Once again, I am so sorry it has taken me so long to write an update. Things have been so hectic here with Christmas and the New Year. While I have had vacation for the most part since the 16th of December, there has been many things that the Tomobe church has done as Outreach since then as well that has also made it not so much a holiday completely. In Japan, New Years is the biggest holiday but at the church we try to make a big deal out of Christmas due to the fact it is a Christian holiday and Japanese people are more open to it during the Christmas season. It has been an incredible month however and I am so glad that each of you have supported me through this time. It is really incredible to me that it was over 70 years ago that the Japanese attacked America at Pearl Harbor and that I can be a missionary here today.
On the 8th-15th, I went about my normal routine having my English/Bible Classes with my students. I challenged one of my students to come back after our Holiday Break and tell me how she can believe that both God and Shinto are both real. I am looking forward to her response in the next couple of weeks. I told you about her in the previous post. Her name is Masako. Please continue to pray for her as it seems like we are making very little but some process.
On the 10th, I held a Christmas party at my host family's house for students anywhere from high school age to college age. It was very incredible. We sang Christmas songs together and had lots of great fellowship. We also enjoyed many popular Christmas dishes that everyone brought that made them think of Christmas. For Japanese, they think that in America we have Christmas Chicken and Christmas cake, so some brought that. I made a ham ball that my mom makes at Christmas normally. Overall there were many traditional Christmas foods that people have for Christmas. At the end we played the Dirty Santa game. Before the night was over, everyone wanted to sing more and we ended up going into singing worship songs. Even a lot of the non Christian people there were so filled with joy. It was so powerful to see God work at such an event. In the end, about 20 people ended up coming.
A picture of everyone who came to the party
On the 12th, I went to the month Ibaraki Preacher's Meeting and Hitachi Christian Camp meeting. It always makes for a long day, especially since it is all Japanese. However, it is so great o be encouraged by such great men of God at these events. At the preachers meeting we discussed our plans for the All Japan Preachers Retreat next summer since the Ibaraki Preachers are responsible for planning it and then more about the good things going on in our lives. At the camp meeting we finished planning for our camp on the 26th-28th.
On the 14th, I was asked to speak at Ibaraki Christian University in chapel. It was more of like a series of chapels that were related to Christmas in one way or another. I talked about Eternal Life being the best gift/present that we can ever receive from God or gift to anyone.
Me speaking in chapel at IC
On the 15th-16th, we had Christmas parties for the children that come to our school at the church for English. We sang Christmas carols together, games and watched a short version video of the movie, The Christmas Carol. Afterwards, Santa (I) came out and gave all of the children gifts for Christmas. Over the entire two nights we had a little over 20 children all together.
Children's Christmas Party at Church
On the 17th, I took my girlfriend on our first date to a place in Tokyo known as Odaiba. We were able to watch Fireworks, a tree that changed colors show, eat at a nice restaurant, and take a picture with a cool background, walk on the beach while listening to some live music, and look at an amazing sky line view of Tokyo. It was an amazing night.
My girlfriend and I's first date
On the 19th, I was given tickets to go see the Japanese X-Bowl. They were given to me by one of the members who comes to the English/Bible classes at the church. At the beginning of the month, we had Christmas party for all the adults who were part of the school at church. While we were eating, a lady asked me if I had ever played American Football and if I liked it. Of course I said yes to both and she told me her husband played for a Club Team in Japan which is about as professional as they get in Japan and that the Japan version of the Super Bowl was the following week and that she would get me tickets if I wanted them. Therefore I ended up going to Tokyo the following week to watch the game and her husbands team won. It was a great time and I really enjoyed it.
Japanese Super Bowl
On the 21st, I went to a nursing home in Tomobe called Silver Village. At the nursing home, we sang Christmas carols for elderly people and showed them the shorter version of A Christmas Carol. After we finished, I was able to play Santa Claus once again and give cookies to the elderly people. It was great to see how happy they were that people came and took the time just to sing to them and spend some time with them to wish them a Merry Christmas.
