up following the end of the war and they were asked if they would consider going there.  They both knew this was God’s direction for them.

The ship stopped in Hawaii.  At that time, it was not a vacation spot.  There were hardly any tourists there at all!

They arrived in Japan September 15, 1951.  Japan was still digging out from the ruins of war.  The newly arrived missionaries lived in a big renovated house that had been turned into 4 apartments.   They lived there with other missionaries who soon became family.

For 2 years they studied diligently.  Japanese is a very difficult language to learn.

While the couples were at language school, they hired nannys to care for the children.

My Dad and Verney Unruh would teach English to Japanese students.  Two men, Yamada and Yanada started coming to the house for more lessons and to learn about Christ.  These 2 accepted Christ and eventually became pastors.  Yanada’s two daughters would one day grow up and come to Bethel College and marry Americans!  Yanada pastored a Japanese congregation in Madison, Wisconsin.

In 1953, my brother Doug was born.  

After language school was completed, "Uncle" Verney and Dad went to the southern island of Kyushu to scope it out as a possible place to begin their work.  It was agreed that the gospel was needed in this area.

 My parents loaded up their belongings and moved to the Aburatsu/Nichinan area.

Aburatsu is a coastal town surrounded by mountains.  

Land was purchased and a home was built by Will Voth, who had been a missionary in China.  Will and his family had to flee China (because of the Japanese invasion several years earlier) and came to Japan to help these new missionaries build new homes.

Our home...

 built in the midst of rice paddies


Their ministry began with a good old-fashioned tent ministry.  They would go throughout the town, making announcements of the time for the meeting.

It wasn’t long before there were enough people to begin a church.  At first they met in the upstairs of our home.  

One of the first people to come to Christ was a man whose family made idols.  My Dad shared the verse frpm
 Psalm 115:5-6
They have mouths but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
The man knew Dad spoke the truth and he gave his life to Christ.  As many people gave their lives to Christ, they burned their idols and objects that had to do with the Buddhist and Shinto faith.

I was born in 1955.  A trip to Kobe by plane was made for my birth.  Both my brother Doug and I were born at the Canadian hospital there.

My first airplane ride at 1 week old.

Besides church planting, they started a Christian kindergarten for Japanese children.  It was called Kei-Ai Yochiyen or Grace-Love Kindergarten.  From the beginning it was staffed by Christian teachers and was a positive Christian witness in the community.   My dad was the principal and
was called Encho-sensei.


My mother helped with teaching at this kindergarten.  

Approximately 200 children attended.   It was built right by our home and my brothers and I attended this kindergarten.  The playground became our own playground.

to be continued....