Silver Village Nursing Home
Many of you may wonder how I celebrated Christmas this year. Due to the fact that Christmas was on a Sunday, I ended up celebrating Christmas with my girlfriend on the 23rd. For Christmas dinner we made Hamburgers and Velveeta and Rotel Dip for our Christmas dinner.(However on the 24th we had a traditional ham, mashed potatoes, and green bean cassrole kind of dinner with my host family.) We also shared gifts with each other and also enjoyed opening some gifts her parents sent us in the mail as well.
Our tree and the gifts
On the 24th, we had our Christmas Eve worship service at the church building. It involved a brief message from Marlin the minister as well as a couple of members from the church and Cassie and me acting out the birth of Jesus. While the play was short, we had to do it ALL in Japanese. I was Joseph and Cassie was Mary. After the lesson and the play, we had a gift exchange and fellowshipped with one another and ate a popular dish together known as Oden.
My Girlfriend and I as Joseph and Mary
On the 25th, I had the opportunity to preach again. I ended up talking about how God and Santa Claus relate again kind of like I did at Ibaraki Christian. However, I changed the meaning of the sermon to be Kamisama's coming to town which means God is coming to town. While we know when Santa comes every year, we have no idea as to when God will come back. We will judged in the Book of Life whether we have been bad or good just as Santa chooses whether we have been bad or good enough to give us coal or presents. Overall it went really well. The only problem was I did not have enough confidence to speak in Japanese completely so I had a translator again. I am hoping before long I can do it on my own though.
Preaching at Church on Christmas Day
From the 26th-28th, I attended the coldest church/retreat I have ever been on. We ended up going to Hitachi Christian Camp to have camp and work on some cabins. During the night, it got down to about 20-25 and it was very cold. There is also no form of electricity there or very much running water which meant now heaters or showers. However, by the time we ended camp, we were able to finish the cabin we were putting windows in. Also, I was asked to give a small devotional talk at the camp at the morning campfire devotional. I ended up giving my first devotional in Japanese only. While it was challenging, I felt like I got the point I wanted to get across that God gives breathe every day and we should be thankful for each morning that we are alive. After camp, it was nice to get home and have nice warm shower and feel clean again.
Just Finished Putting in a Window
Everyone who came to Camp
On the 30th, I went with some of the old students I attended Omika Church with two years ago and my girlfriend to go see the Broadway musical, The Lion King. Although it was in all Japanese, it was one of the best shows I have ever watched before. I hope that someday I can see the English version in New York City.
Everyone who went to see The Lion King
On the 31st, I went to Karaoke with one of the church members for a few hours. After Karaoke, I went with another one of the church members to have dinner. After the dinner we met up with another church member and watched a movie together at his apartment. After the movie was finished, it was time to go to the church to go and pray for the start of our New Year.
As I mentioned earlier, New Years is a bigger holiday here than Christmas is and most of the Japanese people have the first week of the New Year off. That has made this first week of the New Year quite slow as it has just been a week to relax and do nothing. On the 3rd I went back to Tokyo to watch the American Football Japan Championship game between the number 1 pro/club team and the number one college team. I know that is not how it goes in America, but that is the way the Japanese do it. I think it would be quite a game to see the Super Bowl Champions face the number one college team in America. Anyways, other than that everything has been kind of chill and slow this week. Next Monday is another holiday in Japan known as the Coming of Age Day. This is for everyone who will turn 20 in Japan this year. At this time, those who turn 20 are considered adults from that day forward. It is kind of a big deal in Japan so I will not begin working again until next Tuesday. I will try to do better at keeping you updated from here on out. I am sorry for the long post. I just wanted to get you up to date on everything. If any of you have any questions about whats going on, please don't hesitate to email me at email@example.com anytime. I would love to hear from you. Thank you all for your prayers and support and may God bless you all.